Qur’an 24: The Light

The twenty-fourth chapter of the Qur’an, “The Light,” uses mythic language to describe God and Christ in an Arian cosmology. God is a Light, and Christ (according to the Qur’anic author) a lamp who held the light upon a Tree, allowing it to shine to the world. The Light is known to the world through Water (a feminine, passive medium, and a type of Mary), through which The Light created the world. . The ideal life of the faithful is to be like pure water, receiving God and making Him known to the world.

Readings

Entrance Antiphon:

The daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by playing the harlot, she profanes her father. She shall be burned with fire.
Leviticus 21:9

A reading, from the Book of Genesis:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
Genesis 1:1-3

A Psalm, from the Psalms:

Sing to God, sing praises to His name;
Extol Him who rides on the clouds,
By His name YAH,
And rejoice before Him.

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
God sets the solitary in families;
He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;
But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.

O God, when You went out before Your people,
When You marched through the wilderness, Selah
The earth shook;
The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God;
Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
Psalms 68:4-8

A reading, from the Second Letter of St. Peter:

And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit…

But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.

These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
2 Peter 1:19-21,2:12-17

Alleluia, Alleluia

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

Alleluia, Alleluia

A Reading, from the Holy Gospel According to John:

Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them…

Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.
John 12:35-36,42-46

Communion Antiphon

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Revelation 22:17

A Qur’anic Homily

This is a chapter of signs, of symbols that point to the Way. You have to read and understand the sign. But with advice from God, and the clarity that comes from God, the meaning of these symbols should be clear. God is the source of knowledge and wisdom and, by understanding the signs in this chapter, you can grow in these things.

God advises you should you ever repeat the like of it, if you are faithful. God clarifies the signs for you, and God is all-knowing, all-wise.
Qur’an 24:17-18

The Signs of Light and Water

Consider the beginning, when God began to create the heavens and the earth, the Spirit was over the Waters, and there was Light. As St. Ephrem the Syrian, a Doctor of the Catholic Church, wrote:

It was through light, then, and through water that the earth brought forth everything. Even though God was able to bring forth everything from the earth without these things, it was His will to show that there was nothing that was created on earth that was not created for the purpose of man or for his service.
St. Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Genesis, c. AD 350

Remember the meekest, the most humble, the most passive, the most feminine part of this primordial creation: the Water

God created every animal from water. Among them are some that creep upon their bellies, and among them are some that walk on two feet, and among them are some that walk on four. God creates whatever He wishes. Indeed, God has power over all things.
Qur’an 24:45

The Waters is not a Creatrix because she is more powerful than God. The Waters is not a Mediatrix out of her own power. The special place of the Waters is in receiving the Spirit, and joining her heart to His. In the Qur’an the ideal human female — Mary — is contrasted against the false male ideal of the Bishop.

Femininity without the Logos is chaos that can never be light.

Masculinity and femininity are paired, and (in the Qur’anic view) methods of God revealing himself through the Logos, the Book: Vicious masculinity earns the response of vicious femininity, but we know God through orderly wisdom within the Book. Masculinity within the Logos is responded to by femininity within the Logos:

Vicious women are for vicious men, and vicious men for vicious women. Good women are for good men, and good men for good women. These are absolved of what they say. For them is forgiveness and a noble provision.
Qur’an 24:26

The limits of Gods love is only an individual’s ability to accept it. The only masculine response to chaos — femininity without the Logos — would be tyranny, and not God’s loving command of “Light.” The only right response to tyranny — masculinity without the Logos — would be chaos.

As for the fornicatress and the fornicator, strike each of them a hundred lashes, and let no pity for them overcome you in God’s law if you believe in God and the Last Day, and let their punishment be witnessed by a group of the faithful.
Qur’an 24:2

But we know God within the Logos – in Qur’anic terms, the Book, and He responds to a sliver of order with graceful wisdom, and a sliver of wisdom with merciful order:

Were it not for God’s grace and His mercy upon you in this world and the Hereafter, there would have befallen you a great punishment for what you ventured into.
Qur’an 24:13

Marry off those who are single among you, and the upright among your male and female slaves. If they are poor, God will enrich them out of His bounty, and God is all-bounteous, all-knowing.
Qur’an 24:32

The Sign of the Clouds

Look up in the sky, and you may see another sign sent by God, to remind you of the beginning: Light and water, mixed together in the Clouds. A dark cloud, without light, is foreboding and a great danger. Light without water is too bright to bare, one would die in the radiant summer of eternal sunshine. But for us creatures, light and water, held by the breathe of God in the sky, allow life to thrive. But light and water can be a reminder of the power of God too — hailstorms and lightning:

Have you not regarded that God drives the clouds, then He composes them, then He piles them up, whereat you see the rain issuing form their midst? And He sends down hail from the sky, out of the mountains that are in it, and He strikes with it whomever He wishes and turns it away from whomever He wishes. The brilliance of its flashes almost take away the sight.
Qur’an 24:43

It’s important to remember that Water, if not for Light, would become darker and darker, and fold in on itself. All life is created by Light and Water, the formlessness and chaos of Water without Light is not a condemnation of water, but a reminder of Water’s need for Light to produce life.

