There is one source of light, the sun, which illuminates everything, just as most religions consider God to be the single source from which all things emanate and into which all merges back. Not only is light central to our everyday life but it is also a core concept in most religions representing the visible manifestation of Divine energy.
In the Hebrew Bible, there are many significant instances of light, starting with the famous proclamation of God early on in Genesis: “Let there be light.” In the New Testament, Jesus proclaims, “I am the light of the world.” The Apostles’ Creed calls Jesus “lumen de lumine,” i.e., “Light derived from light.”
The Zoroastrian Fire Temple is built around a sacred light that burns all the time. The Qur’an states that God is the light of the heavens and the earth. Islam and Baha’i writings both frequently evoke images of God as the light of a lamp or lantern. Muslims believe that angels who are messengers of God are also luminous beings. In Hindu and Buddhist thought, our guiding light is found within.
Ceremonial use of light in various liturgies is commonly seen in Jewish, Christians, Buddhist, Zoroastrian and Hindu celebrations. Lighting a lamp or incense is the way to start the ritual of prayer in many faiths.
Light symbolizes life, divinity, purity, hope, guidance, spiritual wisdom, and truth. It is hardly surprising that light is used as a powerful symbol in virtually every religion. Light can dispel darkness but darkness cannot dispel light. We become enlightened when we can ‘see’ the inner self or our divinity. While the sun’s light illuminates our external world, knowledge illuminates our inner world. Just as the sun gives light to us all, the same divine light shines through each and everyone of us irrespective of our religious beliefs.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
—The New Testament (John 8:12), Christian text
“God is the Light of the heavens and earth. His Light is like this: there is a niche, and in it a lamp, the lamp inside a glass, a glass like a glittering star, fueled from a blessed olive tree from neither east nor west, whose oil almost gives light even when no fire touches it–light upon light– God guides whoever He will to his.”
—Qur’an (24:35), Muslim text
“For this command is a lamp,
this teaching is a light,
and correction and instruction
are the way to life.”
–The Hebrew Bible (Proverbs, 6:23), Jewish text
“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”
—Baha’u’llah, Baha’i prophet
“If a thousand suns were to rise in the heavens at the same time, the blaze of their light would resemble the splendor of that supreme spirit.”
—The Bhagavad Gita (11:12), Hindu text
“There are, O monks, these four lights. What four? The light of the moon, the light of the sun, the light of fire, and the light of wisdom. Of these four lights, the light of wisdom is supreme.”