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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 85: (Al-Buruj: The Stars)



Chapter 85: (Al-Buruj: The Stars)
(Revealed at Makkah: 1 section; 22 verses)

1. Introduction:

This chapter takes its title from the mention in the first verse of the heaven full of stars, as referring to the prosperity of the Arab nation after it accepted the Prophet’s message. The Prophet himself spoke of his companions as stars (Msh. 27:13). A reference to past history is introduced to show that, if they rejected the Prophet’s message and opposed it, their end would be the same as the end of the previous opponents of Truth. The chapter is one of the very early revelations.

2. Translation:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

1 By the heaven full of stars!

2 And the Promised day!

3 And the bearer of witness and that to which witness is borne!a

4 Destruction overtake the companions of the trench!a

5 The fire fed with fuel —

6 When they sit by it,

7 And they are witnesses of what they do with the believers.

8 And they punished them for naught but that they believed in Allah, the Mighty, the Praised,

9 Whose is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. And Allah is Witness of all things.

10 Those who persecute believing men and believing women, then repent not, theirs is the chastisement of hell, and theirs the chastisement of burning.

11 Those who believe and do good, theirs are Gardens wherein flow rivers. That is the great achievement.

12 Surely the grip of thy Lord is severe.

13 Surely He it is Who creates first and reproduces;

14 And He is the Forgiving, the Loving,

15 Lord of the Throne of Power, the Glorious,

16 Doer of what He intends.

17 Has not there come to thee the story of the hosts,

18 Of Pharaoh and Thamud?

19 Nay, those who disbelieve give the lie —

20 And Allah encompasses them on all sides.

21 Nay, it is a glorious Qur’an,

22 In a guarded tablet.a

3. Commentary:

3a. Buruj is the plural of burj which means a tower or fortress or a sign of the Zodiac or a star or constellation or asterism (LL). It is derived from baraja meaning it became manifest or high, and hence the various significations. As in 82:2 (see 82:4a), the stars stand for the lesser lights, in comparison with the sun to which the Prophet himself is likened (33:46), for companions of the Prophet or for the bearers of the message of Truth to people. In the heaven full of stars there is thus a reference to the preachers of Truth, who will scatter far and wide. Hence the mention of the promised day in the next verse, the day of the triumph of Truth. Shahid (bearer of witness) and shahid both signify the Prophet (see 4:41, etc.) and by that to which witness is borne is meant the message of Truth. Or, the mashhud are those against whom the Prophet bears witness, i.e., the opponents of Truth. [Back to verse 3]

4a. The commentators give three different versions of the story supposed to be referred to in this verse, the best-known being that the reference is to the persecution of some Christians by Dhu Nawas, a king of Yaman, who was of the Jewish religion (Rz). But Baghwi thinks that the reference is to Nebuchadnezzar’s casting Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego into the fiery furnace (Dan. 3:19 –21). I think there may, as well, be a prophetical reference here to the great Arab army against which the Muslims were compelled to defend themselves by means of a trench, in what is called the battle of the Allies or the battle of the Ditch; see 33:9a. The words of v. 7, and particularly of v. 10, clearly show that the reference here is to the enemies of the Holy Prophet, who persecuted the believing men and the believing women. Or, it is a prophetical reference to the still more distant future, the trench being a feature of modern warfare. The fire kept burning with the fuel need not be taken literally, for fire stands for war. [Back to verse 4]

22a. The lauh, or tablet, occurring here, is the same as the alwah (singular, lauh), or tablets, occurring regarding the book given to Moses (7:145, 150, 154). The Qur’an is here spoken of as being in a guarded tablet. The significance of these words is simply this, that the Holy Qur’an is guarded against corruption and against the attacks of its opponents; compare 15:9: "Surely We have revealed the Reminder and surely We are its Guardian". There is no mention here or anywhere else in the Qur’an of the lauh mahfuz on which the decrees of God are written; but even if the reference here be to it, the significance is still the same, viz., that the Qur’an shall be fully guarded — This is a glorious Qur’an, protected against change and alteration (Rz). [Back to verse 22]



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Chapter 84: Al-Inshiqaq (The Bursting Asunder)

Chapter 86: Al-Tariq (The Comer by Night)

Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 85: (Al-Buruj: The Stars)


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