For as long as I can remember, I've always been fascinated with light and radiance. I hated the darkness. I hated dark rooms. I didn't like to be in places where there was no natural light.
There was once I had a mini panic attack when I was showed the place I had to work in for the job I was applying for. I withdrew my application on the spot and left the room.
In 2011, I enrolled into a life coaching program. We spent weeks working and discovering about ourselves. At the end of it, we had to pick a word that represented the entire journey and ourselves best. Mine was radiance.
Radiance became my happy word.
I never knew why until recently. And it unraveled in the most amazing way.
What's in a name?
When I was born, my father named me Li Jinghan（李静涵）.
Li （李）is my surname while Jinghan（静涵）is my given name. It means "quiet" and having "inner substance". My father had hoped that I would grow up to be a person of exemplary character. When he told my grandpa about the name he has chosen for me, my grandpa said, "Are you naming a nun?"
When I converted in 2015, I had to think of a Muslim name for myself. I didn't want to lose my identity as Jinghan and so I searched for the closest word that came to it. It happened to be Jihan. It meant 'proud' or 'chief'. Hardly flattering, but it felt 'me'. I eventually took on the name Nur Jihan Li.
Fast forward to a few months later, I was feeling a little discouraged about the lack of purpose and motivation in my life. A colleague of mine sent me a message through the office communicator:
Her: Salam Jinghan!
She told me how excited she was when she found out that I was a convert.
Her: May I ask what your Muslim name is?
Me: Nur Jihan
Her: Nur means light. Jihan means universe. Your name means light of the universe! Masha Allah! That's beautiful!
Me: Oh! Jihan actually means chief or proud or something. Not universe!
Her: According to Google, it means universe in Arabic. Google it yourself!"
Indeed it was!
Masha Allah! How beautiful. As with every minute detail of my life, I had to share it with Aizat.
Me: Dearest! Do you know that my name means?
Aizat: I forgot. Is it high status or something?
Me: It means... LIGHT
Me: You just married the light of the universe! What a lucky guy!
Aizat: Since when?
Me: SINCE NOW!
Me: Nur means light. Jihan means universe in arabic. So I AM...
Me: THE LIGHT OF THE UNIVERSE! WHOAAAAAAAAAAA
Me: WHAT A NAME! And I was feeling kind of crappy today. I am motivated to live up to my name now! Hehe! Alhamdulillah! We didn't even know what it meant when we chose that name.
Aizat: Alhamdulillah! We didn't choose that name. Allah chose it for you.
At that moment, I just felt like I had so much more to give to the world! Surely with a name like that, I'd have to live up to it!
Me: I AM...
Me: THE LIGHT OF THE UNIVERSE
Aizat: Okay that's enough!
Yes, I actually stuck a photo of my head in the middle of the universe. And I sent it to everyone I love. My parents, friends, colleagues. Everyone!
This silly picture has done so much for me. Whenever I felt unmotivated or lousy about myself, I would look at it and be reminded that Allah put a Nur in all of us. We can choose to contain it within ourselves or share it. Contain it, and like a flame, it may eventually extinguish. Share it, and you might just illuminate the world!
Be the light that illuminates
Your light, no matter how small, might the only glimmer of hope for someone trapped in darkness. Your light, no matter how small, is capable of lighting up the darkness.
Darkness can only exist in the absence of light. Yet, a single ray of light is enough to light up the dark.
"Allah is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light."
[Al-Baqara, Ch. 2:257]
How wonderful it is for the believer! Allah promises his protection to guide them from the darkness of this world to His Light. Darkness may exist in many forms, many levels and depths, but there is only one Light, and one Truth.
In us, Allah has placed a Nur. In us, he has placed His Light. So share that light, radiate that light from within. Never stop yourself from sharing your light because you think you're not good enough. Many of us fear giving our advice to others because we fear sounding hypocritical; we fear that it would invite judgement and gossip. We think that giving advise is the work of the Ustaz, Sheykh and Imam. We think: who are we, as imperfect individuals, to offer our advice to others?
Well, you couldn't be more wrong! Advise a sister or brother against engaging in something that displeases Allah, and Insha Allah, He will help you with whatever you're struggling with. May He then be pleased with you, and guide you away from your sins and transgressions, and may He make it easy for you to act in a manner that is conducive to His mercy.
"If you find a darkness in your heart after you sinned, know then that in your heart there is light; because of this light you felt the darkness"
You may not be the most pious, the most exemplary of all Muslims, but never doubt that there is good in your heart that can be nurtured. There is a light in you, in every one of us, that can be shared.
Don't wait to be perfect; you will never be. For only Allah is perfect.
A Sheykh once recited this dua during a seminar which I thought was extremely beautiful:
"O Allah! Whatever little light, whatever little good I have, let me share it with the world. May you see the light in me and increase me in my light. O Allah! Make me closer to perfection. Give me the courage and strength to share my light even when I am not perfect (as I will never be) for only you, O Allah, are perfect."
How deary and bleak a world it would be, if everyone was afraid to share that light?
Guess who isn't afraid to share? Shaytan. Shaytan has no qualms about sharing and spreading his darkness. No matter how small. Even a spot, even a smear, delights him! Because like a virus, a spot can spread and infect. It can multiply and corrupt. Imagine a world where the only vile and the wicked proliferates. What becomes of the world? The world becomes a place of darkness. It becomes a world without light, a world without Truth.
A light, no matter how small can illuminate the darkness around it.
So share that light. Be the light that illuminates.
O Allah! Put Nur within us!
Ibn ‘Abbas narrates: I heard Rasulullah saw reciting this supplication one night, after he had completed his Tahjjud Salah:
O Allah! Put Nur (light) in my heart, and make my grave illuminated; and grant me Nur in front of me, Nur at my back, Nur on my right, Nur on my left, Nur above me, Nur below me, (Your Nur be around me), and Nur in my ears, Nur in my eyes, Nur in every hair of mine, Nur in my skin, Nur in my flesh, Nur in my blood, and Nur in every bone of mine. O Allah! Make my Nur enormous, grant me Nur, and make Nur for me.