The Star
In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
By the Star when it goes down,-

Your Companion is neither astray nor being misled.

Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) Desire.

It is no less than inspiration sent down to him:

He was taught by one Mighty in Power,

Endued with Wisdom: for he appeared (in stately form);

While he was in the highest part of the horizon:

Then he approached and came closer,

And was at a distance of but two bow-lengths or (even) nearer;

So did (God) convey the inspiration to His Servant- (conveyed) what He (meant) to convey.

The (Prophet’s) (mind and) heart in no way falsified that which he saw.

Will ye then dispute with him concerning what he saw?

For indeed he saw him at a second descent,

Near the Lote-tree beyond which none may pass:

Near it is the Garden of Abode.

Behold, the Lote-tree was shrouded (in mystery unspeakable!)

(His) sight never swerved, nor did it go wrong!

For truly did he see, of the Signs of his Lord, the Greatest!

Have ye seen Lat. and ’Uzza,

And another, the third (goddess), Manat?

What! for you the male sex, and for Him, the female?

Behold, such would be indeed a division most unfair!

These are nothing but names which ye have devised,- ye and your fathers,- for which God has sent down no authority (whatever). They follow nothing but conjecture and what their own souls desire!- Even though there has already come to them Guidance from their Lord!

Nay, shall man have (just) anything he hankers after?

But it is to God that the End and the Beginning (of all things) belong.

How many-so-ever be the angels in the heavens, their intercession will avail nothing except after God has given leave for whom He pleases and that he is acceptable to Him.

Those who believe not in the Hereafter, name the angels with female names.

But they have no knowledge therein. They follow nothing but conjecture; and conjecture avails nothing against Truth.

Therefore shun those who turn away from Our Message and desire nothing but the life of this world.

That is as far as knowledge will reach them. Verily thy Lord knoweth best those who stray from His Path, and He knoweth best those who receive guidance.

Yea, to God belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth: so that He rewards those who do evil, according to their deeds, and He rewards those who do good, with what is best.

Those who avoid great sins and shameful deeds, only (falling into) small faults,- verily thy Lord is ample in forgiveness. He knows you well when He brings you out of the earth, And when ye are hidden in your mothers’ wombs. Therefore justify not yourselves: He knows best who it is that guards against evil.

Seest thou one who turns back,

Gives a little, then hardens (his heart)?

What! Has he knowledge of the Unseen so that he can see?

Nay, is he not acquainted with what is in the Books of Moses-

And of Abraham who fulfilled his engagements?-

Namely, that no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another;

That man can have nothing but what he strives for;

That (the fruit of) his striving will soon come in sight:

Then will he be rewarded with a reward complete;

That to thy Lord is the final Goal;

That it is He Who granteth Laughter and Tears;

That it is He Who granteth Death and Life;

That He did create in pairs,- male and female,

From a seed when lodged (in its place);

That He hath promised a Second Creation (Raising of the Dead);

That it is He Who giveth wealth and satisfaction;

That He is the Lord of Sirius (the Mighty Star);

And that it is He Who destroyed the (powerful) ancient ’Ad (people),

And the Thamud nor gave them a lease of perpetual life.

And before them, the people of Noah, for that they were (all) most unjust and most insolent transgressors,

And He destroyed the Overthrown Cities (of Sodom and Gomorrah).

So that (ruins unknown) have covered them up.

Then which of the gifts of thy Lord, (O man,) wilt thou dispute about?

This is a Warner, of the (series of) Warners of old!

The (Judgment) ever approaching draws nigh:

No (soul) but God can lay it bare.

Do ye then wonder at this recital?

And will ye laugh and not weep,-

Wasting your time in vanities?

But fall ye down in prostration to God, and adore (Him)!

* v.1 : An-Najm is interpreted in various ways. As most commonly accepted, it means either a Star generically, or the close cluster of seven stars known as the Pleiades in the Constellation Taurus, which the sun enters about the 21st of April every year. In mid- April, or a little later, the beautiful cluster would set just after the sun, after having gradually ascended the sky in the winter months. In late May, or a little later, it would rise just before the sun. In its western aspects, it might be considered a spring constellation. To open-air nations (including the Arabs) whose climate usually presents starry skies, this is an object of great interest, and many folklore tales gather round it. When so glorious a cluster is content to bow down in the horizon and merge its light in the greater light created by Allah, it becomes a symbol of humility in beauty and power before the Most High. Whose revelation discloses the summit of beauty, power, and wisdom. Hawa in the text may mean either "goes down (or sets)" or "rises". Whichever meaning we take, it makes no difference to the interpretation given above.

* v.2 : "Your Companion" is the holy Prophet Muhammad, who had lived among the Quraish. He is defended from three kinds of charges that the Unbelivers brought against him: (1) that he was going astray, either through defect of intelligence or through carelessness; (2) that he was being misled or deceived by evil spirits; and (3) that he spoke out of a whim or impulse, or from a selfish desire to impress his own personality. None of these charges were true. On the contrary he had direct inspiration from Allah.

* v.5 : This is referred by the Commentators to the angel Gabriel, through whom the inspiration came. Cf. lxxxi, 20.

