The Parable of the Light
In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most
The Parable of the Light of Allah
Surah Noor - Verse 35
"Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light
is as if there were a Niche and within it 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 well-nigh luminous, though
fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! Allah doth set forth Parables for
men: and Allah doth know all things."
Commentary on the Verse of Light Imam Ibn ul
Qayyim al Jawziyyah
God strikes a parable about His light within the heart of His servant, which
only the learned understand: ‘God is the light of the heavens and the earth.
The similitude of His light is a niche in which there is a lamp. The lamp is in
a Glass, the Glass, like a glistening star, kindled from a blessed olive tree,
neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil well nigh glows though no fire
has touched it: light upon light. God guides to His light whom He wills, and
God strikes parables for human beings, and God knows all things.’ [Qur’an
Ubayy ibn Ka`b said, 'the similitude of His light [takes place in] the Muslim's
heart.' [Ibn Kathir, 3:464] This light, which He has placed in the heart, comes
from gnosis, love, faith and the remembrance of God. It is the light that He
has sent down to His servants, by which He gives them life, and by which they
walk among people. Its origin is in their hearts, but then He strengthens and
increases it until it appears upon their faces, limbs, bodies, even their
clothes and dwellings. People of this nature perceive it, while others deny it.
On the Day of Judgement, however, it will come forth by their faith, and hasten
before them in the darkness of the Bridge, that they might cross it. They will
proceed in proportion to either its strength or its weakness in their hearts
during their life in the world.
For one person, it will be like the sun, for another like the moon, the stars
or a lamp. For yet another, this light will be only at the tips of his toes; it
will shine, then go out [then shine, then go out]. For just as his light had
been in this world, so he shall be given when crossing the Bridge. In fact, it
is the selfsame light that had appeared to him before. However, just as the
hypocrite has no real light in this world, or has only an outward light but
none within, so shall he be given [on that Day] an outward light which will
vanish in the darkness and be lost.
It is about this light-its abode, its bearer and its fuel-that God has coined
the parable of the niche, which is like the breast. In this niche lies a globe
made of purest glass, like a glistening planet in whiteness and purity-a
similitude for the heart, likened to glass inasmuch as it possesses the
qualities of the believer's heart: clarity, fineness and firmness. By its clarity
[the believer] sees truth and direction; by its fineness he acquires kindness
and mercy; by its firmness he combats God's enemies, and stands firm in his
resistance to them and upholds the truth.
None of these qualities negate another or oppose it. They strengthen and
complement each other. '[The faithful are] strict against the unbelievers,
merciful to each other’ [48:29]; 'By the mercy of God, you were gentle to them.
For had you been harsh, or hard of heart, they would have fled from your
presence’ [3:159; the expression translated as ‘hard of heart’ (ghaliz.
al-qalb) literally means ‘thick-hearted’]; and 'O Prophet, strive against the
non-believers and the hypocrites and be firm against them.’ [9:73] According to
a saying that has been passed down, 'Hearts are God's vessels on earth, and
most beloved unto Him are the finest, firmest and clearest of them.’ [al-H.akim
al-Tirmidhi…It also appears in Ahmad ibn H.anbal’s Kitab al-Zuhd, 1414/1993,
and Is.fahani (H.ilya, 6:97), with the wording ‘God, blessed be He, has vessels
In contrast to this heart, there are two other reprehensible types. One is the
heart that is hard like stone, devoid of compassion, generosity or social good;
devoid, too, of the clarity by which God may be seen-a heart dominated by
ignorance, with neither knowledge of the truth, nor compassion for fellow
The other is the heart that is as weak as water. It is devoid of strength and
firmness, accepts any idea, but lacks the strength to stand by what it accepts.
It is devoid of the power to affect anyone, but is itself affected by
everything it mingles with-be it strong or weak, wholesome or tainted.
In the glass there is a lamp which bears the light. The fuel for this light is
oil pressed from an olive tree, [which grows] in a place so medial that the sun
reaches it at both the beginning and the end of the day, making its oil the
purest and least opaque-so clear it almost glows by itself, without fire.
Such is the fuel for this lamp's light, and such is the fuel of the lamp in the
believer's heart which comes from the tree of revelation, the greatest in
blessing and the farthest removed from extremes. Indeed, it is the most central
of all things, the most balanced, the most excellent. It reaches neither the
extreme of the Christians nor that of the Jews, but rather seeks a middle way
in all things. Such is the fuel for the Lamp of Faith which burns in the
Because this oil is so limpid that it almost glows by itself, when it is
mingled with fire its glow becomes even more intense, its substance is
strengthened and there is 'light upon light'. Similarly, the heart of the
believer is so illumined that he could almost know God solely by way of his own
God-given nature [fit.ra] and his own intelligence, though he had no fuel. Then
the fuel of revelation reaches him, gives glad tidings to his heart and mixes
with his own radiance. The light of revelation is added to the light of his own
God-given nature, and the two combine to become 'light upon light’.
He had almost been able to speak of God without ever hearing anything about
Him. When he hears utterances which his own nature has already perceived, it
becomes 'light upon light'. Such is the case of the believer who first
experiences the truth in a general way through his God-given nature, and then
hears the words brought by [the Prophet] which explain the details. His faith
is thus founded on the testimony of revelation and the testimony of his
Let a person of insight reflect on this great verse and on how it can be
applied according to this noble meaning. God mentions His light in the heavens
and on earth, and His light in the hearts of His believing servants. There is
intelligible light, perceived by insight, illuminating inner visions and hearts
[al-nur al-ma`qul al-mashhud bi 1-bas.a'ir wa 1-qulub]. And there is the
physical light [al-nur al-mah.sus], perceived by the faculty of sight,
illuminating the upper and the lower regions of the world: two sublime lights,
one more sublime than the other. When physical light is absent from some place,
no human being or animal can live there. Animal life is engendered only where
there is light. It cannot thrive in dark places where no light shines. And so,
a people for whom the light of revelation and faith has gone out, and a heart
in which this light has gone out, must be dead, no more alive than the most
lifeless place on earth.
In His words, God connects life with light: 'Or is one who was dead, and whom
We gave life and made for him a light by which to walk among people, like one
who is in a darkness from which he cannot emerge?’ [6:122] Or His words, 'Thus
have We inspired you with a spirit from Our command; you had known neither the
Book nor faith, but We made it a light by which We guide those of Our servants
whom We Will.’ [42:52]
About this second verse, it has been said that the pronoun ‘it’ refers to
command, or to faith, but the correct reading is that it refers to spirit.
Thus, 'We made that spirit with which We inspired you a light.' In other words,
we say spirit when life is brought forth, and light when radiance and
illumination are brought together. But the two are inseparable. If life exists
through the Spirit, so does light; and where there is light, there is also
light. So the heart of one who does not accept this Spirit is dead and
benighted, as dead as one whose soul has separated from his body.
Tafsir - Ibn Kathir
`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said:
(Allah is the Light of the heavens and the
earth.) means, the Guide of the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth. Ibn
Jurayj said: "Mujahid and Ibn `Abbas said concerning the Ayah:
(Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.) He is controlling their
affairs and their stars and sun and moon.'' As-Suddi said concerning the Ayah:
(Allah is the Light of the heavens and the
earth.) by His Light the heavens and earth are illuminated. In the Two Sahihs,
it is recorded that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "When
the Messenger of Allah got up to pray at night, he would say:
(O Allah, to You be praise, You are the
Sustainer of heaven and earth and whoever is in them. To You be praise, You are
the Light of the heavens and the earth and whoever is in them. ) It was
narrated that Ibn Mas`ud said, "There is no night or day with your Lord;
the Light of the Throne comes from the Light of His Face.''
(The parable of His Light) There are two views
concerning the meaning of the pronoun (His). The first is that it refers to
Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, meaning that the parable of His
guidance in the heart of the believer is
(as a niche) This was the view of Ibn `Abbas.
The second view is that the pronoun refers to the believer, which is indicated
by the context of the words and implies that the parable of the light in the
heart of the believer is as a niche. So the heart of the believer and what he
is naturally inclined to of guidance and what he learns of the Qur'an which is
in accordance with his natural inclinations are, as Allah says:
(Can they who rely on a clear proof from their Lord, and whom a witness from
Him recites it (can they be equal with the disbelievers)) [11:17]. The heart of
the believer in its purity and clarity is likened to a lamp in transparent and
jewel-like glass, and the Qur'an and Shari`ah by which it is guided are likened
to good, pure, shining oil in which there is no impurity or deviation.
(as (if there were) a niche) Ibn `Abbas,
Mujahid, Muhammad bin Ka`b and others said, "This refers to the position
of the wick in the lamp.'' This is well-known, and hence Allah then says:
(and within it a lamp.) This is the flame that burns brightly. Or it was said
that the niche is a niche in the house. This is the parable given by Allah of
obedience towards Him. Allah calls obedience to Him as light, then He calls it
by other numerous names as well. Ubayy bin Ka`b said, "The lamp is the
light, and this refers to the Qur'an and the faith that is in his heart.''
As-Suddi said, "It is the lamp.''
(the lamp is in a glass,) means, this light is
shining in a clear glass. Ubayy bin Ka`b and others said, "This is the
likeness of the heart of the believer.''
