Justice And Human Relations In Said Nursi’s Works As Seen From A Communication Perspective

1. Introduction

The Turkish scholar Badiuzzaman Said Nursi was very thorough in his efforts for creating good human relationships. He encouraged people to do justice not only among their fellow Muslim brothers and sisters, but also towards non-Muslims.

 

The question is how does Said Nursi discuss in his work the idea of justice. In other words, how does he define justice? What are his interpretations of ‘adalah in the Qur’an and how are these interpretations relevant to the modern tradition?

 

Said Nursi’s understanding of justice basically seems taken from the word ‘adalah in the Qur’an, a word with various interpretations. One is related to God’s justice toward creatures (planets, animated entities, and human beings). A second is God’s encouragement for human beings to be just and fair in their human relationships. Last is the necessity for rulers and leaders to be just in their decisions, leadership, and ruling. Indeed, Said Nursi particularly encouraged judges to be fair in their decision.

 

This paper adopts an inter-textual approach on reading Said Nursi’sRisale-i Nur, The Flashes Collection, The Words, The Letters, The Damascus Sermon, The Bibliography. Using this strategy, all related concepts of justice will be observed. In addition, the approach of indexicalities, meaning the concepts of ‘adalah (justice), will be searched and underlined to understand Nursi’s discourse on this specific issue. Indeed, this classification a quite lengthy process, but it needs to be done in order to prepare for the next step, the analysis of his understanding.

 

2. Justice In Communication

According to John Rawl, a public conception of justice “is a society in which (1) everyone accepts and knows that the others accept the same principles of justice, and (2) the basic social institutions generally satisfy and are generally known to satisfy these principles.” (1971, p. 5). Rawl also specifies a more general conception of justice as follows:  “All values – liberty and opportunity, income and wealth and the bases of self-respect – are to be distributed equally unless an equal distribution of any, or all, of these values is to everyone’s advantage” (p. 62).

 

3. Said Nursi’s Treatment Of Justice

In the same vein, but provided in a more spiritualistic definition, one linked to God, Said Nursi believes there are two varieties of justice, one affirmative, the other negative. “The positive variety consists in giving the deserving his right. This form of justice exists throughout the world in the most obvious fashion, because, […] it observably bestows, in accordance with special balances and particular criteria, all the objects of desire requested by everything from its Glorious Creator with the tongue of innate capacity, the language of natural need, the speech of necessity, and all the requirements of life and existence. This variety of justice is, then, as certain as life and existence itself. The other variety of justice, the negative one, consists in chastising the unjust; it gives wrong-doers their due by way of requital and punishment. This type of justice is not fully manifest in this world, even though there are countless signs and indications that permit us to sense its true nature. Nursi then gave an example from the Qur’anic story, by saying that “all the chastising blows and punitive lashes that have descended on all rebellious peoples, from the ‘Ad and Thamud to those of the present age, show definitely that an exalted justice dominates the world” The Words / Tenth Word - Tenth Truth - p.98

 

Said Nursi believes that “tyranny has donned the hat of justice” (The Letters, p. 505). “Justice without equality is not justice” (The Letters, p. 546.). This is congruent with Rawl’s belief, that , “In justice, then, is simply inequalities that are not to benefit of all. Of course, this conception is extremely vague and requires interpretation” (p. 62).

 

Following the Qur’an, Nursi believes that Qur’anic justice would not take the life of a single innocent, spill his or her blood, or sacrifice him or her, even for all mankind, let alone the majority. He quotes the verse: “If anyone slew a person -unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land- it would be as if he slew the whole people”27 lays two mighty mysteries before the eyes. For him, there is pure justice. “This sublime principle deems equal the individual and the community, the person and mankind; Divine justice sees no difference between them; this is a constant Sunna(The Words / Gleams - p.751)

 

In order to specifically categorize Said Nursi’s understanding of justice, there seems to be three classifications, as he addresses his ideas of justice, as follows: (1) human relations with God’s justice, (2), human relations with ruler’s justice, such as the caliphs, the companions of the prophets, and (3) human relation with the population in general.

 

1. GOD’S JUSTICE

 

Balance:

Said Nursi relates God’s justice to God’s wisdom, mercy, and balancing of the universe. He believes that: “While the total justice in the universe proceeding from the greatest manifestation of the Name of All-Just, He administers the balance of all things. And it enjoins justice on man. Mentioning the word ‘balance’ four times, these verses in Sura al-Rahman, And the firmament has He raised high, and He has set up the balance [of justice], * In order that you may not transgress [due] balance. * So establish weight with justice and fall not short in the balance,indicate four degrees and four sorts of balance, showing its immensity and supreme importance in the universe. Yes, just as there is no wastefulness in anything, so too in nothing is there true injustice and imbalance. So, you may understand how basic to human life are the principles of justice, frugality, and cleanliness, which are truths of the Qur’an and Islamic principles (The Flashes / The Thirtieth Flash / The Divine Name Of All-Just - p.402). Thus Nursi translates mizan in the Qur’an with justice. Indeed the word Mizan is usually translated with ‘balance,’ while ‘balance’ means ‘equal’ for Nursi.

 

In his discourse about justice, Nursi is consistent with this translation. For example, he said,  “since there is a Sustainer Who is thus, Who both loves man, and causes man to love Him, and Who is enduring, and has eternal worlds, and Who performs every work with justice, and carries out everything with wisdom; and since the splendour of that Pre-Eternal Sovereign’s rule and His eternal rule cannot be contained in this brief worldly life, and in man’s fleeting span, and in the temporary and transient earth; and since the excessive wrongdoing and rebellion that occur among men, which are contrary to and opposed to the universe’s order, justice, balance, and beauty, and their denial, treachery, and disbelief towards their Benefactor, Who nurtures them tenderly, are not punished in this world, and the cruel oppressor passes his life in ease, while the unhappy oppressed live in hardship; and since the absolute justice whose traces are to be seen throughout the universe is entirely opposed to the cruel tyrant and despairing oppressed being equal in death, and would in no way permit it...” (The Words / Tenth Word - First Part of the Addendum - p.116).

 

It has been established with decisive proofs in many parts of the Risale-i Nur that justice relates to balance. Another example of this link in Nursi’s understanding, can be highlighted: “since the acts of ordering and order, which are a manifestation of the Names of Sapient and All-Wise; and the act of weighing and balance, which are a manifestation of the Names of Justice and All-Just” (The Flashes / The Thirtieth Flash / The Divine Name Of Most Holy - p.398). Then Nursi asked us to see the imperious beauty of a justice which, according to him, ”holds the whole universe and all its beings in equilibrium; and maintains the balance of all the heavenly bodies, lofty and lowly; and supplies symmetry and proportion, the most important elements of beauty; and causes everything to acquire the optimum state; and gives the right to life to living beings, and ensures that their rights are preserved; and halts and punishes aggressors”(The Rays / The Fourth Ray - p.87 ).

 

Nursi then asked a question “Is it at all possible that the Lord of Glory, Who demonstrates His dominical sovereignty in the wisdom and order, the justice and equilibrium that pervade all things, from the atom to the sun, should not bestow favour on those believers who seek refuge beneath the protective wing of His dominicality, who believe in His Wisdom and Justice, and whose acts are for the purpose of worshipping Him?” The answer of course is not possible.(The Words / Tenth Word - Third Truth - p.77).

 

Wisdom, compassion and mercy

In addition to balance, Nursi also relates justice to wisdom, compassion and mercy (The Letters, p. 301). Nursi said, foremost God’s compassion and mercy, and justice and wisdom, His Names of All-Merciful and Compassionate, and All-Just and Wise, and His dominicality and sovereignty, and most of His Names including . Sustainer and Allah, require and necessitate the realm of the hereafter and eternal happiness, and they testify and point to its realization. Indeed, all beings with all of their truths point to the hereafter.” For him, “Divine mercy, wisdom, and justice have permitted the existence of Satan, and allowed him to molest men”(The Flashes / The Thirteenth Flash - p.105).

 

How is Divine Determining compatible with the power of choice? Nursi provides an answer: “The All-Just and Wise One, to Whose wisdom and justice the universe testifies with the tongue of order and balance, gave to man a power of choice of unknown nature which would be the means of reward and punishment for him. We do not know many of the numerous aspects of the All-Just and Wise One’s wisdom; our not knowing how the power of choice is compatible with Divine Determining does not prove that it is not so” (The Words / Twenty-Sixth Word- p.480).

 

According to Nursi, “When we study it even more closely, a wisdom and justice appear behind the ordering and balancing. A purpose and benefit are considered, a truth, a usefulness are followed in the motion of everything, even the minutes particles.” He continued: “That is to say, this order and balance which are in all beings show us plainly a universal ordering and balancing, and the ordering and balancing show us a universal wisdom and justice; and the wisdom and justice in turn show us a power and knowledge. That is, it is apparent that behind these veils is One Powerful over all things Who has Knowledge of all things” (the Letters, p. 263). Indeed, Nursi is convinced that, “The Gate of Wisdom and Justice, the Manifestation of the Names of Wise and Just” (The Words / Tenth Word - Third Truth - p.77).

 

In addition, Nursi also relates God’s justice to His Shari’a. According to Nursi, the core of justice can be seen from God’s Law, the Shari’a itself. For him, “If you apply the title of the illustrious Shari‘a to the justice, mutual consultation, and restriction of power to the law which is the Constitution and constitutionalism, and make it the authority for your rulings and apply its principles, what will you lose?”(The Damascus Sermon / First Addendum / Second Part - p. 71).

 

As for external jihad, Nursi suggests that “we shall refer it to the decisive proofs of the Illustrious Shari‘a. For conquering the civilized is through persuasion, not through force as though they were savages who understand nothing. We are devotees of love; we do not have time for enmity. Republicanism consists of justice, mutual consultation, and the restriction of power to the law. The Illustrious Shari‘a was founded thirteen centuries ago, so to go begging to Europe in the question of laws is a great crime towards” (The Damascus Sermon / First Addendum / Third Part - p. 78).

 

Two examples in relation to Shari’a that Nursi often gives: Inheritance and the cutting hand of the thief. Talking about inheritance, Said Nursi believes that: “the impotence of present-day civilization before the miraculousness of the Qur’an. The following is an example out of thousands proving how unjust is the law of present-day civilization, which, according to Nursi,  opposes the Qur’an (4: 176): “Just as the Qur’anic decree: And for the man a portion equal of that of two women   is pure justice, so too is it pure compassion.” He said, “Yes, it is justice, for the overwhelming majority of men take a wife and undertake to provide for her. As for women, they take a husband and load their livelihood on him, and this makes up for the deficiency in what they have inherited. It is also mercy, for a weak girl is greatly in need of kindness from her father and brothers. The Qur’an decrees that she receives kindness from her father without worry. Her father does not consider her anxiously, thinking of her as “a harmful child due to whom half of his wealth will pass to the hands of a stranger.” For him, “anxiety and anger are not mixed with his kindness. She also receives her brother’s kindness and protection free of rivalry and jealousy.” He does not consider her “as a rival who will destroy half the family and give an important part of our property to someone else.” Nursi believes, “there will be no resentment and hostility mixed with his feeling of compassion and protection towards her. Thus, the girl, who is delicate and weak by nature, is apparently deprived of a small part, but in place of it she gains inexhaustible wealth in the form of the compassion and kindness of those close to her andto the mother, a sixth.(Q.S. 4: 11)” (First Letter, p. 22).

 

Nursi then challenges the West by asking a question: “Do you wish for a proof that all things are done with justice and balance?” He then explains, “the fact that all things are endowed with being, given shape and put in their appropriate place in accordance with precise equilibrium and in appropriate measure, shows that all matters are done in accordance with infinite justice and balance. Similarly, the fact that all things are given their rights in accordance with their disposition, that they receive all the necessities of their being and all the requirements of life in the most fitting form – this too is the sign left by a hand of infinite justice.Again, the fact that answer is always given to every petition and request made by the tongue of disposition, and of natural need or necessity, demonstrates the existence of infinite justice and wisdom. Now is it at all possible that the justice and wisdom that hasten to relieve the pettiest need of the smallest of creation should fail to provide immortality, the greatest need of man, the greatest of creatures? That it should fail to respond to his greatest plea and cry for assistance? Or that it should not preserve the dignity of God’s dominicality by preserving the rights of His servants? Man, whose life is so brief, cannot experience the true essence of justice in this transient world; it is for this reason that matters are postponed for a supreme tribunal. For true justice requires that man, this apparently petty creature, should be rewarded and punished, not in accordance with his pettiness, but in accordance with the magnitude of his crime, the importance of his nature and the greatness of his function. Since this passing and transient world is far from manifesting such wisdom and justice for man, who is created for eternity, of necessity there will be an eternal Hell and everlasting Paradise of that Just and Awesome Possessor of Beauty, that Wise and Beauteous Possessor of Awe” (The Words / Tenth Word - Fourth Truth - p.78).

 

“This low civilization,” according to Nursi, “has caused an injustice by giving daughters more than their due, and it perpetrates an even greater injustice by not giving the mother what is her right.” For him, “the compassion of mothers is a most sweet, subtle, and lovely manifestation of dominical mercy, and among the truths of the universe, is one most worthy of respect and reverence. A mother is so generous, so compassionate, so self-sacrificing a friend that driven by her compassion she will sacrifice all her world, her life, and her comfort for her child. A timid hen, even, the simplest and lowest level of motherhood, will cast herself at a dog and attack a lion in order to protect her young, through a tiny manifestation of that compassion” (Eleventh Letter, p. 60). This is radically different from what is usually promoted today in the West, whereby man and women need to have equal shares in inheritance.

 

Still criticising the West, Nursi asserts that “Unreasoning civilization criticizes the Qur’anic verse which apportions to women one third [in inheritance]. However, most of the rulings concerning social life are in accordance with the majority, and mostly a woman finds someone to protect her. As for the man, she will be a burden on him and will have to combine efforts with someone else who will leave her her means of subsistence. Thus, in this form, if a woman takes half of the father’s legacy, her husband makes up her deficiency. But if the man receives two parts from his father, one part he will give to maintaining the woman he has married, thus becoming equal with his sister. The justice of the Qur’an requires it to be thus. It has decreed it in this way.The Words / Nineteenth Word, p.422.

