Ustadz Said Nursi (q.s.) on the Associations of the Mind

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, “There are certain hidden connections between things.  There are even the threads of connections between things you least expected.  They are either there in fact, or your imagination made them according to the art with which it was preoccupied, and tied them together.  It is due to this mystery of connections that sometimes seeing a sacred thing calls to mind a dirty thing.  As stated in the science of rhetoric, ‘Although opposition is the cause of distance in the outer world, it is the cause of proximity in the imagination.’  That is, an imaginary connection is the means of bringing together the images of two opposites.  The recollection which arises from this connection is called the association of ideas.

For example, while performing the prayers or reciting supplications before the Ka’bah in the Divine Presence, this association of ideas takes hold of you and drives you to the furthest, lowest trivia, although you are reflecting on Qur’anic verses.  If your head is afflicted with association of ideas in this way, beware, do not be alarmed.  Rather, the moment you come to your senses, turn back.  Do not say, ‘I have done a great wrong,’ and keep playing with the trigger, lest through your attention, that tenuous connection strengthens.  For the more you feel regret, the more importance you give it and that faint memory of yours becomes ingrained.  It becomes an imaginary sickness.  Do not be frightened, it is not a sickness of the heart.  This sort of recollection is mostly involuntary.  Especially in sensitive, nervous people, it is more common.  Satan works the mine of this sort of scruple a great deal.

The cure for this wound is as follows: The association of ideas is mostly involuntary.  One is not answerable for it.  In association, there is proximity; there is no touching or intermingling.  Therefore, the nature of the ideas do not pass to one another and do not harm one another.  Just as Satan and the angel of inspiration being in proximity to one another around the heart, and sinners and the pious being close to one another in the same house cause no harm, so too, if at the prompting of the association of ideas, dirty imaginings come and enter among clean thoughts, they cause no harm.  Unless it is intentional, or by imagining them to be harmful, one is over-occupied with them.  And sometimes the heart becomes tired, and the mind occupies itself with anything it encounters in order to entertain itself.  Then, Satan finds an opportunity, and scatters dirty things before it, and eggs it on.”


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