The Hermeneutical Dimension of Science:A Critical Analysis Based On Said Nursi’s Risalei Nur

Dr.Yamine Mermer

The Positivist View of Social Science
Although modern science has only been in existence for a few hundred years, there is scarcely any aspect of daily life which it has not affected. The practical importance of science was first recognized in connection with war. Later, the application of science in developing machine production and familiarizing the population with the use of technology had important political effects. The triumph of science is due to its practical results. Science as technique conferred upon man a sense of power. It became an instrument with which to control and dominate nature. Eventually, the scope of the power impulse encompassed all fields. So-called theoretical knowledge itself is conceived in terms of the will to dominate that which exists, both human and non-human.
It has been argued that just as the natural sciences have been utilized to master the ‘forces of nature’, social sciences should also be developed and applied to control and manipulate society. Natural science was thought to possess the unquestionable methodology of ‘truth’. Since it had been successfully applied to physical nature, it reasonably could be extended in the realm of human relations.1 Thus, the development of social science has been dominated by the successful model of the natural sciences,2 adopting and following the procedures, the inductive methodology and criterion for testing hypotheses and theories that proved successful in the natural sciences. The prevailing attitude among social scientists was that their discipline was on the way to becoming an objective science of individuals in society. In order to remain objective, the social scientist illegitimately reduced the moral and spiritual dimensions of social reality to its material effect or carrier.3 Hence, social sciences paid their price of admission to the objective sciences by a tacit agreement to ban both moral and spiritual components from their explanatory concepts.
From the positivist perspective, values are subjective, and the subjective is virtually synonymous with the private, idiosyncratic, and arbitrary.
1 LR. Al-Faruqi, “Islamizing the Social Sciences,” in SocJaJ and Natural Sciences, ed. I.R. Al-Faruqi and A.O. Naseef (Jedddah: Hodder and Stoughton, 1981), 9-10.
2 H.G. Gadamer, TrutA andMethod(London: Sheed and Ward, 1988), 5.
3 Al-Faruqi, SocJaJ andNaturaJ Sciences, 11.

Thus, it is important for social disciplines, if they are to be genuine sciences and not simply pseudo-sciences, to establish the laws governing social reality. The use of the inductive method in the field of social phenomena is independent of the personal biases of the observer or the way he or she considers the realization of the phenomena observed. The observer’s personal biases are irrelevant to his or her predictions in the sphere of social life. There is no need for personal interpretation to make deductions from data; it is sufficient to allow the facts to speak for themselves. Eventually, it was realized that this presumed objectivity was, in fact, an illusion. Data of human behavior are alive, they are not impervious to the prejudices and biases of the observer. “Value-perception is itself value-determination, i. e. it takes place only when value is apprehended in actual experience… The perception of value is impossible unless the human behavior is able to move the observer/4
The Recovery of the Hermeneutical Dimension of Science
At the center of this dispute is the meaning of ‘understanding’ and its universality. The issues concern not only a philosophic understanding of the social sciences but also the practice of these disciplines, i.e. the types of questions addressed and the ways of interpreting and understanding social phenomena. The question is particularly crucial when it is a matter of understanding, interpreting, and explaining social phenomena in a society other than one’s own. How is it possible to understand and interpret something alien (activities, beliefs, practices, institutions, etc.) without falsification or distortion?
Such questions have caused increasing doubt about the methodological self-understanding of the social disciplines that had been shaped by logical positivism and empiricism. Many social scientists began to question the intellectually imperialistic claims made in the name of inductive logic and the claim that the natural sciences alone provide the model and standards for what is to count as genuine knowledge. In contemporary reexamination of the social disciplines, the hermeneutical dimension, with its emphasis on understanding and interpretation, has been rediscovered. Science’s description of the world is indeed an interpretation of the world; it inherently reflects the scientist’s vision of reality.
Modern science is necessarily positivistic. Hence, it is virtually useless as a model for the Muslim scientist. To develop his own science, the Muslim has to clearly define the Islamic vision of the world and then elaborate an Islamic methodology of interpretation and understanding.
4 Al-Faruqi, Social and Natural Sciences, 12.

The works of Said Nursi provide one illustrative model for how that might be achieved.
Nursi’s critique is radical in the sense that it ‘gets at the roots’ of what he perceived was the fundamental problem with science. The basis of his critique is ‘ontological’; he contended that modern science is based on a misunderstanding of being. In other words, the scientific vision of reality is wrong.5 This, he contended, is true for both social and natural science. Natural science is no more objective than social science; its data are not dead but well and alive for interpretation. Nursi’s writings contain a clear exposition of the hermeneutical phenomenon. He reminds us that the universe and the things in it are signs fâyât) pointing to the Maker and making Him known. They are constantly changing and through that unceasing activity, reciting God’s Beautiful Names and glorifying Him. For Nursi, The activity of Divine Power in the universe and the constant flood of beings is so meaningful that through it the All-Wise Maker causes all the realms of beings in the universe to speak. It is as if the beings of the earth and the skies and their actions are words and their motion is their speech. That is, the motion and decline arising from activity is speech glorifying God. And the activity in the universe, too, is the silent speech of the universe and of the varieties of its beings. They are being made to speak.6
When science claims to explain the world, it presumes an understanding of beings and the language they speak. On the other hand, materialist science asserts that ‘nature’ knows nothing of humans and is alien to them, and that humans are alien even to themselves.7 The problem is, if the things we confront are so alien and strange, i.e. if they have nothing in common with us, how is it intelligible to speak of understanding? As H.G. Gadamer notes, “In modern science… the way in which the knowing subject is adequate to the object of knowledge is without justification. “8 How can science understand and do justice to something that is alien? Nursi noted that alienness is the corollary of the materialistic worldview. He contended that the universal affinity between beings and events can only be established through their relationship with God.9 Thus, whether the subject is physics or anthropology, the problem is structurally similar: How
5 Said Nursi, “The Words,” in BisaJe-JNur Collection (Istanbul: Sözler Publications, 1992), 143-45; Jtisale-iNur Kuiluyati(Istanbul: Nesil Basim Yayin, 1996), 49-50.
6 Said Nursi, “The Letters,”in Bisale-iNur Co/Jection ( Istanbul: Sözler Publications, 1994),339-40; Risale-iNur Kuiluyati, 481.
7 Gadamer, Truth and Method, 245.
8 Gadamer, Truth and Method, 417.
9 Said Nursi, A/-Mathnawi-aI- ‘Arabian-Nur/ (Ankara: Nur Matbaasi, 1958), 107, in Arabic.

