Risale Academy

Course date: January 8 – March 6, 2022

Nursi had high expectations for the 21st century. He foresaw the emergence of the information society and the era of communication. He believed science and communicative eloquence would reign supreme in the 21st century and this would eliminate the obstacles in front of a better understanding the message of Qur’an and the global outreach of that message. Risale Academy is a response, from within the information society and the era of communication, to that optimism and hope. It is an attempt to marry science and religion, to read the Book of Universe through the prism of the monotheistic principles of the Holy Qur’an, and to excel in demonstration and argumentation as means of promoting such a holistic reading.

In the Risale Academy program, eight courses are planned to be given in four seasons in one year. The two-hour classes, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday, will continue for eight weeks. Registrations will be made for two courses that will be given each semester. Course materials and assessment and evaluation criteria will be notified to the participants by the course instructors before the classes begin. Course contents and times are available on our website. At the end of the program, participants will be presented with a certificate of participation.

Objectives of Course

Discussing fundamental issues of men from the point of Risale-i Nur

Finding answers of existential problems according to Risale-i Nur

Maintaining the perspective of Risale-i Nur as a mind set to respond contemporary questions

Building an intellectual network among Risale-i Nur readers and writers

Learning and testing outcomes of Risale-i Nur teaching


Dr. Zuleyha Colak

Risale-i Nur Academy

Approaching Quranic Stories from the perspective of Risale-i Nur

Course Time: Saturdays 11 AM – 1 PM (EST)

Office Hours: Thursdays 11 AM – 11:45 PM (EST)

Kerim Balci

Risale-i Nur Academy

Visionary Projects of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

Course Time: Sundays 11 AM – 1 PM (EST)

Office Hours: Thursdays 12 PM – 12:45 PM (EST)

Dr. Adnan Aslan

Risale-i Nur Academy

A religious interpretation of the universe:
From the perspective of Risale-i Nur

Course Time: Spring Quarter

Dr. Masheed Ensari

Risale-i Nur Academy

Nubuvva / Prophethood

Course Time: Spring Quarter

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Student Learning Outcomes

Encouraging students to write a summary of the discussion before and/or after each class

Interactive and motivating discussion sections for the students

A positive and constructive attitude to help students to be motivational and have creative engagement with the class

To improve writing skills

Required Readings, Textbook or Materials

– Use of graphics audio-visual materials such as prezi, ppt, etc.

– Providing sources or links to the sources of the content benefited.

– Allowing the use of other sources on the topic covered

– One or two short Essays (6-8 pages) writing recommended for the students on the topics they choose with the consultation with the Professor and get a grade through participation, and essays

Program Content

Approaching Qur’anic Stories from the perspective of Risale-i Nur

by Dr. Zuleyha Colak

Course Abstract

Throughout history of the Quranic exegesis there has been various approaches to Quranic stories. Some focus on historical perspective to identify historical details such as the place, events, and the time period it took place, etc. Apart from being historical events, from Nursian perspective, prophetic stories illustrate archetypal characters of the Qur’an regardless of time and space. They represent a reality, a model which is applicable to all persons in all conditions. Nursi approaches the stories of the Qur’an from the lenses of wisdom, through allegorical stories and metaphors that carry universal messages to humanity, independent from history. Following the Qur’anic guidelines, his understanding of these stories relates to all human beings ‘here and now’.

Course Design

This course is designed with Deep Pedagogy. It is interactive in nature balancing the lecture and discussion time. Students will be primary curriculum builders and they will be supported to carry out individual or group projects based on Quranic stories from Nursian approach.
In the first half of the semester there will be an in-depth study of Nursian approach to Quranic stories such as the story of Job and Jonah, Adam and Eve, Story of Joseph comparatively from other commentaries of the Quran.
In the second half of the semester students will be guided to choose a Qur’anic story, implement Nursian Approach to the chosen story, and present their findings in class.
The class will support students’ progress in English.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • Be able to penetrate the Qur’an, Qur’anic commentaries, and analyze the Quranic characters
  • Be able to be critical and engaging while reading Quranic stories.
  • Be able to apply archetypal characters to today’s events.
  • Be able to write short reflection papers, present their projects and findings in class.
  • Written and oral communication skills through the presentation of a chosen project.

