Al-Nūr Verse | 24:35

Al-Nūr Verse

Al-Nūr Verse (Arabic: آية النور) is verse 35 of Quran 24, which introduces God, the Light of the heavens and the earth

and in a detailed way, describes the manner of this light's shining upon the sky and the earth and how it guides the believers.

Exegetes have interpreted the word "Nūr" in this verse as "the Guide", "the Life-Giver", "the Illuminator", and "Decorator" and mentioned examples for it, including the Quran, faith, divine guidance, the Prophet (s), and Imams (a) of Shi'a.

In some exegeses and hadiths, this verse has been matched with the Prophet (s) and the Ahl al-Bayt (a).

اللَّهُ نورُ السَّماواتِ وَالأَرضِ مَثَلُ نورِهِ كَمِشكاةٍ فيها مِصباحٌ المِصباحُ في زُجاجَةٍ الزُّجاجَةُ كَأَنَّها كَوكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ يوقَدُ مِن شَجَرَةٍ مُبارَكَةٍ زَيتونَةٍ لا شَرقِيَّةٍ وَلا غَربِيَّةٍ يَكادُ زَيتُها يُضيءُ وَلَو لَم تَمسَسهُ نارٌ ۚ نورٌ عَلىٰ نورٍ يَهدِي اللَّهُ لِنورِهِ مَن يَشاءُ وَيَضرِبُ اللَّهُ الأَمثالَ لِلنّاسِ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيءٍ عَليمٌ

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.

The parable of His Light is a niche wherein is a lamp —the lamp is in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star— lit from a blessed olive tree, neither eastern nor western, whose oil almost lights up, though fire should not touch it.

Light upon light. Allah guides to His Light whomever He wishes. Allah draws parables for mankind, and Allah has knowledge of all things.

— Quran 24:35

Message

Al-Nūr Verse is revealed in connection with its previous verses which speak about religious rulings, chastity and fighting with debauchery.1

These verses consider the implementation of divine rulings impossible without faith and thus the light of divine guidance is mentioned afterward.

The verse together with its next verses compares between the believers who are guided by the light of God and disbelievers who are inflicted with condensed layers of darkness.2

Exegetes have proposed different views about al-Nūr Verse, the meaning of its words, its examples and instances and also the way it is related to God.

About the primary and famous meanings of the word "al-Nūr" (the light), Allama Tabataba’i considered it something by which other things are seen, while it is self-evident in its nature and nothing else makes it seen; in other words, he considers "light" which is manifest by nature, but displays other things.

Nūr, in its secondary meaning, refers to anything which reveals tangibles;

therefore, apparent human senses such as hearing, touching, smelling and even non-tangibles such as the intellect which demonstrates the intellectuals have been called light.3

Exegetes interpreted the light in the first part of the verse as "the guide",4 "the Life-Giver",5 "the Illuminator", and "Decorator"6

and with regards to other verses and hadiths, they considered the Quran,7 faith,8 divine guidance,9 the Prophet (s),10 Imams (a) of Shi'a11 and knowledge12

- among its examples.13

In these verses, after mentioning the fact that God is the light of the sky and the earth, the Quran illustrates the light of God in a form of simile.

In this parable, the light of God is likened to a niche wherein is a lamp —the lamp is in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star— lit from a blessed olive tree which is neither eastern nor western.14

Exegetes have mentioned different opinions about what this parable in the al-Nūr Verse refers to:

Some of them considered it a parable for the light of guidance and the knowledge of God in the hearts of believers.

Some exegetes considered it referring to the Prophet (s) and others regarded it as referring to the spirit of obedience and God-wariness which is the cause of goodness and happiness.15

Allama Tabataba'i interpreted it saying that,

“God guides those who have perfect faith, toward His Light, not those who have disbelief; and that the verse does not mean that He guides some people and deprives some others of it.”16

Matching with the Prophet (s) and the Ahl al-Bayt (a)

Some commentaries matched al-Nūr verse with the Ahl al-Bayt (a) of the Prophet (s) based on hadiths:

In these commentaries, the word "mishkat" (niche) has been considered referring to the heart of the Prophet (s) or Lady Fatima (a),

"zujaja" (glass) referring to Imam Alī (a) and his heart

and the phrase "light upon light" referring to Imams (a) of Shi'a who came one after another and were backed by the light of knowledge and wisdom.17

In his al-Tawhīd, al-Sheikh al-Ṣadūq mentioned a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a), in which, God considered the verse of light an example to refer to the Ahl al-Bayt (a):

In this hadith, the Prophet (s) and Imams (a) are introduced among the proofs and signs of God, through whom people were guided toward the unity of God and the benefits of religion, Islamic rulings, obligations and traditions.18

Allama Tabataba'i considered this hadith among the references to some examples and pointing to the best of its examples which are the Prophet (s) and his household (a);

otherwise, the verse could include people other than the Ahl al-Bayt (a) as well, such as prophets (a) and the friends of God.19

  • 1. Tabātabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 121; Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 14, p. 470.
  • 2. Tabātabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 120.
  • 3. Tabātabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 122.
  • 4. Tabarānī, Tafsīr al-Qurān, vol. 4, p. 433; Baḥrānī, al-Burhān, vol. 4, p. 66.
  • 5. Tabātabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 122-123.
  • 6. Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, al-Tafsīr al-kabīr, vol. 23, p. 379.
  • 7. Qurān, 5:15; 7:157.
  • 8. Qurān, 2:257.
  • 9. Qurān, 6:122.
  • 10. Qurān, 33:46.
  • 11. . Ṣadūq, Man lā yaḥḍuruh al-faqīh, vol. 2, p. 613-615.
  • 12. Ibn Ḥayyūn, Daʿāʾim al-Islām, vol. 1, p. 419.
  • 13. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 14, p. 470.
  • 14. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 14, p. 475-476.
  • 15. Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, al-Tafsīr al-kabīr, vol. 23, p. 386-387; Tabrisī, Majma al-bayān, vol. 7, p. 225-227.
  • 16. Tabātabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 126.
  • 17. Ḥuwayzī, Nūr al-Thaqalayn, vol. 3, p. 603.
  • 18. Ṣadūq, al-Tawhīd, p. 157.
  • 19. Tabātabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 141.