is it possible to understand alien phenomena without imposing blind and distortive prejudices upon them?
Self-Perception: The Determinant of Vision
According to Nursi, there are two visions: the true fAagq) vision taught by the prophets, and the false fbâti’J) vision. Man’s vision of reality is concomitant with his perception of his own self. The Ύ, Nursi told us, has two faces. In the first face, the Ύ knows its real nature; it knows that it is owned. In the second face, the Ύ assumes that it owns itself. The real nature of the Τ is indicative fAarfj), i.e. it shows the meaning of things other than itself.10 It is a sort of scale, much like a thermometer that indicates the degrees and amounts of things; it is a measure that makes known the absolute, all-encompassing and limitless Attributes and Names of God. To seek true taw/u’d, one has to surrender to the reality that the Τ is like a mirror, it has an indicative fAarff)meaning only, it should give up claiming ownership of self. When the Τ knows it does not own itself, it hands over everything else to the Owner of all things. Understanding the world is, therefore, the direct projection of self-perception.
The Ύ knows itself to be a bondsman of God. It knows that its existence is dependent upon another, that the continuance of its existence is due solely to the creativity of that other. Its ownership is illusory; it is aware that it is only with the permission of its owner that it has an apparent and temporary ownership.11 But if the Ύ forgets the wisdom of its creation, it views itself in the light of its nominal fis/ni) and apparent meaning and falsely believes that its meaning is in itself only.12 While in this position, the Τ falsely assumes its existence is essential and independent, pretending that it owns its life and claiming to be the real master in its sphere of disposal. Using itself as a yardstick, the Ύ compares everyone and everything with itself; it divides God’s sovereignty between them. For the one who claims “I own myself must believe and say “Everything owns itself/ It is ascribing partners to God on a vast scale,13 illustrating the meaning of S91:10, “To assign partners to God is verily a great transgression. *
10 Nursi tells us that he derived the term “har/i” from “harf (letter) and the term “ismi” from “ism” (word). A harf. he explains, is a tool that serves to express the meaning of another, it has no meaning in itself, Whereas, an is/nhas a meaning in itself. See Nursi, AlMathnawi-al-
270. See also Nursi, The Flashes, 155-56.
11 Nursi, The Words, 557-59; Risale-1Nur Kulliyati. 241-42.
12 Nursi, Al-Afathnawi-al-Arabi-an-Nuri, 107.
13 Nursi, The Words. 560-61; BisaleiNur Kulliyati. IM.

Hermeneutics: A Primordial Vision
From this outline of Nursi’s explanation of the T, it is clear that understanding and interpretation are shaped by one’s vision, which itself is the projection of one’s self-perception. It follows that hermeneutics is not only universal, in the sense that it underlies all human activities, but also “ontologicaT in the sense that, ultimately, the perception and understanding of things reflects the basic position of the Ύ, i.e. one’s perception and understanding of one’s own self, and, thus, of being. The Τ that knows it has only a Aarfi (indicative) meaning, knows that all beings also have a AarfJ’meaning and that they bear the meaning of another. It realizes that beings are signs fâyât); they are like mirrors. Just as darkness is the mirror to light, and however intense the darkness is, to that degree it will display the brilliance of the light. So, too, these beings act as mirrors in many respects by reason of the contrast of opposites. For example, beings mirror the Maker’s power through their intrinsic impotence; they reflect His riches through their inherent poverty, and His everlastingness fbaqa) through their ephemerality ffana). All proclaim the Divine Names and Attributes through their impotence, poverty and deficiency.14
One who does not want to see the Ύ for what it really is appropriates the qualities and potentialities ffitraA) given to them. Consequently, they attribute the properties seen in things to the things themselves. They think of the world and all things in it, including themselves, as possessing an intrinsic nature, an essence in itself, as though things have, together with contingent properties, an independent fixed core persisting in time. Because they perceive everything as independent of its Creator, they imagine that the properties and functions of a thing proceed from the thing itself, as though it were distinct from all its properties. But, in fact, if the properties were taken away, nothing would remain.15 Therefore, the claim that “things have essences and attributes which determine the special functions of each thing”16 is essentially a claim that things determine themselves. There is no ‘thing’ apart from its essence and attributes.
Nursi held that the properties and functions of a thing are modes of being of that thing. The expression “things and its properties” is merely a convenient way to express a concept. Nursi said that, in reality, a thing and its property are created together and cannot be separated. All things are contingent; there is no part of the thing which is more ‘persistent’ or ‘stable’ than its properties or what happens to it. What appear as ‘essen-
14 Nursi, The Letters, 286-87; Risale-I Nur Kulliyati, 458.
15 Β. Rüssel, History of Western Philosophy (London George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1948), 224.
16 Averroes, Incoherence of the incoherence-Thaâ/ut-al-tahâ/ut, trans. S. Van Den Bergh (London: Luzac and Co, 1978), 318-19.

tial’ or accidental properties are, in fact, all created. The reality of everything is based on the Divine Names. As Nursi said, “the Divine Names constitute the true reality of things, while the essences of things are only manifestations of that reality. *17 Beings in themselves, i. e. with respect to their apparent, ismJ, meanings, are transitory and accidental. They do not possess in themselves anything that can perpetuate and sustain their existence. If the Self-Subsistent One fQayyüm) did not sustain them for a moment, they would cease to exist.18
With respect to their Aar//meaning, beings are signs of God; they are charged with various duties. Each being is a witness fsAâAJd) to its Maker and it is existent by virtue of its connection to the Giver of Existence /Afû//dJ}9 With respect to the AarZ/mzaning, everything, whether in part or whole, gains universality through its connection with its Maker. With the severance of that connection, however, all things become particulars. Each will be like an orphan, alien to all the rest of beings.20 Things are not horizontally related to one another. Each being is vertically connected to its Maker and, through that connection, is connected to all the rest of beings. If things were horizontally or casually related, i. e. if they were causally related, it would be possible to deduce the effect from the cause independent of experience. That is to say, it would be possible to derive the effect from the cause through a purely rational process, i.e. without referring to past observation. Obviously, this is impossible, for the mind can never find the effect or any hint of it in the supposed cause by even the most accurate scrutiny or examination.21 Causation is, therefore, merely an opinion. It is no more than a prejudiced belief corollary to the /s/ni vision.
Harfi Logic vs Ismî Logic
It is important to be clear what is meant by the term ‘causation’. It is not just that every contingent thing must have a cause, but also that its existence is necessitated by that cause. Everyone sees the world through their own mirror; whoever claims to be the creator of their deeds will inevitably interpret the simultaneity of causes and effects as causation. They will be bound to attribute effects to causes and thus to claim that causes are efficient: they produce the effect and sustain it in existence.
17 Nursi, The Words, 655; Risale-iNur Kulliyati, 286.
18 “Verily, it is God (alone) who upholds the heavens and the earth, lest they cease (to exist): And if they should fail, no one can sustain them thereafter. (See Qur’an 35:41).
19 Nursi, The Words, 493; Risale-i Nur Kulliyati, 211.
20 Nursi, AJ-Mathnawf-al’Arabi-an-Nùri, 107; 271.
21 D. Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), 29.

