Tatarstan bans books by Said Nursi, the Islamic theologian of dialogue
by Vladimir Rozanskij

Said Nursi (1878-1960) sought a modernization of Islam through Sufism, in dialogue with science and with other religions. He also inspired Fethullah Gülen, now despised by the Turkish political leadership. The incomprehensible charge of "extremism" used to ban his works. In the past he had proposed an alliance with the patriarch of Constantinople against atheism.


Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Public Prosecutor's Office of Tatarstan, the region of the Tatars which is part of the Russian Federation, has asked the court of the city of Naberezhnye Chelny, a populous center on the border between Europe and Asia, to ban all the works of the Kurdish Islamic theologian Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1878-1960), a Sunni thinker who promoted dialogue between science and religion.

47 books and some collections of writings were reported to the court, for a total of 163 titles published in Tatar, Russian and Turkish; the court considered the request on January 12, and the second session was set for January 25 next.

Some inhabitants of Naberezhnye Chelny were summoned to answer to charges of extremism, starting with Nakija Sharifullina (photo 4), indicated as organizer of the activities of the Sunni extremist association Nurcular, along with seven other women connected to her. The printers who printed the books in question, the Nuru-Badi cultural foundation, the Islam-Nuri "spiritual-entrepreneurial" center and even the religious administration of Muslims in the republic of Tatarstan have also been sent to trial.

The commission that examined Nursi's texts was made up of three specialists from the Naberezhnye Chelny State Pedagogical University, a criminalist psychologist, a linguist and a historian of religions. According to them, the books serve as inspiration for the extremist activities of the Nurcular, and are very close to other publications already considered "extremist" in Russia, because they push for conflict between religions, violence up to the annihilation of one’s opponents and the superiority of certain groups of citizens over others on the basis of their religious affiliation.

The Tatar commission is very similar to the commissions that years ago declared the texts of Jehovah's Witnesses "outlawed" because they are not compatible with the "orthodox interpretations" of the Bible. In this case we are dealing with non-traditional interpretations of the Koran: Said Nursi is known as an exponent of a rather moderate movement within Islam, which tried to persuade the more secularized part of Turkey in Ataturk's time to return to religion. He certainly supported the superiority of the Muslim religion over other religions and philosophies, but without appeals to violence.

Author of a Koranic commentary of over 6000 pages translated into 50 languages ​​(Risale-i-Nur, the "Letters of Light"), Nursi sought points of contact between Sufism, Muslim mysticism, and modern sciences; his thought has been greatly re-evaluated in present-day Turkey, as the inspiration behind the neo-Ottoman dream of the rebirth of Islam.

In the 1950s he even tried to involve the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in an inter-religious union against the atheism and immorality of the modern world. One of the personalities who were inspired by his thought is Fethullah Gülen, now despised by the Turkish political leadership.

In a note from 2004, the Council of Mufti of Russia praised Nursi as "one of the greatest Muslim theologians", whose works are "the furthest away from conflict or the instigation to division", of absolutely apolitical and devoid of content. of any controversy.

The women of Nurcular try to abide by the Koranic prescriptions with particular passion for group meetings, not only in mosques and places dedicated to Islamic worship and catechesis, but also in homes and in free aggregations. These very liberal and hardly controllable forms of religious experience are the most disliked by the Russian and official Tatar authorities.

RU-_Said_Nursi.jpg RU-_Said_Nursi.jpg RU-_Said_Nursi.jpg RU-_Said_Nursi.jpg