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Serving Islam Peacefully during the Aggression and Said Nursi's Kalamisation of Positive Action for Social Harmony


Abstract: Injustice, oppression and tyranny are as old as human beings. Three types of responses can be made: a) to respond in the same or worse manner; b) to remain silent and accept the oppression due to weakness; or c) to take a path that is not based on revenge or acceptance of oppression and injustice, but redirects people’s negative feelings towards a worthier cause, decreasing the propagation of evil. This third way does not involve envying the worldly goods or positions of others. Rather, it involves redirecting or transforming animosity for the common good. Said Nursi (1987-1960) calls this “positive action” (müsbet hareket). This article suggests Nursi’s third way of responding to injustice, oppression and tyranny is proactive civil disobedience based on the Qur’an and Sunnah. By acting peacefully throughout his life, particularly in the “New Said” era, Nursi aimed to revive society “from the bottom up” and not from “the top down,” an approach he felt avoided the injustice and oppression seen among political Islamists. Nursi called this ilelebed müsbet hareket, which means “acting positively forever.” Given the context and manner through which it was practiced, I call this “kalamised (theologised) civil disobedience.” This can be considered as tajdid, a peaceful way of renewal against injustice and oppression. This paper is divided into three sections. The first section examines positive action in Nursi’s life and works. The second section details Nursi’s third approach against aggression and will be viewed from theological and sociological perspectives. Finally, the third section suggests Nursi’s way of positive action is highly idealistic and, while not impossible, is applied with difficulty in an individualistic and materialistic society.


Said Nursi, Serving Islam, Positive action, Civil disobedience, Aggressive secularism