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Astronomy: Celestial Bodies
in the Islamic Tradition


COMPILED BY IRSHAAD AHMAD RASHID

Last Update: 01/20/23




INTRODUCTION


CELESTIAL BODIES IN THE HOLY QUR'AN

  • Ayah al Nur (Verse of Light)

  • Chapter Titles with Celestial Bodies

  • Oaths (Aqsam) with Celestial Bodies

  • Signs with Celestial Bodies

  • Signs of the Day of Judgement with Celestial Bodies


    CELESTIAL BODIES IN AHADITH

  • Comparisions to Celestial Bodies

  • The Last Day / The Day of Judgement and Celestial Bodies

  • The Eclipse Prayer (Salatu'l Kusuf)


    CELESTIAL BODIES IN SALAWAT, SALAM, MAWALID,
    AND QASAID


  • Verses of Poetry by Hadrat Hassan bin Thabit

  • Tala al Badru `alayna

  • Qasida al Burda of Imam al-Busiri

  • Qasida al Mudariyya of Imam al-Busiri

  • As-Salat u't Tajiyya (Durud Taj) originally composed
      by Shaykh Abi Bakr bin Salim al-'Alawi

  • Salams at the Rawdha
      by Imam `Abdallah bin `Alawi al-Haddad


  • Mawlid Simtud-Durar of Imam al-Habib `Ali bin Muhammad
      al-Habashi

  • Standing Ovation to the Holy Prophet Muhammad
      (Ya Nabi salam `alayka)

  • A Salat `alan-Nabi of al-Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad





    INTRODUCTION

    All praise and thanks is for Allah, who adorned the sky with His wondrous Signs. And may He bestow blessings and peace upon the Full Moon, Sayyidina Muhammad, as well as upon his Family and Companions who are shining stars.

    We witness the sun, moon, planets and stars, as we look up to the vast and beautiful sky. We enjoy the achievements that many have made in the field of astronomy. Let us continue to respond to the call of Allah and His Messenger to reflect on the sky and that which He has placed therein, a practice which brings about the refinement of one’s soul and draws us closer our Lord.

    For those into astronomy, we are particularly interested when we see celestial objects mentioned in the Islamic tradition, and what follows are examples of such mentionings. With Allah's grace, we can use these as a basis and encouragement to improve in our study of Islam, astronomy, and our expressing the beauty of the night sky.

    Insha Allah, we will continue to add more examples to the below list.



    * * *



    CELESTIAL OBJECTS MENTIONED
    IN THE HOLY QUR'AN



    Ayah al Nur (The Verse of Light)

    "Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as (if there were) a niche and within it a lamp, the lamp is in glass, the glass as it were a brilliant star, lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself), though no fire touched it. Light upon Light! Allah guides to His Light whom He wills. And Allah sets forth parables for mankind, and Allah is All-Knower of everything." (24:35)

    (Translation: Mohsin Khan)



    Surah (Chapter) Titles in the Holy Qur'an

    Some of the 114 Surahs (Chapters) of the Holy Qur'an have celestial bodies in their titles. For example:

    Surah 53 - Al Najm - The Star

    Surah 54 - Al Qamar - The Moon

    Surah 85 - Al Buruj - The Big Stars

    Surah 86 - Al Tariq - The Night Comer (which is a Star)

    Surah 91 - Al Shams - The Sun



    Oaths (Aqsam) by Celestial Bodies in the Holy Qur'an

    Some ayat (verses) in the Holy Qur'an contain celestial bodies by which Allah has sworn oaths. For example:



    "By the Star when it goes down" (53:1)

    (Translation: Yusuf Ali)



    "Nay, I swear by the places of the stars" (56:75)

    (Translation: Pickthall)



    "So verily, I swear by the planets that recede" (81:15)

    (Translation: Mohsin Khan)



    "By the heaven, holding the big stars" (85:1)

    (Translation: Mohsin Khan)



    "By the Sky and the Night-Visitant
    And what will explain to thee what the Night-Visitant is?
    (It is) the Star of piercing brightness" (86:1-3)

    (Translation: Yusuf Ali)



    "And by the sun and its brightness
    And by the moon as it follows it" (91:1-2)

    (Translation: Mohsin Khan)



    The Ayat (Signs) of Allah and Celestial Bodies in the Holy Qur'an


    "They ask you (O Muhammad ) about the new moons. Say: These are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the Pilgrimge . . . " (2:189)

