7 Layers of Heaven
20 Nov, 2005
Please explain the claim that Muhammad predicted the layers of the atmosphere 1400 years ago when this knowledge was not yet known. Here is the claim:
The Layers of the Atmosphere
- "It is He Who created everything on the earth for you and then directed His attention up to heaven and arranged it into seven regular heavens. He has knowledge of all things." (The Qur'an, 2:29)
"Then He turned to heaven when it was smoke. In two days He determined them as seven heavens and revealed, in every heaven, its own mandate." (The Qur'an, 41:12)
The word "heavens", which appears in many verses in the Qur'an, is used to refer to the sky above the Earth, as well as the entire universe. Given this meaning of the word, it is seen that the Earth's sky, or the atmosphere, is made up of seven layers.
The Earth has all the attributes that are needed for life. One of them is the atmosphere, which serves as a shield protecting living things. Today, it is an established fact that the atmosphere is made up of different layers lying on top of one another. Just as it is described in the Qur'an, the atmosphere is made up of exactly seven layers. This is certainly one of the miracles of the Qur'an.
Indeed, today it is known that the world's atmosphere consists of different layers that lie on top of each other. Furthermore, it consists, just as is described in the Qur'an, of exactly seven layers. In a scientific source, the subject is described as follows:
14 centuries ago, when the sky was believed to be one unified body, the Qur'an miraculously stated that it consisted of layers, and what is more, "seven" layers. Modern science, on the other hand, discovered the fact that the atmosphere surrounding the Earth is made up of "seven" basic layers only very recently.
The above claim was made by Harun Yahya in his site but after I published the following rebuttal he removed that page from his site. You can still find what he wrote in this Islamic site. The Truth About 7 Layers of HeavenThe pre Copernican concept of the universe was geocentric, i.e. they thought that the Earth was flat and was located at the center of the universe. They believed that the Sun and the Moon along with Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Mercury that made the seven known objects of the heaven were deities. These were the only objects people could observe with their naked eyes moving in the sky while the stars appeared to be fix.
- The closest to the Earth was the Moon and the farthest, was the Saturn. Therefore the concept of the 7 layers of heaven is based on ancient astronomy, where each celestial body occupied a crystal sphere one placed on top of the other like layers of an onion. . Both Judaism and Christianity make reference to these layers of heaven. For example Dante in his Divina Comedia refers to it and Paul the apostle, in 2 Corinthians 12:2 says: “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know–God knows.” The heaven was the physical world above. The concept of a spiritual heaven is a new concept. In the mind of the ancient man the distinction between physical heaven (sky) and spiritual heaven was fuzzy. For example “cielo” in Spanish still means both sky and heaven. Not only the Heaven had seven layers, the Earth also had seven layers and it represented the underworld or the Hell. Dante, for example on visiting the lowest level of Hell meets two men with their bodies split and he learns that they were Muhammad and Ali. He describes his encounter with these two wretched men graphically: “Truly cask, by losing mid-board or cross-piece, is not so split open as one I saw cleft from the chin to where the wind is broken: between his legs were hanging his entrails, his inner parts were visible, and the dismal sack that makes ordure of what is swallowed. Whilst all on seeing him I fix myself, he looked at me, and with his hands opened his breast, saying, "Now see how I rend myself, see how mangled is Mahomet. Ali goeth before me weeping, cleft in the face from chin to forelock; and all the others whom thou seest here were, when living, sowers of scandal and of schism, and therefore are they so cleft.” The number seven was so engrained in the mind of the ancient man that you can find it everywhere. Seven planets or gods had been identified and the phases of the moon changed every seven days. The Bible states that God rested on the seventh day after he completed his Creation. And every seventh year was sabbatical and that the seven times seventh year ushered in the Jubilee year. The Pagans divided their weeks in seven days each day representing a deity.
Saturday which was the first day of the week (as it still is in Islamic countries) was dedicated to Saturn (Dies Saturni),
Sunday to Sun (Dies Solis),
Monday to Moon (Dies Lunae),
Tuesday to Mars (Dies Martis),
Wednesday to Mercury (Dies Mercurii),
Thursday to Jupiter (Dies Jovis), and
Friday to Venus (Dies Veneris). 
Out of this order come the familiar seven Archangels which include Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and the fallen Lucifer.
The pagan concept of the seven layer of Heaven crept into Judaism and the number seven can be found in Judaism more than anywhere else. Why? Because Midrash teaches, there are seven layers of Heaven, obviously an influence of Paganism in Judaism.
“When Adam sinned, the Shechinah departed to the First Heaven. The sin of Kayin forced it to the Second Heaven; the Generation of Enosh to the Third; the generation of the Flood to the Fourth; The generation of the Dispersion to the Fifth; Sodomites, to the Sixth; Egypt of Avraham's day, to the Seventh ... (Bereishis Rabbah 19:7)” 
According to Judaic scriptures, creation took 7 days; Naaman had to wash 7 times in the Jordan to be cleansed from leprosy; the Israelites had to march around Jericho 7 days and 7 times on the 7th day; they had to set aside one day in 7 for rest and worship. There was a 7-armed lampstand in the temple, etc. In the last book, Revelation, we find mentioned 7 spirits, 7 lampstands, 7 churches, 7 stars, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 vials, 7 thunders, 7 plagues, 7 mountains and 7 kings. The tribulation period is to be 7 years being the last "week of years" of Daniel's 70 weeks (Dan 9:24 ff).
Muhammad did not invent the concept of the seven layers of Heaven. He merely parroted it without understanding the Pagan origin of this idea. He wrote:
“So He ordained them seven heavens in two periods, and revealed in every heaven its affair; and We adorned the lower heaven with brilliant stars… “(Fussilat 41: 12)
This verse has nothing to do with layers of the atmospheres as claimed by the charlatan Harun Yahya. It has to do with the geocentric concept of the universe that was prevalent at the time of Muhammad. Note also that according to Muhammad, stars are lamps that are affixed to the ceiling of the lower layer of the Heaven for adornment purposes. The lower level is the sphere of the Moon. Obviously stars are not in the same layer where Moon is and neither the Moon nor the stars are in the lower atmosphere of the Earth.
In fact the concept of the layers of heaven as mentioned in the Quran is so unrelated to the layers of the atmosphere that the Islamic site www.understanding-islam.com tries to give a completely mystical significance to that verse and claims that it talks about the "spiritual heavens" which the soul will encounter after the death. 
- “The reference to the fact that God has created seven heavens has generally been given in the Qur’an, in reply to the skepticism shown by the disbelievers regarding the possibility of life after death. … it refers to the vastness of His creation. It says that God has not just created one sky -- i.e., one universe, but seven such skies -- or seven universes.
It seems that the huge universe that we live in, the one whose boundaries are not yet known to man, is just one of these heavens (universes) there are seven others, of which we -- with all our scientific developments -- do not know anything about. Certain verses of the Qur’an clearly indicate that the whole huge mass of space around us is just one of these universes...”
- The Islamic site www.pakistanlink.com quotes Maududi, the renowned Muslim scholar and the interpreter of the Quran who says:
“It is difficult to explain precisely what is meant by the ‘seven heavens’. In all ages man has tried, with the help of observation and speculation to conceptualize the ‘heavens’, i.e. that which lies beyond and above the earth. As we know the concepts that have thus developed have constantly changed. Hence it would be improper to tie the meaning of these words of the Qur’an to any one of these numerous concepts. What might be broadly inferred from this statement is that either Allah has divided the universe beyond earth into seven distinct spheres, or that this earth is located in that part of the universe which consists of seven different spheres." 
From the Ahadith (especially the Hadith of Mi’raj) we learn that the first heaven is the one that is closest to the earth. So the order begins from the earth and the highest heaven is the seventh heaven .
As one can see the real scholars of Islam are unable to explain the meaning of the seven heavens mentioned in the Quran and try to give esoteric significance to it. If we had to believe that the seven heavens is an allusion to the seven layers of the atmosphere then we have to assume that stars must be no more than eleven kilometers above the Earth, because as the verse 41:12 says the lower heaven is adorned with brilliant stars. The Troposphere ends at about eleven kilometers above the surface of the Earth.
Not only Muhammad, like other men of his time, believed that the sky had seven layers, he also thought that the Earth was made of seven layers too.
“Allah is He Who created seven Firmaments and of the earth a similar number…” [Quran 65.12]
In this verse the number of the earths is not in question. It assumes that everyone agrees that there are seven earths. The emphasis is on the claim that Allah is the creator of these seven earths. The reason is because just like the seven heavens, the ancient people had agreed that there were also seven layers of earth. Muhammad was simply stating what seemed to be obvious to the people of his time but of course he was dead wrong according to the modern science.
