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Risale Academy

Course date: November 4, 2023 — December 24, 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


Bekir Aksoy

Risale Academy

Founders of Sociology and Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

Course beginning date: November 4, 2023

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

Dr. Albert Frolov

Risale Academy

Modern Approaches to Religio-Mystical Experience: The Contribution of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

Course beginning date: November 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

Founders of Sociology and Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

by Bekir Aksoy

Course Abstract

This course is about theoretical sociology, and its application of it to the writings  and the movement’s activities that Bediuzzaman inspired. Usually, the founders of modern sociology are said to be four. All of them basically talked about religion and its place in Sociology. We are going to deal with three of them: Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber. After analyzing the basic viewpoints of each one of them regarding religion, finally we are going to situate Bediuzzaman regarding their framework.

Obviously, there is a vast amount of material written by them or about them in world languages. We must limit ourselves to selective material, just to give the gist of what they are about. We must bear in mind that there is some truth in every intellectual movement. Bediuzzaman can be analyzed from the perspective of each one of them and this course will be an attempt to tie them together.

Course Objectives

The purpose of this course will be two-fold. One is to familiarize the students with these three giants of sociology. The second is to analyze intelligibly Bediuzzaman and the movement he inspired from the sociological perspective. This will be an attempt to study a twentieth century scholar and activist from three different sociological viewpoints.

Prescribed Text & Materials

  • Max Weber, The Sociology of Religion
  • Max Weber, The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism
  • H. Gerth and C.H. Mills (ed.) From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology
  • Serif Mardin, Religion and Social Change in Modern Turkey: The Case of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi
  • Jones, Robert Alun, Emile Durkheim: An Introduction to Four Major Works
  • Pickering, W.S.F., Durkheim on Religion
  • Emile Durkheim, Suicide
  • Emile Durkheim, The Division of Labor in Society
  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Communist Manifesto
  • John C. Raines (ed.), Marx on Religion
  • John Raines, Karl Marx, and Religion: 1841-1846
  • Marx and Engels on Religion (Introduction by Reinhold Niebuhr)
  • Roland Boer, Marx, and Religion: His Critique of Religious Belief
  • Sukran Vahide, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. Istanbul: Sozler Publications, 1992
  • Said Nursi, Kastamonu Lahikasi
  • Said Nursi, The Words

Weekly Schedule

Week 1: General sociology of Durkheim on religion
Week 2: Analyses and assessments of Bediuzzaman from Durkheimian perspective
Week 3: General thought of Karl Marx on religion and his assessment of the western civilization
Week 4: Bediuzzaman’s activities from Marxian perspective
Week 5: Christian Ethics thesis by Weber in great details
Week 6: Weber’s sociology of religion
Week 7: Bediuzzaman and His movement sociologically analyzed within Weberian framework
Week 8: Bediuzzaman’s own sociological analyses and Conclusion

Modern Approaches to Religio-Mystical Experience: The Contribution of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

by Dr. Albert Frolov

Course Abstract

Today few words have such an ambiguous connotation as “mystical experience” or “religious experience.” Still, many modern-day people cannot but feel oriented, in their heart of hearts, toward some tremendous and fascinating mystery, something which Augustin of Hippo once referred to as “beauty ever ancient, ever new.” While in Islamic culture it is Sufism that most directly tackles the issue of one’s inward “communion” with God, the modern Western academia has been able to produce a variety of descriptive and explanatory approaches to basically the same issue. The course will deal with the issue of religio-mystical experience as analyzed by modern Western religious philosophy and modern Islamic thinker Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, aiming to demonstrate the original ways in which his thought can contribute to a fuller understanding of the phenomenon of religio-mystical experience.

Course Objectives

Students will be able to articulate, analyse, and evaluate different views of mysticism. They will be able to outline and discuss essential historical and philosophical features of mystical traditions in the West and the Islamic East, with a special attention to the way Bediuzzaman Said Nursi fine-tuned classical Sufi ideas and techniques to meet the needs of modern Islamic theology and spirituality. They will be able to analyze and discuss critically various comparative questions related to the following areas: perspectives on ultimate Reality; the role of the culture and language in one’s religio-mystical experience and one’s interpretation thereof; spirituality and interreligious dialogue; methods and ideals of spiritual salvation.

Prescribed Text

There will be no prescribed text. PowerPoint containing the contents of the subject will be shared. The lecturer will suggest some readings and videos relevant to the content.

Weekly Schedule

Week 1: What is religio-mystical experience (RME)? What is the definition of RME? What are the main descriptive features of RME recognized by modern schools of religious philosophy? What are the main explanations of RME put forward by them?
Week 2: What is the Sufi experience? How is the Sufi experience different from, and how is it similar to, RME as conceived by modern schools of religious philosophy? What are the main schools of Sufism and who are its most important representatives?
Week 3: Who is Bediuzzaman Said Nursi? What is the historical context of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi? Why is he still important today? What are the main features of Nursi’s philosophical theology?
Week 4: How does Bediuzzaman Said Nursi approach Sufi experienceWhat is Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s take on religious experience? How is his approach different from that of classical Sufism?
Week 5: Modern perennial philosophy of mysticism and Nursi: comparing the legacies of William T. Stace and Bediuzzaman Said Nursi Who is William T. Stace and why are his ideas important today? In what ways is Nursi’s theory of religious experience different from, and in what way is similar to, that of the perennialist school?
Week 6:
Modern contextual philosophy of mysticism and Nursi: comparing the legacies of John Hick and Bediuzzaman Said Nursi Who is John Hick and why are his ideas important today? In what ways is Nursi’s theory of religious experience different from, and in what ways similar to, that of the contextual school?
Week 7Modern inclusivist school of theological pluralism and Nursi: comparing the legacies of Bernard Lonergan and Bediuzzaman Said Nursi Who is Bernard Lonergan and why are his ideas important today? In what ways is Nursi’s theory of religious experience different from, and in what ways similar to, that of Bernard Lonergan’s inclusivist pluralist theology?
Week 8: Religio-mystical experience as a bridge to interreligious dialogue: Nursi’s contribution as interpreted and implemented by Muhammed Fethullah Gulen Why is M. Fethullah Gulen’s interpretation of Nursi important today? What are the concrete contributions of the transcultural Hizmet movement to the present-day philosophy of interreligious dialogue and how do they relate to Nursi’s understanding of religio-mystical experience?

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: [email protected]


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About Instructors

Dr. Zuleyha Mary Fikret

Dr. Fikret 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. Fikret 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. Fikret 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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