An exposition of the sublime Ayat ul Noor – The Verse of Light.
Light – Nūr, is of two categories and Allāh, The Sublime, An Nūr, is The source of both these lights.
•Physical light consisting of photons, illuminates physical objects and is perceived by the physical eye to see the external realities (shapes, dimensions, colors) of objects.
Physical light, coming from the sun, is essential for physical life of plants, animals and therefore existence of the human race.
•Spiritual light is perceived by the insight of the human heart to see the internal realities (real vs. vain, good vs. bad, truth vs. falsehood) of all that exists. Just as physical light is imperative for physical life, spiritual light is essential for the spiritual heart to thrive.
Spiritual light is of two categories:
1.Innate, Inborn light of the heart (Nūr al Fitrah) – That light which Allāh, The Exalted infuses in every human heart that helps it to instinctively recognize the truth, that yearns for Him, subhānah and that turns towards the morally beautiful. Every human child is born with this light – subsequently, a life of goodness, helps strengthen it and a life of evil, weakens/extinguishes it.
2.Light of Divine Revelation (Nūr al Wahy) – The light and guidance of the Noble Qur’ān and those Divine scriptures that came before it, that illuminates minds and hearts on Who is their Creator, Their Guardian Lord, Their Rabb; on the true nature of the selves – what is their purpose of existence and how to fulfill it; on the realities of all aspects of life; on the journey of nearness to the Divine in this world and on the realities of the life to come. This light is brought to us by the divinely selected Messengers who illuminate our hearts with their exemplary lives.
قَدْ جَاءكُم مِّنَ اللّهِ نُورٌ وَكِتَابٌ مُّبِينٌ
Sūrah al Māidah (5), Ᾱyah 15: Indeed, there has come to you from Allāh, a Light and a clear Book (the Quran)
All of the above is beautifully illustrated in the similitude of the sublime Ᾱyat un Nūr – Verse of Light:
اللَّهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ الْمِصْبَاحُ فِي زُجَاجَةٍ الزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ يُوقَدُ مِن شَجَرَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ زَيْتُونِةٍ لَّا شَرْقِيَّةٍ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِيءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌ نُّورٌ عَلَى نُورٍ يَهْدِي اللَّهُ لِنُورِهِ مَن يَشَاء وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
Sūrah al Nūr (24), Ᾱyah 35: Allāh is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within is a Lamp: the Lamp enclosed in Glass; The glass as it were a brilliant star, lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the East nor of the West, whose Oil is nearly luminous, though fire has hardly touched it. Light upon Light! Allāh guides whom He will to His Light, Allāh sets forth Parables for men, and Allāh knows all things.
اللَّهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ
Allāh is the Light of the heavens and the earth
Light is that which is clearly visible (in contrast to darkness) and makes others clearly visible. Imām al Ghazali compares visibility to existence and darkness to non-existence. Allāh,The Exalted, Alone is free from the possibility of non-existence and He brings everything in the heavens and the earth from the darkness of non-existence to the visibility of existence.
Therefore He, Subhānahu wa Ta’āla, is the light of the heavens and earth.
الْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ وَجَعَلَ الظُّلُمَاتِ وَالنُّورَ ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ بِرَبِّهِم يَعْدِلُونَ
Sūrah al An’ām (6), Ᾱyah:1: Praise be Allāh, Who created the heavens and the earth, and made the darkness and the light. Yet those who reject Faith hold (others) as equal, with their Guardian-Lord.
Just as every particle of the sun’s ray points to the illuminating light of the sun, so does everything that exists in the heavens and the earth(microscopic or galactic) point to the necessary existence of its Creator – Allāh, An-Nūr – The Source of all Light and life.
مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ
The parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within is a Lamp:
In the Qu’rānic commentary of Ibn Abī Hātim, the explanation of Ubayy ibn Kā’b, may Allah be pleased with him, is as follows – The Niche is a physical similitude for the human chest and the Lamp is comparable to a believing heart. The light of Allāh, is that which He places in the believer’s heart- it is Knowledge, love and Remembrance of Him and Faith in Him, subhānahu wa Ta’āla.
In short, it is the life of a believer’s heart by which he/she lives through the darkness’s of this life; it is the light that radiates on their face and illuminates the lives of those in the vicinity and it is the light that radiates from them as they cross the Sirāt – the Bridge to the Hereafter.
الْمِصْبَاحُ فِي زُجَاجَةٍ الزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ
The Lamp enclosed in Glass; the glass as it were a brilliant star
The quality of the lamp is likened to the finest glass, glistening in whiteness and purity. The heart of a believer, likewise is clear, fine and firm. By its clarity, the believer sees truth and direction; by its fineness, he/she is gentle and compassionate and by its firmness, he is steadfast in upholding truth. Such a heart shines with its innate purity like a brilliant star that illuminates the darkness.
يُوقَدُ مِن شَجَرَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ زَيْتُونِةٍ لَّا شَرْقِيَّةٍ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِيءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌ
(The lamp) lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the East nor of the West, whose Oil is nearly luminous, though fire has hardly touched it
The fuel for the lamp is the oil from the Olive tree – pure, blessed and balanced and the fuel for the light in a believer’s heart comes from Divine Revelation – removed from extremes, replete with blessings. The heart of a believer to so clear that it glows even in the absence of fire – The light of Fitrah.
نُّورٌ عَلَى نُورٍ
Light upon Light!
The believer’s heart, so illumined by his/her fitrah sees reality even without the fuel of revelation. When Divine revelation reaches such a heart, the light of revelation resonates with the innate light of fitrah – the result “light upon light” – Knows and loves Allāh, The Majestic, like never before, lives the Wahy and calls others to his/her Lord by words and deeds.
May Allāh, The Exalted, help us reflect, understand internalize and live this beautiful parable.
May Allāh, The Exalted make us of those whose hearts resonate with the beauty of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Al Wābil al ṣayyib – Imām Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyya
The beautiful Names of Allāh – Imām al Ghazali
Reflections on the Names of Allah – Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui
Commentary on Ayatul Noor – Dr Haifaa Younis
Here you will find our blog posts from our old website. If you have any questions, please do let us know.