Nobody can deny the beauty of the sky. When gazing at mellow, rounded and forgiving clouds, emboldened by the deep blue sky, and shaded by the sun, one cannot help but feel awe. This feeling only magnifies in the night, when the sun yields, and towering constellations come forth. Perhaps this feeling of awe, that the sky so unrelentingly inspires, is why the Quran so often references the sky and what it holds as Signs of God.
In that moment, when I look upon the night sky, I feel no doubt about the existence of God. This could well be my fitrah – the innate disposition to worship and acknowledge God. God created us all with the fitrah by imbuing our every faculty with the capability of know Him. God also created the entirety of the universe as a reminder of His presence; every star, planet, creature, plant, microbe and atom are signs of God. The entire universe, how it looks, how it is structured and how it operates are Signs of God. Perhaps when gazing at the stars, the internal fitrah is touched by the celestial Signs of God; humanity’s internal disposition towards God meets the external world that is constructed around knowing God. The internal light of guidance within every human’s heart, meets the external light of guidance; it is light upon light. In the famous Verse of Light found in Surah Nur, we are told via metaphor about the internal light of guidance meeting the external light, yielding light upon light. Perhaps this light is the certainty of conviction that is so strongly felt when looking at the sky.
The sky also humbles us, by showing us the limits of our senses and knowledge. When staring at the sky, it stretches from one side of my sight to the next. If I turn to continue looking at the sky, it yet occupies the entirety of my sight; my eyes cannot gaze at the whole sky, only part of it. And indeed, the spherical nature of the Earth makes it impossible for any human to ever steer at the entire sky. The universe is structured around logarithmic spirals and spheres; we can never behold the whole sky or the whole universe. This is alarming; because of the very structure of the known universe, our sight can never fully gaze at the sky. The undertone to this is a deep sense of humility. We can never see the entire sky, we are that limited, we are that small. And even the stars that we do see are but a fraction of the totality of stars. Peculiarly, when one stares at the night sky, the longer one stares, the more stars become visible. No matter how long one looks, the night sky continues to be lit up by more and more stars. It is as though the sky tells us; no matter how long we stare, we can never truly gauge the vastness of the sky. By extension, we can never truly gauge the extent of our insignificance in God’s universe.
I hope this makes sense. Perhaps a summary will clarify. Our sight can never behold the sky – we are limited. And no matter how long we stare, there will always be more stars that populate the horizon – we are ignorant of the extent of the universe.
The confidence with which the Quran discusses the sky as a certain sign of God is also an indicator of the Quran’s divine origins. In Surah Mulk, God unflinchingly challenges us to look at the heavens and try to find fault; ‘do you see any cracks?’ we are asked. This challenge exudes surety and confidence on the part of the author. The author is clearly confident enough of the grandeur of the sky to openly challenge anyone to disagree. And this confidence is justified; as discussed above, nobody can deny the impressiveness of the sky. Clearly, the author of this verse and the Quran at large, has that much of a piercing understand of human nature, so as to openly challenge anybody to disagree, and to ascribe the veracity of it’s claims to the sky. A human author could only relay their own experience, and whatever they discuss with people around them. A human author perhaps would not attach such importance to the sky. But a Creator, who orchestrated the universe and the fitrah, would know beyond any doubt that the sky does has such a deep effect on all humans, because He is the one who created humans. And it is knowing this that leads the Creator to so openly declare the importance of the sky.
Thus the sky holds a very important place in the universal; it can evoke such a feeling, thatis perhaps best described as the celestial touching one’s fitrah. And this feeling corresponds tightly with the Quranic discourse around the sky.