The night sky, Stars. These are things that are often brought up in writings whether they are modern or ancient. Writers through the ages have always had a fascination with the cosmos; it was something unfathomable about the night sky that presented the writer, bearer of vivid imagination and vocabulary with a challenge, a challenge to put forth the mystical dance of the ever swerving and expanding universe into comprehendible language.
An event that boosted my admiration for the night sky occurred back when I was a wee lad, I’d started to read the Qur’an along with its meaning, one fine day I came across these two verses from surah Al waqi’ah (56), translation of which are as follows:
“Then I swear by the setting of the stars” (56:75)
“And indeed, it is an oath - if you could know - [most] great.” (56:76).
Ever since I read these verses, my mind went into complete awe. Each time I read or pondered over these lines I felt as if some vast space suddenly made itself manifest in front of me, a place that held more thoughts than a human mind could possibly occupy, and these thoughts rammed into me all at once. The impact was humbling and relieving rather. What were these verses trying to convey? “Setting of the stars”? With reference to Earth or Space? I read through some explanations and forums, one thing became clear, many a times the Qur’an uses events to derive metaphors, this wasn’t of those cases, this was something to observe physically. What then? I asked myself yet again, black holes came to mind, they suck light from sources as big as stars, or when a supernova occurs, wherein a star dies. A clear concrete answer is still to be found. What drives me to keep on thinking and researching about this? Well there are two. One is the fact that this is one of those instances where Allah is taking an oath, and in the Qur’an Allah only takes an oath by things which in themselves are of great importance and value. The second verse that says “it is an oath that is great only if you knew” this induces a great sense of curiosity within the reader that’d help him on his journey of finding this “greatness”. The second thing is another verse mentioned in Surah Al Tariq where it again talks about stars stating “the knocking of the star” as in a star that makes a knocking sound. This was in recorded history written 1400 years back, and with the recent advancements in technology we came to know of “Pulsars”, neutron stars that rotate at a very high speed and when traced of their sounds guess what NASA found? The sound is exactly like someone knocking on a door. You can fact check this one for yourself. So if Allah says this is something he’s taking and oath over and further states that it is indeed “A great oath..” there just has to be something groundbreaking waiting to be found if we were to look well enough. Astronomers of times back then wouldn’t have been able to fathom the existence of “Pulsars” whose one tea spoon mass is equal to that of Mt. Everest!
This was an attempt at “languagiseing” whatever I had been feeling and thinking over the years, I still believe I have not done my thoughts justice but Oh well, translation will always carry it’s errors, there will be attempts to perfect this even more. I hope this was thought provoking for you, the reader. Do spend some time pondering over the verses of the Qur’an many of which are related to modern day science. But as Dr. Zakir Naik famously said “Qur’an is not a book of science rather it is a book of signs”.