    (Translation: Mohsin Khan)


    "He it is that cleaveth the day-break (from the dark): He makes the night for rest and tranquillity, and the sun and moon for the reckoning (of time): Such is the judgment and ordering of (Him), the Exalted in Power, the Omniscient.
    It is He Who maketh the stars (as beacons) for you, that ye may guide yourselves, with their help, through the dark spaces of land and sea: We detail Our signs for people who know." (6:96-97)

    (Translation: Yusuf Ali)



    " . . . He covereth the night with the day, which is in haste to follow it, and hath made the sun and the moon and the stars subservient by His command. His verily is all creation and commandment. Blessed be Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!" (7:54)

    (Translation: Pickthall)



    "It is He Who made the sun to be a shining glory and the moon to be a light (of beauty), and measured out stages for her; that ye might know the number of years and the count (of time). Nowise did Allah create this but in truth and righteousness. (Thus) doth He explain His Signs in detail, for those who understand." (10:5)

    (Translation: Yusuf Ali)



    "When Yusuf (Jospeh) said unto his father: O my father! Lo! I saw in a dream eleven planets and the sun and the moon, I saw them prostrating themselves unto me." (12:4)

    (Translation: Pickthall)



    "And He has made the sun and the moon, both constantly pursuing their courses, to be of service to you; and He has made the night and the day, to be of service to you." (14:33)

    (Translation: Mohsin Khan)



    "He has made subject to you the Night and the Day; the sun and the moon; and the stars are in subjection by His Command: verily in this are Signs for men who are wise." (16:12)

    (Translation: Yusuf Ali)



    "And landmarks (too), and by the star they find a way." (16:16)

    (Translation: Pickthall)



    "Hast thou not seen that unto Allah payeth adoration whosoever is in the heavens and whosoever is in the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the hills, and the trees, and the beasts, and many of mankind, while there are many unto whom the doom is justly due. He whom Allah scorneth, there is none to give him honour. Lo! Allah doeth what He will." (22:18)

    (Translation: Pickthall)



    "Blessed is He Who made constellations in the skies, and placed therein a Lamp and a Moon giving light." (25:61)

    (Translation: Yusuf Ali)



    "It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. They all float, each in an orbit." (36:40)

    (Translation: Mohsin Khan)



    "And that it is He (Allah) Who gives much or a little
    And that He (Allah) is the Lord of Sirius" (53:48-49)

    (Translation: Mohsin Khan)

    Note: The star known as Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky.



    "See you not how Allah has created the seven heavens one above another
    And has made the moon a light therein, and made the sun a lamp?" (71:15-16)

    (Translation: Mohsin Khan)



    "And We have built above you seven strong (heavens),
    And have made (therein) a shinning lamp (sun). (78:12-13)

    (Translation: Mohsin Khan)



    Signs of the Day of Judgement with Celestial Bodies in the Holy Qur'an

    "The Hour (of Judgment) is nigh, and the moon is cleft asunder." (54:1)

    (Translation: Yusuf Ali)



    "Then when the stars lose their lights." (77:8)

    (Translation: Mohsin Khan)



    "When the sun (with its spacious light) is folded up.
    When the stars fall, losing their lustre." (81:1-2)

    (Translation: Yusuf Ali)



    "When the heaven is cleft asunder.
    When the planets are dispersed." (82:1-2)

    (Translation: Pickthall)



    * * *



    CELESTIAL OBJECTS MENTIONED IN AHADITH

    A Hadith is a Saying of Prophet Muhammad ; narrations about what he said or did, that of which he approved and disapproved, as well as narrations about his physical attributes and character (pl: ahadith). (Source: iqra.net)



    Celestial Bodies and Comparisons in Hadith


    (Hadrat) Jabir ibn Samura said: "I saw Allah's Messenger on a cloudless night, and he was wearing a red suit of clothes, so I started looking at him as well as at the moon, for he is indeed more beautiful, in my opinion, than the moon!" (at-Tirmidhi and al-Baihaqi and ash-Shu`ab)

    (Source: Ash-shami'il al-Muhammadiyya compiled by Imam Muhammad ibn `Isa at-Tirhmidhi, translation by Shaykh Muhtar Holland, Fons Vitae 2017)



    In a relatively lengthy narration, Hadrat Ka'b bin Malik is reported to have said, "… And it was common with Messenger of Allah that when ever he was happy, his face would glow as if it were a part of the moon and it was from this that we recognized it (his delight) . . . " (al-Bukhari and Muslim)

