Creation of the Light of Muhammad

Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani

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“Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth,” means He is the Creator of everything other than Himself. Whatever is other than Allāh (swt)s called mā siwa-Allāh. Allāh created everything: the Pen, heavens, earth, Paradise, Angels, universes, galaxies, stars, planets and the smallest objects. “And the similitude to His light,” is given by Allāh as an example for us to understand as, “a niche wherein is a lamp.” Mishkāt is usually translated as niche, but in fact it is a bundle like those in which garlic comes, tied together. “Mathalu nūrihi ka mishkātin,” can be translated, “the example of His light is like a bundle.” Within the bundle there is a misbāh. Misbāh comes from sabah, meaning an instrument that produces light, as in His saying to the Prophet Lūt (as):

أَلَيْسَ الصُّبْحُ بِقَرِيبٍ

Is not the light of dawn near? (Hūd 11:81)

K‘a`b al-Āhbar (r) makes the entire verse refer to Muhammad (s)―it is a metaphor of the light of Muhammad. The Messenger of Allāh (s) 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.[5] True scholars and awlīyā’say that this verse refers to the Prophet (s). ‘`Alī al-Qārī in commenting upon the Prophet’s title:

سِرَاجاً مُّنِيراً

a Lamp spreading Light,(al-Ahzāb 33:46)


Muhammad… is a tremendous light and the source of all lights, he is also a book that gathers up and makes clear all the secrets… sirājan munīran means a luminous sun, because of His saying:

تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ فِي السَّمَاء بُرُوجاً وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا سِرَاجاً وَقَمَراً مُّنِيراً

He hath placed therein a great lamp and a moon giving light (al-Furqān 25:61).

There is in this verse an indication that the sun is the highest of the material lights and that other lights are outpourings from it: similarly the Prophet is the highest of the spiritual lights and other lights are derived from him by virtue of his mediating connection and pivotal rank in the overall sphere of creation. This is also inferred from the tradition, “The first thing Allāh created is my light.”[6]

Allāh (swt)s giving an example of His Light―not of His Essence. Allāh here is not describing Himself; for nothing can describe His Essence. Rather, He is describing one of His Attributes―an-Nūr―a name that reveals His Light. Here the light of the Prophet (s), which was the source of creation, the source of the light of the heavens and earth, is compared to a lighted bundle holding an instrument that gives light and that light is the Prophet (s). “The lamp is in a glass.” That light is contained inside the form of glass. “The glass is as it were a shining star.” That is not ordinary glass. Rather it is like a star created from ad-durr, a very expensive gem, or lu’lu’, which is a type of pearl. This description is used to accentuate the greatness of that light. He said, “the lamp is in a glass,” the lamp is shining in the glass, and “the glass is as it were a shining star.” It means that the light within has not yet emerged.

Still, that reality of the Prophet, the haqīqat al-Muhammadīyya, illumined, pearl-like, a veritable constellation glowing, “as if it were a shining star” remains within. That light of the Prophet (s) is the light of Muhammadun rasūlullah. That is al-haqīqat ul-Muhammadīyya, the Muhammadan Reality, whose internal character signifies that it reflects the Heart of the Essence, since the Prophet’s heart moves without restriction in the orbit of the ninety-nine Names and Attributes. He has been blessed by being adorned by the ninety-nine Names inside of which is a glowing pearl not yet come forth. So the Muhammadan Reality has never appeared―it is still hidden and it is not emerging. But what is manifested in this life is Muhammadun rasūlullāh. Thus Lā ilāha ill-Allāh in the testimony of faith, represents the Creator and Muhammadun rasūlullāh symbolizes the entirety of creation.

Al-Khātib Abū al-Rab‘i` Muhammad ibn al-Layth in his book Shifā’ al-sudūr says:

The first thing Allāh created is the light of Muhammad (s) and that light came and prostrated before Allāh. Allāh divided it into four parts and created from the first part the Throne, from the second the Pen, from the third the Tablet, and then similarly He subdivided the fourth part into parts and created the rest of creation. Therefore the light of the Throne is from the light of the Prophet (s), the light of the Pen is from the light of the Prophet (s), the light of the Tablet is from the light of the Prophet (s), the light of day, the light of knowledge, the light of the sun and the moon, and the light of vision and sight are all from the light of the Prophet (s). [7]

عن ابن عباس: إنّ قريشا (في بعض النسخ: روحه يعني الرسول صلى الله عليه) كانت نورا بين يدي الله تعالى قبل ان يخلق آدم بألفي عام. يسبّح ذلك النور، و تسبّح الملائكة بتسبيحه، فلما خلق الله آدم ألقى ذلك النور في صلبه (ابن أبي عمر العدني في مسنده)

Ibn `‘Abbās (r) said: Verily the spirit of the Prophet (s) was a light in front of Allāh two thousand years before he created Adam. That light glorified Him and the angels joined in its glorification. When Allāh created Adam, he cast that light into his loins.[8]

`‘Alī ibn al-Husayn (r) related from his father (r), who related from his grandfather said that the Prophet (s) said: I was a light in front of my Lord for fourteen thousand years before He created Adam.[9] It is this light, which was sent to this earth, which became manifest when the Prophet was born.

