Christian Theologian: "The Risale-i Nur is a unique and special Qur'anic commentary"
Our recent international seminar hosted in Istanbul and titled "Islamic Theology and Culture" covered a broad range of topics including that of Science, Education, History and Culture, Kalam Theology, Tawhid (Unity), Prayer, Islamophobia and so on. The attendants were predominantly from Ukraine and Russia.
The seminars, which took place between the 12th and 16th of January also covered societal and sociological issues that impacted the world of Islam such as the concept of Humanity, Society, Family, Morality, Women and the issue of Jihad. Participants at the seminar stated that due to the issue of Islamophobia many religious people and theologians in their respective countries have been unable to evaluate the true nature of Islam and discover its values. The foreign participants at our seminar thus found many answers to the questions that they gave with respect to these issues.
The participants engaged with the life and works of Said Nursi and his Risale-i Nur and expressed their feelings, thoughts and ideas to interviewers and reporters after the seminar.
We Must Engage In A Joint Struggle Against Irreligion
Prof. Dr. Sergey Mezentsev, a minister from an Evalengical Russian church and an expert in social, historical and religious philosophy stated that a very high level of theoretical discussion took place at the seminar.
Prof. Dr. Mezentsev said that he has come to find some common ground between Christianity and Islam on the issue of the "Language Of God's Unity" and that such seminars can serve as a ground for mutual co-operation between the two faiths on such issues. In addition, Prof. Mezentsev said that atheistic thought and irreligion are common enemies for both Christians and Muslims. "Atheism sees the world as a product of dialectic materialism", he said. "It plants the seeds of deceptions into peoples' minds, breeds corruption and drags spiritual matters from its lofty heights down to the base level of materialism and matter alone. We must join together to fight such currents".
He also said that if Muslims and Christians maintain a fundamental level of mutual co-operation against materialism and atheism, then the spiritual and moral values of their respective faiths can be saved and preserved. Mezentsev also stated that Islam is a peaceful religion and that terrorists around the world had been wrongfully committing acts in the name of Islam. Islam is not guilty for such acts, he said, further stating that "Criminals pursue their own worldly interests by donning such actions in the external cloak of Islam whilst sacrificing the lives of innocent people".
Prof. Mezentsev expressed his admiration for the atmosphere of religious freedom in Turkey as well as the climate of peace and harmony between religions in Anatolia. In addition he stated in this context that Bediuzzaman Said Nursi had contributed to such a religious climate, saying that "Said Nursi is a great spiritual leader for the people of this country". He went onto say that "The exegesis of the Qur'an that he wrote clearly indicates that he is a Mujaddid (i.e. a renewer of Islam). This is because the Risale-i Nur is very scholarly, scientific and also a modern sort of text. For us Christians, the Risale-i Nur is a very interesting text indeed."
Finally, the professor stated that for some reasons the Risale-i Nur has for some time been banned in various countries, including that of Russia. However, he expressed his opinion that it will not be long before the ban will be lifted on such a text and that many Russians will come to encounter the Risale-i Nur and engage with it.
Muslims are not terrorists
Another participant at our seminar was Igor Dmitruk from Ukraine, who is the head editor of an international scholarly research group on religion and philosophy as well as the head of the "Ukraine Philosophy and Religion Research Association". As a result of a short period of living in Turkey and experiencing an immersion in traditional Islam and the Risale-i Nur, Dmitrik had decided to become a muslim.
He expressed his wish to begin his talk with the words of Said Nursi:
"The Light of the Qur'an cures all the harms of the people of corruption via the Truths of Belief".
He also thanked both the founder of The IFSC Mehmed Firinci and the Executive Director Said Yuce for their willingness as muslims to act in co-operation with Christians against Islamophobia and atheism.
He went onto state that: "The activities that the IFSC is carrying out are helping and assisting towards increasing the knowledge of non-muslims with respect to what Islam is and who Muslims really are. Resultingly, all our participants here realise that Muslims are not advocates of terrorism and are in fact normal, civilized people. Rather, they are people who are ever-ready to assist and offer help to their fellow human beings, and are always heedful of worship and never neglectful in serving Allah. They are constant in their thankfulness to their Creator".
I Gained A Better Understanding Of How Muslims Perceive The World As Well As How They Think
Pavel Levushkan, a Lutheran priest from Latvia and head of the "Latvian Intercultural And Inter-Religious Communication Institute" stated the reason for his participating in the seminar at the IFSC as being "Learning about the best way that two great religions and their respective theological approaches can tackle the issue of bigotry, hatred and ignorance".
Levushkan expressed how much he had learned about Islam as a result of attending the seminar as well as how he found it a friendly atmosphere for Christians and Muslims to meet and find agreement and understanding in the face of the problems that both of them face in the world.
Levushkan stated that the Risale-i Nur acts on the one hand as a means for the further educational development and advancement of Muslims, and on the other hand as a means for co-operation with God-fearing Christians against the currents of atheistic materialism in the world. In light of the negative factors afflicting the world today, Levushkan stated that "Only through the widespread dissemination of books like the Risale-i Nur can we find a way to lessen the impact of the extremism and intolerance in our world". "Those who take a stance against the Risale", said Levushkan, "actually show a real desire to fall into radicalisation and ignorance".
The Risale-i Nur Is A Response To Society
Bogdan Strikalyuk, an Orthodox clergyman from Ukraine and head editor of the "Religion and Philosophy International Research Portal" told how much in common there was between the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity and Islam. With respect to improving relations between the two faiths, he told us:
"Regardless of which religion you are from, Said Nursi is a beacon and an illuminator of paths for all members of modern society. The Risale-i Nur comes as a response to such a modern society. In order to change the moral and spiritual state of this society, it is required that man should first change themselves with respect to their relationship to God. As a result, the world will start to transform".
Strikalyuk pointed out that not only through mere education and culture could such changes be carried out. In addition, there should be the development of a spirit of obedience and slavehood to God as well as the cultivation of love for Him. "Most fundamentally", emphasised Strikalyuk, "man's heart should be directed towards God above all".
The Risale-i Nur is a historically unique and special Qur'anic commentary
Dmitry Pakhomov, who is a Christian theologian from Russia expressed his thoughts of Said Nursi as being the "Great Turkish Luminary Of The 20th Century" and of the Risale-i Nur he said: "The Risale-i Nur is a treatise that has been written in a way for modern people to understand yet it is also deep in its meaning and resembles nothing that has yet been written".
The Sciences Contribute Towards The Advancement Of Spiritual Life
Aişa Şvets, a retired teacher from Russia, stated that the development of both the conventional sciences and the spiritual and religious sciences are highly important for the advancement of modern society:
"Whenever the new discoveries and developments of science are based upon or in conformity to the spirituality of human beings, in such cases they contribute to advancement."