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We have been told about seven heavens in the Quran. Quran mentions it in 71:15

Do you not consider how Allah has created seven heavens in layers.

Also the Prophet (PBUH) went through all these heavens one by one when he was ascended to the skies. He was accompanied by Angel Gabriel in his journey and even Gabriel had to leave him alone on his last part of journey because Jabiel was not allowed to go above certain heaven (sky).

My question is, does Heaven in Quran mean Sky? What does it refer too? How can I visualize seven heavens? Can I take that as scientific statement?

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5 Answers 5

Actually there are seven Earths and seven Skies, to be more precise and this is also in Quran:

اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ وَمِنَ الْأَرْضِ مِثْلَهُنَّ يَتَنَزَّلُ الْأَمْرُ بَيْنَهُنَّ لِتَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَحَاطَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عِلْمًا

Allah is He Who created seven Firmaments and of the earth a similar number. Through the midst of them (all) descends His Command: that ye may know that Allah has power over all things, and that Allah comprehends, all things in (His) Knowledge. (At-Talaaq:12)

According to a Hadith from Imam Ali AS the name Sky (السماء) comes from the root وسمة which means a source for water (الماء). Also apparently Sky is used in Quran with some different meanings, e.g. once it is introduced as a canopy to us the residents of the Earth:

وَالسَّقْفِ الْمَرْفُوعِ

By the Canopy Raised High (At-Toor:5)

and this is perhaps the definition of the Earth's atmosphere as He later adds:

وَجَعَلْنَا السَّمَاءَ سَقْفًا مَّحْفُوظًا وَهُمْ عَنْ آيَاتِهَا مُعْرِضُونَ

And We have made the heavens as a canopy well guarded: yet do they turn away from the Signs which these things (point to)! (Al-Anbiaa':32)

which may mean guarding us against the ultraviolet and similar dangerous lights and also meteors!?

According to a Hadith from Imam Reza AS suppose your hand (its palm or fist? That may make huge differences! My Arabic is not very well) be the first Earth, the first Sky is above it like a thole, then the second Earth is over the first Sky, then the second Sky is above it like a thole, then accordingly are the rest of the seven Earths and the seven Skies. We live on the first Earth (the nearer Earth: الأرض الدنیا) and the six others are above us: (I only translated the part directly pointing the issue but the complete Arabic version can be found below, which is cut from [1])

علي بن إبراهيم، قال: حدثني أبي، عن الحسين بن خالد، عن أبي الحسن الرضا (عليه السلام)، قال: قلت له: أخبرني عن قول الله عز و جل: وَ السَّماءِ ذاتِ الْحُبُكِ «4». فقال: هي «محبوكة إلى الأرض»، و شبك بين أصابعه. فقلت: كيف تكون محبوكة إلى الأرض، و الله يقول: رَفَعَ السَّماواتِ بِغَيْرِ عَمَدٍ تَرَوْنَها «5»؟ فقال: «سبحان الله! أليس الله يقول: بِغَيْرِ عَمَدٍ تَرَوْنَها؟». قلت: بلى. فقال: «ثم عمد و لكن لا ترونها». قلت: كيف ذلك، جعلني الله فداك؟ قال: فبسط كفه اليسرى، ثم وضع اليمنى عليها، فقال: «هذه أرض الدنيا، و السماء الدنيا فوقها قبة، و الأرض الثانية فوق السماء الدنيا، و السماء الثانية فوقها قبة، و الأرض الثالثة فوق السماء الثانية، و السماء الثالثة فوقها قبة، و الأرض الرابعة فوق السماء الثالثة، و السماء الرابعة فوقها قبة، و الأرض الخامسة فوق السماء الرابعة، و السماء الخامسة فوقها قبة، و الأرض السادسة، فوق السماء الخامسة، و السماء السادسة فوقها قبة، و الأرض السابعة فوق السماء السادسة، و السماء السابعة فوقها قبة، و عرش الرحمن تبارك و تعالى فوق السماء السابعة، و هو قول الله عز و جل: الَّذِي خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَماواتٍ طباقا وَ مِنَ الْأَرْضِ مِثْلَهُنَّ يَتَنَزَّلُ الْأَمْرُ بَيْنَهُنَّ فأما صاحب الأمر فرسول الله (صلى الله عليه و آله)، و الوصي بعد رسول الله (صلى الله عليه و آله) قائم على وجه الأرض، فإنما يتنزل الأمر إليه من فوق السماء من بين السماوات و الأرضين». قلت: فما تحتنا إلا أرض واحدة؟ فقال: «ما تحتنا إلا أرض واحدة، و إن الست لهن فوقنا».

Also according to another Hadith of these seven Earths three are inhabit and from the seven Skies there are four inhabit, and the mount Ghaaf (the name of a Surah as well) is in the fourth Earth the earthquake anywhere on Earth being caused by it, and also the blue color of Sky is from it.

However there are also verses seemingly talking about Skies outside the atmosphere containing the Heavenly bodies, e.g.:

تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ فِي السَّمَاءِ بُرُوجًا وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا سِرَاجًا وَقَمَرًا مُّنِيرًا

Blessed is He Who made constellations in the skies, and placed therein a Lamp and a Moon giving light; (Al-Forghaan:61)

and

وَلَقَدْ جَعَلْنَا فِي السَّمَاءِ بُرُوجًا وَزَيَّنَّاهَا لِلنَّاظِرِينَ

It is We Who have set out the zodiacal signs in the heavens, and made them fair-seeming to (all) beholders; (Al-Hijr:16)

Also there is a hadith from imam Ali AS, [2]

حَدَّثَنَا عَلِيُّ بْنُ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يَعْقُوبَ عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ بِإِسْنَادِهِ رَفَعَهُ قَالَ أَتَى عَلِيَّ بْنَ أَبِي طَالِبٍ ع يَهُودِيٌّ فَقَالَ يَا أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ عَنْ أَشْيَاءَ إِنْ أَنْتَ أَخْبَرْتَنِي بِهَا أَسْلَمْتُ قَالَ عَلِيٌّ ع سَلْنِي يَا يَهُودِيُّ عَمَّا بَدَا لَكَ فَإِنَّكَ لَا تُصِيبُ أَحَداً أَعْلَمَ مِنَّا أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ فَقَالَ لَهُ الْيَهُودِيُّ أَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ قَرَارِ هَذِهِ الْأَرْضِ عَلَى مَا هُوَ وَ عَنْ شَبَهِ الْوَلَدِ أَعْمَامَهُ وَ أَخْوَالَهُ وَ عَنْ أَيِّ النُّطْفَتَيْنِ يَكُونُ الشَّعْرُ وَ الدَّمُ وَ اللَّحْمُ وَ الْعَظْمُ وَ الْعَصَبُ وَ لِمَ سُمِّيَتِ السَّمَاءُ سَمَاءً وَ لِمَ سُمِّيَتِ الدُّنْيَا دُنْيَا وَ لِمَ سُمِّيَتِ الْآخِرَةُ آخِرَةً وَ لِمَ سُمِّيَ آدَمُ آدَمَ وَ لِمَ سُمِّيَتْ حَوَّاءُ حَوَّاءَ وَ لِمَ سُمِّيَ الدِّرْهَمُ دِرْهَماً وَ لِمَ سُمِّيَ الدِّينَارُ دِينَاراً وَ لِمَ قِيلَ لِلْفَرَسِ‏ إِجِدْ وَ لِمَ قِيلَ لِلْبَغْلِ عَدْ وَ لِمَ قِيلَ لِلْحِمَارِ حَرِّ فَقَالَ ع أَمَّا قَرَارُ هَذِهِ الْأَرْضِ لَا يَكُونُ إِلَّا عَلَى عَاتِقِ مَلَكٍ وَ قَدَمَا ذَلِكَ الْمَلَكِ عَلَى صَخْرَةٍ وَ الصَّخْرَةُ عَلَى قَرْنِ ثَوْرٍ وَ الثَّوْرُ قَوَائِمُهُ عَلَى ظَهْرِ الْحُوتِ فِي الْيَمِّ الْأَسْفَلِ وَ الْيَمُّ عَلَى الظُّلْمَةِ وَ الظُّلْمَةُ عَلَى الْعَقِيمِ وَ الْعَقِيمُ عَلَى الثَّرَى وَ مَا يَعْلَمُ تَحْتَ الثَّرَى إِلَّا اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَ جَل‏ …

which declares the address of the Earth in the Skies (maybe each stage is one Sky, though I am not sure) when a Jew ask him about, based on the Zodiac Signs, I think.

The Hadith from Imam Reza AS stated previously may also call for the whole universe and not only the earth's atmosphere (which is layered as Sky is layered according to Quran), since it talks about Allah's throne and of course that's not surrounding the atmosphere circumscribing it.

Also you may like to refer to [3] which is about the issue you are already interested in. Also there are many other references you can fid many of them in the software [4]. The question to be properly answered is beyond my data so that I only give you a starting point and also marked the answer as wiki.

References:

[1] البرهان فی تفسیر القرآن: جلد ۵صفحات ۴۱۴ و ۴۱۵

[2] علل الشرایع شیخ صدوق، الجزء الأول، باب ۱

[3] بحار الانوار علامه مجلسی، جلد۵۵، باب ۸: السماوات و کیفیاتها و عددها و النجوم و اعدادها و صفاتها و المجرة

[4] Jami' al-Ahadith 3.5, Computer Research Center of Islamic Sciences (CRCIS).

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2:22 "Who hath appointed the earth a resting-place for you, and the sky a canopy" this means ozone was not referred here but sky! Or could I be wrong 2:22 means ozone layer? –  muslim1 Oct 2 '12 at 11:21
    
I don't know but only note after that it is said that rain comes from this sky and therefore such a sky is not out of the atmosphere. –  owari Oct 2 '12 at 11:51
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Assalamualaikum brother,

I myself have seen many many people arguing over this point. And i saw a lot of dis-agreement in answers, which scholars had about this viewpoint.

