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Miracles, Myths, Mistakes and MattersSee Title Page and List of Contents

See: Project Rebuttal: What the West needs to know about Islam

Refuting the gross distortion and misrepresentation of the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad and Islam, made by the critics of Islam

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November 11th, 2015

Flame, Fire, Shooting Star – or Shooting Down of the Nonsense with Quran?

Flame, Fire, Shooting Star – or Shooting Down of the Nonsense with Quran?

Shooting stars in the night sky, also known as meteors, are a common experience. A myth prevails among Muslims that shooting stars occur when the angels shoot flames to chase away the Jinn, the Satan, when he tries to sneak into the heavens to listen into the whisperings of the angels and when he tries to steal secrets from the heavens. Such beliefs, though extra-Quranic, are somehow extrapolated from the various verses of the Quran. Barring a few, the exegeses of the verses referring to the shooting stars are preposterous, for example:

Before the prophethood of Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), the Jinn used to eavesdrop freely without being expelled from the upper terrestrial realms. They would listen to the discussions of the angels and learn about future events. They would return to the World and reveal this information to fortune tellers. When the future events transpired as foretold by the fortune tellers, they [–the people] would believe that the fortune tellers possessed knowledge of the unseen, thus, they were deceived by the fortune tellers.

However, when Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was sent to the World, the Jinn were barred from entering all the upper terrestrial realms and the flaming stars increased to an extent that it filled the terrestrial spheres, therefore, they could no more eavesdrop on the conversations of the angels. Whenever any Jinn would try to eavesdrop, it was pursued and struck by a flaming/shooting star which never missed its target.1

Such mythical interpretations provide fodder for the critics of Quran. One such critic uses the shooting star verses to disparage Quran. Instead of rebutting nonsense such as these myths it would be prudent to respond to the critic. In answering the critic, we shall put forth arguments from within Quran that will simultaneously remove the basis of the sarcasm of the critic and expunge the twaddle of an apologetic myth. The critic writes:

In order for a book to demonstrate a divine origin, it must possess the attributes that accompany such a claim. For example, it must refrain from making statements that are outlandish and indicative of an author who was a simply a product of his times, and who shared in the common superstitions, mythology, and misconceptions that afflict humans unaided by supernatural agency.

With this in mind, examine the Quran of the Muslim religion. The Quran makes several statements regarding heavenly “lamps” and their relationship to “devils.”

And verily in the heaven We have set mansions of the stars, and We have beautified it for beholders. And We have guarded it from every outcast devil, save him who stealeth the hearing, and them doth a clear flame pursue (Surah 15:16-18, emp. added).

Lo! We have adorned the lowest heaven with an ornament, the planets; with security from every forward devil. They cannot listen to the Highest Chiefs for they are pelted from every side, outcast, and theirs is a perpetual torment; save him who snatcheth a fragment, and there pursueth him a piercing flame (Surah37:6-10, emp. added).

And (the Jinn who had listened to the Quran said): We had sought the heaven but had found it filled with strong warders and meteors. And we used to sit on places (high) therein to listen. But he who listened now findeth a flame in wait for him (Surah 72:8-9, emp. added).

And verily We have beautified the world’s heaven with lamps, and We have made them missiles for the devils, and for them We have prepared the doom of flame(Surah 67:5, emp. added).

The reader is given the distinct impression that Allah uses shooting stars, or meteors, as missiles to drive evil spirits or demons away from heaven (to prevent them from listening to heavenly conversations) and to torment them. Such language cannot be dismissed as merely figurative, poetic, or phenomenal. Of course, Muslim apologists recognize the absurdity of the idea of physical objects being hurled at spiritual beings, so they offer an alternative explanation. They claim the verses in question refer to soothsayers and astrologers who seek signs from the stars, but who become frightened by meteorological phenomena (see Pickthall, n.d., pp. 408,417). We leave the reader to judge whether this interpretation accounts adequately for the wording of the quranic text.

REFERENCES: Pickthall, Mohammed M. (n.d.), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).2

Before we discuss the Quran, it is critical to trace the source of the myth of devil sneaking into heaven. We find that source in the apology of Justin Martyr3, the early second century Christian apologist. Justin Martyr was forced to admit that the so-called Christian rites had existed among the pagans, centuries before Jesus. Justin was asked by the Emperor of Rome to explain why he, the Emperor, should embrace Christianity and give up his ancestral faith if the various articles of Emperor’s own faith in the Mithraic Dispensation were the same as those in the new cult called after the name of Christ. Mithra, the Emperor thought, was the origin of Christ. Justin could not deny the Emperor’s contravention and tried to explain it away:

“And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. [First Apology of Justin, Chap. XXI – Analogies to the History of the Christ.4]

5Justin’s explanation, however, is very interesting, as we read in his Apologia. He said that for centuries before, Satan went into the higher regions in heaven and overheard angels rejoicing over the appearance of Jesus Christ in the days to come. Satan thus came to be acquainted with all the features of the story of the coming Christ, and he, being the arch-enemy of truth, tried, therefore, to confound it with falsehood. With this foretold knowledge of coming of Christ, the Satan then visited numerous countries, from Persia to England, and all those that surrounded the birthplace of Jesus, and introduced cults each of which had the same story of its god as is now told of Jesus by the Church.

Official Christianity has been found to emanate from the cult of Mithraism, and not from the religion of Jesus. Paying attention to Christian doctrine would be an insult to intelligence. The Christians themselves have realized that the Church story of Christianity, from beginning to end, was only a faithful reproduction of the stories of several pagan gods. The original narrative of Jesus was purposely lost sight of by the Early Church Fathers, who portrayed the Lord of Christianity purely from the pagan point of view. They depicted him as the last of the generation of Pagan Christs – Nimrod/Baal, Heru Sa Aset and Bast – twins born of Aset i.e. Isis, Mithras, Horus, Attis, Dionysus the son of Zeus, Siris (Egypt), Adonis (Syria), Tammuz (Babylon), Hercules, Perseus, Helios, Bacchus, Apollo, Jupiter, Hermes, Orpheus, Sol Invictus – (The “Unconquered Sun”). Barring a few, all of these gods were reported to have been born of a Virgin on Christmas night. They all came in their respective periods of history, to redeem the condemned human race by their blood, and willingly went to the Cross or were killed on the Friday afternoon immediately preceding Easter Sunday. It has also been established that all these pagan gods were buried and remained for two days in the grave; they rose again on the Easter Sunday morning and ascended to heaven afterwards, with a promise of a second coming in the latter days; and that the pagans used to participate in meals on Sunday in commemoration of their crucified god, believing that they ate his blood and flesh.

Justin Martyr had to invent the reason behind the prevailing customs, rituals and beliefs of the pagans of the time by attributing it to the “advance planning” by the Devil:

“The devils, accordingly, when they heard these prophetic words, said that Bacchus was the son of Jupiter, and gave out that he was the discoverer of the vine, and they number wine among his mysteries; and they taught that, having been torn in pieces, he ascended into heaven.” [First Apology of Justin, Chapter LIV – Origin of heathen mythology.6]

“And the devils, indeed, having heard this washing published by the prophet, instigated those who enter their temples, and are about to approach them with libations and burnt-offerings, also to sprinkle themselves; and they cause them [the pagans] also to wash themselves entirely, as they depart [from the sacrifice], before they enter into the shrines in which their images are set.” [First Apology of Justin, Chapter LXII.—Its imitation by demons.7]

Though the ingenious story by Justin could not convince the Emperor, it nevertheless explained the difficulties attaching to the new faith to its followers. A century later Christianity was accepted as the truth by Constantine for purely political reasons, and he then made it even worse.

In summary, the nonsensical belief that God and his angels only live in the heavens, where the devil tries to sneak into, is purely a Christian dogma to circumvent the simple question as to why Christianity is the same as old Pagan religions. Justin Martyr concocted that centuries before Christ or the pagan religions got established on the earth, the devil in one of his sneaking into heavens was able to overhear angels discussing the future coming of Christ. On his return to earth, the devil developed pagan religions ahead of time of coming of Christ. The practices of these pagan religions were the same as those of the Christianity of the future when it would arrive after the advent of Jesus. Hence, when Christianity arrived, the pagans were only practicing its rituals ahead of time and ordinary people are left with the question of why Christianity is following pagans, whereas, according to Justin Martyr, the former are following the latter, but only ahead of time.

The myth of devil sneaking into heavens is a Christian apology that has crept into Muslim thought as well. The Justinian apology is then read as explanation of certain verses of Quran, whereas the message of Quran is poles apart from such nonsense. Contrary to the myth, there is no division of God’s ‘world’ into the earth and heavens; it is all one master plan, of which earth is a small part. God of Quran does not live in a heaven, while the earth is left without His presence, the attributes of a physically limited God.

In the discussion to follow we will use the example of Christianity, only as a case in point, to understand the verses referred to in the criticism at the beginning of this chapter. However, the same verses of Quran have much larger implications that are aptly discussed by Maulana Muhammad Ali in his Urdu translation and commentary of the Holy Quran. The Arabic keywords, which create difficulty for some while reading the related verses, are Shihâb, Thâqib and Mubîn. These words along with their roots and meanings are outlined in Dictionary of the Holy Quran by Abdul Mannan Omar, with emphasis added in pertinence to current discussion:

Shahaba To burn, scorch, become of a colour in which whiteness predominates over blackness. Shihâb plu. Shuhub: Flaming fire; Bright blaze; Bright meteor, Star; Penetrating flame; Shining star; Brisk; Sprightly; Flame; Brand; Radiating or gleaming fire; Shooting or falling star; Star or the like of a star that darts across the sky. Shihâb al-herb: Dauntless warrior; One who is penetrating sharp and energetic in a war. Shihâb (n.): (15:18; 27:7; 37:10; 72:9). Shuhub (plu. of Shihâb ): (72:8). (L; T; R; LL).8

Thaqaba To shine, penetrate, perforate, pierce, spread (odour), soar aloft. Thâqib (act. pic. m. sing.) Bright shining; Piercing through darkness; Piercing brightness; Brightly shining. (37:10; 89:3). (L; T; R; LL)9

Bâna To be distinct and separate, far away, remote from, divorced (women), clear, obvious, appear, explain. Tabyyana: To be clear, easily understood, appear. Baina yadaihi: Before him; In his presence. Bayân: Declaration; Explanation; Argument; Rhetoric; Clear meaning; Intelligent and distinct speech. It applies to both thought and speech, in as much as it comprises the faculty of making a thing or an idea apparent to the mind and conceptually distinct from other things or ideas as well as the power to express the cognition in spoken or written language. Bayyinah plu. Bayyinât: Evidence; Clear proof; Argument; Precise testimony; Clear. Mubîn: Explaining clearly; Clear; Beyond doubt; Obvious; Parting; Cutting. Tabayyana: To be or become manifest, clear. With li or an or with le and an: To be distinct. With min: To be made known. With li: To perceive. Although the word Bainun generally rendered as ‘between’ is in reality a substantive meaning ‘interval’ or ‘connection’.10

Frequently, Quran draws analogies from physical phenomena, which all humans can independently experience and draw lessons from. Shihâb-e-Thâqib and Shihâb-e-Mubîn, relevant to current discussion, are some of the analogies. Dr. Basharat Ahmad explains why Quran draws moral implication from analogies to physical phenomena:

It is also a well-accepted principle among the intelligentsia that a direct parallel exists between the physical and the spiritual worlds in that a similarity of relationship runs through both spheres. So, if testimony is drawn from the physical world in regard to a particular matter, then a wise person, by using his initiative, can draw the conclusion that a similar law must reside in the spiritual world.11

The metaphorical reference to shooting stars will be easy to understand if the reader keeps in mind the following meanings of meteor:

‘any person or object that moves, progresses, becomes famous, etc., with spectacular speed’12

All such dogmas attributed to Quran must withstand the challenge put forth by Quran or else must be rejected. This challenge is to anyone, be it the soothsayer, a jinn, Satan, or an apologist like Justin Martyr, to bring forth any proof of what they claim is from God:

52:38. Have they the means through which they can overhear (the Lord)? If so, let their listener bring forth a clear authoritative proof (just as the Prophet of God does).13

Even though it is vain, the Apology of Justin Martyr and its devil sneaking into heavens is not a clear authoritative proof, but is the only escape hatch for Christianity to distance itself from its pagan roots. Still, with his apology in mind, when we read the rebuttal in Quran, we see the rug being pulled out from under the feet of Christianity when Quran uses the analogy of bright shining flame of logic of Quran pursuing the Christian dogma.

The critic took verses 37:6-10 out of context. The first four verses, 37:1-4, are the preamble to the subsequent verses, 37:6-10, quoted by the critic. The preamble verses were deliberately omitted by the critic. The preamble is significant in understanding the verses that follow. The preamble states that the illogic in the matter of faith will dissipate at the hands of the followers of Quran and believers in absolute monotheism. The later example of stars, quoted by the critic, is only a simile to the character of the people mentioned earlier in the preamble:

Quran as a source of guidance to drive away falsehood at the hands of its followers

37:1. Cited as witness are those who range themselves in close ranks (in various fields of life),

37:2. And those who drive away (the forces of evil) vigorously,

37:3. And those who recite and follow the Reminder (- the Qur'ân),14

In the next verse, 37:4, it is stated that the dissipation of falsehood at the hands of those who range themselves in close ranks is contingent upon their belief in absolute monotheism:

Monotheism as a requirement to stand guard over truth

37:4. Verily, your God is One [and not Trinity in this case],15

The subsequent verses 37:5-10, even if taken narrowly, expunge the basis of Justinian apology. Whereas, in a broader sense, these verses are about enlightened monotheists, the stars, decked against falsehood, the Satan, and pursuing all false claims, for example Christianity, by the bright and flaming arguments from Quran. Even if the following verses are read concretely, at least they expunge the apology by Justin Martyr and refute the basis of Christianity i.e. no Devil, no Satan or for that matter any Jinn can have access to the exalted assembly, both, physically or metaphorically. The Justinian access to heavens by Satan was not there before Christ nor after him. Of note is that the critic only quoted verses 37:6-10 and totally ignored the preceding verses 37:1-5, quoted above, which tell the reader who those stars actually are – the believers in monotheism and Quran:

Guarding of the truth by those who range themselves in close ranks, an allegory

37:5. Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that lies between them and Lord of the places of the rising and spreading of light.

37:6. Verily, We have beautified and embellished the nearer space (- the heaven visible to you) with an excellent embellishment, the stars and planets.

37:7. And (We have placed therein) an effective safeguard against every insolently disobedient satan.

37:8. They (having no access to the source of prophecy) cannot listen to (what goes on in) the exalted assembly (of the arch angels). They are reproached (for their false conjectures) from every side,

37:9. They are repulsed. A perpetual punishment awaits them.16

Finally, the verse 37:10 puts it quite succinctly that the pagan dogmas might invent fragments of some truth or spirituality but even that figment cannot stand up to the confrontation from any bright shining flame of an argument from Quran.

Destruction of falsehood

37:10. Yet if anyone of them snatches away but once (to find out something), he is pursued by a bright shining flame [Arabic: shihābun thāqibun].17 [Emphasis added]

With rebuttal to Justin Martyr out of the way let’s revisit the intended use of the term stars in Quran. Prophet Muhammad has used the word star for his companions:

“My companions are like stars.”

Similarly, Quran too uses the term star to denote humans, the example of which we find in the vision of Joseph and its fulfillment, where his brothers are symbolized as stars:

12:4. (Remember the time) when Joseph [in his childhood] said to his father, `My dear father! I have seen (in a vision) eleven stars and the sun and the moon. I saw them falling down prostrate (before God) because of me.'

12:100. And [when Joseph was as an adult and in-charge of the treasuries of Egypt] he took his parents to the royal court and they all [father = sun, mother = moon, eleven brothers = 11 stars, all part of childhood vision of Joseph (verse12:4)] fell down prostrate (before God) because of him and he said, `My father! this is the real fulfillment of my vision of old. My Lord has made it come true. He has been gracious to me, indeed, when he released me out of the prison and brought you from the desert. (This all happened) after satan had stirred up discord between me and my brothers. Surely, my Lord is Benignant to whomsoever He pleases. He it is, Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.'18

In the case of Joseph, not only the stars symbolize humans, but also the terms sun and the moon. Just as Jesus, the prophet of God, spoke in parables, so does Quran. To explain its message Quran makes use of parables, but with a caveat. Quran declares that correct understanding of its parables leads to guidance, whereas, incorrect grasp of its parables can be a source of error:

2:26. Indeed, Allâh does not disdain to cite a parable of (a thing) even (as small as) a gnat or (of something) smaller than that. (Be it as it may) those who have believed know that this is a true (parable) from their Lord. As for those who disbelieve say, `What could Allâh mean by (citing) such a parable?' Many does He adjudge to be erring because of these (parables) and many does He guide through them. Yet it is only the transgressors whom He adjudges to be erring because of them.19

Allah even uses a parable for Himself. The inventors of myths in Quran and the critics, alike, will agree that if God Almighty in Quran gives an imagery of Himself in its verses, then that imagery is not physical but a parable which can awaken in the mind of the reader an innate ‘God sense.’ Such a parable about God symbolized as star is as follows:

24:35. Allâh is the Extensive Light of the heavens and the earth. His light can be compared to a (lustrous) pillar on which a lamp is put. The lamp is inside a crystal globe. The globe of glass is as if it were a glittering star. It (- the lamp) is lit by (the oil of) a blessed olive tree which belongs neither to the east nor to the west (rather welds the whole world in its fold). Its oil is likely to glow forth of itself even if no fire touch it. This (lamp) is a combination of many lights over and over. Allâh guides towards His light whoever desires (to be enlightened). And Allâh sets forth excellent parables for the people, and Allâh alone has full knowledge of everything.20

Use of the term star in Quran has many blissful connotations. Illumination from Allah through Quran, the word of God, is also addressed as glittering star (note: the singular). The error of a concrete read of star is put to rest forever – Allâh sets forth excellent parables for the people, and Allâh alone has full knowledge of everything. Thus, the usage of the terms stars and heavens in Quran are excellent parables for the people to drive home its message. The correct understanding of its parables differentiates the erring ones from those who are guided through the Quran. The parable of heavens and bright fiery flame are just a case in point where its concrete read will be a source of error but those reading it for its intended message are guided aright.