 

Praising the Shari’a, Nursi tries to convice us that “Just as that luminous proof of Divine unity is affirmed by the indications of the thousands of his miracles like splitting of the Moon, and the justice of Shari‘a all confirm and corroborate him” (The Words / Nineteenth Word- p.244).

 

“Since the Illustrious Shari’a has come from the Pre-Eternal Word of God, it will go to Post-Eternity.” For it is dynamic. The Shari’a adapts and expands in relation to man’s development. It comprises equality, justice, and true freedom with all its relations and requirements. The initial period of Islam is proof of this. Therefore, Nursi says, their present unfortunate condition results from four causes: failure to observe the Shari’a, arbitrary and erroneous interpretations of it, bigotry on the part of certain “ignorant externalist scholars”, and fourthly, “abandoning through ill-fortune and bad choice, the virtues of Europe, which are difficult to acquire, and imitating like parrots or children the sins and evils of civilization, which are agreeable to man’s base appetites” (The Author of The Risale-i Nur: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi - Part One - Chapter Three - p. 59).

 

Nursi believes that “it is only through the truths of Islam that Islam will prosper and flourish. Islamic society can function only through the Shari‘a of Islam and its worldly happiness be achieved. Otherwise justice will disappear, public security be overturned”  (The Damascus Sermon / Fifth Word - p. 53).

 

Stealing and cutting hand

Another example of the Shari’a mentioned by Nursi is the stealing/cutting hand. He explains: “When once a judge showed signs of anger while cutting off the hand of a thief, the just ruler who chanced to observe him dismissed him from his post. For if he had cut the hand in the name of the Shari‘a, his soul would have felt pity for the victim; he would have cut it off in a manner devoid of both anger and mercy. Since the inclinations of his soul had had some share in his deed, he did not perform the act with justice” (The Letters, p. 328).  However, the civilization the Shari‘a of Muhammad, according to Nursi, “comprises and commands as follows: its point of support is truth instead of force, the mark of which is justice and harmony.” For Nursi, “The pure justice of the Qur’an does not spill the life and blood of an innocent, even for the whole of humanity. The two are the same both in the view of Divine Power, and in the view of justice” (The Damascus Sermon / Seeds of Reality - p. 106).

 

Devine determining:

Furthermore, Nursi relates justice to Divine Determining, which “is both exempt from evil and ugliness with regard to results and fruits, and free from tyranny and ugliness with respect to reason and cause. Because Divine Determining looks to the true causes and acts justly. Men construct their judgements on causes which they see superficially and fall into error within the pure justice of Divine Determining.” Nursi gave an example, “a judge finds you guilty of theft and sends you to prison. You are not a thief, but you have committed a murder which no one knows about. Thus, Divine Determining also sentenced you to imprisonment, but it sentenced you for the secret murder and acted justly. Since the judge sentenced you for a theft of which you were innocent, he acted unjustly”(The Words / Twenty-Sixth Word- p.479). “Divine Determining, which is pure justice, has a large part in the wrongful oppression which these people are inflicting on you” (The Flashes / The Twenty-Sixth Flash / For The Elderly - p.329). Nursi believes, “You will recall that in the treatise on Divine Determining we have proved that there are two aspects to the wrongs that are visited on us: one is the man’s aspect, the other, Divine Determining’s. In the same event, man does wrong, but Divine Determining is fair and acts in justice. In this matter of ours, we should think more of the justice of Divine Determining and mystery of Divine wisdom than man’s tyranny and wrongdoing” (The Flashes / The Twenty-Sixth Flash / For The Elderly - p.357).

 

Good deeds:

Nursi also relates the justice of God to praising good deeds. For him, “Spiritual life and correctness of worship will suffer as a result of enmity and rancour, since the purity of intention that is the means of salvation will be damaged. For a biased person will desire superiority over his enemy in the good deeds that he performs and will be unable to act purely for the sake of God. He will also prefer, in his judgement and dealings, the one who takes his side; he will be unable to be just. Thus the purity of intention and the justice that are the bases of all good acts and deeds will be lost on account of enmity and hostility” (The Letters, p. 328).

 

However, in accordance with the accounting of deeds in the hereafter, Nursi is conviced that “the Almighty God shows His dominical justice through the weighing up of good deeds and bad deeds. That is to say, if good deeds preponderate and weigh heavier, He rewards them and accepts them; whereas if evil deeds preponderate, he punishes for them, and rejects them. The balancing of good and evil deeds looks not to quantity, but to quality. It sometimes happens that a single good deed will weigh heavier than a thousand evils, and cause them to be forgiven. Divine justice judges thus and reality too sees it to be true” (The Letters, p. 505).

 

When Almighty God weighs up deeds with absolute justice on the supreme scales at the Last Judgement, Nursi suggests, God “will judge in accordance with the predominance of good deeds over evils and vice versa. And since the causes of evil deeds are numerous and their existence is easy, sometimes He veils many bad deeds with a single good deed.” That is to say, in Nursi’s words, “dealings in this world should be in accordance with that Divine justice. If a person’s good points are greater in regard to quality or quantity than his bad points, the man is deserving of love and respect. Indeed, one should forgive numerous bad points on account of a single valuable virtue” (The Flashes / The Thirteenth Flash - p.124).

 

However, due to the vein of tyranny in his nature and through the promptings of Satan, according to Nursi, “man forgets the hundred virtues of a person because of a single bad point, is hostile towards his believing brother, and commits sins. Like a fly’s wing covering the eye conceals a mountain, so too, due to the veil of hatred, man conceals virtues as great as a mountain due to one evil like a fly’s wing; he forgets them, is hostile towards his brother believer, and becomes a tool of corruption in the life of society”(The Flashes / The Thirteenth Flash - p.125).

 

Out of His perfect justice, Nursi said, “Almighty God has included in good works an immediate reward and in bad actions an immediate punishment. He has included in good works spiritual pleasures that recall the rewards of the Hereafter, while in bad works are spiritual penalties which recall the torments of Hell” (The Flashes / The Twenty-Eighth Flash - p.363). Nursi then tries to convince us that “If someone who does not believe or deems it unlikely that the deeds of jinn and men will be weighed up on the supreme scales of justice at the Last Judgement notes carefully this vast balance which he can see in this world with his own eyes, he will surely no longer consider it unlikely” (The Flashes / The Thirtieth Flash / The Divine Name Of All-Just - p.402). He even encourages man to do so: “O heedless man! See Almighty God’s munificence and generosity! Although it would be justice to record one evil as a thousand and a single good deed as one or not at all, He records a single evil as one, and a single good deed as ten, and sometimes as seventy or seven hundred, or even sometimes as seven thousand. You will also understand from this Remark that to be sent to Hell, which is so dreadful, is retribution for the deed and pure justice, while to be sent to Paradise is pure generosity” (The Words / Twenty-Third Word - Second Chapter - p.330).

 

In brief, Nursi suggests that, “Justice should be executed in the name of religion so that it may be effective over the mind, heart, and spirit, and they may conform to it. Otherwise it affects only the imagination. A criminal is then frightened only of the penalty set by the state, if it is enacted, or he shrinks from the reproaches of the public; if they occur” (The Damascus Sermon / Second Addendum - Second Part - p. 124).

 

Truth:

Nursi also relates God’s justice to truth (al-haqq). He suggests that, “If the confrontation of views takes place in the name of justice and for the sake of truth, then the difference concerns only means; there is unity with respect to aim and basic purpose. Such a difference makes manifest every aspect of the truth and serves justice and truth. But what emerges from a confrontation of views that is partisan and biased, and takes place for the sake of a tyrannical, evil-commanding soul, that is based on egotism and fame-seeking -what emerges from this is not the ‘flash of truth,’ but the fire of dissension. Unity of aim is necessary, but opposing views of this kind can never find a point of convergence anywhere on earth. Since they do not differ for the sake of the truth, they multiply ad infinitum, and give rise to divergences that can never be reconciled.

 

Hell: unbeliever

Nursi over and over again relates God’s justice to the function of Hell fire for unbeliever. In order to explain his perception, Nursi uses rhetorical questions: Is the torment of Hell-fire not necessary then for the compounded idiot who does not recognize this fact? Is it not pure justice? The Rays / The Ninth Ray - p.206. He answers, “the torment of Hell-fire is pure justice for those who commit the error of denying resurrection. For such denial would be to refute the numerous promises and to deny the power of One Powerful and Compelling, a Wrathful One of Glory, Who has promised and assured all of His prophets thousands of times and set forth in thousands of verses of the Qur’an, explicitly and by way of allusion, that He will bring about a resurrection and gathering far easier for Him than the thousands of miraculous gatherings that occur every spring, each more wondrous than the Supreme Gathering” (The Rays / The Supreme Sign - First Chapter - p.193).

 

Nursi, therefore, suggests that “in order to avenge the rights of beings on the unbeliever, the beings’ monarch, the All-Compelling One of Glory, casts the unbelievers into Hell, and this is pure right and justice. For an infinite crime demands infinite punishment” (The Letters, p. 62).

 

Nursi seems to believe that even if unbelievers did good deeds, “since they committed sins in this world with their eyes, their ears, their hearts, their hands, and their minds, and so on, it does not appear to be contrary to wisdom and justice that in Hell they will be made to wear a garment made up of various differing pieces that will be like a small Hell, and will cause them torment and pain in accordance with their sins” (The Letters, p. 452).

 

How can incarceration in Hell for an infinite duration in return for unbelief for a short duration be justice? Nursi answers, “Reckoning a year to be three hundred and sixty-five days, the law of justice requires for a one-minute murder seven million eight hundred and eighty-four thousand minutes imprisonment. So, since one minute’s unbelief is like a thousand murders, according to the law of human justice, someone who lives a life of twenty years in unbelief and dies in that state deserves imprisonment for fifty-seven billion, two hundred and one thousand two hundred million years. It may be understood from this how conformable with Divine justice is the verse, They will dwell therein for ever. QS 33:65” (The Flashes / The Twenty-Eighth Flash - p.374).

For Nursi, “since there is to be found in God’s absolute, infinite, luminous, essential and eternal power a Divine justice and unending wisdom that is the origin, source, fundament and beginning of all order, regularity and equilibrium in creation; and since all things, particular and universal, small and great, are obedient to the command of that power and submissive to its workings – it follows that God causes the stars to revolve and to move, through the wisdom of His order, as easily as He rotates and moves the atoms”(The Rays / The Supreme Sign - First Chapter - p.182).

 

Nursi spoke to God, saying: “I declare Your justice, beauty, and mercy to be exempt from such infinite tyranny, such ugliness. With all the particles of my being, by reciting the verse, Glory be to Him! He is high above all that they say! -Exalted and Great [beyond measure]”(The Rays / The Third Ray - p.68).

 

For Nursi, “there is no contradiction between the existence and ghastly torments of Hell, and infinite mercy, true justice, and wisdom with its balance and absence of waste […]. Human justice considers a sentence of fifteen years imprisonment (nearly eight million minutes) to be justice for a one minute’s murder, and conformable with general rights and interests. Therefore, since one instance of disbelief is the equivalent of a thousand murders, to suffer torments for nearly eight thousand million minutes for one minute’s absolute disbelief, is in conformity with that law of justice. A person who passes a year of his life in disbelief deserves punishment for close to two million eight hundred eighty thousand million minutes, and manifests the meaning of the verse,

 

They will dwell therein for ever.  QS 93:8. As is shown by numerous verses like, They reflect on the creation of the heavens and earth, saying: “O our Sustainer! Indeed You have not created this in vain; glory beunto You; and protect us from the torment of the Fire!”19 * O our Sustainer! Avert from us the torment of Hell; indeed its torment is a grievous affliction, * And evil it is as a resting-place and abode (The Rays / The Fruits of Belief - Eighth Topic - p.250).

 

Nursi adds, “My last word: May Almighty God allow the judges to execute the law with true justice. Amen. For us God suffices and He is the Best Disposer of Affairs. The best of lords and the Best of Helpers.All praise be to God, the Sustainer of All the Worlds. Nor is your Sustainer ever unjust to His servants.

 

If this equality had no end and was not finite, an injustice would be apparent, Nursi says. However, Nursi adds, “since Divine wisdom and justice are free of all inequity as is established by the testimony of the universe, they self-evidently require a final assembly where the former will be punished and the latter receive their reward. Then disorderly, wretched men may receive punishment and reward in conformity with their potentialities, be the means of absolute justice, manifest dominical wisdom, and be the elder brother of all the beings in the world” (The Words / Twenty-Ninth Word- Second Aim - p.544).

 

 

2. RULERS’ JUSTICE

 

When he elaborates his idea of justice, Nursi links it with exemplified rulers of Prophet Muhammad’s family, his companions (four guided caliphs and the ten who guaranteed to enter paradise), as they practiced the Sharia.

 

Nursi asserts that “The Prophet’s Family has raised hundreds of sacred heroes, produced thousands of spiritual leaders of the Umma, and has been nurtured with the leaven of the reality of the Qur’an and the light of belief and honour of Islam, and has thus been perfected. It is therefore totally reasonable that, through reviving the Shari‘a of Muhammad (PBUH) and his Sunna and the reality of the Qur’an at the end of time, proclaiming them and putting them into practice, they should display to the world the perfect justice and veracity of the Great Mahdi, their Commander-in-Chief. This is also both necessary and essential and demanded by the principles of human society” (The Rays / The Fifth Ray - Second Station - p.112). It is interesting to note that, even if Said Nursi is a Sunni, he accommodates and supports the belief of the Shiites regarding the Family of the prophets, including the Mahdi.

 

Nursi states the condition to be a just ruler, which are as follows: “A just ruler takes pleasure and is gratified and feels proud at taking the part of the oppressed against tyrants in order to uphold justice, at protecting the poor against the wrongdoing of the powerful, and at giving to everyone his due. Since this is a fundamental rule of rulership and justice, then consider the following:

 

“He compassionately protects the weak from the evil of the powerful. Therefore, the dominical qualities and sacred meanings, which we are powerless to express, that arise from this and from the execution of the mystery of justice, which in this world is total with regard to establishing justice for all animate beings and partial with regard to punishing wrongdoers, and especially that arise from the manifestation of supreme justice at the Supreme Tribunal of the Resurrection, necessitate the constant activity in the universe”(The Flashes / The Thirtieth Flash / The Divine Name Of Self-Subsistent - p.453).

