The Location of Stars

So, No! I swear by the location of stars, and it indeed is -- if you would know – tremendous evidence that this definitely is the honourable Qur-aan, kept in a protected Book that only the Pure touch, revealed from the Lord of the universe. So, is it this text that you are indifferently side-stepping and opting for your share in this bounty that you reject it? Al-Waaqi‘ah 56:75-82

This set of short verses starts with a big NO, negating all the opinions, conjectures and wild speculations of the disbelieving Makkans about the Noble Qur-aan. They were stunned by its beauty and power. They could not see Muhammad being the author of this superb masterpiece. They had known him for more than forty years and had never seen anything in him which would lead them to believe that he could produce that kind of oratory. At the same time, however, they did not want to believe in his claim that it was revealed by Allaah Himself. So, they started concocting theories to explain this sudden, and surprising, flow of gems of erudition coming from the mouth of Muhammad SA‘WS.

In Arabia in those days, there were only two kinds of people who were famous for their creative oratory: poets and soothsayers. Although the text of the Qur-aan was neither like poetry nor like soothsaying, anti-Islamic forces decided to label it as soothsaying so that the Prophet’s claim of prophethood could be dismissed. The Makkans believed that the soothsayers communicated with Jinns who brought them news from the heavens which the soothsayers then presented to their clients. The Makkan chiefs tried to discredit the Prophet by propagating that he, like the soothsayers, also was hearing things from some Jinn and presenting them as revelations from Allaah. Allaah SWT revealed different verses at appropriate times to refute this propaganda. In the above-mentioned verses of Soorah Al-Waaqi‘ah, Allaah SWT has brought forth the witness of the location of stars to illustrate that:

  1. The Holy Qur-aan is an honourable book consisting of revelation from Allaah – the Lord of the Universe – very distinct from random, weird and meaningless statements made by soothsayers;
  2. Its contents are protected at source and are absolutely beyond the reach of any Jinn; and
  3. Its transmission and delivery is conducted through pure means, that is, through the Archangel Jibreel who is powerful and trustworthy. Hence, Jinns and Shayaateen (Satans) cannot possibly intercept it during its transmission or delivery.

So, how does the location of stars bear witness to the above-mentioned facts? The Qur-aan claims it is a great evidence (oath). People may start looking for some spectacular phenomenon, but we need to remember that any explanation we come up with must:

  • Provide clear evidence that leads a person to conclude that the Qur-aan is the honourable book from Allaah, it was protected at source and transmitted intact to the Prophet.
  • Be comprehensible to Makkans at the time of revelation of the Book as well as to the advanced astronomers of the current world. As the evidence was presented to Makkans as the first audience, it must be clear enough for the sincere of them to see the truth. Because the Qur-aan is guidance for the whole humanity until the Day of Judgment, it must be scientifically valid to provide guidance even to the experts in astronomy.
  • Be about the location of the stars and not any other properties.

We should note that there are other properties of stars used by the Qur-aan as evidence for other points. For example, Soorah At-Taariq presents bright, shining star (most probably a supernova or pulsar) as evidence for the fact that people are being watched by Allaah SWT and the setting of stars has been mentioned as evidence for the clarity of the vision of the Prophet in Soorah An-Najm. Those aspects will be discussed at their own place.
North American readers should keep in mind that using stars to explain important points was an effective way of using familiar phenomenon for inciting people to reflect on important points with a clear mind. The Arabs had ample opportunities to observe and enjoy the beauty of the night sky and its impressive scenery. In addition, they had developed the expertise to look at the location of stars at night and figure out directions for their travel and movement through the desert.

For reflection on the location of stars and the relationship of the stars’ location with the salient features of the Noble Qur-aan, the following are some of the points that mufassireen have mentioned:

  • Stars are extremely high in the sky (away in space) at distances that are beyond human imagination. That indicates the highness and loftiness of the message and contents of the honourable Qur-aan as compared to any human thoughts or rants of soothsayers.
  • Despite their own movement, they keep fixed relative positions so that people can use them for guidance in the deserts and oceans. Despite their huge numbers and diverse sizes and brightness, they are well organized, fixed in a well-coordinated firm structure. They provide soothing light on a clear night. The Qur-aan also provides a well-coordinated guidance about the multitude of systems of life and provides soothing light to guide people out of the darkness of human ignorance.
  • They are far, far away -- thousands, millions and billions of light years away– beyond the reach of any human being or Jinn{footnote}Let us not be fooled by human endeavours in space travel in our own backyard – the space around and planets close to the earth.{/footnote}. Anyone trying to reach them will be prevented by continuous collisions from space debris (also known as shooting stars) as well as by the lack of both time and energy to travel to them. The text of the Qur-aan is also beyond the reach of any Jinn or Satan. Its source is totally unimaginable even far beyond any ideas we may have about stars.
  • As angels, who are pure and trustworthy, are the only creation that can traverse the universe among and around stars, they are also the only ones who have access to the text of the Qur-aan. Thus the Qur-aan remains in the secure and trustworthy hands of Jibreel and his assistants until it is delivered intact.
  • The Creator of these neatly arranged and well placed stars giving a magnificent view of the night sky is also the revealer of this Magnificent Qur-aan. Its verses are gems of wisdom that adorn the Qur-aan as the night sky is adorned by the stars.

Hence, the words, commands, reminders and warnings of the Qur-aan should be accorded due reverence and not taken lightly. How odd that anyone can doubt its authenticity or disregard its teachings!

Reflection on the location of stars provides another point of guidance as well. Stars do not and cannot exist individually. Every star is a part of a system, physically as a part of a galaxy revolving around its centre and visually as a part of a constellation. They can be observed and understood only in reference to their relative location. The verses of the Qur-aan are also organized in Soorahs revolving around the central theme of the Soorah and bound by their context; thus they should be reflected upon only in their context, and not in isolation.

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