The consequence of this model of the world is that empirical knowledge is necessarily connected to the causal relations between objects and events.22 According to this view, the logic of scientific discovery is inductive. In other words, it infers universal statements (laws, theories) from particular statements, such as accounts of the results of experiments and observations. These inductive universal statements, it is claimed, constitute knowledge par excellence.
From a logical point of view, universal statements cannot be inferred from particular ones, no matter how numerous they are. Inductive inferences can only be justified if the causal relationship between cause and effect is necessary, i.e. a purely logical truth. However, the relation between cause and effect is empirical and can only be established a poste-n’ori. We observe constant simultaneity, but this is not the same as causal connection. Temporal succession is no evidence of causal relations. The logic of induction proceeds as follows. First, it conjectures, without justification, that induction is valid, then concludes that causation is true. Whereas, from the point of view of logic, it is the other way around, i.e. induction can be justified only by proving that causation is true, that the relation between cause and effect is necessary.
As Nursi saw it, universality is only possible through direct connection with the Creator. Each particular thing or event is connected to all other things and events in space and time through its connection to its Creator. Thus, with respect to the Aarfivision, each particular is universal. The so-called laws of nature, Nursi said, cannot be defined as existent; they are mental, imaginary constructs. Imaginary constructs cannot sustain external reality.23
This conception of the world does not deny the uniformity of the world. Order is itself a proof of unity; each relation between cause and effect is itself a sign pointing to the Maker and ascribing all the rest of creation to Him. The crucial point is that these relations are vertical and directly connected to the Maker. The remarkable ordering of the universe proceeds from God’s Wisdom. The rules and ordinances of the shari’a of creation proceed from the Divine Attributes. The “laws of nature” are horizontal; they denote the relationship that is imagined to exist between individual things themselves. Nursi clearly established that the uniformity of the sequence of cause and effect in no way justifies belief in a causal nexus; on the contrary, the uniformity of the sequence of cause and effect is an evident sign fâya) pointing to God and making Him known with His Names and Attributes.24
22 Averroes, incoherence of the incoherence-Tahâfut al-taha/ut, 319.
23 Nursi, The Words, 528; Risale-iNur Kulliyati, 228.
24 Nursi, The Flashes, in Risale-i Nur Collection (Istanbul: Sözler Publications, 1995), 243; Risale-iNur Kulliyati(Istanbul: Nesil Basim Yayin, 1996), 682.

Inductive logic is the logic of the Jsmi vision. It claims to explain the world by ascribing it to causes and multiplicity. However, Nursi demonstrated in detail how the unity and interrelatedness of beings in the universe reject such a claim. Indeed, beings display such qualities that supposing all causes gathered together and each had the power to act and possessed will, they still could not produce them. O men! Here is a parable set forth! Listen to it! Those on whom, besides God you call, cannot create (even) a fly, if they all met together for the purpose! And if the fly should snatch away anything from them, they would have no power to release it from the fly. Feeble are those who petition and those whom they petition! (22:73).
Beings, which are miracles of Divine Power, are each in the form of a focus of the Divine Names. When the qualities manifested on each being are not directly ascribed to the Creator, assumptions arise, such as that concealed within each being, even in a fly, there is an infinite creative power, and a knowledge encompassing all things, and even an absolute will with which to govern and control the universe. When every single thing is not attributed to the Omnipotent One and if the connection of things with Him is severed, it becomes necessary to attribute divinity to each cause.25
Nursi used evidence from the universe to prove that causation is a dogma of the /jazz/vision. He demonstrated from many different perspectives and contexts that there are insurmountable difficulties in accepting causation and associating partners or equals with God. Moreover, he observed that in each thing, each particle even, there are two witnesses fsAaAJd) to the Maker’s necessary existence and unity. One is that together with its absolute impotence, each particle performs vital and various duties. The other is that, together with its lifelessness, each conforms to the universal order, thus displaying a universal consciousness. That is to say, through its inherent impotence, each particle testifies to the necessary existence of the Absolutely Powerful One, and through its conforming to the order within the world, each testifies to His unity.26Thus, every particle is a sign of Divine Oneness. With the mode of their being, they recite the Creator’s Names. They perform well-ordered, universal duties of glorification and worship. Each particle, each being, opens up windows onto knowledge of God.27
In conclusion, Nursi wrote that each object and each event is directly, vertically connected to its Creator. It is related to all the rest of beings, in
The Words, 303; Risale-i Nur Kulliyati, 123. Nursi, The Words, 305; Risale-iNur Kulliyati, 124. Nursi, The Words, 306; Risale-i Nur Kulliyati.

space and time, through that vertical, necessary connection. Each particular is a universal through its connection to the Creator. Universality exists only in relation to the Creator. If causation is assumed, and beings and events are not directly attributed to a single Maker, then from the point of view of logic, universale are reduced to particulars. Logically, universal statements, which constitute knowledge, are unjustifiable. In other words, it is logically impossible to claim knowledge while accepting causation. If the purpose of science is the search for universale, then there is only one reasonable alternative: give up the ismi ‘logic’, which according to Nursi, is illogical and unreasonable, and adopt instead the universal Aarfi logic.
This conclusion is of paramount importance to Nursi’s argument. Following Aarfi logic, which is based on the fact that beings and events are essentially signs of God as is repeatedly and emphatically expressed in the Qur’an, Nursi demonstrated that causation is a dogma, a false conjecture (zann)?* In doing so, he also showed that causes, effects and their relations all point to the existence of the Necessary Being and His Unity, and make Him known with His Names and Attributes. That is to say, the refutation of causation opens the way to knowledge: the knowledge of God, which is one of the most fundamental goals in the creation of man. Indeed, according to the meaning of “I created not jinn and men except that they may (know and)29 worship Me,” (51:56) the purpose for placing man in this world and the wisdom implicit in such a divine act is the knowing of the Creator of all beings, believing in Him and worshipping Him.30
It is important to realize that to refute causation does not mean that the investigation of the world should be abandoned. To the contrary, the world is an evidence that must be used to confirm iman (belief). The Aarfi method urges us to search for and carefully consider causes, for they are the signs of God and the means to bringing home knowledge of God.
impotent, unconscious Cause makes
— illusory causal relation —
artful, purposeful and beneficial effect
Horizontal Relation Unjustified
Conjecture (zann)
28 “For, most of them follow nothing but conjecture: (and,) behold, conjecture can never be a substitute for truth.” (See Qur’an 10:36) See also 2:78; 4:157; 45:24; 53:23; 53:28.
29 Ibn Abbâs interpreted Liya ‘budu’n as Liya’rifun. See S.M. N. AI-Attas, Islam And Secularism (Kuala Lumpur: ISTAC, 1993), 146.
30 Said Nursi, “al-âyatul Kubra,*//? Risale-i Nur Kùlliyati (Istanbul: Nesil Basim Yayin, 1996), 895.

