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The Twenty-First Flash


On Sincerity


[Although originally the Fourth of the Seven Matters of the Seventeenth Note of the Seventeenth Flash, because of its connection with sincerity, it became the Second Point of the Twentieth Flash. Finally, due to its luminous character, it was included in the Flashes as the Twenty-First Flash.]


This Flash should be read at least once a fortnight


In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.


Do not fall into dispute, lest you lose heart and your power depart. * And stand before God in a devout [frame of mind]. * Truly he succeeds that purifies it, * And he fails that corrupts it. * Nor sell my signs for a small price.


O my brothers of the Hereafter! And O my companions in the service of the Qur’an! You should know—and you do know—that in this world sincerity is the most important principle in works pertaining to the Hereafter in particular; it is the greatest strength, and the most acceptable intercessor, and the firmest point of support, and the shortest way to reality, and the most acceptable prayer, and the most wondrous means of achieving one’s goal, and the highest quality, and the purest worship. Since in sincerity lies much strength and many lights like those mentioned above; and since at this dreadful time, despite our few number and weak, impoverished, and powerless state and our being confronted by terrible enemies and suffering severe oppression in the midst of aggressive innovations and misguidance, an extremely heavy, important, general, and sacred duty of serving belief and the Qur’an has been placed on our shoulders by Divine grace, we are certainly compelled more than anyone to work with all our strength to gain sincerity. We are in utter need of instilling sincerity in ourselves. Otherwise what we have achieved so far in our sacred service will in part be lost, and will not persist; and we shall be held responsible. We shall manifest the severe threat contained in the Divine prohibition,


Nor sell my signs for a small price,


and destroy sincerity, thus harming eternal happiness for the sake of meaningless, unnecessary, harmful, sad, self-centred, tedious, hypocritical base feelings and insignificant benefits. And in so doing we would violate all our brothers’ rights, transgress against the duty of service to the Qur’an, and be disrespectful towards the sacredness of the truths of belief.


My brothers! There are many obstacles before great works of good. Satans put up a powerful struggle against those who assist those works. One has to rely on the strength of sincerity in the face of these obstacles and satans. You should avoid things which harm sincerity the same as you avoid snakes and scorpions. In accordance with the words of Joseph (Upon whom be peace),


Nor do I absolve my own self [of blame]; the [human] soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Sustainer do bestow His mercy,


the evil-commanding soul should not be relied on. Do not let egotism and the soul deceive you! You should take as your guide the following rules, in order to gain sincerity and preserve it:




You should seek Divine pleasure in your actions. If Almighty God is pleased, it is of no importance even should the whole world be displeased. If He accepts an action and everyone else rejects it, it has no effect. Once His pleasure has been gained and He has accepted an action, even if you do not ask it of Him, should He wish it and His wisdom requires it, He will make others accept it. He will make them consent to it too. For this reason, the sole aim in this service should be the direct seeking of Divine pleasure.




This is not to criticize your brothers who are employed in this service of the Qur’an, and not to excite their envy by displaying superior virtues. For just as one of man’s hands cannot compete with the other, neither can one of his eyes criticize the other, nor his tongue object to his ear, nor his heart see his spirit’s faults. Each of his members completes the deficiencies of the others, veils their faults, assists their needs, and helps them out in their duties. Otherwise man’s life would be extinguished, his spirit flee, and his body be dispersed.


Similarly, the components of machinery in a factory cannot compete with one another in rivalry, take precedence over each other, or dominate each other. They cannot spy out one another’s faults and criticize each other, destroy the other’s eagerness for work, and cause them to become idle. They rather assist each other’s motions with all their capacity in order to achieve the common goal; they march towards the aim of their creation in true solidarity and unity. Should even the slightest aggression or desire to dominate interfere, it would throw the factory into confusion, causing it to be without product or result. Then the factory’s owner would demolish the factory entirely.


And so, O Risale-i Nur students and servants of the Qur’an! You and I are members of a collective personality such as that, worthy of the title of ‘perfect man.’ We are like the components of a factory’s machinery which produces eternal happiness within eternal life. We are hands working on a dominical boat which will disembark the Community of Muhammed (PBUH) at the Realm of Peace, the shore of salvation. So we are surely in need of solidarity and true union, obtained through gaining sincerity—for the mystery of sincerity secures through four individuals the moral strength of one thousand one hundred and eleven—indeed, we are compelled to obtain it.


Yes, if three alifs do not unite, they have the value of three. Whereas if they do unite, through the mystery of numbers they acquire the value of one hundred and eleven. If four times four remain apart, they have a value of sixteen. But if, through the mystery of brotherhood and having a common goal and joint duty, they unite coming together shoulder to shoulder on a line, they have the strength and value of four thousand four hundred and forty-four. Just as numerous historical events testify that the moral strength and value of sixteen self-sacrificing brothers have been greater than that of four thousand.


