• The Sufi Influence in Said Nursi's Life and Thought

      Blankinship, Khalid Yahya; Raines, John C.; Swidler, Leonard J.; Biddick, Kathleen (Temple University. Libraries, 2016)
      Said Nursi (1878-1960) was the most influential Muslim scholar, intellectual, and activist in the history of modern Turkey. His ideas and activities greatly contributed to the resurgence of Islam in the country. In fact, his influence had a global reach as a result of the initiatives of the grassroots movement he founded. The existing literature on Nursi usually dealt with his contributions to the interfaith dialogue. Few researchers paid attention to Nursi’s relationship with Sufism. They generally suggested that Nursi was not a Sufi while having some sympathy for it. However, they did not examine his works to detect possible Sufi ideas in Nursi’s thought. In my research, I analyze Nursi’s life and thought in the context of larger Sufi tradition. I trace the Sufi influences in his magnum opus, the Risale, about his view of Allah, the cosmos, and humanity. In my search for Sufi worldview in Nursi’s books, I primarily rely on the central Sufi concepts of tashbīh, tanzīh, karâmât, dhikr, sohbet, and service and try to demonstrate that Sufism had a considerable influence on him during the second part of his life which he spent in seclusion. I also show that his understanding and application of these concepts differed from traditional Sufi groups. He presented the Sufi thought and practices in a way that was relevant to his primarily Turkish readers. Hence, I attempt to portray Nursi as an intellectual who rearticulated traditional Sufi thought for his modern audience. I argue that Nursi reflected both popular and intellectual aspects of that tradition in his writings.