Overview - Surah 53: an-Najm (The Star )

Surah Introduction

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The Surah talks about the eminence of the Prophet (saw) with his Mi'raj and closeness to Allah.  It warns the disbelievers about the errors of their attitude towards the Qur'an and the Prophet of Allah.  Some of their wrong beliefs in the angels as daughters of God, intercession of the angels etc. are also mentioned.

Sections:

  1. The Mi'raj experience of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). Gods or goddesses of the non-believers are mere conjectures and names without any reality.
  2. The angels are the servants of Allah.  No intercession can work against Allah. Allah is most forgiving, but He requires righteousness.
  3. Those who deny the truth they are standing against the power and majesty of Allah.

This Surah takes its name from the first Ayat, وَالنَّجْمِ إِذَا هَوَىٰ "By the star when it descends," (53:1).

There are 62 Ayat in this Surah. 

Overview

Total Ayat62
Total Words *360
Root Words *129
Unique Root Words *6
Makki / MadaniMakki
Chronological Order* 23rd (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation* 5th year of Prophethood
Events during/before this Surah*
Physical beating and torture of some Muslims - 1st Migration of Muslims to Abyssinia, Public Invitation to Islam - Persecution of Muslims; antagonism - ridicule - derision - accusation - abuse and false propaganda., Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam , Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam , Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam
Events during/after still to occur*
2nd Migration to Abyssinia,Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 1,Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 2,Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 3,Death of Abu Talib - Death of Khadijah - Stoning at Ta'if - al-Isra wal Mi'raj - Night Journey,1st Pledge of Aqabah,2nd Pledge of Aqabah,,Migration from Makkah to Madinah - Building of Masjid Nabi in Madinah - Treaty with Jews of Madinah - Marriage of Prophet to Aishah,Change of Qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah - Battle of Badr,Battle of Uhud,,Battle of Ahzab - Expedition of Banu Quraydhah,Treaty of Hudaiybiyah - Letters to Kings and Rulers,,Conquest of Makkah - Battle of Hunain,Hajj led by Abu Bakr - Expedition of Tabuk,Farewell Hajj by Prophet - Death of Prophet - End of Divine Revelation
Names of Prophets Mentioned
Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa
Surah Index
‘Aad, Abraham, Adversity (not burdened with another’s burden) , God (causes laughter and crying) , God (false daughters of) , God (false daughters of) (by name), God (grants life and death) , Angels, Angels (false claim that they are female) , Astronomy (Sirius (Alpha Canis Major)) , Behaviour (avoid grave sins and shameful deeds) , Behaviour (don’t consider yourself pure) , Children (baby daughters wrongly thought an evil sign) , Goddesses of the pagan Arabs, Goddesses of the pagan Arabs (names of) , Goddesses of the pagan Arabs (nature of) , Humankind (creation of) (from a drop of sperm), Humankind (creation of) (from earth), Lote tree, Moses, Muhammad (mystical ascension) , Noah, Prayer (prostration) , Pregnancy, Resurrection (of humans) , Resurrection (of soul) , Revelation (nature of delivery) , Thamud

Central Theme

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The theme of the discourse is to warn the disbelievers of Makkah about the error of the attitude that they had adopted towards the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad. The discourse starts in a way as if to say: “Muhammad is neither deluded nor gone astray, as you are telling others in your propaganda against him, nor has he fabricated this teaching of Islam and its message, as you seem to think he has. In fact, whatever he is presenting is nothing but Revelation which is sent down to him. The belief that he presents before you, are not the product of his own assumtions and speculation but realities of which he himself is an eye witness. He has himself seen the Angel through whom this knowledge is conveyed to him. He has been directly made to observe the great Signs of his Lord: whatever he says is not what he has himself thought out but what he has seen with his own eyes. Therefore, your disputing and wrangling with him is just like the disputing and wrangling of a blind man with a man of sight over a thing which the blind man cannot see but he can see.”

After this, three things have been presented in their successive order: First, the listeners have been made to understand that: “The religion that you are following is based on mere conjecture and invented ideas. You have set up a few goddesses like Lat and Manat and Uzza as your deities, whereas they have no share whatever in divinity. You regard the angels as the daughters of God, whereas you regard a daughter as disgraceful for your own selves. You think that these deities of yours can influence God in your favour, whereas the fact is that all the angels together, who are stationed closest to God, cannot influence Him even in their own favour. None of such beliefs that you have adopted, is based on knowledge and reason, but are wishes and desires for the sake of which you have taken some whims as realities. This is a grave error. The right and true religion is that which is in conformity to the reality, and the reality is never subject to the people’s wishes and desires so that whatever they may regard as a reality and truth should become the reality and truth. Speculation and conjecture cannot help to determine as to what is according to the truth and what is not; it is knowledge. When that knowledge is presented before you, you turn away from it, and brand the one who tells you the truth as misguided. The actual cause of your being involved in this error is that you are heedless of the Hereafter. Only this world is your goal. Therefore, you have neither any desire for the knowledge of reality, nor do you bother to see whether the beliefs you hold are according to the truth or not.

