[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].

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Burooj: Guarded Strongholds

Burooj are guarded strongholds in the sky, categorised under ‘kawakib’, and hence built of material similar to the material of which the planets are made of. 
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Concordance in the Qur’an

The word Burooj appears in four verses in the Quran:
(4:78:8) burūjin أَيْنَمَا تَكُونُوا يُدْرِكْكُمُ الْمَوْتُ وَلَوْ كُنْتُمْ فِي بُرُوجٍ مُشَيَّدَةٍ
(15:16:5) burūjan وَلَقَدْ جَعَلْنَا فِي السَّمَاءِ بُرُوجًا وَزَيَّنَّاهَا لِلنَّاظِرِينَ
(25:61:6) burūjan تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ فِي السَّمَاءِ بُرُوجًا
(85:1:3) l-burūji وَالسَّمَاءِ ذَاتِ الْبُرُوجِ

The word ‘burūjin’ in 4:78:8 has been translated by most English translators as towers of lofty constructions or strongholds or implying the same.

أَيْنَمَا تَكُونُوا يُدْرِككُّمُ الْمَوْتُ وَلَوْ كُنتُمْ فِي بُرُوجٍ مُّشَيَّدَةٍ ۗ وَإِن تُصِبْهُمْ حَسَنَةٌ يَقُولُوا هَـٰذِهِ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ ۖ وَإِن تُصِبْهُمْ سَيِّئَةٌ يَقُولُوا هَـٰذِهِ مِنْ عِندِكَ ۚ قُلْ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ ۖ فَمَالِ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ الْقَوْمِ لَا يَكَادُونَ يَفْقَهُونَ حَدِيثًا

[ Al-Qur’an 4:78, Translator: Sahih International] Wherever you may be, death will overtake you, even if you should be within towers of lofty construction. But if good comes to them, they say, "This is from Allah "; and if evil befalls them, they say, "This is from you." Say, "All [things] are from Allah." So what is [the matter] with those people that they can hardly understand any statement? 

The same word is used in the rest three verses listed above. When it appears with the word ‘samaa’ (sky/heaven), translators assign various meanings to the word. However, a cross-study of terms referring to cosmic bodies, the correct interpretation seems to be strongholds.     

Meaning in Lexicon 

According to Lane’s Lexicon, ‘buroojan’ means strongholds. 

Guarded Strongholds 

وَلَقَدْ جَعَلْنَا فِي السَّمَاءِ بُرُوجًا وَزَيَّنَّاهَا لِلنَّاظِرِينَ
وَحَفِظْنَاهَا مِن كُلِّ شَيْطَانٍ رَّجِيمٍ
إِلَّا مَنِ اسْتَرَقَ السَّمْعَ فَأَتْبَعَهُ شِهَابٌ مُّبِينٌ

[Al-Qur’an 15:16-18, translator: Shakir] And certainly We have made strongholds in the heaven and We have made it fair seeming to the beholders. And We guard it against every accursed Shaitan, But he who steals a hearing, so there follows him a visible flame.

وَحِفْظًا مِّن كُلِّ شَيْطَانٍ مَّارِدٍ 
لَّا يَسَّمَّعُونَ إِلَى الْمَلَإِ الْأَعْلَىٰ وَيُقْذَفُونَ مِن كُلِّ جَانِبٍ 
دُحُورًا ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ وَاصِبٌ
إِلَّا مَنْ خَطِفَ الْخَطْفَةَ فَأَتْبَعَهُ شِهَابٌ ثَاقِبٌ

[Al-Quran 37:7-10] and guard against every rebellious shaitaan; they cannot listen to the Exalted Assembly for they are pelted from every side; outcast, and theirs is a perpetual torment; except such as who snatches by stealth, is pursued by a piercing flame; 

وَلَقَدْ زَيَّنَّا السَّمَاءَ الدُّنْيَا بِمَصَابِيحَ وَجَعَلْنَاهَا رُجُومًا لِّلشَّيَاطِينِ ۖ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابَ السَّعِيرِ

[Al-Quran 67:5, translator:Pickthall] And verily We have beautified the world's heaven with lamps, and We have made them missiles for the devils, and for them We have prepared the doom of flame. 

وَأَنَّا لَمَسْنَا السَّمَاءَ فَوَجَدْنَاهَا مُلِئَتْ حَرَسًا شَدِيدًا وَشُهُبًا
وَأَنَّا كُنَّا نَقْعُدُ مِنْهَا مَقَاعِدَ لِلسَّمْعِ ۖ فَمَن يَسْتَمِعِ الْآنَ يَجِدْ لَهُ شِهَابًا رَّصَدًا
وَأَنَّا لَا نَدْرِي أَشَرٌّ أُرِيدَ بِمَن فِي الْأَرْضِ أَمْ أَرَادَ بِهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ رَشَدًا
وَأَنَّا مِنَّا الصَّالِحُونَ وَمِنَّا دُونَ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ ۖ كُنَّا طَرَائِقَ قِدَدًا
وَأَنَّا ظَنَنَّا أَن لَّن نُّعْجِزَ اللَّهَ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَن نُّعْجِزَهُ هَرَبًا

[ Al-Qur’an 72:8-12, Translator: Sahih International] And we have sought [to reach] the heaven but found it filled with powerful guards and burning flames. And we used to sit therein in positions for hearing, but whoever listens now will find a burning flame lying in wait for him. And we do not know [therefore] whether evil is intended for those on earth or whether their Lord intends for them a right course. And we have become certain that we will never cause failure to Allah upon earth, nor can we escape Him by flight. 

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