If the sky is a well-guarded canopy, why are living beings harmed by meteorites?

The Details of the Question

That verse is about the stars (meteorites) thrown at satans in order to protect the lowest layer of the sky.

We have indeed decked the lower heaven with beauty (in) the stars,- (For beauty) and for guard against all obstinate rebellious evil spirits, (So) they should not strain their ears in the direction of the Exalted Assembly but be cast away from every side, Repulsed, for they are under a perpetual penalty. (37:6-9)
In that verse, a noun derived from the root hafiza in Arabic meaning guard, keeping, protection.

However, it is strange that the things claimed to guard the sky are a threat for the species in the world.

If we look at history, we will see that asteroids and meteorites passed through the atmosphere and hit the world. For instance, the Chicxulub meteorite hit the world. This meteorite hit the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and it is thought that it caused the death of many dinosaurs.

Do not include an explanation in your answer stating that the meteorite that caused the death of dinosaurs was caused to fall based on a wisdom and that the earth was prepared as a living place only for human beings. If the phrase ‘well-guarded’ is used, is it not necessary for it to be valid all the time and for all living beings?

“And We have made the heavens as a canopy well guarded: yet do they turn away from the Signs which these things (point to).” (21:32)

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The meanings of the first verses in the first question are as follows:

“We have indeed decked the lower heaven with beauty (in) the stars,- (For beauty) and for guard against all obstinate rebellious evil spirits, (So) they should not strain their ears in the direction of the Exalted Assembly but be cast away from every side, Repulsed, for they are under a perpetual penalty, Except such as snatch away something by stealth, and they are pursued by a flaming fire, of piercing brightness.” (as-Saaffat, 37/6-10)

We think it will be useful to explain the issue in a few items so that it will be understood better:

a) It is strange to deduce the interpretation in the question from those verses. The following is stated in the question: “However, it is strange that the things claimed to guard the sky are a threat for the species in the world.”

Even if we accept that this interpretation is true for a second, there is no contradiction that can be deduced from those verses. For, everybody knows that the earth is not included in the concept “sky/heaven”. It is clear evidence about the issue that the skies/heavens and the earth are mentioned in two different groups in tens of verses of the Quran. In that case, it is not possible to find any indication in the verse that “the earth is guarded/protected” along with the sky.

b) It is clear in the verses from what the sky is protected.

As a matter of fact, it is stated in the verse “We have indeed decked the lower heaven with beauty (in) the stars,- (For beauty) and for guard against all obstinate rebellious evil spirits” that the sky of the earth is protected from satans/jinn.

Accordingly, what is protected in those verses is the sky of the earth and it is protected from evil spirits.

It is not appropriate at all to explain this incident, which is related to the lower heaven and which has a metaphysical aspect along with its astrophysical aspect, by meteorites falling onto the earth.

c) To put it more clearly, a protection including also the earth is not mentioned in the verses. Only one part of the skies closest to the earth called “the sky of the world”, not the whole sky, is mentioned.

Therefore, the following statement expressed in the question is utterly groundless: “If the phrase ‘well-guarded’ is used, is it not necessary for it to be valid all the time and for all living beings?”

d) The stars used to protect the sky of the earth from the evil of satans are mentioned in the verses. It is complete ignorance to oppose to the deeds of Allah, whose endless knowledge, wisdom and power are witnessed  by the whole universe and divine books, to deduce meteorites from that statement and, acting upon this supposition, to say, “It is strange that the things claimed to guard the sky are a threat for the species in the world.”

e) However, the perfectness of the existing system and order of the universe lies in the principle of not abandoning many good things in return for a few bad things.

Scholars know this principle very well: “Many good things are not abandoned for a few bad things.” For instance, if ninety-five percent of something is very good and only five percent of it is bad, it is not abandoned due to that five percent. If it is abandoned, a bad deed will be committed

Examples:

If the honeybee had not been created because it sometimes stung and hurt people, it would have been very bad for people.

If drugs had not been produced due to their side effects, would it not have been very bad for humanity? 

