The seven heavens and their contents
Fatwa No: 89488

Question

I would like to ask you a question concerning the seven heavens.Firstly, are the seven heavens like universes that are one above the other? Or even like dimensions? Furthermore, the Quran states (I can't remember the exact quotation or verse) but something like: "We have adorned the lowest heaven with ornaments, the planets." So what exactly exists in the six other heavens? The Quran also states (again I can't remember the exact quotation or verse): "If you have the power to pass beyond (penetrate) regions of the heavens, and the Earth then pass beyond them. But you never be able to do so except with Our Power!" After studying this verse in Dr. Maurice Bucaille’s book "The Qur'an, the Bible and Modern Science", it refers to a positive if (i.e. will happen) is it referring that Man will be able to go to different heavens (i.e. the second heaven, etc.) or like on the moon?
Secondly, in a Fatwa you stated that life on Mars may or not be probable. Is it true to say that if it was probable it will exist in the form of the Jinn only and not as Man? You also stated that Imam Al-Bukhaari reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “If the seven heavens and whoever dwells in them apart from me, and the seven Earths were put in one scale and La ilaaha illallaah in another scale, La ilaaha illallaah will outweigh them.” What does it mean when it says seven Earths? Are there seven Earths (where life can exist) in the seven heavens?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

First of all, it is worth mentioning an important rule which is that the Quran is a book of guidance which Allaah, The Almighty, has sent down for mankind to worship Him and glorify Him. The Quran is not a book of science, though it mentioned some facts about the universe. This is just a small indication which we hope you will understand as there is no room for details.

As for the questions that you have posed, the answer is as follows:

1) Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him commented in his Tafseer (interpretation of the Quran) on the Saying of Allaah, The Almighty, (which means): {Who has created the seven heavens one above another.} [Quran 67:3], that it means layers one above another. As regards whether these layers are successive one on top of the other, or that they are separate and there is a gap between them, then there are two opinions about this. The most correct opinion, however, is that the layers are separate and there is a gap between them. The evidence is the Hadeeth about Israa' (the Prophet's journey to Jerusalem) and Mi'raaj (the Ascension) and other Ahadeeth. One of these Ahadeeth is classified as weak by some scholars  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them.

The Hadeeth is the following: The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: "And between each heaven and the other, there is a distance of travel of 500 years, and the thickness of each heaven is a distance of travel of 500 years." [Ahmad]

2) Imaam Al-Qurtubi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him indicated in his Tafseer while commenting on the verse in which Allaah, The Almighty, Says (what means): {And we adorned the nearest (lowest) heaven with lamps (stars)...} [Quran 41:12], said that there is a difference of opinion among the scholars  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them whether the stars are only in the first heaven or in all the heavens. The most preponderant opinion, however, is that the stars are in the first heaven because in the Quran, Allaah, The Almighty, Says (what means): {He completed (as) seven heavens two days and inspired [i.e. made known] in each heaven its command And We adorned the nearest heaven with lamps [i.e. stars, for beauty] and as protection.} [Quran 41:12] It should be noted here, that the seven heavens are full of angels.

3) The interpreters of the Quran  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them differed about the Saying of Allaah, The Almighty, (which means): {O company of Jinn and mankind, if you are able to pass beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth, then pass. You will not pass except by authority [from Allaah].} [Quran 55:33] Some of them consider that it refers to the Day of Judgment, when no one can flee from the reward or the punishment. Some other interpreters are of the view that it refers to the inability of fleeing from the decree of Allaah, The Almighty, regarding death in this life. A third group of interpreters are of the view that it means that no one knows the Unseen but Allaah, The Almighty. However, the first view is the one which is most correct, as the context is about the scenes of the Day of Judgement, so it should be understood as such, and one should avoid considering the verse to mean the ability of ascending to the seven heavens and the like.

4) Discussing whether or not life is possible in other planets is a matter on which the scholars have kept quiet, so there is no need to investigate it. Even if it is proven that life is possible there, the Islamic religion does not object to it.

5) The Hadeeth which you have stated about the "seven earths" is reported by An-Nasaa'i  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him and not Al-Bukhari  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him. Imam Al-Qurtubi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him indicated in his Tafseer that the majority of the scholars  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them are of the view that it means seven layers one on top of the other. They are of the opinion that the distance between one earth and another is the same as the distance between the sky and the earth, and that each earth is dwelt by a given creation that Allaah, The Almighty, has created.

Al-Qurtubi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him is of the view that this is the preponderant opinion after he had mentioned other opinions.

For more benefit on the seven earths, please refer to Fatwa 82776.

Allaah Knows best.

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