The Second Matter concerns “then (thumma).”
This verse indicates that the earth was created before the heavens, while the verse “And after that, the earth: wide has He spread its expanse”(79:30) shows that the heavens were created before the earth. Then the verse “the heavens and the earth were [once] one single entity, which We then parted asunder”(21:30) indicates that they were created together and then split apart as (lit. from) the same matter.
Understand secondly that the teachings (naqliyāt) of the Shari‘a suggest that Allah the Most High created firstly a substance, that is, matter, then He manifested [His power] on it and made a part of it steam and a part fluid. Then through his manifestation the fluid part thickened and became froth. Out of this He created the earth or the seven globes of the earths. Then a sky was formed for each of these earths out of the wafting atmosphere. Then He expanded the steamy matter and arranged the [seven] heavens out of it, planting the stars in them. So the heavens took form containing the nuclei of the stars.
According to the assumptions and theories of modern science, the solar system together with the heavens in which it floats were a simple substance which was transformed into a sort of steam. Out of this, some fiery liquescent matter was formed, part of which cooled down and solidified. Then due to its motion the liquescent matter threw off [into space] sparks and pieces which broke up. These became compressed and turned into the planets, one of which is our earth.
If you have understood this, you may correlate these two explanations, for it is possible that the verse “the heavens and the earth were [once] one single entity, which We then parted asunder”(21:30) indicates that the earth and the solar system were a sort of dough kneaded by the hand of power out of a simple substance; I mean ether, which compared with beings is a fluid substance that passes through and among them. The verse “and the throne of His [almightiness] has rested upon water”(11:7) alludes to this matter, which resembles water.
After its creation, the ether received the Maker’s first manifestation giving existence; that is, He created the ether, then He made it into the fundamental atoms (jawāhir farda), then some of these He made dense and out of them created the seven globes, of which our earth is inhabited. Then the earth solidified before all the rest, speedily forming a crust, and over a long period of time became the source of life while up to the present most of the heavenly bodies remained in a fiery fluid state. In so far as this was the