The underlying reason for this mystery is this: each member of a true and sincere union may see also with the eyes of the other brothers, and hear with their ears. As if each person of a true union of ten has the value and strength of seeing with twenty eyes, thinking with ten minds, hearing with twenty ears, and working with twenty hands.




You should know that all your strength lies in sincerity and truth. Yes, strength lies in truth and sincerity. Even those who are wrong gain strength from their sincerity in their wrongdoing.


Evidence that strength lies in truth and sincerity is this service of ours. A small amount of sincerity in our work proves this claim and is evidence for itself. Because seven or eight years of service to learning and religion here has surpassed a hundredfold the twenty years of service I performed in my native region and in Istanbul. And in my own region and in Istanbul those assisting me were a hundred or even a thousand times more numerous than my brothers who work together with me here, where I am alone, with no one, a stranger, semi-literate, under the surveillance of unfair officials and persecuted by them. I have absolutely no doubt that the service I have carried out with you these seven or eight years and the moral strength which has resulted in success a hundred times greater than formerly, has resulted from the sincerity you have. I have also to confess that through your heartfelt sincerity, you have saved me to an extent from the hypocrisy which used to flatter my soul under the veil of fame and renown. God willing, you will be successful in gaining absolute sincerity, and you will cause me to gain it too.


You should be aware that Hadhrat Ali (May God be pleased with him) and Ghawth al-A’zam (May his mystery be sanctified) honour you with their miraculous wonder-working and wondrous vision of the Unseen because of this mystery of sincerity. They offer you consolation in protecting manner and applaud your service. Yes, you should have no doubt that this attention of theirs is because of sincerity. If you knowingly harm this sincerity, it is from them that you will receive punishment. You should bear in mind ’the blows of compassion’ in the Tenth Flash.


If you want to have the support of spiritual heroes such as those behind you, and have them as masters at your head, gain complete sincerity in accordance with the verse,


But give them preference over themselves.


Choose your brothers’ souls to your own soul in honour, rank, acclaim, in the things your soul enjoys like material benefits. Even in the most innocent, harmless benefits like informing a needy believer about one of the subtle, fine truths of belief. If possible, encourage one of your companions who does not want to, to inform him, so that your soul does not become conceited. If you have a desire like “Let me tell him this pleasant matter so I’ll gain the reward,” it surely is not a sin and there is no harm in it, but the meaning of sincerity between you could be damaged.




This is to imagine your brothers’ virtues and merits in your own selves, and to thankfully take pride at their glory. The Sufis have terms they use among themselves, “annihilation in the shaykh,” “annihilation in the Prophet;” I am not a Sufi, but these principles of theirs make a good rule in our way, in the form of “annihilation in the brothers.” Among brothers this is called “tafani”;” that is, “annihilation in one another.” That is to say, to forget the feelings of one’s own carnal soul, and live in one’s mind with one’s brothers’ virtues and feelings. In any event, the basis of our way is brotherhood. It is not the means which is between father and son, or shaykh and follower. It is the means of true brotherhood. At the very most a Master [ustad] intervenes. Our way is the closest friendship. This friendship necessitates being the closest friend, the most sacrificing companion, the most appreciative comrade, the noblest brother. The essence of this friendship is true sincerity. One who spoils this true sincerity falls from the high pinnacle of this friendship. He may possibly fall to the bottom of a deep depression. There is nothing onto which he may cling in between.


Yes, the way is seen to be two. There is the possibility that those who part now from this way of ours, the great highway of the Qur’an, are unknowingly helping the forces of irreligion, who are hostile to us. God willing, those who enter the sacred bounds of the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition by way of the Risale-i Nur will always add strength to light, sincerity, and belief, and will avoid such pitfalls.


O my companions in the service of the Qur’an! One of the most effective means of attaining and preserving sincerity is “contemplation of death.” Yes, like it is worldly ambition that damages sincerity and drives a person to hypocrisy and the world, so it is contemplation of death that causes disgust at hypocrisy and gains sincerity. That is, to think of death and realize that this world is transient, and so be saved from the tricks of the soul. Yes, through the instruction the Sufis and people of truth received from verses of the All-Wise Qur’an like,


Every soul shall taste death. * Truly you will die [one day], and truly they [too] will die [one day],10


they made the contemplation of death fundamental to their spiritual journeyings, and dispelled the illusion of eternity, the source of worldly ambition. They imagined and conceived of themselves as dead and being placed in the grave. Through prolonged thought the evil-commanding soul becomes saddened and affected by such imagining and to an extent gives up its far-reaching ambitions and hopes. There are numerous advantages in this contemplation. The Hadith the meaning of which is, “Frequently mention death which dispels pleasure and makes it bitter” teaches this contemplation.


