PULSARS: PULSATING STARS
[I swear] by Heaven and the Tariq! And what will
convey to you what the Tariq is? The Star Piercing [the darkness]!
Pulsars are the remains of extinguished
stars which emit very powerful, pulse-like radio waves and
which revolve very rapidly around their own axes. It has
been calculated that there are more than 500 pulsars in
the Milky Way, of which our Earth is a part.
The word "Tariq," name of the Sura 86, comes from the
root "tarq," whose basic meaning is that of striking hard
enough to produce a sound, or hitting. Bearing in mind the word's
possible meaning as "beating," "striking hard," our attention may
be being drawn in this sura to an important scientific fact. Before
analysing this information, let us look at the other words employed
in the verse to describe these stars. The term "alttariqi"
in the above verse means a star that pierces the night, that pierces
the darkness, born at night, piercing and moving on, beating, striking,
or sharp star. Furthermore, the term "waal" draws attention
to the things being sworn on-the heaven and the Tariq.
Through research carried out by Jocelyn Bell Burnell,
at Cambridge University in 1967, a regular radio signal was identified.
Until that time, however, it was not known that that there was a
heavenly body that could be the source of regular pulse or beating
rather like that of the heart. In 1967, however, astronomers stated
that, as matter grows denser in the core as it revolves around its
own axis, the star's magnetic field also grows stronger, and thus
gives rise to a magnetic field at its poles 1 trillion times stronger
than that of Earth. They realised that a body revolving so fast
and with such a powerful magnetic field emits rays consisting of
very powerful radio waves in a conic form at every revolution. Shortly
afterwards, it was also realised that the source of these signals
is the rapid revolution of neutron stars. These newly discovered
neutron stars are known as "pulsars." These stars, which turn into
pulsars through supernova explosions, are of the greatest mass,
and are the brightest and fastest moving bodies in the universe.
Some pulsars revolve 600 times a second.50
The word "pulsar" comes from the verb to pulse. According to the
American Heritage Dictionary, the word means to pulsate,
to beat. Encarta Dictionary defines it as to beat rhythmically,
to move or throb with a strong regular rhythm. Again, according
to the Encarta Dictionary, the word "pulsate," which comes
from the same root, means to expand and contract with a strong regular
Following that discovery, it was realised that the phenomenon described
in the Qur'an as "tariq," beating, bore a great similarity
to the neutron stars known as pulsars.
Neutron stars form as the nuclei of super giant stars collapse.
The highly compressed and dense matter, in the form of a rapidly
revolving sphere, entraps and squeezes most of the star's weight
and magnetic field. The powerful magnetic field created by these
rapidly revolving neutron stars has been shown to cause the emission
of powerful radio waves observable on Earth.
In the third verse of Surat at-Tariq the term "alnnajmu alththaqibu,"
meaning piercing, piercing and moving on, or opening holes, indicates
that Tariq is a bright star that pierces a hole in the darkness
and moves on. The concept of the term "adraka" in the expression
"And what will convey to you what the Tariq is?"
refers to comprehension. Pulsars, formed through the compression
of stars several times the size of the Sun, are among those celestial
bodies that are hard to comprehend. The question in the verse emphasizes
how hard it is to comprehend this beating star. (Allah knows best.)
As discussed, the stars described as Tariq in the Qur'an
bear a close similarity to the pulsars described in the 20th century,
and may reveal to us another scientific miracle of the Qur'an.