* v.7 : Gabriel appeared in stately form. Istawa in verse 61 translated "appeared", means literally "mounted" or "ascended", or "set himself to execute a design"; see n. 1386 to x. 3.

* v.9 : Two bow-shots (counting 100 to 150 yards to a bow-shot) would be a dearly visible distance.

* v.10 : Gabriel would be just a messenger, to do no more than convey Allah’s Message to Allah’s Messenger.

* v.11 : ’Heart" in Arabic includes the faculty of intelligence as well as the faculty of feeling. The impression conveyed was pure truth; there was no illusion in it.

* v.13 : The first occasion when Gabriel appeared in a visible form was at the Mountain of Light, when he brought his first revelation beginning with Iqraa:. The second was at the Prophet’s Miraj or Ascension: see Introduction to S. xvii.

* v.14 : For the Lote-tree in its literal meaning, see n. 3814 to xxxiv. 16. The wild Lote is thorny; under cultivation it yields good fruit and shade, and is symbolic of heavenly bliss, as here and in lvi. 28.

* v.15 : The "Garden of Abode" (Jannat al-Mawa) lies close to the Lote-Tree and, in the opinion of some authorities, is so called because the souls of believers will find their abode therein.

* v.19 : From the heights of divine Glory, we come back again to this sorry earth, with its base idolatries. We are asked to "look at this picture, and at that!" The three principal idols of Pagan Arab Idolatry were the goddesses Lit, Uzza, and Manat. Opinions differ as to their exact forms: one version is that Lat was in human shape, Uzza had its origin in a sacred tree, and Manat in a white stone.

* v.21 : To show Allah in human shape, or imagine sons or daughters of Allah, as if Allah were flesh, was in any case a derogation from the supreme glory of Allah, high above all creatures, even if the human shapes were invested with great beauty and majesty as in the Greek Pantheon. But when we consider in what low opinion Pagan Arabia held the female sex, it was particularly degrading to show Allah, or so-called daughters of Allah, in female shapes. Cf. xvi. 57-59, and n. 2082; also Iii. 39, and n. 5073.

* v.23 : Cf. vii. 71; xii. 40, n. 1693. The divine names which they give to stocks and stones, or to heroes living or dead, or even to prophets and men of God, are but the creations of their own fancy. Whatever they were, they were not gods.
* Cf. vi. 116. Conjecture is a dangerous thing in speaking of divine things. It follows lines which reflect the lusts of men’s own hearts. Why not follow the divine guidance which comes through the prophets of Allah?.

* v.24 : The unpurified desires of men’s hearts often lead to destruction, for they are dictated by Evil. The true source of guidance and light is Allah, just as He is also the goal to which all persons and things-all existence-retums.

* v.26 : We are apt to imagine the angelic host of heaven as beings of immense power. But their power is all derived from Allah. Men, when they attain to the highest spiritual dignities, may have even more power and position than angels in the sight of Allah, as in typified by angels being hidden to bow down to Adam: ii. 34. The Quraish superstition about angels being intermediaries and intercessors for man with Allah is condemned.
* Cf. xx. 109 and xxi. 28. No one can intercede except with the permission of Allah, and that permission will only be given for one who is acceptable to Allah. For a possible different shade of meaning. See n. 2643 to xx. 109.

* v.27 :Cf. liii. 21, above, and n. 5096. The Pagan Quraish had no firm belief in the Hereafter. Their prayers for intercession to angels and deities was on account of their worldly affairs.

* v.28 : Cf. liii. 23 above, and n. 5098.

* v.30 : Men with a materialist tum of mind, whose desires are bounded by sex and material things, will not go beyond those things. Their knowledge will be limited to the narrow circle in which their thoughts move. The spiritual world is beyond their ken. While persons with a spiritual outlook, even though they may fail again and again in attaining their full ideals, are on the right Path. They are willing to receive guidance and Allah’s Grace will find them out and help them.

* v.31 : All deeds have their consequences, good or ill. But this is not an iron law, as the Determinists in philosophy, or the preachers of bare Karma, would have us believe. Allah does not sit apart. He governs the world. And Mercy as well as Justice are His attributes. In I-Iis Justice every deed or word or thought of evil has its consequence for the doer or speaker or thinker. But there is always in this life room for repentance and amendment. As soon as this is forthcoming, Allah’s Mercy comes into action. It can blot out our evil, and the "reward" which it gives is nearly always greater than our merits.

* v.32 : Allah’s attributes of Mercy and Forgiveness are unlimited. They come into action without our asking, but on our bringing our wills as offerings to Him. Our asking or prayer helps us to bring our minds and wills as offering to Him. That is necessary to frame our own psychological preparedness. it informs Allah of nothing, for He knows all.
* As Allah knows our inmost being, it is absurd for us to justify ourselves either by pretending that we are better than we are or by finding excuses for our conduct. We must offer ourselves unreservedly such as we are: it is His Mercy and Grace that will cleanse us. If we try, out of love for Him, to guard against evil, our striving is all that He asks for.

