Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Said Nursi on Science in Muslim Countries

(More of a reminder for self)

Nursi’s Ideas On Science Development In Muslim Countries
Science has been and has always been an integrated part of human affairs. It directly or indirectly affect human affairs in many ways. Science allows people all around the world to develop technological tools that can change and transform the way they live. Science and technology have made many impossible things become possible, many unworkable things become workable, and many unpredictable things become predictable. More importantly, science and technology have transformed the way people learn, communicate, think, behave, and work. They allow people to disclose the laws of the natural world or rules regarding the relationship between facts or events in the natural world. Above all, science and technology allow people to understand the mastermind behind the wonderful design of the universe.
This paper aims to discuss the ideas of a great Turkish Scolar, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, regarding the importance, the success, the failure, the characteristics, and the future of science development in human affairs with particular reference to Muslim countries. Discussion mainly refers to his masterpiece, Risale-i Nur(The Treatise of Light) and focuses on his ideas on the approach and methods of science development in Muslim countries.
It is believed in this article that exploring Nursi’s ideas on science will allow contemporary Muslims to understand the connection between science and civilization, the state of contemporary science and technologyin the Muslim world, and what approaches, methods, and stepsare required for making science development succesful in Muslim countries. Nursi’s ideas on sciences will explain why we, Muslims, all around the world, need to pay serious attention on the development of sciences in our society.

Who is Nursi ?
Nursi was born in 1877 in Eastern Turkey and died in 1960 in Urfa (Turkey) at the age of eighty-three. He was a remarkable child endowed with a prodigious memory. His basic education was a combination of traditional religious education and science education. He completed his basic education in a traditional madrasah education at the early age of fourteen and then studied physical sciences, mathematics and philosophy. Being exposed to two traditions of education inspired Nursi with ideas to reform and reconstruct Islamic education system. In his very early age, Nursi began to critisize the Madrasah education in Turkey as being inadequate and propose a new model of curriculum for the Islamic educational system. Nursi came up with a blue print for the establishment of a university, Medrestu’z Zehra (the Resplendent Madrasah)  in the Eastern Provinces.
In 1917, Nursi arrived in Istanbul and met Sultan Abdul Hamid to ask some supports for establishing the university.[1] Subsequently, Nursi received some funding for the construction of the university and in 1913 he was able to lay the foundations of the university. Unfortunately, the university project was stopped due to the complexity of social and political events in the beginning of World War I.[2]
What is Risale-i Nur?
A combination of religious and science education also made Nursi became a scholar with two faces of knowledge competency: traditional religious sciences and modern sciences. This two faces of knowledge competency allows Nursi to produce a unique and monumental masterpiece, the Risale-i Nur (The Treatise of Light). It is said that Risale-i Nur has been Nursi’s greatest work that he wrote in exile after his Divine Illumination. In the words of John Bowker (1997), Risale-i Nur is “an attempt to demonstrate the spiritual dimension of theQur’an an age under the sway of scepticism and materialism”. For Muzaffar Iqbal (2002, p. 2), Risale-i Nuris “a manevi tefsir, or commentary which expounds the truths of the Qur’an.” “In the course of his expressive prose which pulsates with energy”, Iqbal adds, “Nursi substantiates Islamic faith on the basis of the certainties of modern physical sciences and reads the cosmic verses of the Qur’an in the light of modern science” (Muzaffar Iqbal 2002, p. 2). Over all, Risale-i Nur is a work that explain and expound the basic tenets of belief, the truths of the Qur’an, to modern man. It provides clear and simple scientific explanation of stories, comparisons, explanations, and reasoned proofs that strengthen religious truths and belief (Nursi 1998, pp. 9-10).
Although being based and focused on Muslim’s experiences in Turkey, ideas that Nursi explains in Risale-i Nur have been influential and widely discussed throughout the Muslim world. The book has been translated into many languages and hundreds thousand of its copies are displayed and read in thousands of houses, mosques, and libraries all around the world. Undoubtedly, Risale-i Nurhas made Nursi become an influential religious scholar who strongly advocate Qur’anic teachings against the forces of secularism. With his strong and influential ideas, said John Baker (1997), Nursi has played a prominent role in the Islamic revival in and outside Turkey. For Colin Turner in Manchester University, England, Risale-i Nur providesa comprehensive, objective, and inspirational explanation of Islamic perspective on the universe. In his words:
            Finally, I would say this: After many years of searching and comparing, I can   say that the Risale-i Nur is the only self-contained, comprehensive Islamic work that sees the cosmos as it actually is, presents the reality of belief as it     truly is, interprets the Qur'an as our Prophet intended, diagnoses the real and   very dangerous diseases that afflict modern man, and offers a cure (quoted in            Syukran Vahide 1989).
Turner adds that Risale-i Nur will characterise the future of Islam. As Vahide quotes him:
            A work such as the Risale-i Nur, which reflects the light of the Qur'an and      illuminates        the cosmos, cannot be ignored. For only Islam stands between           modern man     and catastrophe, and I believe that the future of Islam depends           on the Risale-i Nur and on those who follow and are inspired by its teachings (Syukran Vahide 1989).
Muzaffar Iqbal (2002, p. 2) shares Turner’s view and observes the uniqueness of Risale-i Nur. As he writes: “Risale-i Nur is not a tafsir (commentary) on the Qur’an in the usual sense of the term; rather, it attempts to establish links between the Qur’anic verses and the natural world”
What makes Risale-i Nur is unique is Nursi’s ability to reconcile and integrate traditional and modern science within a theistic perspective. He makes it clear that the Qur’an and modern physical sciences had no dissonance;  rather, relating the truth of the Qur’an to modern men and women was even easier (Muzaffar Iqbal 2002, p. 2).With his theistic perspective, Nursi inserts Islamic worldview on the matters related to the creation of the earth and other planets, the pre-eternity of matter, the question of ether, the creation, nature, and purpose of biological beings and in particular man, and the motion of particles and matter.
Brief Historical Assessment
The historical development of human civilization clearly shows a close connection between science development and the quality of life in a country. Science has been a major instrument for a country to develop better quality of life and higher level of civilization. In his monumental five-volume History of Science, George Starton (1971, p. 141-146) divides histroy of science development into ages, each of which lasting half a century.

