3 March 2016
The Muslim Judicial Council [MJCSA] and the Hayrat Foundation (Turkey) co-hosted an inaugural symposium titled “Risale-I-Nur& the relevance of his teachings in the contemporary age” on the life of the great 20th century Islamic Revivalist and scholar, BediuzzamanSaid Nursi (1876-1960). The symposium which delved into the profound thought and writings of Said Nursi’s magnum opus, Epistles of light (Risale-I-Nur) was preceded by an Opening Ceremony held at the Islamia Complex and was attended by the Ulama fraternity, representatives of relief organizations, education institutes and media.
The Hayrat Foundation’s delegation which was led by Ismail Kaya (Representative for Africa), Yusuf Kara (Hayrat& UNIW Representative), Hamza Oztas (UK) and CelaleddinCengizGunaydin (President of HayratInt Student Assoc) arrived in Cape Town on the 25 February, 2016. The delegation was welcomed by the President, Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks, 1st Deputy, Shaykh Riad Fataar, Secretary General, Maulana Allieand members of the Executive and Imaarah.
At the Opening Ceremony, Brother Ismail Kaya shared a special letter addressed to the MJC and guests from ShaykhHacı Hafız Said NuriErtürk who is the spiritual leader of the Hayrat Foundation.
Brother Yusuf Kara presented a comparative synopsis of the environment and social structure of the Turkish community during the time of Said Nursi and demonstrated how he analysed the challenges and addressed these with Quranic guidelines presented in his Risale which is applicable in contemporary society. He elaborated on the true nature and purposes of man and the universe, and through Risale-i Nur shows that true happiness is only to be found in belief and knowledge of God, both in this world and the hereafter.
The teachings and thought of Said Nursiwho was born in the city of Bitlis, HizanTownship, Nurs village, is comprised of one hundred and thirty books, and is uniquely suited to not only all believers, but indeed all mankind. The Alim, said brother Kara,was not only a theologian, but a classical Islamic scholar and was blessed with aqli (rational) and naqli knowledge (revealed). He was good at positive science, wrote books about maps, and debated with the experts of positive science.
Brother Hamza Oztes (UK) said Nursi was quite possibly the most influential Islamic scholar in the last 100 years in Turkey, and maybe in the Islamic world. He believed that Islamic sensibilities should be based on an education system that revives the Islamic Sciences and Quranic guidelines. Oztez said that as a leader, a commander, an academic, an activist, and an ’Abd (servant) of Allah, “Imam Said Nursi was a good model for the modern world.”
Ismail Kaya said that Imam Said Nursi was not a proponent of extremism nor did he establish a political party, but lived a normal day-to-day life where he was regarded as a teacher of theories drawn from the Quran that today remains relevant.
His life challenges
He was exiled, in the later period of the Ottoman Empire and the early Turkish period. In this period every aspect of Islam from; the call of athan, Islamic letters, Islamic dress code, and religious foundations’ were abolished. When many individuals sought to riot against the ban, Said Nursi proposed that because the government and soldiers were Muslim, rioting was not option. The Imam, therefore, sought to preserve the Islamic doctrine of preventing Muslims from creating internal conflict.Said Nursi instead encouraged the Muslims to develop a peaceful plan that would gain them access to their religious rights. This plan entailed educating individuals.
As a result, on his passing in 1960, Imam Said Nursi left a legacy of thousands of students.Oztas believes that Said Nursi’s actions “showed that peaceful and classical Islamic education is the real solution.”
At the tender age of 14 Imam Said Nursi was regarded as one of the top theologians and was known for his incredible memory.“In order to become a graduate of a classical ottoman curriculum you need to finish 90 books in 15 to 20 years. What he did was memorise the entire curriculum of 90 books within 3 months,” said Oztas.
With the total abolition of the Islamic way of life and education, in a period in which an onslaught against Islam occurred, Imam Said Nursi’s books were a beacon of light and hope for Turkey.
Said Nursi lived his life according to the teaching of Islam and “when asked why he did not stand in front of the Commander of Russia, he said “I am a Muslim scholar, and Islam’s knowledge gives me the ‘izza (superiority) that I do not have to stand.
The commander understood that Said Nursi acted not out of arrogance, but rather, out of adherence to the teachings of Islam. On his return to Turkey, Said Nursi was disappointed to find that the new regime of Turkey neglected to uphold the teachings of Islam.
Said Nursi, due to his opposition of the new regime, was placed into exiled, in which the government attempted to poison him on more than 10 occasions.
Said Nursi, in an attempt to further torture him, was transported from one place of exile to the next. This, the imam accepted as an opportunity to teach Islamic values to the people with whom he came into contact with.
“This is Allah’s higher plan, [since]knowledge is the hidden treasure of a Muslim,” Oztas concluded.
MOU signing between the Hayrat Foundation and MJC
Those who attended the symposium, benefitted from the depth of analysis of Quran that Said Nursi revealed in order to give the spiritually embattled Turkish community hope and guidance towards a life of happiness, fulfilment and peace. His efforts however continue to be used by global Muslim scholars who recognize the value of his thought and works.