In the story of Joseph (verses 12:4, 12:100), there is also a corresponding mention of Satan who for a while was able to disrupt the brotherhood of the starssatan had stirred up discord between me and my brothers. Similarly, in the verses under discussion, 37:1-10, Quran speaks of the same Satan who tries to sneak into the star-decked heaven, to stir up the discord in the spiritual and moral domain of Islam in which are found those who range themselves in close ranks (in various fields of life), And those who drive away (the forces of evil) vigorously, And those who recite and follow the Reminder (- the Qur'ân) (v. 37:1-3). Any intrusion of Satan in such a spiritual space is chased away by a bright fiery flame of logic from Quran. This logic is shaped into cogent arguments by the stars, standing shoulder to shoulder in their dialogues, writings and publications. These stars, the Muslims, who defend and spread their faith against the intrusion of Satanic dogmas are identified in Quran:

51:1. I call to witness those (beings) who went forth to scatter (the Qur'ânic teachings) far and wide with a true scattering,

51:2. They carry (their blessed) load (of truth),

51:3. Then speed along (exposing the wrong belief and evil practices) with love and peace,

51:4. And then distribute and apportion the work by (Our) command,

51:5. Verily, the promise you are made (about the spread of Islam) is true,21

All arguments in defense and propagation of Islam by these stars, the Muslims, must be strictly based upon Quran else the stars will decay and dissipate into small stars and lose their light:

77:1. I call to witness those (messengers of Truth) who are sent forth to spread goodness (in continual series),

77:2. Those that drive off forcefully (falsehood and forces of evil as chaff is carried before the wind),

77:3. And those that spread (the truth) far and wide,

77:4. And those that fully distinguish (the right from the wrong),

77:5. And those carrying the Message of (rising to) eminence far and wide (- the Qur'ân),

77:6. (And those presenting this source of eminence) in an attempt to purify (some) from the abomination of sin and to warn (others),

77:7. Verily, that which you are promised must come to pass.


77:8. So when the small stars will be made to lose their light,22

In another set of verses cited by the critics, Quran repeats the same analogy of bright fiery flame for its truth which burns out the bizarre Christian doctrine that Justin Martyr erected:

15:16. We have indeed set up constellations in the heaven, and We have decked it fair for the beholders,

15:17. And We have guarded it against (the intrusion of) every rebellious rejected satan.

15:18. As to one who wishes to steal a hearing (of the revelation to distort it) a bright fiery flame [Arabic: shihābun mubīnun] pursues him.23

Just as in verse 37:10 before, the verse 15:18 too puts it succinctly that the pagan dogmas might steal and adopt fragments of some truth or spirituality, but even that figment cannot stand up to the confrontation from any bright fiery flame of an argument from Quran.

The allegorical construct of flame pursuing Christianity does not end by mere arguments against it in Quran, but also pursues it in the hereafter, the logical end of all dogmas:

77:28. On that day woe shall befall those who belie (the truth).

77:29. (It will be said to the followers of Trinity,) `Now, move on towards that (punishment) which you cried lies to,

77:30. `Move on to the shadow that has three branches [–Trinity],

77:31. `(Which is) neither affording shade (to you) nor protects (you) from the flame.'24 [Emphasis added]

The reference to star studded heavens, the torch bearers of Quran, is not only in the verses that the critics at the beginning of the chapter refer to; it is also mentioned in another place, which Dr. Basharat Ahmad contextualizes:25

85:1. By the heaven full of stars!

85:2. And the Promised day!

85:3. And the bearer of witness and that to which witness is borne!

Let us ponder over the state of darkness and misguidance that overspread Arabia at that time as well as over the difficulties and turbulence that prevailed around it, and then let us consider the magnificence and explicitness of this prophecy in which the triumph of truth has been so lucidly portrayed. The testimony of the star-studded heavens is presented here in order to proclaim to the world that the time had come when the land of Arabia would accept the heavenly teaching and Allah's kingdom, which is in heaven, would be established on earth with such glory and grandeur that, metaphorically speaking, it could be said that earth would turn into heaven. And just as the heaven was full of stars, in the same way, the earth would abound with people who, like the stars, would be illuminated with heavenly light as the Holy Prophet (pbuh) himself had said: "My Companions are like the stars."

By the promised day is meant that for the fulfilment of these matters, a particular day has been set aside and a promise of that day has been firmly given when truth would triumph over falsehood. This would constitute an irrefutable evidence that just as truth had prevailed in Arabia in the time of the Holy Prophet, so, too, would it triumph for all times to come.

The witness mentioned above was no other than the Holy Prophet (pbuh) who gave evidence of the success of the religion of Islam and made prophecies about it. It also referred to those who were witnesses of this eventuality, in particular, the Holy Prophet's Companions, who saw with their own eyes the glorious fulfilment of these prophecies.

The expression by what is witnessed refers to evidence which was prophesied, that is, the triumph of Islam.

It also means what was actually seen and that is an allusion to the palpable manifestation of the defeat and destruction and the humiliation and abasement of the unbelievers. This occurrence serves as a testimony that Islam will always continue to spread and predominate and it is also a warning to those who will try to destroy it and impede its progress in the future that they will suffer the same fate as the opponents of the Holy Prophet (pbuh).

