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Risale-i Nur Colloquium

Where knowledge becomes wisdom.




What is Risale-i Nur?

“Taking inspiration directly from the Qur’an, we must introduce to the age, Islam” This ideal expressed by Mehmet Akif, the poet of religion, fatherland and freedom in the name of the Muslim World hoping a light and a good message from our holy book, the Qur’an has become realized through the collection of the Risale-iNur, the books you hold in your hands, which have been written by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. Thus the messages of the Qur’an to the people of this age have been announced by means of these books.

Ibn al-Zaman or Ab al-Waqt: Is Bediuzzaman Said Nursi a Son of His Time?

May 20, 2021

In this program we will discuss the relevance of the historical context for a better understanding of the Epistles of Light of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. Said Nursi lived through various revolutionary changes in the late Ottoman and early Republican history. His texts and biography are rich in reference and hints to historical events. A better understanding of these events and the intellectual discussions of fin-de-siècle will enhance our understanding of Nursi’s message and the intellecual and spiritual transformation he passed through. On the other hand, Nursi’s analysis of the problems of the Islamic World and the solutions he proposed seems to have passed the test of time. In this sence Nursi is not only a product of the cultural millieu he was born into, but he is also a producer of a new culture. Balci will try to present this dual nature of Nursi’s link to time and culture through the sufi concepts of ibn al-zaman (a child of his time) and ab al-waqt (a master of the era). In this first episode we will deal largely with the first aspect, that is, a contextualization of Nursi’s life and writings.

Speaker: Kerim Balci

Modern Interpretation of the Qur’an: The Contribution of Said Nursi

June 6, 2021

In this program we’ll focus on Qur’an and exegesis, new kalām movement, ihya’ (revival) and tajdīd (renewal) attempts in early Muslim modernism. A special focus is on Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. The existing literature indicates Nursi’s multi-disciplinary approach in his collection. Nursi has a Qur’an-based methodology and combined the essence of what the Islamic disciplines included in a different form. This book emphasizes that Nursi’s revival of Islam and his renewal (tajdid) are based on Islamic systematic theology (kalām), and Nursi seeks to formulate an Islamic metaphysics and theology primarily based on the Qur’an by using multiple fields. Moreover, Nursi’s collection is a kind of spiritual exegesis (maʿnawī tafsīr), a commentary on the Qur’an’s meanings. In addition, while the main books of the collection can also be considered as a kind of thematic exegesis, he primarily developed the theory of the word-order (naẓm) in his one-volume commentary on the Qur’an.

Speaker: Dr. Hakan Coruh

Nursi’s Theology on Prophethood

May 9, 2021

Prophethood is the backbone of the Islamic tradition and is 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 and the institution of prophethood in the contemporary period. Said Nursi’s discussion of nubuwwa prophethood was critical in the context and time that he wrote it. His discourse retains and is corresponding to much of the classical theology but also addresses the modern contentions of Prophethood. Nursi entails that prophets in the Islamic tradition provide an alternative historical, philosophical and theological account of the story of the human being and serve as archetypal models of moral and ethical excellence for Muslims around the world.

Speaker: Dr. Mahsheed Ansari

The Spirit of Ramadan

April 24, 2021

Fasting in Ramadan is one of Islam’s foremost pillars and greatest symbols. What is the wisdom behind the fasting of Ramadan? Demystifying the spirit of Ramadan from the perspective of the Quran through the lenses of the Risale collection of Nursi namely the Epistle of light. Said Nursi explains the spirit of Ramadan from a multi-layered perspective in nine categories such as in relation to God’s Lordship and giving thanks for His bounties, to humanity’s individual and collective life, self-training, and self-discipline.

Speaker: Dr. Zuleyha Keskin

The Self (Nafs) in Nursi

March 31, 2021

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi defines self (nafs) as a mirror to the manifestation of Divine Oneness. Owing to its function as a mirror, Nursi places the self (nafs) at the centre of man’s/ woman’s constant struggle to achieve a true understanding of God and the universe. If self (nafs) is employed by all other internal faculties, and especially by anā (which means I, self, ego in Arabic), as a mirror to reflect the names and attributes of God in the way defined by the Qur’ān and the Prophetic tradition (Sunnah), then man can rise up to the level of certainty in his/her belief. There are important key concepts in the writings of Nursi; other-indicative meaning (maʿná-yi ḥarfī) and self-referential meaning (maʿná-yi ismī) to understand the Qur’an through the lens of his collection of Epitomes of Light (Risale-i Nur).

