Bediüzzaman Said NursîMiddle EastRisale-i NurSaid Nursi

Historical conversation between Bediuzzaman and Russian General in prisoner-of-war camps

162611_galeri_1511In World War I Russia invaded parts of Ottoman Empire lands. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi immediately set about forming the militia. Besides his own students, he toured all the surrounding country raising volunteers for the force. He tried to defend the Eastern Anatolia with his little milita. But at last the majority of his milita were martyred and he was wounded and captured by the Russian army. Bediuzzaman was sent to the prisoner-of-war camps in Russia.
On one occasion, Nicola Nicolayavich, the Czar’s uncle who at the same time was Commander-in-Chief of the Russian forces at the Caucasian Front, came on an inspection of the camp. While on his tour of it, he passed by Bediuzzaman, who was seated. Bediuzzaman paid him no attention and did not so much as stir. The General noticed him, and finding some excuse, passed in front of him a second time. Bediuzzaman still did not rise to his feet. So he passed by him a third time then stopped. He said to him through an interpreter:
“Do you not know who I am?”
“Yes, I know,” replied Bediuzzaman, and told him.
“So why do you insult me?” asked the General.
“Forgive me, but I have not insulted you. I only did as my beliefs commanded me.”
“What do your beliefs command?”
“I am a Muslim scholar. There is faith in my heart. A person with faith is superior to a person without. If I had risen to my feet, it would have been disrespectful to my beliefs. Therefore, I did not.”
“In which case, you are saying that I am without faith, and you are insulting both myself, and the Army of which I am a member, and my nation, and the Czar. A court martial will be set up immediately, and you will be questioned.”
As the General decreed, a court martial was set up. The Turkish, German, and Austrian officers all came to the headquarters and tried to persuade Bediuzzaman to apologize to the General, but he told them:
“I am eager to travel to the realm of the Hereafter and enter the presence of God’s Prophet. and I have to have a passport. I cannot act contrary to my beliefs.”
Unable to dispute this reply, they awaited the court’s verdict. The examination was completed. Then the decision was given for Bediuzzaman’s execution on the grounds of insulting the Czar and the Russian Army.
When the squad arrived to carry out the sentence, Bediuzzaman requested fifteen minutes “to perform his duty.” This was to take his ablutions and perform two rak’ats of prayers. The Russian General arrived on the scene while Bediuzzaman was doing this. He suddenly realized his mistake and said to Bediuzzaman when he had finished praying:
“Forgive me! I thought you behaved as you did in order to insult me and I acted accordingly. Now I realize you were merely acting as your beliefs required. Your sentence is quashed. You should be commended for your firmness of belief. Once again, I apologize.”

Back to top button