Said Nursi's Thought On Community Development
Jufri Suyuthi Pulungan*
"Indeed, everything you say must be true, but it is not right to say everything true. If on occasion it is damaging, then be silent. But there is no fatwa for lying. Everything you say must be the truth, but you do not have the right to say everythiing that is true." (Badiuzzaman Said al-Nursi)
At the outset, I would like to express my warmest gratitude to the Director of The Istanbul Foundation for Science and Culture for his invitation to me to present a topic which will discuss the opinions of the universal Said Nursi's ideas, at the forum International Symposium "Bringing Faith, Meaning and Peace to Life in a Multicultural World: The Risale-i Nur's Approach." It is an honor for me to be invited here to present a paper at this the 7th International Symposium (October 2004).
The title of my paper is "Said Nursi's Thought on Community Development." This paper is a simple attempt which will understand to the Nursi's ideas on community development based on Risale-i Nur. My purpose in this writing want to understand some opinions of Said Nursi on community development which I am always thinking it. Because, as a Muslim believer, and Said Nursi understood the Al-Qur'an comprehensively, I want to know, Is Said Nursi discussed the principles of community development. Certainly, in no way this article shall exhaust the subject-matter (the topic), but it seeks only to draw attention to some aspects that will hopefully according to Said Nursi. It is inspiration from Risale-i Nur. This article, therefore, is a study to understand Nursi's ideas for community development, or the principles of community development according to Said Nursi.
Said Nursi, and he was known too as Badiuzzaman (light of period), was born in 1876 in the village of Nurs in Biltis of eastern Anatolia, Turkey. His parent is Mirza and Nuriyyah. They take to heart their children religion education. His oldest brother, Molla Abdullah is a theacher. Said Nursi was first educated by the his oldest brother. Then, he continued his study in sufi gatherings and followed the madrasah curricula and some scholars ('ulama'). He learned vigorously, therefore he very much understand to 'ulum al-din. But, he learned modern sciences too and comprehended it.1 Thus, he have width of vision and knowledge about foundation doctrines of Islamic religion and his society problems. Therefore, he was known as a modernist, faqih, sufi, da'i, educator, productive writer, and holy Qur'an interpreter and dynamic and resilient fighter. We can be tell that Said Nursi is a scholar ('ulama) know it all.
Therefore, Said Nursi is one of twentieth century Turkish a great modern Muslim thinker. His intellectual reputation as great thinker among Turkish Muslims can be seen from his monumental work, Kulliyat Rasa'il al-Nur, in which he deeply and broadly discusses the verses of the Qur'an and Hadits within the contexts of the real problem of humanity during his time from Qur'anic perspective. For this reason, I would call his work Tafsir Rasa'il al-Nur. Nursi's understanding of the verses of the Qur'an in relation to the causes and solutions of various social problem show that he is a great mufassir. By the his width knowledge, if he interpret to verses of the Qur'an, he always connected its with his society problems intently, then he discusses the problems with most scholars ('ulama') and peoples in Turkey. In this contexts, Said Nursi said, really that ideas need to a interpretation according to Qur'an, each period there is norms and needs to interpreter (mufassir). The factors and events is dynamic.2
According to M. Hakan Yavuz, that "Nursi's understanding of Islam was based on his understanding of human nature. He believed that certain characteristics are innate to all human being."3 Beside it is, but the his understanding of Islam, according to me, he was base on certain characteristics of human life. He was understood of Islam normatively base on the Qur'anic approach and contextually with reality of social life. Therefore, If he discusses doctrine of Islam in the Holy Qur'an, he always connected it with society problems and he always to make solutions for each problem within Islamic perspective.
Nursi's creative and prospective ideas in relation to the problems of Muslim society show that he is eager to free his people ignorance, poverty, conflicts, backwardness, moral degradation caused by tyrant government. He wants Muslim society to be a respected community guided by the Qur'an and Sunnah of the Prophet. For this purposes, Nursi stresses the importance of religious awrness among Muslims based on tauhid or faith, akhlaq al-karimah, syura, freedom, knowledge, justice, peace, unity, and brotherhood. He believes that this principles ar basic foundation for the developing hablumminallah (relationship with Allah) and hablumminannas (relationship among human beings).
According to me, the most important issues being faced by Said Nursi in his writings in the relation to the life social problems are faith, moral (akhlaq al-karimah), syura (democracy) and freedom, justice, brotherhood, peaceful, education and science, politic and government, civilization and other issues. This paper addresses to treat to eight issues, are faith (iman), moral (akhlaq al-karimah), syura (democracy) and freedom, justice, peace, brotherhood, knowledge and unity as the principles of Mulim community development.
Principle of Faith
Islam as religion was instructed that one of his important teachins is faith (iman). The faith is very important in human life. Said Nursi Said, a believer in Allah is understanding to his Creator and believer Him, the Creator. And the only believer will get to the condition of safety and live in peace.4 The good faith, according to Said Nursi, to consist of believe to Allah, angels, prophets, Holy Books, hereafter and taqdir.5 The function of faith can to bring closer believer with his Creator. Faith will approach human with strong bundle and he rely on Allah. Therefore, he will show qualities of God within him self. Faith will guide heart, mind, attitude and conduct with guidance of Allah so that he will find good action (ihsan) in his life.6 Apparently, Said Nursi believed that faith is the vitality resource for development of man's intellectual weakness. He said that a man have religion faith by inquiry (al-iman al-haqiqi) not faith through imitation (al-iman al-taqlid) always to look at things is clean, freedom of prejudice, the goal of his life is ridhallah, because he believed to God. "A Muslim," according to Said Nursi, as wriiten by M. Yakan Yavuz, "must be inquire why he or she is created and how one comes to exist. After becoming conscious of these questions, Muslim can construct a community withs consciousness. He argued that all virtues - justice, peace, honesty, integrity and love- emanate from faith in a higher judge and religiously based moral precepts; whereas anarchy, egoism, oppression and poverty are all outcomes of the lack of faith and moral presepts."7 The faith to strengthen spirituality as filter for his morality. In spite of, Said Nursi believed that since religion is innate to human nature, the lack of religion as the source of many conflicts and wars. According to Said Nursi, the faith is outcome of where the absence of God in public space. For the solution of the problem, he offered so that God back or present to the public space.8 And the only way to manage this tension is by developing a full connection with Allah. Connecting to Allah as the evidence of human's religion faith (hablum minallah). And if the faith application by each people in his life and society as principle of brotherhood, the brotherhood as source of peace and harmony (hablum minannas).
Principle of Moral (Akhlaq al-Karimah)
In his writings, said Nursi very much attention to development of society with good moral. Its for him to establishes all human action and character. The good ethic-moral (akhlaq) is dimension for whole human action or the good society influenced by good moral of each people. Al-Qur'an and Hadits, Said Nursi, ordered to mankind to development moral building and draw a moral from Muhammad prophet. The boths Holy books as doctrines source of Islam have ethic-moral order universally. This idea, it seems, he bases tohis statement: "Islam is a mercy for public."9 Said Nursi saw that application of the Qur'an doctrines about ethic-moral by each Muslim in his life and society as foundation for moral building of ummah (community or nation). The good moral become a foundation of social life. He believed that good moral is innate to all human beings. The evil moral of a society as sources of many conflicts, badness, evils and even wars.
Therefore, he wants to make reformation his society condition based on Qur'anic doctrines. His mission, therefore, is mental and morality building of Muslim society and liberation them from undeveloped. The bad ethic-moral is one of other factor of a society undeveloped. He argued that transformation of mental and moral society as transformation pillar for other aspects of lives; religious, economic, politics, education, civilization, and rule of law. Because, they committed to good moral, according to Said Nursi, they will set an example for Prophet and they conduct according to akhlaq al-ilahiyyah. They are going carry out law and order, their life filled with worship to God. The morals conduct of individual, the direct of his life connected to the God only. I he understood his weakness, he will seek to protection of the power and strength of Allah, if saw his poor and miserable, he will ask for mercy of Allah, if he done sins and crimes, he will ask for forgiveness of Allah.10 Thus, with the moral conduct which inherent to self of invididual, he always consider all of his conducts base on doctrine of Allah, because he always feel to looked out by Allah. The good moral was formed by faith.
