After Abdulhamid Khan declared constitutionalism in the Ottoman Empire, the elections were held on July 24, 1908. The Ottoman Parliament was opened on December 4th 1908 with the elected MPs. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi wrote two successive articles titled “Address to the Deputies” on 19 and 26 December 1908.
We will try to explain what recommendations Imam Said Nursi (ra) made to the Parliament. Of course, no comment or evaluation can fully reflect the original of the text. Therefore, it will be useful for those who are curious about this subject to examine the original text.
Imam Nursi’s article, which aimed to contribute to the political structure of the period, is also important in terms of reflecting the atmosphere of that period. Revealing the expectations of Imam Nursi from the assembly opened with great expectations, the article is also remarkable in terms of revealing the differences and similarities in expectations between today and that time.
When we examine the recommendations made by Imam Nursi, we can state the followings:
– Protection of the right of Allah,
– Preserving the right of servanthood and worship, which Allah has over people,
– Islamic Law has the quality to meet the needs of all kinds of structuring of the constitutionalism, which is the new administrative system. Shaping the new order according to Islamic legal criteria,
– In political conflicts, Islam should not be used against opponents as weapon; everyone’s common value should be to glorify Islam,
– Taking the criteria set by the four Schools of Thought, which emerged with the contributions of millions of geniuses, as a guide in making laws. In this way, the necessary laws are enacted from the Qur’an and Sunnah, which contain a treasure sufficient for the needs of all times,
– Rapidly making legal arrangements in other fields as in the Mecelle, which is prepared on the basis of Hanafi Law,
– Winning the hearts of the people by structuring the legitimate system based on the Qur’an and Sunnah,
– Actually showing that Islam does not hinder technical and material progress,
– By structuring the Constitutional Monarchy on the basis of Islamic law, demonstrating that our religion is more worthy of constitutionalism and freedom, and that it meets its criteria,
– Removing the obstacles to Islam, which cannot be evaluated properly due to ignorance, savagery and prejudices (of people),
– Making the people a model society against the outside world by being educated with Islamic morality,
– Destroying the perception that “religion should not interfere with politics” by shaping the political system according to the Qur’an and Sunnah,
– Negating the propaganda saying “Islam is an obstacle to development” by revealing that the hadith “Wisdom (valuable knowledge) is the lost property of a believer, he gets it wherever he finds it” (Tirmidhi) is the basic essence of Islam,
– The development and structuring of the Constitutional Monarchy is based on knowledge and education,
– Not to confuse Islam with other religions,
– “Not to isolate Islam from politics by affirming that false opinion” by comparing Islam with other religions. In other words, not to desire for the secular system, by looking at Europe, that disabled their religion,
– To see that our religion has the structure and capacity to regulate sociological, psychological, political, economic, and technological and religious fields, and apply this,
– Demonstrating that intellectual and conscientious awakening can be achieved by exercising the truths of faith,
– It should not be ignored that many non-Muslim philosophers accept the contribution of Islam to civilization. Because, according to the principle that says “The virtue is that even your enemies cannot deny it”, the fact that thinkers outside Islam have to restore the right of Islam will strengthen our idea,
– Treatment of laziness, ignorance and shamelessness diseases in all segments of society on the basis of compulsory education,
– Disabling Islam in education is like “removing the eye for the treatment of a wound on the finger.” The people have a heart disease which is a weakness in religion. This heart disease must be treated with Islam,
– Knowing the three factors that poison us. These are:
1. The wrong assumption of Europe about us that “Islam prevents progress”.
2. The idea of irreligion spreading from Europe. This idea was put on the market under the cover of science. Therefore, it is important to clean out the stories that overshadow the essence of Islam and the superstitions that has entered us from outside. If this is not done, Europe will also use the word “dogma” for Islam too, with which it has labelled the religion by reading it through Christianity. This situation will lead to the perception of Islam as a religion of superstitions. With this understanding, the idea of atheism found its ground in the Islamic geography.
3. The seeds of discord planted by the hypocrites of Europe. An ordinary or even a coward Muslim, raised with Islamic feelings, sacrifices his life for his religion, homeland and nation. However, the love of the homeland and the nation, when stripped of Islam, can only produce that sacrifice in one thousandth of people. The people of this geography, who got spiritually weak, fall into the trap of separation, and of discord sown by the European hypocrites. This situation brings with it the disunion of hearts and the disappearance of unity and togetherness. The people would look at a government that causes this as a hypocrite or apostate – a government that separates the new system and religion, and that defines the constitutionalism through the dynamics of Europe. Thus, obedience, which is the spirit of a government, disappears. The government becomes like “the home of the spider, which is the weakest homes of all” and begins to collapse.
– If we bring out the beauties of Islam and carry them on us, it will repel all the oppressions on us and drive them away from us.
– We have three treasures against these three things that poison us. These are:
1. Islamic union. Non-Islamic discourses cannot unite the people, on the contrary, they cause the people to be offended by the government. Islam, on the other hand, has the potential to energize the society by affecting all segments of it.
2. It is our civilization that can meet the needs of all centuries. For, Islam encourages the development of the components of civilization that are beneficial to humanity. It even orders that development. However, it prohibits the debauchery, waste, and the rich-poor gap of income distribution that will cause the extinction, wearing out, and destruction of civilization.
3. It is our religion that will make freedom reach perfection. The stories and superstitions that have entered us in the process of time have started to shadow the truths of Islam. By removing these, Islam will help humanity breathe as it did in its early days, and will pave the way for intellectual progress. Many gems will emerge from the Islamic geography in the age of freedom where obstacles are lifted. When Islam is taken as the basis, genius and political men who will carry the new system will represent Islam. They will properly introduce Islam to the world by purifying it from stories and superstitions.
– A famous philosopher of the new world said: “When Islam came out, it swallowed all other religions and ideas, which were like pieces of wood, as if a lively fire. Now, like a bright mirror, it shows Muhammadu’l-Arabi to our eyes.” (Blessings and peace be upon him)
[Yes, the virtue is that even your enemies feel obliged to declare it.]
Imam Said Nursi (ra) continues his recommendations to the Parliament as follows:
– Begging Europe for law is a betrayal of Islam.
– With the command of our religion, those we need from Europe in the fields of administration, military, information and industry can be taken.
– We should set an example to Europe with our justice and civilization. Islamic law is sufficient to ensure justice and civilization.
– If Islam does not exist, freedom, fraternity and civilization will be poisoned just as flowers and fruits get sick in dirty, toxic water.
– The contributions of Islam to civilization during the periods of the First Four Caliphs, Abbasids and Andalusia Umayyads are obvious. They made that progress because they embraced Islam.
– While absolute monarchy, one-man sovereignty, sultanate, kingdom were practiced throughout the world, the Companions experienced freedom, that is republic, justice, and equality before the law. It means that the essence of Islam is a core in the issues of freedom, justice and equality before the law.
Four Reasons for our Lagging behind and Moral Corruption
1. The obedience in the conscience of the people has been shaken with the distancing from the Islamic law, which has been continuing for nearly three hundred years, or the implementing of practices that were not based on Islamic law.
2. The unfounded, bad and evil comments made by some European admirers subjectively, and thus their “showing Islam as suitable for despotism and as an obstacle to civilization.”
3. Some people’s, who think that they serve religion, esteeming the external a lot and their telling some similes as if they are truth.
4. Leaving civilization’s hard-to-learn beauties such as science and engineering. Blindly adopting the corrupt and dissolute sides of Europe by following one’s whims and desires.
If the Assembly Act on the Basis of Islamic Law, it will have Advantages in Two Aspects
a) It becomes the voice of all Muslims.
b) It affects the minds. This situation ensures that consciences and spirits obey the decisions that will come out of the assembly.
– The MPs are not the people of tashrih. In other words, the assembly is not the position of explaining, detailing and giving full details.
– The Assembly is the authority to apply and choose the laws according to the understanding and needs of the time. A little negligence in this regard will have dire consequences now or later in the future.
– ‘Complete justice’, which is true justice, should be preferred instead of ‘relative justice’. In other words, based on the principle of ‘crime’s being personal’, an innocent person close to a criminal should not be punished because of him.
– Justice is justice regardless of a title. However, when it is in the name of Islam, it brings many benefits, beauty and gains with it.
The Benefits of Establishing the Constitutional Monarchy and the Assembly System in the Name of Islam
1. Contains the principle of ‘crime’s being personal’. It ensures the protection of the individual and the individual’s rights.
2. Becomes a point of support in the works of the Assembly.
3. Bases the new system, the Constitutional Monarchy, on a main law text. It makes it take root.
4. Calms those who begin to worry, fear and thus say “Will our religion be harmed?”, and make them obedient.
5. Is the guarantee of our worldly future and our hereafter.
6. Saves you from using the public interest without the permission of Allah, the real Owner of the property.
7. Preserves our national culture against the pressures of European civilization, as it has protected for centuries.
8. Captivates and takes hold of everyone, friend and foe, with the truths it reveals,
9. Shows our perfection, fortitude and existence against external forces.
10. Saves us from the worldly and otherworldly faults.
11. Provides the unity of society both as a purpose and as a result.
12. Brings out consensus, which is the spirit of unity and solidarity.
13. Does not let in the evil and wicked of the European-centred civilization within the borders of our freedom and civilization.
14. Saves us from begging the European in every field.
15. It quickly closes the distance we have lagged behind for three hundred years with its miraculous secrets.
16. Unites Turkish, Indian and Arab, and enables these unions by killing racism.
17. Adds us great value today, just as it did in the past.
18. Shows the spiritual personality of the government as Muslim. Thus, the government gains the sympathy and support of all Muslims.
19. Preserves the article “the religion of the state is Islam” which is Article 11 of the Constitution.
20. Refutes Europe’s old, corrupt and wrong thinking.
21. Confirms that the legal order introduced by the last Prophet is eternal. (pbuh)
22. Sets a barrier against irreligion, which ruins and destroys civilization and makes it almost extinct.
23. With its clarity and simplicity, removes the disagreements that ruin societies.
24. Makes the scholars and preachers serve the well-being of the nation and the constitutional government.
25. Since it establishes a compassionate legal system with the principle of absolute justice, that is, the crime’s being personal, ensures living with non-Muslims in peace and their loyalty to the state.
26. Makes even the most coward ones self-sacrificing in the patriotism cause.
27. Preserves civilization by protecting and rescuing people from debauchery, waste, and non-essential needs.
28. Along with bringing in the hereafter, also increases the eagerness to work for the world.
29. Teaches the principles and rules of morality, lofty feelings and emotions, which are the requirements of civilization.
30. Clears each deputy, representing fifty thousand people, from the accusations, pressures, coercive and accusing attitudes of his voters.
31. Makes the parliament a legitimate and religious model for the ummah.
32. Makes your conducts and deeds considered as worship, depending on the intention you have.
33. Saves you from the accusation of murder against the spiritual life of the whole Islamic world.
If you accept the new system of constitutionalism with the title of Islam, you will gain these benefits. What would you lose if you accept it with this title?
“How will the elements of civilization and the truths revealed by scientific research be extracted from Islam? How will they be adapted to Islam?” The answer to this question:
– The opinions of people who are experts in religion should be taken into account
– Islam has the more perfect ones of the elements of civilization.
– None of the absolute truths in science are opposed to Islam.
The Imam puts forward his claim by saying that I am ready to prove these issues personally.
“What is the reason for the opposition between Islam and the civilization and science?” This question finds an answer as follows:
“The opposition is only in some theory or assumption of the sciences.” In other words, it is in the theory or assumption part that seems contrary to science and that science cannot reach a definite result. In this case, it is wrong to come up with a definitive idea and conclusion over something that has not been proven. Unfortunately, our western admirers take these unproven theories as if they were the truth, and imitate them “like a parrot”. They accept them as if they are accurate.
Mutual agreement may appear in an apparent meaning that does not rely on examination, outside of the intended meaning in the provisions of Islam. When the verses and the finalized scientific data are evaluated together, it can be revealed by the religious and science experts that there is no contradiction.
The Mecelle is an example to the deputies; if you can put forward good works like this, you will meet the expectations of Islam from you. In this case, you can gain the consent of the Prophet (asw).
In practice, the rule of law should form a basis while executing power. Otherwise, despotism and oppression, which used to be from one centre, will now be experienced through many factors like civil, military, courthouse, and politics.
“The power of the law is by the strength of the lawmaker.” That is, the effect of the law is according to the power and authority of the legislator. It is Allah Who has the real power, Who is the mighty, the unshakable. The effect of the laws that He makes varies according to the degree of faith.
As a matter of fact, justice was fully manifested in the Age of Bliss (Asru’s-Saadah) when the faith in Islam was at its peak. As a result, the borders of Islam reached to Caucasus, Central Asia, India, Central Anatolia and Spain in a short period of fifty years.
“Obedience to the great of law is other than despotism.” In other words, obeying the constitution and basic laws is not submitting to despotism. This situation should be evaluated outside of despotism. The biggest law, the constitution, is Allah’s orders and prohibitions. To obey His orders and prohibitions is not despotism but freedom. For it is a perfection for a man, who stands out in obeying Islamic law, being freed from the captivity of the lower-self and obeying Allah’s orders. Because of this perfection, the obedience to the laws with respect and love is not a requirement of despotism, but of understanding of virtue. The new system is based on fear that is leaning against information and knowledge. With the awakening of ideas, the influence of despotism has lost its capabilities a lot. In such a situation, the most effective factor that will ensure obedience is the rule of law established on the basis of knowledge and faith.
“Disagreement of the ways and evidence; unity of the purpose and result” must be the basis. In other words, there may be differences in the way, the method and evidence. But the purpose and the result should serve Islam and Allah’s orders and prohibitions. The balance should be maintained, just like in the true sects (madhahib). Ignoring and disregarding differences in path and evidence, by only taking obedience as basis, results in a blind imitation; it breaks productivity.
The Imam finalizes his article by saying, “This idea has been my private path for fifteen years; now I am presenting them to the opinion of public so that it becomes the public path; because it’s time.”
May our Lord forgive our faults! Amen.