Dr. Basharat Ahmad further explains the use of the term stars in another verse:26

82:2. And when the stars become dispersed.

This, too, is another subtle metaphor. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have said: "My Companions are like the stars." They were likened to stars because they were filled with the heavenly light which the Holy Prophet brought. The meaning is that when these showers of divine assistance and heavenly signs fall upon the earth and Islam becomes triumphant, then another sign will come into effect and that is the heavenly stars, that is, the Companions of the Holy Prophet, and other Muslims who will be filled with this same light, will travel all over the earth to disperse this divine light, that is, to propagate the religion of Islam world-wide.

It was not only the Christians who trace the roots of their beliefs stolen from ‘heavens’, there are others, the astrologers, who depend on heavenly confabulations, the Zodiacal nonsense, to earn their bread and butter, while seeding bizarre beliefs. Quran states that they too cannot escape the blazing fire:

67:3. It is He Who has created seven heavens, one upon another in conformity (with each other). You can see no flaw, no incongruity and no imperfection in the creation of the Most Gracious (God). Then look up once more (to heaven). Do you see any flaw?

67:4. Look again and yet again (to find out any confusion in Divine law). (The result will only be that) your eye will return to you dazzled while it is weary (and you will be unable to find any discordance).

67:5. We have, certainly, adorned the lowest heaven with (stars-like) lamps and We have made them as means of conjecture [Arabic: rajuman – throwing a stone in the dark, guess] for the evil ones (and the astrologers who invent good or bad omens from the movement of the stars). (Remember) We have prepared for these (soothesayers) the punishment of the blazing Fire.27

We know that the Jews at the time of the Prophet in Madina were also immersed in practices of astrology and sorcery28:

4:51 Have you not seen those to whom a portion of the Book was given? They believe in sorcery and diviners and say of those who disbelieve: These are better guided in the path than those who believe.29

So far we have discussed Christian, Jews and astrologers separately. Quran then sums up the Christianity, the astrologers and the Jews of Byzantine kingdom and quotes an event when a party of them visited Makkah for its annual market and poetry festival of Souk Oakz.30 There, at a way point, Nakhala, they had a night long discourse on the matters of faith with the Prophet. The flaming effect of Quran on cleaning away the dross from their beliefs is thus mentioned:

72:1. Say, `It has been revealed to me that a party of the jinn (- the non-Arab Jews of Nasîbîn, called Jinn because of their being strong, sharp and effective in affairs) listened (to the Qur'ân), so they said (to their people on their return), "Surely, we have heard a wonderful Qur'ân,

72:2. "It guides towards righteousness, so we declare our faith in it. We shall no longer worship any god besides our Lord.

72:3. "And the truth is that the Majesty of our Lord is exalted. He has taken to Himself no consort nor (has He begotten) a son,

72:4. "And (we admit) that the foolish among us used to say many exaggerated and blasphemous things against Allâh.

72:5. "And (we acknowledge) that (we believed in them because) we never thought that men and jinn could ever possibly utter a lie about Allâh.

72:6. "The fact is that some humble and lowly men from among the common folk used to seek refuge with some (big and influential) men from among the jinns and (thus) they increased these (jinns) in arrogance (and conceit).

72:7. "These men (from the jinn) believed even as you believe that Allâh would raise no one (as Messenger).

72:8. "And we (- the non-Arab Jews, the jinn who had listened to the Qur'ân, as diviners and astrologers) had primarily sought to probe the secrets of space above but we found it teeming with strong guards and shooting stars (a phenomenon which generally occurs before the advent of a divine Reformer).

72:9. "And that we used to sit in some of the observatories to listen to something. But he that tries to listen (in order to forecast some event) now (with the advent of Islam) finds a shooting star in ambush for him.

72:10. "(We confess that) we do not know whether evil is (hereby) augured for those who are on the earth or whether their Lord (thereby) intends to bestow right guidance for them.

72:11. "And some of us are righteous and some of us are otherwise. We follow different ways.

72:12. "And we have come to know for certain that we can never frustrate the purpose of Allâh in the earth, nor can we escape Him by flight (in any direction).

72:13. "No sooner did we hear the guidance (contained in the Qur'ân) than we believed in it. And he who believes in His Lord does not have to fear that his reward will be reduced or injustice will be (done to him).

72:14. "And some of us submit (to the will of God) while some of us are deviators (from the right course)".' (It has also been revealed to the Prophet that) those who submit (to God's commandments) are actually those who earnestly aim at the right way and find it out;

72:15. And that the deviators from the right course are the fuel of Gehenna.31

While the exegeses fret over the concrete interpretation of shooting stars with piercing light, a phenomenon visible to naked eye only during the darkness in the night sky, they ignore what happens during the daytime, the focus of one’s life. Quran explains that the darkness is in the minds of the people. It is the Prophet and the Quran which appear with piercing brightness to quell that darkness. In Quran we find the following:

86:1-3. By the heaven and the Comer by night [– l-ṭāriqi]! And what will make you know what the Comer by night is [– l-ṭāriqu]? The star of piercing brightness.

Tariq (from tarq, striking a thing) originally signifies a comer by night, because one who comes by night finds the doors shut, and knocking at the doors becomes necessary. The Comer by night is here the Holy Prophet; the revelation of the Quran is also spoken of as taking place on a blessed night (44:3, 97:1). The reason is that the Holy Prophet appeared when total darkness spread on the earth, and no one ever stood more in need of knocking at the doors which were shut against him and fastened with strong bolts. It is noteworthy that Jesus compares his advent to that of a thief: “…if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched…Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew, 24:43–44). It may be added that Tariq is also the name given to the morning star, because it comes at the end of the night.

The Comer by night is called the star of piercing brightness, indicating that the Comer by night is a star of such resplendent brightness that all darkness will be dispelled before him.32

Because of his piercing brightness, the Prophet removes the darkness from the souls. He is also called a bright sun which spreads light:

33:45. Prophet! We have sent you to be a Witness, a Bearer of glad tidings and a Warner.

