Suhrawardi developed a metaphysics of light - illuminationism - one aspect of which is to privilege the intuition over the intellect (reason) in understanding. Light being the condition by which we see without intellectual effort; it is the orientation of the visible.

Genesis, in the Bible opens with the command 'let there be light; and the Injil is a prophetic book in the tradition of Islam, but generally seen to be corrupted.

Is there a similar commandment in the Qur'an?

  • Sure, in fact one reason Suhrewardi is celebrated among muslims is the fact that his philosophy of light provides substantial parallels with the Quranic/religious concepts. I will write an answer in a few hours.
    – infatuated
    Jun 14, 2014 at 7:58

1 Answer 1


Suhrewardi's Metaphysics of Lights was an important stride in development of Islamic philosophical legacy. His both ontological and epistemological innovations -- accordingly explanation of existence by a substantial analogy with workings and characteristics of light, and the idea of superiority of intuitive knowledge over reason -- were later adopted by Mulla Sadra who in turn made a greater stride by reconciling Suhrewardian Illuminationism with Peripatetism to form his synthetic school of Transcendent Philosophy. Mulla Sadra paid equal regard to reason and intuition and considered them two irreplaceable and inseparable means of obtaining knowledge.

But as for your question, drawing analogy between existence/knowledge and light does find a lot of references in the Quran and Hadith; most notable and impressive is the verse 35 of Surat un-Nur (a Sura which actually means Light) that exhibits an expressive Illuminationist theme:

God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The allegory of His light is that of a pillar on which is a lamp. The lamp is within a glass. The glass is like a brilliant planet, fueled by a blessed tree, an olive tree, neither eastern nor western. Its oil would almost illuminate, even if no fire has touched it. Light upon Light. God guides to His light whomever He wills. God thus cites the parables for the people. God is cognizant of everything. (24:35)

Another example is found in Surat ul-An'am:

Is he who was dead, then We gave him life, and made for him a light by which he walks among the people, like he who is in total darkness, and cannot get out of it? Thus the doings of disbelievers are made to appear good to them. (6:122)

Another interesting example can be seen in Surat ul-Baqara

God is the Lord of those who believe; He brings them out of darkness and into light. As for those who disbelieve, their lords are the evil ones; they bring them out of light and into darkness; these are the inmates of the Fire, in which they will abide forever. (2:257)

Among the hadiths, I can now only think of a famous one by the Holy Prophet which I think appears only in Shiite sources but I'm not sure. It reads:

Knowledge is a light that is granted by Allah to whoever He desires.

To summarize, the concept of light in Islamic sources similar to Suhrawardi's application is associated with concepts of perfection such as Allah, faith, guidance and goodness; while darkness is associated with their opposites such as Satan, disbelief, mislead and evil.

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