Allah Ta’alah says in the Qur’an that He created ‘seven “skies” in layers (Tibaqa)’. Now what is meant by “skies” and what are layers or Tabaqs?
There are a few more such questions, which must be answered in scientific terms as this world is now a ‘scientific world’. We must be able to answer these questions to non-Muslims who know science and talk science.
The reference to the fact that God has created seven heavens has generally been given in the Qur’an, in response to the skepticism shown by the disbelievers regarding the possibility of life after death. The Qur’an, in response to this skepticism has asked man to ponder over the fact that has not God created him in the first instance? If God can create man once, then why can’t He create him a second time? Is the first creation more difficult or the second one? etc. It is, generally, in this context that the Qur’an says that it is not even possible for man to judge the level of the powers of God, and as an example it refers to the vastness of His creation. It says that God has not just created one sky – i.e., one universe, but seven such skies – or seven universes.
It seems that the huge universe that we live in, the one whose boundaries are not yet known to man, is just one of these heavens (universes) there are seven others, of which we – with all our scientific developments – hardly know anything about. Certain verses of the Qur’an clearly indicate that the whole huge mass of space around us is just one of these universes, for instance the verse that you have yourself referred, is one of them. The Qur’an says that we created seven heavens, one over the other (the word “Tibaqa” means one over the other). Another verse, which points to this fact is the following:
And He created seven skies (heavens) in two days, and taught each sky its duties. And He adorned the nearest sky (or: the sky of this world) with lamps (stars)… (Fussilat 41: 12)
The above verse refers to the fact that God has adorned the closest sky with stars. It seems from this verse that the whole universe that we are familiar with, and that too not yet completely, is the “Sama’ e Dunya” or the closest heaven (or: the heaven of this world).
We know that science has not yet been able to determine the boundaries of even the “Sama’ e Dunya“. It is therefore not only improbable, but also impossible to explain this verse in scientific terms. The reason, as should be quite clear, is the limit of our scientific knowledge.
19th April 1998