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God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. (An-Nūr 24:35)

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Sūratu’n-Nūr (The Light)

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اَللّٰهُ نُورُ السَّمٰوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ
God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. (An-Nūr 24:35)

It is God Who has brought and brings everything into the Light of existence from the darkness of non-existence and has made the universe an exhibition and a book to be mediated upon, nourishing our consciences with meanings that provide light for our eyes and exhilarate our hearts. Eyes do not see where His Light (of guidance) does not exist, hearts remain deprived of insight, sciences produce whims and fantasies, truths are confused with hypotheses, and existence is a chaos whose meanings remain hidden and cannot be understood. There is neither a substantial philosophy of knowledge in minds nor knowledge about God in hearts.

It is possible only through the Creator of Light, Who illuminates the heavens and the earth with whatever is in them, to advance from knowledge to faith and from faith to true knowledge of God and from true knowledge of God to a deep consciousness of servanthood to Him at the junction of the outer and inner human worlds.

Indeed, it is also through this same Light that the sun and numerous other suns illuminate the universe, the earth is bedecked with innumerable kinds of beauties, and hearts are enlightened with insight and perception. All these phenomena are like seeds from which people can produce knowledge of the Creator and His love and yearning to travel toward Him. It is through this Light as well that people think and form conceptions in the mind, and reason and judge, reaching certain truths by means of deduction, induction, comparison, and analogy or syllogism.

The eyes of human beings see the colors, the harmony among the colors and in everything else, and the eternal poetry in the general harmony of existence and transfer them to the heart as information. The insight takes these pieces of information and re-analyzes and synthesizes them, transforming them into knowledge about or recognition of God. Devotion to God and viewing everything through His Light and knowledge improve the truth of humanity that is contained in a mere drop and transform this tiny drop into an ocean, and human knowledge, which is contained in an atom into a huge sun, and transforms the human heart, which is nothing in itself, into the pulse of the universe. While human beings cannot view the past, the future, and even the present as a whole with their eyes, they feel and sense both themselves and all other sensible things with their insight. They also sense both the pieces and the whole, both the physical entities and their truths (i.e., the Divine Names they are based upon. Each physical entity owes its existence and essential nature to one or several of God’s Names). Furthermore, they sense the Truth of truths, which the universe and whatever occurs in it refers to and indicates, and they come into contact with Him through one of the ranks of certainty, each according to his or her capacity.

The knowledge acquired about God through mental or intellectual and spiritual study of the universe and whatever is and occurs in it may cause confusion concerning the Divine Being. In order to avoid any confusion, while we, as the travelers of this guest-house of the world, are walking among His signs, evidences, and indicators and amidst incidents and witness all this with our physical eyes, we should direct our insight to or focus it on the Creator and Illuminator of Light so that the information we acquire from the universe can be transformed into knowledge of God and so that our feelings and sensations may not cause us confusion. Therefore, the existence must be studied through the Light of lights’ Book which is more radiant than the sun, as declared in the verse: “Now a Proof has come to you from Your Lord” (An-Nisā’ 4:174), and in the light of the Prophethood of the Spirit of existence, namely Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. Just as our world is illuminated by the sun in daytime and by the moon at night, as stated in the verse, “Blessed and Supreme is He Who has set in the sky great constellations and placed in it a (great, radiant) lamp and a shinning moon” (Al-Furqan 25:61), the Prophethood of the Spirit of existence is the sun of our consciences and hearts and the moon of our minds.

Indeed, when Divine Light is not taken into consideration, everything in the universe is nothing but darkness. When we consider everything in the light of God’s Light, then everything—visible or invisible—is illuminated and speaks about its Creator and Sustainer each in an articulate tongue.

To sum up, everything has come into existence, everything occurs as a result of the manifestation of His Light. And everything develops through the manifestation of His Light as well. Light, in the absolute sense, belongs to Him exclusively. To ascribe Light to anything other than Him is either a metaphor of the elite or ignorance of common people. If everyone is unaware of this truth, it is due to the incomprehensible, infinite, and dazzling intensity of His manifestation in the universe and on the horizon of our consciences. Just as being invisible causes incomprehensibility, so does the intensity of manifestation cause invisibility. Sometimes, however, this intensiveness of the manifestations of the Divine Light becomes an aperture for the most subtle spiritual faculty of some people to reflect upon them.

Truly, God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. Starting with the Light of Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, about which the Prophet himself says, “The first thing that God created is my Light,”[1] everything is the manifestation of His Light at different wavelengths and its appearance in different forms in the external world.

Furthermore, I would like to draw attention to a few more points concerning the verse: “God is the Light of the heavens and the earth.” Although both are translated into English as light, the nūr and ishiq are different things. Nūr is something immaterial and can be the immaterial essence of light (ishiq), which is something material. In this translation, we have interpreted this Nūr as “Light.” The verse ascribes Light to God, not light. Unaware of this difference, some question: “The velocity of light is known; how about the velocity of Light?” In order to be able to understand Light, we need to approach the source of Light. The source of Light is God, Who is beyond time and space. Therefore, His Light should be approached and reviewed from this viewpoint. Indeed, light and things of light can be present at millions of places at once and can transfer from one place to another in an instant. As a matter of fact, since the blessed body of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, had acquired such refinement as to be able to accompany his spirit (the law of energy and matter changing into each other may be explanatory for this incident), the Prophet completed his Ascension in a few minutes and returned. Such a journey requires a trillion times a trillion years under normal conditions. However, the authentic narrations inform us that the Prophet’s bed was still warm when he returned from his Ascension. It is as if he transcended time during this journey.

However, one should not assume that Light is not something created. Light (Nūr) is something created. Its Creator is God, Who is the Creator of everything. The Prophetic saying, “The first thing that God created is my Light,”[2] also indicates this. The first nucleus or seed which was brought into existence was the Light of Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings.

To sum up, we should not confuse Light and light. It may be that Light is the source of light, and light is a manifestation of Light in the physical realm of existence.

O God, O Light of all Light, O Illuminator of Light, O Fashioner of Light, O Creator of Light! Illuminate our hearts and senses with the Light of knowledge of You, and confirm us with a spirit from Your Presence; and, O God, bestow blessings on our master Muhammad, whom You sent as a shining moon, and on his Family and Companions, who followed him strictly.

[1] Al-‘Ajlūnī, Kashfu’l-Khafā, Vol. I, pp. 311–312.
[2] Ibid.