“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.” [Qur’an, 24:35]
Light is one of those words that we use to describe a multitude of things, from rays of the sun to a person having ‘light’. It is abstract, it is intangible, but instinctively we know what it means. Light is good—it illuminates.
So I wanted to know Allah’s Name, Al-Nur (Light). I could only imagine it to be beautiful and deep. And it is. Al-Ghazali said about Allah’s Name: “Al-Nur is the visible One by whom everything is made visible, for what is visible in itself and makes others visible is called ‘light’.” It is related to Al-Dhaahir—the Manifest.
In the dictionary it is described as illumination, or rays or anything that gives off a light. Ibn al-Atheer said about Allah’s Name al-Nur: He is the One whom the blind see by His light, and the astray are guided by His guidance.
Abu al-Mansoor said in his tafseer (exegesis) of the abovementioned verse that the example of His Light of guidance in the heart of a believer is like a niche within which is a lamp. The light of Allah subahanhu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) is the lamp that illuminates the heart of the believer.
We all know what light is, and we recognize it when we see it. But the meaning of Allah’s Name al-Nur becomes more apparent when we understand that light, as al-Ghazali said, is making the invisible, visible.
Read that again—what is invisible, is made visible.
This is why light is related to guidance. When a person is astray, he is within darkness—meaning he is lost, he does not know where to go, he is uncertain about everything. But with light, and specifically the Light of Allah, everything becomes clear. It is all visible now. There is understanding. There is clarity. And with that comes certainty. Ibn ‘Abbas radi Allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him)said: “Light is Allah, the Guide, Who guides with His Divine Guidance whomsoever He wills by showing him the truth and inspiring him to follow it.”
In the Qur’an Allah says:
“There has come to you from Allah a light and a clear Book.” [Qur’an, 5:15]
The light in this verse is the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, and he is sent from Allah (swt). This is why reading the seerah (story) and understanding the sunnah (traditions) of the Prophet ﷺ is so important—because everything is made clear by it. We have the best example in him, and through him, Allah (swt) makes many things clear for us.
Sheikh Ratib an-Nabulsi, in describing this Name, said, “Allah, All Mighty, is Light, so if you get connected with Him, you derive from His Divine Spiritual Light spiritual comfort and peacefulness, your vision of things and matters is rightly guided.”
This can help us understand the hadith (sayings of the Prophet ﷺ) when Allah (swt) describes what happens when He loves a servant:
“When I love him, I shall be his hearing with which he shall hear, his sight with which he shall see, his hands with which he shall hold, and his feet with which he shall walk. And if he asks (something) of Me, I shall surely give it to him, and if he takes refuge in Me, I shall certainly grant him it.” (Bukhari)
Another aspect to the meaning of this Name is described by an-Nabulsi: “A person may sometimes face a problem that seems to be unsolvable. In this case, the person is, as it were, in darkness in regards to such problem. But then all of a sudden, an idea flashes in his mind and enables him to solve the problem.” This is a spiritual light.
There are two beautiful du`a’s (supplications) in this regard, one from the Qur’an and one from the sunnah:
يقولون ربنا أتمم لنا نورنا واغفر لنا إنك على كل شيء قدير
“They will say: ‘Our Lord, perfect for us our light and forgive us. Indeed, You are over all things competent.’” [Qur’an, 66:8]
اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ فِي قَلْبِي نُورًا وَفِي بَصَرِي نُورًا وَفِي سَمْعِي نُورًا وَفِي لِسَانِي نُورًا وَعَنْ يَمِينِي نُورًا وَعَنْ يَسَارِي نُورًا, اللَّهُمَّ وَاجْعَلْ مِنْ فَوْقِي نُورًا وَمِنْ تَحْتِي نُورًا وَاجْعَلْ أَمَامِي نُورًا وَمِنْ خَلْفِي نُورً
اللَّهُمَّ وَأَعْظِمْ لِي نُورًا
“O Allah! Make for me Light in my heart, Light in my vision, Light in my hearing, Light on my right, Light on my left, Light above me, Light under me, Light in front of me, Light behind me, Light in my hair, Light in my skin, Light in my flesh, Light in my blood, and Light in my bones. O Allah Grant me Light!” [Tirmidhi]
May we truly seek the Light of Allah and may our path be illuminated by none other than His Light. Ameen.