 

The Companions and Muhammad:

Nursi praises highly the companions of the Prophet for their sense of justice. According to Nursi, “the absolute majority of the Companions of the Prophet were lovers of the truth, truthfulness, and justice. For in that age, the ugliness of lies and falsehood was shown in all its ugliness and the beauty of right and truthfulness was shown in all its beauty in such a way that the distance between them stretched from the ground to the Divine Throne. There was a clear separation between them, from the depths of Musaylima the Liar at the lowest of the low to the degree of truthfulness of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) at the highest of the high” (The Words / Twenty-Sixth Word- p.480).

 

Commenting on the war which existed between the companions, he believes that we have to adopt the perspectives of “Pure justice and relative justice: What was the nature of the wars that started during ‘Ali’s time (May God be pleased with him)? In what way, does he ask, should we describe those who took part in them, and those who died and those who killed? Said Nursi answers (Fifteenth Letter, p. 74): The war called the Event of the Camel between ‘Ali and Talha, and Zubayr and ‘A’isha the Veracious (May God be pleased with all of them) was the struggle between pure justice and relative justice. It was as follows:‘Ali took pure justice as fundamental and in accordance with his judgement of the Law, proceeded on that basis, as was the case in the time of the Caliphs Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. Those who opposed him said that at that time the purity of Islam permitted pure justice, but since with the passage of time various peoples whose Islam was weak had entered Islamic social life, to apply pure justice was extremely difficult. For this reason, their judgement of the Law was to proceed on the basis of relative justice, known as the lesser of two evils. Dispute over interpretation of the Law led to war. Since the interpretations had been purely for God’s sake and for the benefit of Islam, and war was born of interpretation of the Law, we may surely say that both those who killed and those who were killed gained Paradise, and both acted rightfully. However accurate was ‘Ali’s interpretation, and however much in error those who opposed him, they still did not deserve punishment. For if one who interprets the Law extracts the truth, he gains two rewards, but if he does not extract it, he still earns one reward, the reward for interpreting which is a form of worship; he is forgiven his error. A learned person who is widely known amongst us (Muslims) and who speaks the truth, wrote in Kurdish: “Don’t gossip about the war between the Companions, for both killer and killed were destined for Paradise.”

 

Pure justice and relative justice may be explained as follows: according to the allusive meaning of the verse, “If any one slew a person -unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land- it would be as if he slew the whole people,” the rights of an innocent man cannot be cancelled for the sake of all the people. A single individual may not be sacrificed for the good of all.

 

As for relative justice, a particular is sacrificed for the good of the universal; the rights of an individual are not considered in the face of the community. A sort of relative justice is attempted to be applied as the lesser of two evils. But if it is possible to apply pure justice, to attempt to apply relative justice is wrong. It may not be attempted. Thus, saying it was possible to apply pure justice in the time of the Caliphs Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, Imam ‘Ali (May God be pleased with him) constructed the Islamic Caliphate on the same basis. Those who opposed him and objected to him said that it was not possible to apply it because of the great difficulties, and judged according to the Law that they should proceed with relative justice. The other reasons related by history are not true reasons, they are pretexts. Thus, Husayn took the bonds of religion as the basis, and struggled against them as someone who executes justice, until he attained the rank of martyrdom (The Letters, p 76).

 

In this Qur’anic verse, the Companions are described as “the blessed ones,” that is, his Companions are blessed, righteous men, the beloved ones of God.

 

In the Forty-Second Chapter of the Book of Isaiah, there are the following verses:

 

See My servant, whom I uphold; My Chosen One, in whom I delight. He will reveal justice to the nations of the world.... He will encourage the fainthearted, those tempted to despair. He will see full justice given to all who have been wronged. He will not be satisfied until truth and righteousness prevail throughout the earth, nor until even distant lands beyond the seas have put their trust in him.

 

Here, the verses explicitly describe Muhammad (Upon whom be blessings and peace), the prophet at the end of time (The Letters, p. 207).

 

As for the Caliphate Shi’a, they have no rights before the Sunnis other than shame. For, according to Nursi, “although they claim to have tremendous love for Ali, they disparage him, and their creed necessitates accusing him of immorality. For they say that although Abu Bakr al-Siddiq and Umar were acting unjustly, Ali feigned approval for them; according to Shi’i terminology, he dissimulated. That is, he was frightened of them and behaved hypocritically. But it is not love to see someone who was such a hero of Islam, won the title ‘Lion of Allah,’ and was the commander and guide of the faithful as simulating love for people he did not love out of fear and deception, as feigning approval for them in fear for more than twenty years, and as following wrongdoers. Ali (May God be pleased with him) would disclaim love that sort.” Thus, Nursi continues, “the People of Truth’s creed in no way disparages Ali, nor levels accusations of immorality at him. It does not attribute cowardice to such a remarkable courage,” but says: “If Ali had not considered the Rightly-Guided Caliphs to be right, he would not have recognized them for a minute, nor obeyed them. It means that, since he thought them right and preferable, he surrendered his endeavour and courage on the way of justice” (The Flashes, p. 42).

 

The segmentAnd those who are with him alludes to Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, who was distinguished and famous for being among the Prophet’s special followers and party to his conversation, and again for entering among his special followers by being the first to die. While are strong against the unbelievers points to Umar, who in the future would cause the countries of the globe to tremble at his conquests, and with his justice would descend on tyrants like a thunderbolt. And compassionate among each other gives news of Uthman, who, in the future when the most serious dissension wasbeing fomented, would sacrifice his own life and spirit out of perfect kindness and compassion so that the blood of Muslims should not be spilt, preferring to be martyred wrongfully while reading the Qur’an. And so too, You will see them bow and prostrate themselves [in prayer], seeking grace from God and [His] good pleasure tells that with his complete worthiness to undertake the Caliphate and government, and his heroism, and his choosing perfect asceticism, worship, poverty, and frugality, and whose bowing and prostrating in prayer was corroborated by everyone, Ali (May God be pleased with him) was not responsible for his position in the future and the wars and strife in which he was involved, and that his intention and wish was for Divine favour” (The Flashes / The Seventh Flash - p.48).

 

“The Rightly-Guided Caliphs were both Caliph and presidents of the republic. Surely Abu Bakr the Veracious (May God be pleased with him), the Ten Promised Paradise, and the Companions of the Prophet were like presidents of the republic. But it was not some meaningless title; they were leaders of a religious republic the meaning of which was true justice and the freedom of the Shari‘a”(The Rays / The Twelfth Ray - p.305; See also The Rays / The Fourteenth Ray - p.386).

 

Tyrannical rule of Abbasids and Umayyads

Nursi is very critical of the Abbasud and Umayyad period in terms of the injustice practiced under both dynasties. According to a narration, he foretold the characteristics of the Umayyad dynasty and the tyrannical rule of many of its monarchs, including Yazid and Walid, and the way by which Mu‘awiya’s took leadership of the Muslims. He advised justice and gentleness, and said: “When ruling, act with forebearance.” He predicted that the ‘Abbasid dynasty would emerge after the Umayyads to remain in power for a long time, and said: “The ‘Abbasids will come forth with black banners and rule for much longer than they [the Umayyads] rule.” All these predictions proved to be true,” according to Nursi (Letters, p. 134).

