I bring you an astrological interpretation of the 53rd chapter of Quran, called “The Star”. It has the most profound guidelines for humans to navigate through the twelve signs of zodiac; and besides that, this chapter envelops the fundamental teachings of Islam in its entirety.
The chapter 53rd of Quran is called “An-Najm”, meaning ‘The Star’. The most fascinating aspect of this chapter is that it flows with seemingly unconnected subjects, but with a profound rhythm and symbolic esoteric meaning. The verses of this chapter in a descending order represent allegorical description of the successive signs of astrological zodiac. Thus, it creates the most beautiful symphony of spiritual and psychological relevance to the reader wherein, the profound guidance it delivers through the esoteric undertones are the hallmark of this chapter. Here, I have attempted to unravel its meanings by using hermetic principles of astrology.
By the Star when it setteth, (1)
Your comrade erreth not, nor is deceived; (2)
Nor doth he speak of (his own) desire. (3)
It is naught save an inspiration that is inspired, (4)
Which one of mighty powers hath taught him, (5)
One vigorous; and he grew clear to view (6)
When he was on the uppermost horizon. (7)
The setting of star mentioned in verse (1) refers to the position of star Sirius at the moment of Aries rising. Sirius is one of the brightest stars, and has also been mentioned by name later in this chapter because it was considered to be a dear object of worship by pagan Arabs. When Aries rises, Sirius is situated at the bottom most position called Imum Coeli or IC in the sign of Cancer. Therefore, Quran is saying in verse (2) that a star as bright as Sirius may set, but the rising of Aries cannot be hindered. Due to this, it has characteristics of life, energy, strength, dynamism, self-confidence, and a dauntless attitude. In verse (7) ‘the uppermost horizon’ represents Aries, because of it being the first sign in zodiac.
Then he drew nigh and came down. (8)
Till he was (distant) two bow’s length or even nearer, (9)
And He revealed unto His slave that which He revealed. (10)
The heart lied not (in seeing) what it saw. (11)
Will ye then dispute with him concerning what he seeth? (12)
And verily he saw him yet another time (13)
By the lote-tree of the utmost boundary, (14)
Nigh unto which is the Garden of Abode. (15)
When that which shroudeth did enshroud the lote-tree, (16)
The eye turned not aside nor yet was overbold. (17)
Verily he saw one of the greater revelations of his Lord. (18)
Taurus always follows the sign of Aries, and so is below Aries, as mentioned in verse (8). The distance of two bow’s length in verse (9) allegorically refers to the space between the bull’s horns in the constellation of Taurus. Astrologically, the sign of Taurus is concerned with security through material support, which primarily means food and shelter. Therefore, in these verses one might easily spot the theme of well being and reassurance due to the mention of gardens and trees. Also, notice the ‘lote tree’ in verse (14) which is an ever green tree stationed at the highest place in heavens. In Taurus, the spring season gets firmly established with trees producing flowers and fruits in abundance, bringing about affluence on Earth. The verse (17) is important here because it expresses the ethical perspective of Taurus in contrast to the opposite sign Scorpio. It says that the eye of Taurus is neither timid, nor overconfident due to being devoid of lustfulness (Scorpio Trait).
Have ye thought upon Al-Lat and Al-Uzz’a (19)
And Manat, the third, the other? (20)
Are yours the males and His the females? (21)
That indeed were an unfair division! (22)
They are but names which ye have named, ye and your fathers, for which Allah hath revealed no warrant. They follow but a guess and that which (they) themselves desire. And now the guidance from their Lord hath come unto them. (23)
Gemini is represented by ‘the twins’ symbol in astrology, which refers to duality in every form of human activity. Human beings are affected by it because they use languages and symbols for communication purposes, which when taken literally can be very misleading. This duality leads to superficiality, and that in turn leads to vanity; because some symbols eventually become idols, and the mind gets conditioned by social environments to live perpetually under its self-deceiving hypnosis. The sign of Gemini gives mankind languages and symbolism that has its own utility, but to consider this function to be ‘the truth’, is like considering reference symbols to be as actual reality, or words to be the real things. Therefore, in these verses of Quran (19–23), whilst referring to the sign of Gemini, Quran condemns the symbolism of idols such as al-laat, al-Uzza, and Manaat because those are deceptive. Also, the twin symbolism of Gemini is emphasized in verses (21–22) by stating that there should be no unjust division, partiality, or difference between activities meant for materialistic desires, and that for spiritual life. The Quran also strongly reprimands superficiality, vanity, and assumptions; but supports working with tangible facts of existence.
