Get Our Extension

Nūr (Islam)

From Wikipedia, in a visual modern way

Nūr (Arabic: النور) is a term in Islamic context referring to the "cold light of the night" or "heatless light" i.e. the light of the moon. This light is used as a symbol for "God's guidance" and "knowledge", a symbol of mercy in contrast to Nar, which refers to the diurnal solar "hot light" i.e. fire.[1] In the Quran, God is stated to be "the light (Nūr) of the heavens and the earth" (Verse of Light). Many classical commentators on the Quran compare this to God illuminating the world with understanding, not taken literally. The first and foremost to representatively stand to the concept of nūr muḥammadī (the essence of Muhammad) being the quintessence of everything was Sayyid Abdul Qadir Gilani, who described this idea in his book Sirr ul Asrar.[2] This concept was then preached by his disciples. One of Sayyid Abdul Qadir Gilani's disciples was the Andalusian scholar Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi, who categorized nūr into different levels of understanding from the most profound to the most mundane. Shias believe nūr, in the sense of inner esoteric understanding, is inherited through the Imams, who in turn communicate it to the people.

Discover more about Nūr (Islam) related topics

Glossary of Islam

Glossary of Islam

The following list consists of notable concepts that are derived from Islamic and associated cultural traditions, which are expressed as words in Arabic or Persian language. The main purpose of this list is to disambiguate multiple spellings, to make note of spellings no longer in use for these concepts, to define the concept in one or two lines, to make it easy for one to find and pin down specific concepts, and to provide a guide to unique concepts of Islam all in one place.



The Quran, also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text of Islam, believed by Muslims to be a revelation from God. It is organized in 114 chapters, which consist of verses. In addition to its religious significance, it is widely regarded as the finest work in Arabic literature, and has significantly influenced the Arabic language.

Verse of Light

Verse of Light

The Verse of Light is the 35th verse of the 24th surah of the Quran (Q24:35).



Muhammad was an Arab religious, social, and political leader and the founder of Islam. According to Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet divinely inspired to preach and confirm the monotheistic teachings of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. He is believed to be the Seal of the Prophets within Islam. Muhammad united Arabia into a single Muslim polity, with the Quran as well as his teachings and practices forming the basis of Islamic religious belief.

Abdul Qadir Gilani

Abdul Qadir Gilani

ʿAbdul Qādir Gīlānī, known by admirers as Muḥyī l-Dīn Abū Muḥammad b. Abū Sāliḥ ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī al-Baḡdādī al-Ḥasanī al-Ḥusaynī, was a Sunni Muslim preacher, ascetic, mystic, jurist, and theologian belonging to the Hanbali, and the eponymous founder of the Qadiriyya tariqa of Sufism. The Qadiriyya tariqa is named after him.

Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi

Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi

Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi or, in full Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdallāh ibn al-ʿArabī al-Maʿāfirī al-Ishbīlī born in Sevilla in 1076 and died in Fez in 1148) was a Muslim judge and scholar of Maliki law from al-Andalus. Like Al-Mu'tamid ibn Abbad, Ibn al-Arabi was forced to migrate to Morocco during the reign of the Almoravids. It is reported that he was a student of Al-Ghazali. He was a master of Maliki Jurisprudence. His father was a student of Ibn Hazm. He also contributed to the spread of Ash'ari theology in Spain. A detailed biography about him was written by his contemporary Qadi Ayyad, the Malikite scholar and judge from Ceuta.

Shia Islam

Shia Islam

Shīʿa Islam, otherwise known as Shīʿism or as Shīʿite or Shīʿī Islam, is the second-largest branch of Islam. It holds that the Islamic prophet Muhammad designated ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib as his successor (khalīfa) and the Imam after him, most notably at the event of Ghadir Khumm, but was prevented from succeeding Muhammad as the leader of the Muslims as a result of the choice made by some of Muhammad's other companions (ṣaḥāba) at Saqifah. This view primarily contrasts with that of Sunnī Islam, whose adherents believe that Muhammad did not appoint a successor before his death and consider Abū Bakr, who was appointed caliph by a group of senior Muslims at Saqifah, to be the first rightful (rāshidūn) caliph after Muhammad. Adherents of Shīʿa Islam are called Shīʿa Muslims, Shīʿites, or simply Shīʿa, Shia, or Shīʿīs.


The word nūr comes from the same root as the Hebrew Ohr, the primal light described in the Book of Genesis that was created at the beginning.[3] In Aramaic the term nūr means fire.[4] In Aramaic it became associated with igniting candles, shifting the term to the meaning of fire, while in Arabic nūr became light.[5] The word nūr, or its derivatives, occurs forty-nine times in the Quran. It is used in reference to God, Muhammad, the Quran, the Book, the Torah, the moon and the faithful men and women. Al-nur is often used in contrast with zulumat (darkness) in terms that describe movement from darkness into light, and from ignorance into faith.[6] The word nūr is also used in eight basic referential meanings:[7]

  1. The religion of Islam
  2. Faith
  3. God's commandments and moral laws in the Torah and the Gospels
  4. The light of day
  5. The guiding light that God will give to the faithful on the Day of Resurrection
  6. The commandments and injunctions of the Quran
  7. Justice
  8. The light of the moon

Surah 24 of the Quran contains the Ayat an-Nur, the Verse of Light (Q24:35), which reads, "God is the light of the heavens and the earth; the likeness of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp (the lamp in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star) kindled from a Blessed Tree, an olive that is neither of the East nor of the West whose oil well nigh would shine, even if no fire touched it; light upon light; (God guides to His light whom he will.)"[8] The phrase "light upon light" (nurun 'ala nur) in this sura is often used among Muslims to denote the infinite beauty, guidance and light of God.[6]

Discover more about Quran related topics

Classical commentaries

Al-Tabari (839–923) in his Jami al-bayan says that the best interpretation is to substitute "guide" for "light", as "God is the guide of the heavens and the earth". Other interpretations make God the source of illumination rather than the light itself, as "God lights the heavens and the earth.[9] The Persian scholar Al-Zamakhshari (c. 1074 –1144) says that the phrase "God is the light" is like saying "Zayd is generous and munificent". This does not mean that Zayd is the properties of generosity and munificence, but that he has these properties. Al-Zamakhshari rejected the possibility of attributes separate from God, such as power or knowledge or light, which would be contrary to the unity of God.[9] He interpreted "God is the light of the heavens and the earth" as meaning,

He is the possessor of the light of the heavens and the owner of the light of the heavens. The light of the heavens and the earth is the truth (al-ḥaqq), which can be compared to light in its manifestation and clarification, just as he says, "God is the friend of those who believe; He brings them forth from the shadows to the light (2:257), i.e., from the false to the true (al-ḥaqq).[9]

Al-Ghazali (c. 1058–1111) wrote a treatise on how different types of light should be defined, and how the phrase "God is the light of the heavens and the earth" should be interpreted. In his view, "light" can have three different meanings. The first is the ordinary usage, "an expression of what can be seen in itself and through which other things can be seen, like the sun". In Arabic the word "light" may also refer to the eye, through which perception takes place, and this may be a more appropriate interpretation.[10] The "eye" of the intellect is an even more perfect organ of perception, and "light" may refer to this organ. In this sense "light" may refer to Muhammad, and to a lesser extent to the other prophets and religious scholars. A third interpretation is that "light" is the first light (al-nūr al-awwal) and the real light (al-nūr al-ḥaqq) since it is the only light that does not take its luminosity from some other source. God is light, the only light, the universal light, and he is hidden from mortals because he is pure light, although he is omnipresent. Using the term "light" for any other purpose is metaphor.[11]

Another passage of the Quran states "The earth will shine with the light of its Lord" (Q39:69). Mainstream exegetes take this statement literally. Exegetes of the rationalist Mu'tazila school of theology of the eighth–10th centuries interpreted the word nūr in this passage in the sense of "the truth, the Quran and the proof" rather than the commonplace meaning of "light".[12] Shia exegetes take it to mean "the land of the soul will shine with the Lord's light of justice and truth during the time of Imam al-Mahdi." Sufi exegetes take nūr in this case to mean "justice", or take the statement to mean "God will create a special light to shine on the Earth".[13]

Discover more about Classical commentaries related topics

Nizari Isma'ili belief

The followers of the Nizari Isma'ili sect believe that divine guidance continues to reach Ismailis through the progeny of Muhammad. The Imams have the function of conveying the inner, esoteric understanding to Ismailis. According to Nadia Eboo Jamal, the Imams are "the inheritors of his spiritual knowledge ('ilm), the bearers of the light (nūr) of God and His living proof (hujjah) on earth."[14]

