Past Courses

Dr. Hakan Gok

Risale-i Nur Academy

Said Nursi’s Arguments
for the Existence of God in Risale-i Nur

Dr. Omer Kuru

Risale-i Nur Academy

Contemporary Sufism: The Relation between Self and Ego
from Nursian Perspective

Dr. Zuleyha Colak

Risale-i Nur Academy

Approaching Quranic Stories from the perspective of Risale-i Nur

Kerim Balci

Risale-i Nur Academy

Visionary Projects of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

Dr. Mahsheed Ensari

Risale Academy

Modern debates on Prophecy & Prophethood
and Said Nursi’s Risale-i Nur

Dr. Adnan Aslan

Risale Academy

A Total Interpretation of the Universe:
From a Perspective of Risale-i Nur

Program Content

Said Nursi's Arguments for the Existence of God in Risale-i Nur

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 the Ancient Greek philosophy to understand how the argument started in post Judaic world. It moves into middle ages with Western and Islamic tradition. It also looks at the modern times.
The course explores how Nursi argued for the existence of God and how he tackled the atheistic proposals

Learning Outcomes

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.

Prescribed Text

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

Weekly Schedule

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

Contemporary Sufism: The Relation between Self and Ego from Nursian Perspective

by Dr. Omer Kuru

Course Abstract

This subject elaborates the concept of self nafs in relation to the Divine Concept marifah from the time of Ancient Greek Philosophy to the modern time. Although, in the Islamic tradition, Classical Muslim Scholars adopting Qur’anic terminology only and Muslim Philosophers following Aristotelian terminology. Nursi employs both terminologies to obtain the ultimate frame of the concept of Self nafs in respect to Divine Concept.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
* be able to penetrate the Qur’an and Islamic texts and analyse the concept of the Self nafs in relation to Divine knowledge marifah systematically.
* be able to be critical while reading Islamic texts.
* be able to discuss critically different views.
* be able to demonstrate independent research, organisation, written and oral communication skills through the presentation of a substantial work.

Prescribed Text

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

Weekly Schedule

Week 1: What is Self nafs?
Week 2: The Self in Philosophy: Aristotelian categorisation; Vegetative Soul, Animal Soul and Human Soul.
Week 3: The Self nafs in the Qur’an: The Evil Commanding oul nafs al-ammarah, Self-critical Soul nafs al-lawwamah and Tranquil Self nafs al-mutmainnah.
Week 4: Two essential concepts to understand Nursian approach to the self nafs:
1- The self-referential meaning
2- The other-indicative meaning
(12th Word)
Week 5: Nursian approach to the concept of Self nafs 1
(6th Word, Signs of Miraculousness: exegesis of Surah Al- Fatiha)
Week 6: Nursian approach to the concept of Self nafs 2
Nursi combines the philosophical terminology and the Qur’anic terminology into one formula
Week 7: Purification of the Self Nafs in Nursi
Week 8: Conclusion

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…

Modern debates on Prophecy & Prophethood and Said Nursi’s Risale-i Nur

by Dr. Mahsheed Ensari

Course Abstract

Prophethood is the backbone of the Islamic tradition and the uncompromised tenet of faith; with the impact of modernity however many Muslim scholars were shaken by the ambivalent status afforded to both the prophet Muhammad (s) and the institution of prophethood in the contemporary period. Said Nursi’s (1877-1960) discussion of prophethood is critical due to the context and time of his writings. This course considers the problematisation of prophecy and prophethood in Islam in contemporary times and contextualises the response and discourse that Nursi employs in the Risale-i Nur. It draws upon classical theosophical development of nubuwwa to provide the greater kalamic context for this development of nubuwwa. His discourse retains and is corresponding to much of the classical theology but also addresses the modern contentions of Prophethood. The what, who and how of prophets in the Islamic tradition in Nursi’s theological works Risale-i Nur will be discussed. The course will also cover the key sections of the Risale-i Nur that cover aspects of prophethood in response or in context of the modern debates around the topic. Nursi build his notion of nubuwwa as intrinsically linked to Prophethood of Prophet Muhammad. The two subjects are synonymous to one another and he discusses and addresses aspects of nubuwwa whilst covering the prophecy, miracles and various aspects of Prophet Muhammad’s life.

Course Context

The course will consider the primary sections of the Risale-i Nur that consider nubuwwa but it also draws upon other related texts. The course will also refer to critical contextual discourse around the topic in the modern era -drawn from the instructors’ upcoming book on Modern debates on Prophecy & Prophethood: Muhammad Iqbal and Said Nursi, Routeledge. The course will be an interactive session 8 weeks – and students will be expected to go over material provided and provide input in the weekly seminars.

