• Q and A

    Questions and Answers from the Risale-i Nur Collection
  • 1

Can Adhan (Call to Prayer) and Iqama (Second call to Prayer within Mosque) be Recited in the Native languages of Each Nation?


This is a most misleading analogy; indeed it is inconceivable that any intelligent person would seek to imitate Westerners on this point. For the lands where unbelievers (who are at war with Muslims) live dominantly are called the ‘domain of war’, and there are many things religiously permissible in the ‘domain of war’ which are impermissible in the Muslim world.

Second, Christianity is dominant in the West. Since the West is not an environment which normally inspires and inculcates the meaning of the Islamic terms and the content of the sacred words or phrases, the Western Muslim may feel compelled to sacrifice the original wording for the sacred meanings. But the whole environment in the Muslim world teaches the Muslim people the brief meaning of those sacred words and phrases. All the discourses about the Islamic traditions, the whole history of Islam and, above all, the symbols or signs and pillars of Islam, always and continually import the brief meaning of those sacred phrases to the people of belief. Besides the mosques and institutions of religious learning, even the gravestones and the epitaphs on them in this country remind, like a teacher, the believers of the sacred meaning of the Islamic symbols. That being so, I wonder whether anyone who calls himself a Muslim and is capable of learning fifty words of a foreign language in a single day, really deserves the name of Muslim if he fails to learn in fifty years such sacred phrases as Subhana-llah (Glory be to God), al-hamdu li-llah (All praise be to God), la ilaha illa-llah (there is no deity but God), and Allahu akbar (God is the greatest) – phrases which he repeats each day at least fifty times. For such heedless and indifferent persons, these sacred phrases are not distorted by translation and stripped off their original sacred wording. To change and distort them would mean erasing the epitaphs cut on tombstones, and invite the curse of the dead who tremble with indignation in the face of such an insult.


Evil scholars, influenced by heretics, argue in order to deceive the people: Imam A’zam Abu Hanifa is, in opposition to other Imams, of the opinion that in case of necessity, those who live at great distances from the centers of Islam are permitted to recite in prayer, in accordance with the degree of necessity, the translation of the Fatiha – the opening sura of the Qur’an – instead of its original. Therefore, we can recite its Turkish translation because we need to.

The greatest Imams of the Hanafi School and twelve other Imams who had the authority to deduce verdicts on legal matters from the Qur’an and the Sunnah are of the opposite opinion in this matter. The highway followed by the Muslim world for centuries is founded on the precedents of those Imams. The mighty congregation of the Muslim Umma can follow only this broad highway; those who try to direct them into other strange byways seek to urge their misguidance. The great Imam, Abu Hanifa, is alone in this opinion of his; moreover his opinion is particularized in the following five points:

  • It relates to those living at great distances from the centers of Islam.
  • It is valid only in case of absolute necessity.
  • It relates only to the sura al-Fatiha, and is intended for those who do not know it by heart so that they do not omit to perform the prescribed prayers.
  • The great Imam gave this opinion because of his Islamic idealism and commitment, from his strength of faith, so that ordinary people could understand the sacred meaning of al-Fatiha.

By contrast, those who would like to substitute in prayer a (Turkish) translation of al-Fatiha for its original are acting with motives of destroying the religion of Islam, from weakness of belief, negative nationalism and hatred of the language of Arabic – in sum, their efforts aim to lead people to defect from their religious tradition.

The second sign

The heretics, who have altered the symbols of Islam, first demanded a fatwa – a conclusive legal verdict – from evil scholars, and then published the fatwa, the oddness of which we have demonstrated above. Second, they borrowed this ominous argument from Western ‘revolutionaries’:

‘The philosophers and revolutionary intellectuals of Europe rejected Catholicism and adopted Protestantism, which could be likened to some sects of religious innovation in Islam, including chiefly the Mu’tazili School. Since Christianity was thus reformed to give birth to Protestantism, and the reformers, though branded as apostates at first, were later accepted as Christians, so too, Islam may be reformed in the same way.’


