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Assalamu Aleikum,

I'd like to ask what our prophet meant when he said, "There are 500 years of distance between each heaven." I mean, is this '500 years' by walking/marching? I have read some of your fatwas and some tasfers, and it said that 500 years by marching, but I'd like to learn if this is the words of our Prophet or just an interpretation. Can this '500 years' be by riding, at the speed of light, or other kinds of travel? We know for a fact that our universe is so huge, and 500 years of walking is nothing compared to it. Are there other ways to interpret this hadith? Thank you.

Following are some of the traditions taken from as-Suyutis al-Haya as-saniya fi l-haya as-sunniya that mention this

Ibn Rāhūya, in his Musnad, Abū š-Šayh and al-Bazzar, on the basis of a sound chain of transmission that goes back to Abū Darr, report that God's messenger (God's blessing and peace be with him!) presented the following teaching: "The interval between heaven and earth is the distance of 500 years. The diameter of every heaven is also as much as 500 years. And the interval between this heaven and the one that comes after it is also as big as 500 years. Thus up to the seventh heaven, and with the earths it is similar. And the distance between the seventh heaven and the throne corresponds to all that."

Ahmad b. Hanbal (may God be pleased with him!), in his Musnad, Abū Dā'ūd, at-Tirmidī, who declares it to be of good quality, Ibn Māğa, Ibn Abi Aşamm, in his Sunna, Abū Yaʻlā, Ibn Huzayma, at-Tabarānī, al- Hakim, and giving it a sound derivation Abū š-Šayh have the following tradition from al-'Abbas b. "Abd al-Muttalib: "We were with the Prophet (God's blessing and peace be with him!) when he said: 'Do you know what the distance is between heaven and earth?' - We answered: 'God and His messenger know better!' - He said: 'Between them there is a distance of 500 years; and from every heaven to another heaven there is a distance of 500 years. The diameter of every heaven, too, is 500 years. Above the seventh heaven there is a sea between the surface of which and the greatest depth the distance is as big as that between heaven and earth. Then, above that, there are eight mountain goats; from their knees down to their hoofs, the distance equals that between heaven and earth.

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    Please quote the hadith (full text) you are referring to! Further, the ahadith that came to mind actually answer your question even if as far as I found in a rough research none of them can be regarded as authentic.
    – Medi1Saif
    Dec 18, 2023 at 8:09
  • @Medi1Saif in fact it says sahih. Here is the reference, i edited the question as well. Ibn Khuzaymah narrated in his Saheeh (9105) and in his Kitaab al-Tawheed (no. 594) that Ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “Between the lowest heaven and the one above it is (a distance of) five hundred years, and between each heaven and the next is (a distance of) five hundred years marching.”
    – Cansu
    Dec 23, 2023 at 13:35
  • His lack of clarification seems to indicate he intended vagueness and just wanted to convey a large distance.
    – The Z
    Dec 23, 2023 at 18:49

2 Answers 2

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Firstly this hadith is ranked as a Mostafidh (elaborate) hadith by Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Abu al-Qasim al-Musawi al-Khoei.

Then the distance in the Islamic texts when speaking about land travel usually refers to the distance traveled by camel. reference

But this hadith is not talking about land travel in earth.

It's important to consider that time in the current universe (life on earth) is different from time in heaven, hell, and on judgment day. Based on this verse:

وَيَسۡتَعۡجِلُونَكَ بِٱلۡعَذَابِ وَلَن يُخۡلِفَ ٱللَّهُ وَعۡدَهُۥۚ وَإِنَّ يَوۡمًا عِندَ رَبِّكَ كَأَلۡفِ سَنَةٖ مِّمَّا تَعُدُّونَ 47

And they demand of thee to hasten the chastisement! God will not fail His promise and surely a day with thy Lord is as a thousand years of your counting(47)

Each universe has its own time, materials, atoms, bodies, skins, enjoys, pains and laws of physics and etc. For example, look at this verse:

مُّتَّكِـِٔينَ فِيهَا عَلَى ٱلۡأَرَآئِكِۖ لَا يَرَوۡنَ فِيهَا شَمۡسٗا وَلَا زَمۡهَرِيرٗا 13

relaxing on couches there where they will see neither sun nor any frost. (13)

In heaven, there is light, but it does not come from any sun, as there is no sun. Nevertheless, everywhere is bright, and the light does not have a specific source.

