Unbelievers Are Still Slandering Believers
As we have seen, whenever Allah’s messengers were sent to their people, they were received with animosity and hate by the unbelievers. Apart from Allah’s messengers, these unbelievers also verbally and physically abused all Muslims known for their dedication to Allah’s religion, devotion to the righteous path, sincerity, and faithfulness. Allah reveals this animosity in the following verse:
We have placed covers on their hearts, preventing them from understanding it, and heaviness in their ears. When you mention your Lord alone in the Qur’an, they turn their backs and run away. (Surat al-Isra’, 46)
Allah reveals in the verse that the unbelievers' true source of hate and rage is not the believers themselves, but rather the good manners and superior morality that they represent. They do not want to acknowledge their accountability to our Lord, Who has created them and whatever they possess. They cannot even bear to be reminded of His name. To prevent this, they adopt an aggressive stance against those who invite them to acknowledge Allah as the sole Divinity and to accept the true religion. Therefore, for as long as the true religion and truly religious people continue to exist, their slanders and hurtful words will continue to exist too.
Muslims, who are aware of this fact, do not suffer or despair when they encounter similar situations, because they are also aware of Allah’s promise of goodness to them:
Those who were expelled from their homes without any right, merely for saying: “Our Lord is Allah.” If Allah had not driven some people back by means of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques, where Allah’s name is mentioned much, would have been pulled down and destroyed. Allah will certainly help those who help Him—Allah is All-Strong, Almighty. (Surat al-Hajj, 40)
No doubt, it would be a grave error to think that such incidents, as well as unbelievers or slandered Muslims, no longer exist, for Allah has revealed that such groups of people will always exist.
In the recent past, one excellent example is the life of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, who was subjected to the opposition of certain people and resisted their attacks with patience and reliance upon Allah until he died. Bediuzzaman invited people to live by the Qur'an's morality, see the signs of faith, and appreciate Allah's existence and infinite power. But after he became the target of a campaign of slander, he was forced to endure prison and exile. The following few pages are dedicated to his experiences and impeccable reaction to them. He is a model that all Muslims facing the same campaign should emulate.
Bediuzzaman’s Life Story
Bediuzzaman was one of the foremost Islamic scholars of the twentieth century. In all of his 87 years, he defended Islam and waged an intellectual struggle against the purveyors of materialism and those who opposed religion and the sacred. His 6,000-page master work, the Risale-i Nur Collection, is a Qur'anic commentary of deep insight as well as a work that refutes materialistic philosophies by explaining the principles of faith in the best possible way. He explored the subjects of the Hereafter, destiny, faith, and much more in a style that was unknown before him.
In his ideological struggle, he called people to the Qur'an's morality and the true religion. His greatest adversaries were people who had adopted materialistic philosophy and being against religious morality as their guiding principles.
Bediuzzaman, too, refuted false philosophies, explained that religion and science do not conflict but rather meet at the same point, and inaugurated a great spiritual awakening in the society. At that time, the classic smear campaigns kicked in once more in order to stop him.
As we emphasized earlier, the experiences of past prophets and devout Muslims are a guiding light for all Muslims. From this perspective, knowing about Bediuzzaman’s experiences and the hardship he endured will benefit the Muslims of today.
It must not be forgotten that Allah asks: “Or did you suppose that you would enter the Garden without facing the same as those who came before you?” (Surat al-Baqara, 214), reminding Muslims to prepare themselves to face similar events. The slanders that Bediuzzaman encountered, when compared to those revealed in the Qur’an, demonstrate that there is no change in Allah’s law.
Accused of Chasing Personal Gain
Some people were disturbed by Bediuzzaman’s communicating the news of Allah’s existence and the importance of spiritual values, and so slandered him in the media. One of the daily newspapers of that time read:
Said-i Kurdi abused religion for his political aims, engaged in propaganda for backwardness and tried to lead certain people astray by misleading them. . . He is a backward thinker of 30 years who is on the lookout for naïve citizens to mislead. . . It has been discovered that the sheikh’s [Bediuzzaman] role was to mislead certain naïve people in order to con them out of money. . . (Cumhuriyet [Republic, - a Turkish daily], May 10, 1935)
The same newspaper, in various issues, also proclaimed unreal stories: “An investigation has been launched against Said Nursi, who abused religion for his ends” and “Said Nursi is not to be taken seriously, as he is someone who seeks material as well as spiritual gain.”
