[Al-Quran 50:6-8] Have they not looked at the heaven above them - how We structured it and adorned it and how it has no rifts? And the earth - We spread it out and cast therein firmly set mountains and made grow therein [something] of every beautiful kind, Giving insight and a reminder for every servant who turns [to Allah].

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

An-Najm: The Star

Related post:

Stars have been the object of much wonder and worship all throughout history. The Quran clearly informs us that the stars are a part of creation, subjected to the command of God. They benefit us by serving as guides in the dark, on land and at sea. It informs us that, like all creation, they will also suffer decline when the world comes to an end. 

Furthermore, in Chapter 53, the Quran clearly states that God is the Lord of Sirius. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky and has been the object of worship by many civilisations since ancient times, and its symbolism continues to be found in the modern world. The chapter outlines some salient points, and read in the backdrop of mythology associated with Sirius, what the Quran has to say is quite interesting. 

Backdrop of Mythology: 
Worship of Heavenly Bodies:  Astrolatry is the worship of stars and other heavenly bodies as deities, or the association of deities with heavenly bodies. The most common instances of this are sun gods and moon gods in polytheistic systems worldwide. Also notable is the association of the planets with deities in Babylonian, and hence in Greco-Roman religion, viz. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.’ 

The Mythology of Sirius:  Since ancient times and across multiple civilizations, Sirius, the dog star, has been surrounded with a mysterious lore. Esoteric teachings of all ages have invariably attributed to Sirius a special status and the star’s importance in occult symbolism is an attestation of that fact… Artifacts of ancient civilizations have revealed that Sirius was of a great importance in astronomy, mythology and occultism. Mystery schools consider it to be “sun behind the sun” and, therefore, the true source of our sun’s potency. If our sun’s warmth keeps the physical world alive, Sirius is considered to keep the spiritual world alive. It is the “real light” shining in the East, the spiritual light, where as the sun illuminates the physical world, which is considered to be a grand illusion. . Associating Sirius with the divine and even considering it as the home of humanity’s “great teachers” is not only embedded in the mythology of a few primitive civilizations: It is a widespread belief that has survived (and even intensified) to this day.’ 

Star-worship is denounced in The Bible, Deuteronomy, 4:19 http://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/4-19.htm  
Star(s) mention in Quran: 
Firstly, to explore what the Quran says about stars in general, and in what context it uses the term ‘najm’ and its plural ‘nujum’: 

[Al-Qur’an 6:97, translator: Sahih International] And it is He who placed for you the stars that you may be guided by them through the darknesses of the land and sea. We have detailed the signs for a people who know.

[Al-Qur’an 7:54, translator: Sahih International] Indeed, your Lord is Allah , who created the heavens and earth in six days and then established Himself above the Throne. He covers the night with the day, [another night] chasing it rapidly; and [He created] the sun, the moon, and the stars, subjected by His command. Unquestionably, His is the creation and the command; blessed is Allah , Lord of the worlds. 
In this verse, the governing is further elaborated by drawing our attention towards the quick succession of the night and day: i.e. the rotation and revolution of the Earth and all other heavenly bodies, and goes on to inform that the objects of the day and night sky, i.e. the sun, the moon and the stars are all subjected by His Command. Unquestionably, His is the Creation and the Command, it is Allah who causes meaningful growth [b-r-k], Lord of the Worlds. The previous two verses mention that God has certainly sent Books and on the day when the event comes to pass (resurrection & judgement), people will realise that the Messengers indeed spoke the truth. 

[Al-Qur’an 16:12, translator: Sahih International] And He has subjected for you the night and day and the sun and moon, and the stars are subjected by His command. Indeed in that are signs for a people who reason. 

[Al-Qur’an 16:15-16, translator: Sahih International] And He has cast into the earth firmly set mountains, lest it shift with you, and [made] rivers and roads, that you may be guided, And landmarks. And by the stars they are [also] guided.

[Al-Qur’an 22:18, translator: Sahih International]  Do you not see that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth and the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the moving creatures and many of the people? But upon many the punishment has been justified. And he whom Allah humiliates - for him there is no bestower of honor. Indeed, Allah does what He wills. 

[Al-Qur’an 37:88, translator: Sahih International] And he cast a look at the stars
In verse 37:88, Abraham cast a look at the stars. This is during a discussion with his father and his people, who were idol-worshippers, about the Lord of the Worlds, as indicated by the preceding verses. In the following verses, Abraham goes on to break the idols. 

[Al-Qur’an 52:48-49, translator: Sahih International] And be patient, [O Muhammad], for the decision of your Lord, for indeed, you are in Our eyes. And exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord when you arise. And in a part of the night exalt Him and after [the setting of] the stars

[Al-Qur’an 53:1, translator: Sahih International] By the star when it descends,
In verse 53:49 of this chapter, it states that it is He (God) who is the Lord of Sirius. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky. Sirius has been the object of worship of many ancients civilisations and this worship continues in the present time under many guises. More on this below under the heading Sirius.

[Al-Qur’an 55:5-6, translator: Sahih International]  The sun and the moon [move] by precise calculation, And the stars and trees prostrate.
Sun, Moon, Stars and Trees have been the objects of worship since antiquity. In these verses, it is being clarified that these objects are themselves subservient to God. According to a scholar, yasjudan, which literally means to prostrate, is used metaphorically to mean to obey.   

[Al-Qur’an 56:75-76, translator: Sahih International] Then I swear by the setting of the stars, And indeed, it is an oath - if you could know - [most] great.

[Al-Qur’an 77:8, translator: Sahih International] So when the stars are obliterated   
Regarding the end of the world before the Day of Judgement, this verse states that when the stars are obliterated. 