The Maker impotent, unconscious Cause is a sign of God artful, purposeful and beneficial effect is a sign of God Vertical Connection Universal Knowledge Of God The Harfi Method: A Method Extracted From The Qur’an
In previous centuries, Muslim theologians proved the unity of the Necessarily Existent One and expounded knowledge of Him through asserting the impossibility of causation. They showed that knowledge of God cannot be gained while claiming a necessary connection between cause and effect. In Nursi’s view, the knowledge of God gained by means of theology fAâJâm) is incomplete, insufficient. It fails to provide a complete knowledge and sense of Divine Presence. However, the knowledge of God obtained from the Qur’an affords a constant sense of the Divine Presence, without condemning the universe to non-existence, or casting it into absolute oblivion.31 It rather releases the universe from purposelessness, and
31 The vahdat’uAvucüdschool of Sufis, in order to truly affirm divine unity and enter God’s presence in the highest degree said: “There is no existent but Him.” They relegated the universe to the level of imagination and cast it into non-existence, and only then fully entered the divine presence. The vahdat-ul-shuhüdschool of Sufis, in order to experience God’s presence and affirm His unity fully, said: “Nothing is observed but Him/ They thus forgot the universe and drew the veil of oblivion over it, and only then fully experienced the divine presence (L, p. 392).

employs it in God’s name. Every thing becomes a sign fâya) and a window opening onto knowledge of God.32
Nursi demonstrated an argument of God’s Oneness and Unity, not only in the totality of the world but in every single thing. He showed how each thing is a sign, a pointer that makes known the Necessarily Existent One through His Attributes and Names. Furthermore, he demonstrated with the same argument, not only the Necessary Existence of the universe’s Maker and His Unity, but also His all-encompassing knowledge, limitless power, infinite will and mercy and His other Attributes.
The method Nursi formulated is fundamentally different from the method of scholastic Aaiam. The theologians argued that the model of beings coming about through the causal efficacy of their originating causes, only ending with the First Cause, could not be reconciled with the notion of a freely creating deity. Their argument was that because God is an omnipotent agent, He must be responsible for the creation of everything in the world. They asserted that the thesis that things possess causal power which is a necessary consequence of the thing’s nature or essence is therefore incompatible with the Qur’anic concept of God.33 This method is adequate to test for consistency with tawAid but it does not provide us with a logic of knowledge. It is persuasive only if one has already accepted translating causal language into language referring to God’s actions. The Aar/ivision, however, supplies the method required to justify this translation.
The starting point of the Aarfi method is the universe. It employs the universe (aiem-i sAaAâda) as witness to tawAid and demonstrates how beings are signs witnessing the unity of their Maker and making Him known with all His Names and Attributes. This method is ‘ontological’: it is concerned with establishing the nature of beings as signs. Its ontology is tawAidi; it may be expressed as “There is no god.” All beings are witnesses to the Qur’anic truth of “There is no God . .. ” The tawA/diepiste-mology “but God” is a necessary result of this ontology. Logically, if “There is no god” is right, so must “but God” be. The truth of “There is no God” can be observed fmusAaAada) in the universe; it can be confirmed and witnessed. “But God” cannot be witnessed directly, but it is deducible from “There is no god.” Moreover, if “There is no god but God” is true then “Muhammad is His messenger” also must be right, for the truth of the Prophet’s message is itself evidence of the truthfulness of his prophethood. As a result, the creed of Islam “There is no god but God and
32 Nursi, The Letters, 388-89; Risale-i Nur Külliyati, 503.
33 Oliver Leaman, An Introduction to AfedievalIslamic Philosophy (Great Britain: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 74-86.

Muhammad is His messenger,” which summarizes the message of Islam, is confirmed (tasdiq) with all the senses. That is, although the Muslim believes in the Unseen (iman-u biigAayb), his belief is based on ‘ontologica!’ confirmation; it is founded on proofs as numerous as existing beings. Thus, belief in the truth of revelation supported by the testimony of all the cosmos is knowledge.
The Aarfìmethod proceeds under the guidance of numerous verses, which provide the required scriptural basis for a Qur’anic methodology.
It is God Who has created you, and then has provided you with sustenance, and then will cause you to die, and then bring you to life again. Can any of your (God) – partners do any of these things? Limitless is He in His glory, and sublimely exalted above anything to which men may ascribe a share in His divinity! (30:40).
Now those whom they invoke beside God cannot create anything, since they themselves are but created. (16:20-21).
Will they, then, ascribe divinity, side by side with Him, unto that which does not create anything since they themselves are created? (7:191).
He (it is Who) has created the skies without any supports that you could see, and has placed firm mountains upon the earth, lest it sway with you, and has caused all manner of living creatures to multiply thereon. And We send down water from the skies, and thus We cause every noble kind (of life) to grow thereon. (All) this is God’s creation: show me, then, what others than He have created! (31:10-11).
And yet, some choose to worship, instead of Him, (imaginary) deities that cannot create anything but are themselves created, and have it not within themselves to avert harm from, or bring benefit to, themselves, and have no power over death, nor over life, nor over resurrection! (25:3).
Or do they (really) believe that there are, side by side with God, partners that have created the like of what He creates, so that this act of creation appears to them to be similar to His? (13:16. )34
It is important to understand and appreciate that the Aarfi method does not deny the existence of causes and effects, nor does it deny that there are relations between events.35 The point is rather that these so-called ‘causal’ relations are not horizontal but vertical; the uniformity and order we observe in the world is wrongly attributed to causation. The confusion is to mistake causality for causation. Causation is the pro-
34 Further relevant verses include: 16:17-22; 16:73; 34:27; 35:13; 35:40; 56: 58-59; 56:63-64; 56: 68-69.
35 Nor did the theologians; see al-Ghazâlî, Mi’yâr al- Um {The criterion oí knowledge), ed. S. Dunya (Cairo 1961), 58.

duction of the effect by causes. Causality is the principle that nothing can happen without being caused. Causality is a universal, a prioripxin-ciple in the sense of being fitri(every act must have an agent), whereas causation is not. A well-ordered act necessarily points to a proficient agent, a skilful master, but it is not evident how lifeless, conflicting, deaf and blind causes can be the agents of wonderful effects. Whichever effect you consider, it contains such meaningful art that let alone its common, simple cause, if all causes were to gather, they would declare their impotence before it.
As suggested, there is nothing in beings to suggest that they have any role in creation. The creation of a single thing necessitates perfect, infinite power, knowledge and will. Since an infinite number of absolute gods is illogical, the creator of one thing must be the creator of all things. He must possess infinite qualities. Hence, there is no reason why He should be in need of partners.36 Since the existence of such partners is precluded by logic, to claim otherwise is arbitrary. Since there is no indication that could induce the truth of causation empirically or logically, it is meaningless.37
Nursi stressed the fact that although causes are apparently adjacent to their effects, the reality is that there is a great distance between them: the greatest of causes has no actual power with which to bring about the most insignificant of effects. Effects have been tied to causes so that great numbers of the Divine Names may be manifested. When it is realized that the horizontal relation between cause and effect is only an illusion of the ismi vision, it becomes clear that “there is a vast distance from causes to the creation of effects/38 as Nursi put it. It is in this distance that the Divine Names may be witnessed.
Nursi utilized the Aarfi’method for knowledge from the very logic and structure of Qur’anic verses. For example,
O mankind! Worship your Sustainer, Who has created you and those who lived before you, so that you might remain conscious of Him  Who has made the earth a resting-place for you and the sky a canopy, and has sent down water from the sky and thereby brought forth fruits for your sustenance: do not, then, give God any compeers. (2:21-22).39
36 Nursi, The Words, 434; Risale-i Nur Külliyati, 190-91.
37 Nursi, The Words, 635; Risale-i Nur Külliyati, 276; The Flashes, 383; Risale-i Nur Külliyati, 763.
38 Nursi, The Words, 435; Risale-i Nur Külliyati, 191.
39 See Qur’an 7:10; 14: 32-34; 16: 14; 16: 66-69; 22: 63-65; 24: 43-45; 31:10; 31:31; 35:3; 35:12; 40: 79-81; 80:24-32, etc.

