thousand three hundred years – having grown through the meeting of minds and the expansion of their results – could not be found in a single person even in civilized places and among clever people. So whoever decks out his conscience with fairness will confirm that the Shari‘a is always beyond human power, and was particularly so at that time. And he will endorse the statement “you haven’t been able to do it and you won’t be able to.”
Virtue is that which is acknowledged even by enemies. For the American philosopher Carlyle1 quoted the famous German literary figure, Goethe, who asked after close study of the truths of the Qur’an: “Could the civilized world be further advanced within the bounds of Islam?” And he told himself: “Yes, indeed! For in one respect scholars now benefit from it.” Carlyle said too that Islam appeared like a flaming light and devoured the religions of the time. And it had the right to do so,s for it contained nothing of the “vain janglings” of some of the Christian sects or the “rumours ... and idle wiredrawings” of the Jews. He confirmed the meaning of the verse: “Then produce a Sura like thereunto... But if you cannot ... then fear the Fire...”(2:23-24)
If you were to ask: The Qur’an, and likewise its expounder – I mean Hadiths – have only taken summaries from all the sciences, but isn’t it possible for a single individual to comprehend numerous summaries?
You would be told: Through their apt positioning and fitting use in fertile ground, in matters that are only hinted at – as we indicated in the second point above – such summaries reveal like glass a full cognizance of the science [in question] and complete proficiency in it. So the summary becomes like the science and it would not be possible for such a person [as you mention to comprehend it].
Now understand that the conclusion of the above arguments is that firstly you should bear in mind the following rules: one person cannot be a specialist in a plethora of sciences; the same speech or words differ [when uttered by] two [different] people; [when uttered by] one they will be gold, and [when spoken by] the other they will be coal; the sciences result from
The famous historian and philosopher Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) was actually Scottish. He was born in Scotland and died in London. The two passages cited here are taken from his work On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History (London: 1841), the chapter entitled: The Hero as Prophet. Mahomet: Islam. It is not known what Nursi’s source was, for the first is rather a loose translation (See, pp. 74-5). Carlyle was actually praising the moral discipline and direction that Islam, and its Prophet, gives its adherents while at the same time not denying the pleasant things of life. It is not clear which remarks are his and which are Goethe’s. The second (pp. 64-5), is closer to the original, though there it is Islam that swallowed up the existing religions, not the Qur’an.