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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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    The word translated as 7 heavens is "7 sema" means skies, while the actual heaven which is a reward for Muslims is "cennet" basically means garden. There are 4 names for kinds of "cennets" in Quran. – kalahari Apr 2 '15 at 3:18
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    A quick note, there is verse in the quran where Allah says that he created the heavens and earth and he expands them, it has been scientifically proven that the universe is expanding therefore it could be that they are different universes but Allah knows best! – Aboudi Dec 5 '15 at 11:12
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There are 7 samawat or heavens and they are mentioned in the Quran.

  • (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 'heavens' are:

  • (Q 55:43) Hell
  • (Q 55:46) 2 Gardens (janataan) which contain 2 fountains, fruit, pure individuals; and (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)
  • (Q. 18:107) Janatul-Firdaws or the Garden of Paradise

And Allah (swt) knows best!

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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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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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It is shocking to many peoples to hear that the observable universe is spinning around a center of mass, which coincides with the earth’s position and that the observable universe is gravitating around the center of mass of a 7 layered Multiverse gathering almost 420 universes of the size and the mass of our geocentric observable universe. This is for tree reasons, the first reason is that the Newtonian dynamics, which makes the planets rotating around the sun could be unified with the cosmic dynamics (the Hubble law), which makes the galaxies and the galaxy clusters rotating around the center of mass of the observable universe, the second reason is that the cosmic gravity (the Hubble law) could be derived from the gravitational redshift equation rather than from the Doppler redshift equation, and the third reason is that an empirical acceleration obtained by Milgrom determines the speed of light as measured in the laboratories at the earth’s position. It turns out that the radius of the Multiverse is equal to 7 times of the radius of the observable while the mass of the Multiverse is equal to 420 times of the mass of our geocentric observable universe. We find that the expected 7 layered Multiverse is comparable to the 7 heavens as mentioned in the Holy Quran, which means that the Holy Quran is words of Allah that was revealated to His prophet Mohammed (peace be upon Him) almost 15 centuries ago. But only Allah knows best.

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Firstly, there is a difference of opinion about whether the Prophet's Night Journey was simply a spiritual ascent or, if went with both body and spirit. His wife Aisha believed it was only Spiritual, and that he didnt leave the Earth with his body. Much of the Night Journey was of a metaphorical/symbolic character. For example, he saw the world in the form of an old Woman. You can see Muhammad Asad's essay about this in his translation of the Qur'an. The question about how the Prophet could need permission to enter the first heaven, if let's say, the first heaven is outer space, or the sphere of the moon: it could be said that his journey was a spiritual journey, and he was journeying into the world of the Angels, and not merely taking a travel through space. It is said that there is an angel prostrating in every inch of the sky but we can't see them. Thus he was introduced to the unseen spiritual world associated with the 7 heavens, not simply traveling through the physical universe.

The modality of the Seven Heavens are not specified in the Qur'an. Imam Maturidi said that we only know that there are Seven Heavens from revelation, that is not something inferable purely through observation. Often Muslim scholars in the Middle Ages identified them with the Seven celestial spheres of the Wandering planets(moon, mercury, venus, mars, sun jupiter, saturn) with the 8th heaven being the heaven of the stars, or being identified as the "Kursi" (Footstool) mentioned in the Qur'an. The Qur'an mentions that the lowest heaven is beautified with stars, but this could mean that light appears from the lowest heaven as we view it from Earth, since space is transparent and the light will reach the lowest heaven even if it's in the higher heavens. That's how the Muslim scholars reconciled the idea with Greek Astronomy(they believed the lowest heaven was the sphere of the moon.) It could mean that the nearest heaven is one system of stars in our universe though, or the universe as a whole, with the other 6 heavens being other universes, or other systems within our universe. Some commentators mention that there being 7 heavens, does not imply that there is not more than 7, but there are at least 7. I tend to think that the nearest heaven is the Milky Way( the stars that a person would see from Earth with the naked eye.) with other 6 heavens being other galaxies, yet at the same time there being numerous multitudes of heavens beyond these 7 heavens. The number 7 can simply be a shorthand for "many" in Arabic. Thus it can mean 7, yet also many. It can also imply periodicity, as in the 7 days of the week that repeat over and over again, or the 7 white notes of the piano that repeat. Ancient Greek philosophers such as Cicero inspired by the Pythagorean philosophy of numbers and the "Music of the Spheres" believed that the number 7 ruled the cosmological structure of the universe. For more information you can read my book "Mysteries of the Qur'an: Seven Heavens" under my pen name Israfil Sulayman on Amazon

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My answer is based on my opinion and logic thinking. What I understand as 7 heavens is 7 dimensions. I think Allah mentioned all of them in the Quran:

  • the Universe we know, with its stars and planets.
  • the Hell
  • the Paradise where Adam and Eve resided before they came down to earth.
  • the Grave, also known as Barzakh.
  • the final Paradise.
  • the dimension of the Jinns
  • Allah’s kingdom, where He described al Arsh or the Throne.

Allahu a3lam, may Allah guide us.

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"Allah is He Who created seven Firmaments and of the earth a similar number."

I think this verse is saying that Allah created 7 heavens and He made everything in the earth of a similar number :: 7 seas, 7 continents, 7 days of the week, 7 colors of the rainbow lool 777 :) subhanAllah

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