In this piece we are going to discuss the illnesses that blind both the physical and spiritual sight of the human, cover the reality, and deaden insight and foresight of people although they should see the truth bright like daylight. These illnesses are familiarity, custom and monotony.
Familiarity means ‘being used to something’. It becomes a veil in front of the eyes and prevents the reality to be seen. Another veil which is similar to familiarity is the laws of adatullah. Sunrise and sunset, cycle of seasons, the laws of physics, chemistry and biology are the laws that Allah has made as customs. They are called adatullah or sunnatullah. Since the laws of adatullah take place in monotony, they hide the reality from those who do not or cannot look carefully. Monotony is sameness. Stable, unchanging and monotonous things are veils of causation that blind those who do not use or cannot use their ability to contemplate.
Imam Bediuzzaman Said Nursi said the following regarding these illnesses being veils that hide the reality: “I saw that a lot of great realities are hiding under the veil of familiarity, custom and monotony. Especially the people of heedlessness and the people of nature and the irreligious philosophers do not see many miraculous works of the Divine power under the veil of the laws of adatullah; instead they ascribe a huge reality as big as a mountain to a simple cause like a particle. They cover the way of marifah (knowledge) of the Absolute Power in everything.”
Imam Bediuzzaman explains how familiarity mentally draws people to disbelief: “One of the reasons that mentally draws people to disbelief is to regard familiarity as knowledge. That is, they presume that the things which are familiar to them are known by them. Moreover, they do not reflect on the common things and do not give importance to them because of familiarity. However, although the common things, which they assume they know because of their familiarity, are each a wonder and miracle of power, they do not reflect on or pay attention to them due to familiarity. For this reason, they cannot carefully search the powerful manifestations which are far beyond [the common things].”
When the people become blind and do not see the reality anymore after their sights are captivated by familiarity, custom and monotony, the Glorious Qur’an draws their attention to contemplation, wisdom, justice, knowledge, will, and power. Imam Bediuzzaman explains this as follows: “People’s information about the world and things admitted by everyone and things that are obvious are based on familiarity. And familiarity is a veil covered on the ignorant masquerading as wise. In fact, the thing they suppose as knowledge is ignorance. For this reason, the Qur’an directs the gazes of people to the familiar things with its verses. The verses pierce through the veil of familiarity. They hold people by their ears. They show the extraordinary miracles in the ordinary things under that familiarity.”
Imam Nursi further instructs us by demonstrating the difference between the Sahaba (companions) and other Muslims with regard to being affected by familiarity as follows:
“Even senses like those of fancy and imagination, in an awakened and aware state, receive the numerous meanings of those recitations and glorifications in accordance with their own perceptions, and absorb them. Thus, due to this wisdom, when the Companions, whose senses were awakened and subtle faculties, alert, uttered those blessed words comprising the lights of belief and glorification, they did so in all their meaning and they partook of them with all their senses. However, after that revolution and upheaval, the subtle faculties have gradually sunk into sleep and the senses fallen from that point of realities into heedlessness; like fruits, under the veil of familiarity, those blessed words have gradually lost their delicacy and freshness. Simply, as though drying up through the air of superficiality, only a little freshness remains, and this may be restored to its former state only through drastic surgery of a reflective and reasoning kind. Thus, it is because of this that another can reach the virtue and level the Companions attained to in forty minutes, only in forty years.” (The Addendum to The Twenty-seventh Word)
When the illness of familiarity affects learning and knowledge, apart from covering the reality it also causes one not to appreciate the value of some things. Imam Bediuzzaman explains this as follows: “The value of the Tenth Word has not been appreciated completely. I have studied it perhaps fifty times and each time I felt great pleasure, and sensed the necessity to read [it again]. Some read this risale just once and put it away considering it to be like other books of knowledge. However, this risale is of the knowledge of faith. Just as we need food every day, there is also need for such kind of knowledge all the time.”
Imam Said Nursi explains the reason that the people of misguidance cannot understand profound realities as follows: “Just to deceive you, they make some deep and important truths look like commonplace by giving them some names as if those truths are really comprehended. For instance, “This is electrical power,” they say, thus making that fine and deep truth unimportant and look like ordinary. However, although the wisdom in that miracle of power can hardly be described in two pages, by just giving one name – thus concealing that truth and general wisdom by substituting it with a small and simple veil – they attribute that miraculous work to blind force and stray coincidence and imaginary natural causes, and they fall to a level lower than that of Abi Jahl. So a human names the entity of one of those laws of adatullah – which are the titles of the Divine will and the essence of which human cannot know due to his inability – as “electricity”, thus ignorantly making a lot of extraordinary miracles of the Divine Power like this look like commonplace by making the wonderful miraculous power in the lighting seem ordinary and calling it “electrical power” as if it is something known.”
As understood from the explanations above, the familiarity, custom and monotony make you an ‘unobservant person’ when they cover the reality. Familiarity is a blindness that makes a scholar ignorant. It numbs the mind and knocks you out. Someone who cannot tear the veil of familiarity and custom loses soundness of his mind and heart, and goes astray. A person who is caught by familiarity does not or cannot give due value to things. Familiarity is a padlock to the treasury of secrets. Unless this padlock is unlocked, the secrets do not come to light.
The veil of the laws of adatullah and monotony which causes familiarity can be removed with strong contemplation.