Starton notes that the foundations of science was laid by scholars and scientists of  the Mesopotamian civilization (present-day Iraq). He further notes that the second development in science came through the Greeks, that started in 450-400 B.C., known as the age of Plato. This was followed by the age of Aristotle, of Euclid, of Archimedes, and so on (500-450 B.C.) . The third age of science development was the age of the Chinese century of Hsiin Tsang and I Ching (600 A.D. to 700 A.D). From 700 A.D. to 1100 A.D. (350 years) was the unbroken succession of the ages of Jabir, Khawarizmi, Razi, Masudi, Wafa, Biruni, and Avicenna, Ibn Al Haitham and Omar Khayam (Arabs, Turks, Afghans, and Persians) men belonging to the culture of Islam. After 1100, the first Western names appeared: Geard of Cremona, Roger Bacon, sharing honours with Ibn Rushd, Musa bin Maimoun, Tusi, and Ibn Nafis, the man who anticipated Harvey’s theory of circulation of blood.

After 1350 A.D. developing countries, including the Muslim ones, lose out except for the occasional flash of scientific work, like that at the court of Ulugh Beg, the grandson of Timurlane, in Samarkand in 1437 A.D. or of Maharaja Jai Sigh of Jaipur in 1720, who at the court of Muhammad Shah in Delhi corrected the serious errors of the Western tables of eclipses of the sun and the moon as much as sixt minutes of arc and published Zijj Muhammd Shahi. After 1720, Michael the Scot turned full circle of science to the West and then for more than three centuries, Western culture, lifestyle and modes of thinking has gradually come to dominate the world. Today, the West directly or indirectly influences and characterises the world and the contribution of other cultures to the mainstream of world life is relatively negligible. As a result, the modern approach to science is largely represented by Western approach.

It is, however, important to note in this historical assessment of science development, that Muslims used to dominate and gave fundamental contributions to science development. Two centuries after the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, Caliph Harun al-Rashid made the Islamic world culturally very active in science development. During this era, Islamic universities conducted many scientific studies and made many scientific discoveries. Under Caliph Harun al-Rashid, George Starton (1971, pp.146–66) notes, science development was to be credited to the meteoric rise of Islam for nearly four hundred years (700 A.D. to 1100 A.D). He further notes that it was the period when Muslim scholars from Spain to India led science development by exchanging the great body of past knowledge, carrying forward new discoveries, and introducing new ideas. Starton (1971, p. 166) concludes that the Islamic universities of the Middle Ages were the very first institutions that brought science into international level.

Islamic Vs Western Science
When the Islamic world controled science development and producing the best minds of the age (from 700 A.D. to 1100 A.D.), Muslim believers and scientists were steeped in the religious spirit. They proved that scientific knowledge was the twin of religious knowledge and it should never have ceased to be so.

In a university in Cordova, scientific enterprise was international in character and Muslim scientists actively spread knowledge throughout Europe. For the scientists, the goal of scientific affairs was not to exploit mankind, but to reveal the truth of their reliigon, Islam. For them, science is a common heritage of mankind that must not be dominated only by certain groups or nations. As a result, Muslim society was inclusive and tolerant. Al-Kindi wrote: “It is fitting then for us not to be ashamed to acknowledge truth and to assimilate it from whatever source it comes to us.” For him “who scales the truth there is nothing of higher value than truth itself; it never cheapens or abases him who seeks.”

During this period of Muslim domination, scholars in Christendom were mainly occupied in translating from Arabic into Latin. Starton (1971, p. 166) is certain that Islam paved the way for the European Renaissance, which in turn led to science’s fourth great development in the modern world.

With their science domination, the Western world are described as developed countries that are controlling the resources and riches of the earth. These countries began to introduce a materialistic worldview of science. They use the geniuses such as Newton and Maxwell as the private intellectual property or the cultural heritage of the West. They see the developing countries as the objects of their economic and political exploitation. They avoid any form of fair sharing, transfering technology, and know-how to developing countries. The mentality of the western nations, said Sayar (1992), “what is yours is ours and what is ours is ours.”

It has been widely admitted by many influential Western scientists that Western approach to science contains some weaknesses and can lead the world to a catastrophe. Many of them have been aware of the shorthcomings of their scientific approach and their implications on the future of world civilization. This awareness is stated by Einstein during the Cold War:
            We, scientists, believe that what we and our fellow-men do or fail to do within            the next few years will determine the fate of our civilisation. And we consider it our task untiringly to explain this truth, to help people realize all that is at      stake, and to work, not for appeasement, but for understanding and ultimate    agreement between peoples and nations of different views.

Like their Muslim counterparts, some western scientists began to think the improtant of religious values in science development, so that science does not become an evil instrument for economic and political interests. Carl Sagan (1990) said at the Moscow meeting of a global forum of spiritual and political leaders: “Mindful of our common responsibility, we scientists, many of us long engaged in combating the environmental crisis, urgently appeal to the world religious community to [co-operate] in words and deeds, and as boldly as required, to preserve the environment of the earth.”

Science in Contemporary Muslim World
Although used to dominate and contributed to science development for more than 350 years, contemporary Muslim countries are struggling to regain their sciences. They are left behind in science development and application. In the application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), for example, non of the best ten countries is a Muslim one. Foreign Policy journal (2006, p. 52) describes that among the best ten countries in ICT application are (1) Singapore, (2) Ireland, (3) Switzerland, (4) United States, (5) Netherlands, (6) Canada, (7) Denmark, (8) Sweden, (9) Austria, and (10) Finland (Foreign Policy 2006, p. 52).Based on country data (1997), Muslim countries are among the technological adopters and technologically excluded. Non of them are among technological innovators like Japan, USA, and many European countries.
Why did we [Muslims] lose control on science development? Many scientists have tried to answer this question and came up with several answers. Francis Ghiles, for example, writes:
            What is wrong with Muslim science? . . . At its peak about one thousand years           ago the Muslim world made a remarkable contribution to science, notably      mathematics and medicine. Baghdad in its heyday and southern Spain built             universities to which thousand flocked: rulers surrounded themselves with        scientists and artists (Nature, March 24, 1983).
It can be understood from Ghiles’ words that one of the strengths of Muslim scientific tradition was the integration of three groups: rulers, scientists, and artists in science development. This is to say that one of the reason for the collapse of science in Muslim countries was disintegration among the three groups. Ghiles also explians that “a spirit of freedom allowed Jews, Christians and Muslims to work side by side” (Nature, March 24, 1983). To interpret him, lack of freedom has caused the failure of science development in Muslim countries.
Quoting Ibnu Khaldun, Abdussalam (1994, pp. 8-9) suggests internal and external factors that cause Muslims lose in sciences. Among internal factors are lack of curiosity, no wishfulness, just apathy, and bordering on hostility. Among external factors is colonialism, such as the invation of Mongols. For Abdussalam (1994, p. 9), the first thing that Muslims need to have to regain their reputation in science and technology is a spiritual strength. As he writes: “We are all convinced today of the need for acquiring science and technology and for recovering our lost heritage. But before this happen, we must arouse the spiritual energies, particularly of the younger generation, for science and technology.”

Nursi’s Response
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi plays a unique and important role in inspiring science development in Muslim countries. Being well grounded in traditional Islamic sciences, Nursi was “aware of the apparent discrepancy between traditional cosmology articulated by Muslim philosophers and Sufis, and the Newtonian worldview, but instead of rejecting the mechanistic view of the universe presented by Newtonian science, he tried to appropriate it by appealing to the classical arguments fromdesign” (Iqbal 2002, p. 4). Nursi put a very strong emphasis on the importance of science and technology in the life of human being. “For sure,” he said, “at the end of time, mankind will pour into science and technology. It will obtain all its power from science. Power and dominion will pass to the hand of science” (Nursi 1977, p. 275).

For Nursi (1960, p. 57), scientific approach is the most effective way to persuade the civilized world. In the future, he explains, truth will take the place of force, and proof the place of sophistry. In his words: “Through the endeavours of science, what will prevail entirely in the present and totally in the future, is truth instead of force, proof instead of sophistry, and reason instead of nature” (Nursi 1977, p. 32). Nursi adds that in the future,truth and justice will take the place of the gun and the sword. In his words:

            Yes, just as in former times Islam’s progress was obtained through weapons   and the sword, by smashing the enemy’s bigotry, destroying their obstinacy,     and repulsing their aggression, in the future the immaterial swords of true             civilization and material progress and truth and justice will defeat and rout the   enemy in place of weapons and the sword (Nursi 1960, p. 79).
Nursi warns his fellow Muslims not to undervalue or neglect science if they are to regain their superiority among world nations. “The limitation of science”, he stresses, “can render these powers dangerous and destructive”(in Choudary 2004, p. 54).Nursi also stresses that “science is a great tool, but its limitations render it highly unsuitable for its use out of the region of its scope” (in Choudary 2004, p. 54).Nursi believes that “the success of scienceplaces tremendous powers in our hands” (quoted in Choudary 2004, p. 54).For the success of science development in Muslim society, Nursi suggests some ideas to be discussed below.
Refer to the Qur’an
For Nursi, there are two major sources of Islamic sciences: the nature and the Qur’an. In his view, developing sciences is part of a means to prove the authenticity of the Qur’an. As he writes: "In the future,when the intellect,science and technology prevail, of a certainty, that will be the time the Qur'an will gain ascendancy, which relies on rational proofs and invites the intellect to confirm its pronounce" (Sukran Vahide 1978). Nursi’s understanding and interpretation of the Qur’an are scientific and or connected to scientific endeavors. One of his readers, Vahide (2003, p. 1), writes:
His greatest achievement was to develop a way of expounding  the teachings of the Qur’an on ‘the truths of belief’ that incorporates the traditional Islamic sciences and modern scientific knowledge, and that while instilling those truths, effectively refutes the bases of materialist philosophy.

For Nursi, Qur’an must be taken as a spurce of science development. Vahide (2003) further writes: “From his youth, Nursi’s overriding aim in life was to vindicate the Qur’an as a source of true knowledge and progress, and he prepared himself accordingly by acquiring wide learning in numerous branches of knowledge” (p. 1). Nursi was so concerned with the importance of scientific approach in his understanding and interpretation of the Qur’an. For him, contemporary Muslims’ advances in science, technology, and civilization will depend on their ability to exalt God’s Words.
Nursi was very optimistic about the ability of his fellow Muslims to acquire sciences. As he suggests: “For the Muslims it is a great adventure that the West has acquired science and knowledge, and Islam can therefore appeal to them more easily than at any time before” (Nursi, 1960, p.78). Indeed, Nursi himself was an authentic example of a truely devout Muslim whose love for science is in line with his love for Islamic faith. For him, Muslims must stand on their own feet before they can manage their science development. Nursi adds that “the Qur’anic themes of the regularity and harmony of the natural order, when combined with the predictability of Newtonian physics, disproved the triumph of the secularists and positivists of the nineteenth century and provided a solid rock on which to construct a new understanding of the message of the Qur’an” (Iqbal 2002, p. 4).
According to Nursi, Qur’an is the book of sciences.It points clearly to the true goal of the sciences and branches of knowledge, which are truth and reality, as well as the perfections, attainments, and happiness of this world and the next.It indicates the importance of sciences in two ways:(1) In the form of the miracles of the Prophetsand (2) in the form of certain historical events.For Nursi, Qur’an urges man towards them.As he writes in The Words: “Most of the Qur’an’s verses are keys to a treasury of perfections and guides to a store of knowledge” (Nursi 1998, p. 272).He further writes: The verses of the Qur’an “indicate in allusive fashion the important of man’s arts and sciences, and urge him towards them” (Nursi 1998, p. 273).
For scientists, Nursi suggests, nature must be seen as a facric of scientific symbols that must be read, realized, and understood. The Qur’an, he further stresses, must be positioned as the counterpart of nature. In this way, Nursi believes, all sciences will speak about the Power of the Almighty and Divine Unity, because they provide a good understanding of His creation. Indeed, the Qur’an encourages all Muslims to read and understand nature. Reading the Qur’an will allow scientists to find hints and some basic concepts of sciences. In this regard, Nursi’s view is shared by the well-known writer, Maurice Bucaille,[3] when he stated in his book, The Bible, The Qur'an and Science[4]: “The relationship between the Qur’an and science is a priori a surprise, especially as it turns out to be one of harmony and not of discord” (Bucaille, 1975, p.110).
Remain Hopefull
Nursi was aware of the progress of scince in the Western world and its possible impacts on Muslims’ attitude toward science development. As he evaluate the situation: “Why should the world be the world of progress for everyone, and the world of decline only for us[Muslims]?”(Nursi1960, p. 71). For Nursi, the first thing that Muslims need to do to regain their reputation in scince is never being carried away by despairand opposedespair and hopelessness. In his words: “And you are making a grievous error if you suppose in despair and hopelessness that the world is the world of progress for everyone and the Europeans, but the world of decline only for the unhappy people of Islam” (Nursi 1960, p. 80). Nursi invites his fellow Muslims to be realistic about the situation. To quote his words:       
            Consider this: time does not run in a straight line so that its beginning and         end      draw apart from one another. Rather, it moves in a circle, like the motion       of         the earth. Sometimes it displays the seasons of spring and summer as             progress. And sometimes the seasons of storms and winter as decline. Just as every winter is followed by spring and every night by morning, mankind, also,             shall have a morning and a spring, God willing. You may expect from Divine             Mercy to see true civilization within universal peace brought about through       the sun of the truth of Islam(Nursi1960, p. 80).

Clearly, Nursi wants Muslims to be realistic and objective about their past and pay more attention on their future. Muslims must accept that being up and down in many aspects of worldly live, including in science development, is a normal experience of the circle of live. What seems to be more important in Nursi’s view is for Muslim nations to look at the future. Nursi (1960, p. 80)believes that Islam is the true civilization of the futurewhich will being peace and happiness to mankind.
Be Original, Be Islamic
Nursi was well aware of the dominant of scholastic thoughts in modern scientific approach. In order to achieve scientific recovery, he urges Muslims not to be preoccupied or being “fallen into the swamp of scholastic thought” (Nursi 1960, p. 523). At the same time, Nursi further urges, Muslims need to develop their own approach and characteristics. As he reflects his personal experience: “They suppose me to be a medrese professor sunk in the bog of scholastic thought, but I was occupied with all the modern sciences and the philosophy and learning of the present age” (Nursi 1960, p. 523).
Nursi was also well aware of the exploitation of science and technology and its progress for ideological purposes in materialist philosophy. In his observation, the materialist have made the progress of science and technology as the tool of its own ideology of materialism and irreligion or the denial of creator and belief in the pre-eternity of matter.In the face of the pragmatic and materialist currents of thought, Nursi suggests a method in conformity with the understanding of the present century. For him, science must be used as a meansto look to God Almighty. Nursi suggests: “Continue make your sciences and your progress steps by which to ascend to those heavens” (Nursi 1998, p. 270).He further suggests: “Then you may rise to my dominical Names, which are the realities and sources of your sciences and attainments, and you may look to your Sustainer with your hearts through the telescope of the Names” (The Words, p. 270).
In the light of his awareness, Nursi suggests that sciences in Muslim counties must be based on an Islamic worldview of the relationship between science and Islamic teachings. For him, Islam is the father of all the sciences. It is “the lord and guide of knowledge, and the chief and father of all the true sciences” (Nursi 1977, p. 18).Thus, there is no boundaries between Islam and science. “History”, Nursi notes, “testifies that whenever the people of Islam have adhered to their religion, they have progressed relatively to former times. And whenever they have become slack in their adherence, they have declined (Nursi 1977, p. 451).
Nursi’s idea on the Islamic characteristics of scienctific affairs is obvious when he explains that the aim of Islamic science as a whole is “to show the unity and interrelatedness of all that exists, so that, in contemplating the unity of the cosmos man may be led to the Divine principle, of which that unity is the image” (Quoted in Ozervarh 2003, p. 329).He further explains that the ultimate goal of science development is not “to set up a theoretical system, but to reinforce the faith and beliefs of his people” (Quoted in Ozervarh 2003, p. 329). The ultimate goal of Islamic science, Nursi stresses, is to relate the corporeal world to its basic spiritual principles through knowledge, in order to achieve spiritual perfection (Quoted in Ozervarh 2003, p. 329).
Rely on Reason and Proof
For Nursi, Islam relies on reason and proof, no matter of Islam is contrary to reason. Therefore, it is possible to prove and explain all its matters rationally. For him, the dismissal of the reason, rejection of proof, and blind imitation of the clergy will lead Muslims into misguidance. In his view, sciences must be developed by taking the highway of the blending of the reason and the Qur’an. In this way, Nursi believes, sciences will ease and plenty in the world and happiness in the next(Argunduz 1993, p. 88).He stresses that sciences cannot be developed by leaving the reason in the second place, in accordance with the principles of Qur’an that are corrupted, such as bigotry, misguidance, lawful oppression, and injustice.For him, attaching no importance to reason and proof, and blind imitation of the clergy is a great error (see Nursi 1977, 34).
Nursi further stresses that the only way for Muslims to be the champion of science is to rely on reason and proof. In his words:
What continually makes Islam manifest and makes it develop in relation to the advancement of thought is its being founded on reality, relying on proof, being in agreement with reason, established on reality, and being in conformity with the principles of wisdom, which are bound to one another from pre-eternity to post-eternity(Nursi 1977, p. 35).

Nursi adds that reason and proofs alllow Muslims to seek renewal, be inclined towards renewal, and be able to achieve sciences in conformity with the Qur’an. As he explains in the following paragraph of his writing
            We Muslims, who are students of the Qur'an, follow proof. We approach the truths of belief through reason, thought, and our hearts. We do not abandon    proof for blind imitation of the clergy like some followers of other religions.             Thus, in the future when reason, science, and technology prevail, the Qur'an    will surely then rule, which relies on reasoned proofs and makes the reason            confirm its pronouncements (Nursi 1960, p. 77).
Place Science on Divine Names
According to Nursi, all sciences must be placed on divinename. For him,
all attainments and perfections, all learning, all progress, and all sciences, have an elevated reality which is concealed under numerous veils and has various manifestations and different spheres, the sciences and arts attainments find their perfection and become reality. They are not some incomplete and deficient shadow (The Words, p. 270).

“Being based on God’s name,” Nursi suggests, “sciences may contain true wisdom” (Nursi 1998, p. 271).“Otherwise,” he srgues, “they are either transformed into superstition, or become nonsense, or open up the way to misguidance like Naturalist philosophy” (Nursi 1998, p. 271).Nursi further argues that science development in Muslim society must be based on Divine Unity. All scientific achievements need to reveal the unity of nature and provide patterns that allow people to contemplate the Divine Unity.

Nursi urges his fellow Muslims to ask scientific guidance andinspirations from God. “If man relies on Almighty God, and asks it of him with the tongue of his innate capacity, … and … conforms to His laws of wisdom in the universe”, Nursi explains, “the world may become like a town for him” (Nursi 1998, p. 265).He quotes the Qur’an: “it is He Who has made the earth manageable for you, so traverse its tracts and enjoy of the  sustenance which He t unto Him is the Resurrection” (Qur’an, 67: 15).For Nursi, “this world is the abode of wisdom, and Almighty God carries out His works under the veil of causes” (Nursi 1998, p. 269).Nursi also urges Muslims to integrate scientific endeavorwith the worshiping of God. “On condition you do not neglect your duties of worship,” said Nursi, “strive to transform the face of the earth into a garden every part of which you may see, and the sounds of every corner of which you may hear” (Nursi 1998, p. 265).

Explore Prophets’ Miracles
Nursi believes that the miracles of the Prophetsare the sources of scientific guidance and inspirations.In his observation, “most craftsmen have a prophet as the patron of their craft” (Nursi 1998, p. 262).For him, Prophets’ miracles are “the final limit of man’s science and industry” (Nursi 1998, p. 162).The miracles indicate four scientific guidances: (1) a wonder of human art or craft, (2) spiritual base as well as index of sciences and branches of knowledge, (3) encouragement to achieve similar things and to imitate them, (4) spiritual and moral as well as material attainments, (5) the urgency of scientific attainments.For Nursi, Prophets’ miracles encourage, motivate, guide, and direct scientific endeavors.
            There are nine Prophets’ miracles that that Nursi notes to be the object of scientific exploration for Muslim scientists. The miracles include:
  1. The miracle of Adam (PUH) inspires science for names (Qur’an, 2: 31), (2).
  2. The miracle of Noah (PUH) inspires science for the creation of ship (sailors).
  3. The miracle of Joseph (PUH) inspires science for the clock (watch makers).
  4. The miracle of Idris (PUH) inspires science for tailors.
  5. The miracle of Solomon (PUH) inspires science for air transportation (Qur’an, 34: 12) and subjugating evipirits (Qur’an, 21: 82)..
  6. The miracle of Moses (PUH) inspires science for clean water exploration (Qur’an, 2: 60).[5]
  7. The miracle of Jesus (PUH) inspires science for (medicine) healing spiritual ills and physical sicknesses (Qur’an, 3: 49).
  8. The miracle of David (PUH) inspires science for irontechnology (Qur’an, 34: 10) and science for decision making (Qur’an, 38: 20). [6]
  9. The miracle of Muhammad (PUH) inspires science for rhetoric and linguistic.
According to Nursi, it is Muslims’ failure to explore scientific ideas in the miracles of the Prophets that have caused the backwardness of their sciences. He was certain that if Muslims are to understand and explore the Prophet’s miracles well, they can overtake the Europeans in science development. In his words:
            O partriotic brothers of this land!...God willing, through a miracle of the           Prophet, from the hundred-year distance we have remained backward in          progress we shall mount with our actions the train of the Constitution, which is             accordance with the Shari'a, and shall mount with our minds the Buraq (the     Prophet’s mount) of Islamic Consultation, and perfecting our means and      crossing in a brief time this fearsome vast desert, shall compete neck and neck     with the civilized nations. For they mounted ox-carts and set off; we shall         straight away mount vehicles like trains and balloons, and shall overtake them (Nursi 1978, p. 59).

Science as a Subset of Religion
In the long search to answer the relationship between science and religion, a great scientist like Einstein has expressed his understanding in a simple sentence: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” In Nursi’s view, science and human knowledge in general is legitimate, noble, and acceptable to Islamic teachings if it is subordinated to Divine Wisdom.For him, Muslims must look at science as a subset of religion. Religion is a majestic river, and the science is a tributary to the river(Nursi 1998, p. 262).In science, Nursi explains, no exact results exist, only the probabilities for the results are attainable. Science, he further explains, does not provide all the answers, only certain answers can be provided for practically an infinite number of enquiries(Nursi 1998,p. 262).This view is shared by Maurice Bucaile (1975, p. vii) when he claims that “in Islam, science and religion have always been "twin sisters." Iqbal (2002, p. 2) also shares Nursi’s view when he notes that Risale-i Nur shows that “there is no contradiction between religion and science.”
To interpret Nursi, science will not become a blessing for mankind before it is guided by religion. So, a fundamental challenge for Muslim scientists is to reconciliate a conflict between religious faith and scientific investigations. Before such a conflict is reconciliated, scientiists will cause fearful and threatening barbarization in the name of science or religion for human well-being. Nursi seems to suggests that religion should be given a very esteemed position in science development so that human thoughts and actionsare morally acceptable.