33:46. And (We have sent you) to be a Summoner to Allâh by His command and to serve as a bright sun which spreads light.

33:47. And (Prophet!) give the believers glad tidings that there awaits them great grace from Allâh.33

The analogy of sun, the moon and stars in Quran is summed up for Prophet Muhammad and those who follow him in the true spirit of Quran and they are collectively a source of guidance for humanity. The example of the Prophet is both like that of a sun which is a source of light and like that of a moon that itself borrows light from Allah:

25:61. Blessed is He Who has placed stars in the heaven and has set in it the glowing sun (that produces light) and the glittering moon (that reflects light).34

16:16. And (He has established many other) landmarks as well; (it is by these) and by the stars (too) that the people can follow the right direction.35

While the Prophet is both a sun and a moon in his person, these two attributes are also in proximity of each other in him:

71:16. `And He has set the moon in their midst for light and the sun He has made as a glorious lamp.36

75:8-9. And the moon will eclipse. And the sun and the moon will be brought together.37

The sun and the moon are a source of spiritual light in the person of the Prophet. To experience the prophet, one must feel his light and warmth in one’s spiritual life as confirmation of one’s belief in its actuality:

91:1-3. I call to witness the sun and its light and heat, And the moon when it borrows light from it (- the sun), And the day when it reveals its (- the sun's) glory38

The skeptics might argue that if analogy of stars in Quran is for ‘holy ones,’ the rightly guided, then Quran also speaks of their setting. Implied in this argument is that the guidance from such stars can diminish. This is where the skeptics would be wrong. Dr. Basharat Ahmad in his commentary39 of a similar verse explains it quite cogently:

53:1. By the star [–Najm] when it sets [–Idha hawa].

Najm means, a star, in particular, the constellation of Pleiades by means of which Arab travellers seek their destination whilst traversing the desert in which no semblance of a roadway can be found, especially during the night, when not even the slightest inkling of a road can be detected. This is alluded to in another verse of the Holy Qur'an: "And by the stars they find the right way" (16:16).

Idha hawa means when it sets or declines. This is so because if the Pleiades are exactly overhead one can have no indication from them of the right way. Of course, when they incline to the West or to the East, the right direction can be easily ascertained and the traveller can be guided by them to the desired course in his journey.

It is also a well-accepted principle among the intelligentsia that a direct parallel exists between the physical and the spiritual worlds in that a similarity of relationship runs through both spheres. So, if testimony is drawn from the physical world in regard to a particular matter, then a wise person, by using his initiative, can draw the conclusion that a similar law must reside in the spiritual world.

Such is the case here, also. We are told that if in the physical world, when a traveller in the desert or the sea or the wilderness can find no trace of a road in the darkness of the night and has to resort to the stars to reach his destination, why should the same not apply to a wayfarer in spiritual matters? In other words, Allah, Most High, is reminding us that when there are no earthly means of guidance on land and sea and darkness envelops the world on all sides, and in accordance with this verse of the Holy Qur'an: "Corruption hath appeared on land and sea…" (30:41), and all kinds of misguidance fall like the darkness of the night, and all existing religions and creeds have been tainted by innovation and error, and there is no sight of the straight path, is it not necessary for the Almighty to create a heavenly star of guidance for spiritual wayfarers as He did for travellers in the physical world? And why a star? one may ask. As a heavenly guide, a star never deviates from the right course and so its guidance can never be wrong.

While the stars act as a guide in the darkness of the night for the spiritual traveler, there must be a corresponding hope for reaching the destination, the ending of spiritual wilderness, which is assured in Quran for one’s prayers:

52:49. And proclaim His glory for part of the night and also at the declining of the stars (when the night is about to end).40

Quran takes the analogy of guiding star in spiritual matters to its natural end point, which is none but Allah:

53:49. And that it is He Who is the Lord of Sirius (- a star worshipped by some polytheists).41

Furthermore, Quran draws attention of seekers traversing the illuminated path in search of its light source, a spiritual description of Allah Himself in a verse requoted below:

24:35. Allâh is the Extensive Light of the heavens and the earth. His light can be compared to a (lustrous) pillar on which a lamp is put. The lamp is inside a crystal globe. The globe of glass is as if it were a glittering star. It (- the lamp) is lit by (the oil of) a blessed olive tree which belongs neither to the east nor to the west (rather welds the whole world in its fold). Its oil is likely to glow forth of itself even if no fire touch it. This (lamp) is a combination of many lights over and over. Allâh guides towards His light whoever desires (to be enlightened). And Allâh sets forth excellent parables for the people, and Allâh alone has full knowledge of everything.42

While the devilish conjectures and Justinian Apologies cannot sneak into ‘heavens,’ the prophets, in their spiritual journey, ascend to the heavenly realm to experience firsthand the apparently unexplainable,43 and then return to humanity to share the spiritual light and guidance that they had received:

53:6. (The Lord) Whose powers become manifest in manifold and frequent ways, with the result that he (- this Messenger of God) attained perfection and fullest vigour (both intellectually and physically).

53:7. And he attained to the zenith of heights (in his spiritual ascension).

53:8. Then he drew near to Him and afterwards he descended (to mankind, for their guidance).

53:9. So that he became (as it were) one chord to two bows or closer still.

53:10. Then He revealed that excellent and mighty (Qur'ânic) revelation which He had to send to His servant (Muhammad),

53:11. Whose mind made no mistake in (the interpretation of) that which he saw (during the ascension).

53:12. Will you doubt and dispute with him concerning that (sight) which he saw with his own eyes (it being no figment of imagination)?

53:13. And, of course, he saw Him (in His another manifestation to him) yet another time.

53:14. It was near the Sidrah which stands at the farthest end (of knowledge),

53:15. Near where also is the Garden which is the real eternal abode.

53:16. (This was) when the sublime thing (- the Divine Manifestation) which was to cover Sidrah had covered it.