[Al-Qur’an 81:2, translator: Sahih International] And when the stars fall, dispersing,   

[Al-Qur’an 86:3, translator: Sahih International] By the sky and the night comer - And what can make you know what is the night comer?  It is the piercing star

In verse 6:97, the purpose of stars in the night sky has been explained that God has appointed them as guides to help us find our way in the darkness. In verse 16:16, attention is drawn to how we find our way: through landmarks in the day, and by stars at night.  

Astronomy is perhaps the oldest science, and has primarily and widely been employed for navigation. Stars have well-defined patterns of movement across the sky, and are an indispensable tool to identify the coordinates and direction. Even with today’s modern tools, knowledge of stars and their movement patterns in the sky are considered vital for all pilots and navigators. It has been discovered that animals also use stars and landmarks to find their way.  

Al-Qur’an: Sirius, The Star 
In the Quran, chapter 53, it is clearly stated in verse 49 that: 
وَأَنَّهُ هُوَ رَبُّ الشِّعْرَىٰ 

[Al-Qur’an 53:49, translator: Pickthall] And that He it is Who is the Lord of Sirius; 

The worship of stars, and specifically Sirius must be a rather widespread matter that an entire chapter (surah) of the Quran is titled The Star, and in it there is specific mention of Sirius, and other idols: Laat, Uzza and Manat are also mentioned by name. The concept of trinity and its manifestations under various guises and names seems to keep cropping up across mythologies. Specific objection is also made to the myth about angels being females. There are many pages on the web dedicated to angels: their supposed names and powers, and many are believed to be feminine supernatural powers. It appears that throughout history up till now, people have and still continue to worship Sirius, believe in trinity, consider angels females, and conjecture the strangest and most fantastical of beliefs. 

After mentioning the above list of idolatrous beliefs, the question posed is: 

[Al-Qur’an 53:24-25, translator: Pickthall] Or shall man have what he coveteth? But unto Allah belongeth the after (life), and the former.   

The Quran states that these people actually desire nothing but the life of this world [53:29]. The next few verses clearly state that it is Allah (The Deity/God) who is the Creator. It is Allah who grants laughter and tears, wealth and  satisfaction, death and life, male and female, and He will resurrect. And that it is Allah who is the Lord of Sirius [53:49], clearly dispelling all conjectures about Sirius’ deification. 

After listing some of the benefits/bounties of Allah to humans, and mention of those who were destroyed due to their arrogant defiance and transgression, the question posed is: 

[Al-Qur’an 53:55, translator: Pickthall] Concerning which then, of the bounties of thy Lord, canst thou dispute?

Some parallels and points to ponder
Verses 1-18 deal with the revelation to the Prophet and that he indeed saw the angel who brought the revelation: 

[Al-Qur’an 53:4-9, translator: Pickthall] It is naught save an inspiration that is inspired, Which one of mighty powers hath taught him, One vigorous; and he grew clear to view When he was on the uppermost horizon. Then he drew nigh and came down Till he was (distant) two bows' length or even nearer,  

Also consider the following verses of Surah At-Takwir:

[Al-Qur’an 81:18-24, translator: Pickthall] And the breath of morning That this is in truth the word of an honoured messenger, Mighty, established in the presence of the Lord of the Throne, (One) to be obeyed, and trustworthy; And your comrade is not mad. Surely he beheld Him on the clear horizon. And he is not avid of the Unseen. 

According to one study of Sirius’ heliacal rising in Cairo, Sirius first rose to view in 10,000 BC. It rose to its northern most point above the horizon around 1000 BC and has maintained almost the same position till 1000 AD. Thereafter, it has started declining, and will eventually vanish from the horizon. 

Interestingly, Prophet Adam is supposed to have come in 10,000 BC, Prophet Moses in 1000 BC,  Prophet Jesus’ birth marks the turn of the calendar from BC to AD, and Prophet Muhammad in 623 AD 

Sirius’ Companion Star 
Another interesting aspect is that the visible Sirius (Sirius A) has a companion star (Sirius B), which is heavier and more compact than Sirius A. They have an interesting wobbly pattern which appears to be bow-shaped. It is theorised that there is probably a third companion star in this system as well.

Ancient mythology held Sirius to be the spiritual Sun, the source of spiritual knowledge and wisdom. The Dogon tribe has been worshipping an invisible yet mightier companion star of Sirius since ancient times, while modern science has discovered this only recently.

Heliacal Rising of Sirius 
At the time of Christ, the moment still marking the turning point of our calendar, the great civilization of Egypt lay in ruins beneath the swords of the marauding hordes of Assyria, Babylon, Greece and Rome. The rising point of Sirius has barely moved over this time of upheaval, sitting at 110° east. The equinox point is now crossing the first fish of the constellation Pisces.

Sirius 1BC Heliacal Rising Cairo.gif 27.75 KiB 

By 1000 AD, in the middle of the Dark Ages, observation of the stars had largely been forgotten except by the Arabs. The equinox point is now in the middle of the constellation Pisces. Sirius rises slightly later, on 10 July, at almost exactly the same place on the horizon where it rose at the time of Christ.

Sirius 1000AD Heliacal Rising Cairo.gif 30.61 KiB

The current situation, shown in this diagram from 2000 AD, shows the equinox nearly at the end of Pisces and just about to enter Aquarius. Sirius still rises close to the same point it has risen for the last 2000 years. Orion’s Belt has reached the celestial equator, near to its most northerly position in about 2300 AD.

Sirius 2000AD Heliacal Rising Cairo.gif 31.2 KiB

Further Reading: 

Last updated on September 26, 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment