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"He created seven universes in layers. You do not see any imperfection in the creation by the Most Gracious.

Keep looking; do you see any flaw? Look again and again; your sight will return to you stumped and conquered."

67:3-4

When astronomers discuss the universe, they are always thinking about the universe which they see and observe. If we go back to the days of the ancient Egyptians five thousand years ago, we find that the size of the universe seemed to be no more than the dome of the sky, covering the earth like the dome in a planetarium. The stars seemed, at the most, some thousands of kilometres away. The Greek astronomers, some two thousand and more years ago, thought of the universe as a sphere but still approximately of the same size.

Copernicus, who stated that the sun, and not the earth, is the centre of the spherical universe, thought it was much bigger than this, but not until about 200 years ago did anyone really know the distance of even the nearest stars.

Then they found that they should be measured in millions of millions of kilometres, but still, it was a very small universe, with all the stars together in one large star island.

Not until the 1920's did astronomers discover that our galaxy was only one of millions of others. Only then did astronomers start to appreciate the actual size of the universe.

Astronomers are today debating the issue whether our universe is the only one in existence.

The idea of multiple universes is closely linked with the Black Hole concept. Certainly, the disappearance of matter into an infinitely small area inside a Black Hole is in sharp disagreement with the Law of conservation of matter. It has been suggested that all the matter falling into a Black Hole could be ejected into another time-space universe in what is referred to as a "White Hole". Mathematical studies of space and time do show that this is possible in theory. Does it happen in practice? We do not know, but there certainly seems to be regions in deep space from which material is pouring out into our universe.

The jet of material from the active elliptical galaxy M 87 is a case in point. Has it come from a While Hole connected to a Black Hole somewhere else?

An alternate analysis that could also provide an equally valid justification for the existence of multiple universes is associated with the speed of light.

Between the years 1905-15, and in his theory of relativity, Albert Einstein stated that the speed of light is a limiting velocity in the universe; nothing can travel faster than light. His theory also took the speed of light to be constant, unaffected by the movement of its source and independent of all observers. Quasars, which are the most distant objects in the universe travel at speeds approaching 80% of the speed of light but nothing travels faster than the speed of light.

Could it be that the speed of light acts as a gate, a valve or a barrier between our universe and other universes? A different time-space universe where matter, if it can still be called so, exists and is travelling at speeds higher than that of light? We cannot cross that barrier ourselves nor can any physical matter, but there are strong indications that there is some kind of existence on the other side.

When we examine the verses in the Quran that relate to this support, we find precise information concerning not only the creation and existence of multiple universes, but also regarding the barriers which lie between them. All that 1400 years ago at a time when the size of the whole universe was estimated to be not more than a few kilometres.

Multiple universes are mentioned in more than one verse in the Quran as in the above verse and also in 71:15.

The Quran also speaks of barriers that exist between these universes:

" .... if you can penetrate through the zones of the skies and the earth, then penetrate, you will not do so without (Our) authority." 55:33

The word "penetrate" implies the existence of some kind of barriers between the zones of the skies (universes).

Our universe, as we know it today, includes within it all the stars and galaxies that we have detected in the sky so far. If multiple universes exist, they lie outside and beyond all these galaxies. That, too, seems to be in accordance with the information given in the Quran:

"And we have decorated the lowest heaven (universe) with lanterns (stars)." 41:12

Finally, the last words in 67:4 (see above) describe the state of someone gazing in the sky trying to see further, their sight will soon be left totally exhausted, exactly as the words of God say: stumped and defeated.