The string theory of universe states that there are at least ten dimensions that enable a complete view of the cosmos. Humans can see an object in only three dimensions. For example, a one-dimension object is a line. It has only length. To see this, you need to be standing very close to the object. If it is a live object it can move only back and forth. A two-dimension object is a shape having a length and a width. It takes some distance to see two dimensions. If it is a live object it can move back and forth and right and left. A three-dimension object is a cube or human body. It has length, width and height. You need to be standing sufficiently away from the object to be seeing its front, its sides and its height or base. If it is a live object, it can move in three directions: back and forth, right and left and up and down. In third dimension, things can be placed inside the object such as in a box or human body because it has mass. The first dimension is known as the X dimension. The second dimension is known as the Y dimension. The third dimension is known as the Z dimension. There is also an additional dimension to the three dimensions. It is time dimension. Time helps us understand where we are in a timeline. The string theory has six additional dimensions which we cannot see.
Let us summarise this in an easy to understand example. Let us assume we have just performed Umrah. If we stand inside the Hateem in Hajr Ismail, we will see only one wall of Kaaba. This is one dimension view. If we retreat to the shaded galleries behind, we can see two walls of Kaaba: the Hateem wall and either the wall where Multazim is located or the wall where there is Rukn Yamani. This is two dimension view. If we go on the top floor of the haram gallery, we can see the front and side walls of Kaaba, as well as its roof. This is three dimension vision. If you sit in a plane by the window, you can see below the most of Kaaba and the entire Haram precinct. The view is much better from the plane. But you must remember that you are not on earth. You are in the air in another dimension.
Now lets us use the same illustration to find out what our limitations do not allow us to see. Sitting in the plane, we cannot see the Kaaba if there are no lights on. We cannot hear anything down there. We cannot see what is inside the cube of Kaaba. What is beneath the Kaaba deep inside the earth. What is on top of the Kaaba in the heavens. We cannot see the chanting and supplication rising from the Kaaba to the heavens, and we cannot see the angels and jinns circling the Kaaba along with the Hajis. This is because we are humans and our capacity to hear, see and observe is limited by our laws of existence.
Let us now assume that you want to go a few hundred feet above the aeroplane to see both the body of the plane in three dimensions and the Kaaba. Also assume that you want to be able to be in the plane and also go down to the Kaaba and come back to the plane in a matter of few minutes. You know I am asking for the impossible. But what if you were told that all this is possible using the string theory which explains why things we cannot do on earth will be possible for the inhabitants of Paradise to do. This is why the journey to heavens by Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, in the night of power when time stopped, is no longer a mystery but something one can rationalise and understand on scientific grounds (Surah Al-Asra).
The string theory aims to bring into one single equation the laws of universal gravity of Sir Isaac Newton, the theory of general relativity of Albert Einstein and the quantum mechanics and electro-magnetic theories of post-world-war II physicists and mathematicians. It rests on the modelling of subatomic particles. It assumes that the universe is composed of miniscule, vibrating and infinite spatial and curled up strings. Many facets of this theory are still at exploratory stage. For this article, we will use what is theoretically accepted by scientists and apply it to the vision of the hereafter given by Islam in the Quran and the Hadith of prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
In our three dimensional existence, it is possible to use our memory and imagination to visualise ourselves as a child, a teenager, an adult, a middle aged person and an old age pensioner on one timeline. But within the earth’s framework and under the laws that operate here, we cannot go back to the past nor travel into the future to change the end. In our present three dimensional existence on earth, our frame of reference is one spatial timeline in which time and space are combined in a continuum. By using our senses, we can see our present and our past five minutes, ago, five years ago and five centuries ago, or imagine where we may be in the future in a five or fifty years’ time, depending on the capacity of our knowledge, imagination and observation. In this dimension, we remain constantly on the move, but our mind can travel back and forth in our timeline from birth to death. Despite this flexibility, we cannot erase or change anything. Our living world is trapped within these three dimensions and we cannot get out of it unless we leave the earth.
According to the string theory, there are six more dimensions rolled on top of the three spatial dimensions described above, as well as an additional dimension of time. This makes a total of ten dimensions. We cannot see these six curled up dimensions because our corpus and mind are limited in seeing them with human eyes or listening to their sounds with human ears. Occasionally, clairvoyants and people with extra sensory perceptions are able to see a glimpses of the fourth dimension but it does not last long.