This analogy is much more misleading than the one in the First Sign. For only the doctrinal pillars of Christianity were established by Jesus through Revelation, while most of the other principles, legal, social, economic and political, were either laid down by his followers and other spiritual leaders or borrowed from the earlier Divine Books. Since Jesus, peace be upon him, was not a worldly ruler and did not therefore legislate any social laws, the legal system of Christianity is like a borrowed garment fitted on the body of its religious fundamentals. Then, if this garment is altered or changed for a newer or different one, the religion of Jesus remains, without any hint of denying the Prophethood of Jesus, upon him be peace. By contrast, since the Prophet Muhammad, the pride of the world, upon him be peace and blessings, was, besides his religious leadership, also a ruler, the king of both worlds, whose dominion extends from Spain to Philippines, he received, as well as its pillars, all the principal commandments and social, economic and political principles of the religion directly from God through Revelation. This means that the secondary principles of Islam are not like a garment alterable or changeable in a way that, when they are changed for different ones, the essence of the religion can continue to exist. Those principles are rather like the body or at least the skin of the essentials of Islam, organically moulded to each other in a way impossible to separate. Their changing, therefore, amounts to denial of the Prophet of Islam.

As for the differences between various schools or sects of Islam, these originated in the understanding of some theoretical principles laid down by the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings. The fundamentals of the religion and its incontrovertible principles are never subject to dispute or alteration. Whoever attempts to dispute or alter them becomes an apostate and is included in the meaning of the Prophetic tradition; they break with the religion in the same way as an arrow leaves the bow.

Trying to find a pretext for their heresy, the heretics argue:

‘In the great French Revolution, which caused successive convulsions in the world, priests, spiritual leaders and Catholicism were attacked, and these attacks were later approved. This is one of the factors in the progress of the West.’


This analogy too, is quite misleading, like the previous ones. For in the West in general, and in France in particular, Christianity, particularly Catholicism, had been, for centuries, in the hands of the elite and ruling classes, a means of oppression and despotism. Through it, the elite and ruling classes had sustained their dominion over the common people. Since Catholicism had also served as a means, in the hands of those classes, to crush the nationalists appearing among the common people, as well as the thinkers among the lovers of freedom who were opposed to their despotic rule, and also since it had been regarded as the cause of revolts which destroyed social life and internal peace for four centuries in the West, it was made the target of attacks not in the name of heresy and atheism, but in the name of Christianity itself. The common people and philosophers had been indignant with and resented the Catholic Church, and therefore the French Revolution went the way it did. By contrast, neither the common people nor thinkers have any right to complain about Islam. For Islam, far from annoying them, protects them. Its long history is an undeniable proof of this fact. Contrary to Catholicism which provoked internal conflicts and wars for long centuries, there have been no internal wars of religion in Islam except for a very few.

Further, Islam has been a shelter, a stronghold, for the common people rather than for the elite. Through the obligation of alms-giving (zakat) and the prohibition of interest-involving transactions, it puts the elite not over the common people, but in their service. Islam also established the principles that the master of a people is one who serves them,33 and the best of people is one who benefits them.

Also, through its many appeals in the language of the Qur’an – such as Will you not use your reason? Will they not ponder? Will they not reflect? – Islam calls reason to bear witness to its being true, and refers people to reason and investigation. It assigns a high position and attaches importance to the people of reasoning and knowledge. Unlike Catholicism, Islam does not reject reasoning nor seeks to silence the people of reflection; nor does it demand blind imitation.

Since there is, with respect to an important point, an essential difference between Islam and Christianity in its present form – not the original religion of Jesus – they differ from each other in many other respects also. That important point is this:

Islam, being a religion of pure monotheism, refuses means and intermediaries, and, breaking egotism, establishes sincere worship. It denounces and rejects every kind of false lordship, from that of the human carnal self to that of nature. It is for this reason that a pious man from the elite has to give up egotism. Without abandoning egotism and self-conceit, a Muslim cannot prevent himself from losing the strength of his religious devotion, even from breaking with religion itself to some degree.

As for the present Christianity, since it accepts the creed of Divine sonship and begetting, it inevitably ascribes creative power to causes and means. Rather than breaking egotism in the name of religion, it sacralizes the egotism of intermediaries by regarding them as the holy representatives of Jesus, upon him be peace. For this reason, the Christian elite who occupy high worldly positions could be perfectly pious. For example, the former president of the USA, Wilson, and again the former prime minister of England, Lloyd George, were as bigoted as any priest. But the Muslim elite who attain such high worldly positions must break their egotism in order to be God-fearing pious Muslims, unlike their Christian counterparts whose piety is not in contradiction with their egotism. This is why Islam has, contrary to Christianity, not been in the hands of the elite a means for oppressing and despising the common people. Rather, in Islam, the standard of belonging to the elite or the common people is knowledge, God-fearing and piety.

Like the difference of piety between the Muslim and Christian elite, while the philosophers appearing in Christendom have, as a second difference, usually been indifferent or even hostile to Christianity, the majority of Muslim philosophers or theosophists have based their thinking on the essentials of Islam.

Also, the common people of Christianity who are afflicted or oppressed do not seek help from religion. Indeed, these used to be mostly irreligious in the past. The famous revolutionaries who brought about the French Revolution and were described as ‘irreligious tramps’ belonged to the disaffected middle classes. But the case is the reverse in the Muslim world. Those who are afflicted and oppressed usually apply to religion for help and consolation, and become religious. This is also another significant difference between the two religions.

The third sign

The heretics also argue:

Religious fanaticism has caused our repressiveness and backwardness. A progressive life in this century is only possible through giving up fanaticism. It is after giving up religious fanaticism that Europe has developed and progressed.


You are mistaken and deceived, or misleading on purpose. For, first of all, fanaticism, being a violent and unreasoning devotion, is incompatible with Islam. However deep it is, a Muslim’s devotion depends on knowledge and reasoning. Even if it is not, it cannot be described as fanaticism. For the deeper and firmer a Muslim’s belief in, and devotion to, Islam, whether based on knowledge or reasoning, the further from fanaticism a Muslim is by virtue of Islam being the ‘middle way’ based on peace, balance, justice and moderation.

Second, fanaticism is peculiar to European Christianity, which has been fed for centuries with hatred and enmity for Islam; so much is this that if you were to tell an ordinary Bulgar or an English private or a French tramp, ‘Wear a turban or else you will be thrown into jail’, his fanaticism would cause him to respond, ‘Even if you kill me, I will not despise my religion and nation by doing so.’

Third, as witnessed by history, whenever the Muslim people have taken firm hold of their religion, they have made considerable progress, and whenever they have shown negligence in their devotion, they have declined. The case is, however, the reverse with Christianity. This also comes from a significant, essential difference between the two religions.

Fourth, Islam cannot be compared with other religions. If a Muslim gives up his religion, he can no longer believe in any of the other Prophets. He can neither admit God’s Existence and recognize anything sacred. Since he does not find any point in his soul to be a means for human perfection, he is corrupted or goes bad like butter, and becomes an anarchist. It is for this reason that in Islam a non-Muslim enemy has the right to live: if he is from a foreign country in peace with the Muslim country or if he lives in the Muslim country and pays his tax of protection, his life is under the guarantee of the Muslim government. Whereas Islam refuses an apostate the right to live. For he is inwardly corrupt and like a poison for the Islamic collective life. But a Christian who gives up his religion can remain to be a beneficial element for Christian collective life. He may still recognize some sacred things, have belief in some of the Prophets and confirm, in some respect, the Existence of God.

Now, I wonder what kind of use those people of heresy find in the denial of religion. If they consider government and public security, the administration of ten irreligious tramps is much more difficult than that of a thousand religious men. If they are anxious for progress, irreligious people of such kind are, in addition to being harmful to the government, also obstacles to progress: they destroy public order and security which is indispensable to trade and progress. They follow, in fact, a socially destructive way. So, it is the greatest stupidity to expect from such irreligious vagabonds progress and happiness in life. One of those occupying a high position has unfortunately displayed so much stupidity as to say:

‘Our belief in, and reliance on, God has caused us to decline; Europe has developed by means of technology and weaponry.’

According to the principle, the best answer to give to an idiot question is keeping silent, I should keep silent in the face of such absurdities, but since there are some reasonable people who should be warned against such absurdities, let me say:

O poor fellows! This world is a guest-house. Hundreds of thousands of those dying every day confirm and testify that death is a reality. Can you destroy death and contradict those testimonies? Since you cannot do it, then death calls you to believe in and rely on God. In place of God, what technology or weaponry can illuminate the eternal darkness before him who is in the throes of death, and change his despair into hope? Since death is inevitable and the grave is awaiting us, and this transient life is giving way to the permanent life, then we should mention God a thousand times where we mention technology and weaponry once. Besides, when used in the way of God, both technology and weaponry lead to God; they operate and cease in the name of God.

The fourth sign

The destructive heretics are of two groups. The first group pretend to be on the side of religion and faithful to Islam, and on the pretext of reinforcing the religion with nationalism, they say:

‘We want to implant in the soil of nationalism the illustrious tree of religion, which has been weakened, and thereby strengthen it.’

The second group introduces, in order to promote racism in the name of nationalism, innovations into the religion on the pretext of ‘grafting nationalism into Islam.’

I would like to say to the first group:

‘The illustrious tree of Islam, which is deeply established in the truth of the creation and has sent out roots through the truths of the universe, is not to be implanted in the dark, barren, arid, unstable, and easily scattered, dust-like soil of racism. It is heretical, destructive and unreasonable to try to implant that tree in that soil.’

I say to the second group:

‘O insensible ones pretending to nationalism! The previous century was perhaps the century of nationalism. But in this century, nations and countries are coming together to form strong blocks, and feel the need to form unions. Bolshevism and socialism invalidate the idea of racial separatism. Besides, such trends as nationalism or racism and the like are temporary; like a strong wind, they came, sweep over the earth and pass away. Therefore, the Islamic nationality, which is enduring and eternal, cannot be grafted on racism. If you attempt to graft them onto each other, it will only bring about the corruption of Islam and the destruction of racism. Although it may at first gives a temporary pleasure, it will endure too briefly and end in a catastrophe.

Separatist movements may lead in this country to internal conflicts almost impossible to heal. Since, in this case, the sides will break each other’s power, the overall strength of the nation will be utterly exhausted. And this will cause this nation to be easily manipulated by any foreign power – just a small stone of force can manipulate two mountains of the same weight if they are put on the scales of a balance.

The fifth sign

This is a very brief answer to an important question.


There are various authentic traditions that a man called the Mahdi will come towards the end of time and reform the world after its corruption. However, this is the time of communities, not individuals. However able and intelligent, having the capacity of a hundred geniuses, an individual may be, without the support or representation of the collective body of a community, he is liable to be defeated by the collective body of the opposing community. So, how can a single man, however strong his sainthood is, reform the world corrupted to such extent by the whole of mankind? If every act of his were to be miraculous, then this is contrary to the Divine Wisdom and laws operating in the world. So, what is the truth of this matter of the Mahdi?


Each time the Muslim community has drifted into corruption, God Almighty has sent, out of His perfect Compassion and as a sign of His protection of the Islamic Shari‘a until eternity, a reformer or a reviver, a noble caliph or a great saint called qutb (pole) or a perfect spiritual guide, and removed the corruption, and preserved the religion of Islam. Since this is the way God acts in this respect, He is certainly able to reform the world in the time of the greatest corruption by means of an illustrious person who will combine in his personality the functions of a greatest jurist, a greatest reviver, a greatest ruler and a greatest spiritual and intellectual guide, and this person will be among the descendants of the Prophet’s family, upon him be peace and blessings. As God Almighty fills in a minute the space between the heaven and the earth with clouds and then clears it of them, or calms down a raging sea in a moment, or as He shows in spring an hour of summer weather, and causes an hour of winter-storm to blow in summer, so He can remove through the Mahdi, the darkness over the Muslim world. This is very easy from the viewpoint of the Divine Power. When considered from the viewpoint of causality and Divine Wisdom, it is so inevitable that had it not been related from the Truthful Reporter, upon him be peace and blessings, it must happen as he said it would, and certainly it will happen. This is what the people of reflection are certain to judge because the supplication made by the whole Muslim community five times a day in the prescribed prayers,

O God, bestow blessing on our master Muhammad and on the family of our master Muhammad as you bestowed it on Abraham and on the family of Abraham among the whole creation! Surely, You are Most Praiseworthy, Most Glorious.

Has, praise be to God, evidently been accepted. The family of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, have become like the family of Abraham, upon him be peace, and lead all the blessed chains of saints and preside over all the assemblies of spiritual commanders and guides in every part of the world in every century.35 They are so numerous that those guides and commanders in total make up a mighty army. If they form a certain division through solidarity and make the religion of Islam, in the form of a sacred nationality, a means of awakening and a bond of unity, the army of no nation can resist them. That mighty and irresistible army is the descendants of the Prophet’s family and is the core of the army of the Mahdi.

In world history, there is no other lineage, except that of the descendants of the Prophet’s family, continuously linked to each other through uninterrupted descent, and distinguished with personal merits and ancestral nobility, or stronger or more important than them. They have included, since the beginning, all the groups of the people of truth and perfection. At present, with millions of members, they are a blessed people, awake and aware, whose hearts are full of belief and love for the Prophet, and elevated and ennobled by priceless honour of attachment to him. Events are taking place in the world to excite and stir up the sacred force in this mighty community. Certainly, this force will burst with a sublime zeal and the Mahdi will direct them to the way of truth. This is our expectation from Divine Laws and Mercy, just as we expect the coming of spring after winter, and we are right in this expectation.

The sixth sign

The illustrious community of the Mahdi will reform the destructive and heretical regime of the committee of the Sufyan – the Anti-Christ to appear in the Muslim world – and revive the Prophetic way of belief, life and government. That is, the committee of the Sufyan, who appear in the Muslim world to destroy the Islamic way of life in denial of the Messengership and leadership of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, will be defeated and eradicated by the miraculous, spiritual sword of the community of the Mahdi.

Also, another devoted, self-sacrificing Muslim community which may be called the Muslim followers of Jesus, trying to unite the original religion of the Prophet Jesus with the truth of Islam, will defeat and eradicate the committee of the Anti-Christ (Dajjal) who have, in denial of God, corrupted human civilization and violated all the sacred things of mankind, and deliver mankind from atheism.

The seventh sign

They ask me: ‘Your defence of Islam, or your struggle for its sake, did not use to be in the way it is now. In addition, you do not follow the way of those thinkers defending Islam against Europe.


Why did you change the way of Old Said, and why do you not follow the way of other defenders of Islam?’


Thinkers accept, as Old Said did, to some degree, the principles of human philosophy and the Western way of thinking, and depend on them in their struggle against Europe. Since they admit some of those principles beforehand, as if they were the established principles of science, they do not succeed in demonstrating the true value of Islam. By grafting the shoots of philosophy, which they suppose deep-rooted, on the trunk of Islam, they imagine that they strengthen Islam. I gave up this way since it is very difficult and an improbable way to overcome the anti-Islamic trends, and since it means degrading Islam to some extent. I have actually demonstrated that the essentials of Islam are too deep for the principles of philosophy to reach. This truth has been decisively proved in the Thirtieth Word, Twenty-fourth Letter and the Twenty-ninth Word. By contrast, those thinkers following the same way as that of Old Said, imagining human philosophy to be deep and the pillars of Islam to be shallow, think that they can preserve those pillars by making them firm through the principles of philosophy. But those principles can by no means reach the level of either the fundamental or even the secondary principles of Islam.

Glory be to You, we have no knowledge save what You have taught us. Surely You are the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

All praise be to God, Who guided us to this; if God had not guided us, we had surely never been guided. Indeed, our Lord’s Messengers came with the truth.


This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.