Risale Academy

Course date: March 4, 2023 — April 30, 2023

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. Albert Frolov

Risale Academy

Faith and Reason

Course beginning date: March 4, 2023

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

Dr. Sadeq Ansari

Risale Academy

Hadith in the Risale-i Nur

Course beginning date: March 5, 2023

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

Faith and Reason

by Dr. Albert Frolov

Course Abstract

The course deals with these main 3 topics: 1) the issue of the existence and nature of God; 2) questions of the nature of religious belief and faith; 3) questions about the meaning, comprehensiveness, and coherence of the doctrines of world religious traditions (a special attention will be given to Islam and Christianity). The questions that will mainly occupy us will be, “What does the phenomenon of religious diversity tell us when it comes to one’s preferring to follow one religious tradition (or no tradition at all) over against another?” “Can one follow a religious tradition on the basis of one’s rational choice and not (only) on the basis of one’s cultural background?” Throughout this course, therefore, we will not only learn to seek intelligibility to our faith and understand how our reasoning might point to the ultimate value(s) but will also attend the to the diversity of beliefs held by different people around the world. Students will be expected to be able to construct convincing arguments as to the truth or falsity of various religious doctrines and then asked how, and if, one could object to those arguments.

Prescribed Text & Materials

There are weekly readings, and PowerPoint presentations which will be made available throughout the course. Also, these are the main sources that we will be using through the course:

Turner, Colin. The Qur’an Revealed: A Critical Analysis of Said Nursi’s Epistles of Light, Berlin: GerlachPress, 2013.

Morris, Thomas V. Our Idea of God: An Introduction to Philosophical Theology. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1991.

Schmidtke, Sabine. The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology. Edited by Sabine Schmidtke. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Course Objectives

Students successfully completing this course will be skillful in:

  1. Critical thinking and making convincing arguments;
  2. Examining and accessing questions of philosophical theology (e.g. “What is the ultimate?” or, “Can the scripture alone be the source of knowledge of God?”)
  3. Analyzing and assessing theological doctrines in the light of the operations of their own empirical, normative, and rational awareness
  4. Constructing a dialectical comparison and evaluation of Islamic and Christian theological traditions

Weekly Schedule

Week 1: What is Philosophical Theology and Why It Is Important?
Week 2: Is there sufficient evidence that God exists?
Week 3: The existence of free will and the existence of God: do they cancel each other?
Week 4: The existence of evil and the existence of God: are they mutually exclusive?
Week 5: Is it reasonable to think that there be life after death?
Week 6: Is there really contradictions between the Christian doctrine of the trinity and the Islamic doctrine of Allah’s superb names?
Week 7: Religious diversity and religious belief
Week 8: Is atheism actually a “religion”?

Hadith in the Risale-i Nur

by Sadeq Ansari

Course Abstract

Does the hadith corpus feature a substantial role in the Risale-i Nur? What unique principles of matn criticism and sanad criticism can one find being practiced in it? Where does Said Nursi lie in the spectrum of approaches toward hadith? How does Said Nursi address the issue of doubts concerning weak hadith and what role does he afford to the most authoritative collections such as Bukhari and Muslim? What principles can be observed in application in regard to literal and metaphorical readings of hadith? This course will explore critical questions surrounding hadith and Risale-i Nur. Relevant selections from the treatises will be selected and studied with the above questions in mind whilst at the same time cross comparing these answers with the most recent academic research on the topic.

Weekly Schedule

Week 1: Modern approaches to Hadith in the West and East
Week 2: General approach to hadith in the Risale-i Nur as observed in the 19th Word
Week 3: Weak hadith being defended
Week 4: Warnings about being over critical
Week 5: Matn Criticism principles explicated by Said Nursi
Week 6: Matn Criticism principles in application in the Risale-i Nur
Week 7: Literal and Metaphorical readings of hadith
Week 8: Miracles (mu’jizāt) in hadith

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


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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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