53:17. (When he saw the Divine Manifestation) his eye deviated not (from the certainty of the Truth) nor did it wander away (from the invincible faith on which he stood).

53:18. (It was the moment when) he saw the greatly important signs of his Lord.44

The myth of shooting stars visible as streaks in the night sky chasing the Satan is addressed in “The Meaning of Shihab Mubin (Brightly Shining Flame)” by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed45, which is excerpted below:

And certainly We have made strongholds in the heaven, and We have made it fair-seeming to the beholders (15:16).

And We guard it against every accursed devil (15:17).

But he who steals a hearing; so there follows him a visible flame (15:18).

The above verses of the Holy Quran have given rise to great controversy among Muslim commentators of the Holy Quran and their explanations of verse 18 have resulted in non-Muslim Orientalists painting a false picture of the purity, sanctity and inviolability of the Quranic revelation.

If we consider the verse under examination, that is, verse 18, we shall see that the following questions logically spring to the mind:

* What is the meaning of stealing a hearing? Can Satan really eavesdrop on Allah's communication to His angels?

* What is the nature of the shihab mubin (brightly shining flame)?

* What is the significance of the shihab mubin that pursues Satan?

Some Muslims commentators of the Holy Quran quote a certain hadith and say that this verse (18) refers to the time when Allah is about to vouchsafe revelation to a prophet. What happens in the heavens, they opine, is that the angels fall down in a swoon because of the majesty of the occasion and the first to rise is Angel Gabriel who asks Allah: "What has Thou spoken?" to which Allah replies: The truth which is most exalted and great. (One hadith says that the angels, on recovering from their unconsciousness, question one another concerning the announcement and then Allah responds. But in any case, the response of Allah is the same, that is, The truth which is most exalted and great.)

What happens then according to these commentators is that Satan steals a hearing either before or after the angels come out of their swoon and he then passes on Allah's communication to his friends on earth — the soothsayers and astrologers who now mix this truth from Allah with a hundred lies and begin to make predictions concerning the future. When one of their predictions happens to come true, the rejecters of the prophet seize upon it gleefully and regard them (the soothsayers, etc.) as really versed in their knowledge of the Unknown.

It is interesting to note that myths of Satan stealing a hearing are the same as Justinian apologies before the Roman king, where he tried to make a case for his Christian mythologies, which was discussed earlier in this chapter. The myth of Devil overhearing the conversation in heavens by Justin Martyr and the misread of Muslims of the verse 15:8 i.e. Satan stealing a hearing are eerily similar and apologetic. It is clear that Christian myth has seeped into Muslim thinking.

Continuing with the article – The Meaning of Shihab Mubin (Brightly Shining Flame) by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed:

However, this explanation does not take into consideration the clear verses of the Holy Quran which emphatically negative such a possibility of Satan eavesdropping on the conversation between Allah and His angels. For example: And the devils have not brought it, and it behoves them not, nor do they have the power to do (it). Surely they are far removed from hearing it (26:210-212).

If someone should argue that the Quranic revelation is not meant here in the above verses but rather some other affair is referred to, then this, too, is expressly denied in the following verse of the Holy Quran:

Or do they have the means by which they listen? They let their listener (Satan) bring a clear authority (52:38).

Some commentators even attribute a report to Ibn Abbas which allegedly says that originally there was no obstacle to Satan ascending to the heavens until Prophet Jesus was born when three heavens were closed off. However, when the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) came on earth, all the heavens were sealed off from Satan. But this report has no basis in the Holy Quran or the Hadith.

As regards the shihab mubin (piercing flame) which pursues Satan, some commentators say that this refers to stars that are actually thrown at Satan. When faced with the objection that if that were so then by now all the stars would have disappeared or at least there would have been a great reduction in the number, they change their view and assert that it is really a fragment of a shining star that is thrown at Satan. But this contradicts the express verse of the Holy Quran which states:

And certainly We have adorned this lower heaven with lamps and We have made them means of rajuman (conjectures) for the devils and We have prepared for them the chastisement of burning (67:5).

(Rajuman, plural of rajmun, comes from rajama which means to stone but also to speak conjecturally or with doubt, as in rajman bil ghaib (18:22). That is, speaking conjecturally of that which is hidden, or unknown. — Lane)

As such, by the devils are meant the soothsayers and astrologers who claim to have access to the Unseen through their knowledge of the stars.

According to Maulana Muhammad Ali, if Satan can really steal a hearing from Allah's secret communications then this results in a slur on Allah's perfect power. That is, is Allah not powerful enough (Allah forbid!) to preserve His secrets from Satan (or from others for that matter)? If it is argued that Allah sends a shihab mubin (piercing flame) when He discovers that a secret is stolen by Satan, still it can be argued that:

Satan can mix the truth he has eavesdropped from Allah with many untruths. It still casts a bad reflection on Allah's complete power over all His affairs if the archenemy of man can steal messages of Allah to His chosen ones.

Again, this is contrary to the clear verses of the Holy Quran in which the diviners and astrologers confess in the following words:

And we sought to reach heaven but we found it filled with strong guards and shuhuban (pl. of shihab) (flames). And we used to sit in some of the sitting places thereof to steal a hearing. But he who tries to listen now finds a shihab (flame) lying in wait for him (72:8-9).

These two verses also clear up whatever misconception may arise in the minds of the believers when reading the following two verses:

They give ear and most of them are liars (26:223).

Except him who snatches away but once, and there follows him a shihabun saqib (brightly shining flame) (37:10).

After reading 72:8-9, no one can now believe that Satan can steal a hearing or snatch away any secret from Allah, Most High, Most Powerful. So what do these verses (15:18, 26:223, 37:10) really mean? Maulana Muhammad Ali says that sometimes the soothsayers and astrologers make certain conjectures or certain predictions about the future from their own intellectual reasoning and sometimes a few of these predictions do come true. Just as the prophets have a relationship with Allah, so, too, the soothsayers and astrologers have a bond with Satan and when these few "prophecies" are fulfilled they make grandiose claims about themselves and claim to be on the same level with the prophets in the matter of knowledge of the Unseen. This, of course, is sufficient to convince the rejecters of truth, for all they look for is any excuse that will justify their refusal to accept the prophets of Allah.