Speaker: Dr. Omer Kuru

The Qur’an and Holistic Therapy: Does Qur’an read the reader?

March 21, 2021

Allah says: “ We are sending down the Qur’an in parts it is a healing and a mercy for the believer.” (17:82). Researches show that the Qur’an can be therapeutic, particularly for those who have psychological problems. However, many people are not aware of how this holistic therapy can be achieved. This conversation will focus on the Qur’anic healing and its holistic methodology.

Speaker: Dr. Salih Yücel

Beyond Death: Resurrection and Visions of the Afterlife in the Risale-i Nur

March 3, 2021

Is there an afterlife? Is there any evidence that afterlife exists? Is it possible for us to show some logical evidence about afterlife? How does Said Nursi provide evidence on the existence of the hereafter? Belief in resurrection and reality of the afterlife are necessities among the articles of faith that all Muslims must believe. In this talk, Dr. Saritoprak will examine Nursi’s understanding of these as found in his 10th Word (The Treatise on Resurrection) as well as other writings.

Speaker: Dr. Zeki Saritoprak

Atheism or Theism?

February 18, 2021

Is there a God? The question is arguably as old as humanity itself. In this Lecture, Dr Hakan Gok looks at how different sides of the debate and how they have argued to prove their points. The lecture particularly focuses on the philosophy of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi and it tries to shed new light on the question.

Speaker: Dr. Hakan Gök

A Critique of Modernity: From the Perspective of Risale-i Nur

February 11, 2021

One of the greatest problems of our century is the problem of modernity. Generally, Muslims are confused about it. Should we except it as whole or reject it? Or could we synthesize between İslam and modernity? In this live talk, “A Critique of Modernity: From the Perspective of Risale-i Nur”, Prof. Dr. Adnan Aslan will try to answer these fundamental questions.

Speaker: Dr. Adnan Aslan

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About Instructors

She is a Senior Lecturer and coordinator of Turkish and Ottoman Language program at Middle Eastern Studies department at Columbia University. Previously she taught at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis in Global Studies department between 2005-2010. She 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 Ph. D dissertation is on the portrayal of Women of Biblical and Quranic Joseph Story from Indiana University in 2010. She has been a board member at Respect Graduate school in Bethlehem, PA and voluntarily teaching courses on Islam. Some courses are Islam 101, Who is Muhammad? and recently a graduate course on Essentials of Islamic Spirituality.
Dr. Zuleyha Fikret
Columbia University
He 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. He is on the advisory board of Mevlana International Journal of Moral and Values Education (MIJMVE). His previous 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 Comparision between Ahmad Sirhindī and Saïd Nursi’ and ‘Albert Camus and Said 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’, and co editor of ‘India-Turkey: History, Culture and Politics’ books.
Dr. Hakan Gök
Leeds Beckett University
He completed his Bachelor of Islamic Theology – a five-year program and equivalent to undergraduate and Masters Degree – at the University of Ankara in 1982. He undertook various ecclesiastical roles for ten years for the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Turkey. Subsequent to attaining his Australian permanent-resident status, he completed Master of Theology at the University of Sydney in 1996. He continued his postgraduate studies in United States and completed his doctorate at Boston University in 2007. His doctoral research was on "The Effect of Prayer on Muslim Patients Well-being" Salih also worked as a Muslim Chaplain at Harvard Medical School's hospitals for seven years. After ten years in the United States, he returned to Australia in 2007. A/Prof. Yucel worked as lecturer and senior lecturer at Centre for Religious Studies at Monash University between 2008-2014. Currently he teaches at the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation at Charles Sturt University in Sydney. He is also Provisional CPE Supervisor. He is author of four books, co-author of one book and number of articles and book chapters.
Dr. Salih Yucel
Charles Sturt University
He received his Ph.D. in Islamic Theology from the University of Marmara in Turkey and has authored more than thirty academic articles and encyclopedia entries on topics in Islam, in addition to his latest book “Islam’s Jesus.” Before an audience made up of members from multiple faiths, interested in learning whether the Jesus of the Bible was consistent with the Jesus of the Qur’an and Hadith, Dr. Saritoprak examined multiple intellectual traditions regarding the eschatological role of Jesus in Islam, as well as different interpretations of the return of Jesus. Dr. Saritoprak’s lecture illustrated that even though there has historically always been a plurality of interpretations regarding aspects of the mythos of Jesus, the message of the prophet has always remained the same. He argued that Muslim’s and Christian’s shared belief in Jesus presented an excellent opportunity for finding understanding, and as more than half of the world’s population, he reasoned, such an understanding could be a foundation for global peace. He then illustrated this by highlighting some prominent current figures that he considered were best representing the spirit and teachings of the prophet Jesus through their work promoting interfaith dialogue and religious harmony.
Dr. Zeki Sarıtoprak
John Carroll University
She is a Senior Lecturer and Course Director. Dr. Keskin co-founded ISRA Australia with the vision to establish university level Islamic studies courses which teach both traditional and contemporary Islamic studies in a university context. This led to the establishment of the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilization (CISAC) at CSU. She facilitated the development of Bachelor of Islamic Studies, Bachelor of Islamic Studies (Honours), Master of Islamic Studies, Master of Classical Arabic and Master of Contemporary Islamic Studies. Dr. Keskin has been the Course Director at CSU for these courses since their inception in 2010. She also lectures in Islamic Spirituality (Ihsan Essentials), Morality and Etiquette in Islam and Islam in the Modern World. She is also the Managing Editor of the Australian Journal of Islamic Studies (AJIS) and the Vice President of the Australian Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies (AAIMS).
Dr. Zuleyha Keskin
Charles Sturt University
He was born in Gaziantep in Turkey. He has been working on Said Nursi’s collection called Risale-i Nur /(Epistles of Light) for more than 30 years. Dr. Omer Kuru completed his bachelor degree at the University of Istanbul in 2000. His readings from Epistles of Light started out of his curiosity at an early age, and later has accelerated with a Ph.D. titled “The Self in Relation to The Concept of God” in Durham University in the UK in 20013. He has worked in various Universities and he currently works as an academic member of Theology Department at the University of Aberdeen and works on “Contemporary Sufism: The Relation between Self and Ego from Nursian Perspective” as his Post-Doctoral Research. Dr. Kuru is also interested in Methods of Science, he thinks that the Nursian approach to Methods of Science is unique in that it proves that there is compatibility between (positive) Science and Religion. He has written one book and a number of articles.
Dr. Omer Kuru
University of Aberdeen
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. Adnan Aslan
Indiana University of South Bend
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.
Dr. Mahsheed Ansari
Charles Sturt University
He is a lecturer of Islamic Studies at CISAC, Charles Sturt University. He completed his PhD at Australian Catholic University in 2015. His PhD research is on early modern exegesis of the Qur’an (Said Nursi, Muhammad ‘Abduh, and Sir Ahmad Khan). Moreover, Hakan's main research interests are the classical and modern Qur'an exegesis, contemporary Islamic thought, Islamic Legal Theories (usul al-fiqh) and Jurisprudence (fiqh), Islamic Ethics (akhlaq), Islamic theology (kalām), and Comparative Theology. Furthermore, he has been a principal supervisor for 4 HDR candidates, supervising many honours and coursework students as well. He has been Higher Degrees Research Coordinator for masters and PhD candidates in the Centre since 2020. In addition, Hakan is actively involved in academic associations and community organisations. Hakan is currently the member of the Australian Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies (AAIMS), the member of PACT (Centre for Public and Contextual Theology), and Practical and Public Ethics Research Group (PAPER) under Faculty of Arts and Education, Charles Sturt University.
Dr. Hakan Coruh
Charles Sturt University
He 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 of the UK. He is currently an LLM student at Leeds Law School of the UK. He lectures at the Respect Graduate School on topics like Islamic logic, epistemology and hermeneutics.
Kerim Balci
Respect Graduate School