When we look at the history of Islam, from the Age of Bliss (Asr al-Saadah) to the present time, religious education has been systematically given to the people by means of schools, mosques, madrasas, dervish lodges, etc. In the education there, each organisation applies its own methods. It can take 15-20 years to have a complete religious education in these institutions. In this article, we would like to touch upon the recently prominent spiritual education studies that are done by people themselves.
As it is known, there were times when we retreated to our homes as part of some measures taken due to the Coronavirus pandemic. There is no doubt that we have plenty of time to devote to ourselves in these times when we cannot do many activities collectively. For those who want to make use of these times in the most efficient way we say, “Now is the time for self-illumination.” In other words, this is the time to be enlightened intellectually, spiritually and at heart, by dealing with religious truths, acquiring new knowledge, improving oneself in the spiritual field, completing the deficiencies, remembering the forgotten ones.
Imam Bediuzzaman is one of the pioneers of self-education. He was an extraordinary scholar of his time. He had studied most of the sciences, normally acquired in 15 years by taking lessons from teachers, by self-study. The imam explains that he discovered the shortest way to the truth with the following words:
I found a way to reach the sciences that are intended [to be reached], without studying al-ulum al-aliyya learned in order to reach the higher meanings of the Quran and Hadith. It is peculiar to the mercy of the Ruler to bestow a short and peaceful road to the children of this time, who are flowing very quickly and rapidly [like a river].
Imam Bediuzzaman adapted this unique style to his students in the form of a self-education model and presented it as a Risale-i Nur service. It is no longer necessary to travel long distances to reach the truth. Imam Bediuzzaman put forward a short and easy way instead of going through very long and difficult ways to become a scholar; he said “Whoever reads the entirety of these epistles and lessons with comprehension and approval within a single year, can be an important, true scholar [of the realities of true faith] of this time.” (The Staff of Moses, 321)
He thus showed an extremely important threshold of success in this regard. Imam Bediuzzaman made a breakthrough in the field of self-education with Risale-i Nur and marked the century with this model. He explains this situation which became a means of saving millions of people’s faith from danger with the following words: “Yes, the Risale-i Nur earns you the strong critically verified faith- which is earned in the madrasah in fifteen years- in fifteen weeks and [earns some others] in fifteen days; twenty thousand people in twenty years have borne witness with their experiences.” (Sikke-i Tasdik-i Ğaybi, 178. Altınbaşak Neşriyat)
As the imam said, everybody can become a scholar by self-illumination with this method: “Even though the Risale-i Nur, which is a spiritual electricity, is a very high and profound knowledge, everyone can understand those higher sciences of religion according to their degree without any hard work, without the need for the trouble of joining classes and studying, taking lessons from other masters and taking lessons from teachers. And they become investigative scholars.”
Measure: As a result of the measures taken especially against the Coronavirus pandemic, people have had more free time than ever before. We can evaluate this time in terms of reading, understanding, deepening, and specialization on Risale-i Nur epistles.
Measure: It is very easy to have knowledge, to deepen in a science, to have a serious background especially in religious issues in this century with Risale-i Nur works. And with a self-education model. And without the need to engage in the sciences that must be studied in order to reach the high truths of the Quran and hadith, such as Arabic grammar and syntax. With the Risale-i Nur model, the trouble of kneeling in front of a teacher and studyin really hard for education is also eliminated. It is time to engage in Risale-i Nur’s works, which teach the truths of faith and Islam in a short and easy manner for the people of this time, who are quickly bored and have very low power to struggle and overcome difficulties. In other words, it is time for self-illumination with Risale-i Nur.