What are these seven earths that Muhammad was talking about? If there were seven continents on Earth, the Muslim apologists would not waste time to claim this verse is a miracle. But we do not have seven continents. Muhammad is talking about the seven layers of Earth. He is talking about the same layers that were described by Dante in his Inferno. Several hadith make this clear. Here is one:
Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever usurps the land of somebody unjustly, his neck will be encircled with it down the seven earths (on the Day of Resurrection). " 
Down the seventh earth is allusion to the bottom of the Hell, where Dante found Muhammad and Ali with their bodies torn asunder. It is interesting to note that both Muhammad and Ali raided innocent people killed them or exiled them and usurped their lands unjustly. Fadak was a beautiful village with many gardens that Muhammad usurped from the Jews of Khaibar after annihilating them and gave it to his daughter Fatima the wife of Ali. I am surprised Dante did not see Fadak around the neck of Muhammad and Ali when he saw them in Hell. Isn't this another proof that even their description of Hell was wrong?
The detailed description of these seven earths is given by Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Kisa'i:
“... There are seven earths. The first is called Ramaka, beneath which is the Barren Wind, which can be bridled by no fewer than seventy thousand angels. With this wind God destroyed the people of Ad. The inhabitants of Ramaka are a nation called Muwashshim, upon whom is everlasting torment and divine retribution. The second earth is called Khalada, wherein are the implements of torture for the inhabitants of Hell. There dwells a nation called Tamis, whose food is their own flesh and whose drink is their own blood. The third earth is called Arqa, wherein dwell mulelike eagles with spearlike tails. On each tail are three hundred and sixty poisonous quills. Were even one quill placed on the face of the earth, the entire universe would pass away. The inhabitants thereof are a nation called Qays, who eat dirt and drink mothers' milk. The fourth earth is called Haraba, wherein dwell the snakes of Hell, which are as large as mountains. Each snake has fangs like tall palm trees, and if they were to strike the hugest mountain with their fangs it would be leveled to the ground. The inhabitants of this earth are a nation called Jilla, and they have no eyes, hands or feet but have wings like bats and die only of old age. The fifth earth is called Maltham, wherein stones of sulphur hang around the necks of infidels. When the fire is kindled the fuel is placed on their breasts, and the flames leap up onto their faces, as He hath said: The fire whose fuel is men and stones (2:24), and Fire shall cover their faces (14:50). The inhabitants are a nation called Hajla, who are numerous and who eat each other. The sixth earth is called Sijjin. Here are the registers of the people of Hell, and their works are vile, as He hath said: Verily the register of the actions of the wicked is surely Sijjin (83:7). Herein dwells a nation called Qatat, who are shaped like birds and worship God truly. The seventh earth is called Ajiba and is the habitation of Iblis. There dwells a nation called Khasum, who are BLACK and short, with claws like lions. It is they who will be given dominion over Gog and Magog, who will be destroyed by them… 
It is not hard to see these tales are nonsense. These are fairy tales that even children today would laugh at.
As it has been proven time and again, Quran is wrong in almost all its assertions. One error would have been enough to prove Muhammad was not a messenger of God but a liar. We have shown that there are hundreds of errors in the Quran. Yet Muslims desperately keep looking for “miracles” to fool themselves and find validation for their belief.
1- [To understand why this order was chosen see this link: http://www.12x30.net/origin.html]
5 - (Towards Understanding the Qur’an, translated by Zafar Ishaq Ansari, vol. 1, p.58 note no. 34.) From the Ahadith (especially the Hadith of Mi’raj) http://www.pakistanlink.com/religion/2000/03-31.html
8- (Tales of the Prophets-Qisas al-anbiya, trans. Wheeler M. Thackston Jr. [Great Books of the Islamic World, Inc., Distributed by Kazi Publications; Chicago, IL 1997], pp. 8-9)” taken from: http://answering-islam.org.uk/Quran/Science/seven_earths.html
Ali Sina is the editor of Faithfreedom.org. He is has contributed in 'Beyond Jihad - Critical Voices from Inside Islam'. His latest book is Understanding Muhammad: The Psychobiography of Allah’s Prophet.