Secondly, the people have been told that: God is the Master and Sovereign of the entire Universe. The righteous is he who follows His way, and the misguided he who has turned away from His way. The error of the misguided and the righteousness of the righteous are not hidden from Him. He knows whatever everyone is doing: He will retaliate the evil with evil and the good with good. The final judgment will not depend on what you consider yourself to be, and on tall claims you make of your purity and chastity but on whether you are pious or impious, righteous or unrighteous, in the sight of God. If you refrain from major sins, He in His mercy will overlook your minor errors.”

Thirdly, a few basic principles of the true Religion which had been presented hundreds of years before the revelation of the Qur’an in the Books of the Prophets Abraham and Moses have been reiterated so that the people did not remain involved in the misunderstanding that the Prophet Muhammad had brought some new and novel religion, but they should know that these are the fundamental truths which the former Prophets of God have always been presenting in their respective ages. Besides, the same Books have been quoted to confirm the historical facts that the destruction of the ‘Aad and the Thamud and of the people of the Prophets Noah and Lot was not the result of accidental calamities, but God has destroyed them in consequence of the same wickedness and rebellion from which the disbelievers of Makkah were not inclined to refrain and desist in any case. After presenting these themes and discourses the Surah has been concluded, thus: “The Hour of Judgment has approached near at hand, which no one can avert. Before the occurrence of that Hour you are being warned through Muhammad and the Qur’an in the like manner as the former people had been warned before. Now, is it this warning that you find novel and strange? Which you mock and ridicule? Which you turn away from and cause disorder so that no one else also is able to hear what it is? Don’t you feel like weeping at your folly and ignorance? Abandon this attitude and behaviour, bow down to God and serve Him alone!”

This was that impressive conclusion hearing which even the most hardened deniers of the Truth were completely overwhelmed, and when after reciting these verses of Divine Word the Messenger of God fell down in prostration, they too could not help falling down in prostration along with him.

Connection of the name of the Surah and its Ayaat

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Connection between the beginning and the ending of the Surah

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وَالنَّجْمِ إِذَا هَوَىٰ "By the star when it descends," (53:1).

 فَاسْجُدُوا لِلَّـهِ وَاعْبُدُوا "So prostrate to Allah and worship [Him]." (53:62)

 

Manuscripts / Inscriptions

Connection of the Surah to the Surah before/after it

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  • The last Ayat of Surah at-Tur [the previous Surah] mentions 'an-Najm' [The Stars]. This Surah is called Surah an-Najm [The Stars]. 
  • Allah Almighty describes the Qur'an as 'Hadeeth' in both Surah at-Tur and Surah an-Najm:
    فَلْيَأْتُوا بِحَدِيثٍ مِّثْلِهِ إِن كَانُوا صَادِقِينَ "Then let them produce a statement like it, if they should be truthful." (52:34)
    أَفَمِنْ هَـٰذَا الْحَدِيثِ تَعْجَبُونَ "Then at this statement do you wonder?" (53:59)
  • This Surah, an-Najm [The Star], and the following Surah, al-Qamar [The Moon] both are named after heavenly bodies.

The Virtues of the Surah

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  • According to Abdullah ibn Masood this is the first Surah revealed which had an Ayat of prostration.

    حَدَّثَنَا نَصْرُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ، أَخْبَرَنِي أَبُو أَحْمَدَ، حَدَّثَنَا إِسْرَائِيلُ، عَنْ أَبِي إِسْحَاقَ، عَنِ الأَسْوَدِ بْنِ يَزِيدَ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ أَوَّلُ سُورَةٍ أُنْزِلَتْ فِيهَا سَجْدَةٌ ‏{‏وَالنَّجْمِ‏}‏‏.‏ قَالَ فَسَجَدَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَسَجَدَ مَنْ خَلْفَهُ، إِلاَّ رَجُلاً رَأَيْتُهُ أَخَذَ كَفًّا مِنْ تُرَابٍ فَسَجَدَ عَلَيْهِ، فَرَأَيْتُهُ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ قُتِلَ كَافِرًا، وَهْوَ أُمَيَّةُ بْنُ خَلَفٍ‏

    Narrated `Abdullah, "The first Sura in which a prostration was mentioned, was Sura An-Najm (The Star). Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) prostrated (while reciting it), and everybody behind him prostrated except a man whom I saw taking a hand-full of dust in his hand and prostrated on it. Later I saw that man killed as an infidel, and he was Umaiya bin Khalaf." Bukhari no. 4863

