Sunday, 3 April 2011

'The Light of the World' & the Passion to Preach

The Light of the World is an allegorical painting by William Holman Hunt (1827 - 1901).  It represents the figure of Jesus Christ preparing to knock on an overgrown and long-unopened door, it is captioned with the quotation from the 'Book of Revelations' in The Holy Bible
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  [1]
Hunt said about it that "I painted the picture with what I thought, unworthy though I was, to be by Divine command, and not simply as a good subject."[2]  Toward the end of his life, Hunt painted a life-size version, which was hung in St Paul's Cathedral, London, following a world tour as the 'Sermon in a Frame' where the picture drew large crowds.  On a visit to the cathedral I saw a lady genuflecting before the painting and weeping with emotion.

There is a passage in the Discourses of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad - The Holy founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community which always reminds one of this painting and leaves one wondering whether he may have seen it himself when the painting was shown in India.  He says:
If it were in our power we would have gone door to door like beggars and preached the true creed of Almighty God.  So that it may serve as a safeguarding of the people from this destructive idolatry and disbelief which has spread across the world.  If Almighty God were to teach us the English language we would embark upon a tour in order to preach and end our life in this cause even though we may be killed for it.  [3]

[1] The Holy Bible.  Revelation 3: 20.  Authorised King James version.  (1611).
[2] Hunt, William Holman.  Pre-Raphaelitism & the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood i.  (London: Macmillan, 1905.  350).
[3] Ahmad, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam.  14 June 1902.  Malfoozat ii [Discources ii].  219.


  1. hmmm....though in Islam we are prohibited to draw pictures of prophets and their fellows...

    But I like this picture so much.

    hmm...I saved it in my computer now.

    Thank you so much for sharing....please don't feel not saying anything on second half of the your know why.

    We all have our own day we all will be together in-front of one Allah...and thats the whole truth.

    To Allah be all glory.

    1. Think of what you've missed!

    2. There is nothing in Islam that strictly prohibits the artistic depiction of the Prophets. A glance at the structure of the Sura' on Joseph for example reveals that it is almost a dramatic narrative. Depictions of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ are to be found in Islamic art. It is art for the purpose of idolatry which is prohibited.

      The Prophet was shown a painting of his wife Aisha by Gabriel in a dream. Please also check out this answer to whether drawing is forbidden in Islam.

  2. I have love in my heart for all people and we are all united by love.

  3. Thank You Theresa. I follow the motto of 'Love for All Hatred for none' as preached and practised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.