Al-Qurtubī says: “Kindled from a blessed tree, an olive,” can be taken to refer to the Prophets, in which case Adam would be the blessed tree, or Ibrahim because Allāh called him “blessed.” It is that blessed familial tree from which its most blessed fruit, our master Prophet Muhammad (s) was born.

Imām as-Suyūtī said in al-Riyād al-aniqa: Ibn Jubayr (r) and K‘a`b al-Āhbar (r) said, “What is meant by the second light [in “light upon light”] is the Prophet (s) because he is the Messenger and the Expositor and the Conveyor from Allāh of what is enlightening and manifest.” K‘a`b, referring to “whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself) though no fire touched it” said, “Its oil well nigh would shine because the Prophet well nigh would be known to the people even if he did not say that he was a Prophet, just as that oil would send forth light without a fire.” In that regard the Prophet (s) said, “The night I was delivered my mother saw a light that lit the castles of Damascus so that she could see them.”[10]

The light of the Prophet (s) is the source of the light of all believers, for while all things were created from his light, the believers were created in a special way. Al-Qurtubī relates in Jam‘ li-ahkām al-qur’ān from Anas (r) who said that the Prophet (s) said:

Allāh created me from light and He created Abū Bakr from my light, and He created ‘`Umar and ‘`A’isha from the light of Abū Bakr, and He created the male believers of my community from the light of `‘Umar and He created the female believers of my community from the light of ‘`A’isha, Whoever does not love me or love Abū Bakr, `‘Umar and ‘`A’isha has no light.

[1]Literally: “turned”

[2] ‘Abd al-Razzāq (d. 211) narrates it in his Musannaf. Bayhaqī (d. 458) narrates it with a different wording in Dalā’il al-nubūwwa according to Zurqāni in his Sharh al-mawāhib (1:56 of the Matbā‘a al-‘amira in Cairo) and Diyārbakrī in Tārīkh al-khāmis (1:20).

[3] See Ibn Sa‘d Tabaqāt (Leiden: 1909) voll. I/1, page 96; Cf. Tabarī, Tafsīr, (Cairo: 1323 AH) vol. xxi, page 79.

[4]Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir Jilānī, Sirr al-asrār fi mā yahtāju ilayh al-abrār p. 12-14 of the Lahore edition. This book has now been translated by Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi as The Secret of Secrets (Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 1994).

[5] Al-Qurtubī:Jam’ li-ahkām al-qur’ān

[6] Sharh al-shifā’ (1:505).

[7] Cited in Ibn al-Hajj al-Abdarī’s (Muhammad ibn Muhammad d. 736) book al-Madkhalfrom 2:34 of the edition published by Dar al-kitāb al-‘arabī, Beirut.

[8] Suyūtī said in Manāhil al-safa (p. 53 #128): “Ibn Abi ‘Umar al-‘Adanī relates it in his Musnad.” In Takhrīj ahādīth sharh al-mawāqif (p. 32 #12) Suyūtī cites it with the wording: “The Quraysh were a light in front of Allāh.”

[9] Something similar is narrated by Imām Āhmad in his Fadā’il al-sahāba (2:663 #1130), Dhahabī in Mīzān al-i’tidāl (1:235), and al-Tabarī in al-Riyād al-nādirā (2:164, 3:154).

[10] Narrated by al-Hākim in his Mustadrak (2:616-617), Āhmad in his Musnad (4:184), and Bayhaqī in Dalā’il al-nubūwwa (1:110, 2:8). Ibn al-Jawzī cites it in al-Wafā’ (p. 91, ch. 21 of Bidāyat nabīyyina sall-Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and Ibn Kathīr in Mawlid rasūl Allāh and his Tafsīr (4:360). Haythamī cites it in Majma’ al-zawā’id (8:221) and said Tabarānī and Āhmad narrated it, and Āhmad’s chain is fair (hasan). See for Āhmad’s complete text Bishāratu ‘Isā (#454).

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