This is going to be a less detailed post with less references; the purpose being to introduce a very lengthy upcoming work.
I am currently preparing a lengthy article on the seven heavens in the Qur’an and the concept of the Greeks and Talmudic Jews on the seven heavens.
Originally, if you consider the Greeks and also the elaboration of some of the early church fathers and the common concepts of their time, the seven heavens were considered as seven tracts, the the running structure of seven planets and their orbits. These seven planets consisted of the moon as the object nearest the earth, second the sun and further away the orbits of five other planets, which are today recognised as existing in our solar system.
I will post all the early quotes and reference of these when I have brought all the material together into one article.
But notice how the Qur’an is consisted with the early views; we read in Sura 71: 15:
"See ye not How Allah has created The seven heavens One above another, "And made the moon A light in their midst, and made the sun As a (Glorious) Lamp?" [Al-Qur?aan 71:15-16]
This passage does not refer to a miraculous prediction of anything, since the author of the Qur’an states that we see or observe that Allah has created seven heavens one above the other.
Hence this is not a divine miraculous prediction of modern science but an human observation; here the author of the Qur’an even reveals the ability of the early human community to engage in science and to correctly perceive and understand how nature and the universe is structured (even though in this case the scientific information which the early humans saw and which Allah confirms is wrong; but I will get back to that in another article).
Now ask yourself, how did the early human societies observe this structure of seven heavens?
The answer is: they had correctly discovered five of the solar-system planets in their orbits.
The fallacy of their theory was to view the sun and the moon as similar objects, all orbiting in parallel lines around the earth; yet this nevertheless postulated that seven interstellar objects were orbiting in seven tracts, which is consistent with the view of the Qur’anic author.
These orbits were by numerous early writers referred to as seven tracts and seven heavens (I shall give the references from the Qur’an and the pre-Islamic writers in an upcoming post).
This why the Qur’an says that the people of Muhammad’s time had even seen that Allah had created seven heavens, each above the other; these seven heavens marked the orbit of the seven planets (obviously we have yet to discover even the edge of the first heaven and the reference is to something that they could see, namely the seven planets and their orbits):
"See ye not How Allah has created The seven heavens One above another," (Sura 71: 15)
This is already presents a significant problem in terms of Qur'anic accuracy as our solar-system consists of eight planets and five dwarf planets, which already provides evidence that the Qur’an is not based upon divine knowledge but human knowledge; the knowledge that already flourished in Muhammad’s time.
Furthermore, we need to presume that since the Qur’an refers to seven planets it also follows the discoveries and ideas of its time, which viewed the sun and moon as included objects and excluded the earth. This is obvious from the Qur’an, which views the earth to have separated from the heavens and the interstellar matter and objects to derive on a later stage of the cosmological development (Sura 21: 10 and Sura 41: 9-12). In fact this is also consistent with the views flourishing in Muhammad’s time (but I shall get back to his in a future post).
That Sura 71: 15 is also elaborating on the centrality of the sun and moon as being in the midst of the seven orbits, which is also confirming that the Qur’an utilizes the science of antiquity. This was also the view of authors who predated Islam, and consists with the idea that the sun and the moon orbited closest to the earth in a orbit circle around the earth, which most ancient thinkers postulated; hence they were central and in the middle of this orbit and lighted up its entire structure.
The passage might even suggest that the sun and the moon light up all seven tracts and the other planets; this is what the ancient thinkers believed.
Except for the moon being an object attached to the earth, the early philosophers got this quite right. However, the Qur’an might also be in agreement with e.g. Plato that the sun lighted up not only the earth and planets but also the entire universe; take a look at sura 25: 61:
"Blessed is He Who made Constellations in the skies, And placed therein a Lamp And a Moon giving light."
Now, is this supposed to be modern science or prediction of modern science?
Brianman stated in a previous thread that the Qur’an ‘confirms’; that is an overstatement!
The Qur’an does certainly not confirm anything, it may certainly quote the early philosophers and their postulates, of which some ideas were fairly correct and others plainly wrong; just a pity that the Qur’an fails to differentiate between these.
The whole Qur’anic reference to seven heavens and that these were observed by the people of the time is nevertheless a fallacy far too serious to overlook and we will in future assess this matter in details.