 

Government/kings or rulers

Nursi is also very critical of corrupt government. He asked, “What does this government and rule rest on?” Hi reply? “On the sword and the pen.” That is, it rests on the valour of the soldier’s sword and the perspicacity and justice of the official’s pen. In the just same way, since the earth is the dwelling-place of animate beings and the commander of animate beings is man, and fish are the means of livelihood of the majority of men who live by the sea, and the means of livelihood of the majority of those who do not live by the sea is through agriculture, which is on the shoulders of bulls and oxen, and fish are also an important means of trade, for sure as the state rests on the sword and the pen, so it may also be said that the earth rests on the ox and the fish. For whenever the ox does not work and fish does not produce millions of eggs, man cannot live, life ceases, and the All-Wise Creator destroys the earth. The Flashes / The Fourteenth Flash / First Station - p.130.

 

Regarding Turkey’s government (and its military court), Nursi comments, “anyone who accuses of political intrigue a person who defended himself vehemently and without restraint in the Military Court after the Thirty-First of March Incident and in the Speaker’s Office in the face of Mustafa Kemal’s anger, saying he was hatching his schemes for eighteen years without allowing anyone to detect it, surely does so for some malicious purpose. We are hopeful that like the Denizli public prosecutor, the Afyon public prosecutor will save us from the malice and accusations of such people and demonstrate true justice” (The Rays / The Fourteenth Ray - p.384).

 

Nursi said, “Making a comparison with these examples, God willing, like the just and fair Denizli public prosecutor, Afyon Court will show how contrary to justice this treatment is, and will attach no importance to the delusions in those police reports”(The Rays / The Fourteenth Ray - p.390).

 

 “O Kings and Rulers! If you wish to act with pure justice, endeavour to see and understand the face of the earth in all its details, like Solomon. For, by rising to the level of being informed whenever he wishes about every part of his realm, a just ruler and king who cherishes his subjects will avoid inequity, and may rule with complete justice” (The Words / Twentieth Word- Second Station - p.265).

 

Nursi then adds, “What pleasure and enjoyment a just ruler who loves to enforce justice and right receives from giving the oppressed their rights and receiving their thanks and from punishing the wrongdoers and taking revenge for the oppressed. You can draw an analogy with the sacred meanings pertaining to the Absolutely Wise One, the Truly Just One, the All-Compelling and Glorious One, which arise from establishing justice, and not only for men and jinn, but for all creatures” (The Words / Thirty-Second Word - Second Stopping-Place - p.652).

 

Elites/the bourgeoisie:

Commenting on the role of the elite in justice, Nursi said, “by birth and the way I have lived I am from the class of common people, and I am one of those who by temperament and intellectually have accepted the way of ‘equality of rights.’ And due to compassion and the justice proceeding from Islam, I am one of those who for a long time have opposed and worked against the despotism and oppression of the elite class called the bourgeoisie. I therefore support total justice with all my strength, and oppose tyranny, oppression, arbitrary power, and despotism” (The Flashes / The Twenty-Second Flash - p.226).

 

For Nursi, “despotism has no place in Islam. To give a ruling on a person is the right only of courts acting openly and within the justice of the Shari’a. These rulings may not be given according to reports made by persons of unknown identity, which throw no light on their true faces and conceal their intrigues...” (The Author of The Risale-i Nur: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi - Part One - Chapter Two - p. 46).

 

Nursi criticizes his government by saying, “the Government [of Turkey] looks to the hand and not the heart, and all governments have fierce opponents; then still there is nothing with which we can be charged according the laws of justice. My final word, he said, is: God suffices me, there is no god but He; in Him do I place my trust  He the Sustainer of the Throne [of Glory] Supreme!10 InHis Name, be He glorified!(The Rays / The Twelfth Ray - p.304).

 

Nursi then asks us: “See with what lofty wisdom and ordering affairs are managed, and with what true justice and balance transactions are effected! Now a wise polity requires that those who seek refuge under the protecting wing of the state should receive favour, and justice demands that the rights of subjects be preserved, so that the splendour of the state should not suffer. But here in this land, not a thousandth part of the requirements of such wisdom and justice is fulfilled; for example, empty-headed people such as yourself usually leave this realm unpunished. So again we say, matters are postponed for the consideration of a Supreme Tribunal” (The Words / Tenth Word - p.61).

 

Moreover, the purpose of that commander is the purpose of all men, and its fulfilment is required by the pleasure, the compassion and the justice of the king, and it is a matter of ease for him, not difficulty, causing him less difficulty than the transient places of enjoyment contained in the hospice of the world”.(The Words / Tenth Word - p.63).

 

Nursi also suggests, “Anatolia should also have been made to speak. [Its] fatwa could have been issued after judgement had been passed on the assertions and counterclaims by a committee of politicians and ‘ulama taking into account the interests of Islam. In fact, a number of things are being reversed these days. Opposites are changing their names and being substituted for each other; tyranny is being called justice; jihad, insurrection; and captivity, freedom” (The Author of The Risale-i Nur: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi - Part One - Chapter Eight - p. 151).

 

Nursi points this out in the conclusion to the following letter, describing some of the injustices he was the victim of in Barla: “The treatment I have received these seven years has been purely arbitrary and outside the law. For the laws concerning exiles and prisoners and those in prison are clear. By law, they can meet with their relations and they are not prevented from mixing with others. In every nation and state worship and prayer are immune from interference. Those like me stayed together with their friends and relations in towns. They were prevented neither from mixing with others, nor from communicating, nor from moving about freely. I was prevented. And my mosque and my worship even were raided. And while it is Sunna to repeat the words, There is no god but God in the prayers following the prescribed prayers according to the Shafi’i school, they tried to make me give them up. Even, one of the old exiles in Burdur, an illiterate called _ebab, and his mother-in-law, came here for a change of air. They came to me because we come from the same place. They were summoned from the mosque by three armed gendarmes. The official then tried to hide that he had made a mistake and acted unlawfully, and apologized, saying: ‘Don't be angry, it was my duty” (The Author of The Risale-i Nur: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi - Part Two - Chapter Two - p. 226).

 

The Court’s Verdict

Nursi furthermore criticizes the court’s verdict in Turkey: “With all the delays and hold-ups, the Court finally announced its verdict on 6 December, 1948. Disregarding all the evidence it found Nursi’s guilty under Article 163 of Criminal Code of, in various respects, “exploiting religious feelings and inciting the people against the Government.” That a court of law should have allowed itself to be used in this blatant miscarriage of justice was a denigration of the law itself and a disgraceful episode in Turkish legal history. It sentenced Nursi to two years’ “penal servitude”, which was reduced to twenty months due to his age. Ahmad Feyzi Kul, who had made the long defence, was sentenced to eighteen months, and twenty others of Nursi’s students to six months each. Some of these had already been inside the prison for eleven months, others for less”  (The Author of The Risale-i Nur: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi - Part Two - Chapter Seven - p. 324).

