Nature of Light in Context with Quranic Verses
“Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. His light is as if there were a lustrous niche wherein is a lamp. The lamp is inside a glass-globe. The globe is, as it were, a glittering star. The lamp is lit from the oil of a blessed tree – an olive neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil well-high would shine forth even through fire touched at not. Light upon light! Allah guided to His light whosever He pleases. And Allah set forth parables for men, and Allah knows all things full well.” (Sura-Al-Noor: 36. Translation by Malik Ghulam Farid).
Hazrat Khalifatul Massih the 2nd (May Allah be pleased with him) explained this verse (Allah-hu Noor-us Samawat-e wal Arz) as all the things either belonging to the earth or heaven (sky) can be illuminated only by getting light from Allah and light can never remain restricted and it definitely comes out and spreads. Light can said to be of two kinds one which helps us in vision and nourishes our bodies and other that enables us to recognize our Lord and nourishes our souls. So one kind of light is responsible for sight and the other for insight. In this essay I would like to explain these two kinds of light. Light in our physical world is defined as “The energy that makes visible, the objects producing it and those reflecting it”. It is the medium of illumination that makes sight possible. The sun sends a wide spectrum of electromagnetic radiation to the earth much of which is absorbed by atmosphere. The sun’s radiation includes low frequency x-rays and gamma rays. Visible portion (i.e. light) is small fraction of this broad electromagnetic spectrum. Light has different properties some of which are the following:-
1. Light radiates (spreads out) from its sources.
2. Light can travel through vacuum.
3. Speed of traveling in vacuum is 300,000,000 / meter per second.
4. Materials gain energy when they absorb light and by gaining energy. These objects can be illuminated.
5. Red hot refers to objects which when heated, emit red light e.g. an iron bar on heating at 700 degree Celsius becomes red hot.
6. Light travels in a straight line.
7. Light can reflect i.e. bounce back and images can be formed when light reflects back from some shiny surface like mirror.
8. Light can refract i.e. deviates from the original direction while changing the medium like when light passes from air to water, it changes its trajectory.
9. Light can be absorbed by an object.
10. When light falls on an uneven surface its scatters.
White light is not a single color but a mixture of all the colors of the visible spectrum. A human eye contains millions of light sensitive cells which are classified as rods and cones. Rods respond is weak light but cannot detect color differences. Cones are sensitive to color. Retina (light sensitive layer in eye) has three types of cones which respond to red, green and blue light as primary colors. Human beings can see hundreds of colors which are seen due to simultaneous stimulation of three basic types of cones e.g. if red and green cones are stimulated simultaneously the eye can see yellow color. Red objects look red because of reflection of red light. White reflects all three kinds of colors red, green blue and black objects do not reflect any color of light. Objects can be luminous or non-luminous. Luminous objects emit their own light. Examples of luminous objects are sun, lamps, lasers etc. Must objects are non-luminous which can be seen only if light bounces back from them e.g. the moon. Beside vision, another way in which light is very important is that it nourishes the bodies to all living things. In the process of photosynthesis, plants prepare their food by utilizing energy from sunlight. Food prepared by plants is a major source of nourishment for the living things on earth.
The other kind of light in the spiritual world is that which provides insight and nourishes the souls of us human beings. This light has analogous properties to the light of the physical world.
1. Prophets sent by Allah are the source of light. They spread their light which they have received from their Lord.
2. Those who purify themselves like a mirror can become the image of many attributes of Allah.
3. Those who move on the straight path of righteousness get light from Allah.
4. Those who trying to get light from Allah have been promised by their lord that He will reach to them with speed that is beyond their imagination.
5. Hazrat Promised Messiah used the example, that when iron-bars remain in fire they get the same red hot of looks of the fire itself, to relate to the condition people who have a strong relationship with their lord. They always feel the love of their lord as if they have, for a long time, in the fire of love for Allah, become like the fire.
6. “On the day when some faces shall be white, some faces shall be black.”(AL-Imran 107). The faces of the people who have reflected the different colors (attributes) of Allah in their lives have been promised to appear bright on the Day of Judgment. As we observe in our lives that there is always a reflection of good and evil on faces e.g. the darkness on a thief’s or a liar’s face especially when detected by others.
The sun is the central point of the physical world whereas the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) is the central point of the spiritual world. Allah declared him to be ‘Sirajan Muneera’ (light giving lamp). His reformers who are like stars and planets revolving around him and receive light from Him. The Holy Prophet as the spiritual sun provides all the ways of nourishment of our souls.
“O (you who are) the sun of the (spiritual) kingdom of beauty and Grace! You have (spiritually) illuminated (the inhabitants of) the desert as well as cities.” (AL-QASSEDA). Another example is the Promised Messiah (as) who is like a moon, getting light from his spiritual father, Prophet (P.B.U.H) and illuminating the prevalent darkness of evil in the world. The Holy Prophet (Peace be upon Him) once said, “My companions are like shining stars. Those who follow them will get guidance”. Those who are on the right path have been depicted by The Quran as if “Their light is running before them and on their right side.” (AL-HADID: 13). Just as there are blind, dumb and deaf people in this world, there also are the same kind of people in the spiritual world who shall remain the same hereafter. The Holy Quran mentions these spiritually disable people as, “They are deaf, dumb and blind, and they will not return.” (Al-Baqara: 19). But those who are blind in physical world are not necessarily blind in spiritual world and they may have a strong spiritual insight as Hazrat Hassan Bin Sabit did, expressed in one of his poems as:
“You were the reflecting lens of my eye, which has been blinded today. Whoever now die after thee I had feared thee demise only.”
The light that comes from Allah cannot exactly be understood but it surely is the source of all different kinds of lights and is the source of luminance and illuminating bodies in both spiritual and physical worlds.
As the bodies of human beings cannot sustain without light (photosynthesis – as source of food and oxygen), our souls also cannot sustain without getting any light from Allah and the soul of those who are not getting any light from Allah will be ruined. We believe that as Allah has gifted human beings with eyes for sight, he has also gifted us eyes for insight. As by just opening the eyes light can enter and make the colorful vision possible, there is a need to open the spiritual eyes to get the light from our Lord.