Let There be Light!
In the world there is night and day, darkness and light, guidance and error, and good and evil. Each of the positive aspects of these pairs relates to nûr, a sought after spiritual good. It is what brings meaning and clarity to life. In a physical sense, dark and light are integral features of the world: All praise is for God, who created the heavens and the earth, and made darkness and light (Quran, 6:1); It is He who made the sun a radiance and made the moon a light and determined its phases so that you may know the number of years and calculation. God has not created all of this except in truth. He makes distinct the signs for a people who know (10:5). The Quran makes the invitation to notice how God has created the seven-storied heavens, one above the other, and that He has placed the moon therein as a light and has placed the sun as a torch (71:15–16). Nûr, however, appears more poignantly in the Quran when referring to such non-material aspects of life as truth, spiritual knowledge, and certitude. Their opposites are associated with darkness, and they are doubt, ignorance, arrogance, misguidance, idolatry, superstition, and the like. People who plunge into adoring false gods are led from the natural state of light to that of utter darkness. God is the Protector of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light. As for those who disbelieve, their patrons are false gods, who bring them out of the light into darkness. Such are the inmates of the Fire, abiding therein forever (2:257). God associates His scriptures with light (4:174, 5:44-46, 64:8); and He associates His messengers with light as well. But unquestionably, the greatest association with the word nûr is found in one of the most celebrated verses of the Quran, the Verse of Light: God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The likeness of His Light is that of a niche in which there is a lamp. The lamp in a glass. The glass as a glittering star, lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil nearly glows, though no fire has touched it. Light upon Light! God guides to His Light whomever He wills, and He gives examples to people. And God knows everything (24:34). Nûr comes from the root base nawara, from which nâr (fire) is derived.