Commentary on Ayat Al-Nur

Commentary on Ayat Nur
Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri

Ayat Al-Nur is a crucial ayah in the Qur'an, it straddles the Seen and the Unseen. It takes us to another zone where parables can connect the world of visible lights and shadows to the world of Lights of Lights. Because it is impossible to define God, metaphors are used in this ayah in order to bring a glimpse of Allah's Truth to human perception and imagination.


"God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light may be compared to a niche containing a lamp, the lamp is enclosed in glass, the glass is shining like a radiant star."

We can draw a parallel between the niche and a human's breast; the Light (the Soul) inside that breast is protected by glass (the Heart) which shines like a radiant star.


The glass in its original dense form is made of clay, it protects the light from getting extinguished by violent storms. Its characteristics too are mirrored in the lower Self that has been veiled by shadows and worldly attachments. For the glass to shine like a radiant star it has to be passionately connected to the flow that has been revealed to Prophets who are light-giving stars.

"A lamp lit from a blessed tree, an olive tree that is neither of the east nor of the west."

This Light or our Soul is being illuminated from a sacred tree. Upon reaching maturity the tree will produce fruits. These fruits will go back to become seeds and the cycle starts again. Olive trees have witnessed hundreds to thousands years span. They do not have a defined age limit, they keep on reproducing so they are worthy to be called blessed trees. The tree alludes to the historical growth of man branching in a variety of spiritual experiences and ending with the revelation of the Qur'an. This universal Message is addressed to all mankind, it is neither of the east nor of the west.

"Its oil nearly luminous even without fire touching it."

Illumination brought through the senses and the Soul should bring inner enlightenment: awakening, wisdom and insight. This self effulgent Light has been kindled without fire. It is this energy that Allah has bestowed upon humanity to witness the Heavenly Generosity, the generosity of the Soul within each one of us.

"Light upon Light: God guides to His Light whom He will."

There is a discernible light and multitude of layers of heavenly Lights. We all seek pure light, Light upon Light, we all seek pure consciousness, Consciousness upon Consciousness; Allah guides to the Ultimate Light whoever is ready to receive it. It is part of Allah's Perfect Design.

Approaching The Truth with humility, real trust and utter sincerity would bring the Light of Guidance, the strength of this light and its brightness depends on the luminosity of the glass.

"God propounds parables unto humans, since God alone has full knowledge of all things."

For the limited being to get an understanding of the Limitless without His Grace is unattainable. Through parables the Message becomes accessible for the seeker, as for the friends of God the path of the Glorious Truth is self-evident.

Another magnificent treasure from the Qur'an that complements Ayat al-Kursi in its beauty and majesty.

This succinct commentary reminds us of the illuminating parables given to us, which help us recognize the shadows as well as the Light upon Light that contains all...

Key Terms: Human Heart; Nur; Light; Witnessing

(37:14)