"Among His (God's) signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the living creatures that He has scattered through them : and He has power to gather them together when He wills. (Holy Qur'an 42:29)
On 7th August 1996, NASA (1) scientists made an announcement that made front page headlines throughout the world. Within a Martian meteorite, they had found evidence of a microscopic life form that may have existed on Mars more than three billion years ago. (2) Although other studies were later published which challenged this conclusion, (3) numerous recent discoveries, for example, the discovery by the Galileo spacecraft, (4) in February 1997, of a possible red-coloured sea under the ice crust of Jupiter's moon, Europa, (5) are raising hopes that we may soon be able to get an answer to one of the oldest and most interesting questions asked by humans-"Is anyone out there, or are we alone in the universe?"
However, it may be that none of us may live to see the day when scientists will give us a definitive answer to this question. For Muslims, that should not be a problem. We already have the answer. Although many Muslims are unaware of the fact, the Qur'an (6) explicitly mentions the existence of extraterrestrial life.
The existence of creatures of a spiritual nature, such as angels, in the universe, is accepted as a fact by all Muslims, as well as people of other religions, such as Christians. The point that generates excitement among the public, and scientists is the question of whether material life forms like ourselves, which can be found by science, do actually exist outside the earth. (7) The objective of this article is to present evidence from the Qur'an for the existence in the universe, of MATERIAL life forms ("Life as we know it").
In Sura 42, Verse 29 (42: 29) of the Qur'an, we are told,
"Among His (God's) signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the living creatures that He has scattered through them : and He has power to gather them together when He wills. "
(8) Before proceeding further, a point or two must be noted. The word "sama", translated "heavens", is also the Arabic for "sky". One may object that the verse refers to creatures in the sky (which would be birds), not in the heavens. However, birds are mentioned separately from creatures of the heavens in 24: 41,
"Seest thou not that it is God Whose praise all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? . . . "
In a note to 42; 29, Muhammad Asad states, "In the Qur'an, the expression "the heavens and earth" invariably denotes the universe in its entirety. " (10) The Qur'an mentions that inanimate objects also worship God:
"Do they not look at God's creation, (even) among (inanimate) things- how their (very) shadows turn round, from right to left, prostrating themselves to God. . . "(16: 48). (11)
Therefore, may not the creatures spoken of in 42: 29 in the heavens, be inanimate creatures of God. No. The next verse, 16: 49 goes, "And to God doth obeisance all that is in the heavens and earth, whether moving (living) creatures or the angels. . . ". (12) The word translated "living creatures" here is the same as that in 42: 29- "Dabbatun". Comments Asad, "The word dabbah denotes any sentient, corporeal being capable of spontaneous movement and is contrasted here with the non-corporeal, spiritual beings designated as "angels" ". (13) In other words, 42: 29 is referring to precisely the type of life forms that science is searching for, not some metaphysical entities. Yusuf Ali says, "Dabbatun: beasts, living, crawling creatures of all kind. " (14) This is the same word used in 2: 164, ". . . in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth. . . are signs for a people that are wise, " (15) and in 24: 45, "And God has created every animal from water: of them are some that creep on their bellies; some that walk on two legs; and some that walk on four. God creates what he wills. . . " (16) Commenting on 42: 29, Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani says, "From the verse it appears that like on the earth, there are some kinds of animals- living creatures- in the heavens also. " (17) On the same verse, Yusuf Ali comments, "Life is not confined to our one little Planet. It is a very old speculation to imagine some life like human life on the planet Mars. . . it is reasonable to suppose that Life in some form or other is scattered through some of the millions of heavenly bodies scattered through space. " (18) >From such remarks, the reader will realize that Muslim scholars are well aware of the fact that 42: 29 clearly mentions the existence of aliens.
Is There Any Alien Intelligent Life ?
Although the discovery of any form of life outside the earth would be dramatic, humankind is especially interested in knowing whether there is any alien intelligent life in the universe. NASA previously had a program on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Although now scrapped due to budget cuts, private SETI organizations (19) have now been made which continue the search. The Planetary Society, (20) a private organization, in which the film director Steven Speilberg (21) is a member of the Board of Directors, has the largest SETI program in the world. So far, no sign of alien intelligent life has turned up. Can the Qur'an provide an answer?
Sura 27: 65 commands,
"Say: None in the heavens or on earth, except God, knows what is hidden: nor can they perceive when they shall be raised up (for Judgement). " (22)
This shows that, like humans, there are other creatures in the universe that will also be raised from the dead. We are told in 19: 93-96, "Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to (God) Most Gracious as a servant. He does take an account of them (all), and hath numbered them (all) exactly. And everyone of them will come to Him singly on the Day of Judgement. On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, will (God) Most Gracious bestow love. " (23) From these verses we learn that there are alien life forms that, like us, will also be judged according to the works that they do during their lives. Among them are the believers. Therefore, naturally, there will also be those aliens who are unbelievers. The believers will be rewarded. The life forms being described in the above verses can hardly be expected to be microorganisms. The Qur'an is referring to creatures of a level of development that makes them morally accountable beings. They must be organisms possessing qualities which we would ascribe to intelligent life forms.
In Sura 72: 14-15, jinn (a type of spiritual life form, which the Qur'an mention as living on the earth) say, "Amongst us are some that submit their wills (to God), and some that swerve from justice. Now those who submit their wills- they have sought out (the path) of right conduct: But those who swerve- they are (but) fuel for Hell-fire. " (24)
The Qur'an mentions that good jinn will be rewarded with Paradise. Summing up from all the above verses, it is clear that Judgement Day is for creatures in the whole universe (Sura 39: 68-
"The Trumpet will (just) be sounded when all that are in the heavens and on earth will swoon, except such as it will please God (to exempt). Then will a second one be sounded, when, behold, they will be standing and looking on! ") (25)
and like jinn, aliens will also be sharing Paradise and Hell with humans. In fact, the Qur'an mentions that Paradise is of a size like that of our present universe- 57: 21, "Therefore (vie) with one another for the pardon of your Lord, and for a Paradise as vast as heaven and earh, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His apostles.
" (26) Therefore, it is not surprising that when we are sharing this universe with aliens, we should share Paradise and Hell with them too. The Qur'an shows us, therefore, that not only do aliens exist, but among them are also intelligent beings.
Where Can Aliens be Found?
Knowing that aliens, including intelligent life forms exist elsewhere, our next question would be, "Where do they live? "Scientists naturally expect them to live on planets. They look for other planets around other stars- planets that have the right conditions to harbour life- in other words, other earths. In October 1995, scientists announced the discovery of the first extra-solar planet around the star 51 Pegasi. (27) Since then, there have been a string of discoveries of other planets. At the time of writing of this article, fifteen planets have been claimed to have been discovered. (28) Although some of these objects have been dismissed as brown dwarfs (including the object around Pegasi 51) by some scientists, (29) at least some of the fifteen objects are agreed upon as being planets. Scientists believe that on potential moons around planets found to be orbiting two stars, the right conditions may exist for life to be present. (30)
In Sura 65: 12, we are informed, "God is He Who created seven heavens and of the earth a similar number. . . " (31)
This verse, although usually translated properly, is very commonly misinterpreted by commentators. They give their interpretation that space is divided into seven zones, and likewise, as Yusuf Ali puts it, "the crust of the earth is built up of geological strata one above another". (32) This interpretation arises due to a misunderstanding of what a "heaven" is as mentioned in the Qur'an. Before continuing further about the topic of aliens, it is necessary to clear up this confusion. The answer can be deduced from verses in the Qur'an itself and comparing them with our current scientific knowledge about the universe.
Sura 21: 30 asks, "Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? . . . " (33)
Sura 41: 11-12 tell us,
"Then turned He to the heaven when it was smoke, and said unto it and unto the earth: come both of you, willingly or loth. . . Then We ordained them seven heavens. . . and inspired in each heaven its mandate; and We decked the lowest heaven with lamps. . . "
and Sura 71: 15-16,
"See ye not how Allah hath created seven heavens in harmony, and hath made the moon a light therin, and made the sun a lamp? " (35) Sura 51: 47 informs us,
"And it is We who have built the universe with (Our creative) power; and, verily, it is We who are steadily expanding it. " (36)
Asad, comments on the above verses as follows: about 21: 30, ". . . the above unmistakable reference to the unitary origin of the universe- metonymically described in the Qur'an as "the heavens and the earth"- strikingly anticipates the view of almost all modern astrophysicists that this universe has originated as one entity from one single element, namely, hydrogen, which became subsequently consolidated through gravity and then separated into individual nebulae, galaxies, and solar systems, with individual parts progressively breaking away to form new entities in the shape of stars, planets and the latter's satellites"; (37) about 41: 11, he explains the word "smoke" as, "a gas- evidently hydrogen gas, which physicists regard as the primal element from which all material particles of the universe have evolved and still evolve. . . " (38) and says about the verse, "explaining this passage, Zamakhshari observes: "The meaning of God's command to the skies (heavens) and the earth to "come". . . is this: He willed their coming into being. . . ""; for 41: 12, he explains "seven heavens" as, "a multiplicity of cosmic systems"; (39) about 51: 47 he says, "the phrase "inna la-musi'un" clearly foreshadows the modern notion of the "expanding universe"- that is, the fact that the cosmos, though finite in extent, is continuously expanding in space. " (40) Finally, three more verses need to be referred to- 50: 38, "And verily We created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. . . and naught of weariness touched us" (41) , 21: 104, "The Day when We shall roll up the heavens as a recorder rolleth up a written scroll. As We began the first creation, We shall repeat it. (It is a promise binding) upon Us. Lo! We are to perform it" (42) , and 14: 48, "One day the Earth will be changed to a different Earth, and so will be the heavens. . . " (43)