Prescribed Text

There will be texts from the Qur’an, Qur’anic commentaries and Risale-i Nur as prescribed texts. Power Point presentations which will be made available throughout the course.

Weekly Schedule

Week 1: Orientation week
Week 2
: Why stories/parables in the Quran?
Week 3: First Gleam, the story of Job from Nursian perspective
Week 4: Second Gleam, the Story of Jonah
Week 5: Nursian approach to the Miracle Stories in the Quran
Week 6: Nursian Approach Story of Adam and Eve
Week 7: Nursian approach to the story of Joseph
Week 8: Nursian Approach to the story of Khidr and Moses
Week 9: Student reflection essays and Presentations

Visionary Projects of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

by Dr. Kerim Balci

Course Abstract

Both through his books and through the memoirs of his students we learn of a series of visionary projects Bediuzzaman Said Nursi wanted to realize. Some of these projects were left to the followers of the Epistles of Light as a kind of last will of Nursi. There had been attempts to actualize some of these projects, like the most known Madrasa al-Zahra, Nursi’s visionary seminary where religious and positive sciences would be thought simultaneously. Unfortunately, none has been fully accomplished, and some were altogether abandoned, if not forgotten. In this course we will try to learn about these visionary projects and Nursi’s expectations of the outcomes from these projects.

Course Objectives

  • To elaborate and discover Said Nursi through his activism.
  • To analyze some of the projects Nursi put forward as solutions to the problems of Islam and of humanity and their feasibility in our era.
  • To discuss how some of these projects were realized by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi in textual and text reading practice forms in the Epistles of Light.

Weekly Schedule

Week 1: Collective Commentary Writing – A project calling for establishment of a sublime assembly of scholars from all disciplines to write a modern commentary to the Qur’an. 
Week 2: Madrasa al-Zahra Project – A project to establish higher education institutions where positive and religious sciences would be taught together.
Week 3: Muslim – Christian Alliance Project – First attempts to establish bridges of dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Muslims; a reinterpretation of the eschatological traditions of Islam so as to promote a Muslim – Christian alliance against persecution and anti-religious ideologies.
Week 4: Shura and the United Islamic Republics – Establishment of an Assembly of Scholars from all around the Muslim World that will lead to unification of hearts and minds and to the apolitical non-territorial collective called the United Islamic Republics.
Week 5: Three Books on Heavens, Earth and Humanity – The three books planned and promised to be written after the three introductions of the Deliberations (Muhakemat). These three books would be about the Sky (Heavens), Earth and Humanity and Nursi gave occasional would-be content.
Week 6: Tajdid Through Conduct Project – A project laying the stones of reopening of the gates of ijtihad through determination and elimination of the obstacles and a renewal of Islamic thought through actions.
Week 7: Universal Peace – Establishment of a teleological reading of the Muslim eschatological tradition whereby human history is evolving towards the ultimate goal of universal peace and training of a generation that will deliver that goal.
Week 8: Other Less Known Projects of Said Nursi – Sunni-Shiite Dialogue; A Thesaurus that would show all the words corresponding to a particular meaning; Linking the Logic books written by Old Said with the Epistles of Light; The Tawafuq (Synchronicity) Qur’an and others…

Do you have interest for Risale-i Nur courses in Turkish?

Emine Eroglu, Seyid Erkal, Kerim Balci, Dr. Hakan Gok and more.

Enroll Now

You may make the payment in instalments with a credit card.

Risale-i Nur Academy


Per course

Total: $200

Total min. 18h
Virtual Classroom Support
Certification of Attendance

Do you have a question? Contact us: info@respectgs.us


Respect Graduate School gives need-based scholarships for a number of students. For scholarship applications, please click here.


You may help us to give more scholarships through your contributions. To give scholarships to Risale Academy students, please click here.

