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The Quran => Q&As with Joseph Islam - Information Only => : Reader Questions November 14, 2011, 06:44:34 AM

: Meaning of 'Nur' from the Quran
: Reader Questions November 14, 2011, 06:44:34 AM
Salaamun aleikum, Brother Joseph.

Insha'Allah, I hope you and yours are well.
I wonder if you could help me resolve a "knotty issue" and in the process perhaps generate another article for your website.
The issue concerns the interpretation of the word noor as used in The Qur'an, specifically with reference to (10:5) and (24:35). According to my CURRENT understanding, the word noor means "light which subsists by means of something else". (This appears to be the meaning contained in Lane's Lexicon.)
This rendering of noor is fine when used to describe the moon as in (10:5) since the light of the moon is clearly a derived/borrowed/reflected light; however, this rendering becomes problematic since its use in (24:35) would entail that Allah/God is the derived/borrowed/reflected light of the heavens and the earth.
In this connection, I should like to refer you to the following website:
I am confident that there is a way to resolve this issue, but am currently unable to do so. Can you help?
: Re: Meaning of 'Nur' from the Quran
: Joseph Islam November 14, 2011, 06:46:17 AM

Walaikum salaam,

I hope my following article helps in some small way, God willing.


Your brother,

: Re: Meaning of 'Nur' from the Quran
: Reader Questions November 14, 2011, 06:53:00 AM
Salaamun aleikum, Br Joseph.

Jazak'Allah khairun katheeran for the article which clears up the matter as far as I am concerned; I had wondered during the day whether the problem might be taking a restrictive (khass) meaning for a word which actually has a general ('amm) scope and you appear to have confirmed my suspicions.
However, is it POSSIBLE that interpreting noor as "reflected light" in (10:5) and (71:16) remains valid since it constitutes a restriction of the general meaning of the word, but ONLY as applied to the moon as a created thing (shayy-un)? I appreciate your position vis-a-vis interpretations of The Qur'an that project "scientific miracles" on to the text; nonetheless, it is interesting to note that different terms HAVE been used for the sun and moon with respect to their illuminative capacities.

What do you think?
: Re: Meaning of 'Nur' from the Quran
: Joseph Islam November 14, 2011, 06:54:39 AM
Salamun Alaikum,

You are absolutely correct in that two descriptions both of which carry an 'inherent' meaning of light are used to describe two separate celestial bodies and should not be ignored for proper intellectual enquiry. However, I am not sure whether that translates exclusively into a 'source - reflection' relationship as I'm sure you will agree. The word 'Nur' could easily have a wider encompassing meaning even whilst being mentioned along with the sun's description. But of course, not being exclusive doesn't mean that a possibility does not exist. I do accept that. However, the Quran is primarily being spoken in the language of its recipients (7th century Arabs) so that they understand clearly what is being said. As simply a hypothetical, maybe the moon was considered a 'light that guides' in the depths of the night land in ancient Arabia which is not so incongruent with its inherent meanings as used by the Quran. Moonlight aside, even the momentary lightening flash has been described as giving some sort of small window of opportunity by the flash it provides so that they could continue walking (2:20). I can only imagine what the moon would provide in terms of its illumination.

I hope that helps,