June 23, 2024
muslim cosmology
The universe refers to all of space and everything within it, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all forms of matter and energy.

What is the Universe?

The universe refers to all of space and everything within it, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all forms of matter and energy. It encompasses everything that exists, from the smallest subatomic particles to the largest structures we can observe, such as galaxies and galaxy clusters. The universe is vast and constantly expanding, and its origins and ultimate fate are subjects of scientific inquiry and speculation.

Human beings have been watching the night sky full of bright heavenly bodies since the beginning of their stay on Earth. This beautiful starry sky has always fascinated human thoughts to construct a paradigm of the entire universe. Different civilizations developed different models of the universe according to their way of understanding the universe. Such models of the universe might be called their cosmology. Muslim Cosmology introduced the Spiral Universe. This is the true concept of the universe in Islam.

The last Prophet of Islam Muhammad (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him) gave the final version of Islam in the form of the Qur’an and his intellectual sermons. Islam is not a set of ritual practices alone, but it addresses all the aspects of human life.  Islam not only gives a detailed socio-politico-economic system but it also grants detailed accounts of natural knowledge.  It presents a unique cosmic model that can be treated as Muslim Cosmology.

What is Falak in the Qur’an?

Falak is an epithet used by the Qur’an for the whole space in which all the heavenly bodies float. The Holy Qur’an presents a dynamic model of the cosmos instead of the dominant concept of fixed stars in the sky. Almost all the Greek philosophers, including  Plato, Aristarchus, Eudoxus, Aristotle, and Ptolemy supported a static universe. Even Nicolaus Copernicus and Kepler believed in fixed stars. German mathematician and physicist Albert Einstein was the first scientist who proposed scientifically that the universe is not a static entity but it appears dynamic.

Surprisingly, there is not a single mention of fixed stars in the Qur’an, which was an overwhelming view at the time of Qur’anic revelation.  Contrary to fixed heavenly bodies, the Qur’an portrays the universe as follows:

And the sun runs [on course] toward its destination. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing. And the moon – We have determined for it phases until it returns [appearing] like the old palm frond. It is not allowable for the sun to reach the moon, nor does the night overtake the day, but all heavenly bodies, are floating in space.[1]

There is no mention of the so-called firmamentum (firmament) in the Qur’an, except that a few English translators translated the Qur’anic word Sama’ (sky) as a firmament.  The Qur’an indeed describes the sky, metaphorically, as a ‘safeguarded ceiling’, but it has nothing to do with a rotating or fixed firmament proposed by some Greek philosophers, in which stars are fixed.

firmament in bible


Allah Almighty describes the possibility of passing human beings through the skies while passing through a solid firmament is impossible.

O company of jinn and mankind, if you can pass beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth, then pass. You will not pass except by authority [from Allah].[2]

According to the Qur’an, there are seven heavens altogether, whereas, and the lowest of these heavens is adorned with stars and constellations.

Allah (s.w.t) says in Surah Al-Mulk:

 Blessed is the One in Whose Hands rests all authority. And He is Most Capable of everything. He created death and life so that He might test you, and find out which of you is best in conduct. He is the Mighty, the Most Forgiving One. He created seven heavens one above the other in layers. You will not find any flaw in the creation of the Gracious One. Then look once again: can you see any flaw? Then look again and again. Your gaze will come back to you confused and exhausted. We have adorned the lowest heaven with lamps, and We have made them for driving away devils (Jinns). For them, We have prepared the punishment of the blazing Fire. [3]

And We have placed within the heavenly constellations and have beautified it for the observers. And We have protected it from every devil expelled [from the mercy of Allah] [4]

The Prophet Muhammad (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him) also gave a detailed account of the creation of the seven heavens and the earth. For the subject of creation read our article ‘Basics of the Muslim Cosmology’. We shall contain in this article the structure and shape of the universe as a whole, according to Muslim Cosmology.

dynamic universe
dynamic universe

Shape of the Universe

The Prophet Muhammad (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him) described the shape of our local universe (the lowest heaven) in terms of a Spiral Wave.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said: “Once when the Prophet of Allah (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him) was sitting with his Companions, a cloud passed over them, so the Prophet of Allah said: ‘Do you know what this is?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘These are the clouds that are to drench the earth, which Allah [Blessed and Most High] dispatches to people who are not grateful to Him, nor supplicate to Him.’ Then he said: ‘Do you know what is above you?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘Indeed it is a Spiral Wave and Safeguarded Ceiling.’ [5]

The version of this Hadith that appears in the earliest compendium of Hadiths Musannaf Abdur-Razzaq mentions explicitly that the question was asked about the lowest heaven (sky) that was replied with these words: “Indeed it is a Spiral Wave and Safeguarded Ceiling

The same term Mawjun Makfoofun (Spiral Wave) has been used for the lowest heaven in a Prophetic narrative reported by Abdullah bin Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him).[6]

Imam Qatadah bin Di’amah has been reported to use the same term (Spiral Wave) for the lowest heaven in another independent report in the classical Tafsir ibn Jarir.[7]

So the authenticity of the said Prophetic report is out of the question. We have proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him) did coin the term Mawjun Makfoof (Spiral Wave) for the lowest heaven, which is adorned with stars and constellations according to the Qur’anic narrative. Now we can conclude from this Prophetic narrative, without any ambiguity, that Spiral Wave is the most striking feature of our local universe.

Surprisingly, the Prophetic term for our local universe describes our latest cosmological observations in a nutshell ‘Spiral Wave’. Did you ever hear about spiral galaxies or our galaxy ‘Milky Way’?

spiral galaxy

Before the advent of the space telescope in the seventeenth century, generally, our total observational knowledge of the universe was confined to the stars and nebulae existing within our galaxy ‘ the Milky Way.

spinning universe
spinning universe

However, Andromeda, a neighboring nebula of the Milky Way was spotted with the title ‘Little Cloud’ by a Muslim astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi in 964 CE. In 1612, the German astronomer Simon Marius gave an early description of the Andromeda Galaxy based on telescopic observations. In 1850, William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse made the first drawing of Andromeda’s spiral structure. He was the first to draw the shape of a spiral galaxy, which was given the title Whirlpool Galaxy.  

It is the first galaxy to be classified as a Spiral Galaxy.[8] The readers can consider how facts arose from the horizon of reality, to manifest the Prophetic narrative ‘Spiral Wave’. The whirlpool is the natural phenomenon that appears on the screen of our mind when we say ‘Spiral Wave’ (Mawjun Makfoof), and the first discovered Spiral Galaxy was given the same name Whirlpool Galaxy.


No wonder, it was just the beginning of amazing discoveries. Now we know that our galaxy ‘Milky Way’ is also a Spiral Galaxy.

Types of Galaxies

After the advent of radio telescopes in the 20th century, our knowledge of the universe expanded at an exponential rate. Now we know that the universe is large and full of billions of galaxies. Each galaxy contains billions of stars. Further, we look; we find more and more galaxies. Vesto Slipher and Edwin Hubble independently discovered that the galaxies are receding away from the Earth at a mind-boggling speed. These gigantic circular dish-like structures are spinning around their center with a terrifying angular velocity. Still, they are floating in space smoothly.

Edwin Hubble classified the galaxies into three basic types based on their apparent shape. About three-fourths (72 %) of galaxies belong to the spiral class.

1.     Spiral Galaxies

2.     Elliptical Galaxies

3.     Lenticular Galaxies

Hubble’s scheme divides regular galaxies into three broad classes — ellipticals, lenticulars, and spirals — based on their visual appearance. A fourth class contains galaxies with an irregular appearance.[9]

classification of galaxies

Age of Galaxies

Interestingly, all the observed galaxies are not of the same age, but different types are of different ages. European Space Agency (ESA) observes:

Current thinking amongst astronomers is that most elliptical galaxies formed from the collisions and subsequent mergers of spiral galaxies. The typical ages of the stellar populations of elliptical and spiral galaxies provide evidence for this theory because the stars in elliptical galaxies are typically much older and redder than those in spiral galaxies. Whilst spiral galaxies have rich reservoirs of the dust and gas that fuel star formation, elliptical galaxies appear to have virtually exhausted that fuel, and so there is very little raw material for the formation of new stars. Therefore, it seems likely that elliptical galaxies are largely populated by stars that formed within active spiral galaxies. Due to their very low rate of star formation and their populations of old, red stars, elliptical galaxies are sometimes colloquially referred to as ‘red and dead’ by astronomers. [10]

 Whatever the way of aging the galaxies, whether spiral galaxies fused to form elliptical galaxies or each spiral galaxy evolved into an elliptical galaxy individually; spiral patterns can be traced back in all types of galaxies. This observation leads us to conclude without any doubt that a spiral pattern is the origin of all the galaxies. In other words, the spiral pattern is the universal pattern originally.

internal structure of a spiral galaxy

Origin of Spiral Galaxies

How did this spiral pattern of galaxies originate? This is the question that can unlock the mysterious shape of the universe as a whole. Cosmologists are trying to solve this puzzle, based on their theoretical and observational data. While we know that our data represents only a tiny portion of the universe.

