Verse of light
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The verse of light (Arabic: آیة النور, translit. āyat an-nūr) is the 35th verse of the 24th Sura of the Quran, 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 Quran.
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.— Translation by Sahih International
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:
- Fakhr al-Din al-Razi
- Ibn al-'Arabi
- Mulla Sadra
- Hakeem Noor-ud-Din
- Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad
- Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya
- Ayat al-Kursi
- Esoteric interpretation of the Qur'an
- Nūr (Islam)
- Sufi Texts
- Surat Al-Nur
- Bowering, Gerhard 'The Light Verse: Quranic Text and Sufi Interpretation'