Does “Noor also Nur” in Qur’an (71:16) mean “reflected light” or just “Light”?

Does “Noor also Nur” in Qur’an (71:16) mean “reflected light” or just “Light”?

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


The anti-Islamic Claim and Question:

Regarding the verse Quran (71:16):

وَجَعَلَ ٱلْقَمَرَ فِيهِنَّ نُورًا وَجَعَلَ ٱلشَّمْسَ سِرَاجًا

(And made the moon therein a [reflected] light and made the sun a burning lamp)

An Arab atheist claiming that the meaning of the Arabic word Noor also Nur (same word in Arabic, variation in English is due to how people put it in English) is not “reflected light”; its meaning is just “light”.

If its meaning is ” reflected light” there is no problem, but if its meaning renders ” light” there is a problem because then the above verse will be considered a scientific error.

Could you please provide the proper meaning of Noor/Nur according to authentic references?


First let us watch this 2 minutes video. The Quran Mentions that the Light of the Moon is Reflected Light 1400 years ago Dr Zakir Naik.

In English, it’s normal to say “moonlight” as shorthand for “light that is reflected from the Sun by the Moon” From Merry Webster Dictionary. But technically if we need to be very accurate, the word Noor or Nur doesn’t mean moonlight.

Even if “Noor/Nur” means “light” (and does not mean “reflected light”), we’d deduce it from context anyway, like what we do with “moonlight” in English.

The moon is a light, because it functions as one, whether the source of its light is a reflection is irrelevant.

The problem is that you are assuming that Allah is teaching you a primary-school science lesson on how the moon works, rather than recounting His favors so that you may give thanks.

The Arabic word Noor/nūr (Arabic: نور), associated with the moon, means the opposite of darkness in general. It can be a source of light, and it can be a reflection (or refraction for that matter) of light, too.

None of the classical tafasīr (exegeses) of the Qur’an mentioned that the word Noor/nūr was used to denote the moon being a reflector of light. Any tafsīr that referred to the matter mentioned that the different words refer to the difference in the light’s intensity rather than its source.

The word Noor/nūr is used in the Qur’an in connection with Allah ﷻ without likening Him to any of His creations:

اللَّهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ ۖ الْمِصْبَاحُ فِي زُجَاجَةٍ ۖ الزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ يُوقَدُ مِن شَجَرَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ زَيْتُونَةٍ لَّا شَرْقِيَّةٍ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِيءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌ ۚ نُّورٌ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ ۗ يَهْدِي اللَّهُ لِنُورِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

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.

— Surat An-Nur 24:35

In the verse above, there is no known scholarly opinion that restricts the word Noor/nūr therein to being a reflection.

It is, however, commonly practiced in the Arabic language to use the word diyā’ (Arabic: ضياء) to refer to a source of light and Noor/nūr to be the resulting light from said source.

In the following verse, Allah ﷻ is giving an example of people who go astray to those who start a fire (istawqad, Arabic: استوقد) and as it radiates light (adā’at, Arabic: أضاءت), their light is taken away from them (nūrihim, Arabic: نورهم):

مَثَلُهُمْ كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي اسْتَوْقَدَ نَارًا فَلَمَّا أَضَاءَتْ مَا حَوْلَهُ ذَهَبَ اللَّهُ بِنُورِهِمْ وَتَرَكَهُمْ فِي ظُلُمَاتٍ لَّا يُبْصِرُونَ

Their example is that of one who kindled a fire, but when it illuminated what was around him, Allah took away their light and left them in darkness [so] they could not see.

— Surat Al-Baqarat 2:17

When examining the meaning of the word Noor/nūr in any of the Arabic-Arabic dictionaries at Al-Maany, one can see that the relevant translations refer to:

  • bloom
  • brighten
  • emerge
  • enlighten
  • glow
  • illuminate
  • inform
  • light
  • lighten
  • shed light on
  • shine
  • twinkle

However, the Arabic word sirāj (Arabic: سراج) was only used in the Qur’an to refer to a source of light:

تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ فِي السَّمَاءِ بُرُوجًا وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا سِرَاجًا وَقَمَرًا مُّنِيرًا

Blessed is He who has placed in the sky great stars and placed therein a [burning] lamp and luminous moon.