About Instructors

Dr. Zuleyha Colak

Dr. Colak is a Senior Lecturer and coordinator of the Turkish and Ottoman Language program at the Middle Eastern Studies department at Columbia University. She taught at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis in the Global Studies department between 2005 and 2010. Dr. Colak received her B. A. in Arabic Language and Literature from Istanbul University, Turkey (1998). She holds two masters’ degrees, one in comparative literature in Arabic Literature in Marmara University, Istanbul, Turkey (2000), and one in Central Eurasian Studies/Ottoman and Modern Turkish studies at Indiana University (2003). Her PhD dissertation is on the portrayal of Women of Biblical and Quranic Joseph Story from Indiana University in 2010. Dr. Colak has been a board member at Respect Graduate school in Bethlehem, PA and is voluntarily contributing to the Centre for Risale & Hizmet Studies.

Kerim Balci

Kerim Balci is a Turkish writer, journalist, academic and human rights activist. He is recently the Chief Advisor of London Based Human Rights Solidarity and works as a communication officer at London Advocacy, a litigation based human rights advocacy firm. Balci served as the editor in chief of Turkish Review, and as a columnist at Today’s Zaman and Zaman dailies before these publications were shuttered by the Turkish government. Balci studied his BA in Physics and Political Science at Bogazici University of Turkey, his MA in Islam and Modern Middle East at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his PhD on linguistics at Durham University in the UK. He is currently an LLM student at Leeds Law School in the UK. He lectures at the Respect Graduate School on topics like logic, rhetoric, epistemology and hermeneutics.

Dr. Hakan Gok

Dr Hakan Gök is a Research Fellow at the Center for Governance, Leadership and Global Responsibility at Leeds Beckett University. Hakan obtained his Masters and PhD in the UK. He studied atheism and theism focusing on the philosophy of Saïd Nursi, earning his PhD degree from Durham University. Hakan’s research interests are: the problem of evil and suffering, arguments for and against the existence of God, atheist philosophy, life and discourse of Ghazzālī, Rūmī and Sirhindī. His papers are: ‘Multiculturalism in Turkey: Possible solutions to the Kurdish issue from The Risāle-i Nur’, ‘Is peaceful co-existence possible? Case of Mawlānā Jalāluddīn Rūmī’, A Comparison between Ahmad Sirhindī and Saïd Nursi’ and ‘Albert Camus and Saïd Nursi on the problem of evil.’
Hakan is currently living in Leeds. He is the author of ‘Atheism or Theism: The Perspective of Saïd Nursi, editor of ‘Selected Readings from The Risale-i Nur’, co-editor of ‘India-Turkey: History, Culture and Politics’, and Essential Rumi Stories books.

Dr. Omer Kuru

Dr Omer Kuru is a Research Fellow at the Theology Department in Aberdeen University. He studied the concept of Self Nafs and “I” (Ego) Ana in relation to Divine Knowledge Marifah focusing on the perspective of Saïd Nursi, earning his PhD degree from Durham University. Omer’s research interests are: Contemporary Sufism, Sufism and Politics, Methods of Science: Qur’anic approach and Materialism, Theism and Atheism, life and discourse of Ghazzālī, Ibn Arabī, Rūmī and Sirhindī. His papers are: ‘The concept of Self Nafs in Saïd Nursi, ‘Sufism and Politics in Modern World’
Omer is currently living in Aberdeen in Scotland. He is the author of ‘The concept of Self Nafs and “I” (Ego) Ana in relation to Divine Knowledge Marifah in Saïd Nursi’

Dr. Adnan Aslan

He educated in Turkey and England. Received MA degree at Kings College London in 1990 and PhD degree at Lancaster University in England in 1995. He has published scholarly articles and books both in English and Turkish. His main interest includes the issue of religious pluralism, inter-religious dialogue, İslam and modernity and perennial philosophy. He worked in various universities in Turkey. He was the dean of faculty of humanities and social sciences at Süleyman Şah University in Istanbul. He was an adjunct professor at the department of philosophy at Notre Dame University and a faculty associate at Indiana University of South Bend.

Dr. Mahsheed Ansari

She is lecturer in Islam and Contemporary Islamic Studies and the Higher Degrees Research Coordinator at the Centre for Islamic Studies & Civilisation, Charles Sturt University. Her research interests include the history of Islamic thought, spirituality and culture. She is also a historian interested in the formation and development of minority communities in Australia. She is currently working on the Muslim heritage research project at the Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre at Charles Sturt University.

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