The Nur (Light) of Imamat
While this reading is primarily aimed at the younger readership, we think everyone can benefit from it.
The sun is extremely important for all life on earth. It gives us light, warmth and energy. The sun however is not the final source of life. It is Allah who gives life to all living things. It is God who has created the sun and the stars and everything that is in the universe.
The Quran teaches that Allah is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth. Allah guides mankind towards Him through His light. While Allah has created the physical light, He has also provided mankind another kind of light.
Allah says in the Quran:
“O Mankind! Truly there has come to you a proof from your Lord, and We have sent down to you a clear Light.” (Chapter 4, Verse 174)
What is this special light that Allah refers to, which guides and makes things clear? For Shia Muslims, this light is the Light of Imamat. The Shias refer to it as the Nur of Imamat. Nur means light. The Nur of Imamat is a spiritual light.
“When the light of the Imam of the time shone upon my soul
Even though I was dark as night, I became the glorious sun;
The supreme name is the Imam of the time
By which I ascended, Venus-like, from the earth to heaven.”
- Ismaili poet and philosopher, Pir Nasir Khushraw
This spiritual light is with the Ahl al-bayt, the Imams from the Prophet Muhammad’s family. This light was with the first Shia Imam, Hazrat Murtaza Ali and, for Shia Imami Ismailis, it is now with their present 49th Imam, Shah Karim al-Husayni, His Highness the Aga Khan IV. The Imam guides his murids (followers) with his Nur.
The Imam’s Nur is not like ordinary light. It is a different light altogether. It is a spiritual light. Physical light, such as sunlight, helps everyone see things in the physical world. The Imam’s Nur guides his murids both in the spiritual and worldly aspects of their lives. Above all, the Imam’s Nur leads his followers towards inner peace and happiness.
Ever since the time of Hazrat Ali, the Ismaili Imams have guided their followers in succession, one after after another. There have been forty nine Imams up to the present time, but the Nur of Imamat is one, and it remains the same.
“It is well that you should follow the Imamate
For the Light of God is in his pure heart.
Through that Light you will be freed from darkness.
Follow that light and may peace be with you.”
- Ismaili poet, Nizar Quhistani
The Nur of Imamat is always there to guide through the physical presence of the Imam. The Imam holds his followers hands and leads them through both difficult and good times. He gives them guidance about how they should live in a particular time and place.
Just as the water of a river continues to flow, the line of Imamat never stops. That is, the Nur of Imamat is there to stay eternally.
One of the goals of the murid of the Imam should be to strive to come closer to the spiritual light of the Imam. This, one can do by fulfilling one’s material and spiritual responsibilities to the best of one’s ability. Praying regularly, living by the ethics of Islam, following the Imam’s guidance and thinking about Allah constantly can bring us closer and closer to the Nur of Imamat.
Article adapted by Simerg from multiple literary sources including the Ta’lim curriculum published by Islamic Publications, London.