In the fourth-dimension, there is one starting point but there are options to branch off to multiple endings in one timeline. In this dimension there is a single reference point at the beginning, but the future probabilities are multiple. For example, the single point of the beginning is the big bang. From this point onward, there are infinite probabilities of what might have happened to the earth and its inhabitants after birth. Each of this probability has a different timeline. In this dimension the timescale changes and laws of nature do not apply. In Surah Al-Naml in the Quran, we read that a giant jinn claimed that, if permitted, he can bring the throne of Queen of Sheba to Prophet Solomon’s palace before he could stand from his seat. (27:39). Perhaps the angels and jinn belong to this dimension. They have different starting points or beginnings compared to humans and different probabilities. Because they live in another dimension, humans cannot see them while they can see humans. “O Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you in the same manner as he seduced your parents (Adam and Eve) and got them expelled from the Garden of Eden, stripping them of their clothes to expose their shame. Satan and his tribe watch you from a position where you cannot see them…”(7:27). As humans are limited by the laws of three dimension timeline, angels and jinn are limited by the laws of the fourth dimension.
In the fourth-dimension we are able to leave this world and enter another world, such as the spirit world. Perhaps we move to this dimension after death where the future probabilities for our spirit are many. This dimension combines the beginning, the past, present and infinite future. It is like drawing a picture on the dotted lines. You can complete this picture and colour it differently. The options are unlimited. It is a point of infinity but the beginning is the same. The fourth dimension combines all previous dimensions as a composite whole.
In the fifth-dimension, you move from multiple starting points to multiple endings. These infinities may have different conditions, different beginnings and different probabilities. The electromagnetic fields and the speed of light in one infinity may not be the same as the electromagnetic field and the speed of light in another infinity. In this dimension you can see two or more worlds such as this world, and the world of souls of people who have died are waiting to enter the next world. And after death there will be a “barrier in front of such people till the day they will be resurrected.” (23:100)
An understanding of this dimension helps us understand the meaning of the verse which says that when Allah created all souls and asked them: am I not your creator, they unanimously replied of course. “When your Lord drew forth from the children of Adam their descendants and made them testify concerning themselves saying am I not your Lord, they said yes we do testify. This is lest you say on the day of judgement you were not aware of this” (7:172).
In the sixth-dimension you can cross over from your timeline to a new timeline to experience multiple beginnings, multiple points of reference and multiple probabilities that make up all infinities in one universe. For example, you can to see the world that existed before the creation of the universe, that is, before the big bang. The sixth dimension combines all previous dimensions as a composite whole.
In the seventh-dimension you are able to travel across new timelines. You have the ability to see what happened on earth from the time of Adam to what happened in the heavens before Adam’s fall from Grace. You can also see the different worlds before the creation of the earth. The seventh dimension combines all previous dimensions as a composite whole.
In the eighth-dimension there exist universes in which the laws of physics are completely different. The eighth dimension combines all previous dimensions as a composite whole. This is a dimension no one has ever imagined.
The ninth-dimension is where whatever you imagine, whatever you think and whatever you ask for, it will be possible to get it because you will have the ability to master the laws that governs that universe. This may be the ultimate dimension for the inhabitants of Paradise. Allah says in the holy Quran that whatever they will want, will be available to them, plus more. “They will have all they will desire, and we have more for them” (50:35). The ninth dimension combines all previous dimensions as a composite whole.
The tenth and final dimension is the ultimate state where everything that ever existed and will ever exist is combined to form the ultimate union with God. This could be the world of impeccable Light (Noor). The world where Allah’s Throne is placed. This is the Arsh, the abode of the Lord.
The above dimensions operate in different timeframes. The scale of time which works in one dimension varies in another according to the place and grading. In the earth timescale one day consists of 24 hours split between day and night; 30 days make one month, and 12 months make one year. But in another timeline, one day may be equal to one thousand or fifty thousand years.
