The Quran and Lifecycle of Stars
By Sabreen Syeed

How the Quran accurately describes stars as 'Cosmic factories"

Published in: Science
Date: 19 / 08 / 18

The Quran and Stellar Evolution

In 1954, Fred Hoyle showed that the multiplicity of elements we see all around us, from
Hydrogen in water to Oxygen-the life sustaining elixir, from carbon of which our bodies are
made from to Iron with which civilizations are built, Gold and Silver for which wars were
fought- are all manufactured in Stars. As the popular physicist Carl Sagan said," We are all made
from stardust". We and whatever we see around us are all made from stars in the early universe
that have been long dead since. So the question is how do these Cosmic factories produce the
elements and how did they form a life sustaining planet like ours with flora and fauna and
eventually Man?

Production of Elements:

In the core of stars the temperature is so high that Nuclear Fusion takes place. Just to give you an
idea, the two bombs that were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were powered by Nuclear
Fission- the breaking of a nucleus (147 Tera Joule of energy was released). On the other hand,
Nuclear Fusion is the 'making' of a nucleus, fusing nuclei together to form a bigger nucleus. To
make is way more difficult and powerful than to break. Lighter elements like Hydrogen and
Helium are unstable and at extremely high temperatures (like in a star-core) they fuse together to
form heavier elements and this reaction releases an awful load of energy. (Our Sun produces
5x10^23 Horsepower per second, that is enough to melt a bridge of ice 2 miles wide, 1 mile thick
and extending the entire way from the earth to the Sun in 1 second). This energy not only gives a
star like our Sun, its light and heat, but also keeps the star alive. I like to think of stars like
human beings, in a sense that a star through out lives a life of inward-outward struggle for
survival. The inward pull of gravity constantly trying to pull it down and the outward being these
nuclear reactions that keep it standing against all odds. And this constant struggle makes it shine
in the dark night, showing the way to generations of travelers throughout history. So from
Hydrogen to Helium, from Helium to Neon and Oxygen, Then Carbon, Magnesium, Silicon,
Sulphur, Argon and Calcium.

Quranic arabic is fascinating and sometimes eerie. The word for a Star is Najm (plural:Nujoom)
and it linguistically means "parts or something that is in a step by step process". And this is what
a star functionally is, it produces elements in parts and step by step they are pushed to the outer
layers and eventually released. The entire Stellar lifecycle is a distinct step by step process. This
process of fusing lighter elements together to form heavier elements and the release of huge
amounts of energy of which some is used to further fuse lighter elements to heavier elements
continues till the most stable element in the Universe is produced. An element without which
Human Civilization would not be possible, progress, developments, revolutions, upheavals
would not be possible. This element that runs in our blood, requires the maximum energy and
temperature to fuse is IRON. An element so enigmatic that it lies in the middle of the periodic
table and all the elements before it mimic its stability by fusing together and all the elements
after it mimic its stability by decaying. The moment Iron is produced in a star, it literally "stops"
the Nuclear Fusion that has been going on for millions or even billions of years. I emphasize on
the point, that it STOPS the process.
Now the fascinating part

This is exactly what Iron is called in Arabic-Hadeed-The thing that stops or contains. Hadeed
comes from the root word "HADDA" which quite literally means" to stop" or "to
contain". And that's what it does, first it stops the billion year old nuclear reaction in the
star that produced half of the elements in the universe. And because gravity was all along
pulling the star down, it finally catches up as there is no outward force after the nuclear
reaction stops. Hence, the most catastrophic, cataclysmic event since the Big Bang occurs. In a
matter of a few seconds, a million mile across star collapses to a few miles compressing all of the
Iron and Nickel particles together. Through a process called Neutron capture, in a few seconds all
of the remaining heavier elements in the universe are made.
So Iron first stops the nuclear reaction and when the star implodes under gravity, it contains the
core for a few seconds, just enough to form all the heavy elements. So, its baffling how the
Quran, a 7th century literature mentions this entire process within a single term "Hadeed".
This word holistically defines Iron's most crucial property in the universe. Hadeed- The one that
stops (Nuclear fusion in stars) and contains (the star core for multiple neutron capture to form
heavy elements).
If this wasn't mind boggling enough, there is a chapter of the Quran named Iron that mentions
the peculiar strength this element has. This is Chapter Hadeed. Iron has stable isotopes called Fe-
56 and Fe-57, meaning the total umber of protons + nuetrons are either 56 or 57. Guess what is
the number of this chapter in the Quran? "57". And if Fatihah is taken as an Opening and
we start counting from Baqarah, then this chapter will be 56. It doesn't stop there, what is
the double of 57? 114 right. How many chapters does the Quran have? 114 How many
elements does the universe have ? 114
[Some may say 118, but those 4 are not real elements, they are just extra neutrons fired to
existing elements, so they stick around for some time and then decay. The consensus is 114
For centuries Muslim scholars regarded the entire universe as a 'spread out' Quran and now
with advancements in astrophysics we can get a grasp of that. The universe with all of it's
elements and it's most powerful and stable elements Iron at its midst is like the Quran with all
of it's chapters and the Chapter of Iron (hadeed) at its middle. No other chapter is named after
an element except for the 57th. In my opinion it is God's way of drawing our attention to the
open manifest Quran that lies wide before our eyes (the Universe) and all we as modern muslims
have done is just to concentrate and expend all our efforts in understanding the Book Quran, and
left the Universe to be understood by Western Science . That was our domain as well and it was
just as sacred and sacrosanct as the Mushaf. The book Quran and the universe spread out are
both self disclosures of God. And was the underlying motivation behind all of Islamic
Philosophy and Science. meaning whichever path you take- scripture and theology or science
and observation you will necessarily find God. All roads in the multiverse lead to God!

And God knows all things!

Sabreen Syeed

About the author

Safiyyah Sabreen studied Mechanical Engineering and is currently pursuing her Master's in Philosophy. She is the Content Director for KNOW. Being interested in the field of Islam and Science and Islamic Eschatology, she produced a documentary on the Golden Age of Islam and directs the Second Golden Age series.

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