This issue continues the series exclusive to AMUST on the 99 divine attributes of Allah.
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93. An -Nur – The Light
Allah is The Light (the source and bestower of luminosity and enlightenment) of the heavens and the earth1. The example of His light (His guidance in the heart of a believing servant) is like a niche arch within which is a lamp (a burning wick, the essence of a lamp)2 ; the lamp within a glass; the glass as if it were a pearly (white) star lit from (the oil of) a blessed olive tree3, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light4. Allah guides to His light whom He wills5. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things6.
(Such niches are) in houses (or mosques) which Allah has ordered to be erected and that His name be praised therein; exalting Him within them in the morning and the evenings7,
By people whom neither commerce nor sale distracts from the remembrance of Allah and performance of prayers and giving of Zakaah. They fear a Day in which the hearts and eyes will (fearfully) turnabout.
That Allah may reward them (according to) the best of what they did and increase them of His bounty. And Allah gives provision to whom He Wills without account (i.e. limit)8.
But those who disbelieved their deeds9 are like a mirage in a lowland which a thirsty one thinks is water until, when he comes to it, he finds it is nothing but finds Allah before him, and He will pay him in full his due; and Allah is swift in account10.
Or (they are) like darkness’s within an unfathomable sea which is covered by waves, upon which are waves over which are clouds – darkness’s, some of them upon others. When one puts out his hand (therein), he can hardly see it and he to whom Allah has not granted light- for him there is no light11.
Do you not see that Allah is exalted by whomever is within the heavens and the earth and (by) the birds with wings spread (in flight)? Each (of them) has known his (means of) prayer and exalting (Him), and Allah is Knowing of what they do12.
And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and to Allah is the destination.
1. It is a spiritual admonition to the original hypocrites who were bent upon indulging in creating various trials and tribulations on the Islamic Society. Apparently these were associated with the Muslim believers but in reality the worldliness had made them blind. So in spite of claiming their affirmation of belief, they were totally deprived of the “Light” that was spreading across the world by the Prophet through the word of Allah, the Qur’an. These verses indirectly aims to address them.
Firstly the aim is to admonish them. Secondly, it is to expose distinctly the difference between belief and hypocrisy. Thirdly it is to warn the hypocrites precisely that the praise of Allah is referred to the believers or meant only for the specific believers who have adopted true belief in order to fulfil Allah’s demand. Allah, ‘being the Light of the heavens and the earth’ specifically means that Allah is the Light of the whole Universe as the worlds of the heavens and the earth are used for the whole universe.
2. “LIGHT” in the universe is like the ‘enlightenment’ by virtue of which the entities are manifested. It is the one which exposes itself and manifests other entities. In human perception the real comprehension of light and enlightenment is the one which is used for qualifying Allah (God), never in the essence of any ray of light which travels at the speed of 186,000 miles per seconds and activates the mental vision through the eye curtains. This present characteristics of light does not constitute the perception for which human mind has been using words. These words are with respect to their fundamental perception and not according to the material agencies. For example we humans use the word ‘to see’. It does not mean that Allah, like the humans and animals, sees through an organ like eye. Similarly it is short-sightedness about the word light or enlightenment to feel that it is something like a ray of light emerging from a shining entity to reflect on the retina of eyes. So Allah, for the word Light/Enlightenment is not limited but it is the main true means of expression. The remaining in this world is nothing except darkness. Other entities emanating luminosity is given by the single abstract ‘Light’ of Allah. No other thing contains with them any other luminosity to show their charm and expertise.
The word ‘Light’ has also been used for knowledge, as contrary to it, ignorance or stupidity are expressed by the word darkness. So Allah is the ‘Enlightenment’ of the universe as the direct awareness of true reality can be attained from the Word of Allah. Without His benevolence, nothing can be achieved except ignorance, misgivings and degradations.
3. Blessed Olive Tree: ‘Neither of the East nor of the West’ reflects to the Light of Allah as the Blessed one having plenty advantages and pleasures. Thus it is referred as structure and the highest part in an open land having sunshine from morning to evening. The olive oil from the tree grown as such place generates very soothing and present illumination. The metaphor about the olive oil has been mentioned in the Quran to remind to show the peculiarity and the climax of the intensity of illumination as in that period when the Quran was revealed the best stuff for luminosity was the wicks soaked in the best type of oil for the best performance of the illumination both related with intensity, fragrance and soothness. So the personality of Allah has been expressed according to the custom of the era at the time of the revelation of the Quran.
The next metaphor ‘whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire’ is also to make the reader realise a very sensitive, brilliant and soothing illumination which satisfies the human beings in that era. Perhaps this explanation to the present society and culture may allow some classical literary figure to make similar types of metaphors. So imagine a source of peculiar illumination which is so soothing and so brilliant to make everything nice and clear.
4. Light Upon Light : This verse number 35 is a charming parable. ‘Lamp’ is the simile for the Beingness (Entity) of Allah and the arch ‘(niche)’ is used for the universe and the ‘chandelier’ refers to the curtain under which Allah has hidden Himself from the vision of the creatures in such a way that this curtain is portrayed not as a hindrance but rather as the extreme manifestation of Allah. The creature is unable to see Allah because the curtain is extremely transparent and the (‘light’) surpassing the curtain is so intense and expansive that the visions having limited luminosity are unable to realise it.
5. The absolute ‘enlightenment’ of Allah is lighting the whole universe but its realisation is not available to every being. Allah is the only One who bestows upon who He wishes to grace this realisation and gain advantage of it for one’s own benefit. Otherwise just as day and night are not differentiable to a blind person a vision-less person may be acquainted with the lights of the suns, moons and stars but cannot perceive the ‘Light of Allah’.
6. It has two interpretations. Firstly Allah knows well with what example and absolute reality can be made clear to humans in the most convincing way. Secondly Allah knows well who deserves most for gaining the benefits from the realisation of this absolute reality and who does not. Only then the one who deserves its realisation Allah marks distinctly that they earnestly need and desire it passionately.
7. Some commentators have interpreted such homes as the mosques and some have considered the family dwellings to exalt Allah within them for supplicating Allah in the morning and in the evening. It is to consider the dwellings has a place for real worship of Allah as Allah desires to make one’s personal family life as the most pious one. Islam is not a religion like other concocted religions; rather it is a sincere world view to be fully elevated in one’s personal life and family living as well.
8. In the verses no 37 and 38 the human characteristics have been disclosed by Allah for the realisation of absolute Light of Allah in order to utilise it for one’s own and family benefits. Allah bestows the previous grace of the love and desire to those who earnestly cultivate His love and enjoyment of its engagement and His full consciousness, the craving for His rewards and the desire to save oneself and family members from His wrath. Further such a person is not lost in mere worldliness, rather His remembrance is always kindled in his heart. One does not intend to indulge in the tonelessness, rather he adopts this elevation and practice towards which his Master and Creator guides him. He is not useful only for the benefit of the short-living worldly life, rather he is fully interested in the eternal life in the Hereafter. Keeping all these factors, it is decided by Allah that the selected person is bestowed upon having the involvement with the Light of Allah. And when Allah decides to bestow upon them there is no limit or end of His generosity .
9. This person is the one who refused to accept the directive of Allah with sincere heart that has been conveyed to him through His prophets beforehand and now through the last prophet of Allah Muhammad (pbuh) for practice and learning. The previous verses depict that the recipients of the Light of Allah are the true sincere and pious believers. Now those are mentioned who totally rejected to believe the only true prophet and his followers who only mean to preserve the light. Hence these are the desires either through their tongues or through their hearts or even through both of them.
10. In this category the persons have been denied who together with having blasphemy and hypocrisy are performing some virtues as well and believe the Hereafter to some extent. Then they are engrossed with misinterpretations. Then until the fulfilling of the obedience and the loyalty to the prophet with the true belief and the virtues of the believers their deeds shall be useful for them in the Hereafter. As an allegory they are informed that all your such deeds are nothing but a mirage; as the thirsty person by seeing the glittering in the desert at a distance imagines a fresh pool of water awaiting for them. Similarly you also are proceeding to your death on fast reliance of your deeds. But alas! Just like the observer of the mirage arriving near the pool does not find any presence of water, you shall observe after death not to have anything for your benefit there; rather Allah is present there to take the full account of your exhibited fake virtues with your blasphemy and hypocrisy.
11. In this category the conditions of all these infidels and hypocrites together with the persons performing apparent virtues are mentioned. It has been narrated about them that the whole life is spent in defamation and jahiliyah (Ignorance) irrespective of themselves being very expert, educated and successful achievers in the present life. Their example is of a person who is trapped in a place which is totally dark not having ray of any light across them.
12. This is the end of the passage which commenced with ‘Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.’ It is again emphasized in conclusion that there is no other genuine absolute enlightenment other than that of Allah and all the manifestations are only due to His Enlightenment. Anyone who is not being bestowed upon by Allah with enlightenment will be totally engrossed in the darkness of vision. Hence however much a person boasts about his/her smartness and intelligence, without the vision not received from Allah, there is no correct vision with him/her to live righteously in this world.
Continued in AMUST issue #137 April