Is a person who does not allow the hens to incubate one hundred eggs thinking that five percent of the eggs will rot regarded as a sane person? For, he will cause great loss by preventing 95 eggs from being chicks by doing so.

Is it necessary to stop the production of all knives because they are sometimes used to kill people or the production of all matches, lighters and other fuels since they can be used to burn forests and houses? Should we declare billions of people mad since they do not stop it?

It is possible to give tens of more examples from this viewpoint.

Even if we accept that the information in the question is true, will a few trivial incidents (in fact only one example is given – suppose that there are more examples) that took place throughout history and they harmed the living beings on the earth, have any value in the face of the important roles of the meteor showers in protecting the sky?

Let us have a look at the last verse in the question:

The meaning of the last verse in the question is as follows:

“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-Anbiya, 21/32)

In fact, a kind of metaphysical dimension of the incident in the astrophysical laws related to being protected from the evil of satans is pointed out in the first verses.

Cosmic measures within the framework of astrophysical laws in direct ontological principles are mentioned in the last verse. For this reason, it is not a proper approach to regard those two verses as complementary to each other just because of the the root "hifz" is used in both of them.

However, we plan to explain this verse in several items:

a) The word “mahfuz” mentioned in the verse is a passive word meaning “guarded/protected”. Accordingly, the first apparent meaning of the verse is that “the sky is a guarded canopy”.

Not the phrase “samaud-dunya (the sky of the earth)”, but only the word “sama (the sky)” is used in the verse. It is not appropriate to interpret the word “sama” as “the closest sama” and to say it means the atmosphere though the Quran uses it in its general sense.

Form this point of view, the protection of the sky, which is a well-guarded canopy, in a good way can be explained as follows: “…He (Allah) withholds the sky (rain) from failing on the earth except by His leave: for Allah is Most Kind and Most Merciful to man.” (al-Hajj, 22/65) As it is stated in the verse, Allah created orbits, empty areas between stars and laws of push and pull to maintain those distances. The sun, moon, stars, their being in certain orbits, rising and setting, appearing and disappearing and many other wise acts make the sky a guarded canopy. The word “Signs” mentioned in the verse is evidence of Allah’s endless knowledge, power, wisdom and will, and this kind of cosmic documents.   

The cosmic laws known as “the three laws” of Kepler, the famous scientist, consist of the discovery of some aspects of the divine principles summarized above. It is possible to summarize those laws as follows:

The first law states that planets draw elliptical orbits with the sun at the center.

According to the second law, the line connecting the planet to the sun covers the same area at the same time.

The third law is about the rotation of the planets. It teaches us that the square of the time of rotation is proportional to the cube of the planet’s average distance from the sun.

b) The word "Sama" mentioned in the verse lexically means everything that is above.  Therefore, one of the aspects of the lesson it teaches is the atmosphere layer that is above.

From this point of view, the atmosphere mentioned as "guarded canopy" also means "guarding canopy". For, the atmosphere’s being guarded means its creation in a way that will prevent harmful things coming from above from piercing it. The harmful things that cannot pierce the atmosphere cannot come down to the earth.

When the issue is viewed in the context of cause and effect, this structure of the atmosphere protected from the dangers also protects the earth from these dangers.

The developments of the science of astronomy and the data it has obtained enable us to understand the verse as follows: ‘The earth is protected from the rays and celestial bodies that can harm life since the atmosphere surrounding the earth is a guarded canopy’.

c) The atmosphere has a property that protects and hence protected.

The issue of protection summarized above can be explained as follows:

  1. As a guarded canopy, the atmosphere filters the harmful rays coming from the sun. 
  2. It prevents meteors from falling onto the earth to a great extent.
  3. It has the gases that are necessary for living beings.
  4. The incidents of climate occur.
  5. It protects the world from heating and cooling too much.
  6. It scatters the rays of the sun. Thus, it enables the places in the shade to be illuminated too.
  7. It rotates together with the world, preventing the burning that can occur from friction.

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