According to the fifth Shiite Imam, Muhammad al-Baqir, the imams are the muḥaddathūn that are mentioned in the Quran, and are the light of God (nūr Allāh).[15] He was asked to comment on the Quranic verse Q64:8, "And believe in Allah and His Messenger and the nūr (light) that We have brought down." He replied that the imams from the Prophet's family were in fact the light of God (nūr Allah) in the heavens and on earth. This spiritual light, passed down from one generation to the next, symbolizes the eternal knowledge that Muhammad passed on to Ali and his descendants.[16]

There seem to be two concepts. The nūr muḥammadī, a light from the side of Adam that is passed down from Prophet to Prophet till Mohammad [17] and then through genealogical descent, while the nūr Allah is inherited at the time the previous possessor dies. The imam has the nūr muḥammadī at birth, but is silent until he receives the nūr Allah.[18] The nūr muḥammadī is the symbol of succession and the substance that connects Adam to Muhammad and Muhammad to the imams. The nūr Allah is the symbol of inspiration and prophecy, which the imams share with the prophets and all men chosen by God.[19]

Sufi belief

To the Sufis, nūr is the first creation of Allah, and all other things and beings were gradually created from it.[20] The Andalusian scholar Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi (1076–1148) elaborated the concept that Muhammad existed before creation. This is the doctrine of An-Nūr al-Muḥammadī, or the Muhammadan Light. The light existed before creation, and everything was created from it. The world is a manifestation of the light, which was incarnated in Adam, the prophets and the Aqṭāb.[21] Ibn al-Arabi wrote, "The creation began with nūr Muhammad. The lord brought the nūr from his own heart."[22] The Persian poet and Sufi theoretician Fariduddin Attar (c. 1145–1221) wrote, "The origin of the soul is the absolute light, nothing else. That means it was the light of Muhammad, nothing else."[23]

To the Sufis, light also represents what we know about our inner self, and darkness what we do not know.[24] Ibn Arabi distinguished three types of light: Nûr al-anwâr (The Light of lights), which reveals the absolute reality in its most transcendent aspect, anwâr al-ma'âni (The Light of the intellect) and anwâr al-tabi'â (The Light of nature).[25] The Persian philosopher Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi (1155–91) wrote, "Allah's essence is the original creative Light, always illuminating existence. It constantly manifests the universe and energizes it. Allah's Essential Light radiates the whole cosmos in abundant beauty and completeness. To be illuminated by this process means nothing less than salvation."[24]

Muḥammad ibn Muṣṭafá Khādimī (c. 1702–1763) writes that, "protecting the spiritual heart from worldly thoughts can be accomplished by the spiritual heart's benefiting (receiving "Fayd" (nūr [light]) from the spiritual heart of the perfect Sufi master. The spiritual luminance (Fayd) flows from one spiritual heart to another by way of love. Death of the perfect spiritual guide or his being in a distant country does not stop the flow of spiritual luminance (Fayd)."[26] According to Inayat Khan (1882–1927) the soul is like a ray of the sun. The angels, who do not have physical bodies, are made of nūr, or light, that comes from the divine Sun, the Spirit of God. All souls are made of Nur, or contain some part of that essence, which is the essence of the whole manifestation.[27]

Discover more about Sufi belief related topics

Medieval Bengal

Hans Harder writes that in medieval Bengali Sufi cosmology the nūr muḥammad is personified. The nūr, created by the lord, in turn brought the world into existence from drops of perspiration (gharma, ghām) that appeared in different parts of his body.[28] He says the concept is common in Maizbhandari writings, often used to describe the saints or their sensual qualities.[28] Gholan Morshed wrote an article that identified nūr with Muhammad.[28] In his Islāmī prabandha sambhār he wrote that nūr-i muḥammadī is the moving force behind all creation, and should not be seen as separate from Muhammad.[29] He wrote,

At the background [antāral] of the creation, His [Muhammad's] nūr, the nūr-i muḥammadī, is at play [līlārta] as the life-breath of the creation. This is the highest secret of the play of creation, full of science [bijňān'may]. Therefore, Muhammad is not any special person, not confined to any specific country, race [jāti] or by any border. In the form of nūr-i muḥammadī, He is qualified [guņānvita] by the same quality as Allah.[29]

