Bediuzzaman starts from the premise that as human beings, we have been created with an innate capacity for love, knowledge, shukr (thanks) and ibaadah (worship), write IBRAHIM OKSAS and NAZEEMA AHMED.
LOVE of self and love for this world have come to characterise the way in which notions of love and attachment are perceived, applauded and propagated at this time. These notions of love shape the choices that we make and they colour our conception of the world and our position in it. They also influence the way in which we conduct our relationship with ourselves and with people in our social milieu. In his contemporary tafsir, Risale-i Nur, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi challenges these conceptions and locates the reality of love within the framework of imaan and Islam.
Bediuzzaman starts from the premise that as human beings, we have been created with an innate capacity for love, knowledge, shukr (thanks) and ibaadah (worship). This innate capacity was given to us by Allah Almighty to relate correctly and appropriately to His Essence, His sacred attributes and His beautiful names. However, as human beings we have the propensity to misdirect this innate love to our own nafs (soul) and to the life of this world.
He continues by saying that we tend to lavish the love that belongs to Allah Almighty on ourselves, such that our own nafs has thus become our beloved. The result of this misdirected love is that it invariably causes us endless suffering since we do not hand our innate love over to the Possessor of Absolute Power Who is the only true Beloved, and neither do we put our trust solely in Allah Almighty.
We also are likely to suffer further misfortunes because we give to the world the love that belongs to Allah Almighty’s names and attributes and we divide up the works of His art among what are in reality only ‘causes’. Allah Almighty is the true and ultimate Causer of all causes. Bediuzzaman says that the aforementioned approach then constitutes the essence and true nature of what some people call life’s happiness, human perfection, the advantages of civilisation and the pleasure of freedom.
As we misdirect our innately endowed love to our own nafs and to the world, Bediuzzaman asks us to consider the following reality: which of our human accomplishments, what art, what perfection, what civilisation, what progress what discovery, what nationality, what false object of worship, can confront the awesome reality of death and can close the door of the grave?
Furthermore, can any of these assist in or enable us to cross the frontiers of the grave, the boundaries of the barzakh (intermediate realm), the marches of the plain of Resurrection, the Bridge of Sirat or bestow upon us eternal happiness?
Bediuzzaman shares therefore that, for a believer, true happiness, human perfection, positive civilisation and true freedom lies not in love of the self and attachment to this world but lies only in imaan, our attachment to the teachings and guidance of the All-Wise Quran, complying with the shariah and following the Prophetic Sunnah.
In reflecting on the need for us to adhere to the teachings and guidance contained in the Quran, Bediuzzaman posits that the All-Wise Quran shows death and the ‘appointed hour of death’ to be the bridge to the barzakh and the prelude to joining and meeting with our beloved ones who are already in the world of eternity. This shows that in reality, separation is in fact the truest form of meeting.
The Quran further teaches the believers that the grave is a door opening onto the world of mercy, it is an abode of happiness, a garden of Jannah and the luminous realm of the All-Merciful One. Thus, we are enjoined to look at ourselves, the world and creation with the light of imaan and the illumination that each ayah of the sun of the Quran will give to us.
The Quran also conveys to us that since we are owned by the One whose power is infinite, an All-Compassionate One of Glory whose mercy is infinite, rather than shouldering the burden of our life, we should recognise that it is Allah Almighty who grants and administers life. We should hand over the burden of our life and being to Allah Almighty’s power and mercy instead of loading it on ourselves. In this way, we can find ease and comfort since our love is thus directed to our True Owner rather than to our own nafs.
In reflecting on the nafs, Bediuzzaman shares that it is not love that we should have for our nafs but enmity, or we should pity it or, after it is at peace, we should have compassion for it. If we love our nafs because it is the source of pleasure and benefit, and if we are captivated by their delights, we should not prefer the pleasure and benefit of the nafs, which is a mere atom, to infinite pleasure and benefits.
We should love the Pre-Eternal Beloved on whose gracious favours are dependent all the pleasures and benefits of our nafs together with all the benefits, bounties and creatures of the universe. We are then eligible to receive an infinite pleasure from the love of the Absolutely Perfect One.
Furthermore, Bediuzzaman shares that since the world is not without an owner, we should not be excessively anxious about the state of the world, nor load the burdens of the world onto our minds. Rather, we should recognise that we are a guest in this world and that the world is totally owned by One Who is All-Wise and All-Knowing. Therefore, we should not direct our love to this world but, instead, we should direct our love to the Owner of the world.
In conclusion, Bediuzzaman says that the truth of the Quran guides the believers to not give our infinite capacity for love to our ugly, defective, evil, and for us, harmful, instinctual nafs. We should not take our nafs as our object of love nor take its whims as our object of worship. Instead, we should love and worship the One who has bestowed on us our infinite capacity for love. Allah Almighty will make us infinitely happy in the future, and, through His ni’mah, He will make happy all those to whom we are attached and whose happiness makes us happy.