 

Once again Nursi points out that what he was and had been accused of principally was “opposing the regime”, but on condition public order was not disturbed in any way, to do so could not be considered a crime. On the contrary, to oppose wrong, oppression, and unlawfulness was licit and a genuine element of justice” (The Author of The Risale-i Nur: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi - Part Three - p. 335).

 

As a result of this entirely arbitrary infringement of his liberty, Nursi wrote a petition to the Justice and Interior Ministries in Ankara by way of a complaint, wanting his students in Ankara to give copies also to sympathetic Deputies. One of his students there sent a copy also to a newspaper printed in Samsun called Büyük Jihad. On the newspaper printing the petition, the Samsun Public Prosecutor opened proceedings against Nursi, and a summons arrived in Emirdag ordering him to appear in Samsun Criminal Court” (The Author of The Risale-i Nur: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi - Part Three - p. 339).

 

Those who supported a barbaric principle which thus destroys the well-being, justice, and peace of mankind are retrogressing to a barbarism of former times. Yet, these true reactionaries pose as patriots and accuse of political reaction those who work to secure unity and brotherhood through Qur'anic principles such as those mentioned above, which are the means to true justice and progress. Another “fundamental Islamic law” which Nursi advised Menderes and the Democrats to adopt was taken from the Hadith, “A nation’s ruler is its servant.” Because, Bediuzzaman wrote, “At this time, due to the lack of Islamic training and weakness in worship, egotism has been strengthened, and tin-pot dictators have multiplied.” That is to say, under the former regime, which aimed to substitute Western civilization for Islam, as a bribe to its supporters, positions in government and the administration ceased being service and became a means of domination and despotism. Everyone’s rights were trampled on and justice was completely destroyed” (The Author of The Risale-i Nur: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi - Part Three - p. 358).

 

Racialism and nationalism:

Nursi does not agree with racialism and nationalism. As early as 1952, Nursi warned Menderes that these discountenanced officials, many of whom remained in their positions after 1950 but were compelled by the Democrats to serve the nation rather than oppressing and exploiting it, formed a current of opposition ready to attack the Democrats. A second current was the racialist nationalists. In fact, both played an important role in the Democrats’ overthrow (The Author of The Risale-i Nur: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi - Part Three - p. 358).

Since the principles of racialism and nationalism do not follow justice and right, they are tyranny. They do not proceed on justice. For a ruler of racialist leanings prefers those of the same race, and cannot act justly. According to the clear decree of, Islam has abrogated what preceded it. There is no difference between an Abyssinian slave and a leader of the Quraish, once they have accepted Islam, Islam has abrogated the tribalism of Ignorance; the bonds of nationalism may not be set up in place of the bonds of religion; if they are, there will be no justice; right will disappear.

 

3. PEOPLE’S JUSTICE

The last point discussed by Nursi in relation to justice concerns the people in general. For him, the latter have to be protected from oppression.

 

He begins by saying, “[…] suffice it to say here that the basis of his political ideas, based on Islamic practice, […] was a system based on the principles of freedom, justice, consultation, and the rule of law(The Author of The Risale-i Nur: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi - Part One - Chapter One - p. 15).

 

He is very critical of any kind of criminal individual, and he himself defended the innocents. He also talks once again about the West (Europe).

 

Criminals and innocents:

He said, “Criminals are sinful in the view of truth.” He then called the unjust man:

 

“O unjust man nurturing rancour and enmity against a believer! Let us suppose that you were on a ship, or in a house, with nine innocent people and one criminal. If someone were to try to make the ship sink, or to set the house on fire, because of that criminal, you know how great a sinner he would be. You would cry out to the heavens against his sinfulness. Even if there were one innocent man and nine criminals aboard the ship, it would be against all rules of justice to sink it” (Letters / Twenty - Second Letter - First Topic- p.312).

To prove his argument, Nursi quotes the following Qur’anic verse: No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another,which, for him, “expresses pure justice, to nurture rancour and enmity towards a believer is like condemning all the innocent attributes found in him on account of one criminal attribute, and is hence an act of great injustice. If you go further and include in your enmity all the relatives of a believer on account of a single evil attribute of his, then, in accordance with the following verse in which the active participle is in the intensive form, Verily man is much given to wrongdoing,6 (QS. 14:34) you will have committed a still greater sin and transgression, against which truth, the Shari‘a and the wisdom of Islam combine to warn you. How then can you imagine yourself to be right, and say: “I am in the right”?(Letters / Twenty - Second Letter - First Topic- p.314).

 

Just as the penalties of those perpetrating small crimes are delivered locally, and serious crimes are sent to the high courts, so too, according to the rules, the small errors of believers and close friends are punished swiftly and in part in this world, in order to quickly purify them. But the crimes of the people of misguidance are so great that since their punishments cannot be contained in this brief worldly life, as required by justice they are referred to the Supreme Tribunal in the eternal realm, and mostly do not receive any punishment here.

 

The Hadith “This world is the prison of the believers and the Paradise of the unbelievers” also alludes to this truth. That is to say, because the believer receives partial punishment for his faults in this world, it is a place of punishment for him. In relation to his happiness in the Hereafter, this world is a dungeon and Hell. And since the unbelievers will not be released from Hell and they in part receive the rewards for their good works in this world and their large sins are postponed, this world is their Paradise in relation to their life in the Hereafter. For in reality and in meaning the believer is far happier in this world also than the unbeliever. A believer’s faith is quite simply like a Paradise in his spirit; while the unbelief of the unbeliever sets afire a sort of Hell in his being. Glory be unto You! We have no knowledge save that which You have taught us; indeed, You are All-Knowing, All-Wise” (The Flashes / The Tenth Flash - p.79).

 

Nursi, again, comments on the West, in particular Europe. He said, “It should not be misunderstood; Europe is two. One follows the sciences which serve justice and right and the industries beneficial for the life of society through the inspiration it has received from true Christianity; this first Europe I am not addressing. I am rather addressing the second corrupt Europe which, through the darkness of the philosophy of Naturalism, supposing the evils of civilization to be its virtues, has driven mankind to vice and misguidance. Nursi explains further: On my journey of the spirit at that time I said to Europe’s collective personality, which apart from beneficial science and the virtues of civilization, holds in its hand meaningless, harmful philosophy and noxious, dissolute civilization: Know this, O second Europe! You hold a diseased and misguided philosophy in your right hand and a harmful and corrupt civilization in your left, and claim, “Mankind’s happiness is with these two!” May your two hands be broken and may these two filthy presents of yours be the death of you!... And so they shall be! (The Flashes / The Seventeenth Flash / Fifth Note - p.160).

 

Since Western civilization is not based on truth and justice, but on the principles of force, conflict, and aggression, the evils of civilization predominate over its virtues. If man is to survive he will embrace Islam, for he understands now his need for true civilization, founded on the positive truths of revelation, the Holy Qur’an and the Shari‘a of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), in which the virtues of progress predominate, and the benefits of civilization may be profited from. (The Damascus Sermon / Preface, p. 14)

 

 

For Nursi, “justice and the rights of everyone who applies have to preserved without discrimination and the duty of those involved is to work solely for the sake of right, that during his caliphate, Imam ‘Ali (May God be pleased with him) sat together with a Jew in court and they were tried together. On another occasion, a just judge saw that an official was angry with a delinquent thief when he was cutting off his hand as demanded by the law. He immediately sacked the official, and full of regret said: “Those who up to now have been influenced by their feelings in this way while executing the law have perpetrated great wrongs.” Yes, even if in executing the law he does not pity the convicted man, he may not be angry; if he is, he is acting tyrannically. If he carries out capital punishment angrily, even if it is in retaliation (qisas), he becomes a sort of murderer”(The Rays / The Fourteenth Ray - p.402).

 

Since the desire to progress and be perfect has been included in the universe and in man’s essential nature, for sure, if doomsday does not soon engulf mankind as a result of its errors and wrongdoing, in the future truth and justice will show the way to a worldly happiness in the world of Islam, God willing, in which there will be atonement for the former errors of mankind” (The Damascus Sermon / First Word - p. 39).

 

In brief, Nursi says,When the punishments are carried out in the name of the Divine commands and dominical justice, both the spirit, and the intellect, and the conscience, and man’s innate subtle faculties are affected and influenced. It is for this reason that the execution of a punishment once in fifty years is more effective than your imprisoning numerous people every day. Your penalties affect only your imaginations, for when one of you decides to steal something, suffering a penalty on account of the country and nation and its benefits seems imaginary; or he thinks others will condemn him if they know about it; or it occurs to him that if it turns out unfavourably the government will send him to prison”(The Damascus Sermon / First Addendum / Second Part - p. 70).

 

“You suffer hardship so that I can live in ease; you work so that I can eat.” There is only one remedy for extirpating the First Saying, and that is the obligatory payment of zakat. While the remedy for the Second is the prohibition of usury and interest. Qur’anic justice stands at the door of the world and says to usury and interest: “No entry! It is forbidden! You don’t have the right to enter here!” Mankind did not heed the command, and received a severe blow. So it must heed it before it receives one even more severe!(The Damascus Sermon / Seeds of Reality - p. 103).

 

And according to Nursi, “the cruel oppressor passes his life in ease while the unhappy oppressed live in hardship; and since the absolute justice whose traces are to be seen throughout the universe is entirely opposed to the cruel tyrant and despairing oppressed being equal in death, and would in no way permit it...” (The Rays / The Ninth Ray - p.208).

 

Reflections and Conclusion

Detailed review of Said Nursi’s work allowes us to categorize the various understandings and definitions given to the concept of Justice. Indeed, Said Nursi’s first comments on God’s justice in the universe, where He ensures a perfect balance and equilibrium. With Devine determining and wisdom, God shows His justice. Nursi relates with God’s justice in humanity, God appreciating good deeds with the reward of Paradise, and punishing those who do evil with Hell-fire. So, Nursi’s elaboration on God’s justice not only pertains to this world but also to eschatological life.

 

As for the justification of Nursi’s inheritance rules found in the Qur’an, while they are quite understandable in the context of the time, where land was the main concern, they might need a different explanation in today’s context. Indeed, when land was worked by males, it can be understood that land given to female children was seen as a loss for the family, as it is not the female themselves but their spouse who would be working the land and gaining from their work. However, it is hard to argue today that it is fairer to give a higher inheritance share to a son than to a daughter, when both males and females have paid income and contribute to the welfare of their families.

 

We can also argue against him that God wouldn’t be unfair to woman. Many verses in the Qur’an explain that the share of woman is the equivalent to that of the man, as the share is based on the endeavour of the each individual, man or woman: Lirrijali nasibun mimaktasabuu wa linnisai nasibbun mimmaktasabuu. (Meaning, men receive a certain share as a result of their efforts, and women also receive a certain share according as a result of their efforts). The same goes for the verse: liddzakari mithlu hazz al-unthayayn (The share of man is equal to half of the share of woman). This verse is often understood to provide a ratio of 1:0.5 (2:1). However, the keyword of the verse is actually the word “equivalent,” so the value of 2 is equivalent to the value of 1. Indeed, the verse talks about the value (quality) of material things, not about their quantity. Indeed, we have to remember that during the Prophet time, there was no paper money, so the value of all things is based on gold or silver. Also, the inheritance of a person who passes away includes various types of goods or animals, including furniture, houses, land, or plantations. In that context, it was difficult to divide inheritance based on the quantity of goods or animals. You could not give men male animals (horses, camels, etc), arguing that they needed them in their work as merchants, traders, and give the female animals to female heirs, arguing that they needed them to obtain milk for their children and family and that, in that culture, woman stayed home, and men did the traveling, or worked the land. Similarly, plantations on hill-tops are usually less productive than those next to water or between hills. Thus, to provide equivalent shares to one’s heirs would mean to divide one’s inheritance into various portions, the ones located on a hill-top being larger that the ones located at the foot of the hill, to make provision for the difference in terms of irrigation and yield. The larger land, which are also the one furthest to the water source, would be given to male heirs, which the smaller land, which is the closest to its water source, would be give to female heirs, as long as the yield of both pieces of land is the same. Thus we can see how comes into light the concept of equivalence as opposed to equality.

 

As for the case of sentences for breaching the law, rather than concentrate on the literal translation of the text, whereby hands of thieves are cut, we can rather argue that what is meant by God in the verse, the wassariqu wassariqatu maqta’uu aydiyahumaa (The one who steals should have his or her hand cut). Indeed, a number of verses in the Qur’an say use the word hand to refer to power. In this light, imprisoning someone is cutting him or her away from power, to remove any of his or her power. Cutting does not necessarily mean the physical removal of his or her hand, but rather the removal of his or her opportunity to work.

 

Regarding just rulers, Nursi emphasizes the emulation prophet Muhammad and His family members showed to us. These are just people. The Companions of the Prophet, both the rightly guided caliphs and the ten promised with paradise, are good examples to be emulated. We should, says Nursi, imitate the way they practice justice not only in the courts but also in their everyday lives.

 

As for government in general such as rulers or elites, Nursi is very critical of any kind of oppression. He dislikes the unjust practices of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties.  However, he does not explain the just practice of the Caliph Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, who was known for his fair governance of the Umayyads. The Turkish government, as seen from the court practices, was seen to be unjust and unfair. Nationalism and racialism are seen as sources of injustice. Nursi however seems to be supporting the so-called communitarian Islam, which is to establish ummat al-muslimin (Muslim community).

 

Finally, Nursi’s understanding of justice also applies to ordinary people or the population in general. They have to be defended from any kinds of oppression, tyranny and corrupt practices. People are seen to be the core of democracy.

 

Although Nursi does underline some good points in practices adopted in the West, he is also quite critical. For him, good deeds are what save humanity. However, for him, good deeds have to be based on religion (Islam, Shari’a). Therefore, activities not based on religion are not valued by God. However, this restriction can, I believe, be challenged, as many Qur’anic verses actually praise good deeds in general, good deeds of creative and innovative people. Through such good deeds, whatever their inspiration, people are going to be appreciated by God.

Makale Yazarı: 
Prof Dr Andi Faisal Bakti, State Islamic University (Uin) Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta, Indonesia