Skies in the Qur'anic context

Q604 :The Qur'an speaks of the existence of seven skies or seven heavens, but where are they? Does the Qur'an refer to the billions of galaxies that exist in the universe? What do you say to what astronomers have mentioned about an asteroid which will hit the earth on August 14, 2116, and will destroy it in seconds? It is also said that American scientists are planning to destroy the moon in order to save the earth. Please comment.

A604 : The Arabic term "sama", which is used for sky or heaven has a much wider linguistic sense. In defining it, Arabic linguists say, "whatever is raised above you is your sama". The word certainly does not refer to the blue color that we see because that color is not an object. The Qur'anic reference to "seven heavens created, one on top of another" should be understood in general sense. Moreover, the term seven is often used in Arabic to denote, "plenty". It is often used not to suggest a specific number, but to imply a large number. The same applies to the figure seventy. The Prophet, for example, is told in the Qur'an not to seek forgiveness for the hypocrites. God tells him, "if you were to ask seventy times for their forgiveness, God will not forgive them." The Prophet comments: "Had I known that if I would go beyond seventy they could be forgiven, I would have done so." This shows clearly that the Prophet understood the Qur'anic statement that uses the figure seventy as implying an indefinite number. Now that we know that there are hundreds of galaxies, each with billions of stars and planets, we take the Qur'anic reference to seven skies as denoting the vast universe. That is because the term "sky" or "sama", is readily understood to refer to what we see in the sky of the planets and stars. Therefore, we cannot see any contradiction between the Qur'anic statements in this connection and what astronomers tell us about the universe. As for the asteroid destroying the earth on a particular date, we certainly have no definite knowledge. Scientists have been wrong in the past and there is no reason to suppose that they could not be wrong this time. What we know for certain is that God has not allowed and will not allow people to know beforehand the definite moment when life on earth will be over.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )