What does the sky falling in pieces mean?

The Details of the Question

- What do the verses 52:44 and 17:92 mean? Will you explain in detail?
“Were they to see a piece of the sky falling (on them), they would (only) say: ‘Clouds gathered in heaps’.” (at-Tur, 52:44)
“Or thou cause the sky to fall in pieces.” (al-Isra 17/92)
- What is meant by “pieces from the sky”? Why does Allah liken them to clouds gathered in heaps?
- I read that cloud was used in the sense of rain cloud but I do not understand what is meant by part of the sky or “split sky”. It sounds as if the sky is solid.

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The verses above are related to some of the nonsensical demands of the polytheists from the Prophet (pbuh) that they used as excuses for their denial. Such demands of theirs are explained in detail in the chapter of at-Tur and in other chapters.

A concrete example is given in verse 44 of the chapter of at-Tur to show that the unbelievers insist on their stubbornness even in the face of clear evidence – as it is stated in the verses 90-92 of the chapter of al-Isra - and it is stated that even if a mass (kisf) falls from the sky as they wish and they see it with their eyes, they will not want to accept its existence unless it comes and hits their heads, and that they will try to interpret it with words such as “heaps of clouds” (see Tabari, the interpretation of the verse in question).

When we deal with the verses above with the following verses, we can say that all kinds of penalties and misfortunes sent down from the sky are meant by them:

“Do ye then feel secure that He will not cause you to be swallowed up beneath the earth when ye are on land, or that He will not send against you a violent tornado (with showers of stones) so that ye shall find no one to carry out your affairs for you?” (al-Isra, 17/68),

“Do ye feel secure that He Who is in heaven will not cause you to be swallowed up by the earth when it shakes (as in an earthquake)? Or do ye feel secure that He Who is in Heaven will not send against you a violent tornado (with showers of stones), so that ye shall know how (terrible) was My warning?” (al-Mulk, 67/16-17)

We should state that verses 24-26 of the chapter of al-Ahqaf will help us understand the issue better. The following is stated in these verses:

“Then, when they saw the (Penalty in the shape of) a cloud traversing the sky, coming to meet their valleys, they said, ‘This cloud will give us rain!’ ‘Nay, it is the (Calamity) ye were asking to be hastened!- A wind wherein is a Grievous Penalty’.”

“Everything will it destroy by the command of its Lord!” Then by the morning they - nothing was to be seen but (the ruins of) their houses! thus do We recompense those given to sin!”

“And We had firmly established them in a (prosperity and) power which We have not given to you (ye Quraish!) and We had endowed them with (faculties of) hearing, seeing, heart and intellect: but of no profit to them were their (faculties of) hearing, sight, and heart and intellect, when they went on rejecting the Signs of Allah and they were (completely) encircled by that which they used to mock at.”

To sum up, attention is drawn in the verse to the nonsensical demands of the deniers and the excuses they will make up so as not to believe even if their wishes are fulfilled; there is no such thing the space being solid.

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