Sunday, 21 May 2017
Ustadz Said Nursi (q.s.): Imagining Unbelief is Not Unbelief
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
In Ustadz Said Nursi’s (q.s.) “Treatise on Scrupulosity”, from “The Second Station of the Twenty-First Word,” and translated by Dr. Colin Turner, he said, “In matters of belief, what occurs to one in the form of doubts are scruples. The unhappy man suffering from scruples sometimes confuses conceptions in his mind with imaginings. That is, he imagines a doubt that has occurred to his imagination to be a doubt that has entered his mind, and supposes that his beliefs have been damaged. Sometimes, he supposes a doubt he has imagined to have harmed his belief. Sometimes, he supposes a doubt he has imagined to have been confirmed by his reason. Sometimes, he supposes pondering over a matter related to unbelief to be unbelief. That is, he supposes to be contrary to belief his exercising his ability to reflect in the form of understanding the causes of misguidance, and his ability to study and reason in impartial fashion. Then, taking fright at these suppositions, which result from the whisperings of Satan, he exclaims, ‘Alas! My heart is corrupted and my beliefs spoiled.’ Since those states are mostly involuntary, and he cannot put them to rights through his faculty of will, he falls into despair.
The cure for this wound is as follows: Just as imagining unbelief is not unbelief, neither is fancying unbelief, unbelief. And just as imagining misguidance is not misguidance, so too reflecting on misguidance is not misguidance. For both imagining, and fancying, and supposing, and reflecting, are different from confirmation with the reason and submission of the heart, they are other than them; they are free to an extent; they do not listen to the faculty of will; they are not included among the obligations of religion. But affirmation and submission are not like that; they are dependent on a balance. And just as imagining, fancying, supposing, and reflecting are not affirmation or submission, so they cannot be said to be doubt or hesitation. But if they are repeated unnecessarily and become established, then a sort of real doubt may be born of them. Also, continually taking the part of the opposing side calling it unbiased reasoning or being fair reaches the point that the person involuntarily favours the opposing side. His taking the part of the truth, which is incumbent on him, is destroyed. He, too, falls into danger. A state of mind becomes fixed in his head whereby he becomes an officious representative of Satan or the enemy.
The most important of this sort of scruple is this: the person suffering from it confuses something that is actually possible with something which is reasonably possible. That is, if he sees something which is of itself possible, he imagines it to be reasonably possible and reasonably doubtful. Whereas one of the principles of theology is that something which is of itself possible is not opposed to certain knowledge and does not contradict the demands of reason. For example, the Black Sea sinking into the earth at this moment is of itself possible, but we judge with certainty that the sea is in its place, and we know this without doubting it, and that possibility which is actually possible causes us no doubt and does not damage our certainty. And, for example, of itself it is possible that the sun will not set today or that it will not rise tomorrow. But this possibility in no way damages our certainty that it will rise and gives rise to no doubt. Similarly, unfounded suspicions arising from possibilities of this sort about, for example, the setting of the life of this world and rising of the life of the Hereafter, which are among the truths of belief, cause no harm to the certainty of belief. Furthermore, the well-known rule, a possibility that does not arise from any proof or evidence is of no importance is one of the established principles of both the sciences of the principles of religion and the principles of jurisprudence.
If you say, ‘What is the wisdom and purpose in scruples being visited on us, which are thus harmful and an affliction for believers?’ The answer is, on condition they do not lead to excess or overwhelm a person, essentially scruples are the cause of vigilance, lead to seeking the best way, and give rise to seriousness. They banish indifference and repulse carelessness. Therefore, in this realm of examination and arena of competition, the Absolutely Wise One put them in the hand of Satan as a whip of encouragement for us. He strikes it at our heads. If it hurts excessively, one must complain to the All-Wise and Compassionate One, and say, ‘I seek Refuge with God from Satan the Accursed.’”