(the glass as it were a star Durriyyun,) Some
authorities recite the word Durriyyun with a Dammah on the Dal and without a
Hamzah, which means pearls, i.e., as if it were a star made of pearls (Durr).
Others recite it as Dirri'un or Durri'un, with a Kasrah on the Dal, or Dammah on
the Dal, and with a Hamzah at the end, which means reflection (Dir'), because
if something is shone on the star it becomes brighter than at any other time.
The Arabs call the stars they do not know Darari. Ubayy bin Ka`b said: a
shining star. Qatadah said: "Huge, bright and clear.''
(lit from a blessed tree,) means, it is derived
from olive oil, from a blessed tree.
(an olive,) This refers to the blessed tree
(neither of the east nor of the west,) means,
it is not in the eastern part of the land so that it does not get any sun in
the first part of the day, nor is it in the western part of the land so that it
is shaded from the sun before sunset, but it is in a central position where it
gets sun from the beginning of the day until the end, so its oil is good and
pure and shining. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn `Abbas commented on:
(an olive, neither of the east nor of the
west,) "This is a tree in the desert which is not shaded by any other tree
or mountain or cave, nothing covers it, and this is best for its oil.'' Mujahid
(neither of the east nor of the west, ) saying;
"It is not in the east where it will get no sun when the sun sets, nor is
it in the west where it will get no sun when the sun rises, but it is in a
position where it will get sun both at sunrise and sunset.'' Sa`id bin Jubayr
(an olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow
forth (of itself)) "This is the best kind of oil. When the sun rises it
reaches the tree from the east and when it sets it reaches it from the west, so
the sun reaches it morning and evening, so it is not counted as being in the
east or in the west.''
(whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself), though no fire touched it.)
`Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said (this means) because the oil itself is
(Light upon Light!) Al-`Awfi narrated from Ibn `Abbas that this meant the faith
and deeds of a person. As-Suddi said:
(Light upon Light!) "Light of the fire and the light of the oil: when they
are combined they give light, and neither of them can give light without the
other. Similarly the light of the Qur'an and the light of faith give light when
they are combined, and neither can do so without the other.''
(Allah guides to His Light whom He wills.)
means, Allah shows the way to the ones whom He chooses, as it says in the
Hadith recorded by Imam Ahmad from `Abdullah bin `Amr, who said, "I heard
the Messenger of Allah say:
خَلْقَهُ فِي ظُلْمَةٍ
اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ»
(Allah created His creation in darkness, then on the same day He sent His Light
upon them. Whoever was touched by His Light on that day will be guided and
whoever was missed will be led astray. Hence I say: the pens have dried in
accordance with the knowledge of Allah, may He be glorified.)''
(And Allah sets forth parables for mankind, and
Allah is All-Knower of everything.) Having mentioned this parable of the Light
of His guidance in the heart of the believer, Allah ends this Ayah with the
(And Allah sets forth parables for mankind, and Allah is All-Knower of
everything.) meaning, He knows best who deserves to be guided and who deserves
to be led astray. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri said, "The
Messenger of Allah said:
(Hearts are of four kinds: the heart that is clear like a shining lamp; the
heart that is covered and tied up; the heart that is upside-down; and the heart
that is clad in armor. As for the clear heart, it is the heart of the believer
in which is a lamp filled with light; as for the covered heart, this is the
heart of the disbeliever; as for the upside-down heart, this is the heart of
the hypocrite, who recognizes then denies; as for the armor-clad heart, this is
the heart in which there is both faith and hypocrisy. The parable of the faith
in it is that of legume, a sprout that is irrigated with good water, and the
likeness of the hypocrisy in it is that of sores that are fed by blood and pus.
Whichever of the two prevails is the characteristic that will dominate.) Its
chain of narrators is good (Jayyid) although they (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) did
not record it.
(36. In houses which Allah has ordered to be raised, in them His Name is
remembered. Therein glorify Him in the mornings and in the evenings,) (37. Men
whom neither trade nor business diverts from the remembrance of Allah nor from
performing the Salah nor from giving the Zakah. They fear a Day when hearts and
eyes will be overturned.) (38. That Allah may reward them according to the best
of their deeds, and add even more for them out of His grace. And Allah provides
without measure to whom He wills.)
Taken From Tafsir . Com
"O Allah, make my love for You the most beloved thing
to me, and my fear for You the most fearful thing to me, and remove from me all
worldly needs and wants by instilling a passion for meeting You, and when You
have given the people of the world the pleasures of their world, make the
coolness of my eyes (pleasure) in worshipping You."
"A woman of real beauty smiles in
gathers strength through distress
and grows brave by prayer...