Pearl of Wisdom
'In trust lies the reality of certainty.'
Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib [as]
Ghurdr dl-Hikdm, no. 6484
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"Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth; a likeness of His light is a niche wherein there is a lamp; the lamp is in a glass, and the glass is as if it were a brightly shining star lit from a blessed olive-tree, neither eastern nor western, the oil whereof almost emanates light though fire does not touch it: light upon light; Allah guides whomsoever He pleases to His light, and Allah sets forth parables for men, and Allah is Cognizant of all things." (Qur’an, 24:35).
In language, noor is light, whatever its glow, rays, or reflection may be. It aids vision. There are two kinds of light: a light related to the life of this world, and a light related to the life hereafter. The first, let us say the secular, is also of two types: one is what the mind, the intellect, can see; it is a Divine light, the light of reason, of the Holy Qur’an.
The other is related to the physical one, that of things which emit or reflect light such as the sun and the moon. An example for the Divine light is implied in a verse such as this: "... there has come to you light and a clear Book from Allah" (Qur’an, 5:15). Reference to the physical light exists in the verse saying, "He it is Who made the sun a shining brightness and the moon a light (a reflection)" (Qur’an, 10:5). Here, the sun is mentioned before the moon because its light is more commonly associated with what we can see than the moon.
Al-Noor is the Apparent One Who has manifested Himself fully. The One Who is apparent on His own and Who makes everything else apparent and visible is called al-Noor Who takes things out of non-existence and brings them into the world of existence. Al-Noor, Glory to Him, has filled our world with light and brought it into existence, Who determined it since time immemorial, Who has illuminated the apparent existence through the sun and the stars, Who illuminated the world of spirits through the Messenger of Allah, the master of the first generations and of the last, and He illuminated the hearts through the light of His Divinely revealed Books. He illuminated those endowed with knowledge with the light of Divine manifestations.
Al-Noor has illuminated the hearts of the truthful through His Unity, and the conscience of those who love Him by His support for them. He beautified the complexions and brought life to the souls of the pious through their adoration. He guides the hearts to prefer and opt for what is right, Who guides the innermost conscience to silently address Him.
Noor, light, then, has many meanings. One of them is the light of knowledge and scholarship, which is the dawn of the truth as seen by the heart of a knowledgeable believer. The Attribute "al-Noor" has been mentioned in the text of the Holy Qur’an and is attributed to Allah in many places the best known of which is 24:35 cited above.
Ibn `Abbas says that the meaning of this verse is that Allah is the Guide of the residents of the heavens and of the earth; the similitude of His guidance in the heart of a believer is like pure oil which shines even before fire touches it; therefore, when fire does touch it, it intensifies its light, so it intensifies and adds light to its light. The Attribute "al-Noor" is indicative of the fact that Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.
There are many other verses wherein reference to Allah's light is made; among them are the following:
They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, and Allah insists on perfecting His light though the unbelievers are averse thereto. (9:32) What?! Is he whose heart Allah has opened for Islam, so he is in a light from his Lord (like the hard-hearted one)? Nay! Woe unto those whose hearts are hard against the remembrance of Allah; surely they are in clear error. (39:22) And the earth shall beam with the light of its Lord, and the Book shall be laid down, and the prophets and the witnesses shall be brought forth, and judgment shall be issued between them with equity, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly. (39:69)
There are more than forty references to light in the text of the Holy Qur’an. Some scholars are of the view that the Attribute "al-Noor" is Allah's Greatest Name. They say that they cannot see anything in existence without seeing the meaning of this Attribute manifested in it.
The Messenger of Allah used to supplicate to his Lord in the morning saying, "Lord! I invoke You to create light in my heart, light in all parts of my body, light in my hearing, light in my sight, light in my hair, light in my complexion, light in my flesh, light in my blood, light in my bones, light before me, light behind me, light on my right, light on my left, light above me, light underneath me! Lord! I implore You to increase my light, to grant me light, and to create light for me."