    (Source: sunnah.com)



    In the famous description of Hind ibn Abi Hala , the Prophet's stepson from the Lady Khadija , "He was dignified and awe inspiring, radiant like the radiance of the moon on the night it is full . . . " (Tirmidhi in Shama'il, Bayhaqi, Tabarani, and ibn Sa'd)

    (Source: The Light of the Prophet by Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi, from masud.co.uk/)



    " ... one of his Companions, the Lady Rubayyi' , when asked to describe him (i.e. Sayyidina Muhammad ), said, "My son, had you seen him, you would have seen the sun shining. (at-Tirmidhi)

    (Source: The Light of the Prophet by Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi, from masud.co.uk/)



    Narrated (Hadrat) Jarir : Allah's Messenger came out to us on the night of the full moon and said, "You will see your Lord on the Day of Resurrection as you see this (full moon) and you will have no difficulty in seeing Him." (al-Bukhari)

    (Source: sunnah.com)



    (Narrated Qais bin Kathir) A man came to Abu Darda' while he was in Damascus. Abu Darda' asked him, "What has brought you here, my brother?" He replied, "A hadith which you relate from the Prophet ." Abu Darda' asked, "Have you come for business?" He replied, "No." "You have come only to seek this hadith?" He said, "Yes." Abu Darda' then said,

    "I heard the Messenger of Allah say: 'Whever travels a path seeking sacred knowledge, Allah will place him on a path leading to Paradise. The angels lower their wings for the student of sacred knowledge, please with what he is doing. The creatures in the heavans and earth seek forgiveness for the student of sacred knowledge, even the fish in the water. The superiority of the religious scholar over the devout worshipper is like the superiority of the full moon over the other heavenly bodies. The religious scholars are the heirs of the prophets. The prophets leave no money as a bequest, rather they leave knowledge. Whoever seizes it has taken a bountiful share.'"

    Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah relate this hadith in their compilations.

    (Translation: Imam Zaid Shakir from The Heirs of the Prophets by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Starlatch 2001)



    Hadrat Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger as saying: The first group of my Ummah to get into Paradise would be like a full moon in the night. Then those who would be next to them; they would be like the most significantly glittering stars in regard to brightness, then after them (others) in ranks. They would neither void excrement, nor pass water, nor suffer from catarrh, nor would they spit. And their combs would be made of gold, and the fuel of their braziers would be aloes and their sweat would be musk and their form would be the form of one single person according to the length of their father sixty cubits tall. (Muslim)

    (Source: sunnah.com)



    Narrated `Abdullah bin `Amr : The Prophet said, "My Lake-Fount is (so large that it takes) a month's journey to cross it. Its water is whiter than milk, and its smell is nicer than musk, and its drinking cups are (as numerous) as the (number of) stars of the sky; and whoever drinks from it, will never be thirsty." (al-Bukhari)

    (Source: sunnah.com)



    (Hadrat) Abu Hurayra reported Allah's Messenger as saying: If the religion (din) were at the Pleiades (ath-Thurayya), even then a person from Persia would have taken hold of it, or one amongst the Persian descent would have surely found it. (Muslim)

    (Source: sunnah.com)



    (Hadrat) Sahl bin Sa'd said: The Messenger of Allah said, "The dwellers of Jannah will see the upper abodes of Jannah as you see the stars in the sky." (al-Bukhari and Muslim)

    (Source: sunnah.com)



    Abu Talib was the uncle of the Holy Prophet Sayyidina Muhammad . The Quraysh pressured Abu Talib to restrain Sayyidina Muhammad from openly proclaiming the message of Islam. When Abu Talib told him of this, Sayyidina Muhammad said,

    "I swear by Allah, if they put the sun in my right hand, and the moon in my left on condition that I abandon this course before He hath made it victorious, or I have perished therein, I would not abandon it."

    (Source: Muhammad His Life Based on the Earliest sources, Martin Lings (Abu Bakr Siraj al-Din).



