Quranic Reflection No 568. Āyat 39:69 – Glowing of the Earth


Imam Muhammad Al-Bāqir (a) was asked about the greatness of the night of 15th of Sha‘bān.  He replied: It is the best night after Laylatul Qadr. In it, Allah grants the servants with His Grace, and forgives them through His favor. So, strive to achieve closeness to Allah in it, for it is the night in which Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, has obligated on Himself not to turn away a beseecher so long as he does not ask for anything sinful. It is a night which Allah has made [it a blessing] for us the Ahlul Bayt (a) just as He made Laylatul Qadr for our Prophet, blessing of Allah be on him and his family. So, strive in it with supplications and praise of Allah, the Exalted…”     

 (Al-Tūsī, Misbāh al-Mutahajjid, v. 2, p. 831; Ibn Tāwūs, Iqbāl al-A‘māl, p.  695)

وَأَشْرَقَتِ الْأَرْضُ بِنُورِ رَبِّهَا

Wa-ashraqatil-ardhu binūri rabbihā

The earth will glow with the light of its Lord.

(Sūrat al-Zumar, No 39, Āyat 69)

This verse discusses the Day of Judgement and talks about a few different qualities of that day. One of them will be that the earth will glow with the light of its Lord. This glow has been interpreted in different ways by the Mufassirūn:

  1. The light of the Lord that will make the earth glow is the truth and justice that will be established. Allāmah Majlisi explains that the glow of the earth is from the justice of Allah azza wajall, for the earth lights up when justice is established (Bihārul Anwār, v.6, p. 322). Others have also used the Hadith of the Prophet (s) which says: Injustice is darkness on the Day of Judgment – to conclude that justice will be light. 
  2. Some believe that it refers to a light other than that of the sun or moon that Allah will create for that day.
  3. According to Tafsīr al-Mīzān the light and glow are the effect of the removal of the veil from the eyes of human beings. It will be a time when the inner realities of things will be understood, and truth and falsehood will be very clear. He quotes the verse: We have removed your veil from you, and so today your eyesight is sharp (Q 50:22).

Narrations from the Ahlul Bayt ‘alayhimus-salām have linked this verse to the rise of the al-Qaim ‘ajjallāhu farjah. Although it is about the Day of Judgment, it is used as a simile to depict the state of the earth after the arrival of Imam Al-Mahdī (af). The condition on earth will be a prelude to how things will be on the Day of Judgment. Truth and Justice will be established on the earth, and it will glow through it. Imam Ja‘far al-Sādiq (a) says: When our Qaim rises, the earth will glow with the light of its Lord, and the servants of Allah will not need the light of the sun, and darkness will disappear (Bihār, v. 52, p. 330).

The Prophet sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam also used this verse when he talked about the successors after him. He said: My deputies and successors, the Proofs of Allah on earth after me, are twelve. The first of them is my brother and the last of them is my son. He was asked, who is your brother? He said, Ali Ibn Abi Talib. They asked: Who is your son [in this hadith]? He said: Al-Mahdī, who will fill it with fairness and justice after it was filled with tyranny and injustice. By the One who raised me with the truth, even if only one day remained of this world, Allah will lengthen that day until my son Al-Mahdī will appear. And ‘Isā son of Maryam, Rūhullāh, will come down. He will pray behind him, and the earth will glow with the light of its Lord, and His authority will spread in the East and the West (Bihār, v. 51, p.72).

As we celebrate the birth of Imam Al-Mahdī (a) let this verse remind us of how the Imam will change the state of the earth. Present day leaders through their greed and self interest have filled it with chaos. There is a lot of suffering in the world and leadership is unable, or unwilling, to help the people. It is only when the world will have a Divine leader sent by God to implement His rules who is selfless and righteous that true peace and justice will prevail in the world. Then the earth will glow with the light of its Lord. May we be among those who witness that blessed time and participate in it.

Sources: Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh