“It is He who created for you all of that which is on the earth. Then He directed Himself to the heaven, and made them seven heavens, and He is Knowing of all things.” (2:29)1
“[And] who created seven heavens in layers. You do not see in the creation of the Most Merciful any inconsistency. So return [your] vision [to the sky]; do you see any breaks?” (67:3)2
PART 2 (A continuation after The Milky Way)
Beyond our galaxy, the Milky Way, there was more to learn about the universe: the collapsing of black holes that create supersonic waves in space, the burning out and creation of stars, the explosion of matter from white holes opposite to black holes, the wormhole passage through space-time as a theory of general relativity. But the more we learn, the more we realize mankind is limited to this universe. One might think, limited? How? The universe is an open, boundless space yet to be discovered. Yes, science tells us that what we see in the universe is less than 1% of what is actually out there. But beyond the planets, stars, galaxies, black holes, dark matter, and the fabric of the universe, there exists what science does not find/humans cannot see. And God does not hide what science does not find. God tells us to use our intellect so we are not left in the darkness of the universe. Beyond the universe there exist many other universes. God explains His Greatness in the Quran beyond the bounds of these universes.
We try to imagine the enormity of creation. The earth has 7 billion people. The sun can fit over one million earths inside it. The stars of our galaxy are millions of times larger than the sun. Our Milky Way Galaxy is made up of billions of stars. Galaxies of the universe are trillions of times larger than the Milky Way. The universe is made up of zillions of galaxies. And, everything in our universe is within the FIRST heaven.
Yes, our universe is within the first heaven and God is the creator of SEVEN heavens. One above the other, the heavens are in layers, each one different and more incomprehensible. The distance from the first heaven to the second is 500 years.3 At what speed or distance? Only God knows but we can say that astronomers and physicists use light years to describe distance because everything in space is too far to travel. 1 light year is 300,000 kilometers per second (186,000 miles). This makes it impossible for us to travel to even the closest star to the sun the Red Dwarf Star (merely 4 light years away within our own galaxy). So from the first heaven to the second it is 500 years with unknown speed and distance. From the second heaven to the third, it is 500 years with unknown speed and distance. From the third to the fourth, fourth to the fifth, fifth to the sixth, and sixth to the seventh, it is 500 years with unknown speed and distance. Can you imagine? We struggle to understand one universe, how can we ever know seven?
After the 7 heavens, we have the KURSI, (footstool) of God. In a hadith by the noble prophet of Allah (pbuh) he describes the 7 heavens in comparison to the kursi of Allah. Take a ring from your finger and throw it into a vast desert (the Sahara desert, for example, the largest desert in the world). What comparison is the ring to the desert? Nothing. The seven heavens are like the ring and the Sahara desert is like the kursi of Allah. There is no comparison. The 7 great heavens (the ring) are nonexistent before the kursi of Allah (the desert). His greatest exceeds all.
After the kursi (footstool) we have the ‘ARSH (throne) of Allah. Again take a ring from your finger and throw it into a vast desert (the Sahara desert). What comparison is the ring to the desert? Nothing. This time the kursi is the ring and the ‘Arsh is the Sahara desert. The great kursi is nonexistent in comparison to the mighty ‘Arsh of Allah. The ‘Arsh (throne) is the greatest of all things Allah has created and He rises above it in a manner that befits His Majesty. It has pillars carried by angels of immense size.4 These bearers of God’s throne have heads in the highest (seventh) heaven and feet in the lowest earth. One of the angels is described as having the distance of a 700 years between his earlobe and shoulder. And finally, we have the Lord, the Great One Himself whose supremacy is described in 99 names throughout the Quran. But He is indescribable, incomprehensible, incomparable (Post: The Great One Himself).
We look at all that science has explained about the universe and the human mind is still incapable of grasping it. If the human mind cannot comprehend the greatness of creation, how can it comprehend the Great One Himself? It is all too immense, too immense to wrap our minds around. But God tells us His greatness to make us humble. Because, how great are we? How great are we compared to God Himself? How big are our problems? Can we imagine ourselves in this tiny world lost in mix of many worlds. Bounded, we travel from one end of the circle to the other, arrogance growing with experience, problems growing with age. The things that bother us today will no longer exist tomorrow. Perhaps we live in the moment although the moment no longer exists. If we remember His greatness, we will forget our problems.
To question God’s existence, is to question reality itself. It is to question science and all that we see. What we can not see beyond the universe does not mean it does not exist. It simply means we are too little to see. It is much like the famous narration of an astronaut who says to a brain surgeon, “I’ve been far out in space many times but I’ve never seen God or angels.” The brain surgeon replies, “And I’ve operated on many clever brains but I’ve never seen a single thought.” Like dark matter, the unseen doesn’t mean non-existence, it is simply means unseen. Indeed, God is the unseen, the eternal.
The Quran is full of science, from the making of life in a womb, to the mountains like pegs on earth. God points to the greatness of universe for us to understand His Greatness beyond the universe; He points to creation of life on earth for us to understand creation of life in hereafter. One is created (the seen and bounded), to understand the other (the unseen and boundless). Our knowledge allows us to understand God. We no longer need to question the meaning of “lord of the worlds” or “God is the Greatest.” We just needed to remind ourself. The more we learn and understand, the more we connect with the Great One. And the more we connect, the lesser we take creation for granted. God asks in the Quran, as quoted in the opening paragraph: “So return [your] vision [to the sky]; do you see any breaks?” I see no breaks. I see no inconsistency in the sky nor in creation. What a minor question the Great One asks and some believe not.
THE VERSE OF THE THRONE (The Greatest Verse): “Allah! There is no god but He – the Living, The Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him Nor Sleep. His are all things In the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede In His presence except As he permitteth? He knoweth What (appeareth to His creatures As) Before or After or Behind them. Nor shall they encompass Aught of his knowledge Except as He willeth. His throne doth extend Over the heavens And on earth, and He feeleth No fatigue in guarding And preserving them, For He is the Most High. The Supreme (in glory).” (2:255)5
1. Surah Al-Baqarah in the Quran (2:29)
2. Surah Al-Mulk in The Quran (67:3)
3. Hadith no. 1513 Al-Tirmidhi (7 heaven and The Arsh of Allah-by Skeikh Ahmed Ali)
4. Hadith of Abu Dawood
5. Ayat al kursi in Surah Al-Baqarah (2:255)