Bediuzzaman Said Nursi
This world and its pleasures are a heavy burden. No one (except the corrupt in spirit) is contented with it. Rather than suffering from dependence on almost the whole universe, being needy of all means and causes, and appealing to contending deaf, dumb, and blind masters, people should seek refuge in a single, All-Hearing, and All-Seeing Master. If they place their trust in Him, He is enough for them.
Know, O ego, that the scientific inventions woven around your head, the lines of conscious artistry connected to you, and the things put in your hands stretched out in neediness all demonstrate that your Creator, Maker, and Helper hears your sighs of destitution and your cries for help. Having mercy on you, He gratifies all your needs. Seeing that the Creator and Maker answers your tiniest cells' calls for help, why should He ”the All-Hearing, All-Seeing” not answer your call for help?1
Know, O spacious cell called ego or selfhood and built up of lesser cells. Say: O God! O Lord! O my Creator! O my Fashioner! O my Owner! O my Master! O my Guardian! Yours is the dominion (of all things) and to You is all praise! I am a guest in this body, Your property that You have entrusted to me.
O selfhood! Why do you claim to own that which you will never own? Give up this false claim that throws you into acute pain. Consider the emotions of pity and affection, which are among the spirit's exhilarating embellishments: If they were left to your pretended ownership, they would harm and torment the spirit.
For example, the misfortune and calamities striking you or others would cause you to remain in continual pain and go so far as to blame Destiny for them. However, when you see a soldier who has lost his horse or whose residence has been burnt down by mistake working directly under a king, you do not feel much pity for the soldier. If you consider that both the horse and residence belong to the king, you will see that their disappearance does not cause a significant decrease in his property. Nor does the soldier worry about it”indeed, inasmuch as he is poor, it is highly probable that out of pity the king will compensate his losses with something better. In the same way, God is the All-Compassionate and always treats His servants with utmost compassion.2 Therefore, compassion for creatures as creatures of God exhilarates the spirit. By contrast, pity arising from supposing that everything owns itself continually suffocates and distresses the spirit.
One with a sound viewpoint based on belief in Divine Unity sees every living being's body as resembling a hired captain on a king's ship being controlled by that king, who controls his property as he wills. This viewpoint does not allow one to see an ant or a honeybee as contending with attacking causes. Rather, according to it, the ant controls an earthly vehicle while the other controls an aircraft, the reins of which are in the hands of the Power of an All-Powerful One. Causes do not have much weight in the sight of either animal, which depend on the True Owner (of all things).
By saying: Surely we are God's and surely we are returning to Him (2:156), when struck by misfortune, one means: All property is God's and I am under His command, journeying to Him. My relation with my body, which is His property, is like that of a soldier holding something belonging to the king. When robbers attack him, he states: I am responsible for guarding this property entrusted to me. However, I am unable to guard it now. Like this property, I also belong to the king and am going to him. When those with such a viewpoint see a fellow struck with misfortune or suffer personal misfortune, they are relieved of continual distress. Otherwise, they are constantly weighed down with pain and distress.
- For example, a person equipped with the limited powers of sight, hearing, and learning may conclude that the Creator must be All-Seeing, All-Hearing, and All-Knowing. One's poverty, helplessness, and mortality may lead one to discover that the Creator is Absolutely Wealthy, Powerful, and Permanent. (Tr.)
- The best analogy applicable to certain aspects of the relation with God and the creation is that between a monarch and his subjects. Since many immaterial truths, especially those pertaining to the Divine Being, are abstract and difficult to understand, Divine Scriptures usually use parables, metaphors, similes, and analogies. For example, God is sometimes introduced like a monarch or king, having a throne and armies. Another reason why Said Nursi used such analogies may be that he wrote this book in the 1910s, when there was still a sultanate in Anatolia. (Tr.)
Adapted from Bediuzzaman's Epitomes of Light (Mathnawi al-Nuriya)