— Surat Al-Furqan 25:61

وَجَعَلَ الْقَمَرَ فِيهِنَّ نُورًا وَجَعَلَ الشَّمْسَ سِرَاجًا

And made the moon therein a [reflected] light and made the sun a burning lamp?

— Surat Nuh 71:16 (the verse you quoted in your question)

وَجَعَلْنَا سِرَاجًا وَهَّاجًا

And made [therein] a burning lamp

— Surat An-Naba 78:13

Likewise, the Arabic word diyā’ (Arabic: ضياء) was only used in the Qur’an to refer to a source of light:

هُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ الشَّمْسَ ضِيَاءً وَالْقَمَرَ نُورًا وَقَدَّرَهُ مَنَازِلَ لِتَعْلَمُوا عَدَدَ السِّنِينَ وَالْحِسَابَ ۚ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ ذَٰلِكَ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ ۚ يُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ

It is He who made the sun a shining light and the moon a derived light and determined for it phases – that you may know the number of years and account [of time]. Allah has not created this except in truth. He details the signs for a people who know

— Surat Yunus 10:5

قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِن جَعَلَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكُمُ اللَّيْلَ سَرْمَدًا إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ مَنْ إِلَٰهٌ غَيْرُ اللَّهِ يَأْتِيكُم بِضِيَاءٍ ۖ أَفَلَا تَسْمَعُونَ

Say, “Have you considered: if Allah should make for you the night continuous until the Day of Resurrection, what deity other than Allah could bring you light? Then will you not hear?”

— Surat Al-Qasas 28:71

It is worth noting, though, that some modern tafasīr of the Qur’an explicitly say that the moon is not a source of light whereas the sun is a source of light when discussing Qur’an 71:16,

For example, Āl Ghāzi al-‘Āni in his book about the Qur’an:

وإنما سمى الأول نورا والآخر سراجا، لأن نور القمر منعكس عليه من الشمس لاختلاف تشكلاته بالقرب والبعد عنها

NOTE.  Our own translation, so treat with care.

And the former [moon] was called Noor/nūr and the latter [sun] was called sirāj because the light of the moon is a reflection from the sun that differs based on its proximity to the sun

— Bayān al-Ma’āni, Vol. 4, pp. 267 (Arabic only)

Some even elaborated about the topic by explicitly saying that the moon is intrinsically dark and that its luminance is the result of the reflection of sunlight, e.g., Ibn ‘Ashūr in At-Tahrīr wa at-Tanwīr 30/204 (Arabic only) and Sayyid Tantāwi in At-Tafsīr al-Waseet 15/119 (Arabic only).

Moreover, by doing some basic Google search. The word نُورًا means illuminate you can check it on Google don’t write نور write نورا and Google translation clearly shows that it means illuminate.

Then they will tell you that Allah says in Quran that Allah is the light Remember there the word used is نور not نورا

This is all their plan to divert Muslim mind and make them atheist Don’t fell in their trap Remember ALLAH says in Surah Baqarah This book has no doubt in it

Allah says in Holy Quran (10:5):

Sahih International:

“It is He who made sun a shining light and moon a derived light ad determined for its phases that you may know number of years and may count {of time}. Allah has not created it except in truth. He details the signs for a people who know.”

The problem with the author of is that Allah says Moon as Noor in several verses in Quran as 10:5,71:16 and 25:61 and thus it is a contradiction with science because Noor means only “light.

“Let us first see the meaning of Noor:

1. “To receive enlightenment” Hans Wehr 4th ed. page no.1183.

2. “Accidental light” Lanes Lexicon page 2865.

3. “Some said Zia (word used in this verse for sun) means personal light and Noor (word used in this verse for moon) is the light which is not personal………but its meaning will be reflected light only when it will be compared with Zia.” Lughat ul Quran page 1670.

4. “Mutakallamin says the thing wich is itself illuminated is Zia like sun and which gets light from someone other is noor like Moon.” Riaz us Salikin (copied from Tafseer Anwar un-Najaf vol 7 page 147)
Now we quote some of interpretations of Quran indicating that moon is said Noor in the verse because it reflects light from sun.

Some references are as:

1. Tafseer e Naeemi vol. 11 page 196
2. Tafseer e Namoona vol. 5 page 41

3. Tafseer Anwar u Najaf vol. 7 page 147

4. Tafseer Roh ul Bayan  Para 9,10 and 11 page 881(Urdu translation by Muhammad Faiz Awaisi)

5. Tafseer Kamalain Sharah Jalalain vol. 3 page 36

6. Tafseer Mazhari vol. 5 page 312

All the Muslim scholars agree that Allah is not NOOR, but He is the creator of Noor because Noor is that body which itself appears, make other appeared.

But Allah has nothing like him so here Noor in that context means creator of light of heavens and Earth The stand-alone word Noor is not one of Allah Exalted he beautiful names, rather it is a descriptive within the context of the Quranic verse.

The Hadith of Holy Prophet of Sahih Muslim is its interpretation. (From Tafseer e Naeemi vol. 11 page 200)

All below discussion clarify that Holy Quran says that moon reflects light not that moon is a light.

Reflection light -moonlight

It was believed by earlier civilizations that the moon emanates its own light. Science now tells us

that the light of the moon is reflected light. However, this fact was mentioned in the Qur’an 1,400 years ago in the following verse:

25:61 ►“ تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ فِي السَّمَاءِ بُرُوجًا وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا سِرَاجًا وَقَمَرًا مُنِيرًا “

“Blessed is He Who made Constellations in the skies, and placed therein a Lamp and a Moon giving light.” [Al-Qur’an –Surah Al-Furqan-25:61]

The Arabic word for the sun in the Qur’an, is shams. It is also referred to as siraaj which means a ‘torch’ or as wahhaaj meaning ‘a blazing lamp’ or as diya which means ‘shining glory’.

All three descriptions are appropriate to the sun since it generates intense heat and light by its internal combustion.

The Arabic word for the moon is qamar and it is described in the Qur’an as muneer which is a body that gives noor i.e. reflected light.

Again, the Qur’anic description matches perfectly with the true nature of the moon which does not give off light by itself and is an inactive body that reflects the light of the sun. Not once in the Qur’an, is the moon mentioned as siraaj, wahhaaj or diya nor the sun as noor or muneer.

This implies that the Qur’an recognizes the difference between the nature of sunlight and moonlight.

The following verses relate to the nature of light from the sun and the moon:

10:5 ►“ هُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ الشَّمْسَ ضِيَاءً وَالْقَمَرَ نُورًا وَقَدَّرَهُ مَنَازِلَ لِتَعْلَمُوا عَدَدَ السِّنِينَ وَالْحِسَابَ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ ذَلِكَ إِلا بِالْحَقِّ يُفَصِّلُ الآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ “

“It is He who made the sun to be a shining glory and the moon to be a light (of beauty).” [Al-Qur’an- Surah Yunus- 10:5]

071.015► أَلَمْ تَرَوْا كَيْفَ خَلَقَ اللَّهُ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ طِبَاقًا

071.016► وَجَعَلَ الْقَمَرَ فِيهِنَّ نُورًا وَجَعَلَ الشَّمْسَ سِرَاجًا

“See ye not how Allah has created the seven heavens one above another, “And made the moon a light in their midst, and made the sun as a (Glorious) Lamp?” [Al-Qur’an – Surah Nooh 71:15-16]

The Glorious Qur’an and modern science are thus in perfect agreement about the differences in the nature of sunlight and moonlight.

Allah knows Best.

Misquoting Quran (24:35) by claiming the Moon has its own light despite Quran did not confirm that

Are there chapters in the Quran which state that the moon is lit by reflected sunlight?

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