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Interpretation of Sura an-Nur - Verse 37

Adopted from the book: "The Light of the Holy Qur'an - Interpretation of Sura an-Nur" by: "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani & a Group of Muslim Scholars"

37. "Men whom neither merchandise nor any sale diverts from the remembrance of Allah and the keeping up of prayer and paying the poor-rate; they fear a day in which the hearts and eyes will be overturned;"


Men of Allah try their best for their worldly life while they are not ignorant of the Hereafter, because abandoning business is not a value, but if business is done along with remembrance of Allah, praying and giving alms-tax, then it will be respected high. Therefore in this noble verse it is implied that those men who are not prevented from remembering of Allah, performing ritual prayer and paying alms-tax by neither business nor selling and buying, fear the day in which hearts and eyes will be capsized. The verse says:

"Men whom neither merchandise nor any sale diverts from the remembrance of Allah and the keeping up of prayer and paying the poor-rate; they fear a day in which the hearts and eyes will be overturned;"

These characteristics show that the aforementioned houses are the very centers that are fortified by Allah's commandment and Allah is remembered in them. In these centers Islam facts and Allah's ordinances are circulated. In this extensive and comprehensive meaning, mosques are the houses of prophets and saints; especially the house of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and the house of AM (a.s.) are included.

There is no reason for the matter that some commentators in their commentaries have limited it only to the mosque or houses of prophets and such like. And there are some narrations in which its clear extensions are mentioned:

Imam Baqir (a.s.) said: "This verse refers to the houses of prophets and the house of Imam Ali (a.s.) is included in it, too." 73

Another tradition indicates that when The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was reciting this verse he was asked: "What is the purpose of/buyut/ (houses)?" The Prophet said: "The houses of prophets" Again Abibakr asked: "Is this house (pointing to the house of Fatimah (a.s.) and Ali (a.s.)) included in it, too? The Prophet said: "Yes, it is the best of them." 74All of these denote the clear examples.

In another tradition upon the commentary of this verse by Imam Sadiq (a.s.), recorded in the book Raudah Kafi, he has said: "Verily Mishkat is the heart of Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), and Misbah is the very light of knowledge (and guidance), and Zujajah is the heart of Ali (a.s.) or his self, (in which Misbah was placed after departure of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.))." 75

Also in the book TauHud, by Saduq, we read a tradition by Imam Baqir (a.s.) who said: "Verily Mishkat is the light of knowledge in the heart of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and Zujajah is the heart of Ali (a.s.).... And /Nurun 'ala Nur/ is Imams who are from the family of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and they come one after the other. These Imams are assisted by the light of knowledge and wisdom. And this trend has been since the creation of Adam and will continue to the end of the world.

These are the very testamentary guardians who are appointed as caliphs by Allah in the earth. There is not and there will be not any age or time that the earth can be empty of one of them. They are Allah's Authorities over His servants." 76

In another tradition by Imam Sadiq (a.s.), 'Mishkat' has been interpreted as Fatimah (a.s.), 'Misbah' as Hassan (a.s.), and 'Zujajah' as Hussayn (a.s.). 77

There is another authentic tradition by Imam Baqir (a.s.), in which Ghattadah, a famous Islamic jurist from Basrah, had a conversation with Imam (a.s.) and he expressed his heartily amazement concerning Imam's peculiar grandeur. Imam said to him whether he knew that where he was sitting; in front of those about whom Allah has said: '(This lamp of guidance is found) in houses which Allah has. allowed to be exalted and that His name be mentioned therein.

There glorify Him therein in the mornings and the evenings,' 'Men whom neither merchandise nor any sale diverts from the remembrance of Allah and the keeping up of in prayer and paying the poor-rate,...'. Then Imam said: "You are what you said (a jurist from Basrah), and we are what the holy Qur'an says."

In answer, Ghattadah said: "You are true, may Allah make me your sacrifice! By Allah that the purpose is not stone and clay houses (but its purpose is the houses of revelation, faith, and guidance)." 78

In another tradition it has been narrated about this group of Divine men who guard revelation and guidance: "They are businessmen who are not ignorant of Allah's remembrance because of trading or doing business. When it is the time of prayer, they pay its due unto Allah therein (perform prayer)." 79

This refers to the matter that while they are carrying out economic good activities, all of their actions are overshadowed by Allah's name and they consider nothing preceding it.

Yes, any place or center which is set by Allah's command and Allah's name is mentioned in it and every morning and evening some believing men, who do not forget Allah's remembrance because of worldly life, praise Allah and perform prayer, is the center of Divine lights (Mishkat), faith and guidance.

In fact, this kind of house has some characteristics:

First, it is set by Allah's command.

Second, its bases and walls are so exalted and fortified that they protect it from the penetration of Satan.

Third, it is the center for remembering Allah.

Fourth, some men guard it who praise Allah every morning and every evening, and the worldly beguiling attractions do not make them ignore the Truth.

These houses with such characteristics are the sources of guidance and faith.

It is also important to mention the matter that in this verse both the Arabic word /tijarat/ (merchandise) and the word /bay'/ (sale) have been used. Although it seems that both of them mean one thing, the difference between them may be that /tijarat/ refers to a continuous job and /bay'/ refers to an impermanent action which is done for one time.

It is also necessary to pay attention to the matter that it does not say that 'they are men who do not do business or sale', but it says: "Men whom neither merchandise nor any sale diverts from the remembrance of Allah and the keeping up of prayer and paying the poor-rate ..."

They always fear the day of Hereafter and Allah's justice court, in which hearts and eyes will be capsized because of its awe. (The Arabic verb /yaxafan/ is a form of verb which in the Arabic language indicates the continuity of their fear of the resurrection day. It is a sort of fear that compels them to their duties and missions.)

Moreover, great commentators have different opinions about the Qur'anic phrase /Nurun 'ala Nur/ ('Light upon light'):

In Majma'-ul-Bayan, the deceased Tabarsi says: it refers to prophets who come one after another from one root and continue the path of guidance.

Fakhr-i-Razi says: it refers to gathering of light rays and their concentration, as it is said about believers: 'A believer has 4 positions. If he receives a favour or bless, he thanks Allah. If he receives a disaster, he is patient and withstands it. If he says a word, he tells the truth. If he judges, he seeks justice. He is like a living man among the dead when he is among ignorant people. He moves among 5 lights: his saying is light. His deed is light. His place of arrival is light. His place of exit is light. His aim is the light of Allah in the Day of Hereafter."

It is also probable that the first light in the verse refers to the light of Divine guidance through revelation, and the second light refers to His guidance by means of intellect. Or the first light is the light of religious guidance, and the second light is Divine guidance, therefore, it is 'light upon light'.

Thus, this holy phrase is sometimes interpreted as different sources of light (prophets), and sometimes as various kinds of light, and sometimes as its various phases, while all of them are possible and can be included in the meaning of the verse and, therefore, its concept is vast. (Take care)

Some notes to be studied

1. Some traditions indicate that the objective of the persons mentioned in this noble verse is those businessmen who stop working and get prepared to perform ritual prayer when they hear the call to prayer. 80

2. Business is not the only factor that entertains man and prevents him from remembering Allah, but there are also other factors mentioned in the Qur'an, such as: multiplication of wealth, desires, bad friend and offspring.

3. Olive tree has been described as 'blessed tree' in the above verses. And if in that age the importance of this phrase was not clear when the Qur'an was descended, now we know it fully, for great scientists have spent many years to study the different properties of plants and they tell us that this tree produces a blessed fruit which contains one of the most useful and valuable oils and it plays an important role in the health of body.

Ibn 'Abbas says that all parts of this tree is valuable and good, even its ash has also got property and benefit. It is the first tree that after the Flood of Noah (a.s.) grew, and prophets have uttered invocation prayed for it to be a blessed tree.


73. Nur-uth-Thaqalyn, Vol. 3, p. 607

74. Majma' ul-Bayan, following the verse

75. Nur-uth-Thaqalyn, Vol. 3, p. 602 & 603

76. Ibid

77. Ibid

78. Ibid, p. 602

79. Ibid, p. 609

80. Nur-uth-Thaqalyn

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