For the purpose of analyzing Qur’anic themes, it is better to start by examining the opinion of the Qur’an about itself and its manner of self-introduction. The first and foremost thing that the Qur’an pronounces about itself is that all of its words, phrases and sentences are the Word of God. It makes clear that the Prophet (pbuh&hh) was not its author; rather the Prophet only related whatever was revealed to him through the agency of the Ruh al-Qudus (Gabriel) with the permission of God.
The Qur’an describes its other function as the presentation of the Prophetic mission, which is aimed at guidance of humanity, by delivering it from darkness and leading it towards light:
﴾A Book We have sent down to thee that thou mayest bring forth mankind from the darkness into the light… (14:1)﴿
Without doubt the darkness of ignorance is one of the vices from which the Qur’an emancipates humanity and leads it towards the light of knowledge and wisdom. However, if merely ignorance were regarded as darkness, then the philosophers could have accomplished this job. But there exist other evils more dangerous than the vice of ignorance, and to subdue them is beyond the power of sheer knowledge.
Among them are the vices of worship of material benefits, egoism, enslavement to desires, and greed, which are considered to be personal and moral vices. Social vices like oppression and discrimination manifest the spiritual darkness of a society. In Arabic, the word zulm (injustice and oppression) is derived from the same root as zulmah (darkness), which shows that injustice is a form of social and spiritual darkness. To struggle against such forms of darkness is the responsibility and mission of the Qur’an and other heavenly books. Addressing Prophet Moses (A), the Qur’an says:
﴾That thou mayest bring forth your people from the darkness into the light … (14:5)﴿
This darkness, this shadow, is the darkness of Pharaoh’s oppression and injustice and that of his clique. The light is the light of justice and freedom.
The exegetists of the Qur’an emphasize the point that whenever the Qur’an mentions darkness, it always uses it in the plural form although it always uses light in its singular form. This means that the word, (darkness) includes all sorts of darkness, all of the evil ways that lead towards darkness, and that (light) signifies one single right path –the path of righteousness, whereas the ways of deviation and perversion are many. In Surat al-Baqarah, the Qur’an says:
﴾God is the Protector of the believers; He brings them forth from the darkness into the light. And the unbelievers –their protectors are taghut, that bring them forth from the light into the darkness … (2:257)﴿
The Qur’an determines its goal to be the breaking of the chains of ignorance, misguidance, moral and social corruption and destruction, or in other words, to dissipate all sorts of (darkness) and to guide humanity in the direction of justice, goodness and light.
* Book: Understanding the Uniqueness of the Quran. By Martyr Murtada Mutahhari