As regards the visible flame (shihab mubin), Maulana Muhammad Ali explains that, according to the dictionary meaning, it refers to any flame but also to the phenomenon of the shooting star which we sometimes witness in the open expanse above us. Whatever the physical reason for this is open to conjecture, but the belief that these shooting stars really attack Satan is not far-fetched for it is reported in the Hadith that these occurrences were very frequent just before the birth of the Holy Prophet. However, from the verse already quoted above (72:9) it is clear that shihab mubin does not refer to the shooting stars which existed from eternity but to a new occurrence which came into existence later in time. In other words, the expression shihab mubin is used to mean that light which destroys the influence of the soothsayers and astrologers whose weak conjectures were having an effect on the gullible people. And what is this light? Two things according to Maulana Muhammad Ali:

The powerful God-given prophecies of the prophets which put to flight the feeble predictions of the diviners as light puts darkness to flight. This is supported by the Holy Quran itself which refers to the Holy Prophet as an-najmus saqib (the star of piercing brightness — 86:3) and wan-najmu idha hawa (by the star when it sets — 53:1).

The Holy Quran itself, according to 56:75: Fala uqsimu bi mawaqi 'inujum (But nay, I swear by revelations of portions of the Holy Quran), in which nujum (pl. najm), which, according to commentators of the Holy Quran, mean portions of the Holy Quran, because every portion of it testifies to the truth of the Holy Quran and the falsity of the astrologers.

With the above plain read of the Quran for its parables and the discussion that followed, still if there is any lingering doubt about Satan and Jinn sneaking into celestial framework of spiritual truths of Quran, we quote the celestial arguments to clear the remaining fog:

51:7. And I call to witness the sky with (its) numerous orbits (of celestial bodies),

51:8. That contradictory are the things you say (for your not believing in God's word and in His Prophet),

51:9. Through which are deluded away (from the truth) such as would be deluded (to falsehood).

51:10. Woe to the falsehood-mongers,

51:11. Who are in the depths of obstinacy and confusion (due to false-beliefs) and give no heed (to the truth).46

2 ‘The Quran and Throwing Stars’ by Dave Miller, Ph.D. Link:
3 Saint Justin Martyr – The Apologist. Link:
4 The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325. Link:
5 The body of the said narrative is excerpted and adapted from – Islam and Christianity, by Khwaja Kamal-ud-din, p. 1-10.
6 The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325. Link:
7 The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325. Link:
8 Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 299
9 ibid, p. 82
10 ibid, p. 70-71
11 'Anwaar-ul-Quran' in Urdu by Dr. Basharat Ahmad. Translated into English by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed. Link:,p. 5-7.
13 Al-Tur – The Mount: Nooruddin
14 ibid
15 ibid
16 ibid
17 ibid
18 Yusuf – Joseph: Nooruddin
19 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
20 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
21 Al-Dhariyat – The Scatters: Nooruddin
22 Al-Mursalat – Those Sent Forth: Nooruddin
23 Al-Hijr – The Rock: Nooruddin
24 Al-Mursalat – Those Sent Forth: Nooruddin
25 'Anwaar-ul-Quran' in Urdu by Dr. Basharat Ahmad. Translated into English by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed. Link:
27 Al-Mulk – The Supreme Power: Nooruddin
29 Al-Nisa – Women: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
30 Saudi Tourism – “Souk Okaz is one of the markets where the Arabs met for trading and presenting poems and speeches in the past. Today, it is revived at the same historical location to be a unique poetry, artistic, and historical meeting. Souk Okaz now combines the ancient history and the shining present. Here, the visitor will find the modern techniques and the location’s geography with its historical value. Also, folklore performances are organized in Souk Okaz. The visitor can reach the venue by using his own car or by accompanying a tourism group.” Link: “It was a most popular forum for the Arabs coming to perform pilgrimage in the Pre-Islamic times. Today, just like the bygone days, it is a forum of intellectuals, literatis and poets. Folk performances are held in the central yard of Souk Okaz.” Link: See also:
31 Al-Jinn – The Jinn: Nooruddin
32 Al-Tariq – The Comer by Night: Maulana Muhammad Ali, Edited by Dr. Zahid Aziz – English Translation of the Holy Quran with Explanatory Notes.
33 Al-Ahzab – The Confederates: Nooruddin
34 Al-Furqan – The Standard of True and False: Nooruddin
35 Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
36 Nuh – Noah: Nooruddin
37 Al-Qiyamah – The Resurrection: Nooruddin
38 Al-Shams – The Sun: Nooruddin
39 'Anwaar-ul-Quran' in Urdu by Dr. Basharat Ahmad. Translated into English by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed. Link:,p. 5-7.
40 Al-Tur – The Mount: Nooruddin
41 Al-Najm –Parts of the Quran: Nooruddin
42 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
44 Al-Najm – Parts of the Quran: Nooruddin
45‘The Meaning of Shihab Mubin (Brightly Shining Flame)’ by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed Sahib – based on Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib's writings. Link:
46 Al-Dhariyat – The Scatters: Nooruddin

2 Responses to “Flame, Fire, Shooting Star – or Shooting Down of the Nonsense with Quran?”

  1. November 23rd, 2015 at 2:24 am
    From Rashid Jahangiri:

    The Intellectual Collapse of Islam

    “A myth prevails among Muslims that shooting stars occur when the angels shoot flames….”

    I wonder from where this myth entered into minds of Muslims? I wonder what went wrong with Muslims that they started to believe in such a myth?  I wonder when Muslims started to believe in such a myth? In following clip Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson gives some clue.

    Wikipedia entry on Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

  2. The below link explores the Ayas related to the topic of Shooting starts in Quran: