Does The Glorious Quran (10:5), Quran (71:16), and Quran (25:61) imply that the moon is self-illuminous?

Does The Glorious Quran (10:5), Quran (71:16), and Quran (25:61) imply that the moon is self-illuminous?


Mohamad Mostafa Nassar

Twitter:@NassarMohamadMR

In first instance

“It is He who made the sun a radiance and the moon a light…” Tanzil – Quran Navigator

“Blessed is He who appointed houses in the sky and set in it a lamp and a shining moon.” Tanzil – Quran Navigator

“And He has made therein the moon for a light and the sun for a lamp” Tanzil – Quran Navigator

Secondly, going through the verses, the following points will be observed:

  1. There is no place in the verses where it is explicitly stated that the moon is self -luminous. Rather, it is only described as a light or a reflected light.
  2. In the above-mentioned verses, different terms/adjectives are used to describe both the sun and the moon respectively. Otherwise, a conjunction would have been used to describe the two bodies. This is an indication to show that the light of the two celestial bodies are not the same. For instance, the sun is called ‘diya’ meaning a radiance or shining light and ‘Siraj’ meaning a lamp from which light comes out while the moon is called ‘nur’ meaning light or described as ‘munir’ meaning shining moon. That is to show that sun is self-luminous while the moon is just a reflector.

Therefore, the light of the sun belongs to itself while on the contrary, the light of the moon does not belong to itself; rather it comes from the sun. In view of this, the adjective ‘Munir’ (i.e. a reflected light) is used for the moon, though its light is borrowed from somewhere else.

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Noor or Nooran?
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The first thing that is not noticed properly by the English audience here is the difference in these Arabic words.

I shall first tell the definitions of Noor:
Light, Blessing, Shine, Twinkle, Brightness, Beauty

Now I shall tell the difference:-

“Noor” is the literal form of this word (like in English we have Nouns)
Evidence: نور – Translation in English – bab.la

“Nooran” is the comparison form of this word (like in English we have Adjectives, Similes and Metaphors)
Evidence: Translation and Meaning of Nuran

Now on to the transliteration of the first 2 verses in the question (since they have the word):

(10:5)

Huwa allathee jaAAala ashshamsadiyaan walqamara nooran waqaddarahu manazilalitaAAlamoo AAadada assineena walhisabama khalaqa Allahu thalika illa bilhaqqiyufassilu al-ayati liqawmin yaAAlamoon

(71:16)

WajaAAala alqamara feehinna nooran wajaAAalaashshamsa siraja

In these verses, nowhere is the moon described to be either literal “light” or “giving light,” rather it is described as “Nooran,” which is the COMPARISON form of the word

So according to the verse, the moon is like “Noor” and not literally either “made of light” or “giving light” either

It can be translated in English literally as “like a light” or metaphorically as “a light”

So due to this, I shall now translate the verses and place the word “like” in brackets
(those who want to read it literally can add it and those who prefer reading it metaphorically can remove it)

(10:5)

“It is The One Who made the sun a shining light and the moon [like] a Noor and determined for it phases so that you may know the number of the years and the calculation. Not created that by Allah except in truth. He details the Signs for a people who know”

(71:16)

“And made the moon therein [like] a Noor and made the sun a lamp.”

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How is the moon “[like] a Noor”?
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Depending on the way you translate the word, you can find multiple interpretations as the word Noor has multiple meanings:-

[like] a Light
I can divide this to 2 categories:

a) Just like how light requires a source of light to be made, the Moon requires sunlight to be seen

b) Since the word “Light” is at times referred as “guide” in religious literature, and as a a portion of (10:5) says:
“…determined for it phases so that you may know the number of the years and the calculation…”
Thanks to the Moon ‘as a guide’, we have the Lunar Calendar

[like] a Blessing
It is true that it is a blessing, as it helps in creating tides
What Causes Ocean Tides?

[like] a Shine
According to this site, some of the meanings of “shine” are:
to be bright by reflection of light
to throw or direct the light of
brightness caused by the reflection of light
And of course, Moon shines by reflecting sunlight

[like] a Brightness/Twinkle


The Phases of the Moon
As parts of it may glow or stop glowing based on the continuous changes of Sunlight hitting the moon
(Google Dictionary says twinkle can mean “a light which appears continually to grow brighter and fainter” and brightness can mean “the quality or state of giving out or reflecting light.”)

[like] a Beauty
I mean, the moon is beautiful… right?