So, just take a look at the First few verses of surah baqara:

(2:3) Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them,

Which CLEARLY mentions that one property of a believer is that he beleives on Un-Seen. And as no one has ever seen the seven heavens, we have firm belief that as Allah has said so, then it is true for sure.

And about those, who dig deep into this issue, that which heaven starts from where, which is where, which heaven has what on it, how far we can goto? to which heaven? what is limit of heaven etc etc etc... so to all those, this hadith is the answer:

On the authority of ‘Abi Hurayrah `Abdur-Rahman ibn Sakhr (ra) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (sas) say:

What I have forbidden for you, avoid. And what I have ordered you to do, do as much of it as you can.It was only the excessive questioning and their disagreeing with their Prophets that destroyed those who were before you. [Bukhari & Muslim]

Questioning in islam is encouraged, but too much questioning, and that too into very strange direction, may lead many people even away from islam.

So in short, Allah will only ask us about out actions and deeds on day of judgement, nowhere in Quran or hadith it is mentioned that it is OBLIGATORY to know the deep down details of the issue if heavens. so dont worry much about it :)

Pay your full focus on what os obligatory and stay away from Haram, that is what Allah want us to do in this life, so we can be successful in this life and hereafter.

Allah knows the best. May Allah guide us all to the right path

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There are 7 samawat or heavens and they are mentioned in the Quran.

1.( 37:6) The lowest heaven (semaadunya) or the visible (shahid) heaven which contains the earth, the planets, the stars, etc.; in other words the visible universe. The next 6 heavens are part of the unseen; 5 of which can be found in Surah ArRahman which begins by describing the visible universe (ayas 1-25) and then proceeds to describe the ghaib or the unseen heavens. Allah begins by describing what one would see if one could have the power to penetrate the regions of the heavens and the earth (aya 33). The first unseen 'heaven' described is: 2.(Q 55:43) Hell 3 & 4. (Q 55:46) 2 Gardens (janataan) which contain 2 fountains, fruit, pure individuals 5 & 6. (Q 55:62) 2 more Gardens (janataan) Other names given for these gardens are the Garden of Immortality (Q 25:15), The Garden of Delight (26:85), Garden of Abode (53:15), High Garden (69:22), 7. (Q. 18:107) Janatul-Firdaws or the Garden of Paradise

And Allah (swt) knows best!

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Samaa (Heaven) is an arabic word that means, anything rising above us. It is used in the quran for more than one synonym

  • Cloud: Many references that Allah brings water from heaven/cloud
  • Atmosphere: Many references that Allah made a protective layer above us
  • Star: Many references as well, like that of Ar-Rahman: http://tanzil.net/#55:37 where a supernova is described.
  • Galaxies forming the universe: Mentioned that it is expanding http://tanzil.net/#51:47

Maybe I miss other meanings of Samaa. If we go deeper to your question; what are the seven? It's not known for sure. The current human sciences cannot define the universe in many aspects, we are still researching.

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I don't know if you have heard about the M-theory but you can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-theory

According to the M-theory:

In theoretical physics, M-theory is an extension of string theory in which 11 dimensions are identified. Because the dimensionality exceeds that of super-string theories in 10 dimensions, proponents believe that the 11-dimensional theory unites all five string theories (and supersedes them).

Now what I think about is that there are four dimensions we understand ourselves:

  1. Width
  2. Height
  3. Depth
  4. Time

So there is 7 remaining that might be the other 7 dimensions that Quran refers to as 7 "Skies". That might be the same other dimensions we don't see.

Note that this is still a theory that scientists are trying to prove in big labs like the CERN lab.

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I doubt if such hidden dimensions have directly anything to do with the seven Skies, but was interesting to me as it just recalled me of many witnesses in Ahadith I have seen before, e.g. about Elves who live in the same universe but they have their own world hidden to our eyes, you (the human) can be here with me in this room but in their world and not visible to me (and actually not with me anymore!). –  owari Oct 2 '12 at 11:33
    
Also about Imam Mahdi AS it is stated that he can go inside the hidden dimensions not visible to us, e.g., one reported he was close to shrine of Imam Reza AS wile it was hugely crowded, then suddenly he saw the place is empty and only a person was coming to the sight with some people accompanying him and there he was told this man is Imam Mahdi AS. Maybe this travelling between different dimensions has also something to do with "طی الأرض"? –  owari Oct 2 '12 at 11:33
    
The latter is somewhat related to the space-time (or space alone?) manifold being wrinkled and folded if I'm right. Anyway, all the sciences are with Ahlol-Beyt AS,as the prophet himself declared that "I am the city of science and Ali is its doors, whoever wants to enter the city should enter from its door". That elves can do such things is because their knowledge is superior to us the common people, but not also superior to that of the men of God. –  owari Oct 2 '12 at 11:34
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