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Prison Life in the Eyes of Bediüzzaman Said Nursi and Aleksander Solzhenitsyn: A Comparative Study


Christian and Islamic cultures of old abound with examples of atrocities committed against faithful people. Even in the modern era, many people have been unjustly imprisoned and deliberately subjected to persecution by authoritarian regimes. Said Nursi and Aleksander Solzhenitsyn are prominent examples of such poor treatment, even though each fought for their country and produced outstanding works, as long as breath was in them, for the welfare of their fellow citizens and co-religionists. By acting positively, despite every setback, they both fought against ignorance, sedition and lawlessness within the putative legal framework of their respective nations. One of the most important points this article argues is that these two scholars’ spiritual qualities allowed them to discern a hidden beauty, kindness and goodness even behind all kinds of injustices, however much pain and distress was inflicted on them during their incarceration. Thus, Nursi and Solzhenitsyn turned prison experiences into seeing every phenomenon as a reflection of God’s manifestations, exploration and rediscovering a religious and moral life. For Nursi and Solzhenitsyn, the sharp difference between sadness, distress, sickness and old age, on the one hand, and joy, peace, youth and health, on the other, almost disappears in their thinking after converting the prison into paradise.


Prison, Spirituality, Risale-i Nur, Gulag, Said Nursi, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn



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