This verse ties causes (rain water) to effects (fruits) and concludes with, for your sustenance. This aim and the benefits of sustenance discharge ignorant and lifeless causes and hand them over to an All-Wise Maker. The Qur’an repeatedly stresses the fact that causes themselves are created and cannot produce anything.
Now those whom they invoke instead of God cannot create anything, since they are themselves but created. (16: 20-21)
Have they, perchance, feet on which they could walk? Or have they hands with which they could grasp? Or have they eyes with which they could see? Or have they ears with which they could hear? (7:195). ^
Also, the adornment and skill on the face of effects41 indicate a Wise Maker who wants to make His power known to conscious beings and desires to make Himself loved and worshipped as mentioned at the beginning of the verse, O mankind/ worsAip your Sustainer*2 It is obvious how distant the causes that apparently result in rain are from thinking of living beings, having pity and compassion on them, and considering the production of their food. Indeed, the Qur’an invites us to ask questions to uncover the veil of causes and to investigate the reality behind them.
Who is it that has created the heavens and the earth, and sends down for you water from the skies? For it is by this means that We cause gardens of shining beauty to grow. (Whereas) it is not in your power to cause (even one single of) its trees to grow! Could there be any divine power besides God? Nay, they (who think so) are people who swerve (from the path of reason)!
Who is it that has made the earth a fitting abode (for living things) and has caused running waters (to flow) in its midst, and has set upon it mountains firm, and has placed a barrier between the two seas? Could there be any divine power besides God? Nay, most of those (who think so) do not know (what they are saying)!
Who is it that responds to the distressed when he calls out to Him, and who removes the ill (that caused the distress), and has made you inherit the earth? (27: 60-62).
Who is it that provides you with sustenance out of heaven and earth, or who is it that has full power over (your) hearing and sight? And who is it that brings forth the living out of that which is dead, and brings forth the dead out of that which is alive? And who is it that governs all that exists? (10:31).43
40 See Qur’an 7: 194; 13:14; etc.
41 See Qur’an 13: 4; 35: 27; etc.
42 The Qur’an directs our attention to the benefits attached to things. It shows us the mercy sent to us through causes. Then it reminds us to be thankful for it, e.g., 5:6; 5:89; 7:10; 8:26; 16:14; 16:78; 22:32; 23:78; 30:46; 32:9; 35:12; 36:72-73; 67:23; etc.
43 See Qur’an 6:56; 13:16; 24:43; 26:75; 28:71; 29:63; 31:29-31; 35:3; 35:40; 36:80; 39:21; etc.

That means rain is sent to assist living beings by virtue of a Compassionate Creator who creates beings and guarantees them sustenance. Hence, in the distance between cause and effect, the Divine Names, such as Compassionate, Sustainer fBazzag), Giver of Life, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Disposer (Mudabbir), Wise may be witnessed.44
The Qur’an speaks of the universe in order to make known God with His Attributes and Names. It explains the meanings of the book of the universe to make known its Creator. It instructs man concerning the signs of creation, and teaches him how to look at beings and events, each a meaningful word, as bearing the meaning of another; to look at them on account of their Maker. In other words, the Qur’an and its students speak of the universe for the sake of God: That is the gist of the Aarfi vision.
The Hermeneutical Problem
The world is not neutral so that it would be possible to make it speak and interpret it arbitrarily, as the relativists suggest.45The world speaks. But it does not speak, as the objectivists claim, a “man-made” language; it speaks neither Aristotelian, nor Galilean, nor Newtonian, nor Einsteinian. The relativists have been critical of the so-called “correspondence theory of truth/ Indeed, objectivists have distorted the concept of “truth* by claiming that human reason was its source. They have mistaken the fact that human reason is able to understand the truth for its being the source of the truth. As philosophers themselves assert, human reason is contingent and limited. ^ Only He Who fashions the universe can inform man of reality and the purposes of creation.
God does not abandon Himself, His existence, and unity, to the testimony of His creation. Just as He speaks and makes Himself known through His creation, He also makes Himself known and loved through speech. Since the Wise Maker, Who fills the cosmos with His miraculous creations, has endowed all beings with “tongues” speaking of His perfections, surely He will speak with man through revelation. He will inform Him of His purposes and of the meaning of His creation.47
The world speaks; it is meaningful. It speaks the language of the Creator’s Names and Attributes. Only revelation may interpret its speech and translate it in accordance with men’s intellects and understanding in a form of divine descent ftanazzuiât-i iiaAiyya). Man needs both revela-
44 Nursi, The Words, 435-37; Risale-iNur Külliyati, 191-92.
45 R. Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 6.
46 Gadamer, Truth and Method, 241-45.
47 Nursi, The Words, 593; Risale-i Nur Külliyati, 257.

tion and the intellect in order to understand the truth. Although both are indispensable to obtaining knowledge, their quiddities are fundamentally different. While revelation is the source of truth and knowledge, intellect is a tool that serves to understand revelation and thus truth. As Nursi said, the intellect commands that revelation be followed because everything that revelation says is reasonable. But again, the intellect on its own cannot reach the truth.48
In the search for truth, somehow, we begin with our present experiences. But we need a basis, a criterion according to which we can interpret those experiences. Our minds do not operate like cameras; our experience of reality is not immediate. All judgements about facts concerning the things in the world reflect the subject’s worldview; they are moral. Understanding itself is a kind of moral judgement. The process of understanding involves, together with facts, general principles of inference. These a priori principles constitute one’s logic. Basically there are two logics: the Aarfi logic, which is in conformity with reality, and the isrui logic, which is the erroneous logic of the “I* that pretends to be independent of its Creator. Therefore, revelation is indispensable in attaining reality.
According to Aarfi logic, the source of the problems of the ismJ’vision appears to be the dogma of experience. By erroneously dividing the world into physics and metaphysics, science reduces the reality of things to their material value. It claims that the reality of empirical facts consists in its description of them. But how does the scientist know that his perception of the facts corresponds to the reaiityoi the facts? Who interprets experience and according to what?
The world is out there, but our interpretations of the world are not. An interpretation is true if it conforms to the reaiity of the world. Only the Maker knows reality, only He can impart to man the knowledge of that reality. The scientist’s description of the world is his belief of the meaning of the facts. This belief is true if it corresponds to the reality of the facts. Now, if the truth of this belief is a correspondence of the mind with something outside the mind, how can the mind ever know it has attained the reality of the facts out there?
Science asserts that a belief is true when it corresponds to a certain associated external fact, and false when it does not. This criterion is deficient because a belief is an interpretation of the corresponding fact; it is not a neutral, objective statement. It is either Aarfi ox ismi Given that there is a fact corresponding to a certain description, how do we know this fact conforms to the reaiityoi the fact?
The Words, 397; Risale-i Nur Külliyati, 171.