Principle of Syura (democracy) and Freedom
Syura is one of pillars of community development. Application syura in life society and government to establish peace and social harmony. The meaning of syura is consultation affairs or problem of aspects in human life. Allah Said: "and consult them of affairs."11 and "who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation."12 Consultation is the keyword of the syura, and suggest the ideal way in which a good man should conduct hid affairs, so that, he may not become egotistical, and he may not lightly abandon the responsibilities which develop on him as a personality whose development counts in the sight of Allah. Institution of syura in sociological approach is a need for each people to solve his affairs, so that, to avoid of conflict between them. By the syura, their conduct in life is open and determined by mutual consultation between those who are entitled to a voice, in private domestic affairs, as between husband and wife, or other responsible members of the household: in affairs of business, as between partners or parties interested: in state affairs as between rulers and ruled, or as between different departments of administration to reserve the unity of administration. This principle was applied to its fullest extent by the Prophet in his private and public life, and was fully acted by early rulers of Islam.13 Said Nursi said application of this principle in state affairs to avoid tyranny of government. Therefore, syura, within Said Nursi's view, is an important necessity on the basis of syariah. He argued that syura is a power to struggle truth, justice, to know affair and harmony in human life. The institution of syura in his opinion is an attempt to guarantee freedom (al-hurriyah) of speech, freedom of action, freedom to find of equality in the public space, and al-hurriyah to existence unity of life society extently. Syura and freedom, for Said Nursi, is interrelation. He suggested an argument, that each people requires freedom to realize the power of God. The syura or democracy and freedom are treated as the necessary conditions for the existence of the just society. The function of syura to realize live together.
On the basis of his the opinion above, he criticized to opinion of scholars of the West which said that syariah is some doctrines to depend the tyranny in the public life. The their opinion, Said Nursi said, as a prejudice and wrong. Because, they did not understand to syura substantively. In this connection, Said Nursi wish to say that their critic its have not indication or argument.
If we understand to doctrine of syura and Said Nursi's opinion in the sociology perspective, we can to draw a conclusion that syura is social interaction by which people act toward or respond to other people and is the foundation for all relationship and groups in society. Sociology, as we know as, is the systematic study of human society and social interaction. Syura is a dimension of social interaction to develop social harmony. The social harmony between groups in society to be a solution to avoid the social conflicts.
Principle of Justice
Justice is one of the basis of social life and important need for each individual, every society and all nations. To realize of justice is a very importance in social life, Islam stressed so that each individual, every community in society and government have to participate to carry out justice in the whole of the life aspects. The word which means justice appears in the Qur'an 27 times,14 in large contexts of life aspects are the court, business, economic, politic and human rights. Said Nursi said, that individual rights can not disappeared by society. As a member of society, his rights have to saved by member all of society.15 The meaning of this statement, each individual have rights to find his rights which ordered by teaching of Islam, and society respect for the rights. He argued, to disappear individual rights will results in conflicts.16 The basis of justice is equality. The justice which is not base on equality there is no justice.17 The indication of justice within Nursi's opinion:e To give something base on the best of ability and scales, whit special compration, the useful is according to certainty, to place it on the suitable place, to give something to man qualified. The core of justice to make easy of each affair.18
The justice can be enjoyed by the absolute equality in the forward of law, and can only be applied by changing human nature and removing the fundamental wisdom in the mankind's creation. Yes, by birth and the way each individual have lived he is from the class of common people, and one of those who by temperament and intellectually have accepted the way of 'equality of rights.' And due to compassion and the justice proceeding from Islam. Because, Said Nursi a long time have opposed and worked against the despotism and oppression of the elite class called the bourgeouisie. And he, therefore, support total justice with all his strength, and oppose tyranny, oppression, arbitrary power, and despotism.19
So, we may understand how basic to human life are the principles of justice, frugality, and cleanliness, which are truths of the Qur'an and Islamic principles. And know how closely connected with the universe are the injunctions of the Qur'an, having spread their firm roots everywhere, and that it is impossible to destroy those truths like it is impossible to destroy the universe and change its form.20
And for example, a just ruler takes pleasure and is gratified and feels proud at taking the part of the oppressed against tyrants in order to uphold justice, at protecting the poor against the wrongdoing of the powerful, and at giving to everyone his due. Since this is a fundamental rule of rulership and justice.21 Althought the justice is rights for each man and woman and so too the freedom, and the boths is interrelation, but acoording to Said Nursi, it is not possible through tyranny and injustice to destroy freedom.22
Thus, the justice include to the whole aspects of human life, and it is an important foundation and norm to create permanent harmony in his individually life and society.
Principle of Peace
Human is a social being, peace occur in social interaction between and among human individual. Likewise conflict occur in social interaction between and among human individuals. Peace is important when there is conflict or not, but peace is more importantly should better be understood to exist when all members of the society can develop their capacities and potentials. Therefore, peace is the basic of community development. Wuthout peace, each invidual and all members of the society are not taken for granted scurity.
Al-Qur'an very stressed about of peace in human life. The word peace is same meaning with the word salam. This word appears in the Qur'an 157 times, an adjective 50 times, and a verb 28 times.23 Islam is the name of the Religion, Islamic Religion. Its derived from the same root al-salam, wich mean peace. Therefore, Islam is a religion peace.24
How so was mentioned, that between the justice and peace is interrelation. To build justice at the same time will realize the justice in human life. Said Nursi said, therefore, that peace will not become in fact and reality in society, if there is no justice between members all of society; between public society and elite, between poor and rich. The basis of justice is love, to have great pity and mercy of elite to public society, to serve public society and have respect to elite.25
Description of the peace, within Said Nursi's view, is each individual and another are members of a collective personality such as that, worthy of the title of 'perfect man.' Human life in peace are like the components of a factory's machinery which produces eternal happiness within eternal life in the realm of peace to obtain the shore of salvation. So this condition to make sure us that we are surely in need of solidarity and true union.26
The peace must be formed with "heartfelt solidarity and union through the mystery of sincerity are the means to innumerable benefits, and so too are they an effective shield and point of support against fear, and even death. For if death comes, it takes one spirit. But since through the mystery of true brotherhood on the way of Divine pleasure in works connected with the Hereafter there are spirits to the number of brothers, if one of them dies, he meets death happily."27
The application of peace will establish concord relation and security within social life, and each member of society will find opportunity to develop the his potentials and capacities to realize the necessity of his life. Thus, peace is one of the foundation of community development.
Principle of Brotherhood and Unity
The word brotherhood is same meaning with the word al-ukhuwwah. Brotherhood is relation between two individual and between groups of society. According to Said Nursi, the brotherhood consist of Islamic brotherhood and nationality brotherhood. The concept of brotherhood in Islam can to unite within the fold of Islam, that is irrespective of particular outlook, remembering those numerous ties of unity that evoke love, brotherhood and concord.28 Practise the brotherhood, Said Nursi said, is love and co-operation wich was insistently called by hundreds of Qur'anic verses and traditions of the Prophet. To establish the brotherhood with all of members of the Muslim Society as a union religion that is stronger than the union of the worldly.29 Therefore, he stated in the brotherhood need to honour of all the individuals' generally, and so that sacrificing from great collective honour for personal, selfish, competitive, minor fame and renown. Because, everyone has an evil-commanding soul, and sometimes the soul's emotions influence certain veins of character, and govern to an extent in spite of the heart, mind, and spirit.30 It is meaning that the brotherhood have base on equality and we able to govern our self and avoid of the bad characteristic. He argued, "the most brother helps and supports brother; he completes his service. Evidence that much harm and many mistakes have resulted from the envy, greed for spiritual reward, and high aspirations of the paths of spiritual guides are the conflict and rivalry among those who."31
The brotherhood and unity, for Said Nursi, like the finest machinery in a factory, the beings and realms of beings in the universe assist one another, and work to complete each other's functions. With their solidarity and co-operation, their answering each other's requests and hastening to assist to each other, their embracing each other and being one within the other, they form a unity of existence according to which, like the members of the human body, they cannot be separated from each other. If someone controls one of its members yet does not have control over all of them, his mastery over the single member will not be true mastery.32 Thus, this co-operation, solidarity, mutual response, and embracing one another forms a most brilliant supreme seal of Divine Unity.33
The brotherhood and unity, according to me, like between fish and water, the both cannot be separated from each other. If a fish, we separate it from water, it will die.
The principles of faith, good moral, syura and freedom, justice, peace, brotherhooh, unity, and education and knowlodge for Said Nursi, required by each people and groups in society to develop his and them relation with the God and live together in society. Therefore, the principles are become foundations to develop community, that is community which to take care of the relation with his God and life together within social life.
The faith (tauhid) is a foundation to develop a full connection with God, so that, its grow to consciousness to present God in private live and public live. The faith is spirit to influence the others principles. The good moral (akhlaq al-karimah) conduct to a good attitude and action in the social interaction. The basis of good moral community is faith. All virtues; justice, peace, honesty, integrity and love, for Said Nursi, emanate from faith which ethic-moral conduct Syura and freedom are basis of social communication to live together. By the Syura will to gather the strength and good ideas to solve of various social problems. The dynamic of the both in human life, good moral and syura, within human life as a social being will become the foundation for all relationship of groups in society. Then, all members of society may and can develop their capacities and potentials, but, on the basis of faith and good ethic-moral. Then justice and peace is interrelation to construct harmony relation between all members of society. And brotherhood will spell the good conducts to one another value, although, they are difference.
If the all members of society understood the principles was mentioned and committed to apply in social life, they can to construct a community according to Islamic doctrines.
J. Suyuthi Pulungan is Professor of the history of Islamic Thought and Civilization in the Faculty of Adab, State Institute of Islamic Studies, Raden Fatah in Palembang, Indonesia. He was born in July 13, 1956 in South Tapanuli, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Among his works are Fiqh Siyasah: Ajaran, Sejarah dan Pemikiran (1994, and republished in 2003), Prinsip-Prinsip Pemerintahan dalam Piagam Madinah Ditinjau dari Pandangan Al-Qur'an (1994 and republished in 2002), Universalisme Islam (2002), "Wawasan Al-Qur'an Tentang Manusia dalam Konteks Lingkungan Hidup, Sosial dan Kebudayaan" (1999, research), "Pencerahan Pemahaman dan Aktualisasi Ajaran Islam di Era Global" (article in Intizar Journal, 2000), "Wawasan Islam tentang Pluralitas Kehidupan Sosial dan Kerjasama Kemanusiaan" (seminar paper, 2002).
1. Badiuzzaman Said al-Nursi, Kulliyat Rasa'il al-Nur, Vol. 9, (Istanbul: S?zler Ne?riyat, 1998), 35, 36, Eee too M. Hakan Yavuz, Islamic Political Identity in Turkey (John L. Esposito, Series Editor), (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 152.
2. Badiuzzaman Sa'id al-Nursi, Vol. 8, 37.
3. See Yavuz, 157.
4. Badiuzzaman Sa'id al-Nursi, Kulliyat Rasa'il al-Nur, Vol. 1, 11.
5. Badiuzzaman Sa'id al-Nursi, Vol. 3, 292, 297, 347, 566, 567, 458.
6. See Vol. 1, 348 - 349.
7. See Yavuz, op. cit., 158.
8. See Ibid., 157.
9. See Vol. 6, 169.
10. See Vol. 1, 642.
11. Q.S. Ali Imran/3: 159.
12. Q.S. al-Syura/42:38.
13. Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an, Text, Translation and Commentary, New Revised Edition, (Brentwood, Maryland: Amana, 1989), 1257.
14. Muhammad Fuad Abd al-Baqy, Al-Mu'jam al-Mufahras li Alfaz al-Qur'an al-Karim (Dar al-Fikr, 1947).
15. See Vol. 2, 67.
16. See Ibid., 342-343.
17. See Vol. 1, 873.
18. See Ibid., 69.
19. See Nursi, The Flashes Collection/The Twenty-Second Flash (Istanbul: S?zler Publications, 2000), 226.
20. See The Flashes Collection/The Thirtieth Flash/The Divine Name.
21. See Ibid.
22. See The Flashes Collection//The Twenty-Second Flash, 226.
23. See Fuad Abd al-Baqy.
24. Islamic Millennium Journal, Volume 1, Number 1, Nov. 2001, Asian Muslim Action Network, Indonesia, 2.
25. See Badiuzzaman Said al-Nursi, Vol. 6, 474.
26. See The Flashes Collection/The Twenty First Flash/On Sincerity, 214.
27. See Ibid. 215.
28. See Ibid. 203.
29. See Ibid. 208.
30. See Ibid. 220.
31. See The Flashes/The Thirtieth Flash/The Divine Name.
32. See The Flashes Collection/The Thirtieth Flash/The Divine Name.
33. See The Flashes Collection/The Thirtieth Flash/The Divine Name.