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Sincerity and Nursi’s Health and State of Mind As we approach the end of Nursi’s life, just how baseless and far from the truth were the accusations made against him may be further illustrated by descriptions of his health and state of mind during these last years, both by himself and by the students who were constantly with him. As has been mentioned in other contexts, the basis of the Risale-i Nur’s way is sincerity (ihlas), which was, according to Nursi, the secret of its successes and victories. Sincerity was to follow no aim other than God’s pleasure in the service of belief and the Qur’a\n, and to make such service the tool of nothing. The preservation of this sincerity precluded participation in politics or the following of personal benefits of any kind. Nursi embodied sincerity in all its aspects to the highest degree. Just as throughout his life he had inclined toward and chosen solitude and especially for the last thirty or so years, and had avoided inessential social intercourse and conversation, so it had been a rule of his to never accept unreciprocated gifts, alms, or charity; he always practiced absolute self-sufficiency. The letters and statements describing Nursi’s health at this time point out how, now that he was over eighty years of age and in need of the assistance of others, two illness had been visited on him so that he could preserve his total sincerity. The first of these illnesses was that he was very often unable to speak; after speaking for two or three minutes, he would be overcome by a terrific thirst. He wrote in a letter that at a time when even enemies were being transformed into friends, by preventing unnecessary conversation, this helped maintain maximum sincerity.1 And the second illness was that now gifts, both material and immaterial, caused him to become ill. So much as a mouthful of food, if it was an unreciprocated gift, even from one of his closest students, would make him ill.2 Nursi defined the visits paid to him by the thousands wanting to see and speak with him as “immaterial gifts” that he was unable to repay. At that time when the Risale-i Nur was spreading so rapidly and finding so many new readers, he had been given a state of mind, like an illness, whereby he was severely discomforted by the often excessive respect and veneration shown him and by conversing and shaking hands with his visitors —again, so that he could preserve the maximum sincerity.3 333 C H A P T E R 17 The Last Months Thus, Nursi was able to receive only a very few of those who came from all over Turkey and beyond to visit him. He published letters explaining this: due to these illnesses, it was his wish to meet only those concerned with the publication of the Risale-i Nur; anyway, he generally did not speak of other matters even with the students who accompanied him and attended to his needs.4 In a letter written by these students explaining this state of mind to visitors who had to return without seeing him, they wrote: On numerous occasions we have understood that to shake hands and have his hand kissed is as distressing for Ustad’s spirit as receiving a blow. Also, he is severely distressed at being looked at and being studied. Even we may not look at him, although we attend to his needs, unless it is essential. We have understood the meaning and wisdom of this to be as follows: Since the fundamental way of the Risale-i Nur is true sincerity, the occurrences of the present time—speaking with people and being shown excessive respect—affect him adversely and severely, because in this age of egotism they are signs of self-worship, hypocrisy, and artificiality. He says that if those who want to meet with him want to do so for the Risale-i Nur and for the hereafter, the Risale-i Nur leaves no need for him; each of its millions of copies is as beneficial as ten Saids. If they want to meet with him in connection with this world and worldly matters, then, since he has earnestly given up the world, he suffers serious discomfort, because things concerning it are trivial and a waste of time. And if it is concerning the service and publication of the Risale...


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