Or shall man have what he coveteth? (24)
But unto Allah belongeth the after (life), and the former. (25)
And how many angels are in the heavens whose intercession availeth naught save after Allah giveth leave to whom He chooseth and accepteth. (26)
Lo! it is those who disbelieve in the Hereafter who name the angels with the names of females. (27)
And they have no knowledge thereof. They follow but a guess, and lo! a guess can never take the place of the truth. (28)
Then withdraw (O Muhammad) from him who fleeth from Our remembrance and desireth but the life of the world. (29)
Such is their sum of knowledge. Lo! thy Lord is best aware of him who strayeth, and He is best aware of him whom goeth right. (30)
Cancer is astrologically considered as the sign of home, relaxation, comfort, ease, happiness, and emotional freedom. Here everyone is flexible, casual, and understanding. It is a place where mistakes usually go unnoticed, because formality and laws are normally ignored. It is the start of Summer, where all bode well under the high Sun. At this time, the laws are of utmost importance for development of the human spirit. Therefore, verses (24–25) suggest that a person should not totally be devoted to the fulfilment of his desires by undermining law and order. And since the angels were known to be law enforcement agents of God, the pagans in verses (26–28) had turned them into females so as to mitigate the punishments, because they considered females to be more compassionate and forgiving towards criminals. The verses (29–30) suggest that these are the times when humans need to act with discipline and walk their talk, for if they do not, then what they shall sow in summer, will reap in winter. In brief, the Quran says that one can make the most out of good times by acting in lives with nobility and discipline.
And unto Allah belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth, that He may reward those who do evil with that which they have done, and reward those who do good with goodness. (31)
In the above verse, the sign of king (Leo) is admonished of conducting any acts of tyranny in a language so regal and grandeur that befits only to be spoken by a true sovereign. Because summers have firmly set themselves in during this time, therefore astrologically, it is the sign of high and the great. Here, Quran not only informs about the best times that humans ever experience, but also warns them that any form of ingratitude or defiance at these times will be severely dealt with.
Those who avoid enormities of sin and abominations, save the unwilled offences — (for them) lo! thy Lord is of vast mercy. He is best aware of you (from the time) when He created you from the earth, and when ye were hidden in the bellies of your mothers. Therefore ascribe not purity unto yourselves. He is best aware of him who wardeth off (evil). (32)
The sign of Virgo is symbolized by a virgin imagery, which is meant to represent perfectionist attitudes. Virgo tends to be extraordinarily meticulous, dexterous, and very specific about their lives and activities, and therefore are hereby taught a lesson of simplicity, moderatism, and contentment. Virgo is also the sign of organized religions, or religious establishments with hierarchical orders of clergy who are deeply devoted to traditionalism, and lifestyles of inordinate perfectionism. The Quran teaches here to such folks that they do not try to be extra pure, because they are not born out of virgins; rather the only person who has ever been reported to be of Virgin birth, known as Jesus, was actually against traditionalism.
Didst thou (O Muhammad) observe him who turned away, (33)
And gave a little, then was grudging? (34)
Hath he knowledge of the Unseen so that he seeth? (35)
Or hath he not had news of what is in the books of Moses (36)
And Abraham who paid his debt: (37)
That no laden one shall bear another’s load, (38)
And that man hath only that for which he maketh effort, (39)
And that his effort will be seen. (40)
And afterward he will be repaid for it with fullest payment; (41)
And that thy Lord, He is the goal; (42)
Libra is the sign of justice and balance in society and human relationships. The symbol of Libra is scales of balance, making this sign an instrument of justice in nature. So, the verses (33–35) talk about importance of respecting other people, and giving value to the best creations of God on Earth, meaning human beings. In verse (36) the ten commandments of Moses are referred in order to uphold the laws of social justice, whilst in verse (37), Abraham is mentioned who is the very personification of Libra in esoteric traditions. Also, verses (38–41) epitomizes the Libra archetype of justice in its most explicit style and forceful fashion ever stated. Therefore, verse (42) suggests that one must never dismiss human beings as anything inferior or lowly, but rather should show the best ethical behaviour towards fellow-men.
And that He it is who maketh laugh, and maketh weep, (43)
And that He it is Who giveth death and giveth life; (44)
And that He createth the two spouses, the male and the female, (45)
From a drop (of seed) when it is poured forth; (46)
And that He hath ordained the second bringing forth; (47)
Astrologically, Scorpio is considered as the most intense and extreme sign of zodiac. There is never any middle ground with Scorpio, because it always deals in the very extremes. The major characteristics of Scorpio is sex, desires, and extreme emotional associations with ones objectives. It seldom brings about total transformation that can appropriately be characterized by a process of death and rebirth. Therefore, seen in perspective, the verses (43–47) quite comprehensively fits the archetype of Scorpio, and appreciates its significance in nature.
And that He it is Who enricheth and contenteth; (48)
Sagittarius is opposite to the sign of Gemini, and whilst the theme of Gemini is duality and symmetry due to its twin symbol, Sagittarius is symbolic of depth, thoroughness, and knowledge. Sagittarius is symbolized by an imagery of hybrid creature (a satyr), who attempts to shoot targets at the heights of sky. It wants to unravel the depths of sky and its space, thus representing the best of philosophical and intellectual development. While Gemini usually enjoys trivial communications through words and symbols, with Sagittarius rests the proverbs of sages. Also, it is noteworthy that in the verse (48), Sagittarius is mentioned only in few words, which is not only consistent with the very nature of Sagittarius itself, but those few words actually express a glowing praise to the sign which resonates with the unity of cosmos. Ultimate unity of Godhead is also one of the Quran’s fundamental teaching.
And that He it is Who is the Lord of Sirius; (49)
And that He destroyed the former (tribe of) A’ad, (50)
And (the tribe of) Thamud He spared not; (51)
And the folk of Noah aforetime, Lo! they were more unjust and more rebellious; (52)
And Al-Mu’tafikah He destroyed (53)
So that there covered them that which did cover. (54)
Concerning which then, of the bounties of thy Lord, canst thou dispute? (55)
The star Sirius is mentioned in verse (49), which resides in the opposite sign of Cancer. Since Capricorn starts at the winter solstice, it is easily the most dreaded sign of zodiac. It requires hard work under the most desolate and poor conditions to survive, and therefore, represents the wilderness at extremes. Here, the evil instincts of selfishness and greed by corrupt power-brokers or elite authorities in pursuit of everlasting security and political power can result in famine for the poor. Therefore, by referring to the major star in Cancer, Quran attempts to admonish the political establishments or governments with examples in verses (50–54) from the history of societies that built strong physical structures as symbols of their lasting power and glory, but afterwards they were all destroyed and brought low despite of their arrogance. The verse (55) reminds the powerful that their rule is not eternal, and their existence will be matched by similar destruction on account of their ingratitude.
Here, as a side note, I must also state that this is not the only passage in Quran where the star Sirius is mentioned. The star Sirius is also allegorically implied in the story of ‘people of cave’ in chapter 18 of the Quran, where sleepers of the cave are actually meant to be planets, and their watchdog who is on lookout for them is the star Sirius.
This is a warner of the warners of old. (56)
The threatened Hour is nigh. (57)
None beside Allah can disclose it. (58)
Marvel ye then at this statement, (59)
And laugh and not weep, (60)
While ye amuse yourselves? (61)
The warner in verse (56) is an allegorical reference to Aquarius. This part of chapter is the ultimate admonition to corrupt political authorities who mainly in their autocratic and tyrannical frenzy cross all limits of propriety. One thing these despots do not get to realize is the proximity of their doom, and therefore the ultimate truth with divine power manifests itself in disclosing it. Unfortunately, the human nature at certain times tend to become so frigid, unrelenting, and dispassionate in its cruelty as though they were devoid of any heart in their bodies at all. Such people mock at any decent behaviour to absolve themselves of responsibility in the face of challenges or losses.
Rather prostrate yourselves before Allah and serve Him. (62)
Pisces represents the depths of oceans, and it is the sign of emotional attachments with spiritual truths. Here, as was the case with Sagittarius, Quran speaks in limited but profound words to define the Pisces. As Sagittarius represented the depths of sky and space, Pisces represents the depths of waters in seas. Sagittarius occupied itself with philosophy and intellectual pursuits for recognizing truth, whilst Pisces indulges in the dance of mystics and spiritual for embracing truth. The most fundamental characteristics of Pisces is submission to the unknown depths of mysteries, and intuitively flow with it without challenging it. Thus, the given verse of Quran sufficiently grasps the Pisces attributes, and commends its position.
The End Note
This brings us to the end of this chapter of Quran. I hope you shall find this explanation interesting and useful, and may it strengthens the truth in all of us. I should here mention a Quranic verse which says,
And He hath constrained the night and the day and the sun and the moon to be of service unto you, and the stars are made subservient by His command. Lo! herein indeed are portents for people who have sense. (16, 12)