About the Risale-i Nur, The Words,
and their Author
The Words forms the first part of the Risale-i Nur Collection, a Qur’anic commentary exceeding five thousand pages which was written in Turkish by one of the most important Islamic scholars this century, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, in order to prove and explain the truths of belief to contemporary Muslims and modern man. In Bediuzzaman’s view, in the face of the assaults of materialist philosophy at the present time, the question which takes priority over all else for Muslims is the saving and strengthening of belief. For it is only in belief in God that man’s true happiness and progress, and the cure for the wounds caused him by materialism and misguidance, are to be found. Bediuzzaman devoted his life and learning to the achievement of these.
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi was born in 1877 in eastern Turkey and died in 1960 in Urfa in Turkey. Readers may refer to his biography for details of his long and exemplary life, which spanned the last decades of the Ottoman Empire, its collapse after the First World War and the setting up of the Republic, then the twenty-five years of Republican Peoples’ Party rule, well-known for the measures taken against Islam, followed by the ten years of Democrat rule, when conditions eased a little for Bediuzzaman. Here we shall mention just a few points which are relevant to the Risale-i Nur and will assist in understanding The Words. With this same aim some general points about the Risale-i Nur are included, and the method, which is particular to Bediuzzaman, that it employs for teaching the Qur’anic truths.
Bediuzzaman displayed an extraordinary intelligence and ability to learn from an early age, completing the normal course of medrese (religious school) education at the early age of fourteen, when he obtained his diploma. He became famous for both his prodigious memory and his unbeaten record in debating with other religious scholars. Another characteristic Bediuzzaman displayed from an early age was an instinctive dissatisfaction with the existing education system, which when older he formulated into comprehensive proposals for its reform. The heart of these proposals was the bringing together and joint teaching of the traditional religious sciences and the modern sciences, together with the founding of a university in the Eastern Provinces of the Empire, the Medresetü’z-Zehra, where this and his other proposals would be put into practice. In 1907 his endeavours in this field took him to Istanbul where he presented a petition at the court of Sultan Abdulhamid. Although subsequently he twice received funds for the construction of his university, and its foundations were laid in 1913, it was never completed due to war and the vicissitudes of the times.