Special Features of the Surah

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Important key and unique words of the Surah

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123 Total Word Count per Ayat (shows how many words per Ayat) *

Unique Root Words to this Surah only


6 unique root words that do not appear in any other Surah *

Top 10 Most Frequent Root Words used in this Surah

Root Word Frequency
in Surah
Frequency
in Qur'an
إِلَّا 8 663
ر أ ي 8 328
ع ل م 8 854
ر ب ب 7 980
س م و 6 381
أ خ ر 6 250
أ ل ه 6 2851
ٱلَّذِى 6 1464
ه و ي 4 38
و ح ي 4 78

Period of Revelation

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According to a hadith related by Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Abdullah bin Mas’ud, this is the first Surah in which a verse requiring the performance of a prostration (sajdah) was sent down. The parts of this hadith which have been reported by Aswad bin Yazid, Abu Ishaq and Zubair bin Mu’awiyah from Ibn Mas’ud, indicate that this is the first Surah of the Qur’an, which the Prophet had publicly recited before an assembly of the Quraysh (and according to Ibn Marduyah, in the Ka’bah) in which both the believers and the disbelievers were present. At the end, when he recited the verse requiring the performance of a sajdah and fell down in prostration, the whole assembly also fall down in prostration with him. Even those chiefs of the polytheists who were in the forefront of the opposition to the Prophet could not resist falling down in prostration. Ibn Mas’ud says that he saw only one man, Umayyah bin Khalaf, from among the disbelievers, who did not fall down in prostration but took a little dust and rubbing it on his forehead said that that was enough for him. Later, as Ibn Mas’ud relates, he saw this man being killed in the state of disbelief.

Another eye witness of this incident is Muttalib bin Abi Wada’ah, who had not yet become a Muslim. Nasai and Musnad Ahmad contain his own words to the effect: “When the Prophet recited the Surah An-Najm and performed the sajdah and the whole assembly fell down in prostration along with him, I did not perform the sajdah. Now to compensate for the same whenever I recite this Surah I make sure never to abandon its performance.”

Ibn Sad says that before this, in the Rajab of the 5th year of Prophethood, a small group of the Companions had emigrated to Abyssinia. Then, when in the Ramadan of the same year this incident took place the news spread that the Prophet had recited Surah 53: an-Najm (The Star) publicly in the assembly of the Quraysh and the whole assembly, including the believers as well as the disbelievers, had fallen down in prostration with him. When the emigrants to Abyssinia heard this news they formed the impression that the disbelievers of Makkah had become Muslims. Thereupon, some of them returned to Makkah in the Shawwal of the 5th year of Prophethood, only to learn that the news was wrong and the conflict between Islam and disbelief was raging as furiously as before. Consequently, the second emigration to Abyssinia took place, in which many more people left Makkah. Thus, it becomes almost certain that this Surah was revealed in the Ramadan of the 5th year of Prophethood.

Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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  • حَدَّثَنَا نَصْرُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ، أَخْبَرَنِي أَبُو أَحْمَدَ، حَدَّثَنَا إِسْرَائِيلُ، عَنْ أَبِي إِسْحَاقَ، عَنِ الأَسْوَدِ بْنِ يَزِيدَ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ أَوَّلُ سُورَةٍ أُنْزِلَتْ فِيهَا سَجْدَةٌ ‏{‏وَالنَّجْمِ‏}‏‏.‏ قَالَ فَسَجَدَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَسَجَدَ مَنْ خَلْفَهُ، إِلاَّ رَجُلاً رَأَيْتُهُ أَخَذَ كَفًّا مِنْ تُرَابٍ فَسَجَدَ عَلَيْهِ، فَرَأَيْتُهُ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ قُتِلَ كَافِرًا، وَهْوَ أُمَيَّةُ بْنُ خَلَفٍ‏

    Narrated `Abdullah, "The first Sura in which a prostration was mentioned, was Sura An-Najm (The Star). Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) prostrated (while reciting it), and everybody behind him prostrated except a man whom I saw taking a hand-full of dust in his hand and prostrated on it. Later I saw that man killed as an infidel, and he was Umaiya bin Khalaf." Bukhari no. 4863

Lessons/Guidance/Major-Issues/Reflections

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  • Scene of the 1st. Revelation, brought by angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
  • Allah gave Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) a tour of the heavens, paradise and other great signs.
  • Lat, Uzza and Manat (goddesses of Arabs) are nothing but names in vented by pagan Arabs.
  • Angels have no share in divinity, nor they can even intercede without the permission of Allah.
  • Do not claim piety for yourselves, Allah knows who is Godfearing and pious.
  • No soul shall bear the burden of another, there shall be nothing for a person except what he strived for.

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Miscellaneous Issues

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