Lutfunnesa Hosaini wrote a treatise Tāohīd, part of which discusses the creation of the world from the time when nūr-i muḥammadī emerged to the time when Muhammad was born. She writes that the nūr-i muḥammadī was divided into four parts. From the first three emerged the pen, the book of destinies and the throne. The fourth part was divided into four. From the first three emerged the angels that held the throne, the seat of the throne, and all of the other angels.[28] The last part gave rise to the sky, the earth, heaven and hell, and to a part that then gave the light of the eyes of the believers, the light of their hearts, the light of the tawḥīd and the kalima.[28]

Lutfunnesa Hosaini gives another account with reference to a Quranic commentary named Tafsīr-i rūḥ al-kitāb. In this version nūr-i muḥammadī was also used to create the nūr of Adam, stored on his back. The angels gathered behind Adam to see the light. Adam asked the Lord to put the light on his forehead, and the angels came round to where he could see them. Adam wanted to see the light himself, and the Lord transferred it to his index finger. When Adam came down to earth, lights entered his back again, and the nūr was then passed from Adam through the backs of various men and the wombs of women down to the parents of Muhammad.[30]

Modern Turkey

Said Nursî founded the Nur movement in Turkey, stressing patience and spiritual withdrawal after the secularization program of the 1930s and 1940s had crushed revolt.[31] The adherents of the Nur movement and the Sufi orders in general consider that societal change will be enabled if individuals are redeemed. Negative feelings such as anger and shame should be controlled through inner mobilization.[32] Said Nursî's textually-based Nurcu movement evolved from the Sufi orders. According to the Nurcu leader Mehmet Kırkıncı, "the sun of Islam set down in 1925 and dawned in 1950 with the writings of Said, which enlighten the darkness of Kemalism with its light [nur]."[33]

Source: "Nūr (Islam)", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, February 11th),ūr_(Islam).

Enjoying Wikiz?

Enjoying Wikiz?

Get our FREE extension now!

See also
  1. ^ McAuliffe, Jane Dammen. 2003. Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān 3. DC: Georgetown University. p. 45.
  2. ^ Sayyid Abdul Qadir Gilani in Sirr ul Asrar, discourse 1
  3. ^ Douglas-Klotz 2005, p. 255.
  4. ^ "Strong's Hebrew: 5135. נוּר (nur) -- a fire".
  5. ^ Gzella, Holger (30 November 2018). Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Volume XVI. ISBN 9781467451307.
  6. ^ a b Fatani 2006, p. 467.
  7. ^ Fatani 2006, p. 468.
  8. ^ Irwin 2011, p. 27-28.
  9. ^ a b c Sands 2006, p. 110.
  10. ^ Sands 2006, p. 115.
  11. ^ Sands 2006, p. 116.
  12. ^ Abdul-Raof 2012, p. 36.
  13. ^ Abdul-Raof 2012, p. 148.
  14. ^ Alibhai 2002, p. 3.
  15. ^ Lalani 2000, p. 79.
  16. ^ Lalani 2000, p. 80.
  17. ^ Norman Daniel, Islam and the West, Edinburgh University Press 1960 p.21.
  18. ^ Lalani 2000, p. 81.
  19. ^ Lalani 2000, p. 82.
  20. ^ Harder 2011, p. 72.
  21. ^ Trimingham 1998, p. 161.
  22. ^ Dehlvi 2012, p. 54.
  23. ^ Dehlvi 2012, p. 53.
  24. ^ a b Douglas-Klotz 2005, p. 253.
  25. ^ Yahya 1991, pp. 35–44.
  26. ^ Khādimī 2005, p. 7.
  27. ^ Khan 2013, p. 80.
  28. ^ a b c d e Harder 2011, p. 73.
  29. ^ a b Harder 2011, p. 75.
  30. ^ Harder 2011, p. 74.
  31. ^ Yavuz 2003, p. 33.
  32. ^ Yavuz 2003, p. 30.
  33. ^ Yavuz 2003, p. 57.

The content of this page is based on the Wikipedia article written by contributors..
The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Licence & the media files are available under their respective licenses; additional terms may apply.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use & Privacy Policy.
Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization & is not affiliated to