"Allah is the light of the heavens and the
earth . . .
" The Light is one of the ninety-nine Beautiful Names of
Allah. Light is that by which things become known. Things may exist in
the dark, but they cannot be seen. Light may be physical, such as the
light of the sun or the moon, or intelligible, like the light of the
intellect. The latter is that which illuminates the darkness of
ignorance with the light of knowledge. Total darkness is non-existence,
thus light is that which brings created beings out of non-existence into
existence. It is the creative act of Allah and this is one of the
meanings of "Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth . . . " The
other meaning is that every light in the universe is but a reflection of
His mercy, every knowledge a reflection of His knowledge and so on.
"Allah created His creation in darkness," said the Prophet, may Allah′s
blessings and peace be upon him, "then He sprayed them with His light.
Those whom this light reached became rightly guided, while those it did
not went astray." And he also said, as recorded by Muslim, "Allah,
August and Majestic is He, wrote the destinies of creation fifty
thousand years before He created the Heavens and the earth. His throne
was on the water. Among what He wrote in the Remembrance, which is the
Mother of the Book, was: Muhammad is the Seal of the Prophets."
The Mother of the Book is the source of all knowledge, including the
Divine Scriptures. It is the essential knowledge of Allah before He
created creation. This is why it is said to have been written fifty
thousand years before the creation of the cosmos, a symbolic number,
since without stars and planets there cannot be days and years as we
understand them. Allah conceived His creation in the darkness of
non-existence, then with the light of His creative act brought them out
into existence. Thus the First Light was created, a being appearing
against the dark background of non-existence. "The first thing that
Allah created was the Intellect," said the Prophet, may Allah′s
blessings and peace be upon him. He also said, "The first thing that
Allah created was the Pen," which amounts to the same thing, since the
first intellect is the primordial light in its passive aspect as
recipient of the knowledge of what is to be, while the Pen is the
primordial light in its active aspect of writing this knowledge on the
Guarded Tablet at Allah′s command. "The first thing that Allah created
was the Pen and He said to it: Write! So it wrote what is to be
forever." From this First light all of creation, with all its varied
forms and meanings till the end of time unfolds.
This primordial light is what is called the Light of the Prophet, may
Allah′s blessings and peace be upon him, since he is the created being
who received the major share of it.
This light was also the origin of the lights of all other Divine
Messengers, of the angels, then of all other beings. This is how the
Prophet, may Allah′s blessings and peace be upon him, could say, "I was
a Prophet when Adam was still between spirit and body." The power of
this light made the Prophet′s radiation so powerful, once he appeared on
earth, that Allah calls him in the Qur′ān "an illuminating lamp." Allah
describes the sun and the moon in the Qur′ān in like manner explaining
what He means when He says that He made the Prophet "an illuminating
lamp". He says, Exalted is He:
"Have you not seen how Allah created seven heavens, one upon another,
and set the moon therein for a light and the sun for a lamp?" Here he
calls the sun a lamp, since its light is self generating, but He calls
the moon a light, since it but reflects the light of the sun. He also
says: " . . . and We appointed a blazing lamp . . . " The sun′s light
being extremely hot, and, "Blessed is He who has set in the sky
constellations and has set among them a lamp and an illuminating
moon," emphasizing that the moon′s light is light with little heat.
When He says to His Prophet: " O Prophet! We have sent you as a witness,
a bearer of good tidings and of warning, as a caller to Allah by His
leave and as an illuminating lamp," we are to understand that He made
the Prophet′s light powerful like the sun′s, yet cool and gentle like
Some of the Prophet′s Companions were given to see this light as even
brighter than both the sun and moon, for when they walked with him they
noticed that he cast no shadow on the ground. Those who saw him in
the full moon noticed that his blessed face was brighter than the
moon, and one of his Companions, the Lady Rubayyi′, when asked to
describe him, said, "My son, had you seen him, you would have seen the
The light of the Prophet shone at all levels, it filled the material,
intermediary, and spiritual worlds, dispelled the darkness of ignorance
and disbelief, and is destined to shine across the ages till the end of
That this light was physical as well as spiritual was borne witness to
most amply by those who saw him. The Lady ′A′isha related how she saw
the whole room fill with light one night, then it disappeared, while the
Prophet continued to call upon his Lord. Then the room was filled with a
more powerful light which disappeared after a while. She asked, "What is
this light I saw?" he said, "Did you see it. O ′A′isha?" "Yes!" she
replied. He said, "I asked my Lord to grant me my nation, so He gave me
one third of them, so I praised and thanked Him. Then I asked him for
the rest, so He gave me the second third, so I praised and thanked Him.