Also the Barzakh universe (or grave life) is another different universe:

لَعَلِّيٓ أَعۡمَلُ صَٰلِحٗا فِيمَا تَرَكۡتُۚ كَلَّآۚ إِنَّهَا كَلِمَةٌ هُوَ قَآئِلُهَاۖ وَمِن وَرَآئِهِم بَرۡزَخٌ إِلَىٰ يَوۡمِ يُبۡعَثُونَ 100
That I may do some good I Blockquote

did not do (in the world).

" Not so. These are only words he utters. Behind them lies the intervening barrier (stretching) to the day of their resurrection. 100

Also Quran talks about high speeds like this verse:

قَالَ الَّذِي عِندَهُ عِلْمٌ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ أَنَا آتِيكَ بِهِ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَرْتَدَّ إِلَيْكَ طَرْفُكَ فَلَمَّا رَآهُ مُسْتَقِرًّا عِندَهُ قَالَ هٰذَا مِنْ فَضْلِ رَبِّي لِيَبْلُوَنِي أَ أَشْكُرُ أَمْ أَكْفُرُ وَ مَنْ شَكَرَ فَإِنَّمَا يَشْكُرُ لِنَفْسِهِ وَ مَنْ كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ رَبِّي غَنِيٌّ كَرِيمٌ

Who (is) at him knowledge from The Book said: "I come/bring to you with it before that your eye lid returns to you (you blink)." So when he saw it established/affixed at him, he said: "This (is) from my Lord's grace/favour/blessing, to test me do I thank/be grateful, or I disbelieve, and who thanked/became grateful, so but he thanks/becomes grateful for his self, and who disbelieved, so then my Lord (is) rich, honoured/generous ."(40)

Finally, according to this reference, which has thoroughly researched this issue, it is not clear what kind of speed or travel is meant in this hadith.

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  • thanks for the answer! But after some research i found some sites saying marching doesn't have to be on foot and it can be anything (in one hadith it was a bird flying for 700 years for example). So it actually refers to angels marching and we know they are as fast as light or even faster. So in my opinion, saying distance in Islamic texts refers to camel ride might not be always correct. Since the reference you gave only gives information about the 3 days of travel which abolishes prayer for that period .
    – Cansu
    Dec 24, 2023 at 19:25
  • @Cansu even if it is light years, earth to throne distance will be 4000 light years, while milky way diameter alone is 100000 light years. Dec 25, 2023 at 0:29
  • @Battle of Karbala, we know at least the nearest heaven (which is the observable universe) is composed of known matter and physics, and it's 93 billion light years wide, which is many million times bigger than 4000 (camel/light) years. Dec 25, 2023 at 0:34
  • @Cansu yes it is not always by camel. it can be birth or anything else if specified in hadith. but if it is nothing specified and it is talking about earth travel most probably it is meant camel speed. but when talking about travel in skies it van be different. Dec 25, 2023 at 5:26
  • @TruthSeeker418 you are right. the camel speed is used for travels in earth. for skies it can be different. also first the authentication of hadith should be investigated and we can not consider any hadith book totally authentic even if it is famous. Dec 25, 2023 at 5:31
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Dear brother/ brothers and sisters.

We are mistakenly understanding this hadith. We are considering the dunya sky as the 93 Billion observed universe and then we cannot see the rest of the skies above of that. That is why this Hadith is difficult to understand based on the scientific discoveries and observation of the universe. However, if we consider the 7 skies and the earth are all within this Solar system, this will resolve all the issues. Allah told us that "the 7 mighty ones" "sab3an shidada" so the seven strong planets in this Solar system are "Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus & Neptune" Each one of those planets with their gravity and moons orbiting it are considered to be one sky. This Solar system is one earth and 7 skies. There are no other planets in this Solar system. Pluto is too weak to be called a planet. After that the 500 years is achievable at reasonable speed. After that "Al-Kursi" is the galaxy and the Throne is the universe.

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  • Allah's throne is supposed to be above water. Where is the water then? Jan 9 at 4:19
  • The Throne means the limit or the ceiling. The Throne was on water before Allah created the Skies and the Earth.
    – Kab
    Jan 10 at 5:11
  • It is still on water islamqa.info/amp/en/answers/146779 Jan 11 at 13:48

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