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Posted on 10th May, 2021

25 Nur – Light.         


Among the Ninety-nine Beautiful Names of God (see AR 26) is that of Light (nûr), a name often given to a girl. It is one of the few Names of God, together with al-Salam (Peace), al-Haqq (Truth) and al-‘Adl (Just), which is not derived from a verb of action. This Name, Light, occurs in the following passage of the Qur’an:

God is the Light of the heavens and earth. His Light is like this: there is a niche, and in it a lamp, the lamp inside a glass, a glass like a glittering star, fueled from a blessed olive tree from neither east nor west, whose oil almost gives light even when no fire touches it – light upon light – God guides whoever He will to His light (Q 24:35).


God is therefore represented by a light which is constant (the lamp is always in the niche), universal (the oil which burns is neither from the East nor the West) and pure (the glass is like a sparkling star, and the oil would give brightness even if it were not lit).

God guides through His Light – darkness is associated with being lost.


It is interesting to note that the Qur’an continues by saying that the light is

Shining out in houses of worship. God knew that they would be raised high and His name remembered is them, with men in them celebrating His glory morning and evening: men who are not distracted, either by commerce or profit, from remembering God, keeping up the prayer and paying the prescribed alms (Q 24:36-37).

These verses are understood as referring to monasteries in the desert. The Arab nomads, including the young Muhammad before his religious experience, would have seen them from far away, and would have known that they would receive hospitality in these places of prayer. This underlines the importance of prayer and of disinterested charity in the witness of faith.



26 Hadi – The Guide



Another of the Beautiful Names of God is al-Hâdî, the Guide. Anyone who has crossed a desert or climbed a mountain will recognize the importance of having a good guide, since the right tracks are often difficult to find and to follow. This Name is found as such in only one passage of the Qur’an:

            In truth, God is the Guide of those who have believed [leading them] to the straight path.

                                                                                                               (Q 22:54)

Yet the idea of divine guidance is well-anchored in the minds of Muslims by this petition contained in the opening sûra of the Qur’an, the Fatiha (se AR 20):

            Guide us to the straight path (Q 1:6).

This is the translation given by Abdel Haleem. I would prefer the translation of A.J.Arberry:

            Guide us in the straight path.

The prayer is not just to be guided to the straight path, and after that one can manage for oneself, but to be guided in or along the path. There is need for continual divine guidance (hudâ – another pretty name for a girl). In fact this idea of divine guidance corresponds in some way to the Christian belief in the Holy Spirit.


27 Wudu – Ablutions



Before performing the ritual prayer (ṣalât) Muslims, both men and women, must complete a cleansing ritual. This comprises washing the face, the hands up to the elbows, the feet, and rubbing a wet hand over one’s hair. Many Muslims start by washing their hands and adding to the ritual the rinsing of the mouth and clearing the nose, rubbing the ears and the neck. This ritual purification (wuḍû’) is mentioned in the Qur’an (though the technical word for it is not used):

You who believe, when you are about to pray, wash your faces and hands and arms up to the elbows, wipe your heads, wash your feet up to the ankles and, if required, wash your whole body (Q 5:6).

The last requirement for a full bath or shower is when sexual intercourse has taken place.


Since Islam as a religion began in Arabia, a region in which water is scarce, if water is not available an alternative is foreseen:

[If you] can find no water, then take some clean sand and wipe your face and hands with it. God does not wish to place any burden on you; He only wishes to cleanse you and perfect His blessing on you, so that you may be thankful (Q 5:6).

It can be understood from this it is indeed a matter of ritual cleansing; the real purification is brought about by God.


Mosques normally provide places for performing the ablutions. At the Abdullah Quilliam mosque in Liverpool the original Victorian areas for wuḍû’ have been completely renewed. “Both male and female wudu (ablution) areas combine real plants with natural stone and wood to create a harmonious atmosphere and a very unique experience for the user” (Abdullah Quilliam Mosque and Heritage Centre, Ramadan Guide 2019 p.16).

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