35 Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The metaphor of His Light is that of a niche in which there is a lamp, the lamp inside a glass, the glass like a brilliant star, lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor of the west, its oil all but giving off light even if no fire touches it. Light upon Light. Allah guides to His Light whoever He wills and Allah makes metaphors for mankind and Allah has knowledge of all things.
Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.
Al-Qurtubi: In a metaphorical senses, the Arabs say that “the words have light” and “an illuminating (lit. light-giving) Book.” It is permissible to say that Allah is Light in order to praise Him because He brought things into existence, and He began and originated the light of all things, but He is not one the physical lights that can be perceived by the senses. Nonetheless, the Prophet was asked, “Have you seen your Lord?” and he said, “I saw him as a Light.” As for it being guidance, Ubayy ibn Ka’b and others said, “He adorned the heavens and the earth with the sun, the moon, and the stars, and He adorned the earth with the Prophets, scholars and believers.
” The metaphor of His Light is that of a niche in which there is a lamp,
Al-Qurtubi: He means the quality of His proofs which He casts into the heart of the believer, and these proofs are called “light”. Allah calls His Book a light when He says, “We sent down a clear Light to you,” (4:174) He also called His Prophet light where He says, “A Light has come to you from Allah and a clear Book.” (5:15) This is because the Book guides and makes clear, as does the Messenger. One reason that it is related to Allah is because He makes the proof firm and clarifies it. There is another possible meaning for this ayat which is that the second sentence resembles the first if light is taken to mean guidance and the perfection of the brilliant evidence and proofs of Allah in His creation. The pronoun in “his light” can also refer to the believer.
the lamp inside a glass,
The lamp is the wick with its fire. The meaning is that it is in lamp made of glass because the light in it is more radiant because it is a transparent body.
Ruh al-Bayan: The purpose of the lamp in the glass and the glass in the niche is that when the place is more constricted, the light is more intense. If the place where the lamp is placed is an open area, then the light disperses.
the glass as though it were a dazzling star
Al-Qurtubi: Ka’b al-Ahbar makes the entire ayat refer to Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, i.e. the metaphor of the light of Muhammad. The Messenger of Allah is the niche, the lamp is prophethood, the glass is his heart, the blessed tree is the revelation and the angels who brought it, the oil are the proofs and evidence which contain the revelation. If it is taken to mean the believer, as Ubayy says, then the niche is his chest, the lamp is belief and knowledge, the glass is his heart, and the oil are the proofs and evidence it contains. Jalalayn: “Dazzling” means that it drives away the darkness. The word is derived from “pearls” because of its purity.
lit from a blessed tree, an olive,
Al-Qurtubi: This can also be taken to refer to the Prophets, in which case Adam would be the blessed tree, or Ibrahim because Allah called him “blessed”.
neither of the east nor of the west, its oil all but giving off light even if no fire touches it.
To stress the description of its purity and excellence. Ibn Kathir: Ibn ‘Abbas went to Ka’b al-Ahbar and said, “Tell me about His words, ‘its oil all but giving off light even if no fire touches it.'” He said, “Muhammad almost makes things clear to people without even saying that he is a Prophet, even as the oil almost shines.” Or the proofs of the Qur’an almost make things clear before they are recited.
Light upon light
Ibn Kathir: Ibn ‘Abbas says that it means the belief and actions of the slave of Allah. Ubayy ibn Ka’b said, “The believer is transformed into five lights: his words are light, his actions are light, his going in is light, his going out is light, and he will go to light on Day of Rising to the Garden.” It is also said that “light upon light” is the light of the QurÕan and the light of belief when they are joined together.
Allah guides to His Light whoever He wills
i.e. Allah gives success to whomever He will in finding the truth, i.e. Islam.
Ibn Kathir: It has come in hadith, “Allah Almighty created creation in darkness and then on that day He cast to them some of His light. Whoever got some of His light on that day is guided, and whoever missed is misguided.” So it is said that He knows the one who deserves to be guided from the one who deserves misguidance. Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “There are four kinds of hearts: a divested heart which is like the lamp and shines; a covered heart which is tied up in its covering; an inverted heart, and a doubled heart. The divested heart is the heart of the believer which is his lamp in which is his light. The covered heart is the heart of the unbeliever. The inverted heart is the heart of the hypocrite who recognised and then denied. The doubled heart is the heart which contains both belief and hypocrisy. The likeness of belief in it is like the plant which good water extends, and the example of hypocrisy in it is like the wound which is spread by blood and pus. It is dominated by whichever of them is dominant.”
and Allah makes metaphors for mankind
Jalalayn: He makes things clear for them so that they reflect and believe.
[as-Sawi: Thus no doubt will affect the believer. He will see with insight as he sees with his actual eyes. Allah makes both bear witness. In hadith, “Fear the perspicacity of the believer. He sees by the light of Allah.”