Ayat an-Nur

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Egyptian mosque lamp, 1360 CE

The Ayat an-Nur (Arabic: "the Sign of Light" or the Verse of Light) is the 35th verse of the 24th sura of the Qur'an, Sura an-Nur. The verse is renowned for its remarkable beauty and imagery, and perhaps more than any other verse lends itself to mystical or esoteric readings of the Qur'an. The verse was very commonly used in the decoration of mosque lamps.


[Translation by Ali Quli Qara'i]


Perhaps more than any other, this single ayat suggests only mystical interpretations, as the metaphor is completely coherent, but it does not surrender an obvious meaning. Hence it was and remains a key Qur'anic passage to many Sufis and Muslim Philosophers into the present day, who argue for esoteric readings of the Qur'an. Most noteworthy amongst the intellectual and spiritual geniuses who have puzzled over Ayat an-Nur is al-Ghazali (d. 1111), whose reflections on this verse, as well as the nature of divine Light is collected in his masterpiece Mishkat al-Anwar (the "Niche of Lights").

Often employed by Sufis and Muslim Philosophers, the Light Verse testifies of God as the "Light of the heavens and the earth". The short metaphor which follows, is both visual enough to be grasped by anyone, and yet suggests realms of meaning beyond any literal reading of the Book. This verse is also the primary source of one of the 99 Names of God: an-Nur,(النور) "The Light".

Commentators on Ayat an-Nur include:

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