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Hazar Imam’s “Noor” Demystified

Ismalism is based on the belief that Aga Khan possesses ‘noor’ of Allah (light of God) which is sole reason that Ismailis worship him in their Jamatkhanas (or Ismaili Centers) and believe he is all-powerful and possesses attributes that Allah alone is entitled to possess. Lets look this concept of noor on basis of Qur’an and hadith.

The word ‘noor’ in Arabic literally means ‘light’. Allah is not noor; rather, noor is a creation of Allah. The Qur’an states that Allah is an ineffable reality and human language cannot produce an adequate parable; therefore, there is no example of what Allah is like. We also know that angels are made of light and man is made out of clay (see Qur’an 6:2 and 15:26]. Angels do not possess the nature of human beings and do not have the free will to choose between obedience and disobedience. The Qur’an says in 66:6 about the angels:

“…they do not disobey Allah’s commands that they receive; they do precisely what they are commanded”

Hence, the Creator (Allah) and the creation (light) cannot be one and the same. If Allah is not noor, what then is the guiding light that is frequently mentioned in the Quran? Here are the instances when light or noor is mentioned in the Qur’an:

Praise be to Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, and made the darkness and the light. Yet those who reject Faith hold (others) as equal, with their Guardian-Lord.
[Holy Qur’an 06:01]

“Surely We revealed the Taurat in which was guidance and light.”
[Holy Qur’an 05:44]

“and We gave him (Isa) the Injeel in which was guidance and light.”
[Holy Qur’an 05:46]

Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light; and (as to) those who disbelieve, their guardians are Taghoots who take them out of the light into the darkness; they are the inmates of the fire, in it they shall abide.
[Holy Qur’an 2:257]

“And thus did We reveal to you an inspired book (Quran) by Our command. You did not know what the Book was, nor (what) the faith (was), but We made it a light, guiding thereby whom We please of Our servants; and most surely you show the way to the right path.
[Holy Qur’an 42:52]

When the word ‘noor’ is read in-context above, it is evident that it is a word used by the Qur’an to either denote guidance, true knowledge or Emaan (as opposed to the darkness of Kufr).

The explanation of noor is given by the Qur’an in Surah an-Noor, Chapter 24:35:

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.

Noor has also been used as a parable to describe the omnipresence of Allah and the fact that He is the source of all guidance, the parable is light (guidance), without an outside source. Therefore, this means that Allah is the ultimate source of all guidance. This does not mean that He is physically made of light, because as we see above, He has actually created light. Notice in that 24:35, Allah Himself goes on to say: “The example/parable/likeness/similitude of His Light”. The verse itself explains that Allah is defining His presence using human language, and also making the concept understandable to us.

Ismailis who blindly follow their Aga Khan’s propagated beliefs tend to rely more on the sayings and sermons (waez) of their missionaries, rather than reading the Quran for themselves. This is why they have taken 24:35 literally, claiming that Allah Himself or some of His creations among humans such as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) or Ali (ra) or other pious people are made of noor.

Ismailies extended the concept of Ali (ra) being noor to their Imams, who are supposed to be divine as well. In their enthusiasm for the person of Ali (ra), they have elevated him and his descendants to a position above that of Muhammad (pbuh). Ismailis gave Ali (ra) and their Imams a near-divine status. The origins of this concept lie in ancient Persian paganism as explained here:

“The Shias, however, gradually evolved ideas that seemed even closer to Christian incarnation (regarding the divinity of Ali and the Imams). They (Shias) were drawing on ancient Persian tradition of a chosen god-begotten family which transmitted the divine glory from one generation to another.”
[Karen Armstrong, ‘A History of God’, page 189]

To make the discussion even more interesting and to add to your knowledge, let me also copy the Nicene Creed, the official creed of Christians as decreed by Emperor Constantine in 325 AD, so you can see the similarities between the Christian Trinity and what is now alleged about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) being noor:

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God,] Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;

By whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth];
Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man;

He suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven;

From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

And in the Holy Ghost.

The continuum of Ismailism is the transfer of baatini (esoteric or hidden) knowledge from one Imam to the other Imam starting with Ali (ra), and is dependent on this single hadith (which is not authentic):

It is related that Jabir ibn Abdullah said to the Prophet: “O Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you, tell me of the first thing Allah created before all things.”
He said: “O Jabir, the first thing Allah created was the light of your Prophet from His light, and that light remained (lit. “turned”) in the midst of His Power for as long as He wished and there was not, at that time, a Tablet or a Pen or a Paradise or a Fire or an Angel or a Heaven or an Earth. And when Allah wished to create creation, he divided that Light into four parts and from the first made the Pen, from the second the Tablet, from the third the Throne, [and from the fourth everything else].”

It is illogical for educated and intellectual men to believe that an entire religion can be constructed based on one hadith and entire Qur’an revealed by Allah to his Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and thousands other ahadith which are clear explanation of Qur’an, can be ignored and left aside.

Ismailis says that Ali (ra) possessed this noor and became the Imam and Aga Khan is the current possessor of that noor. The question is, that where does this hadith speak about transfer of noor? Ismailies say that the noor was transferred from generation-to-generation, but Ali (ra) was the cousin of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). How come Ali (ra) can have that noor? Is there any mention of worshipping that noor and giving him the full authority to define religious beliefs and practices? If this noor was the basis of Islam, then why didn’t Allah reveal such a statement in the Qur’an and why didn’t the Prophet (pbuh) mention such a fact in any of his ahadith? Allah had clearly revealed everything which was to be revealed and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) declared this in his last sermon.

To conclude, Allah is a reality that cannot be described and we should refrain from attaching physical attributes to Him. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was a man, who was special because he was chosen by Allah to perfect the message of Islam. The Ismaili belief based on noor cannot be substantiated from neither the Qur’an, nor any hadith.