“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The Parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within it a Lamp: the Lamp enclosed in Glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star: Lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! Allah doth guide whom He will to His Light: Allah doth set forth Parables for men: and Allah doth know all things.” (24:35)
Recently, before the start of Ramadan I heard an explanation of these verses from Sh. Suhaib Webb which I found very beneficial and inspiring. It also humanized the very transcendent nature of this verse into something practicle that we could not only experience but live in our lives.
“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.” - This means that Allah is the Guide to creation.
“The Parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within it a lamp: the Lamp enclosed in Glass: the glass as if it were a brilliant star” - Ubay Ibn Ka’ab reported here that there is something that is Mahdhouf (missing/hidden) here in this sentence and according to the Companions the explanation for this is that the example of Allah’s Light which is in the hearts of the believer’s is the meaning. The example of the Light, the Guidance, that Allah has put in the hearts of the believers is like this lamp that is surrounded by this glass that beams out light in every direction.
Some of the Scholars say that the Mishkat, the Niche, is the chest of the Believer, and the Misbah, the Lamp, is ‘La ilaha illa Allah,’ ‘There is no God but the One God.’ The Glass that surrounds the heart is ‘Eeman,’ or Faith. Allah describes the heart as a glass because it is something fragile but also because it is pure and clean. Imam al-Ghazzali [may Allah have mercy upon him] discusses the sould in these terms. One who wants to increase his understanding fo this should read and reflect on what he wrote in the Ihya for it is a treasure of benefit for one whom Allah guides.
“the Glass as it were a brilliant star: Lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it” - The Light of the believer is like a star, a powerful and bright star, Dariun means to push out, it beams light all over. Allah then describes the mechanism which fuels and makes this light run, and that is Az’Zaytun, “A blessed oil, olive oil, neither of the East or the West.” Some Scholars said this oil which lights the lamp is Ikhlas, or purity, while some others said that it is the believers knowledge of Quran and Sunna. The more he or she increases in knowledge, the more He increases the light so it beams so expansively and undeniably that as the great Indian Muslim poet Allama Iqbal said even, “when the non-Muslims see him walking, working, etc., the only thing that their fitra will allow them to say in regard to him is “Fabiayyi alai Rabbikuma tukadhiban,” ‘And which of the Favors/Signs of your Lord will you deny.” The Believer became such a blessing for humanity that all of humanity, when they see him, bare witness, “which of the favors of your Lord will yo deny” because that believer became an asset, an unquanitifiable treasure to all of creation.
This is why the Prophet (pbuh) said even the fishes in the sea make dua,’ prayer, for the righteous knowledgable believer. That oil will cause the knowledgable Believer to treat even the creation with respect, thus the creation will make prayer for him.
“The light will illuminate even though fire scarce touched it” The Believer can self-actualize, take the initiative, be assertive, and doesnt need as many reminders.
“Light upon Light” - Ibn Qayyim mentions in Madarij as’Salikeen, that the reason Allah said this was because the believer who increases in knowledge increases the light he was given when he or she was born or had previously. Fitra+Knowledge= Nur upon Nur.
From Sh. Suhaib Webb's blog