Risale Academy

Course date: October 15 – December 4, 2022

Risale Academy studies Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s Epistles of Light as a modern and scientifically robust way of reading the Book of Universe, and the Holy Qur’an as two concentric and consistent revelations of Allah. 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 of the message of Qur’an. Risale Academy is a response to that optimism. 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.

The courses in Risale Academy are organized on three terms round the year (Fall, Spring and Summer) as two simultaneous courses of eight weeks. Students attend two-hour classes on Saturdays and Sundays. Risale Academy presents the participants with a certificate of participation or a certificate of accomplishment depending on their levels of participation and presentation in the classes.

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. Adnan Aslan

Risale Academy

Happiness From a Perspective of Risale-i Nur

Course beginning date: October 15, 2022

Course time: Saturdays 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM (EST)

Dr. Hakan Gok

Risale Academy

Understanding God

Course beginning date: October 16, 2022

Course time: Sundays 10 AM – 12 PM (EST)

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Student Learning Outcomes

Encouraging students to write short essays and/or panel presentations

Interactive and motivating discussion sessions for the students

Equipping the students with intellectual material to engage comparative study of the Risale-i Nur

To improve writing and presentation 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 an overall assessment of accomplishment through participation and essays

Program Content

Understanding God

by Dr. Hakan Gok

Course Abstract

This subject explores the arguments for and against the existence of God with Nursi in focus. It starts with Ancient Greek philosophy to understand how the arguments emerged in the post Judaic world. It moves into the middle ages with Western and Islamic traditions and then to the modern times. The course explores how Nursi argued for the existence of God and how he tackled the atheistic proposals.

Prescribed Text & Materials

There is no prescribed text. However, there are weekly readings, and PowerPoint presentations which will be made available throughout the course.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • be able to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the philosophical arguments for the existence of God.
  • be able to analyse critically arguments for and against the existence of God.
  • be able to discuss critically different philosophical views.
  • be able to demonstrate independent research, organisation, written and oral communication skills through the presentation of a substantial work.

Weekly Schedule

Week 1: God Question: The Background
Week 2: Existence of God in Risale-i Nur
Week 3: Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God
Week 4: Teleological (Design) Argument
Week 5: Moral Argument
Week 6Divine Revelation and Argument from Religious Experience
Week 7: Suffering, good and evil
Week 8: Atheism vs Theism – The clash

Happiness From a Perspective of Risale-i Nur

by Dr. Adnan Aslan

Course Abstract

In this series of lectures, we are going to delineate the concept of happiness in Said Nursi’s Risale-i Nur Collection. We are going to explore how Nursi put belief in God at the center of the discussion of happiness and drew a roadmap for our worldly and eternal happiness with the Quran and Sunna at its heart. We will also explore the importance of family for happiness and learn how to identify delusions of happiness from true happiness. We will discover that sharing the happiness and grief of others is a key characteristic of believers according to Nursi.  We will also analyze Nursi’s comparison of Western materialistic philosophy and Quranic wisdom for the question of happiness. At each lesson, we will compare approaches of Western philosophers to happiness; including Kant, Bentham, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Marx, Nietzsche and Frankl.

Prescribed Text

There is no prescribed text. However, there will be weekly reading materials that will be provided in Google Classroom.

Course Objectives

  • To understand the concept of happiness in Risale-i Nur and how it applies to daily life.
  • To provide students functional tools facilitating a practical understanding of happiness and suffering.
  • To contextualize Said Nursi’s concept of happiness with alternative ideas.

Weekly Schedule

Week 1Exploring the comprehensive role of belief in ensuring humanity’s worldly and eternal happiness.
Week 2: Understanding the concept of eternal happiness and its central role in guaranteeing human happiness.
Week 3: Discovering the role Prophet Muhammad pbuh played in humanity’s happiness as the Messenger of God bringing good tidings.
Week 4The role of Quran and the law for ensuring happiness in both worlds.
Week 5: Exploring the delusions of happiness that seem to offer one happiness but only bring further pain and suffering.
Week 6: The perspective of Western civilization and the trappings of modern materialistic philosophy that put obstacles on the way to happiness.
Week 7The role of the family unit, the ‘inclusive core of our worldly lives,’ for happiness.
Week 8: Explaining how sharing the happiness and grief of others is a means to happiness for Muslims.

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 must take at least two courses for the optional plan. Please choose all courses for the seasonal plan. You may make the payment in instalments with a credit card.

Risale Academy


Per course

Total: $200

Total min. 16h
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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