In his works, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi devoted considerable space to the subject of the second coming of the Prophet Jesus (as). However, the term “collective personality” employed by Bediuzzaman in discussing the issue may be interpreted rather differently in our own time. The expression “collective personality” he used may be interpreted as meaning that the Prophet Jesus (as) will return to Earth not as an individual but as a collective identity. This belief may represent one of the reasons that prevent people from recognizing the Prophet Jesus (as) and making preparations to greet this holy figure. The fact is, however, Bediuzzaman’s statements make it perfectly clear that the Prophet Jesus (as) will return not as a collective personality but as an individual, and will, together with Hazrat Mahdi (as), cause peace and security to rule the entire world.
There is a collective personality around every prophet and messenger, a manifestation of his spiritual identity. A community and movement of those who join the messenger, take him as a role model and follow his message constitute his collective personality. It is obviously impossible, however, to speak of a collective personality in the absence of that particular individual. It is a law of Allah revealed in the Qur’an that every community of the faithful has a leader. Therefore, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi uses the term “collective personality” in the sense of that law in the Qur’an. Indeed, in employing the term to refer to his own works and followers, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi is himself at the head of that collective personality. His works and followers are part of the collective personality of the Risale-i Nur Collection, though Bediuzzaman himself, the leader of the movement, cannot be held distinct from the expression.
Furthermore, Allah has revealed in verses of the Qur’an that messengers have been sent to every society that has ever existed to tell them of the true faith and show them what is right and wrong. The Qur’an contains detailed information about these messengers. The relevant verses contain all kinds of information about the events they experienced, their families, wives, children, sincere faith in Allah and prayers. All this information goes to show that “no messenger or prophet throughout the course of history has been sent as a collective personality, but that all messengers have been sent as individuals.”In the same way, all mujaddids or mujtahids in Islamic history after the time of our Prophet (saas) have been sent as individuals. Under the Divine law in the Qur’an it can be seen that all messengers and all revivers have been sent as individuals, guides to warn people, to impart the glad tidings of Allah’s approval, mercy and Paradise, and to enable them to distinguish truth from falsehood.
There is no doubt that this Divine law of the Qur’an, that has continued for hundreds of years, will apply to the Prophet Jesus (as) who will appear in the End Times just as it has throughout the history of Islam. When the Prophet Jesus (as) returns to Earth he will again be accompanied by a community consisting of those people close to him, a community headed by the Prophet Jesus (as) himself. In the same way that there was no collective personality without an individual in terms of the other prophets, so there cannot be for the Prophet Jesus (as). Indeed, the following quotations from Bediuzzaman make the matter crystal clear, in a manner that leaves no room for discussion:
... so too, representing the collective personality of Christianity, the Prophet Jesus (as) will kill [destroy] the antichrist, who represents the collective personality of irreligion... (Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Letters, p. 6)
Here, Bediuzzaman is describing the collective personality of Christianity. It is impossible for a collective personality to represent a collective personality. Therefore, the answers to these two questions are perfectly clear:
One person represents the collective personality of Christianity. Who is that?
The Prophet Jesus (as)
Who does the Prophet Jesus (as) represent?
The collective personality of Christianity.
The answers to these questions clearly reveal that Bediuzzaman is referring to the Prophet Jesus (as) and his collective personality as two distinct concepts.
... It could only be a wondrous person with the power of miracles… And that person will be the Prophet Jesus (as), who is the prophet of the majority of mankind. (Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Rays / The Fifth Ray - Second Station, p. 109)
In this statement, Bediuzzaman refers to the Prophet Jesus (as) as a person. Not two or three. By continuing to refer to “that person” he is again emphasizing that the Prophet Jesus (as) will come as an individual, not as a collective personality. These are singular terms, and all refer to“a single person,” not to a collective personality.
Said Nursi also refers toa person with the power of miraclescapable of doing away with the actions of the antichrist. He says that the only person capable of working miracles is the Prophet Jesus (as). Since it is impossible for a collective personality to perform miracles, he is clearly referring to the Prophet Jesus (as) as an individual.
“The Prophet Jesus (as) will come and will perform the obligatory prayers behind Hazrat Mahdi (as) and follow him,” alludes to this union, and to the sovereignty of the Qur’an and its being followed. (Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Rays / The Fifth Ray - Second Station, p. 109)
In this extract Bediuzzaman states that the Prophet Jesus (as) will perform the prayer (salat) together with Hazrat Mahdi (as). This expression, which appears also in several hadiths, shows that there will be dialogue between the Prophet Jesus (as) and Hazrat Mahdi (as), and that they will lead believers with their earthly bodies.
This expression is also another proof that Hazrat Mahdi (as) and the Prophet Jesus (as) will both appear as individuals, not as collective personalities. In the same way that the Prophet Jesus (as) performed the prayer (salat) on his first appearance on Earth, so he will continue to do so, by Allah’s leave, on his second. This subject is also revealed in the Qur’an:
[Jesus said,] “I am the servant of Allah, He has given me the Book and made me a Prophet. He has made me blessed wherever I am and directed me to perform prayer and give the alms as long as I live.” (Surah Maryam, 30-31)
One could cite many other examples to this account that clarifies the misconception regarding the concept of the “collective personality” that Bediuzzaman employs in his works. However, just a few of these are sufficient to realize that the Prophet Jesus (as) and Hazrat Mahdi (as) will appear not as the collective personality of their communities, but as their leaders.
In all these extracts Bediuzzaman refers to the Prophet Jesus (as) and the collective personality of his community as separate concepts. He explains that the combination of the two forms a collective personality and describes that this esteemed and holy prophet, together with his collective personality, will personally lead the believers alongside him. Bediuzzaman has many times stated that the Prophet Jesus (as) will come as a corporeal entity, just like all the messengers and prophets who went before him.
As can be seen from all this, it would be a serious error to regard the concept of the “collective personality” separately, distinctly and independently of the individual at its head. All the communities of the faithful mentioned in the Qur’an have had a messenger or leader at their head. It is incompatible with the Divine law revealed in the Qur’an for Muslims to constitute a community with no leader at such an exceptional period in history as the End Times when the moral values of the Qur’an will rule the entire world. (Allah knows the truth) The Prophet Jesus (as) will return to Earth in the End Times, will lead believers, and will be a means, together with Hazrat Mahdi (as), whereby the light of Islam illuminates all mankind.