However, since our way is not the Sufi path but the way of reality, we are not compelled to perform this contemplation in an imaginary and hypothetical form like the Sufis. To do so is anyway not in conformity with the way of reality. Our way is not to bring the future to the present by thinking of the end, but to go in the mind to the future from the present in respect of reality, and to gaze on it. Yes, having no need of imagination or conception, one may look on one’s own corpse, the single fruit on the tree of this brief life. In this way, one may look on one’s own death, and if one goes a bit further, one can see the death of this century, and going further still, observe the death of this world, opening up the way to complete sincerity.


T h e S e c o n d M e a n s : Attaining a sense of the Divine presence through the strength of certain, verified belief and through the lights proceeding from reflective thought on creatures which leads to knowledge of the Maker; thinking that the Compassionate Creator is all-present and seeing; not seeking the attention of any other than He, and realizing that looking to others in His presence or seeking help from them is contrary to right conduct in His presence; one may be saved from such hypocrisy and gain sincerity. However, there are many degrees and stages in this. However much a person may profit from his share, it is profit. Numerous truths are mentioned in the Risale-i Nur which will save a person from hypocrisy and gain him sincerity, so referring him to those, we cut short the discussion here.


Of the truly numerous things that destroy sincerity and drive one to hypocrisy, we shall briefly explain two or three.


The First: Rivalry in regard to material advantages slowly destroys sincerity. It is also detrimental to the results of our service. So too it causes the material benefits to be lost. This nation has always nurtured respect for those who work for reality and the Hereafter, and assisted them. With the intention of actively sharing in their genuine sincerity and in the works they carry out devotedly, it has always showed respect by assisting them with material benefits like alms and gifts so that they should not become preoccupied with securing their material needs and wasting their time. But this assistance and benefit may not be sought; it is given. It may not even be sought through the tongue of disposition by desiring it with the heart or expecting it. It should rather be given when unexpected, otherwise sincerity will be harmed. It also approaches the prohibition of the verse,


Nor sell my signs for a small price.


and in part destroys the action.


Thus, first desiring and expecting such a material benefit, then so as not to allow it to go to someone else, the evil-commanding soul selfishly excites a feeling of rivalry towards a true brother and companion in that particular service. Sincerity is damaged, and the sacredness of the service is lost, and the person becomes disagreeable in the eyes of the people of reality. He also loses the material benefit. This subject bears much discussion. However, I shall cut it short and only mention two examples which will strengthen sincerity and true union between my true brothers.


First Example: “The worldly,’ and even certain politicians and secret societies and manipulators of society, have taken as their guide the principle of shared property, in order to obtain great wealth and power. They acquire an extraordinary strength and advantage, despite all their exploitation and losses. However, the nature of common property does not change with sharing, despite its many harms. Although each partner is as though the owner and supervisor of the rest in one respect, he cannot profit from this.


Nevertheless, if this principle of shared property is applied to works pertaining to the Hereafter, it accumulates vast benefits which produce no loss. For it means that all the property passes to the hands of each partner. For example, there are four or five men. With the idea of sharing, one of them brings paraffin, another a wick, another the lamp, another the mantle, and the fifth matches; they assemble the lamp and light it. Each of them becomes the owner of a complete lamp. If each of those partners has a full-length mirror on a wall, he will be reflected in it together with the lamp and room, without deficiency or being split up.


It is exactly the same with mutual participation in the goods of the Hereafter through the mystery of sincerity, and co-operation through the mystery of brotherhood, and joint enterprise through the mystery of unity—the total obtained through those joint acts, and all the light, enters the book of good deeds of each of those taking part. This is a fact and has been witnessed by the people of reality. It is also required by the breadth of Divine mercy and munificence.


And so, my brothers, God willing, material benefits will not provoke rivalry among you. It is possible that you might be deceived in regard to the benefits of the Hereafter like some of those who follow the Sufi path. But how can some personal, minor merit be compared with the merit and light manifested in respect of the shared actions mentioned in the above example?


Second Example: Craftsmen are obtaining significant wealth through co-operating in order to profit more from the products of their crafts. Formerly ten men who made sewing needles all worked on their own, and the fruit of their individual labour was three needles a day. Then in accordance with the rule of joint enterprise the ten men united. One brought the iron, one lit the furnace, one pierced the needles, one placed them in the furnace, and another sharpened the points, and so on... each was occupied with only part of the process of the craft of needle-making. Since the work in which he was employed was simple, time was not wasted, he gained skill, and performed the work with considerable speed. Then they divided up the work which had been in accordance with the rule of joint enterprise and the division of labour: they saw that instead of three needles a day, it worked out at three hundred for each man. This event was widely published among the craftsmen of “the worldly’ in order to encourage them to pool their labour.


And so, my brothers! Since union and accord in the matters of this world and in dense materials yield such results and huge total benefits, you can compare how vastly profitable it is for each to reflect in his own mirror through Divine grace the light of all, which is luminous and pertains to the Hereafter and does not need to be divided up and fragmented, and to gain the equivalent reward of all of them. This huge profit should not be lost through rivalry and insincerity.


The Second Obstacle Destroying Sincerity


This is to flatter the ego and give high status to the evil-commanding soul through attracting attention to oneself and public acclaim, driven by the desire for fame, renown, and position. This is a serious spiritual sickness, so too it opens the door to the hypocrisy and self-centredness called ‘the hidden association of partners with God,’ and damages sincerity.


My brothers! Our way in the service of the Qur’an is reality and brotherhood, and the true meaning of brotherhood is to annihilate one’s personality among one’s brothers and to prefer their souls to one’s own soul. Rivalry of this sort arising from desire for rank and position should not therefore be provoked. It is altogether opposed to our way. The brothers’ honour may be all the individuals’ generally; so I am hopeful that sacrificing that great collective honour for personal, selfish, competitive, minor fame and renown is far from being something the Risale-i Nur students would do. Yes, the heart, mind, and spirit of the Risale-i Nur students would not stoop to lowly, harmful, inferior things like that. But everyone has an evil-commanding soul, and sometimes the soul’s emotions influence certain veins of character, and govern to an extent in spite of the heart, mind, and spirit; I am not accusing your hearts, minds, and spirits. I have confidence in you because of the effect of the Risale-i Nur. But the soul, desires, emotions, and imagination sometimes deceive. For this reason you sometimes receive severe warnings. This severity looks to the soul, emotions, desires, and imagination; act cautiously.


Yes, if our way had been that of subjection to a shaykh, there would have been a single rank, or limited ranks, and numerous capacities would have been appointed to them. There could have been envy and selfishness. But our way is brotherhood. There can be no position of father among brothers, nor can they assume the position of spiritual guide. The rank in brotherhood is broad; it cannot be the cause of envious jostling. At the most brother helps and supports brother; he completes his service. Evidence that much harm and many mistakes have resulted from the envy, greed for spiritual reward, and high aspirations of the paths of spiritual guides are the conflict and rivalry among those who follow the Sufi path—their vast and significant attainments, perfections and benefits—which have had the disastrous consequence of that vast and sacred power of theirs being unable to withstand the gales of innovation.


The Third Obstacle


This is fear and greed. This obstacle has been expounded completely in the Six Attacks together with certain other obstacles. We therefore refer you to that, and making all His Most Beautiful Names our intercessor, we beseech the Most Merciful of the Merciful that He will grant us success in attaining complete sincerity.


O God! For the sake of Sura al-Ikhlas, place us among Your sincere servants who are saved. Amen. Amen.


Glory be unto You! We have no knowledge save that which You have taught us; indeed, You are All-Knowing, All-Wise.


* * *


A Confidential Letter to Some of my Brothers


I shall mention a point about two Hadiths to my brothers who become bored of writing, and prefer other recitations during the Three Months, the months of worship, to writing out the Risale-i Nur, although to do this is considered to be worship in five respects. The two Hadiths are these:


The First: “At the Last Judgement, the ink spent by scholars of religion with weigh equally to the blood of the martyrs.”


The Second: “Whoever adheres to my Sunna when my Community is corrupted shall earn the reward of a hundred martyrs." That is, “Those who adhere to and serve the Practices of the Prophet and truths of the Qur’an when innovations and misguidance are rife may gain the reward of a hundred martyrs.”


O my brothers who weary of writing due to laziness! And O my brothers who lean to Sufism! Together, these two Hadiths show that the black light flowing from the blessed, pure pens serving the truths of belief and mysteries of the Shari’a and Practices of the Prophet (PBUH) at a time such as this, even a drop of their water-of-life-like ink, may gain for you the advantage on the Day of Judgement equal to a hundred drops of the blood of martyrs. So you should try to gain it!


I f y o u s a y : It says “scholars” in the Hadith, and some of us are only scribes.


T h e A n s w e r : One who reads these treatises for a year, comprehending and accepting them, may become an important, correct scholar at this time. And even if he does not understand them, since the Risale-i Nur students have a collective personality, doubtless it is learned. As for your pens, they are the immaterial fingers of that collective personality. Although in my own view I am unworthy, due to your good opinion of me, you have afforded me the position of Master (Ustad) and religious scholar, and attached yourselves to me. Since I am unlettered and have difficulty in writing, your pens may be thought of as mine; you will receive the reward indicated in the Hadith.


S a i d N u r s i


* * *

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