At the time when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was assigned the task of delivering God’s last message to mankind, the Arabs had developed a wealth of knowledge about stars and their times of rising and setting.

This was easy for them as they mostly lived in desert areas, with clear skies most of the time. They identified, for example, 28 stars and planets which they called “points of moon rise.” Each of these remains for approximately 13 nights before it sets at a point in the west. A different star replaces it at an eastern point. They gave these 28 stars names to identify them. As rain was scarce, yet very important for their living, they observed that rain was more frequent when certain stars or planets were on the rise, or at particular points. Prior to Islam, the Arabs were pagan, ascribing divinity and powers of cosmic nature to certain objects which they called deities and considered them God’s partners. With their observations about rain and different stars and planets, their paganism led them to attribute the rain to the planet, rather than to God. They would say, “We have been sent rain by this or that planet.”

As the Qur’an was revealed in passages and surahs over a period of 23 years, it mounted a sustained campaign to eradicate all traces of paganism from the hearts of believers. However, when certain ideas take hold in one’s mind, they are difficult to erase. Islam makes clear that whatever happens in the universe is by God’s will. Forces of nature operate by His command. It is He who sends the winds to drive clouds and causes rain to fall where He determines. It is He who created everything in the universe and set them in operation. He set the laws of nature so that the universe could function to allow life to progress. Hence, nothing that takes place in the universe, or on Earth, is caused by anyone or anything other than God. Therefore, we must attribute things to Him only.

The Prophet was keen to instill this truism in the hearts of his followers. Hence, he used every opportunity to emphasize it, as we see when we read the following Hadith:

Zayd ibn Khalid Al-Juhani reports: “God’s messenger led us in the dawn prayer at Al-Hudaybiyah, after it had rained that night. When he finished the prayer, he turned to the people praying with him and said: ‘Do you know what God Almighty has said?’ We replied: ‘God and His messenger know best.’ The Prophet said: ‘God said: Some of My servants are believers this morning and some are unbelievers. Anyone who says, ‘We have had rain by God’s grace,’ believes in Me and disbelieves in the planet, while anyone who says, ‘We have had rain by such and such a turn in the climate,’ disbelieves in Me and believes in the planet.”’ (Related by Al-Bukhari).

Anytime there is rainfall in Arabia, people are very happy because it replenishes their stock, and provides drinking water for themselves, their livestock and their plants. Those companions of the Prophet, in their place of encampment about 25 km outside Makkah were particularly happy when they woke up for their dawn prayer to find that there was a good rainfall. The Prophet took this opportunity to emphasize the Islamic principle that everything in the universe occurs by God’s will. He asks his companions if they knew what God said. He was fully aware that they did not know, but he put the question in order to make them fully attentive to what would come next. He then made it clear that anyone who thought that the rainfall was caused by the movement of the planets or by their own will was an unbeliever. A believer attributes all phenomena to the Creator who has created the universe and set its laws and maintained its operation. He is the Almighty who controls everything.

– By Adil Salahi