Is there a contradiction between the verse: "the width whereof is as the width of Heaven and earth" (al-Hadid, 21), and the verse "a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth" (Aal-i Imran 133), which describe Paradise?

Details of the Question
Is there a contradiction between the verse: "the width whereof is as the width of Heaven and earth" (al-Hadid, 21), and the verse "a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth" (Aal-i Imran 133), which describe Paradise?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

What seems as a contradiction is probably the expression “the width whereof is as the width of Heaven and earth” and the expression “whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth”.

First of all, it is necessary to state that the expression “the width between the skies and the earth...” does not exist in any of those verses.  

In the verse in the chapter of Aal-i Imran, the word is used in the plural form: “samawat = skies”; in the verse in the chapter of al-Hadid, the word is used in the singular form:“sama = sky”. There is no contradiction in it because the word “sama” is a common noun; it can also denote the plural form (skies).   

Another different point is this: The verse in the chapter of Aal-i Imran is “…whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth”. The verse in the chapter of al-Hadid is “...the width whereof is as the width of Heaven and earth”

That is, the only difference is that in the verse in the chapter of Aal-i Imran, the preposition of simile “Kaf” is used and in the verse in the chapter of al-Hadid, this preposition is not used; however, the meaning is the same. One of them is an obvious metaphor and the other is a hidden metaphor; that is, there is no contradiction.   

Elmalılı Hamdi interprets the verse in the chapter of Aal-i Imran as follows:  

“Garden” (Paradise) means, the eternal land, which is the house of bliss; the hidden garden is one or all of the "gardens beneath which flow rivers"; "Ard" (Earth) means length or width or price; it is offered in order to buy something.   

In another verse the following is stated: "Be ye foremost (in seeking) Forgiveness from your Lord, and a Garden (of Bliss), the width whereof is as the width of Heaven and earth" (al-Hadid, 57/ 2 1) ; here, with the ellipsis of the preposition of simile (kaf), the following meaning is observed: "Its width is the width of the skies and the earth." It is also stated that the metaphor is real or it is an allegory based on the vastness of the width.

Ibn Abbas, Said b. Jubayr and most of the scholars said, "When the skies and the earth are rolled like fabric and added to each other, their length will be the width of Paradise. Nobody but God knows its length."

According to this view, Paradise is bigger than the skies. In some hadiths of the Prophet, it is mentioned to be under the great Throne and over the skies. It was mentioned as "Paradise for one person".

However, the apparent meaning of this verse shows that the skies and the earth of this realm are the width of Paradise; and the following verse shows it through metaphor: “Garden the width whereof is as the width of Heaven and earth”. It is possible to regard one of them as price and the other as width and to combine the meaning. It is also possible to regard them as different Gardens as it is stated in the following verse: "But for such as fear the time when they will stand before (the Judgment Seat of) their Lord, there will be two Gardens." (ar-Rahman, 55/46) "Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter." (al-Baqara, 2/201).

As it is reported in the interpretation of Razi, the envoy of Heracles (the Byzantine King) said to the Prophet, "You promise Paradise, which is prepared for the believers and whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth . Then, where is Hell?" The Messenger of God said, "Subhanallah (Glory be to Allah)! Where is the day when it is night?" (see Hak Dini, interpretation of the verse Al-i İmran, 3/133)

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