Manifestations of the Names of God – Appendix A (The Words)

The precise definitions of two Turkish/Arabic words, tezahur (تظاهر) and tecelli (تجلى), will be discussed in this appendix. These words are used by the author Bediuzzaman in many different parts of the Risale-i Nur collection, and (although very similar), have slightly different meanings. They are usually translated as a “manifestation” or “appearance”, but there is no consistency in the translation. The word manifestation, for instance, is used as a translation for both of these words in different parts of the Risale-i Nur. In any case, these translations do not give the full meaning of the word tecelli (تجلى), as explained below.

TEZAHUR (تظاهر)

Tezahur (pronounced as Tazahoor) is equivalent to the English word appearance or manifestation. For those who know Arabic, the word  “tezhur” is actually the Turkish version of the word تظاهر in Arabic. Since the letter ظ does not exist in Turkish, it is replaced by a “z”.

TECELLI (تجلى)

The letter “c” in Turkish is equivalent to the letter “j” in English, meaning that tecelli is pronounced as “tajalli”. Tecelli is a specific form of tezahur. In other words, tecelli is always tezahur, but tezahur may not always be tecelli. Let us look at an example to clarify the difference.

Suppose we hold a mirror towards the sun; the sun’s appearance/reflection will be seen in the mirror. However, this reflection also possesses some characteristics of the sun itself. In other words, the reflection in the mirror will also possess such properties as light and heat. This kind of a tezahur, where the appearance (the mirror reflection of the sun) possesses some characteristics of the object (the sun) itself is called tecelli. The infinitesimal version of the sun’s properties is called “cilve” (pronounced “jilva”).[1]

How are these words used in the Risale-i Nur collection? In The Second Station of the Fourteenth Flash (Part 1), we saw that the names Ar-Raheem (The All-Compassionate), Al-Alim (The All-Knowing), and Al-Ghani (The All-Sufficient) appear through mothers, scholars, and wealthy individuals, respectively. However, this appearance (tezahur) is considered tecelli as well. When looking at a mother, for instance, we see the name Ar-Raheem (The All-Compassionate) appear. In addition to that, however, a mother also possesses a cilve (that is, an infinitesimal version) of the name Ar-Raheem. A scholar possesses a cilve of the name All-Knowing, while a wealthy individual possesses a cilve of the name Al-Ghani (The All-Sufficient). It is crucial to remember that the difference between these cilves and the names of God is (obviously) infinitely great, more so than the sun and its reflection in the mirror. These cilves, however, do exist in order to help us understand the names of our Creator. When the creation possesses an infinitesimal version of a name of God, we call this a “direct tecelli”. When the creation possesses a, somewhat opposite, characteristic of a name of God, we call this an “indirect tecelli”. Examples of an “indirect tecelli” include sharks, the uneducated, and the poor; corresponding to the names Ar-Raheem, Al-Alim, and Al-Ghani, respectively.

Finally, what are examples of tezahur which are not considered tecelli? The field of mathematics, for instance, is a tezahur of the name Al-Alim (The All-Knowing). In other words, when we observe the difficulty and complexity of math, we understand (to some degree) the extent of the Knowledge of God. However, it would be unreasonable that mathematics itself possesses an infinitesimal version of the name Al-Alim (The All-Knowing), as it does not possess intelligence in the first place. In other words, we cannot claim that mathematics itself is smart.

Similarly, the relationship between oak trees and squirrels (as discussed in The First Word (Part 3)) is an appearance of the name Ar-Raheem (The All-Compassionate). We see a sign of mercy when two living beings are helping each other without awareness. Nonetheless, it would be unreasonable to claim that this relationship itself possesses mercy.


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