Be Specialized
For the last two decades, academic programs in higher education institutions have become more and more specialized. The programs become so diverse. A faculty can provide dozens of departments, each department provides dosens of programs, and each study program may provide dozens of concentrations. When it comes to paper or thesis writings students or experts of a particular concentration of a study program may introduce many different focuses that reflect their special or individual interests. The development of this academic specialization is in line with Nursi’s idea for science development in Muslim countries, that specializing in science is a necessity for a scientis. As he suggests, “One individual cannot be proficient and a specialist in many sciences…to attempt all is to abandon all” (Nursi 1977, p. 24).Indeed, experts of modern management suggest the importance of being focused and specialized in all areas of work when they say: “If you want to get all, you will loose all.”
Be Culturally Bond
For Nursi, being exposed to modern sciences is a must for every Muslim. However, being exposed to modern science does not mean that a Muslim is pulled away from his culture. In his view, science development in Muslim countries will be successful and beneficial if it is culturally bond. In this regard, Nursi explicitly admires Japanese people and urges his fellow Muslims to follow them. As he writes: “In acquiring civilization we have to follow the Japanese, for together with taking from Europe the virtues of civilization, they preserved their national customs, which are the means by which every people is perpetuated” (Nursi 1978, p. 62). In Nursi’s observation, Japanese people have been able to develop superiority in science within their own cultural framework. They are not only adopting sciences from other countries, but also adapting them to their cultural values. As he further writes: “The Japanese are takingscience and technology without leaving national customs and practices” (Nursi 1978, p. 262).Clearly, in the light of science development, Nursi wants his fellow Muslims to take the Japanese as examples in progress.
Develop Good Civilization
Nursi emphasizes that science development requires good cultural bases. As he writes:
You should understand that what I mean are the good things that are civilization’s virtues and its benefits for mankind. Not its iniquities and evils that idiots have imagined to be its virtues and imitating them have devastated our possessions. And even giving religion as a bribe they have not gained the world (Nursi 1960, 1979).
For Nursi, good civilization will allow science to develop and vice and evils civilization will be harmful to science.
What Nursi means by good civilization is when in a society the truth takesthe place of force and proof the place of sophistry. As he explains: “Through the endeavors of science,what will prevail entirely in the present and totally in the future, is truth instead of force, proof instead of sophistry, and reason instead of nature” (Nursi 1977, p. 32).In Nursi’s view, good civilization is a civilization that is free from bigotry, obstinacy, and aggression. As he further explains: “Yes, “just in former times Islam’s progress was obtained through weapons and the sword, by smashing the enemy’s bigotry, destroying their obstinacy, and repulsing their aggression” (Nursi 1960, p. 79). “In the future,” Nursi believes, “the immaterial swords of true civilization and material progress and truth and justice will defeat and rout the enemy in place of weapons and the sword” (Nursi 1960, p. 79).
Concluding Remarks
Nursi introduces Islamic particular world view of modern science by introducing new approach and method appropriate to the level of understanding of the present centuryand to the need of Muslim countries.His approach is unique, combining theistic and rationalistic styles. Due to its uniqueness, Nursi’s approach needs to be understood within the context of its social, political, and historicalsetting.Like many other Muslim reformers of the nineteenth century, Nursi’s ideas seem to be inspired by a need to reform Muslims’ perspective on science development in the light of the threat of bigotry, secularization, and westernization at local, national, and international level. His discussion of science development seems to have been characterized by his educational, religious, political, and social experiences in Turkey before, during, and after the first World War.
Throughout his ideas on science development in Muslim countries, Nursi reminds Muslim scientists to be very clear about the approach of their scientific affairs. For him, the approach must be at variance in many respects with those of their counterparts in Western countries. Nursi suggests that Islamic approach of science development will enrich and strengthen scientists’ faith, not to weaken it. For him, the secret of progress in science development in Muslim countries is not to lie only in political will and financial strength, but also in the level of self-sacrifice among Muslims, that is their sincerity to hold the society’s interests above personal interests.
In other words, the progress of science development in Muslim countries depends on the commitment of Muslim scientists to expend all their efforts and energy for their countries. This unselfish manner is considered by Nursi as the fine characteristics that made Muslims reached the superiority of science development for nearly four centuries in the middle age. In his view, it is this fine characteristics of Muslims that have been taken over by the Europeans, so that they can undergo scientific revolution and rule world science. In the same way, it is the dismissal of this fine characteristics and the spread of immorality that made Muslims lose their control over science and being excluded in the development of modern science.
Above all, Nursi’s ideas suggest Muslim scholars and reformers to preach the full message of the Qur’an, that Muslims must not neglect science. They must reoccupy the intellectual mainstream and regain their ideological, social and political superiority by being well acquired with sciences. For this purposes, Muslim rulers, scientists, and artists need to integrate their vision. Besides, Muslims need to raise their spirit of freedom.


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[1]During his long life, Nursi saw the last days of the Ottoman Empire, its collapse after the First World War and the emergence of modern Turkish Republic. He also witnessed the twenty-five years of Republican Peoples’ Party’s harsh and authoritarian rule and ten years of “Democratic” rule during which conditions became a little easier for Bediuzzam (Muzaffar Iqbal 2002, p. 1).
[2]The end of World War I and that of the Ottoman Empire culminated the first phase of Bediuzzam’s life, the period of the “Old Said”, as he would later call it. During the War, he had led the militia forces on the Caucasian Front against the invading Russians for which he was later awarded a War Medal. He was taken prisoner in March 1916 and was held in Russia for two years. In early 1918, he escaped from the prison and made his way back to Istanbul via Warsaw, Berlin and Vienna (Muzaffar Iqbal 2002, p. 1).
[3]Maurice Bucaillewas born on July 19, 1920-1998in Pont-L'Eveque, France. He is son of Maurice and Marie (James) Bucailleand was a French medical doctor, member of the French Society of Egyptology, and author. Bucaille practiced medicine from 1945-82 and was a specialist in gastroenterology.In 1973, Bucaille was appointed family physician to King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. Other of his patients at the time included members of the family of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt. In 1976, while still in the service of the king, he published his book, The Bible, The Qur'an and Science which argued that the Qur'an contains no statements contradicting established scientific fact. In 1991, another book by Bucaille, Mummies of the Pharaos: Modern Medical Investigations, was published in English.
[4]In this book, Bucaille aims to prove the Qur'an is in agreement with scientific facts, while the Bible is not. According to Bucaille (p. 120), Qur,anic descriptions of natural phenomena make it compatible with modern science. Bucaille concludes that the Qur'an is the reliable word of God.
[5]The miracle of Prophet Moses predicts the development of modern drilling techniques to dig out such indispensable substances of modern industry as oil, mineral water, and natural gas (Muzaffar Iqbal 2002, p. 5).
[6]When the iron had been “softened for David”, it becomes a sign of the future significance of iron and steel for modern industry (Muzaffar Iqbal 2002, p. 5).
Makale Yazarı: 
Muhammad Sirozi