As an example, assume the objects of a belief are two terms and a relation. Let “water* and “plant” be our object-terms and “growing* our object-relation. We water the plant and it grows. There are at least two interpretations corresponding to this same fact. (1) The ismi interpretation: “Water causes plants to grow/ (2) The jfewi’interpretation: “It is God Who causes plants to grow with water/ as the Qur’an teaches us.49 Nursi taught that the “scientific” definition of truth and falsehood is deficient. Both descriptions correspond to the same associated fact, both conform to the criterion of correspondence. Both cannot be true at the same time because they are incompatible. To decide which is true, a criterion ofreaiityis needed.
Nursi posite d that the Aarfímeihoá provides the required criterion of reality. What we observe about the two statements above is that water enters the plant and later the plant grows. These two events are contiguous but distinct. They follow each other in time but, as philosophers of science admit, we do not actually see water make the plant grow.50 We only see two consecutive events. Let us consider the assertion “water causes plants to grow. *

1. Verification: To verify this statement, we should be able to perceive water in action. If water is the agent, it should be demonstrated empirically. However, we can never see water making the plant grow. We conclude that this statement is not empirically verifiable because there is no external object-relation (growing) corresponding to the horizontal causal relation between “water” and “plants.”
In opposition to the /¿/zz/interpretation, the second statement, “It is God Who causes plants to grow with water” is elicited by experience and is justifiable. Indeed, we deduce from experience tAat tAe agent is tran-scendentaiand thus by definition not observable.
2. Justification; The first argument is that of succession. However, as we have seen, no number of cases of “growing” following “watering” can establish that “water causes the growth of plants. ” To justify a proposition “A causes B,” it is necessary to show that the relation between A and Β is a necessary relation. Logically, there is no reason why an event should be ascribed to its antecedent in time; this is the same as attributing it to its neighbors in space because space and time are fully equivalent. They are unified into a four-dimensional continuum in which “here” and “there,”
49 “He it is Who sends down waters from the sky: and by this means We bring forth various kinds of plants/ (20:53). See Qur’an 2:22; 2:164; 6:99; 14:32; 16:10; 16:65; 22:63; 30:24; 31:10; 32:27; 35:27; 41:39; 43:11; 80:24-32; etc.
50 Rüssel writes: “Such propositions as Ά causes B’ are never to be accepted, and our inclinations to accept them is to be explained by the laws of habit and association… it is rash to suppose that we perceive causal relations when we think we do… there is nothing in cause except invariable succession. * History ol Western Philosophy, 695.

“before” and “after” are relative. In this four-dimensional space, the temporal sequence is converted into a simultaneous co-existence of all things.
The second argument claims that plants do not grow in the absence of water. From this fact, it is logically impossible to deduce that water causes plants to grow.51 In addition, plants do not grow in the absence of sunlight, soil, air, the world, the solar system, etc. According to this argument, the whole cosmos is needed to make a plant grow. As we have demonstrated, this is only possible if they are all attributed to One Omnipotent, Omniscient and All-Merciful Being.52
According to Nursi, then, the ismiinterpretation is arbitrary in the sense that it does not describe reality correctly and thus has no cognitive value. It is neither empirically verifiable nor logically justifiable. Therefore, the /¿zzz/interpretation cannot legitimately appropriate experience because experience itself invalidates the ismi interpretation. The Aarfi interpretation, however, is logically justifiable and elicited by experience.
3. Faisifiabiiity: Falsification is therefore a meaningless criterion. A falsification of the statement “water causes plants to grow,” would be to show that plants can grow in the absence of water. However, no one claims that he does not get his physics from experience. The problem is not that we should have a starting point other than experience. The problem is in the interpretation of experience and the logic underlying it, because interpretation is always based on a logic, either ismi ox Aarfi fsmi logic is circular. It accepts causation as dogma prior to observation, then bases its interpretation on this dogma. In the above example, for instance, j&az/logic takes it for granted that water is responsible for the growth of the plant, not because of any empirical or logical reason, but because it defines water as “effective cause.” In the Aarfi logic, there is no dogma; nothing is taken for granted as created, ffarfi logic observes that water or any other cause possesses none of the qualities needed to cause a plant to grow. It proceeds to find out what is responsible for the plant to grow with water.
Nursi taught that the Aarfi interpretation is a logical interpretation of observed fact. It is logically justifiable that one responsible for the growth of the plant can only be the one who possesses the qualities necessary to make the plant grow, and thus the qualities needed to make the whole cosmos. A plant cannot exist on its own, independent of the cosmos; they exist together. Whoever is responsible for the plant must be responsible for the cosmos. The Aar/zmethod demonstrates that both water andplants, and indeed all causes and effects, are signs making their Creator known.
51 See my “Materialist Science: The Negative Science/ A/ISS 12:2 (1995): 261.
52 For a detailed discussion of the impossibilities that the alternative thesis entails see my “Induction, Science and Causation,” Islamic Studies 35:3 (1996): 257-58.

The universe is full of signs leading to knowledge of God and witnessing to the truth of Revelation. “(All) this is God’s creation: show Me, then, what others than He may have created1/ (31:11).
The Hermeneutical Circle
Understanding is directly related to one’s vision and therefore to one’s self-perception. If one views himself in the light of the ismi vision, he will not study the universe under the guidance of revelation. He will understand the functioning of the universe but will not realize that it is full of signs indicating the Maker and making Him known; he will not see its reality.
If, on the other hand, one views himself in the context of the Aarfi vision, he will understand that the intellect is a valuable tool that His Maker has given to make Himself known. He will employ that tool, not on behalf of the soul (nefs), but on behalf of the heart fqaib)n order to know and worship his Creator. Heeding revelation, the intellect becomes in the hand of the heart (reasoning heart)53 like a key unlocking the infinite treasures of mercy and wisdom contained in creation.
The intellect is a tool54 which is employed either on behalf of the heart or on behalf of the nefs. The nefs is active; it continuously casts doubts and false claims into the heart. This is its //triduiy. The creation of the neis is essentially good; if it is known for what it is, it can be employed to help the heart progress in the path of reality. The nefsmakes the heart feel the need to repulse its false claims with the help of the intellect by witnessing to the truth of “There is no god.” The nefsis purified in this process.
The heart is a universal mirror of the Besought One fSamad) and a scale for measuring the Divine Attributes and Names.55The heart innately knows its Lord {Rabb). It looks to the hereafter and to the Divine Names. The /7e/£obstructs the way of the heart. It loves itself56 and the ismi, transitory aspect of the world. It urges man to worship things other than God. But the world and its beings are ephemeral, they cannot answer man’s needs. Moreover, man feels sorrow and grief on their separation. These sorrowful metaphorical loves make his heart weep and cry 7 iove not tAose tAat set’ (6:76). Thus, he is impelled to seek his true object of love and worship. This is the way in which the process of purification of the /^/¿-begins. The innately contradictory dispositions of the nefs and of the
53 See Qur’an 22:46.
54 Nursi, The Words, 39; Kisale-i Nur Külliyati, 9.
55 Nursi, The Words, 140-41; Risale-i Nur Külliyati 47-48.
56 “Have you ever considered (the man) who makes his own desires his deity?” (25:43). See also Qur’an 45:23.