Limitation of the three dimensional world
To understand the universe, scientists have looked at the weakest link of the universe, which is an atom or a sub atomic particle or a string of that particle. Similarly, to understand the place of man in the universe we need to look at the weakest link in the creation of God which comprises the angels, jinn, humans, animals, microscopic beings such as bacteria and viruses, plants and fungus. As man is the focus of our study, I would argue that humans are the weakest creation in the tree of life. A newly born human child cannot survive on his own. Man’s physique is not made for fighting wild animals with his bare hands or teeth. He needs air, light, food and protection against the forces of nature. He needs help at every step of the way to survive and grow. When man reaches his prime and is strong and powerful, his power is so limited it cannot uproot a tree, fight a lion or race a horse. Still he needs help from his mind to use his intelligence in the right way. The point I am trying to make is that man on his own is very weak against the forces of nature. The discussion about man being the best of creation (ashraf al makhluqat) is a different debate in another context. Let us look at some of the physical limitations of man.
Humans are bound by the laws of gravity. They need enormous power to break away from the gravity pull of the earth in order to reach space. But gravity is not limited to the earth. It is the driving force of all solar systems and planets which keeps heavenly objects on their orbits and prevents them from colliding with each other. Jinn and angels are not subject to earth’s gravity because they live in another dimension compared to humans.
The range of frequency of human hearing is between 2k to 20k HZ. Man tries to improve his hearing through microphones, stethoscopes, earphones and PA systems. But he cannot hear the millions of sound frequencies in the universe. If a conversation is taking place between the jinn or many other creations on this earth or in the universe, he is incapable of either hearing these or if he hears them, he cannot comprehend them. In fact, if human beings become sensitive to even a fraction of the sound waves on the earth, their minds won’t be able to take the pressure and they would go crazy. One can imagine how much audio waves exist in the universe which blissfully we cannot hear.
There are creatures in our world whose visual-spectrum is different and better from ours. Snakes can see in infrared. Bees can see in ultraviolet. There is a species of shrimp whose eye can see the most colours in 180 degrees at a time. A donkey can see better in the dark compared to humans. An owl can see colours at night as we see in day. The domestic goat can see up to 320 degrees. A chameleon can see an entire spectrum in 360 degrees. An eagle can spot its prey from hundreds of meters. Compared to these animals and birds, human eyesight is extremely limited. The range of light sensitivity for a human eye is between 350 to 750 nano metre. Millions of cones and rods enable photopic (high illumination) and scotopic (low illumination) vision in the retina of the human eye. Anything below or above this vision is not seen by human eye. Man has used microscopes, telescopes, ultra sound imaging and MMR to see things which human eyes cannot see. Jinn and angels can see humans because they live in another dimension, but humans cannot see them. Our vision is limited by our dimensions and faculties.
There are 19 types of lights in the electromagnetic spectrum created by Allah in this universe. Out of these 19 lights humans see only one type of light which consists of seven colours. If man could see the world in gamma-vision, he would be able to see radiation in our bodies and objects. If man was able to see in x-ray vision, he could see inside the human bodies and even thick brick walls. If man had the ability to see in infrared-vision, he could see the heat emitted by different objects. If he were able to see in ultraviolet-vision, he would see the flow of energy from objects. In addition, there are other lights, such as microwave-vision and radio wave-vision, which do exist but are beyond the grasp of our vision. If all the objects in the universe are compacted within one meter, the human eye will only be able to see 300 nano-meters, which simply means that we humans can see only 0.0000003% of the total universe.
We often come across the word light (Noor) in divine texts. In Surah Noor in the holy Quran Allah compares the three levels of light with three levels of darkness. Noor is the source of sight where darkness is its opposite. In Surah Noor we also learn that Allah is Noor, the best of the best. But our understanding of light and our ability to master it is limited by our three dimensional existence. We learn in the Holy Quran that the pious people will be guided by Noor in the hereafter on their journey toward the Paradise.
Man can tolerate only a small variation in temperature. He is unable to withstand heat or cold waves. His tolerance level is very poor compared to other animals and organisms in nature.
Humans cannot stand cosmic radiation. The highest radiation limit for astronauts is 25k millirems per space mission. The highest occupational limit for radiation is 5k millirems per year. Man can only go out of space if he wears a special anti-radiation kit.
Breaking off the limits
All these human weaknesses described above can change if we move away from our earthly dimension to another dimension where the laws of nature will be different. The Quran gives examples of angels and jinn being able to see and move better than humans. The Quran tells us how Prophet Solomon could understand the language of ants.
Earth time in our present three dimensional world is fixed. “Don’t you see that Allah merges night into day and He merges day into night; that He has subjected the sun, and the moon (to His Law), each running (its course) for a specified term… (31:29).
Quran tells us that there are other time scales as well. For example, the Night of Glory, believed to be occurring once a year in the last ten days of Ramadan is better than a thousand months (97:3). We also learn that a Day with Allah is equal to one thousand human years (22:47 & 32:5) and that the Angels and the Spirits ascend unto Him in a day whose duration is fifty thousand years (70:4). In the story of the creation, Allah says He “created the heavens and earth in six days and then established Himself above the Throne (7:54). The commentators of the Quran have explained the day of a thousand years mentioned in Surah Al-Hajj as one of the six days in which Allah created the heavens and the earth. They say the day of a thousand years mentioned in Surah Al Sajdah is the length of time it takes matter to ascend from earth to the heavens, and the day of fifty thousand years is the day of resurrection which will indeed be a very hard day, far from easy for the disbelievers (74:9-10).
The string theory of ten dimensions helps us to trace our past and our future beyond the lifecycle of birth and death. Tracing these dimensions in reverse, we find that in the tenth dimension, there was only celestial Noor, the state before there was nothing but Almighty God. Then somewhere between the ninth and eight dimension, Allah created the jinn, the angels and man. Between the seventh and sixth dimensions, Allah created the heavens, the earth and the skies and placed order in them. In the fifth dimension, Allah sent Adam and Eve to the earth. In the fourth dimension, Allah subjected the earth to a timescale, thus limiting also Adam and his children’s timescale to the lifecycle of birth and death on this earth. Our knowledge and interaction on earth are limited to only three dimensions working in one timescale.
Looking to the future, we can visualise our life journey progressing from three dimensions to the ultimate destination of nine or ten dimensions. We are born in this three dimensional world with our given limitations of imagination, biology, gravity and time, but Quran informs us that this is not our final destination and state of being. Death takes us to the fourth dimension where souls and spirits live in the world of barzakh waiting for resurrection and the day of judgement. The three dimensional world of the living and the fourth dimensional existence of the dead co-exist side by side but do not mix.
Time change helps us understand things in the perspective of different dimensions in the string theory. Verses 31:29 and 97:3 can be understood in the context of our world of three dimensions. Verses 22:47 and 32:5 can be understood better if seen from the eighth dimension when Adam and Eve were created by Allah and given Paradise to live therein where the scale of time was different from the earth time. Verse 70:4 would be easy to understand in the tenth dimension where Allah’s throne is located and is accessible only to those He allows.
When the final hour will come, the knowledge of which rests only with Allah (31:34), the three and four dimensional worlds will move to the next five dimensional world. “On that day, the earth will be changed to a different earth, and so will be the heavens and men will be brought forth before Allah, the irresistible” (14:48).
We are told that the day of judgement will be a long and hard day, especially for the disbelievers. On this day “everyone will be too engaged in his own affairs to worry about others” (80:37). This could be the transition from sixth to seventh dimension where people will be made accountable for their deeds, cross the long bridge and met by the guard angels posted on the doors or Paradise and Jahannem. Their description is given in Surah Al-Waqea. (56: 1-56).
The eight dimension will be the state of bliss according to the divine judgement. Just as our earthly existence combines first three dimensions, that heavenly existence will combine the last three dimensions. The eight dimension will be reserved for the people of the right way (ashabe yameen); the ninth dimension will be reserved for the pioneers and steadfast in faith (sabiqoon) and the tenth and final dimension will be where Almighty Allah will be present. “…And with us there is more” (50:35).
Of course, this is but an academic attempt to understand and explain what seems apparently contradictory or inexplicable. Allah has said in the Quran that man has been given limited knowledge of the spirit world. “And they ask you about the spirit;. say, “the spirit is of the command of my Lord and in no way have you been knowledge of it except a little.” (17:85). Allah knows best.