The Sarah derives its name from the very first word wan Najm.
This title also does not relate to the subject matter, but
is a name given to the Surah as a symbol.
Period of Revelation
According to a Tradition related by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud
and Nasai, on the authority of Hadrat Abdullah bin Mas'ud,
the first Surah in which a versa requiring the performance
of a sajdah (prostration) as sent down, is Surah An-Najm.
The parts of this Hadith which have been reported by Aswad
bin Yazid, Abu Ishaq and Zubair bin Mu'awiyah from Hadrat Ibn
Mas'ud, indicate that this is the first Surah of the Qur'an,
which the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon
him) had publicly recited before an assembly of the Quraish
(and according to Ibn Marduyah, in the Ka'bah) in which both
the believers and the disbelievers were present. At the end,
when he recited the verse requiring the performance of a sajdah
and fell down in prostration, the whole assembly also fall
down in prostration with him, and even those chiefs of the
polytheists who were in the forefront of the opposition to
the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
could not resist falling down in prostration.
Ibn Mas'ud (may Allah be pleased with him) says that he saw
only one man, Umayyah bin Khalaf, from among the disbelievers,
who did not fall down in prostration but took a little dust
and rubbing it on his forehead said that that was enough for
him. Later, as Ibn Mas'ud relates, he saw this man being killed
in the state of disbelief.
Another eye witness of this incident is Hadrat Muttalib bin
Abi Wada'ah, who had not yet become a Muslim. Nasai and Musnad
Ahmad contain his own words to the effect: "When the Holy Prophet
recited the Surah An-Najm and performed the sajdah and the
whole assembly fell down in prostration along with him, I did
not perform the sajdah. Now to compensate for the same whenever
I recite this Surah I make sure never to abandon its performance."
Ibn Sad says that before this, in the Rajab of the 5th year
of Prophethood, a small group of the Companions had emigrated
to Abyssinia. Then, when in the Ramadan of the same year this
incident took place the news spread that the Holy Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him) had recited Surah An-Najm
publicly in the assembly of the Quraish and the whole assembly,
including the believers as well as the disbelievers, had fallen
down in prostration with him. When the emigrants to Abyssinia
heard this news they formed the impression that the disbelievers
of Makkah had become Muslims. Thereupon, some of them returned
to Makkah in the Shawwal of the 5th year of Prophethood, only
to learn that the news was wrong and the conflict between Islam
and disbelief was raging as furiously as before. Consequently,
the second emigration to Abyssinia took place, in which many
more people left Makkah.
Thus, it becomes almost certain that this Surah was revealed
in the Ramadan of 5th year of Prophethood.
The details of the period of revelation as given above point
to the conditions in which this Surah was revealed. During
the first five years of his appointment as a Prophet, the Holy
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had been
extending invitation to Allah's Religion by presenting the
Divine Revelations before the people only in private and restricted
meetings and assemblies.
During this whole period he could never have a chance to recite
the Quran before a common gathering openly, mainly because
of the strong opposition and resistance from the disbelievers.
They were well aware of how magnetic and captivating was the
Holy Prophet's personality and his way of preaching and how
impressive were the Revelations of the Qur'an.
Therefore, they tried their best to avoid hearing it them-
selves and to stop others also from hearing it and to suppress
his invitation by false propaganda by spreading every kind
of suspicion against him. For this object, on the one hand,
they were telling the people that Muhammad (peace and blessings
of Allah be upon him) had gone astray and was now bent upon
misleading others as well; on the other hand, they would raise
on uproar whenever he tried to present the Qur'an before the
people so that no one could know what it was for which he was
being branded as a misled and misguided person.
Such were the conditions when the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings
of Allah be upon him) suddenly stood up one day to make a speech
in the sacred precincts of the Ka'bah, where a large number
of the Quraish had gathered together. Allah at that time made
him deliver this discourse, which we have now in the form of
the Surah An-Najm with us. Such was the intensity of the impression
that when the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be
upon him) started reciting it the opponents were so completely
overwhelmed that they could not think of raising any disorder,
and when at the conclusion he fell down in prostration, they
too fell down in prostration along with him.
Later they felt great remorse at the weakness they had involuntarily
shown. The people also started taunting them to the effect
that whereas they had been forbidding others to listen to the
Qur'an, that day not only had they themselves listened to it,
with complete absorption but had even fallen down in prostration
along with Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
At last, they had to invent a story in order to get rid of
the people's taunt and ridicule. They said "After he had recited
afara'ait-ul Lata wal Uzza wa Manat ath-thalitha-al ukhra,
we heard from Muhammad the words: tilk al-gharaniqa- tal-'ula,
wa anna shafa'at-u-hunna latarja: 'They are exalted goddesses:
indeed, their intercession may be expected.'