If familiarity occupies the mind of a man, it finally leads him astray. And as a result, a variety of people who are blind to the truth and titled as ‘scientist’ shows up today. These people become blind to the truth as Abi Jahl did, twist the scientific facts for their self and pride in the name of their deviant ideologies, and lead people to wrong beliefs by losing their humanity and betraying their field of specialization. In this day and age of scientific discoveries, we hear some claims, which cannot be accepted even by the most ignorant, from some irreligious people under cover of being scientists.
Imam Bediuzzaman explained with the following example that how the people of heedlessness and misguidance make the scholarly truths look like simple, ordinary things due to the familiarity:
“Due to a boundless ignorance resulting from misguidance and an ugly obstinacy arising from aggressive atheism, they do not know that causes are only each a pretext and a veil. A small seed [of a pine-tree] taking the place of a village full of factories and looming to weave and produce the members of a pine-tree as large as a mountain shows this. By saying, “The tree emerged from the seed,” they in effect deny the thousand miracles displayed in the pine tree, and put forward a number of apparent causes. They reduce ‘a huge dominical act worked through the Creator’s will and wisdom’ to nothing. Sometimes they attach a scientific name to a most profound, unknowable, and important truth which has purposes in a thousand respects, as though through the name it has been understood. Whereas it is merely made commonplace, and without purpose, wisdom, or meaning. So, come and see the innumerable degrees of stupidity and foolishness! They attach a name to a truth so profound and broad and unknown it could be completely understood only if it and its purposes and instances of wisdom were described in a hundred pages. As though it were something obvious they say: ‘It is this.’” (The Addendum to The Fourteenth Word)
You can find a lot of statements about familiarity like this in the Risale-i Nur Corpus.
Now we would like to try to draw attention to some points.
POINT: The laws of adatullah and the monotony result in familiarity. Contemplation on the other hand breaks up heedlessness and familiarity. Familiarity hides apparent truths and blinds humans. Sunrise and sunset, the cycle of day and night, the cycle of seasons, the pouring of rain, the order in the atmosphere, the ecological balance, the dazzling laws of the micro and macro cosmos are monotonous for they are stable and rarely change. A human in a system of monotony becomes used to this situation after a period of time. Being used to it prevents humans from seeing the wisdom, mercy, knowledge, will, eternal power, magnificent management and the majesty and grandness of divinity in the outer world. He starts to see all these things as ordinary, coincidental, random, meaningless, and complicated incidents. However, each of them is a miracle in itself. Eternal knowledge, power, wisdom, mercy, blessing and justice lie behind each of them. However, the eyes of the heedless – may they be awakened to the truth! – do not see the reality.
For example, since the rising of the sun everyday is based on a law, thus causing familiarity, a human forgets the aspect of mercy and blessing of the sunrise due to that familiarity. Worldly occupations make that familiarity even more powerful such that humans cannot see the real aspect anymore. He gives more importance, on the other hand, to the solar eclipse, for it does not occur every day. He makes preparations to see and to record that big event in advance. In fact, he fails to realize and cannot see the daily miracles which occur as a result of a marvellous order. The blindness of familiarity in the inner world of the human comes to exist as a result of this point of view, too.
For instance, a human remembers the miraculous events taking place in his body only when there is a problem in the body. Familiarity makes you forget all these great blessings each of which requires thankfulness. What a big ingratitude it is to make the miraculous systems like the nervous system, circulatory system, digestive system, muscular system, urinary system, and respiratory system seem ordinary by giving names to them.
Keeping in mind that contemplation removes heedlessness we can be saved from this illness of familiarity through careful and powerful contemplation. As a spiritual guide of today, the Risale-i Nur has an important role in this regard. Since contemplation is the path of the Risale-i Nur, a majority of the Risale-i Nur students are witnesses that the in depth reading of the risales – most of which give the lesson of truths of iman – tear the veil of familiarity. The words of Imam Nursi about the Tenth Word support our idea. Since the truths of iman are like food, there is need for studying them regularly. If the Risale-i Nur is studied continuously, the clouds of familiarity and heedlessness are lifted, minds are opened, the influence of the reality increases, and the human is saved from showing ingratitude in return for he has been given. He returns to shukr (thankfulness) from shirk (polytheism).
POINT: Today we have to be careful against the people who are under cover of being scientists, who have ideological deviances in reality. We should disregard their misleading ideology. Having taken hold of the science world, the positivist point of view – with also the effect of socialist, materialist, and capitalist movements – produced people who sacrifice reality to their own ideology. Being captive of deviant ideologies, these so called experts tore the reality up and led people to misguidance which does not fit the ethics of science. They have tried to hide the Divine will and power behind the laws of adatullah and the realities by giving them some scientific names.
However, an act cannot be without an actor, art cannot be without an artist. While even a needle cannot be without a maker, it cannot be accepted that the events occurring across the universe are without an creator. If there is a name, there must be a bearer of that name. For instance, the mercy and compassion of mothers – let it be a human or an animal – point at someone who is merciful and compassionate, who has given these mothers those feelings, which is Allah (swt). But the irreligious people who are so called scientists give this reality the name ‘instinct’, thus making it ordinary.
These people do not deny the architect of a magnificent architectural work they come across. They will accept a robot but do not deny the engineering behind it. Despite this they try to conceal the evidence of the existence of Allah through their deviant ideologies.
The blind admiration to the West in our country may drag our people to misguidance if we do not become careful. We should not ignore this danger. The ideas of a western scientist on belief cannot be a reference point for a Muslim. Their scientific theories should be taken into consideration if they are worthy of accepting after filtering them through the filters of reason, logic and religious truths.