How should we understand the second verse of the Surah At-Takwir, “When the stars fall”?

Details of the Question
How should we understand the second verse of the Surah At-Takwir, “When the stars fall”?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The meaning of the verses 1-14 of Surah At-Takwir is as follows:

1.  When the sun (with its spacious light) is folded up;

2.  When the stars fall, losing their luster;

3.  When the mountains vanish (like a mirage);

4.  When the she-camels, ten months with young, are left untended;

5.  When the wild beasts are herded together (in human habitations);

6.  When the oceans boil over with a swell;

7.  When the souls are sorted out, (being joined, like with like);

8.  When the female (infant) buried alive, is questioned―

9.  For what crime she was killed;

10.  When the Scrolls are laid open;

11.  When the World on High is unveiled:

12.  When the Blazing Fire is kindled to fierce heat;

13.  And when the Garden is brought near―

14.  (Then) shall each soul know what it has put forward.

The explanation of the related verses:

In this Surah, Allah (SWT) narrates 12 events, six of which are about from the start of the Qiyamah (Doomsday) to the Reckoning Day, when all people will be questioned about their deeds and the remaining six of which start from the beginning of the Reckoning Day, in order to inform people about how a horrific day it will be and encourage people to prepare themselves for such a terrifying day.

The Folding up of the Sun (with its spacious light):  Here the main idea is either the dying down of its light or complete disintegration of its mass, the losing of its known shape and function.

The falling of Stars and the loss of their luster:  The dying of the sun’s light indicates the dying of other stars that some of which take their brightness from the sun. Moreover, with the occurrence of the Qiyamah and the collapse of cosmic system, one can imagine the crash of stars, losing their function and order by being freed from gravity and slipping away from their orbit. (Ibn Ashur, XXX, 141-142; See al-Infitar 82/2)

The vanishing of mountains: This is about the strong quake on the earth and consequent breaking up, dislodging and fragmenting of mountains (See. Al-Kahf 18/47; an-Naba 78/20; al-Muzzammil 73/14). The continuation of life is also impossible after the death of the sun, which is the source of life for the living things and plants. (See Diyanet Tafsir, Kur’an Yolu: V/488.)

The Related Hadiths:

“Whoever wants to see the Qiyamah with his/her eyes should read the verses of at-Takwir, al-Infitar and al-Inshiqaq.” (Tirmidhi, Tafsir: 81- Ahmad: 2/27, 36,100-5/452)

“On the doomsday, the sun and the moon will be wound round (with darkness) like a turban.” (Bukhari, BadI al-khalq: 4)

As Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, The Surah of at-Takwir depicts the Qiyamah as it is. This description is so lively and horrific that the understanding is made easier for us; as the Qiyamah occurs, the present order of the universe turns upside down, this will cause disorder and all living things will die except those that Allah wishes. At the same time, the Surah inspires us to think every step of the Qiyamah properly and have some results from them. Some main ideas are also given about this event:

When the sun (with its spacious light) is folded up:

The folding up of the sun is expressed with the verb «Kuwwirat» which is derived from the word «takwir». This expression is mostly used with a meaning of wounding a gauze round to a fez (tarboosh) or wounding a tarboosh directly around a head, wounding a bandage around a wounded organ and used for packing things.

In the event of the Qiyamah, the folding up of the sun like turban may mean the loss of qualities of its gases and darkening for a while by thickening and squashing layer by layer.

Researchers are given the hint that one day, the energy of the sun will become exhausted and at the same time, it is said that the collapse of the present order will be terrifying.

When the stars smash and fall:

In this verse, the verb «Inkadara» is used which is derived from the word «Inkidar». This also mostly refers to the meanings of blurring, blackening and smashing, turning into powder after breaking up, falling and sprawling. The stars will become uncertain along with the darkening of the sun and the balance among them will break down; therefore, the events like crashing, smashing and falling will follow one another.

Thus, in the event of the Qiyamah, it is certain that not only the solar system but also all other systems with some exceptions will break down. As every system has a certain order and balance in the universe and there is a balance of ties among every planet and stars in every system, the same rule is valid among all systems. Along with the breaking down of a system, joint breaking downs among systems will take place and until the setup of the new system; terrifying events will follow in quick succession. (See. Celal Yıldırım, İlmin Işığında Asrın Kur’an Tefsiri, Anadolu Yayınları: 13/6616.)

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