Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

Dhu'l Qadah 1424 H
January 2004
Volume 17-01 No : 205
Camps/Workshops

News Community Roundup Editorial Letters to the Editor Features Reflections Appeal Transformations Shades Of Life Opinion Issues Children's Corner Globe Quran Speaks to You Hadith Guidelines Our Dialogue Dr. Zakir Naik- Question Hour Special Space Arab News The Other Side Men Missions & Machines Communal Harmony Bakrid Journey To Islam Matrimonial
Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us

Now you can pay your subscriptions online

Qur'an Speaks To You


An Example Portraying Allah's Light

An Example Portraying Allah's Light

In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent

God is the light of the heavens and the earth. His light may be compared to a niche containing a lamp; the lamp within a glass, the glass like a radiant star; lit from a blessed tree - an olive tree that is neither of the east nor of the west. Its very oil would almost give light even though no fire had touched it. Light upon light! God guides to His light him that wills (to be guided). God propounds parables for men, since God alone has full knowledge of all things.

In houses which God has sanctioned to be raised so that His name be remembered in them, there are (such as) extol His limitless glory, morning and evening - people whom neither commerce nor profit can divert from the remembrance of God, and from attending to prayer, and from charity; who are filled with fear of the day when all hearts and eyes will be convulsed; who (only hope) that God may reward them in accordance with the best that they ever did, and lavish His grace upon them. God gives to whom He wills beyond all reckoning. (Light, Al-Noor: 24: 35-38)

(Commentary by Sayyid Qutb. Translated By A.A.Shamis)

This verse begins a new passage of the surah with a statement that fills our hearts with a sense of the great light of God that fills the great universe and radiates through its endless horizons. We feel this light as it fills our hearts, but our nature cannot reflect on it for long. Hence, the surah gives us a more tangible example of it to help us comprehend its significance.

Thus, the verse begins with stating the fact that “God is the light of the heavens and the earth.” Then it brings us back from such far and wide expanse to a niche, a small artificial wall recess in which a lamp is placed so as to focus its light and make it shine. “His light may be compared to a niche containing a lamp.” It adds one element of strength and concentration after another: “The lamp within a glass,” which protects it from the wind and purifies its light to make it stronger and more radiant. “The glass like a radiant star.” We see the glass painted here as bright, transparent, almost shining. At this point, the verse links the example and the reality, the likeness and the original, the small glass and the radiant star. Thus we do not concentrate our reflection on the miniscule picture which is presented only to help us understand the great reality.

The surah immediately goes back to the small example of the lamp, which is “lit from a blessed tree - an olive tree...” The purest light known to the first people addressed by the Qur’an was that of olive oil.

But this is not the only reason for choosing this example. It is an example that has connotations of sacredness associated with the blessed tree. These connotations recall the image of the sacred valley, the nearest place to Arabia in which olive trees are in abundance.

The Quran refers to this tree and gives it special significance: “We bring forth... a tree that grows on Mount Sinai yielding oil and relish for all to eat.” (23: 20) It is a tree that lives for ages, and it brings endless benefits to man through its oil, wood, leaves and fruit. Once again the text turns from the little example to remind us of the great reality. This tree is not a particular one, and it does not belong to a particular place or direction. It is merely an example given to make the reality easier to understand. Hence, it is described as “neither of the east nor of the west.” Moreover, its oil is not the one we see and know. It is different and far more remarkable: “Its very oil would almost give light even though no fire had touched it.” It is so transparent and bright that it almost gives light without burning. The example is concluded with another remarkable statement: “Light upon light.” Thus, we are back with the original light that bears no comparison.

It is God’s light that dispels all darkness in the heavens and the earth. It is a light whose nature and scope are beyond our comprehension. The aim here is to make our hearts aspire to see this light: “God guides to His light him that wills (to be guided).” Those who open their hearts to the light will see it because it spreads far and wide in the heavens and the earth. It is permanent, unending, unscreened, and it never fades.

Whenever the human heart looks for it, it is sure to find it. In the midst of his confusion, man can always find it providing guidance and establishing a bond between him and his Lord.

This comparison is given by God so as to make our minds able to comprehend the nature of His light. He alone knows the full extent of our ability: “God propounds parables for men, since God alone has full knowledge of all things.”

This light which spreads in abundance in the heavens and earth is best seen in perfect clarity in the houses of God where people’s hearts look up to Him, remember Him, stand in awe of Him and dedicate themselves to Him in preference to all else: “In houses which God has sanctioned to be raised so that His name be remembered in them, there are (such as) extol His limitless glory, morning and evening - people whom neither commerce nor profit can divert from the remembrance of God, and from attending to prayer, and from charity; who are filled with fear of the day when all hearts and eyes will be convulsed; who (only hope) that God may reward them in accordance with the best that they ever did, and lavish His grace upon them. God gives to whom He wills beyond all reckoning.”

There is a close affinity between the scene of the niche in the first verse and the following scene of God’s houses. This is perfectly in line with the Qur’anic method of putting together scenes that have close similarity. Likewise, there is close affinity between the lamp shining with light in the niche and the hearts shining with the light of glorifying God in His houses.

Top


News Community Roundup Editorial Letters to the Editor Features Reflections Appeal Transformations Shades Of Life Opinion Issues Children's Corner Globe Quran Speaks to You Hadith Guidelines Our Dialogue Dr. Zakir Naik- Question Hour Special Space Arab News The Other Side Men Missions & Machines Communal Harmony Bakrid Journey To Islam Matrimonial
Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us

Al-Nasr Exports