Ceiling, sky; up, top; upper part of something; orbit; upper side; canopy and lace of a house; the things that sorround the earth in the vast universe (space)
The Arabic word “Sama (Sky)” is used both in masculine and feminine forms. Also both as singular and plural. Its plural form is “samawat (skies)” Lexically, cloud and rain is also called “sama (sky)”. However, in this sense, the plural of the word is “Asmiya and sumiyyun”
Allah created seven skies (heavens) (or seven layers of sky). Among them, the sky of the earth (which is the nearest to us) is ornamented with stars. “We have indeed decked the lower heaven with beauty (in) the stars “(as-Saffat , 37/6). The nearest star to us is called “O Centauri” and its light comes to us in 4,3 light years. The speed of light is 300.000 km per second. According to last researches, the furthest star from earth is 15 billion light years away. According to the latest scientific results, the diameter of the earth sky where the stars are located is probably 15 billion light years. The universe is calculated to be 10 billion years old (Prof. Dr. Cengiz Yalçın, Assc. Prof. Nuray Büjet, Modern Physics and Atomic Physics, İstanbul 1981, p. 130).
In the solar system, there are nine planets which are not stars. Other stars are smaller or bigger suns. In the recent years, depending on modern astronomical findings, some clues that some other stars might have planets too have been found.
It has been estimated that the age of the sun and its planets is 3 billion years. According to Eddington, the diameter of the universe is 6 billion light years (Prof. Dr. F. L. Breuseh. General Anorganic Chemistry, Translation. Prof. Dr. E. Ulusoy, İstanbul 1976, p. 58-59). However, the diameter of the seven skies may reach 70-100 billion light years, except the Holy Throne and the Holy Chair.
The explanation of the Quran is in accordance with the scientific researches.
So He completed them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command. And We adorned the lower heaven with lights, and (provided it) with guard. (Fussilat 12) He Who created the seven heavens one above another. (al-Mulk, 67/3) “His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. For He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory).(al-Baqara 2/255) . All of them, together with what is inside them, are under the rule of Allah .
According to the information expressed by the Prophet (PBUH), the size of seven skies with respect to the Holy Chair is like the size of seven coins (Dirham) cast into a shield. Similarly, the size of the Holy Chair compared to the Throne is like an iron ring cast into the desert. According to a hadith narrated by Abu Zar, the size of those were explained by such a metaphor : I swear by Allah who holds the dominance of my self that, the size of the seven skies and seven earths compared to the Holy Chair is like a ring cast to a desert. The size of the Holy Chair compared to the Throne is like a ring cast into the desert. (Ibn Kathir, Tafsirul-Quranil-Azim (Exegesis of the Great Quran) , Beirut 1385/1966, I, 550).
The Exalted Allah states in the Quran that He created zodiacs in the sky (al-Hijr 15/16;al Furqan 25/61),” and says, “By the Sky (displaying) the Zodiacal Signs”. When Allah states He created Zodiacal signs in the sky, he uses the word “The Sky” instead of “The Skies” . This word “The Sky” means “the nearest sky” that you are familiar with. It is the sky of this earth. The word “burj” means a mansion, a building or a castle. The zodiac in the sky means the constallations whose positions remain the same with respect to each other. So those verses were interpreted by the scholars as constellations or the doors of the sky.
Prophet Idris is said to be the first man to do the zodiac divisions in order to ponder about the stars in the sky and do researches on them. Just as the cities, towns and the high buildings are signs on a map, so too are the big stars and the constellations among all the stars of the sky similar signs. The rainbow that the sun is assumed to be passing through in a year and the nearby constellations (Zodiac) are called the Zodiac Strip. They are divided into 12 regions, each of which has a length of 30 degrees. The area formed by those signs are called the Zodiac Zone.
The sun follows a path of constellations beginning from the spring. These are named as follows: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces
The knowledge of the philosophers of the medieval times about the skies and the stars are in discrepancy with the current science and the Quran. They imagined that the skies and the stars were independent of the universe, premordial and eternal. Naturally, they were under the influence of the ancient Greek philosophy.
According to those scholars of the middle ages, each planet had a level of sky (falaq). Each level had a mind and self. According to them, those levels were as follows : Moon Level, Mercury Level, Venus Level, Sun Level, Mars Level, Jupiter Level, Saturn Level, Stable Stars Level and the Greatest Level, in which there is no star. In those ages, according to Christians and some Islamic scholars, the earth was motionless at the center of the skies, and the planets, stars and the sun were rotating around the earth. It is called Ptolemy Theory.
Some of the commentators of Koran were complying with the opinions of the old astronomers when interpreting the verses about seven skies. For example, the sun was said to be in the fourth sky. (Majmuatun Mina't-Tafasir: Madarik (A compilation from the Exegeses of the Quran) VI, 366; Baydawi, I, 96).
Modern astronomy and astrophysics demonstrate that there is a flawless harmony, a subtle calculation among the stars, galaxies and planets, a manifestation of a vast knowledge and a perfect balance in the cosmos. The contents of the heavens, from the smallest planets and stars to the greatest galaxies rotate around each other in a balanced position and continue their journey in space through enlarging and opening from each other. In the Quran, this fact is mentioned as follows : “With the power and skill did We construct the Firmament: for it is We Who create the vastness of Space.” (adh-Dhariyat, 51/47). Likewise, in the Quran, it is also mentioned that Allah has created the heavens and they have been created in a perfect harmony, there is no flaw in their creations (al-Mulk(Possesion) 67 / 3-4). It is also stated that the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater and more sophisticated, and that the majority of the mankind may not become aware of this grand creation. (al-Muminun (Believers) 23/57) That is to say, the stars and the galaxies were created to declare the grandeur of Allah. Again “He is the one who created the stars in order that you can find your way in the darknesses of sea and land” (alAn’am, 6/97)
The source of energies emitted by the sun and the stars to the space is “Fusion” . It can be explained as the emission of a very big energy by the atoms through uniting of light nuclei like hydrogen and thus losing their masses. For example, a helium atom is formed by the combination of four hydrogen atoms and meanwhile, seven per thousand of the total mass is converted to energy and disappears. It has been discovered that more than half of the sun consists of hydrogen and that a great deal of helium is present in the sun. The most common element in the universe is hydrogen. Other elements are derivatives of hydrogen. In order to convert hydrogen to helium, the needed heat of millions of degrees is present in the sun (cold fusion is not possible). The daily mass loss of sun is 1016 in return of energy emission. It is more than 4 million tons in a second.
Accordingly, the sun will fade away in 2-3 billion years. The emerged helium atoms that were formed by the uniting of hydrogen atoms are assumed to be turned into heavier nuclei. Iron nucleus is the last product.
It is scientifically well-known through investigation of the meteorites that fell onto earth and analysis of the rays coming from the stars that there is no element existent in the sun and the stars that is unknown to exist on the earth. All the elements are multiples of protons and neutrons. It has been estimated by the contemporary scientists that there exists 1079 masses of protons and neutrons in the body of the universe(according to us, in the earth’s firmament). Allah knows for sure that how many protons and neutrons form the stars, galaxies and planets that He created. Because “..., and He surrounds (all the mysteries) that are with them, and takes account of every single thing” (al-Djinn, 72/28)
The compounds in the stars cannot resist high temperatures, therefore they are split into their elements. The elements have lost their electrons more than the number of electrons that exist in their last electron orbits. The ions approach each other more and more because of the removal of the electron envelopes that occupy an enormous space through excessive ionization in the stars. In this way, the density increases due to the increase of atom numbers in the units of volumes. The density of a satellite of the star Sirius is 3000 times more than the platinum, which is the heaviest element on the earth.
The stars will gradually cool down and shrink because they get the energy to radiate from nucleus cohesions and thus losing their masses. Finally, as a result of shrinking, they will disperse because they will break free from the mutual gravitation force. Any two masses in the space attract each other along the line that joins them in such a way that it is proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. The planets of the solar system and the other stars remain in the equilibrium through mutual gravitation. The time of the dispersal of the stars and the sun is declared in the Quran with the following verses : “One day the Earth will be changed to a different Earth, and so will be the Heavens, and (men) will be marshalled forth, before Allah the One, the Irresistible;” (Abraham, 14/48), “When the Sky is cleft asunder; When the Stars are scattered” (al-Infitar, 82/1-2); “When the sun (with its spacious light) is folded up; When the stars fall, losing their luster” (at-Takwir, 81/1-2); “Then when the stars become dim, When the heaven is cleft asunder” (al-Mursalat, 77/8-9). Also see the verses al-EAnbiya, 21/104, az-Zumar, 39/67)
If the heavens had been pre-eternal together with what are in them, throughout the endless time so far, they would already have been scattered and faded away. Since they still do exist today, they have been created at a later time, they have a beginning and one day they will shrink, disperse and fade away. That is the time of the doomsday. For each after-exister, there must be an entity that brings it into being. Nothing can create itself from non-existence. Therefore, the creator of all firmaments and the realms is Allah the Exalted, who is not an entity of their kind.