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The Author

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

The story of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s life embodies the struggle to uphold and herald the teachings of the Quran and the practices (sunnah) of Prophet Muhammed (asm) in this age.

Early on in his life, Said Nursi actively sought assistance from the Quran to stand against the wide-scale revolutions taking place in the world that were hostile to the principles of revelation. The unprecedented social and political upheavals that broke out in this age culminated in the emergence of the body of work he authored called the Risale-i Nur.

In many ways this unique tafsir was a spiritual miracle of the Quran that upheld its truths. It served as a mercy and remedy to strengthen the principles of revelation by way of both the intellect and heart. Today, this legacy of raising awareness in the Quranic perspective of iman continues.

Each of the lessons of the 130 risales and the collectivity of its loyal students –often referred to as Nur students– amongst spiritual communities are devoted to the practice and dissemination of the truths of iman.

Despite the many wondrous aspects of his life, the role and significance of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi is best appreciated by those who can understand the overwhelming spiritual challenges of this age and the dire need for an effective and authentic way to address them.

This is why, even though he was unjustly exiled and imprisoned for most of his life for upholding and disseminating the Quran's principles, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi strictly turned all attention away from himself as an individual and, rather, directed it entirely to the collectivity of his service and that of the Nur Students loyal to the service of strengthening iman with the Quranic lessons of the Risale-i Nur.

Below is a brief overview of the key events from Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s life which he categorises into the two distinct phases with respect to the Risale-i Nur: the Old Said and the New Said.

The Old Said

His Studies

The young Said completed his early and advanced level education across the madrasas of Eastern Anatolia. As a brave and outspoken student he was instantly noted for his extraordinary memory and intelligene which made him stand out among his peers and teachers. His amazing ability made the leading scholars and spiritual figures at the time award him the epithet "Bediuzzaman", meaning 'wonder of the age'.

Madrasat'uz Zahra - University Project

He made important headways into improving education by merging the traditional teachings of the madrasa with modern scientific education. His principal project was to establish a university in Eastern Turkey which he called the Madrasat'uz Zahra.

Visit to Istanbul

He later travelled to Istanbul to attract the attention of the Khalifa and the scholars (ulema) of Istanbul to the project of the Madrasat'uz Zahra and to reviving the model of education.

World War One

The breakout of World War One saw Bediuzzaman Said Nursi fighting in the Eastern Front of Anatolia. He lead a voluntary militia which consisted mostly of his students, and successfully defended against the Russian invasion. He was subsequently held as a prisoner of war until which time he escaped from the prison camp during the Bolshevik uprising in Russia and returned to Istanbul.

The New Said

Return to Istanbul

Upon returning to the capital of the Empire, he was appointed to the Darul Hikmat'ul Islamiya which operated under the office of the Shaykh'ul Islam. Here he addressed religious and philosophical questions. It is also during this time that he displayed a courageous struggle against the British occupation of Istanbul. He was later Invited to the newly formed parliament in Ankara after which he moved to Van to continue to further his university project, the Madrasat'uz Zahra.

Exile and Imprisonments

Following the establishment of the new republic, like many muslim scholars, Bediuzzaman was deemed a threat and was exiled under the new secular laws. For the following thirty years, his life was to be spent in imprisonment, exile, surveillance, under constant torment and harassment.

He was exiled first to village of Barla, then the provinces of Eskisehir, Kastamonu, Denizli, Afyon, Emirdag and then Isparta.

Writing of the Risale-i Nur

While in Barla he began composing the Risale-i Nur and focused his attention and efforts at directly strengthening the core tenets of belief. A small number of devoted students began copying out these Quranic works by scribing them and secretly disseminating the copies which were deemed illegal by the new repressive regime.

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi making his defence speech in court

Letters and Defences Speeches

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi underwent an incessant period of imprisonment, harassment and surveillance by the secular regime for composing his writings to uphold the principles of Quran and living the practices of the Noble Prophet (asm). His important letters and defence speeches that portray the practical implementations of service to the Quran have been included as an addendum to the Risale-i Nur collection.