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The Arabic word “Muneera”
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Yet another thing confusing to the English audience is the third verse in the question… I shall first show the Transliteration

(25:61)

Tabaraka allathee jaAAala feeassama-i buroojan wajaAAala feeha sirajanwaqamaran muneera

While it is true that literally it is often translated as “giving light,” this word actually means “an object which reflects light”

As evidence, refer to Tafsir Ibn Kathir (I am not using Arabic-English Dictionaries here as their translations may sound confusing to the English Audience)

Al – Quran Tafsir
(and a moon giving light.) means, shining and illuminated by the light of something else, different from the light of the sun

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Sahih International’s Translation – Fabrication?
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Sahih International has done rather… interesting translations

(10:5)

“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.”

(71:16)

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

Now a lot of anti-Islam writers have attacked this translation, but.,.
Do we even know the true intention of the translator?

Was the translator being literal? Then that would obviously be wrong as the moon is neither made of light nor made of reflected light

Was the translator being symbolic? Did the translator mean to say that the moon is so similar to light (see Interpretation A of [like] a light), it feels like it is a reflection of it? Then the translator would be right

Or was this the reason?
“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.
Source: Reflect light-Moonlight – Quran & Science

Why does Sahih International translate Quran (10:5) as that the moon is “derived light” while the original Arabic just says “light” or Nur in Arabic? Is it a corruption of the text?

It is not corruption of text, since there is no change in Arabic text. Sahih international hasn’t done good job in some other verses too. But if you just translate it as simple light, that is not justified too. In English, light is just light. But in Arabic, in the same verse, Allah used two different words “diya” and “nur” to describe light, because there is difference.

“He it is who has made the sun a “diya” and the moon a “nur” (Quran 10:5)

So, if you translate as “Sun is light, Moon is also light”, that is NOT justice.

Let me give you some other example of how these 2 words are used in Quran.

Diya: 

Light emitting soul Quran (28:71), fire Quran (2:17), lightening (of thunder) Quran (2:20), Furqaan/Criterion that sheds light on other Quran (21:48). So, It is always a source of light.

Nur:

“do the darkness and the light equate?” Quran (13:16), “He brings them out of the darkness and into the light” Quran (2:257), “A guiding light has come to you from God” Quran (5:15), “Who made the darkness and the light” Quran (6:1), “follow the light that was sent down with him” َQuran (7:157) etc. [Don’t be confused with “nar”, which is fire]

So, if you look at the above verses, “nur” is just simple light that guides us by eliminating darkness (look at the picture). So, the closer translation of 10:5 can be:

“He it is who has made the sun a radiating light and the moon a guiding light (Quran 10:5)

Moon emits just the “light”/nur to provide guidance at night, but it is not itself source/”diya”.

I do not support “derived light” because “nur” is used for God too. And God can not have derived light. Many of us use this word, we should be careful.

“They want to extinguish God’s (guiding) light (“Nur”)…” (Quran 61:8)

God is the light (“Nur”) of heaven and earth…an olive-tree that is neither of the east nor of the west the oil whereof [is so bright that it] would well-nigh give light [of itself] (“Diya”) even though fire had not touched it. (Quran 24:35)

This is the second verse in Quran where “diya” and “nur” is used together to distinguish the meaning. God is very precise in his wording.

“..(such is) the artistry of God, who disposes of all things in perfect order..” (Quran 27:88)

“Do you not see how Allah created seven heavens, one above the other,placing the moon within them as a ˹reflected˺ light, and the sun as a ˹radiant˺ lamp?” Quran (71:15-16)

“Blessed is the One Who has placed constellations in the sky, as well as a ˹radiant˺ lamp1 and a luminous moon. Quran (25:61)

And When The Glorious Quran spoke about the Absence of Sun If Allah willed- He did not mention the moon but he mentioned word “Diya=ضياء to refer the sunlight and did not mention word Nur that is associated with moon in previous various Quranic verses:

Ask ˹them, O  Prophet˺, “Imagine if Allah were to make the night perpetual for you until the Day of Judgment, which god other than Allah could bring you sunlight? Will you not then listen?” Quran (28:71)

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Conclusion
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No, Al-Quran does not say it is self-luminous, rather it says that it reflects light
Translations that call it “a light” are all metaphorical translations


And to say moon “gives” light would not be incorrect to say as when it “derives” sunlight (i.e: when sunlight hits it), the moon “gives” the light which hits it by changing its course to the Earth (i.e: reflecting/diverting light)

Allah knows Best.

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

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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