Or like the manifold darkness in a deep sea, covered by billows upon billow, overcast by clouds; manifold darkness one on top of another: when he brings out his hand, he can hardly see it. One whom God has not granted any light has no light.
Qur’an 24:40

But it is not God’s will that we know Him without Water — without Darkness.

God alternates the night and the day. There is indeed a lesson in that for those who have insight.
Qur’an 24:44

The Sign of the Light and the Tree

Consider the Tree of Olives, at the very center of the world. On this Tree is a lamp which holds the Light. On this tree is a Light that signs like a star. A tree on the very edge of turning into flames, but a Tree that is protected from all burning. This Tree is Light Upon Light.

If the meaning of this isn’t clear, the Qur’anic author spells this parable out in the first words: God is the light.

God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is a niche wherein is a lamp — the lamp is in a glass — the glass as if it were a glittering star — lit from a blessed olive trees, neither eastern nor western, whose oil almost lights up, though fire should not touch it. Light upon light, God guides to His Light whomever He wishes. God draws parables for mankind, and God has knowledge of all things.
Qur’an 24:35

But this is not Nicene Christianity. The Son is not Water, but nor is He Light itself. Instead we have the Light, through a Lamp, through Glass, shines. This is a ordering of the Trinity — Father, Spirit, and Son (and thus the processional priority of the Spirit over the Son) also found in other places in the Qur’an:

They question you concerning the Spirit. Say, ‘The Spirit is the Word of my Lord, and you have not been given of the knowledge except a few.’
Qur’an 17:85

And in ancient Christian writing:

God caused that holy, pre-existent Spirit which created all things to dwell in a body which he chose. The body into which that holy Spirit was placed served the Spirit, walking rightly and purely in humbleness, never defiling that Spirit. The body obeyed that holy Spirit at all times, laboring rightly and virtuously with Him and not faltering in any way. That wearied body served in humility, but was mightily approved to god with the Holy Spirit, and was accepted by Him. This courageous course pleased God because e was not defiled in the earth but kept the Spirit holy. Therefore He called His Son and the glorious angels as fellow councilors, so that this body might be given a place of honor — since it had served the Holy Spirit blamelessly — and that it would not seem to have lost the reward of its service. For the body in which the Holy Spirit dwelt that has been found without spot of defilement will receive a reward.
The Shepherd of Hermas, “The Fifth Parable”

The Qur’anic then immediately transitions from this parable to an observable reality: monasteries. Relative to God all souls are feminine, because He is active and generating while we are receptive and receiving. The Spirit works through us, not us through the Spirit. The most virtuous mate of any soul is God, we are the water through which He is made known on the earth.

In houses God has allowed to be raised and wherein His Name is celebrated, He is glorified therein, morning and evening, by men whom neither trade nor bargaining distracts from the remembrance of God and the maintenance of prayer and the giving of alms. They are fearful of a day wherein the hearts and the sights will be transformed, so that God may reward them by the best of what they have done and enhance them out of His grace, and God provides for whomever He wishes without any reckoning.
Qur’an 24:36-38

You are Like Water to Light

You are the Water, the appropriated beloved of the Light. The Water makes the Light known, as an Apostle makes God.

One of the most common phrases in the Qur’an is “This is the Book,” — that is, “This is the Logos.” In Qur’anic theology any person who reads The Book (whether the Torah, or the Psalms, or the Gospels, or the Qur’an itself) is a prophet, and apostle, someone who repeats the word of God in human words.

You know what to do. You know what God wants. So command yourself, and do it.

All the response of the faithful, when they are summoned to God and His Apostle that He may judge between them, is to say, ‘We hear and obey.’ It is they who will be felicitous.
Qur’an 24:51

The Qur’anic author (foreshadowing not just centuries of protestant thought, but St Augustine) that Bishops are not mediators or “partners” of God. Worship God, don’t call creatures “god,” have faith, do good works, and you will inherit the earth:

God has promised those of you who have faith and do righteous deeds that He will surely make them successors in the earth, just as He made those who were before them successors, and He will surely establish for them their religion which He has approved for them, and that He will surely change their state to security after their fear, while they worship Me, not ascribing any partners to Me. Whoever is ungrateful after that — it is they who are the transgressors.
Qur’an 24:53-55

The cross that you carry — to the Qur’anic author — is your own. God has sent Signs to show you what to do, and to the Qur’anic author Jesus himself is a sign. You have no helper except God, and no worker for your soul except yourself:

Say, ‘Obey God and obey the Apostle.’ But if you turn your backs, he is only responsible for his burden, and you are responsible for your own burden, and if you obey him, you will be guided, and the Apostle’s duty is only to communicate in clear terms.
Qur’an 24:54

And the terms are, to the Qur’anic author, as clear as can be. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Give alms to the poor. Obey the words you know that you have spoken. And God will have mercy on you.takes

Maintain the prayer and give alms, and obey the Apostle so that you may receive mercy.
Qur’an 24:56

Conclusion

“The Light” describes Creation as ongoing, with The Light working through Water to be known. At the beginning this was the Deep, at the Incarnation she was Mary. The ideal for the believers is the monastery, where the Light that shone from the Cross is praised and remembered.

One thought on “Qur’an 24: The Light”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *