Who is Allah? Allah is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
Who is Allah? Allah is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth
The word “Noor” meaning “light” appears multiple times in different places both in the Quran and Hadith of the Prophet. It appears in the context of describing Allah as well as in relation to the guidance that Allah gives to the believers and to whatever He wills. Various Du’as also reference asking Allah for this light.
Based on the verses in the Quran, their interpretation, and hadith of the Prophet (S.A.W.), this article provides some of the information related to this “Light of Allah” and related topics.
The Verse in Surah Noor – “Allah Being the Light of the Heavens and the Earth”
In Surah An-Noor, Allah mentions that “Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth”. This verse has been interpreted by many in various ways discussing whether it refers to a physical or a different description of Allah. Here is the Quranic verse:
Verse Translation: “Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as (if there were) a niche and within it a lamp, the lamp is in glass, the glass as it were a brilliant star, lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east (i.e. neither it gets sun-rays only in the morning) nor of the west (i.e. nor it gets sun-rays only in the afternoon, but it is exposed to the sun all day long), whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself), though no fire touched it. Light upon Light! Allah guides to His Light whom He wills. And Allah sets forth parables for mankind, and Allah is All-Knower of everything.” (Surah Noor, 24:35)
This parable has been explained in multiple ways. Here are some that Ibn Kathir expounds upon in his tafsir based on the narrations and descriptions of earlier generation of scholars.
- “Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth” means that He is a Guide to the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth (Ibn Abbas)
- The light in the verse is ‘light that illuminates the heavens and the earth’ (Ismaeel Ibn Abdur-Rahmaan Ibn Abu Kareemah, also known as As-Suddi)
- “There is no night or day with your Lord; the Light of the Throne comes from the Light of His Face.” (As narrated by Ibn Masuud)
- The ‘lamp’ in the verse refers to the light that in turn refers to the Quran and the faith that is in a believer’s heart. (Ubayy bin Kaab).
- “Light upon Light” refers to the faith and the deeds that are based on that faith. (Ibn Abbas)
- “Light upon Light” refers to the ‘light of the Quran” combined with the “light of the faith” (Ismaeel Ibn Abdur-Rahmaan Ibn Abu Kareemah, also known as As-Suddi)
“Light” is also the Guidance from Allah
In general, the word “light” is used to mean “guidance” as evidenced by these Quranic verses in which Allah tells us about the believers whom He brings out from darkness into the light and about the non-believers whom He sends astray into the darkness.
Verse Translation:“Allah is the Wali (Protector or Guardian) of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into light. But as for those who disbelieve, their Auliya (supporters and helpers) are Taghut [false deities and false leaders, etc.], they bring them out from light into darkness… (Surah Al-Baqarah (2: Part of verse 257)
Another Quran verse states:
Verse Translation: “Whomsoever Allah sends astray, none can guide him; and He lets them wander blindly in their transgressions.” (Surah Al-Araaf, 7:186)
Can Believers See Allah or Allah’s Light?
This question has been pondered by many in that whether anyone has seen Allah or if He can be seen by anyone in this world. To answer this question, let’s refer to Quran and Hadith where we first see whether any of the prophets, who were higher in stature, were able to see Allah in this life.
Did Prophet Muhammad See Allah?
Everyone is familiar with the famous night journey that the Prophet (S.A.W.) took to the seven heavens (mentioned in Surah Israa of Quran). Regarding that journey, Abu Dharr (a renowned companion of the Prophet) asked him if he saw Allah in that journey. That question and answer is mentioned in the following two ahadith (narrations of the Prophet).
Abu Dharr said: “I asked the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.), ‘Have you seen your Lord?’ He said, ‘(There is) light, how could I see Him?’” This light, which prevented him from seeing Him, is a veil of light, which is further explained in the hadith of Abu Moosa, who said, “The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) stood up and told us five things: ‘Allah does not sleep, and it is not befitting that He should sleep. He lowers the scale and lifts it. The deeds in the night are taken up to Him before the deeds of the day, and the deeds of the day before the deeds of the night. His veil is the light. If He were to withdraw it (the veil), the splendor of His countenance would consume His creation as far as His sight reaches.’” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad and Muslim, 263).
We also know the story of Prophet Moses (Musa) (aleyhis Salaam) when the prophet asked to see Allah. To that Allah replied that Prophet Musa won’t be able to withstand the beauty of His light. To prove the point, Allah asked Prophet Musa to instead look at the nearby mountain. When Allah slightly exposed His light to the mountain, the mountain was leveled to dust. This is explained in the following verses of Surah Al-Aaraaf.
Verse Translation: “And when Musa (Moses) came at the time and place appointed by Us, and his Lord spoke to him, he said: “O my Lord! Show me (Yourself), that I may look upon You.” Allah said: “You cannot see Me, but look upon the mountain if it stands still in its place then you shall see Me.” So when his Lord appeared to the mountain , He made it collapse to dust, and Musa (Moses) fell down unconscious. Then when he recovered his senses he said: “Glory be to You, I turn to You in repentance and I am the first of the believers.” (Surat Al A’raf 7: Verse 143)
Allah Can’t Be Seen in this Life
Therefore, based on the above discussion, it is not possible to see Allah in this life. Allah tells us in the Quran:
Verse Translation: “No vision can grasp Him, but His Grasp is over all vision. He is the Most Subtle and Courteous, Well-Acquainted with all things.” (Surah al-An’aam, 6:103).
Believers Will See Allah in the Hereafter
We know from Quran and hadith that the believers will be able to see Allah in the hereafter. According to a hadith:
Abu Hurayrah said: “Some people said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, will we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?’ He said, ‘Do you have any doubt about seeing the sun on a cloudless day?’ They said, ‘No, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘Do you have any doubt about seeing the full moon on a cloudless night?’ They said, ‘No, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘You will see Him just as clearly on the Day of Resurrection…’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 6088).
Seeing Allah in a Dream
Scholars have agreed that it is possible to see Allah in a dream. The following hadith supports that interpretation.
Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘My Lord came to me tonight in the most beautiful form.’ I think he said, ‘in a dream. He said, “O Muhammad, do you know what the chiefs on high disputed about?” I said, “No.” He put His hand between my shoulder-blades and I could feel its coolness on my chest (or just beneath my throat), then I knew everything that is in the heavens and on earth. He said, “O Muhammad, do you know what the chiefs on high disputed about?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “About expiation, and expiation is staying in the mosque after prayers, walking to join congregational prayers, and doing wudoo’ properly in adverse conditions. Whoever does that will live a good life and die a good death, and will be as sinless as the day his mother bore him.” He said, “O Muhammad, when you pray, say Allahumma innee as’aluka fa’l al-khayraat wa tark al-munkaraat wa hubb al-masaakeen, wa idha aradta bi ‘ibaadika fitnatan fa’qbudni ilayka ghayra maftoon (O Allah, I ask you to make me do good deeds and avoid evil deeds, and to make me love the poor and wretched. If You want to test Your slaves, then take me unto You without subjecting me to the trial). One’s status in Paradise may be raised by spreading the greeting of salaam, feeding others, and praying at night when people are sleeping.”’” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad, 16026; and by al-Tirmidhi, 3159, who said it is a saheeh hasan hadeeth).
Prophet Was Not Created from Light
In this context, it is also important to note that the Prophet (S.A.W.) was not created from light as some people mistakenly believe so. As the Quran states, the Prophet was a human being and created just like humans. The Quran states:
Verse Translation: “Say (O Muhammad): I am only a man like you. It has been inspired to me that your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God i.e. Allah)…” (Surah al-Kahf, 18: Part of verse 110)]
The Prophet (S.A.W) also told us:
“The angels were created from light, and Iblees was created from smokeless fire, and Adam (peace be upon him) was created from what has been described to you.” Narrated by Muslim, 2996.
Shaykh al-Albaani (may Allah have mercy on him) said in ‘al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (458)’:
“This indicates that the well known hadith (report) that is in circulation among people – ‘The first thing that Allah created was the light of your Prophet, O Jaabir’ – is false, and so are other similar ahadith (narrations) which say that the Prophet (S.A.W.) was created from light. This hadith clearly indicates that the angels are the only ones who are created from light, not Adam and his sons, so pay heed and do not be negligent.”
Regardless of the various explanations about Allah, the scholars have stressed that it’s not appropriate to visualize Allah in any specific form. As the Quran states:
Verse Translation: “There is nothing like Him, and He is the All-Hearer, All-Seer.” (Surah al-Shoora, 42:11).
So, when there is nothing like Him, it’s not appropriate to visualize Allah similar to something that He has created.
The Term “Light” as it is Used in Du’as (Supplications)
There are many Du’as that mention light. A few are mentioned in the following:
“O Allah, I am your slave, the son of your slave. My forehead is in Your Hand. Your judgment of me is inescapable. Your trial of me is just. I am invoking You by all the names that You call Yourself, that You have taught to anyone in Your creation, that You have mentioned in Your Book, or that You have kept unknown. Let the Qur’an be delight of my heart, the light of my chest, the remover of my sadness and the pacifier of my worries.” (Source: Musnad Ahmad # 1/391)
Another Du’a is the following:
“O Allah, all praise belongs to You. You are the light of the heavens and the earth, and all praises belongs to You, You are the Sustainer of the heavens and the earth and all praise belongs to You, You are the Lord of the heavens and the earth and whoever is in them. You are the Truth, Your promise is true, Your words are true and the meeting with You is true. The Garden (Paradise) is true, the Fire is true, the prophets are true and the Hour is true. O Allah, I submit to You, and I accept You, and I trust in You, and I turn to You, and I argue by You, and I summon to You for judgment. So, forgive me what I have sent before me and what I have left behind, what I have kept secret and what I have proclaimed, You are my God – there is no God but You.” (Source: Sahih Al-Bukhari # 4799)
“O Allah, place light in my heart, and light in my sight, and light in my hearing, and light to my right, and light to my left, and light on my top, and light under me, and light before me and light behind me, and light for me.” (Source: Sahih Bukhari)
في امان الله
Your brother in Islam,
A Shabbir Ahmed