Noorun Alaa Noor // Light Upon Light
اللَّهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ ۖ الْمِصْبَاحُ فِي زُجَاجَةٍ ۖ الزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ يُوقَدُ مِن شَجَرَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ زَيْتُونَةٍ لَّا شَرْقِيَّةٍ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِيءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌ ۚ نُّورٌ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ ۗ يَهْدِي اللَّهُ لِنُورِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌAllah 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.” (24:35)
I have always been fascinated by Aayah 35 in Surah Noor. It’s my favourite aayah in the Qur’aan and this is why.
“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.” Allah is comparing himself to the thing “light” which is what you need to be able to see the universe for what it is. Without light you can’t see anything so without Allah you can’t see anything.
Allah uses a parable here “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 star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree”. It is an ancient invention, in a large room light needs to spread, to do this there’s an arch (a niche) in the wall which is where a lamp goes. Oil is then put into the lamp and because of the shape of the arch this light spreads to the entire room. This niche is called a mishkaat which is the example of Allah’s light.
The arch we speak of is actually your rib cage as it is shaped like an arch. Allah made a hole in it and this hole has a “lamp” which is your heart. The oil used to light up the lamp is something pure which is “neither of the east nor of the west,” you won’t find it anywhere because the oil in the lamp is from Allah. The oil is your rooh.
“whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire.” This oil wants to light up. Noor is a light that doesn’t have any burning or heat in it. It is the light of Allah. The light we have inside of ourselves is not entirely noor, it has an element of daw’ which is also light but this light has burning in it. Why? Because when we experience this light, there’s going to be some pain, some burning and some sacrifices.
“Light upon light”. This lamp inside, this heart has a light that Allah put in it before we even got here and then there’s a second light, the light of revelation that Allah sends. Allah is the way you see reality and revelation is also the way by which you see reality. The light outside will not be of any benefit if you are eyes are closed or if you’re blind. We need the light inside to see. When this light that was put inside your clean heart meets the light of revelation then the two lights collide and the entire entity of the human being inside of him is lit up. Allah calls this Noor Alaa Noor. This light drives darkness away, the sadness goes away, the fears go away and the jealousy goes away. This is Light upon light.
“Allah guides to His light whom He wills.” Allah guides who ever he wants to the light and whoever wants to be guided to the light can also have this light. Allah says that he is willing to give it to you but you have to also be willing to accept it.
“And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.”
For this blog post, I’ve collaborated with my friend, Nuraan Khan, Pen to Pixels. Nuraan and I know each other for about ten years. This aayah is her favourite also and so, we have bonded over a shared love for the same aayah. It is impossible for me to read this aayah without thinking of Nuraan. So, tonight, when you’re reading taraweeh and you read Surah Noor please think of us (and please make dua for us).
You can find Nuraan’s instagram page here.