Bediuzzaman had immersed himself in the Holy Book, searching for a way tolerate its truths to modern man. In Barla in his isolation he began to write treatises explaining and proving these truths, for now the Holy Book itself and its truths were under direct attack. The first of these was on the Resurrection of the Dead, which in a unique style proves bodily Resurrection rationally, where even the greatest scholars previously had confessed their impotence. He described the method employed in this as consisting of three stages: first God’s existence is proved, and His Names and attributes, then the Resurrection of the Dead is ‘constructed’ on these and proved.
With these writings, Bediuzzaman opened up a new, direct way to reality and knowledge of God which he described as the highway of the Holy Book and way of the Companions of the Messenger through the ‘legacy of Prophethood,’ which gains for those who follow it . True and certain belief.’ He did not ascribe the writings to himself, but said they proceeded from the Holy Book itself, were ‘rays shining out of from [its] truths.’
Thus, rather than being a the Holy Book’s commentary which expounds all its verses giving the immediate reasons for their revelation and the apparent meanings of the words and sentences, the Risale-i Nur is what is known as a spiritual commentary, or commentary which expounds the meaning of the Holy Book’s truths. They are sorts of commentaries. The verses mostly expounded in the Risale-i Nur are those concerned with the truths of belief, such as the Pine Names and attributes and the Pine activity in the universe, the Pine existence and Unity, resurrection, Prophethood, Pine Determining or destiny, and man’s duties of worship
Bediuzzaman explains how the Holy Book addresses all men in every age in accordance with the degree of their understanding and development; it has a face that looks to each age. The Risale-i Nur, then, explains that face of the Holy Book, which looks to this age.
In numerous of its verses, the Holy Book invites man to observe the universe and reflect onthe Pine activity within it; following just this method, Bediuzzaman provides proofs and explanations for the truths of belief. He likens the universe to a book, and looking at it in the way shown by the Holy Book, that is, ‘reading’ it for its meaning, learns of the Pine Names and attributes and other truths of belief. The book’s purpose is to describe its Author and Maker; beings become evidences and signs to their Creator. Thus, an important element in the way of the Risale-i Nur is reflection or contemplation, ‘reading’ the Book of the Universe in order to increase in knowledge of God and to obtain . True and certain belief’ in all the truths of belief.
“The Risale-i Nur demonstrates that all beings, on all levels, are interrelated, interconnected and interdependent, like concentric or intersecting circles. It shows that beings come into existence as though from nowhere, and, during their brief lives, each with its own particular purpose, goal and mission, act as mirrors in which various Divine Attributes, and countless configurations of Divine Names, are displayed.—Consider this: When you stand by a river, you see countless images of the sun reflecting in the floating bubbles on it. When those bubbles enter into a tunnel, the images are no longer seen. However, other bubbles coming to the point where you stand will also show the same reflections, and when they also go into the tunnel, the reflections will disappear. This evidently demonstrates that those images do not belong to the bubbles themselves: bubbles cannot own them. Rather, by reflecting its images, the bubbles show the sun’s existence, and through their disapperance in the tunnel, they demonstrate their transience vis-à-vis the permanence of the sun.— It is just like this that through their coming into life, impotence and contingence, their total dependence on factors other than themselves, beings demonstrate beyond doubt that they owe their existence to the One Who necessarily exists, creates and has power over all things, and that through their transience and death, they show the permanence of that One.”
Bediuzzaman demonstrates that the irrefutable truths, such as Pine Unity, arrived at in this way are the only rational and logical explanation of the universe, and making comparisons with Naturalist and Materialist philosophy which have used science’s findings about the universe to deny those truths, show the concepts on which they are based, such as causality and Nature, to be irrational and logically absurd.
Indeed, far from contradicting them, in uncovering the order and working of the universe, science broadens and deepens knowledge of the truths of belief. In the Risale-i Nur many descriptions of the Pine activity in the universe are looked at through the eyes of science, and reflect Bediuzzaman’s knowledge of it. The Risale-i Nur shows that there is no contradiction or conflict between religion and science.
In addition, all these matters discussed in the Risale-i Nur are set out as reasoned arguments and proved according to logic. All the most important of the truths of belief are proved so clearly that even unbelievers can see their necessity. And so too, inspired by the Qur’an, even the most profound and inaccessible truths are made accessible by means of comparisons, which bring them close to the understanding like telescopes, so that they are readily understandable by ordinary people and those with no previous knowledge of these questions.
Another aspect of the Risale-i Nur related to the face of the Holy Book which looks to this age, is that it explains everything from the point of view of wisdom; that is, as is mentioned again below, it explains the purpose of everything. It considers things from the point of view of the Pine Name of All Wise.
“The Risale-i Nur destroys these myths and superstitions. Given that all things are interconnected, it reiterates, whatever it is that brings existence to the seed of a flower must also be responsible for the flower itself, as well as for the apparent causes of the flower’s existence such as air, water, sunlight and earth; and given their interdependence, whatever brings into existence the flower must also be responsible for the tree; and given the fact that they are interrelated, whatever brings into existence the tree must also be responsible for the forest, and so on. Thus to be able to create a single atom, one must also be able to create the whole cosmos. That is surely a tall order for a cause which is blind, impotent, transient, dependent and devoid of knowledge of our purpose.”
Also, following this method, in the Risale-i Nur Bediuzzaman solved many mysteries of religion, such as bodily resurrection and Pine Determining and man’s will, and the riddle of the constant activity in the universe and the motion of particles, before which man relying on his own intellect and philosophy had been impotent.
While in Barla, Bediuzzaman put the treatise on Resurrection and the pieces that followed it together in the form of a collection and gave it the name of The Words. Letters, a collection of thirty-three letters of varying lengths from Bediuzzaman to his students, followed the Words. And The Flashes Collection and The Rays followed this, which was completed in 1949. Together with these are the three collections of Additional Letters, for each of Bediuzzaman’s main places of exile, Barla Lahikasi, Kastamonu Lahikasi, and Emirdag Lahikasi.
“The Risale-i Nur also concentrates on the ontological character of man. Each of us is born in total ignorance; the desire to know ourselves and our world is an innate one. Thus “Who am I? Where did I come from? What is this place in which I find myself? What is my duty here? Who is responsible for bringing me into existence? What is that which life and death ask of us?”—these are questions which each of us needs to answer and answers in his own way, either through direct observation or through blind acceptance of the answers suggested by others. And how one lives one’s life, the criterion by which one acts in this world, depends totally on the nature of those answers.”
The way the Risale-i Nur was written and disseminated was unique, like the work itself. Bediuzzaman would dictate at speed to a scribe, who would write down the piece in question with equal speed; the actual writing was very quick. Bediuzzaman 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 were then made, these were secretly copied out in the houses of the Risale-i Nur ‘students,’ as they were called, and passed from village to village, and then from town to town, till they spread throughout Turkey. Only in 1946 were Risale-i Nur students able to obtain duplicating machines, while it was not till 1956 that various parts were printed on modern presses in the new, Latin, script. The figure given for hand-written copies is 600,000.
It may be seen from the above figure how the Risale-i Nur movement spread within Turkey, despite all efforts to stop it. After 1950, the period of what Bediuzzaman 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 Republic. At the same time the number of students outside Turkey increased.
Besides these powerful writings themselves, a major factor in the success of the movement may be attributed to the very method Bediuzzaman had chosen, which may be summarized with two phrases: ‘ spiritual struggle’, and ‘positive action.’ For Bediuzzaman considered the true enemies in this age of science, reason, and civilization to be materialism and atheism, and their source, materialist philosophy. Thus just as he combated and ‘utterly defeated’ these with the reasoned proofs of the Risale-i Nur, so through strengthening the belief of people and raising it to the level of . True, verified belief’. The Risale-i Nur was the most effective barrier against the corruption of society caused by these enemies. In order to be able to pursue this ‘spiritual struggle,’ Bediuzzaman insisted that his students avoided any use of force and disruptive action. Through ‘positive action,’ and the maintenance of public order and security, the damage caused by the forces of unbelief could be ‘repaired’ by the healing truths of the Holy Book and this is the way they have adhered to.
“The Risale-i Nur envisages a revolution, a revolution of the mind, of the heart, of the soul and the spirit. It is designed to lead Muslims from belief by imitation to belief through investigation, study of nature and man’s inner self and reflection on them, and worship, and through further intellectual enlightenment. It also aims to lead unbelievers from worship of the self to worship of God Almighty.”