Not just among the scientific community but in general, one of the biggest questions that has challenged mankind is one about the solitude of our species. Is there any one else out there among the countless galaxies and the estimated trillions of exoplanets, thousands of which have already been dicovered. What does religion has to say about Extra Terrestrial life?
To date there has been no unambiguous and explicit discovery that can confirm extraterrestrial life. Although as our galactic
outreach improves, scientist are getting increasingly optimistic of such a discovery being eminent.
In the past we have seen church at odds with the scientifically established truth when it came to understanding of cosmology. The ensuing battle between clergy and scientists in the 17th century was not just limited to the prosecution of Galileo but also included others such as Giordano Bruno. This unfortunate confrontation, surged the wave of the renaissance and schooled the modern mind that shunning religion is the key to progress. Europe in particular started weeding out the influence of religion on the larger society. However, sometimes the inpsiration for the most challenging feats can some from the most unlikiest sources.
Relgion has in past inspired many scientists to search for the heavens and artists to envision and portray it. In the Quran, the presence of intelligent extra terrestrial life has been mentioned explicity. For some skeptics however, it remains a matter of interpreation.
It is unfortunately the lack of interest in the muslim community that has almost buried the Quranic knowledge on the topic into oblivion. This indifference in the muslim community is understandable as there are many other pressing political issues that are plaguing them in the present era.
Through the centuries there have been several scholars that have unpacked the topic of extraterrestrial life in the Quran. These scholars include Ibn e Abbas (Companion and cousin of the prophet Mohammed PBUH), Imam Ghazali to the scholars of the modern era like Maulana Mawdudi.
Aliens in the Quran
There are three verses in the Quran that are most commonly cited to make the case for extraterrestrial life:
Chapter 42: Verse 29
“And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and what He has spread forth in both of them of living beings; and when He pleases He is all-powerful to gather them together”
Chapter 17: Verse 70
“And surely We have honoured the children of Adam, and We carry them in the land and the sea, and We have given them of the good things, and We have made them to excel by an appropriate excellence over most of those whom We have created”
Chapter 65: Verse 12
“Allah is He who created seven heavens, and of the earth, the like of them; the decree continues to decscend among them, that you may know that Allah has power over all things and that Allah indeed encompasses all things in (His) knowledge”
It is important to note that in the first mentioned verse (42:29), the arabic word used in the Quran for living being is “Daabba”. This word is not used for spritual life forms like Angels and Jinns. Nor this word is used for microscopic life forms (Hasharaat ul Arzd). This word is specifically used for the life forms that are fair size organic creatures and are mobile. The Quran here explicitly states that God has scattered (organic) life not only on the earth but also across the heavens.
This brings up the question: Is the life form scattered around the universe intelligent?
Dr Samir Khalid Muneer responds in affirmate. He points out that within Quran it has been mentioned that all life forms that are morally accountable would be brought forth on the day of judement and this statement in the Quran is not just limited to human beings on earth. Thus any morally accountable life form has to be an intelligent life form.
His case is supplemented by the second mentioned verse (17:70), where it has been clearly stated that God has placed man superior to “many” of his creation. The word “many” should be a reminder that mankind is not above all species. In one of the most famous commentaries of the quran by Ibn Kathir, it has been mentioned that the creations not mentioned herein implies Angels, Jinns and “Others”. And because angels and jinns were commanded to bow to humans, the superior beings implied herein must be the “others”. This verse clearly indicates that there may be other intelligent life form out that that is superior to the humans.
The third verse mentioned herein (Chapter 65:17) states that God has created seven heavens and as many earths. It should be noted that in arabic langauge the word seven is often used as a figure of speech to indicate “many”. This verse as explained by scholars can imply the presence of many earths.
Aliens in Hadith
What about sources other than the Quran say about E.T lifeforms? What did the companions believe?
Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood, a Pakistani scientist and scholar has written,”The idea that there is life elsewhere in the universe also, was derived from the Prophet of Allah (PBUH) when he told Muslims,”When you sit down in the prayer for the Attahiyat and say: “Peace be upon us,and the righteous servants of Allah” you actually send peace on all the righteous people living on the Earth and in the heavens.”
One of the more prominent companions of the prophet Mohmmad (PBUH) was Abu Sa’id Khudri (RA). In the Tafsir (commentary) of Imam Qurtubi, Abu Saeed Khudri is reported to have said that there are 40,000 planets like ours. In other sources a figure of 80,000 has been mentioned.
One of the companions of the prophet who had the most clear understanding of the subject was Ibn-e-Abbas. The prophet (PBUH) had prayed for Ibn e Abbas to be given the knowledge of the book.
Ibn e Abbas beleived with confidence that there are many earth-like bodies in the heavens. He not only thought that such earths are inhabited by intelligent beings but also that their people are exactly like Human beings.He even went so far as to say that they may have a Prophet like Muhammad (PBUH),and had a Adam, like our Adam,a Noah, like our Noah, an Ibrahim like our Ibrahim, and a Jesus like our Jesus (Peace Be Upon Them).” This has been reported in Tahfim e Deen by Maulana Mawdudi
However Ibn e Abbas (RA) was hesitant in sharing this knowledge with the masses, as it could have caused confusion. He held his views back because the prevelant understanding of the time ran contrary to his concept. He felt that if people refuted his idea than they would be in danger of rejecting something that has been affirmed in the Quran.
Imam Ghazali, an 11th centuary scholar beleived that people in some of these planetary worlds have learnt to travel and communicate with each others. Going back to the first mentioned verse of the Quran (42:29), it has been mentioned that God has the power to bring together the living creatures scattered across the earth. Thus with the grace of Almighty some day human beings might be able to encounter the other “kind”.
In the 1997 movie “Contact” starring Jodie Foster, the possibility of communication with a super intelligent the extra terrestrial species has been explored. Religion in the movie has been shown to hold back progress. This shouldn’t be of surprise as the move was based on a novel was written by Carl Sagan who was one of the prominent atheists of his time. As stated earlier however, Muslim scholars not only believed in Extra terrestrial life 1400 years ago, but during the 11th century had deduced that interstellar contact was a possibility.
This article is inpirsed from the work of Dr. Samir Khalid Muneer. The original article can be found at: Aliens-in-the-Quran.com
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