Student presentations and reflections on the weekly content will commence week 2 onwards. Student will be expected to lead a part of the session. These will be allocated in week 1.

Prescribed Text & Materials

There will be weekly core readings from the Risale-i Nur, these will be supplemented with additional material for some weeks.

Course Objectives

  • Students learn about the classical theosophical discourse of prophethood in Islam.
  • Students understand the contemporary issues around prophecy and prophethood in Islam.
  • Students have greater context for Nursi discussion of prophethood in the Risale-i Nur.
  • Students will learn the the what, who and how of prophets in the Islamic tradition.
  • Students will have comprehensive coverage of most content in the Risale-i Nur dealing with prophethood and prophet Muhammad.

Weekly Schedule

Week 1: Introduction: Demystifying the Prophetic Vocation in Islam – General introduction to the course rationale and introduction of the theosophical dialectics on prophecy and prophethood in the Islamic tradition will be discussed.
Week 2: Theologising Resurgence of Prophetology in the Modern Muslim World: The ideological resurfacing of prophecy and prophethood at the centre of Islamic modernism and the struggle  between reason (aql) and  tradition (naql) in theosophical discourses of nubuwwa will be addressed.
Week 3: Rational Challenges and New Understandings of Prophethood: Building upon previous two weeks, the key theosophical and kalamic rational arguments for prophethood in the Risale Nur will be analysed.
Week 4: Proving the Prophethood of Prophet Muhammad:  The connection of Prophet Muhammad to Nursi’s notion of prophethood and a discussion of the Nineteenth Word.
Week 5: Proving the Prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (Miracles, Ascension): A critical reading of the importance of Nursi’s emphasis on the miracles of Prophet Muhammad and why as well as  brief consideration of ascension treatise.
Week 6: The significance of the Prophetic traditions (Hadith) and Sunnah: Critical discussion of Nursi’s modern approach towards Hadith traditions and its lasting significance to Islam.
Week 7: The significance of the Prophetic Sunnah: Critical discussion of Nursi’s modern approach towards sunnah and its lasting significance to Islam.
Week 8: Personal matters of significance to Prophet Muhammad’s life: The characteristic of prophethood and the need to address certain doubts about certain issues in the Seerah. Why does Nursi focus on certain aspects of the Prophet’s life such as his marriage to Zainab ra?

A Total Interpretation of the Universe: From a Perspective of Risale-i Nur

by Dr. Adnan Aslan

Course Abstract

Faith, can be considered as a total interpretation of the Universe. The unity (al-Tawhid) in Islam, therefore, can only be achieved through connecting the Universe to God Almighty. Such association is only possible through interpretation. Said Nursi in his great works of Risale-i Nur, offers an outstanding interpretation of the universe by employing the Quranic verses. In this series of lectures, we are going to delineate how Said Nursi related the phenomenal world to God Almighty. We are going to explain how the heavens, the earth, mountains, rivers, seas, oceans, scholars, prophets, and the Quran speak with their own tongues the existence and the unity of God as well as his attributes.

Course Objectives

  • To provide a tool by which students would be able to read and interpret the universe from the perspective of their faith in God.
  • To nurture a spiritual consciousness through which students attain a peace with themselves as well as peace with the universe.

Prescribed Text

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, The Seventh Ray: The Supreme Sign, in The Rays Collection, Risale-i Nur.

Weekly Schedule

Week 1: Orientation Week and Introduction to the Risale.
Week 2
: Concerning proofs of the Divine existence, the testimony of the heavens and all they contain and the testimony of the atmosphere.
Week 3: The testimony of the earth and its pages, the seas and rivers, and the testimony of the mountains and plains, the trees and plants.
Week 4: The testimony of the animal and bird realms, the realm of humanity: the testimony of the prophets and their unanimity, the exacting scholars and their accord, the spiritual guides and their agreement, and the angels and spirit beings and their concurrence.
Week 5: The testimony of upright intellects and sound hearts, Divine revelation, differences between revelation and inspiration and the testimony and nature of inspiration.
Week 6: The testimony of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), nine evidences of the veracity of his messengership and three forms of infallible consensus confirming him.
Week 7: The testimony of the Qur’an, and six ‘points’ showing its greatness, the cosmos, through two vast truths.
Week 8: The testimony of ‘Createdness’ and ‘contingency’, and Universal co-operation, the ‘station’ of direct address to God in His presence, and the continuous, wise, and imperious activity in the universe and testimony of Divine discourse.

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

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

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