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  • Badī’uzzaman’s Letters

    Thus, during that period of oppression when, under the name of secularization, those in power were seeking the virtual eradication of Islām and Islāmic culture and their substitution by irreligion and materialist philosophy of Western origin, with his unequalled learning, extraordinarily clear vision and foresight, and his courage and his writings Badī’uzzaman became a point of hope and strength for the people. Despite the adverse conditions and efforts to isolate him in Barla, he began to attract students – so-called since he described himself as a teacher. Drawn by those “lights of belief” in that dark time, they willingly suffered the persecution and assisted him by writing out and spreading the Words. The writing and dissemination was another unique feature of the Risāla-i Nūr; Badī’uzzaman would dictate at speed to his students who acted as scribes. He had no books for reference and the writing of religious works was of course forbidden. They were all written therefore in the mountains and out in the countryside. Handwritten copies of the treatises or the letters were then made of the originals and these were conveyed to the Nur students and secretly copied out in their houses. These copies were passed from village to village, and then from town to town, with more and more copies being made on the way till eventually they spread throughout Turkey.
    Travel was not easy and Badī’uzzaman communicated by letter with those of his students who lived in towns and villages other than Barla. Largely in reply to their questions, the letters offer important guidance on numerous points of belief and Islām, explained in the light of the Risāla-i Nūr and its way, and in the face of the misguidance of the times. Indeed, they form an important source and authority on many subjects for Muslims today.

    Since some of his students had previously been attached to Sufi orders, he sometimes explains the way of the Risāla-i Nūr to them through comparisons with the Sufi way. The primary aim of the Risāla-i Nūr is the saving and strengthening of belief. Employing both the intellect and the heart, Badī’uzzaman described it as “reality” (ḥaqīqah) and Shari’a, rather than ṭarīqah , that is Sufism.

    It is the highway of the Qur’an, which teaches the true affirmation of divine unity; true and certain belief, attained in a short time through investigation and the exercise of the reason. The direct way to reality and knowledge of Allah, which is the way of the Companions of Prophet (UWBP) through “the legacy of prophethood.”

    Some of the letters offer guidance and encouragement to the students by answering criticisms and misrepresentations put forward by those antithetical to religion, concerning both points of Islām and Badī’uzzaman himself. Others expose the plans to corrupt Islām through the introduction of innovations. They show how on the one hand Badī’uzzaman was absolutely uncompromising in the face of enemies to religion, and on the other his complete fairness and moderateness in adjudicating points of conflict and controversy within Islām. All these illustrate his profound knowledge of many subjects, as well as the clarity and power of his style, which is based on logic.

    Badī’uzzaman did not ascribe the Risāla-i Nūr to himself; he saw it as a divine favour bestowed because of need, with himself as the means. In some of his letters he writes that he feels justified in describing these “divine favours which pertain to the service of the Qur’an” to his students, in order to encourage them in the exceedingly difficult conditions of the time, since they were a mark of the acceptability of both his writings and their service. A number of them were mentioned above.

    In relating these divine favours to his students, he was impressing on them the importance of the Qur’anic way of the Risāla-i Nūr and its function of saving and strengthening belief at that time when the very foundations of Islām were being threatened. In a way outside their own will and knowledge, they were being employed, they were being made to work. Indeed, within the twenty-five years of Badī’uzzaman’s exile, the handful of students grew into many thousands, the Risāla-i Nūr movement and its service to belief and the Qur’an spread throughout Turkey, despite all efforts to stop it.

    After 1950, the period of what Badī’uzzaman called the Third Said, there was a great increase in the number of students, particularly among the young and those who had been through the secular education system of the re public. At the same time the number of students outside Turkey increased. It is no exaggeration to say that by its conveying the Qur’anic message in a way that addresses and answers needs of the people of the present, the Risāla-i Nūr played a major role in keeping alive the Islāmic faith in Turkey in those dark days and in the resurgence of Islām that has occurred subsequently. Badī’uzzaman indeed continues to “prove and demonstrate to the world that the Qur’an is an undying, inextinguishable Sun.”

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