Light and Reflection
by Victor Sinow
Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim
For this edition of the Insight newsletter “Science and Spirituality” column, let us dive into the topic of light and reflection.
As revealed by Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Ali Kianfar during a recent class on Surah 53 of the Holy Quran (“The Star”), understanding the nature and relationship of light, reflection, and knowledge are critical to a deep and meaningful spiritual practice: “The light is the knowledge. Without the light we don’t see the objects. Look deeply, according to science, seeing and hearing are both reflections. The process of reflection reveals to us an object or a voice.”
As Dr. Kianfar mentions, indeed the process of observing anything in the physical world is a consequence of reflection. A light wave, incident on a material surface of any kind, will induce small oscillations of individual electrons in that material at the same frequency as the incoming light. These oscillating electrons, themselves being charged particles now in periodic motion, generate new electromagnetic waves that radiate out from the surface of the material. This newly generated radiation is a reflection of the original light. In this way, an object becomes “visible” only due to its interaction and resonance with the source of light by which it is illuminated.
The word “visible” is worth a closer look, for it is defined in relation to that which is engaged in observing. For a human body that exists in three-dimensional sense reality, the eye is the tool of observation and sight. It has physical atomic structures that are excited by electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths in the range of 380nm – 750nm. Thus, what we see with our eyes and term “visible” are objects capable of interacting with light of an extremely narrow bandwidth and radiating a copy of that light back out into the world for our eyes to detect.
It should be clear, then, that the majority of knowledge in the universe is inaccessible to us through the sensing apparatus of the corporeal body. Furthermore, it should also be clear that to unlock the depth of meaning and truth in any object, one needs a light source with frequency content tuned to resonate with the totality of that object. With regards to the study of the Holy Quran, reading the words printed on the page is unlocking but a tiny fraction of meaning, limited to the interaction of visible light with paper and ink, and the detection of a small frequency band with our eyes. For such careful study, we have neither the proper tool to see nor have we cultivated the rich source of light necessary to induce reflection of meaning.
It is here that we must heed the teachings of Dr. Kianfar with great care and attention. We must purify ourselves through disciplined practice and right action such that we ourselves can reflect the light of our Provider, the light of the Star at the core of our being, out into the world. This light, when used to illuminate the words of the Holy Quran, causes reflection of ultimate knowledge that can only be detected by the eyes of a purified heart.
As Dr. Kianfar has taught: “It is in the darkness that you read Quran…unless the light rises from inside of you.” With the guidance and love of a spiritual teacher and master, may we all reveal and reflect the light of Ar-Rahman.