heart provide the thrust needed to start the search for truth and confirm it. This way, both the heart and the netsiulfill their duties of worship.57 The duty of the intellect lies in executing the search for truth under the guidance of Revelation. Using the Aarfi method, the intellect proves the truth of “There is no god” and silences the nefs. It shows that the cosmos is full of signs witnessing to God.58 Then the heart confirms the truth and says “but God/ It withdraws from the ephemeral and gives up all metaphorical beloveds.
intellect operating on behalf of the heart nefs:thrust of the heart
The Reasoning Heart ( Harf i logic )
heart (obstructed by the dominant nefs)
intellect operating on behalf of the nefs
dominant nefs  The Reasoning Nefs ( Ismi logic )

57 Nursi, The Words 508-509; Risale-i Nur Külliyati 218-19.

58 Nursi likens the intellect to a “broom” that sweeps the claims of the neis away from the heart, a “guardian” of iman and a “mujahid” protecting iman under the commandership of the heart. Nursi, Risale-i Nur Külliyati, 336.

Truth and method are fused.59 We validate the truth of tawAidthiough proofs and method. But we do not “prove* the truth, we confirm it with the heart. Nursi told us that proof is only an opening through which the heart sees the truth of tawAid. Proof is like a broom that serves to sweep away the illusions of the ne/sihai may land on the mirror of the heart and prevent it from reflecting the truth. Proof itself cannot support universal truth, only iman does.60 The intellect uses the Aarfimetinod to repulse the claims of ownership of the nefs by proving their falsity with “There is no god/ Thus, it validates the truth of tawAid. The heart, which knows its Lord innately, then confirms the truth of revelation, “There is no god but God. * It follows that the circle of interpretations that proceed under the guidance of revelation is essentially open. “There is no god but God” serves as the touchstone for determining which descriptions or interpretations conform to reality and which do not.
Revelation: Source of Absolute Truth
Reasoning Heart
World of Witnessing Universe = signs
Harfj Hermeneutical Circle
59 In his Truth and Method, Gadamer is emphasizing not the eon/unetionbut the disjunction between Truth and Method; he is “playing” off Truth against Method.
60 Nursi, Al-Mathnawi-al- ‘Arabi-an-Nüri, 246.

The other type of hermeneutical practice is the ismi method. If we don’t look at beings as revelation teaches us, we will look at them through our own understanding.61 We will project our understanding onto beings. We will understand not their reality but our own understanding of them.
Reasoning Nefs
Universe – Alien Things
Ismi Hermeneutical Circle
Although H. Gadamer suggests that philosophical hermeneutics is a type of knowledge completely different from method,62 the difference is not so fundamental. Method, too, is hermeneutical. Since understanding is universal, since it underlies all human inquiry and knowledge, and nothing is in principle beyond understanding, then the scientific method is also a form of hermeneutical understanding. Moreover, both method and philosophical hermeneutics are based on the ismi vision. Both are activities of a subject who seeks to understand and interpret external facts without having recourse to any source other than his own understanding. Their appeal to the external world (experience or thing-in-itself ) to validate their claims begs the question. The problem is, according to what do they interpret external, alien facts?
Any interpretation that is not carried out under the guidance of revelation is essentially vicious. A clarification of the situation requires us to ask, how is interpretation possible? What is the relation between the interpreter and what he seeks to understand? As we have already seen,61 In the case of Muslims, for instance, they may switch from one circle to the other according to their intention and their dua. But here we are concerned with methodology and not with certain thinkers. It is not our intention to judge people. Men may be models of piety, what matters to us is the outlook suggested by their works. A scientist may believe that the world exists to declare the glory of God, we don’t know. The point is how much does this belief intervene in his scientific explanations. In order not to confuse these two facts (personal belief and methodology) we should distinguish between Muslim and Islamic. The fact that we are Muslims does not necessitate that all we do be Islamic. (See Nursi, Risale-iNur Külliyati 1944). So while paying full respect to Muslim thinkers, we should be able to evaluate and criticize their thoughts and methods. If the scientific method of the Muslim philosophers is hardly distinguishable from the modern scientific method (see O. Bakar, TawhidandScience [Kuala Lumpur: Science University Of Malaysia, 1991], 16), it means that something is wrong with this method. If we think that all the methods of the Muslims are definitely Islamic and defend them as such, we won’t find the way to the truth. This reasoning is clearly erroneous; we must be eclectic in our criticism.
62 H. G. Gadamer, “The Problem of Historical Consciousness” in Inteq?retative Social Science: A Reader, ed., P. Rabinow and W.M. Sullivan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), 113.

Nursi believed the /¿/»/vision could not justify the relation between the subject and its object, nor the relation between things in general. It cannot provide the link which mediates the particular and the universal, because if there are no necessary horizontal relations between things there can be no universality. All things are deemed to be alien to each other. This point is fundamental for the scientific method a well as for philosophical hermeneutics.
As discussed above, science can neither justify its claim to knowledge nor possibly ground its logic of knowledge. All truths involve universale, and all knowledge of truths involve acquaintance with universale.63 With regard to the hermeneutical dimension of science, it is clearly unintelligible to speak of understanding something which is essentially alien and strange, and has nothing in common with the interpreter. In the context of the ismi vision y all ” understanding” is an arbitrary and distorti ve activity. Interpretation and understanding in the context of the ismi vision is speculative and, indeed, dogmatic. As Gadamer admits, “hermeneutics has to see through the dogmatism of a meaning-in-itself in just the same way as critical philosophy has seen through the dogma of experience.”64 We can conclude from Nursi’s understanding of the “Γ that the dogma of a “meaning-in-itself,” the /¿/»/meaning, underlies all /¿/»/understandings.
Beyond Hermeneutics
The Muslim scientist can develop a Qur’anic methodology only to the extent he internalizes the Aarfi vision; it is not possible to advocate an alien vision. The Muslim scientist’s goal must be to grasp the spirit of the Aarfi vision, confirm it and internalize it. The wider his scope of the Aarfi vision, the better he will read the creational signs of God and the more he will comprehend their multifarious glorifications of God with His Beautiful Names. His methodology will improve and his results will be more insightful. He will witness to the various manifestations of the Divine names in different spheres. To the extent he confirms the results of his investigations and testifies to their truth with all his senses, his certainty fyaqin) will increase, and his iman will be renewed; hence the wisdom of the Prophet’s saying, “renew your imânby means of ‘There is no god but God. ‘ ” This will result in further internalization of the Aarfi vision, and so on.
If man only consisted of a mind, it would be sufficient to understand the Aarfi vision intellectually. But the Aarfi vision is not a theoretical
63 Rüssel, Problems olPhilosophy, 53.
64 Gadamer, Truth and Method, 430.

matter, and man also possesses senses and faculties charged with duties of worship, such as the heart, spirit, nefs, and others. The Muslim scientist’s duty, indeed the Muslim’s duty, is to drive all those senses and faculties towards reality on the different ways of worship particular to each of them under the command of the heart.65 That is why it is not sufficient to simply rationally comprehend the truth. It is necessary to confirm it with all the senses. Confirmation culminates in acting in the direction of ascertaining the truth, as the Beloved Prophet (SAAS) said, “imânis that which is firmly lodged in the heart and actively corroborated by the deed. ”
Acting in accordance with the truth, confirming the truth of revelation with one’s mode of being, deeds and actions is not an arbitrary process. One must follow the sunna oí the Prophet (SAAS) to purify the nefs. Just as the Aar//method is used to repulse the false claims of ownership of the nefs with “There is no god but God” on the intellectual level, so too to confirm the truth of “Muhammad is His messenger” and comply with the sunna in one’s conduct is to reject the claims of the nefs on the level of practice. These two types of purification of the netsmutuañy consolidate and strengthen each other. They are inseparable aspects of the AarfiVision, just as the two parts of the confession of iman, “There is no god but God” and “Muhammad is His prophet,” cannot be separated. As Nursi explained, they prove and comprise each other.66
In fact, Nursi saw two dimensions in the sunnaoî the Prophet (SAAS): iman (belief) and amai (action). Amai that is borne out of imânis meaningful worship; iman that is grounded in and confirmed by ‘amai yields certainty fyagin). In the Aarfi’vision, following the sunna is not blind imitation; each compliance with a practice of the Prophet (SAAS) is a confirmation of //zza? with one’s deeds and is in itself a means of contemplation ftafaAAur). TaikAÄurincrzases certainty, which in turn improves one’s following of the sunna. The shari’a, said Nursi, has many degrees that unfold according to one’s level of certainty. Following the sunnahas two aspects: contemplation ftafakkur) and compliance with the Prophet’s conduct.
Following the practices of the Prophet is vital for it directly recalls the Prophet (SAAS), and that recollection and remembrance is transformed into recollection of the Divine Presence. The moment the sunna is consciously complied with, even in the apparently least significant dealings, such Aabituai acts become meritorious acts of worsAip in compliance with the shari’a. Through commonplace action, we think of the Prophet (SAAS). We recall the Owner of the shari’a, then our hearts turn to God the Lawgiver fSAarf) and we gain a sense of the Divine Presence.67
Nursi, The Words, 511; Risale-i Nur Külliyati, 220. Nursi, The Letters, 394; Risale-i Nur Külliyati, 505. Nursi, The Flashes, 80-93; Risale-i Nur Külliyati, 607-13.

For instance, to say “In the Name of God” when one begins eating is remembrance, and “All praise be to God” at the end is thanks. Thanks is the result of reflection. Within thanks is a pure iman, a sincere affirmation of God’s Unity. Reflection is to perceive and think of those gifts of mercy, which are valuable wonders of art and miracles of God’s power. It is to affirm that causes are only apparent; they are like tray-bearers of the gifts of God’s mercy.68 To say “Praise be to God” is to proclaim that those gifts are bestowed directly by the hand of power. With saying this and believing it, one surrenders every thing, particular and universal, to the hand of power. He recognizes the manifestation of mercy and indeed of many other Beautiful Names, in every thing. He announces through thanks a true iman and sincere affirmation of Divine Unity (tawAid) and enters the presence of God.69
Hence, Islamic Aarfi sciences are, from one point of view, tafakkuri sciences. Their aim is to develop the Qur’anic methodology required for interpreting the sAaAada (testimony) and tasbiAât (glorifications) of beings, and extract the Divine Names. In other words, their purpose is to provide the methodology and material required for making tafakkur. From another point of view, Aarfi sciences are applied sciences. They are concerned with putting the results of tafakkur into practice according to the Qur’an and the sunna, witnessing to the testimony of beings to the Truth, and as kAaiifa (vicegerent) join in their glorification of God.
Accordingly, the aim of Aarfi science is to make God known with all His Divine Names. Since knowledge of God is a result of tafakkur, it is necessary to develop a universal methodology for making tafakkur’under the guidance of revelation. Clearly, the success of this enterprise is directly dependent upon the scientist’s degree of certainty and the scope of the unfolding of the vision of the Qur’an in his inner world. The scientist’s reading of the universe under the guidance of revelation will improve in proportion to his commitment to the Aarfi vision. As we have seen, the internalization of the results of scientific investigations can be realized by experiencing the manifestations of the Divine Names in one’s life, and this is best accomplished through following the sunna oí the Prophet (SAAS). The scientist’s experience of reality will then improve his reading of the world. This way, scientific activity itself becomes a means of worship.
68 Nursi, The Words, 17; Risale-i Nur Külliyati, 4.
69 Nursi, The Letters, 431; Risale-i Nur Külliyati, 521-22.

Nursi developed an original methodological basis from which it is possible to examine the prevailing ismi paradigm. His work also enables us to deal effectively with the problems besetting both historical and contemporary Islamic thought by providing the means to attain truth and to understand and analyze phenomena under the guidance of revelation.
We have dealt here mainly with the hermeneutical and methodological aspects of the Aarfìvision, which is universal and applicable to all sciences as to all aspects of life. However, in order to appreciate the importance of Nursi’s formulation of the Aarffvisvon, which is a revival of the Qur’anic vision, it is necessary to reject the positivistic dogmas of the dominant western cultural paradigm with which the Muslim mind is infested.
How many of us doubt the objectivity of positivistic natural science? We have been repeatedly taught that science is objective because it is “testable;” scientific systems are “demonstrably valid” ways of interpreting the world. The evidence? Technology. If technology works, science must be right; science is vindicated on the basis of the “success” of technology which is measured by the stick of the domination and power of control it provides. The dominant obsession with instrumental technical control has distorted our concept of knowledge such that we fail to realize that this vindication of science cannot legitimize the cognitive claims of science. By deconstructing the prevailing ismi paradigm to its bare elements, Nursi brought to light its invalidity, and through the same process he establishes the exclusiveness and universality of the Qur’anic vision. He demonstrated that the universe cannot be used as evidence for the positivistic claims of modern science. The universe is God’s creation; it is full of signs indicating His Unity and making Him known. Nursi showed how the Muslim should use the universe to witness to the truth of revelation.
Contrary to what is commonly believed, natural science is neither empirically verifiable nor logically justifiable. Causation (the principle that causes produce the effect) is merely a conjecture of the ismivision. Like the theologians, Nursi stressed the fact that causation is the antithesis of tawAid. However, the method he followed was different from that of the theologians and the philosophers. It is a method extracted from the Qur’anic verses. This method teaches us how to read the universe as signs, witness the truth of revelation and confirm it.
By demonstrating that the relation between cause and effect is not horizontal but vertical, Nursi showed how each cause and each effect is a sign (aya) pointing to the Attributes of their Maker and making Him known with His Beautiful Names. He thus proved that the only way to attain knowledge of reality is to study the universe under the guidance of revela-

Published: The Muslim World

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