Bediuzzaman had no expectations of the world, no property or wealth, lived an extremely modest life, and, as he put it, had made it his profession not to be content with himself. Yet he was accused of fleecing his students and followers and of satisfying his leadership complex. The sole reason for such unfounded and irrational claims was to discredit him imagining that he would be rendered ineffective and untrustworthy.
This allegation is not unlike the slanders faced by Allah's messengers, for they were also subjected by their people to the unbelievable accusation of using religion to achieve material gains. For instance, as we are told in the verse, the Prophet Noah (as) was slandered in the following way:
. . . “This is nothing but a human being like yourselves who simply wants to gain ascendancy over you.” (Surat al-Mu’minun, 24)
The Egyptians' accusations against the Prophets Moses (as) and Aaron (as) are related in the verse as follows:
They said: “Have you come to us to turn us from what we found our fathers doing, and to gain greatness in the land? We do not believe you.” (Surah Yunus, 78)
These accusations caused Bediuzzaman to be imprisoned in Eskisehir prison. After his release, he was sentenced to house arrest in a room opposite the Kastamonu police station. After 8 years, the Denizli court sentenced him to a further 20 months in prison, after which he was exiled to Emirdag.
During this time, Bediuzzaman was subjected to frequent torture and cruelty; he was even poisoned on a number of occasions. Now elderly and fragile, he was kept in cold, moist, and airless cells. As will be shown in the coming pages, he received this cruelty with patience and reliance upon Allah, and all Muslims have witnessed his power of faith and submission to Allah. Bediuzzaman was an outstanding leader from whom everyone must learn.
Accused of Madness
One of the most common accusations faced by Muslims is that of madness. In 1908, Bediuzzaman was taken to court under an artificially created pretext. There, the report by the court-commissioned doctors concluded that he was mentally disturbed. The doctor at the mental institution to which he was sent, however, spoke to Bediuzzaman and then proclaimed: “If this man is mad, there is no sane person on Earth,” thereby thoroughly discrediting the earlier report.
From then on, Bediuzzaman was frequently accused of madness by the media outlets owned by his opponents. These publications against religious morality tried, in their own eyes, to discredit this great Islamic leader in people's eyes by making such misleading comments as: “Said Nursi has been an inmate in a lunatic asylum.” But, like all the traps set by unbelievers for believers, it never achieved any measure of success.
Accused of Misleading People
One of the accusations made against Bediuzzaman and his students was published in a newspaper as a serial entitled “Religious Exploiters.” In these articles, his students were alleged to be “affected by magic,” just like in the stories related in the Qur'an. It was further suggested that their loyalty to him was based on religious bigotry, that their ears and minds could perceive nothing else, and that they no longer understood anything else. As we can see, these accusations are exactly the same as those suffered by earlier believers. It is revealed in the Qur’an that the believers who followed the messengers were groundlessly accused of “low levels of intellect” and “foolishness”:
When they are told: “Believe in the way that the people believe,” they exclaim: “What! Are we to believe in the way that fools believe?” No indeed! They are the fools, but they do not know it. (Surat al-Baqara, 13)
The ruling circle of those of his people who were unbelievers said: “We do not see you as anything but a human being like ourselves. We do not see anyone following you but the lowest of us, unthinkingly. We do not see you as superior to us. On the contrary, we consider you to be liars.” (Surah Hud, 27)
Through such slanderous claims, Bediuzzaman’s opponents tried to give the impression that he had brainwashed his young students, and that they were just foolish and irrational enough to be brainwashed. In other words, Bediuzzaman was accused of some form of “magic,” as were earlier believers.
In reality, Bediuzzaman and the Muslims with him were intelligent people who acted in the light of reason, conscience, and the Qur’an’s guidance. Those who made these unfounded allegations knew very well that this was so. In fact, none of these allegations hurt Bediuzzaman and his followers; rather, the patience and submission to Allah with which they bore these insults only increased their mental maturity and reward in the Hereafter.
Accused of Religious Distortion
Another allegation was the lie that Bediuzzaman perverted Islam, promoted his personal religious beliefs, and imposed this distorted religion on his followers. His opponents also claimed that he did not abide by the Sunnah of the Prophet (saas) and that he had invented his own religion. The purpose of these lies was, in their own eyes, to incite religious people who were not fully aware of what was going on, and to portray him as something he was not.
However, these slanderous claims came to nothing in the end, because they were recognized by intelligent and conscientious Muslims as being similar to those made against the Prophet Noah (as): “We see you in flagrant error.” (Surat al-A‘raf, 60)
The Smear Campaign against Bediuzzaman
Allah reveals in many verses that unbelievers always scheme and plot:
Those before them plotted, but all plotting belongs to Allah. He knows what each self earns, and the unbelievers will soon know who has the Ultimate Abode. (Surat ar-Ra‘d, 42)
Irreligious people conspired against Bediuzzaman. One such scheme is related in Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, His Unknown Side. According to this, signatures were collected from drunkards on a sheet of paper stating that “Bediuzzaman’s assistant bought alcoholic drinks for him,” in a shop selling such drinks. This is just one of the methods used, in their own eyes, to discredit him and to portray him as insincere in his faith.
Another example is mentioned in a letter written by Bediuzzaman. According to illogical and unwise false rumors disseminated among the people, at his house he held all-night parties that were attended by prostitutes and other people of low morals. Bediuzzaman's reply to this unfounded allegation is clear:
“In reality my door was locked from the inside as well the outside in the night, and a guard was stationed for the night at my door by the order of that man [who slanders me].”
Such ugly slanderous accusations of illicit relations and drunkenness came to nothing, and Bediuzzaman continued to serve his faith. As revealed in the Qur’an, such conspiracies and schemes cannot harm Muslims, and, in the end, Muslims will win:
. . . But then, when a warner did come to them, it only increased their aversion, shown by their arrogance in the land and evil plotting. But evil plotting envelops only those who do it. Do they expect anything but the pattern of previous peoples? You will not find any changing in the pattern of Allah. You will not find any alteration in the pattern of Allah. (Surah Fatir, 42-43)
Bediuzzaman’s Attitude toward Slander
Bediuzzaman faced the slanders and conspiracies directed against him in the same way as the messengers and their followers did: He remained patient and faithful, and his motivation, cheerfulness, and determination were exemplary.
He relates in the Risale-i Nur Collection the positive and beneficial aspects of the above-mentioned prison term and cruelties inflicted upon him:
A number of officials made false accusations, which no one at all could believe. They tried to spread around the most extraordinary slander, but they could not make anyone believe it.
Then they arrested me during the most intensely cold days of winter on some trite pretext, and put me into solitary confinement in prison in a large and extremely cold ward, leaving me for two days without a stove. Having been accustomed to light my stove several times a day in my small room, and always having live coals in the brazier, with my illness and weakness I was only able to endure it with difficulty. While struggling in this situation, suffering from both a fever from the cold and a dreadful distress and anger, through Divine grace a truth unfolded in my heart. It uttered the following warning to my spirit:
“You called prison the ‘Medrese-i Yusufiya’—the School of the Prophet Joseph. And while in Denizli, things like relief a thousand times greater than your distress, and spiritual profit, and the other prisoners there benefiting from the Risale-i Nur, and its conquests on a larger scale, all made you offer endless thanks instead of complaining. They made each hour of your imprisonment and hardship like ten hours’ worship, and made those passing hours eternal. (Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Risale-i Nur Collection, The Twenty-sixth Flash, Fifteenth Hope)
Bediuzzaman relates that the Muslims around him who were subjected to the same slanders and cruelties never lost their cheerfulness and never despaired:
With all their stratagems, the dissemblers’ attacks these last ten months and their getting hold of an official has not shaken even the youngest student. Their slanders are insignificant. . . Such slanders from such people have virtually no effect on us, and, Allah willing, they will cause no harm to the Risale-i Nur circle. (Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Risale-i Nur Collection, Letters, Fourteenth Ray)
All Muslims should learn from how Bediuzzaman and his followers responded to the conspiracies against them. Allah reminds Muslims, in the person of the Prophet (saas), how Muslims should respond in such circumstances:
Be patient. But your patience is only by Allah. Do not be grieved by them, and do not be constricted by the plots they hatch. Allah is with those who fear Him, and with those who are good-doers. (Surat an-Nahl, 127-128)