James Webb Space Telescope, the largest optical telescope in space, with high infrared resolution and sensitivity, was launched on 25th December 2021 by investing 10 billion US dollars.  This space-based telescope has challenged many previous assumptions including the estimated size of the observable universe. According to previous data, the diameter of the observable universe is 28 gigaparsecs (93 billion light years approximately) across.

James Webb Space Telescope

Well known science magazine for its scientific research publications, Nature observes:

The surprises from Webb continue even a little later in the Universe’s evolution. One study looked at Webb’s observations of ‘cosmic noon’, the period approximately three billion years after the Big Bang. This is when star formation peaked in the Universe, and the most light was created.

James Webb view of distant galaxies

Wren Suess, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, compared Hubble images of galaxies at cosmic noon with Webb images of the same galaxies. At the infrared wavelengths detected by Webb, most of the massive galaxies looked much smaller than they did in Hubble images. “It potentially changes our whole view of how galaxy sizes evolve,” Suess says.[11]

This observation challenges the rate of expansion of the universe and in turn the size of the observable universe. So the estimated size of the observable universe is speculative, according to James Webb Telescope.

The actual size of the spatial cosmos is unknown to scientists and perhaps they would never be able to calculate it accurately. However, it is evident from Webb’s observations that we know little about the universe.

Scientists thought that there would be fewer galaxies with regular shapes in distant space.  Nature observes?

One study of Webb’s first deep-field image found a surprisingly large number of distant galaxies that are shaped like disks. Using Hubble, astronomers concluded that distant galaxies are more irregularly shaped than nearby ones, which, like the Milky Way, often display regular forms such as disks. The theory was that early galaxies were more often distorted by interactions with neighboring galaxies. But the Webb observations suggest there are up to ten times as many distant disk-shaped galaxies as previously thought.[12]

What did this observation say? The so-called edge of the observable universe is not the edge in reality, but another portion of the universe like ours. The universe is expanding but not in the fashion that scientists like Alexander Friedman and Stephen Hawking believed.

cosmic web

In modern physical cosmology, the cosmological principle is the notion that the spatial distribution of matter in the universe is homogeneous and isotropic when viewed on a large enough scale since the forces are expected to act uniformly throughout the universe, and should, therefore, produce no observable irregularities in the large-scale structuring throughout evolution of the matter field that was initially laid down by the Big Bang.[13]

big bang gif

This cosmological principle might be true on a certain scale, but a lot of discrepancies have been observed on not only galactic scales but also at the level of clusters of galaxies. The average velocity of receding galaxies is 600 km/sec. However certain galaxies have been observed with a velocity of 1500 km/sec.  Such extraordinary velocities of certain galaxies are termed peculiar velocities.

Peculiar velocities of clusters of galaxies can be measured by studying the fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) generated by the scattering of the microwave photons by the hot X-ray emitting gas inside clusters.

A study of galactic peculiar velocities has been conducted by a group of scientists under the umbrella of NASA, as they observe on their official website:

Distant galaxy clusters mysteriously stream at a million miles per hour along a path roughly centered on the southern constellations Centaurus and Hydra. A new study led by Alexander Kashlinsky at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., tracks this collective motion — dubbed the “dark flow” — to twice the distance originally reported.

“This is not something we set out to find, but we cannot make it go away,” Kashlinsky said. “Now we see that it persists to much greater distances — as far as 2.5 billion light-years away.” The new study appears in the March 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The clusters appear to be moving along a line extending from our solar system toward Centaurus/Hydra, but the direction of this motion is less certain. Evidence indicates that the clusters are headed outward along this path, away from Earth, but the team cannot yet rule out the opposite flow. “We detect motion along this axis, but right now our data cannot state as strongly as we’d like whether the clusters are coming or going,” Kashlinsky said.[14]


Expanding Universe

Scientists previously thought the universe is expanding in all directions equally; with the same rate of expansion, but Kashlinsky’s study suggests that a trend of flow has been observed in the cluster of galaxies throughout the observable universe. This so-called ‘Dark Flow’ proposes that the whole universe is spinning around a specific center.

Kashlinsky’s team observes in their research paper available on NASA’s website.

Our findings imply that the Universe has a surprisingly coherent bulk motion out to at least ‘ 300h −1 Mpc and with a fairly high amplitude of > 600-1000 km/sec, necessary to produce the measured amplitude of the dipole signal of ‘2-3µK.[15]

Notably, their study is not confined to a specific region of the cosmos, but they selected the data from all directions, as they claim in their paper:

Here we use an all-sky cluster sample created by combining the ROSAT-ESO Flux Limited X-ray catalog (REFLEX) (Bohringer et al 2004) in the southern hemisphere, the extended Brightest Cluster Sample (eBCS) (Ebeling et al 1998; Ebeling et al 2000) in the – 4 – north, and the Clusters in the Zone of Avoidance (CIZA) (Ebeling et al 2002; Kocevski et al 2007) sample along the Galactic plane. These are the most statistically complete X-ray-selected cluster catalogs ever compiled in their respective regions of the sky. All three surveys are X-ray-selected and X-ray flux-limited using RASS data. The creation of the combined all-sky catalogue of 782 clusters is described in detail by (Kocevski et al 2006) and KA-BKE.[16]

Kashlinsky’s team concludes:

The coherence length of the measured bulk flow shows no signs of convergence out to > 300h 1 Mpc, and it may extend to much larger scales, possibly across our horizon. An interesting, if exotic, explanation for such a dark flow” would come naturally within certain inflationary models. In general, within these models, the observable Universe represents part of a homogeneous inflated region embedded in an inhomogeneous space-time. On scales much larger than the Hubble radius, pre-inflationary remnants can induce tilt including CMB anisotropies generated by the Grischuk-Zeldovich (Grischuk & Zeldovich 1978) effect (Turner 1991; Kashlinsky et al 1994).[17]

This is the conclusion for which the scientists are not accepting the validity of these observations because it challenges the so-called cosmic principle. Kashlinsky’s conclusion was not welcomed by cosmologists and astronomers, but they have no justification for the anisotropic behavior of galactic clusters. They just throw it under the carpet of the aforementioned cosmological principle.

Spiral universe model

Muslim Cosmology has a solution to this crisis: titled the Spiral Universe. According to the Prophetic narrative for the local universe (the lowest heaven), the universe as a whole is just like an extremely large spiral galaxy that is spinning on its axis. The observed tilt and flow is due to the tilt of the spiral arms of the Spiral Universe and its angular momentum.

Early Universe

The Spinning Universe

The spinning of the universe has been attested through another study by an American physicist Michael Longoas he explains:

“To my knowledge, no one had asked the question of whether the universe itself had a preference of say left-handed over right-handed. My idea was to test this by seeing if there was a preferred sense of rotation of spiral galaxies. At that time, I didn’t quite appreciate that, if so, it meant that the entire universe would have a net angular momentum,”[18]

Computational astronomer Lior Shamir of Kansas State University has conducted a survey of 200,000 galaxies and found that the distribution of spin direction forms a pattern that is distinctly not random after all. Lior Shamir observes in his thesis:

Since the spin patterns of a galaxy as visible from Earth are also an indication of the actual spin direction of the galaxy, the large-scale patterns in the distribution of the spin directions can be an indication of a rotating universe.

Michelle Starr, a journalist at ScienceAlert, who reported Lior Shamir’s research, observes:

That pattern can be fitted to a quadrupole alignment with a much higher probability than chance – suggesting that the early Universe as a whole could have been spinning like a giant galaxy.

Most cosmologists theoretically agree that the origin of the universe happened in the form of a very big and powerful burst of light, termed a White Hole. A white hole is the reciprocal of a black hole theoretically. A white hole is considered to be a whirlpool of light that scatters the energy and matter in the universe in a spiral fashion.

White holes are theoretical cosmic phenomena that function oppositely as black holes; instead of attracting matter into an infinitely dense singularity due to immense gravity, it push out matter and light, preventing anything from re-entering past its event horizon.[19]

·         Astronomers at Harvard University (USA), Retter, Alon, Heller, and Shlomo observe:

The only known white hole is the Big Bang which was instantaneous rather than continuous or long-lasting. We thus suggest that the emergence of a white hole, which we name a ‘Small Bang’, is spontaneous – all the matter is ejected at a single pulse. Thus, unlike black holes, white holes cannot be continuously observed rather their effect can only be detected around the event itself.[20]

What would be the effect of a big white hole at the Big Bang?  It must be a Spiral Universe. Wasn’t it?

The following computer simulation can reflect the actual movements of galaxies in the universe. Each bright dot represents a galaxy. 

spinning universe

In our opinion, a white hole-like spiraling intense source of light exists in the center of the universe that causes the universe to spin and expand.  The Spiral Universe model needs no hypothetical dark matter and dark energy. For a detailed analysis of the Spiral Universe Theory, read our article “History of the Spiral Universe“.

Allah the Exalted knows the best.

[1]Al-Qur’an, 36:38-40

[2]Al-Qur’an, 55:33

[3]Al-Qur’an, 67:1-5

[4]Al-Qur’an, 15:16




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