    Celestial Bodies and the Last Day / the Day of Judgement in Hadith

    Hadrat Hudhayfa bin Asid al-Ghifari reported that Allah’s Messenger came to us all of a sudden (one day) while we were busy in a discussion. He asked: What are you discussing about? They (the Companions) said: We are discussing about the Last Hour. Thereupon, he said: It will not come until you see ten signs beforehand and (in this connection) he mentioned the Smoke (ad-Dukhan); the Beast; Dajjal (Anti-Christ); the rising of the sun from the west; the descent of Nabi `Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus, son of Mary, peace be upon them); (the appearance of) Ya'juj and Ma'juj (God and Magog); and land-slides in three places, one in the east, one in the west, and one in the Arabian Peninsula; at the end of which fire would burn forth from the Yemen and would drive people to their place of assembly. (Muslim)

    (Source: iqra.net)



    Narrated (Hadrat) Abu Huraira : The Prophet said, "The sun and the moon will be folded up (deprived of their light) on the Day of Resurrection." (al-Bukhari)

    (Source: sunnah.com)



    Hadrat Al-Miqdad said that he heard Allah’s Messenger say: On the Day of Resurrection, the sun will be brought near the created beings till it is about a mile from them, and mankind will sweat according to what they had done, the sweat reaching the ankles of some, the knees of others, the waists of others, while some will have their mouths covered by the sweat and Allah’s Messenger pointed his hand at his mouth. (Muslim)

    (Source: iqra.net)



    The Eclipse Prayer (Salatu'l Kusuf)

    Narrated `Aisha : On the day of a solar eclipse, Allah's Messenger stood up (to offer the eclipse prayer). He recited Takbir, recited a long recitation (of verses from the Holy Qur'an), bowed a long bowing, and then he raised h is head saying. "Allah hears him who sends his praises to Him." Then he stayed standing, recited a long recitation again, but shorter than the former, bowed a long bowing, but shorter than the first, performed a long prostration and then performed the second rak`a in the same way as he had done the first. By the time he had finished his prayer with Taslim, the solar eclipse had been over. Then he addressed the people referring to the solar and lunar eclipses saying, "These are two signs amongst the Signs of Allah, and they do not eclipse because of anyone's death or life. So, if you see them, hasten for the Prayer." (al-Bukhari)

    (Source: sunnah.com)



    * * *



    CELESTIAL OBJECTS MENTIONED IN SALAWAT, SALAM, MAWALID, AND QASAID


    Verses of Poetry by Hadrat Hassan bin Thabit

    Before Sayyidina Hassan bin Thabit embraced Islam, he was paid by the non-believers to write a poem disrespecting the Messenger of Allah (i.e. Sayyidina Muhammad) . He came back to the non-believers and wrote:

    "When I looked at his lights which rose
    I placed my palm over my eyes in fear
    Fearing for my sight, for the beauty of his form
    So I did not look at him except in accordance to my strength
    I have drowned in the lights from his light
    For his face is like the rising sun and moon
    A spirit from a light in a body from the moon
    Like a garment woven from the brightest star"


    (Source: The Supreme Messenger , Explanation of the Religious poetry Hadaiq-e-Bakhshish (Gardens of Bliss by A'la Hadrat Imam Ahmad Raza Khan ) commentary by Muhammad `Abd al-Mannan, Gardens of Sunnah Publications. His source cited for the above quote is Al Haqa'iq An Qadri Sayyidina al-Khala'iq by Shaykh Fawzi Muhammad Abu Yazid)



    Tala al Badru alayna

    Sayyidina Muhammad is referred to as "the Full Moon" in the eulogy "Tala `al Badru `alayna" (The Full Moon rose over us) with which he was greeted as he entered Madina. (Bayhaqi) This eulogy is famous, loved, and recited amongst Muslims throughout the world.



    As-Salat u't Tajiyya (Durud Taj)

    Sayyidina Muhammad is referred to as the Sun of Brightness (Shamsid-Duha) and the Full Moon in Darkness (Badrid-Duja) in Salatu'l Taj originally composed by Habib Abi Bakr bin Salim al-`Alawi . In Salatu'l Taj he invokes Allah to grant blessings and peace upon Sayyidina Muhammad .



    Qasida al Burdah

    The full title of Qasida al-Burdah (The Poem of the Mantle) is al-Kawakib ad-Durriyya fi Madh Khayr al-Bariyya (The Celestial Lights in Praise of the Best of Creation ). It was composed by Imam Sharafuddin Muhammad Al-Busiri .


    In Qasida al-Burdah, our inability to comprehend Sayyidina Muhammad's true reality is likened to the unaided eye's inability to completely perceive the sun.