Then I asked Him for the third third, so He gave it to me, so I praised
and thanked Him." She said that had she wished to pick up mustard seeds
from the floor by this light she could have. In the famous
description of Hind ibn Abi Hala, the Prophet′s stepson from the Lady
Khadija, "He was dignified and awe inspiring, radiant like the radiance
of the moon on the night it is full.." Ibn ′Abbas described how he
saw light shining from between his front teeth. Abu Qursafa, as a
boy, went to swear allegiance to the Prophet, together with his mother
and her sister. When they returned home they told him, " My son, we have
never seen the like of this man, nor anyone better looking, cleaner
dressed, or gentler in his speech; and we saw as if light came out of
his mouth." 
The Companion, Anas ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, described
how, when the Prophet, may Allah′s blessings and peace be upon him,
first entered Madina, everything in Madina became illuminated, then how,
when he died and was buried in ′A′isha′s house, the light disappeared.
The phenomenon was so sudden that the Companions were taken aback and
began to doubt whether they had really seen it at all. This was only
the light that radiated from his blessed body, for Madina itself
remained the city of Light. Abū Hurayra related how they were once
praying the night prayer of ′isha′ with the Prophet, may Allah′s
blessings and peace be upon him, and how the Prophet′s two grandsons,
Hasan and Husayn climbed onto his back when he went into prostration.
When he was done, he placed one of them on his right and the other on
his left. Abu Hurayra asked him, "Shall I take them to their mother?" he
replied, "No". Then a flashing light appeared from the sky, at which he
said, "go to your mother." The light remained until they reached their
house. On another occasion, Anas said that, he accompanied the
Prophet, may Allah′s blessings and peace be upon him, into the mosque
where they saw a group of people with their hands raised, calling upon
Allah. "Do you see in their hands what I see?" the Prophet asked. "What
is in their hands?" Anas replied. "There is light in their hands,"
replied the Prophet. "Ask Allah the Exalted to show it to me," said
Anas. At the Prophet′s request, Allah showed it to him. Another
Companion, ′Amr al-Aslami, said that once they were with the Messenger
of Allah, may Allah′s blessings and peace be upon him, on a very dark
night and lost sight of each other. Suddenly ′Amr′s fingers shone forth
with light so that they were able to round up their mounts and gather
again. The light did not subside until they had finished gathering.
As for Abu ′Abs, he used to pray all the ritual prayers with the
Prophet, then walk back to his dwelling, at Bani Haritha, a few miles
from the mosque. One dark rainy night, as he left the mosque, his staff
was made to shine forth with light, so that he was able to walk safely
back home. On another occasion, two of the Prophet′s well known
Companions, Usayd ibn Hudayr and ′Abbad ibn Bishr, left the Prophet′s
house late on a dark night. The tip of the staff of one of them lit up
like a lamp and they were able to walk. When they came to the place
where they usually separated, the tip of the other staff lit up as
well. Another Companion, al-Tufayl ibn ′Amr al-Dawsi, related how,
after his first visit to the Prophet, when he accepted Islam and was
about to return to his tribe, he asked the Prophet for a sign to show to
his tribesmen, at which a light shone forth from his forehead. He
exclaimed, "Not here, O Messenger of Allah, they will think it a curse!"
So the Prophet moved the light to the tip of al- Tufayl′s whip. He
returned to his tribe with this sign and most of them accepted
Ka′b ibn Zuhayr was a man from Muzayna, a highly talented poet who used
his talent against the Prophet and his companions. Once Macca had been
conquered, Ka`b became a fugitive, aware that the Prophet had ordered
him executed. His brother, Bujayr, was a Muslim. He sent Ka`b a message
that he could only save his life if he came to the Prophet repentant.
Eventually Ka′b agreed to this and came to Madina. The Prophet forgave
him, accepted his allegiance, and gave him permission to recite the poem
Ka`b had composed in his praise. When he came to the passage,
The Messenger is a light that illuminates
An Indian blade, a sword of Allah, drawn
the Prophet took his mantle, his burda, off his shoulders and put it on
Ka′b′s, signalling his approval. The best swords of the time were Indian
and the connection between the sword and light is that the Arabs
signalled the way by standing on a rise and brandishing their swords in
the sun so that they flashed like mirrors.
