By Jamila Cassim
I am awoken for my fajr salaah by the chirping of birds chorusing a prayer to Almighty Allah; slowly at first, then building to a crescendo until dawn breaks in the sky. My prayer offered with an acute awareness of peace and tranquillity all around me and within my being. Slowly and rhythmically I utter the praises of Allah and remember my purpose. I climb into bed to have a little nap before the start of a hectic day. As I drift into sleep, peace envelops and cradles me in its serenity- The Noor of Allah.
The telephone rings incessantly; e-mails to answer; appointments to meet. An irate client has to be calmed down. The pain in my head gets worse and worse. I pull out my prayer mat at noon, close my office door, and instruct my secretary to hold all calls. As I offer my afternoon prayer, all traces of anger and frustration dissipate. Calmness comes to me with a ready- made solution for my practice- The Noor of Allah.
By late afternoon I am weary, wired up and exhausted. I offer my late afternoon prayer (Asr Salaah). I feel centred and rejuvenated when I place my head on the prayer mat – The Noor of Allah.
Those chirpy, loud and feisty birds that sing from dawn to dusk remind me once again that it is time for the sunset prayer. The praises of Allah are uttered and those dear to me that have passed on are remembered – The Noor of Allah.
The evening prayer, a symbol of the end of my day enables me to re-evaluate my life and beg for forgiveness for the wrongs I may have committed unwittingly, but above all I thank Allah for all that he has bestowed upon me- The Noor of Allah.
I watch my daughter on her wedding day. My heart fills with pride, joy and sadness. Her beautiful young face looks so grown-up, yet so innocent. Her face is a mixture of worry, sadness and happiness -sadness for saying goodbye to her childhood, trepidation and happiness for a future that she anticipates. The light upon her face shines bright and pure. We hug each other, mother and daughter; an ache in our hearts and the knowledge of a new chapter beginning- The Noor of Allah.
I look at my granddaughter’s face through the car window and see a broad, beautiful smile, and sparkling eyes; excitement radiating throughout her little body when she sees me. She flings open the car door and darts towards me with arms outstretched. She literally jumps into my arms, burying her little head into my neck as I sway her back and forth. Tears roll down my cheeks-The Noor of Allah.
After an exhausting day I flop onto my lounge suite, too tired to move. I start to unwind. My loving husband places a blanket over me and brings me a cup of tea-The Noor of Allah
The air is crisp; the birds chirp melodiously; the sky is blue without a trace of cloud. I feel the prickly sensation of green grass between my toes; an ant crawls tentatively across my feet. I can hear the gentle trickle of water from the fountain; a kaleidoscope of butterflies flutter amongst roses, azaleas, poppy’s and lilies. My eyes bathe in the sheer magnificence and beauty of the surrounding landscape. Towering and majestic mountains with their grey-blue hue add to a magnificent backdrop- The Noor of Allah
Thousands of pilgrims descend upon the mounts of Arafat in a sea of white. The pervading stillness of Allah’s presence permeates the air. There is a depth to the tranquillity that pierces the atmosphere with its holiness. The soul connects with its creator asking for forgiveness; tears streaming down the face and heart aching. Allah’s illuminating, brilliant and sacred Noor descends amongst all of us (pilgrams).
The Noor of Allah can best be described in the Holy Qur’an Surah 23:35:
“God is the light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of his light. It is as if there were a Niche and within it a lamp. The lamp enclosed in glass. The glass as it were a brilliant star. Lit from a blessed tree, An olive, neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil is well-nigh. Luminous, though fire scare touch it: light upon light! God doth guide whom he will to his light . God doth set forth parables for men: and God doth know all things”
According to Yusuf Ali in his translation of the above Surah, ”The physical light is but a reflection of the true light in the world of reality, and that light is God. We can only think of God in terms of our phenomenal experience, and in the phenomenal world. Light is the purest thing we know. But the physical has drawbacks incidental to its physical nature, example (1) it is dependent upon some source external to itself; (2) It is a passing phenomenon. If we take it to be part of motion or energy it is unstable; like all physical phenomenon; (3) it is dependent on space and time, its speed is 186000 miles per second; and there are stars whose light takes thousands of years before it reaches earth. The perfect light of God is free from any such defects”
When Yusuf Ali examines the “parable of light”, the first three points centre round the niche, the lamp and the glass. In the days before electricity, eastern houses were built with a small recess in the wall that was fairly high from the ground in which a lamp was housed. The height enabled it to minimize the shadows and diffuse light into the room. The background of the wall and sides of the niche helped throw light into the room; and if the wall was white-washed, it also acted as a reflector. The opening in the front made way for the light. Thus, with regards to spiritual light, it is above that. It has its own niche in the “revelation” and in other signs of Allah. It is accessible to all of mankind, but closed to those who refuse its rays.
Yususf Ali goes on to explain that the lamp is the core of spiritual truth, the real illumination and the niche is nothing without it. The niche is actually made for it. The lamp itself acts as a filtration device and protects the light from moths; so too with regards to mankind, spiritual truth has to be filtered through human language or intelligence, thus enabling it to become intelligible to them.
The glass by itself does not shine, but when light passes through it, it shines brilliantly. So too, says Yusuf Ali, does man who preach the word of God become illuminated themselves. They become the illuminating media through which light spreads and permeates human life.
The olive tree is neither conspicuous nor is it impressive, but its oils are of a high purity. It is used in sacred ceremonies and forms a wholesome food. According to Yusuf Ali, the oil is so pure that it is like light itself, even before it is lit. So too with spiritual light: It illuminates the mind and understanding imperceptibly, almost before the human mind and heart have been consciously touched by it.
From the above it can be determined that Allah’s Noor is eternal, spiritual, brilliant, infinite and immeasurable. It is evident in all of Allah’s creations: In the plants, insects, birds, bees, nature and most of all, mankind. It is in our deeds, actions and small instances of human interaction which create joy that Allah’s Noor manifests. The light of Allah can also be seen in our good deeds and prayers, and sometimes t the Noor of Allah can be best seen through the acquisition of spiritual knowledge through the study of the Holy Quran and the imparting of that knowledge to mankind.