Al-Nur Verse

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Al-Nur Verse
Verse's Information
SuraQur'an 24
AboutDescribing God as a light of heavens and the earth

Al-Nūr Verse (Arabic: آية النور) is verse thirty five of Quran 24, which introduces God, the Light of the heavens and the earth and in an imaginal way, describes the manner of this light's shining upon the sky and the earth and how it guides the believers.

Exegetes have interpreted the word "nur" in this verse as "the guide", "the life-giver", "the illuminator", and "decorator" and mentioned examples for it, including the Qur'an, faith, divine guidance, the Prophet (s), and Imams (a) of Shi'a. In some exegeses and hadiths, this verse has been matched with the Prophet (s) and the Ahl al-Bayt (a).

Text and Translation


Al-Nur Verse is revealed in connection with its previous verses which speak about religious rulings, chastity and fighting with debauchery.[1] These verses consider the implementation of divine rulings impossible without faith and thus the light of divine guidance is mentioned afterward. The verse together with its next verses compares between the believers who are guided by the light of God and disbelievers who are inflicted with condensed layers of darkness.[2]

Exegetes have proposed different views about al-Nur Verse, the meaning of its words, its examples and instances and also the way it is related to God.

About the primary and famous meanings of the word "al-nur" (the light), 'Allama Tabataba'i considered it something by which other things are seen, while it is self-evident in its nature and nothing else makes it seen; in other words, he considers "light" which is manifest by nature, but displays other things. Nur, in its secondary meaning, refers to anything which reveals tangibles; therefore, apparent human senses such as hearing, touching, smelling and even non-tangibles such as the intellect which demonstrates the intellectuals have been called light.[3]

Exegetes interpreted the light in the first part of the verse as "the guide",[4] "the life-giver",[5] "the illuminator", and "decorator"[6] and with regards to other verses and hadiths, they considered the Qur'an,[7] faith,[8] divine guidance,[9] the Prophet (s),[10] Imams (a) of Shi'a[11] and knowledge[12] among its examples.[13]

In these verses, after mentioning the fact that God is the light of the sky and the earth, the Qur'an illustrates the light of God in an imaginal form.

In this parable, the light of God is likened to a niche wherein is a lamp —the lamp is in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star— lit from a blessed olive tree which is neither eastern nor western.[14]

Exegetes have mentioned different opinions about what this parable in the al-Nur Verse refers to. Some of them considered it a parable for the light of guidance and the knowledge of God in the hearts of believers. Some exegetes considered it referring to the Prophet (s) and others regarded it as referring to the spirit of obedience and God-wariness which is the cause of goodness and happiness.[15]

'Allama Tabataba'i interpreted it saying that, God guides those who have perfect faith, toward His Light, not those who have disbelief; and that the verse does not mean that He guides some people and deprives some others of it.[16]

Matching with the Prophet (s) and the Ahl al-Bayt (a)

Some commentaries matched al-Nur verse with the Ahl al-Bayt (a) of the Prophet (s) based on hadiths. In these commentaries, the word "mishkat" (niche) has been considered referring to the heart of the Prophet (s) or Lady Fatima (a), "zujaja" (glass) referring to Imam Ali (a) and his heart and the phrase "light upon light" referring to Imams (a) of Shi'a who came one after another and were backed by the light of knowledge and wisdom.[17]

In his al-Tawhid, al-Shaykh al-Saduq mentioned a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a), in which, God considered the verse of light an example to refer to the Ahl al-Bayt (a). In this hadith, the Prophet (s) and Imams (a) are introduced among the proofs and signs of God, through whom people were guided toward the unity of God and the benefits of religion, Islamic rulings, obligations and traditions.[18]

'Allama Tabataba'i considered this hadith among the references to some examples and pointing to the best of its examples which are the Prophet (s) and his household (a); otherwise, the verse could include people other than the Ahl al-Bayt (a) as well, such as prophets (a) and the friends of God.[19]


Different works have discussed and explained about al-Nur Verse, among which, aya-yi Nur by Mulla Sadra al-Shirazi and al-Ghazali's Mishkat al-anwar can be mentioned.


  1. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 121; Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 14, p. 470.
  2. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 120.
  3. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 122.
  4. Ṭabarānī, Tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 4, p. 433; Baḥrānī, al-Burhān, vol. 4, p. 66.
  5. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 122-123.
  6. Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, al-Tafsīr al-kabīr, vol. 23, p. 379.
  7. Qurʾān, 5:15; 7:157.
  8. Qurʾān, 2:257.
  9. Qurʾān, 6:122.
  10. Qurʾān, 33:46.
  11. Ṣadūq, Man lā yaḥḍuruh al-faqīh, vol. 2, p. 613-615.
  12. Ibn Ḥayyūn, Daʿāʾim al-Islām, vol. 1, p. 419.
  13. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 14, p. 470.
  14. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 14, p. 475-476.
  15. Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, al-Tafsīr al-kabīr, vol. 23, p. 386-387; Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 7, p. 225-227.
  16. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 126.
  17. Ḥuwiyzī, Nūr al-thaqalayn, vol. 3, p. 603.
  18. Ṣadūq, al-Tawḥīd, p. 157.
  19. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 141.


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  • Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, Muḥammad b. ʿUmar al-. Al-Tafsīr al-kabīr. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 1420 AH.
  • Ḥuwiyzī, ʿAbd ʿAlī b. Jumʿa. Nūr al-thaqalayn. Edited by Hāshim Rasūlī Maḥallātī. Qom: Ismāʿīlīyān, 1415 AH.
  • Qāḍī Nuʿmān, Ibn Ḥayyūn Maghribī. Daʿāʾim al-Islām. Edited by Āṣif Fiyḍī. Qom: Muʾassisat Āl al-Bayt, 1385 Sh.
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  • Ṣadūq, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-. Man lā yaḥḍuruh al-faqīh. Edited by ʿAlī Akbar Ghaffārī. Qom: Daftar-i Intishārāt-i Islāmī, 1413 AH.
  • Ṭabarānī, Sulaymān b. Aḥmad. Tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Jordan: Dār al-Kitāb al-Thiqāfī, 2008.
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  • Ṭabrisī, Faḍl b. al-Ḥasan al-. Majmaʿ al-bayān. Tehran: Nāṣir Khusru, 1372 Sh.