The light of the Prophet, may Allah′s blessings and peace be upon him,
manifested itself in his parents before and during his birth. His
biographers have recorded that his father′s forehead shone with a light
that a certain women from Quraysh noticed. She knew that the appearance
of the Prophet of the End of Time was imminent and felt that ′Abdallah′s
forehead signalled his being the father. She offered herself to him, but
he refused. Soon `Abdallah married Amina and, once she became pregnant
with the Prophet, the light vanished from his forehead. He met the same
woman again and, noticing she no longer wanted him, asked her why. She
replied that he no longer carried that light on his forehead. As for
the Lady Amina, when she became pregnant, she saw in a dream-vision that
a light came out of her that lit the land as far north as Syria. She
was also told in her dream that she was pregnant with the master of this
nation and the sign of that would be that when she gave birth to him she
would see a light coming out with him that would shine over Bosra in
Syria. "When this happens", she was told, "call him Muhammad!" "I
conceived him, " she said, "and suffered no pain until delivery. When he
came out of me, a light came out with him that illuminated everything
from East to West�" She also said, "I saw the night I gave birth to
him a light that illuminated the palaces of Syria so that I saw
them." The Prophet later confirmed this, saying, "My mother saw,
when she gave birth to me, a light that illuminated the palaces of
Bosra." This event is also a very clear indication of the spiritual
rank of the Lady Amina, for to see the palaces of Bosra in Syria from
Macca demands the spiritual vision of sanctity. Later, the Prophet′s
uncle, ′Abbas, praised him with a poem, on his return from the Tabuk
You, when you were born, the earth was lit
And with your light so was the sky
When his wet-nurse, Halima al-Sa′dia, first saw him, she laid her hand
on him and he smiled. "When he smiled," she said, "a light appeared from
his mouth that rose to the sky."
Some of the hadiths we have quoted here have strong chains of
transmission, others have weaker ones. However, we must remember that
even the chain considered weakest by Muslim traditionists, is quite
acceptable as historical proof to any professional historian on this
planet, being far stronger and better authenticated than other ancient
sources he works with. It is also well known that weak traditions
strengthen each other so as to become acceptable. This is why those we
have quoted here have been accepted by leading scholars such as Ibn
Kathir, Suyutiī, Qadi ′Iyad, Bayhaqi, and others.
Commenting on the verse of Qur′an,"There has come to you a light from
Allah and a clear Book," the well-known scholar al-Alusi says that
the light in question is no other than the Prophet, may Allah′s
blessings and peace be upon him. He quotes the Follower, Qatada, as an
authoritative source for this opinion, as well as other well known
scholars, pointing out that this is the most logical interpretation of
the construction of the verse, Then he also quotes those whose opinion
differs from his in that they believe that both the light and the Book
refer to the Qur′an. This he does because real Muslim scholars, as
opposed to pretenders and impostors, always quote, along with their own
opinions, the contrary opinions of other reputable scholars, so weighing
both in the most objective manner. Qadi ′Iyad, the famous author of
al-Shifa′, is of the same opinion as al-Alusi, an opinion, an opinion
shared by other famous commentators such as Tabari and Qurtubi.
Although the Prophet′s light is the most powerful in the universe, since
he is the nearest created being to Allah, it is not the only one. Angels
are made of light, the Qur′an is light, the spirits of human beings are
light, faith is light, knowledge is light, the sun, the moon, and the
stars are also lights. The light of each human being depends upon his
faith, knowledge, and virtue. Thus the most powerful lights are those of
Divine Messengers, then those of Prophets, saints, virtuous believers,
and finally those of sinful believers. This is the hierarchy of human
beings. Both the first and the last are human, all have lights, and all
are slaves of Allah, but the distance between the top of the pyramid and
its bottom is so great that those at the bottom, in Paradise, will see
those at the top as distant as, in this world, we see the stars at
1. Qur'an (24:35).
4. Tabarani and Abu Nu'aym.
5. Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Hakim and Bukhari in Tarikh.
6. Qur'an (71:16)
7. Qur'an (78:13)
8. Qur'an (25:61)
9. Qur'an (33:45 - 46)
10. al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi
13. Abu Nu'aym in Hilia
14. Tirmidhi in Shama'il, Bayhaqi, Tabarani, and ibn Sa'd.
15. Tirmidhi in Shama'il, Darimi, Bayhaqi, Tabarani, and ibn Asakir.
17. Ahmad and ibn Majah.
18. Ahmad, Hakim, and Bazar.
19. Bukhari in Tarikh, Bayhaqi and Abu Nu'aym.
20. Bukhari in Tarikh, Bayhaqi and Tabarani.
23. Ibn Hisham.
24. Ibn Ishaq
25. Ibn Hisham.
26. Hakim, Ahmad, Bazzar, Tabarani, Bayhaqi and Abu Nu'aym.
27. Ibn Ishaq.
28. Ibn Sa'd, Tabarani, Bayhaqi, Abu Nu'aym, Abu Ya'la, Ibn Ishaq.
29. Abu Nu'aym.
30. Ibn Sa'd, Ahmad, Bazzar, Tabarani, Abu Nu'aym, and ibn Asakir.
31. Hakim and Tabarani.
32. Bayhaqi, Abu Nu'aym, ibn Ishaq and Abu Ya'la.
33. Qur'an (5:15)