This is my humble attempts to put what I learnt two weekends ago about the most beautiful verse in the Quran. Please forgive me if I understood this verse wrongly, or if my words does not display the beauty and amazement we experienced on that day.To those who are strangers to the concept of the soul, I would encourage you to go on reading this article, or else leave it alone. If you want to understand further about the relationship of the soul and happiness, you could read The Alchemy of Happiness, by Al Ghazali, which I will hopefully write a review of one of these days. Or better still, read the Quran and discover the wonders within.
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Imagine a niche in a wall, within which there’s a lamp. This lamp is made of the brightest, shiniest glass, and the oil inside is made of the purest olive oil. This oil is so pure that it would almost glow, and is ready to catch fire.
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We were blessed to have been able to attend lectures on tafsir of Surah An-Nur for four weekends in August recently, by Brother Nouman Ali Khan. His explanation about sanctity of marriage changed my views about this sacred relationship altogether. He also spoke about how guarding the strength of family bonds would determine how the society stands.
During the final session, he spoke beautifully about the ayat of Nur (the verse of light, 24:35), of which tears of wonder and self discovery flowed steadily from our eyes. We further understood why we are here and what we should do with our time in this world.
This ayat gave a clear example of how the physical light is parallel to the unseen light within us.
The niche in this verse is likened to the rib cage of human, which protects the heart in his chest. The heart, while it is beating, keep us alive, keeps our soul and body together. When our hearts stop beating, the soul leaves the body and we’d be physically dead.
The soul comes from a place in the heaven. It is brought down to the earth by the angels, blown into our small clumps of cells after a few weeks of our conception. This soul is bright as light, and is delivered by a creation which is made of light.
So now the soul (or heart) of a human is like the lamp in the niche, made of pure glass, fuelled by pure oil, always wanting to catch fire so that it could light up the world around it. Having come from the heavens, it yearns for the perfection that it has felt over there, that perfection being God itself, who is Lowing, Caring, Merciful, Beautiful, Generous, Kind, Beneficent, Powerful, Rich, and all other perfect attributes of His. The soul will miss the words of God, which could only come from one source in this world – The Quran.
The Quran is called the light because it gives guidance for mankind to live their lives. It is the word of Allah that would illuminate the world like the sun brightens the day.
“Light Upon Light”
So when the bright soul meets the light of the Quran, it is likened to the fire that lits up the pure oil and shines up the world around them.
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The human potential.
Now that we know that the soul comes from a place in the heavens, we should understand the heavenly potential of each human being. Every soul is like a lamp which needs to be lit up, and not only that, the glass needs to be polished so that the lamp could shine brightly.
There is potential in every human being to do good and light the lives of people around us.
There is hope in each and every one of us that we could all be good people.
There is hope that we could keep on lighting the oil and cleaning the glass so that we could keep on illuminating the world around us, shining bright like a star in a dark night.
No matter how far we’ve gone, how dusty we have let our glass to be, we know that it is made from the brightest of glass, and that the pure oil within is always ready to catch fire.
No matter how far we’ve gone, we could always clean this lamp up and put it on fire again.
Allah only wants us to come back to Him, no matter where we have been before.
And our souls missed the nearness to Him, knowing the divine place where it came from. So make it eternally happy by bringing it close to God.
We can all be good people.
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Ar-Razi, when commenting on the verse of light, said that in the darkness of night, we could see the stars shining up the skies. The angels, on the other hand, could see the shining hearts of the believers, amongst the darkness of this world, the way we see the stars.
Make us feel like wanting to shine all the time, doesn’t it?
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Brother Nouman said, many of us wished that we were born in the golden era of Islam, where people live in peace and harmony, where knowledge and science go hand-in-hand, because ultimately true science will make us closer to the Creator of Science Himself. Only He has the answers for our questions.
Many of us wished we were born in that golden era so that everybody is safe and faith will grow.
But, he said, we were born in such a dark age as it is now, because Allah SWT saw the potential in us to light up the dark.
We were born in the midst of lies, wars, corruption, hatred, racism, promiscuity, scandals and all else, because Allah saw in us the soul that could illuminate the gloom in this world.
Now it is time to look into ourselves, and strive to fulfil that potential.
May Allah shower us with guidance that would light up our paths through to Him.
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The following link is a lecture by Brother Nouman Ali Khan, which is a shorter version of what we heard two weeks ago: