fate sent us to another place of ordeal. Out of compassion for my old age and in order to make us work harder in the service of belief, duties were given us outside our will and power in this third School of Joseph, in accordance with the verse, “But it is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you,” and the saying: “Good lies in what God chooses.”
Yes, there are three instances of wisdom and important benefits in respect of the service of the Risale-i Nur in divine grace turning – out of compassion for my old age – the caves of my youth, when I had no powerful, hidden enemies, into the solitary confinement of prison:
First Instance of Wisdom and Benefit: It is only in the School of Joseph that the Risale-i Nur students can gather together without harm. Outside it is expensive and causes suspicion if they meet together. Some who came to visit me would spend forty or fifty liras, then see me for only twenty minutes or not at all, and would have to return. I would have willingly chosen the hardship of prison to be closer to some of my brothers. This means that for us prison is a bounty and instance of mercy.
Second Instance of Wisdom and Benefit: The service to belief at this time through the Risale-i Nur has to be through advertising it everywhere and attracting the attention of those in need. Attention is drawn to the Risale-i Nur by our imprisonment; it is like an advertisement. The most stubborn or most needy find it and save their belief; their obduracy is broken and they are saved from danger, and the Risale-i Nur’s study-circle is widened.
Third Instance of Wisdom and Benefit: The Risale-i Nur students who are sent to prison learn from one another’s conduct, qualities, sincerity, and self-sacrifice, and they no longer seek worldly benefits in their service. Yes, since in the School of Joseph they have seen with their own eyes the ten and perhaps a hundred benefits gained for every hardship and difficulty, and the good results, and the extensive and sincere service to belief, they are successful in attaining pure sincerity and no longer lower themselves by seeking minor, personal benefits.
A subtle but sad, yet at the same time agreeable, point concerning these places of ordeal that concerns myself only is this: I observe the same situation here that I saw in the old medreses in my native region in my youth. For traditionally in the eastern provinces, some of the medrese students’ needs were met from outside, and in some medreses their food was cooked in the medrese. There were other ways they resembled this place of ordeal. As I watch the prison here, I feel a pleasurable regret and longing, and travel in my imagination to those enjoyable times of youth, and forget the difficulties of old age.