    "Human beings cannot grasp his meaning -
    Even those at his side could not keep up with him.

    "He is like the sun, small to the eye when seen from afar,
    But when glimpsed close up, it dazzles and overwhelmes."


    (Source: The Burda of al-Busiri translated by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Sandala 2002)


    Also in Qasida al-Burdah, Sayyidina Muhammad is refered to as the sun of bounty and the other Prophets are referred to as planets.

    "He is the bounteous sun and they her orbiting planets -
    She reveals their lights for humanity in the darkness of night."


    (Source: The Burda of al-Busiri translated by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Sandala 2002)


    Also in Qasida al-Burdah, Sayyidina Muhammad's honour is likened to the full moon.

    "As a flower in delicacy, as the full moon in honour,
    like the sea in bounty, as persistent as time itself."


    (Source: The Mantle Adorned by Imam al-Busiri translated by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, The Quilliam Press 2009)


    Also in Qasida al-Burdah, Sayyidina Muhammad's travelling during his Isra and Mi'raj (Miraculous Night Journey and Heavenly Ascension) is likened to the full moon travelling across the sky.

    "You rose by night from sanctuary to sactuary,
    as the full moon travels through the firmament of dark."


    (Source: The Mantle Adorned by Imam al-Busiri translated by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, The Quilliam Press 2009)



    Qasida al Mudariyya

    In his Qasida al-Mudariyya, Imam Sharafuddin Muhammad al-Busiri invokes Allah to multiply the said number of blessings upon Sayyidina Muhammad by the number of stars in the sky.

    "In quantity as great as the pebbles, the moist earth, the grains of sand,
    Followed by the stars in the heavens, plants on the earth and mounds of clay"


    (Translation: The Burda with the Mudariyya and the Muhammadiyya of Imam Sharaf ad-Din al-Busiri translated by Aziza Spiker, Guidance Media 2012)



    Salams at the Rawdhah by Imam `Abdallah bin `Alawi al-Haddad

    In his qasida that has been captioned, "Al-Qasida al-Haddadiyyah al-Daakhiliyyah Lil-Hujratin Nabawiyyah Ash-Sharifah" ("The Eulogy by Mawlana al-Haddad Engraved Inside The Blessed Room Of The Prophet"), Imam `Abdallah bin `Alawi al-Haddad says,

    "'Alayka Salaatu'llahi yaa sayyidan saraa
    Ila'llahi hatta marra bissab'i wa'l hujbi

    Wa qaama bi "aw adnaa" fanaaheeka rif'atan
    Wa majdan samaa hattaa anaafa 'ala'sh-shuhbi"


    "Allah's blessings be on you O master (i.e. Sayyidina Muhammad ) who travelled by night
    To Allah until he passed the seven heavens and all the veils

    And your position of (a distance of two bow lengths) "or even less"
    Is enough exaltation and a gallery so high as to vie with the stars"


    (Source: iqra.net)



    Simtud-Durar

    In the first salutation of Mawlid Simtud-Durar, Imam al-Habib `Ali bin Muhammad al-Habashi says,

    O Lord send blessing upon Muhammad
    As long as the stars shine upon the horizon


    O Lord send blessing upon Muhammad
    As long as the full moon shines and darkness is absent


    In the second salation he says,

    O Lord send blessing upon Muhammad
    The most illustrious moon that shines in the universe


    (Source: Simt ad-Durar by Habib `Ali bin Muhammad al-Habashi translated by Rizwana Sayed, Sakina 2019)



    Standing in Ovation to Sayyidina Muhammad

    Amongst the popular lines recited when Muslims stand and offer salam (greetings of peace) to the Holy Prophet Sayyidina Muhammad are:

    "A full moon rises over us
    The other moon disappears"


    and

    "You are the sun, you are the moon"

    and

    "O my beloved, O Muhammad
    O star of east and west"


    (Source: iqra.net)



    A Salat `alan-Nabi of al-Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad

    In this invocation, Sayyidina Muhammad is referred to as the bright moon.

    O Allah! Bestow blessings and peace
    on the bright moon,
    the bringer of glad tidings, the warner,
    the soul of all existence
    and the merciful gift for all that exists
    and on his family and companions and followers
    till the Promised Day.

    (Source: iqra.net)







    Al-Fatiha!

    Irshaad Ahmad Rashid
    Madrasa Riyada, Ontario Canada
    Rabi` ul Thani 1444 / November 2022












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