The Second: What binds the laws of the lofty bodies and transmits and spreads such forces as light and heat is a matter that is existent in space and fills it.
The Third: Although the matter [called] ether remains as ether, like other matter it has various different changeable states, like steam, water, and ice are formed of water.
The Fourth: If the heavenly bodies are observed carefully, there appear to be different levels. You have surely seen the river of the heavens known as the Milky Way, which appears as a great splash of clouds; it consists of millions of stars that are being newly formed and are clustering together. And the ether, in which those stars are clustering, is of course different to the level of the fixed stars, and one surmises correctly that this too is different to the levels of the solar system, and so on, till there are seven levels.
The Fifth: It is established by both induction and intuition that when matter is subject to both formation, ordering, and arrangement, it gives rise to different states (lit. levels). From carbon (lit. mineral – ma‘dan) is produced ashes, coal, and diamonds; and fire may be separated into embers, flames, and smoke; and from the combining of oxygen and hydrogen water, ice, and steam are produced.
The Sixth: The above are all indications that the heavens are manifold. And the truthful lawgiver (al-shāri‘ al-ṣādiq) said they were seven. And they are seven in the sense that in the Arabic language, seven, seventy, and seven hundred all denote multiplicity.
In Short: The Maker (May His glory be exalted) created from the matter [called] ether seven heavens and arranged them giving them a wondrously fine order, and He planted the stars in them, and their layers are various.
Now consider this: if you ponder over the Qur’an’s addresses and its meanings and its taking into consideration the understanding of all classes [of people] from the lowest to the highest of the elite, you will observe an extraordinary matter. For example, from “the seven heavens” some people understand the levels of the atmosphere (al-hawā’ al-nasīmī); and some understand the wafting spheres that encircle our earth and its fellows which sustain living beings; others understand the seven planets visible to everyone; others understand the seven etherial layers in the solar system; yet others understand seven solar systems the first of which is our’s; others understand the ether giving rise to the formation of seven levels [or states] as was discussed above; then some consider that all that is visible of the adorning lamps of the suns and fixed stars is a single heaven. They form