Said Nursi (1876 –1960), the most influential Islamic scholar in modern Turkish history, is the inspiration behind the hugely popular Nur movement (Nurculuk). Guided by his masterwork, the Risale-i Nur, Nursi's followers shun political ambition, focusing instead on a revival of personal faith through study, self-reform and service of others. Nursi lived through the upheavals that led to the establishment of a vigorously secular Turkish republic in place of the dismembered Ottoman caliphate. Nursi was educated through the medrese system in the traditional Islamic disciplines but also mastered modern Western philosophical and scientific ideas in order to address the challenges Muslims face now. In some ways the Risale-i Nur functions as an interpretation of the Qurʾan for the contemporary world; millions within and outside Turkey have found solace in that interpretation.
The first part of this book recounts the major phases in Nursi's life, locating his prolific literary output through long years of incarceration and exile. Part 2 explains the structure and principal themes of the Risale-i Nur, especially the proper role of human selfhood. Part 3 discusses the cultural-political dimensions of Nursi's ideas about nationhood, constitutional government, plurality and diversity, the jihad of heart and conscience, and the need to avoid violence and sedition. The conclusion reviews the legacy of Nursi's work and its continuing impact.
Said Nursi was published in 2009.
Colin Turner is Lecturer in Islamic Studies and Persian at the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, University of Durham. His most recent publications are: Islam (2005); Shi'ism: Critical Concepts in Islamic Studies (co-edited with Paul Luft, 2007); Challenging Islamic Fundamentalism: The Three Principles of Mulla Sadra (2008).
Hasan Horkuc, Research Fellow in the School of Government and International Affairs, University of Durham, is the author of the doctoral dissertation: 'Said Nursi's Ideal for Human Society: Moral and Social Reform in the Risale-i Nur' (Durham, 2004).