* v.33 : The particular reference in this passage, according to Baidhawi is to Walid ibn Mugaira, who bargained with a Quraish Pagan for a certain sum if the latter would take upon himself the sins of Walid. He paid a part of the sum but withheld the rest. The general application that concerns us is threefold: (1) if we accept Islam, we must accept it whole-heartedly and not look back to Pagan superstitions; (2) we cannot play fast and loose with our promises and (3) no man can bargain about spiritual matters for he cannot see what his end will be unless he follows the law of Allah, which is the law of righteousness.

* v.35 : ’So that he can see what will happen in the Hereafter’: for no bargains can be struck about matters unknown.

* v.36 : Books of Moses: apparently not the Pentateuch, in the Taurat, but some other book or books now lost. For example, the Book of the Wars of Jehovah is referred to in the Old Testament (Num. xxi. 14) but is now lost. The present Pentateuch has no clear message at all of a Life to come.

* v.37 : No original Book of Abraham is now extant. But a book called "The Testament of Abraham" has come down to us, which seems to be a Greek translation of a Hebrew original. See n. 6094 to lxxxvii. 19, where the Books of Moses and Abraham are again mentioned together.
* One of the titles of Abraham is Hanif, the True in Faith Cf. xvi. 120, 123.

* v.38 : Here follows a series of eleven aphorisms. The first is that a man’s spiritual burden-the responsibility for his sin must be borne by himself and not by another: Cf. vi. 164. There can be no vicarious atonement.

* v.40 : The second and third aphorisms are that man must strive, or he will gain nothing; and that if he strives, the result must soon appear in sight and he will find his reward in full measure.

* v.42 : The fourth, fifth, and sixth aphorisms are that all things return to Allah; that all our hope should be in Him; and we should fear none but Him: and that He alone can give Life and Death.

* v.45 : The seventh aphorism relates to sex: all things are created in pairs: each sex performs its proper function, and yet its wonderful working is part of the creative process of Allah: the living seed fructifies, but contains within itself all the factors disclosed in its later development and life.

* v.47 : No less wonderful is the promise He has made about the raising of the dead, and a new fife in the Hereafter, and this is the subject of the eighth aphorism.

* v.48 : Wealth and material gain are sought by most men, in the hope that they will be a source of enjoyment and satisfaction. But this hope is not always fulfilled. There is a physical and spiritual side to it. But both the material and the spiritual side depend upon the working of Allah’s Plan. This is referred to in the ninth aphorism.

* v.49 : The tenth aphorism refers to a mighty phenomenon of nature, the magnificent star Sirius, which is such a prominent object in the skies, in the early part of the solar year, say, from January to April. It is the brightest star in the firmament, and its bluish light causes wonder and terror in Pagan minds. The Pagan Arabs worshipped it as a divinity. But Allah is the Lord, Creator and Cherisher, of the most maginificent part of Creation, and worship is due to Him alone.

* v.50 : The eleventh and last aphorism refers to the punishment of the most powerful ancient peoples for their sins. For the ’Ad people, see n. 1040 to vii. 65, and for the Thamud, see n. 1043 to vii. 73. They were strong; and they were talented: but their strength and their talents did not save them from being destroyed for their sins. The same may be said about the earlier generation of Noah, who were destroyed in the Flood: they "rejected Our Signs: they were indeed a blind people" (vii, 64); see also n. 1039 to vii. 59; and xi. 25-49. Ancient ’Ad (people): some Commentators construe, "First ’Ad people", distinguishing them from the later ’Ad people, a remnant that had their day and passed away.

* v.53 : Verses 53-60 may be construed as a commentary on the aphorisms. The story of the Overthrown Cities, to which Lot was sent for a warning, will be found in xi. 74-83 and the notes thereon. This story may well be treated as separate from the aphorisms as it refers to events that happened in the later life of Abraham.

* v.55 : With a slight modification this forms the refrain of the next Sura but one, the highly artistic Sura of Rahman. In S. liv. 15, 17 etc., there is a similar refrain in different words. Every gift and benefit you have is from Allah, and to save you from the just punishment of your sins, Allah at all times sends revelations and Messengers to warn you. Why not accept Allah’s Grace instead of disputing about it?

* v.56 : The Prophet before the Quraish (and before us) continues the line of messengers of Allah who have come to teach mankind and lead men into unity and righteousness. Shall we not listen to his voice? Every day that passes, the Judgment approaches nearer and nearer. But Allah alone can say at what precise hour it will come to any of us. It is certain, and yet it is a mystery, which Allah alone can lay bare.

* v.59 : Mere wondering will not do, even if it is the wonder of admiration. Each soul must strive and act, and Allah’s Mercy will take it under its wings.

* v.60 : The higher issues of Life and the Hereafter are serious, and therefore all that we do in this life is serious and important. We must shun inanities and frivolities. It is no laughing time. If we only realised our own shortcomings, we should weep. But weeping by itself will not help. We must try and understand Allah and adore Him. Thus shall we be able to understand ourselves and our fellow-men.

* v.62 : And so we are invited to prostrate ourselves and adore Him. For this is the true end of Revelation and the true attitude when we understand the world, Nature, History and the working of Allah’s Plan.