Belief Relieves Loneliness

This is a letter written by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi to his friend about his loneliness. He believes that belief relieves loneliness.

In His Name, glory be to Him.

There is nothing that does not glorify Him with His praise.lonely and weak,

May God’s peace, mercy, and grace be upon you and your brothers so long as days and nights continue, afternoons follow each other, the moon reappears after its complete disappearance, and the Farkadan (the two stars b and Ursae Minoris) coincide.

PERSEVERING BROTHERS, ZEALOUS FRIENDS, AND MEANS OF CONSOLATION for me in this world of separation and exile. As God Almighty enables you to share the meanings with which He has endowed me, you have a right to share my feelings as well. While I will not relate the unbearable afflictions arising from this exile, as that might drive you to extreme sorrow, I will write about my surrounding conditions.

I have been very lonely for the last 3 months. At most, a visitor drops by once every 15 or 20 days. Otherwise, I am alone. In addition, it has been 20 days since the mountaineers left the area. At this time of night in these forsaken mountains, silent and amidst the trees’ sorrowful sounds, I find myself immersed in five sorts of loneliness, as follows:

FIRST: Being old, I am separated from most of my contemporaries, friends, and relatives who have gone to the Intermediate World (between this life and the next) and left me in a most wretched isolation. This loneliness makes me feel a second type of separation coming from the disappearance of most creatures with which I feel a connection, such as the past spring. This loneliness arouses yet another feeling, that of separation caused by being far from my hometown and relatives. In addition to these, the mountains’ dark nightscape makes me feel a fourth kind of separation.

Lastly, I have seen my soul in complete separation during its journey to eternity from this guest-house (the world). I exclaimed all of a sudden: “Glory be to God!” wondering how I could endure such separations. In the meantime, I felt my heart groan out this couplet:

O Lord, I am a stranger, I am lonely and weak,
impotent, old and ill, and I have no choices at all;
O God, I beg Your mercy, ask Your forgiveness,
and I cry for help from Your Throne of Grace!

At just that point belief’s light, the Qur’an’s effusive grace, and the All-Merciful’s favor came to my aid and changed five kinds of separation into five circles of warm companionship. As I recited:

God is sufficient for us; an excellent Guardian is He (3:173),

my heart recited: If they turn their backs, say:

“God is enough for me. There is no god but He. In Him I have put my trust. He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne” (9:129).

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Also, my soul, weeping and wailing in its fearful sorrow, was persuaded by my intellect, which told it:

O helpless one, give up wailing and trust God,
for this wailing is an error that causes trouble after trouble;
If you have found the One Who makes you suffer, this suffering
changes into a gift bringing peace and happiness.

So thank God instead of complaining, for nightingales
are always happy with the happiness of roses.
But if you do not find Him, the whole world is a
place of suffering, misfortune, and loss.

When you have so great a responsibility
(as to be able to be an approved servant of God and gain eternal life),
why are you wailing over an insignificant misfortune?
Come, put your trust in God and smile at the face of misfortune
so that it may also smile, for as it smiles, it lessens and changes.

Then, like Mawlana Jalal al-Din,15 I said to myself:

He asked: “Am I not (your Lord)?”
and you responded: “Yes!”

How can one thank Him for that “yes”?
By suffering misfortune!
What is the mystery of that “yes”?
That you say: “I am a slave in chains in the
abode of poverty and perishing.”

Upon this, my soul conceded that people can open the door to light by understanding their helplessness and poverty before God’s Power and Riches, and by trusting and seeking refuge in Him. It therefore praised and thanked God for the light of belief and submission. I came to understand how sublime a truth is contained in this couplet in Ata’ullah Iskandarani’s The Wise Sayings:

What has he found who has lost God?
And what has he lost who has found God?

This allowed me to grasp the inner meaning of the Prophetic Tradition: “Good tidings await those who are estranged by others (because of their Islamic beliefs and lifestyle).”

Although my loneliness and feelings of separation were removed by the light of belief, they nevertheless left a strong impression on my spirit. They drove me to ask myself if my duty in this guest-house of the world has ended, as this world is only a station on my way to eternity, so that I may delegate that duty to you and The Words. That is why I asked you whether The Words were enough to remove all doubt concerning the truths of belief, so that I could forget the world and, saying as Mawlana Jalal al-Din said:

Do you know what sama‘ (whirling in ecstasy) is?
It is to become unconscious of self-existence.
And to enjoy permanence in the self’s absolute annihilation.

The Everlasting: He is the Everlasting.

By Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

15 Jalal al-Din al-Rumi, also known as Mawlana (1207-73): The greatest Sufi master and poet in the Persian language, famous for his lyrics and for his didactic epic Masnavi-ye Ma’navi (“Spiritual Couplets”), which widely influenced Muslim Sufi thought and literature. After Rumi’s death, his disciples were organized  as the Mawlawiyah order, called in the West the Whirling Dervishes. (Ed.)

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