From this we understood that Muhammad had returned to our faith." As
a matter of fact, only a mad person could think that in the
context of this Surah the sentences they claimed to have heard
could have any place and relevance.(For details, please see
E. N.'s 96 to 301 of Surah Al Hajj).
Subject Matter and Topics
The theme of the discourse is to warn the disbelievers of Makkah
about the error of the attitude that they had adopted towards
the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him).
The discourse starts in a way as if to say: "Muhammad is neither
deluded nor gone astray, as you are telling others in your
propaganda against him, nor has he fabricated this teaching
of Islam and its message, as you seem to think he has. In fact,
whatever he is presenting is nothing but Revelation which is
sent down to him. The verities that be presents before you,
are not the product of his own surmise and speculation but
realities of which he himself is an eye witness.
He has himself seen the Angel through whom this knowledge is
conveyed to him. He has been directly made to observe the great
Signs of his Lord: whatever he says is not what he has himself
thought out but what he has seen with his own eyes. Therefore,
your disputing and wrangling with him is just like the disputing
and wrangling of a blind man with a man of sight over a thing
which the blind man cannot see but he can see."
After this, three things have been presented in their successive
First, the listeners have been made to understand that: "The
religion that you are following is based on mere conjecture
and invented ideas. You have set up a few goddesses like Lat
and Manat and Uzza as your deities, whereas they have no share
whatever in divinity. You regard the angels as the daughters
of Allah, whereas you regard a daughter as disgraceful for
your own selves.
You think that these deities of fours can influence Allah in
your favor, whereas the fact is that all the angels together,
who are stationed closest to Allah, cannot influence Him even
in their own favor. None of such beliefs that you have adopted,
is based on knowledge and reason, but are wishes and desires
for the sake of which you have taken some whims as realities.
This is a grave error. The right and true religion is that
which is in conformity to the reality, and the reality is never
subject to thee people's wishes and desires so that whatever
they may regard as a reality and truth should become the reality
Speculation and conjecture cannot help to determine as to what
is according to the truth and what is not; it is knowledge.
When that knowledge is presented before you, you turn away
from it, and brand the one who tells you the truth as misguided.
The actual cause of your being involved in this error is that
you are heedless of the Hereafter. Only this world is your
goal. Therefore, you have neither any desire for the knowledge
of reality, nor you bother to see 'whether the beliefs you
hold are according to the truth or not.
Secondly, the people have been told that: Allah is the caster
and Sovereign of the entire Universe. The righteous is he who
follows His way, and the misguided he who has turned away from
His way. The error of the misguided and the righteousness of
the righteous are not hidden from Him. He knows whatever everyone
is doing: He will requite the evil with evil and the good with
good. The final judgment will not depend on what you consider
yourself to be, and on tall claims you make of your purity
and chastity but on whether you are pious or impious, righteous
or unrighteous, in the sight of God. If you refrain from major
sins, He in His mercy will overlook your minor errors.'' .
Thirdly, a few basic principles of the true Religion which
had been presented hundreds of years before the revelation
of the Qur'an in the Books of the Prophets Abraham and Moses
have been reiterated so that the people did not remain involved
in the misunderstanding that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him) had brought some new and novel
religion, but they should know that these are the fundamental
truths which the former Prophets of Allah have always been
presenting in their respective ages.
Besides, the same Books have been quoted to confirm the historical
facts that the destruction of the 'Ad and the Thamud and of
the people of the Prophets Noah and Lot was not the result
of accidental calamities, but Allah has destroyed them in consequence
of the same wickedness and rebellion from which the disbelievers
of Makkah were not inclined to refrain and desist in any case.
After presenting these themes and discourses the Surah has
been concluded, thus: "The Hour of Judgment has approached
near at hand, which no one can avert. Before the occurrence
of that Hour you are being warned through Muhammad (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him) and the Quran in the like manner
as the former people had been warned before. Now, is it this
warning that you find novel and strange? Which you mock and
ridicule? Which you turn away from and cause disorder so that
no one else also is able to hear what it is ? Don't you feel
like weeping at your folly and ignorance? Abandon this attitude
and behavior, bow down to Allah and serve Him alone!"
This was that impressive conclusion hearing which even the
most hardened deniers of the Truth were completely overwhelmed,
and when after reciting these verses of Divine Word the Holy
Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
fell down in prostration, they too could not help falling down
in prostration along with him.