From the verses above, we learn this from the Qur'an: a heaven is a material entity which arose from the same material as the earth originated from. Initially, there was one gaseous mass. A cleavage process occurred resulting in the making of the "seven heavens" and "all that lies between them". The sun, moon and earth are constituents of a heaven. Therefore, a heaven must be larger than a star (sun). When the end of the universe is at hand, the heavens, which till then were in an expanding universe (51: 47) will come together. Then, the way our present universe came into being, in a similar manner, a new creation will come into being, containing other heavens and another earth. Any astronomer reading these verses can tell you that there is only one entity that fits the description of a heaven in the Qur'an- a "heaven" in the Qur'an must be referring to a "galaxy". According to modern science, the universe arose from a singularity, at the Big Bang, and has since, been expanding. From a primordial gas cloud arose huge fragments from which the galaxies and their clusters arose. Today, the galaxies are moving apart from each other in space. They are separated by intergalactic space in which may lurk invisible dark matter, making up to 90% of the total mass of the universe. if there is sufficient dark matter, at some time in the future, the universe will stop expanding and enter a contraction phase in which the galaxies will finally come close together in a Big Crunch marking an end to the present universe. The universe would have returned to a singularity state similar to that from which the present universe arose. Then, once again, scientists predict, a new universe may rebound from the singularity of the Big Crunch, as another Big Bang gives rise to a universe with its own galaxies and planets etc. Verses in the Qur'an agree amazingly with our current ideas about the universe!
The purpose of our lengthy divergence from the main topic of this article was to prove that the "seven heavens" are not zones into which the universe is divided, but large astronomical entities, the galaxies. Some people have interpreted a heaven as being a solar system. However, while this view may seem appropriate for some verses, it does not tally with all the verses.
The Qur'an mentions the creation of seven heavens. Asad explains that, ". . . as regards the "seven heavens", it is to be borne in mind that in Arabic usage. . . the number "seven" is often synonymous with "several". " (44) I have shown that the heavens are the galaxies and we can see that millions of them exist. Even if we assume that the heaven are some other astronomical objects that arose from the primary gas cloud, they definitely are not literally seven in number, but in the millions.
The relevance of this to our discussion on aliens is that the Sura 65: 12 tells us that, as God has created "seven Heavens", He has created, "of the earth a similar number. . . " Therefore, as there are millions of galaxies, God has also created millions of earths scattered throughout the universe. Usmani comments on 65: 12, "The earths as well, He created seven (Usmani thinks literally seven. We know it actually means "many"), as given in the Tradition of Tirmizi etc. It is possible they are not visible, it is possible they are visible, but people think them to be stars or planets, as the scientists of today have predicted the possibility of life on Mars etc. . . " (45) An important thing to point out in 65: 12 is that God does not use the word "worlds", but specifically, "earth". An 'earth' would be a planet that harbours life. Scientists also often speak of looking for other earths. They mean not just any planet, but one sustaining or capable of sustaining life. In his book, The Bible, The Qur'an and Science, Maurice Bucaille writes, ". . . it comes as no small surprise to the reader of the Qur'an to find that earths such as our own may be found in the Universe. . . " (46)
We have finally arrived at the Qur'an's answer as to where aliens can be found. They inhabit the millions of earths that God has created among the millions of heavens (galaxies) in the universe. The Qur'an therefore, gives us a magnificent view of the universe- a universe teeming with life, a place that the late astronomer Carl Sagan described as a "cosmic fugue, with themes and counter- points, dissonances and harmonies, a billion different voices playing the life music. " (47)
Will we ever Discover Aliens?
So far, we have learnt from the Qur'an that extraterrestrial life, including intelligent life, exists throughout countless earths in the universe. But this is not sufficient to satisfy our curiosity. We want scientists to actually discover aliens. Only after we have found incontrovertible scientific evidence that aliens exist, will our (unbelieving) hearts see that the Qur'an was correct all along. We actually won't be satisfied till we meet an alien face to face. Is there any chance that in the future we will actually discover, through science, the existence of aliens and establish some kind of contact with them or even meet them?
To get some idea on this matter, we must return to Sura 42: 29. We are told over there that the scattering of living creatures in the heavens and the earth is a "sign". What is a sign? Sura 6: 104 says,
"Momentous signs have come to you from your Lord. He that sees them shall himself have much to gain, but he who is blind to them shall lose much. " (48)
Sura 6: 109,
"They solemly swear by Allah that if a sign be given them they would believe in it. " (49) Sura 7: 73,
"A clear proof has come to you from your Lord. Here is Allah's she-camel: a sign for you. " (50) Clearly, a sign is something which we can see, or at least, experience with our senses. Otherwise, it would not be a sign. Some signs are those that God showed to humans in the past. Other signs remain for God to show us in the future-
"Soon we will show them Our Signs in the (furthest) regions, and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth" (41: 53). (51)
THERFORE, SURA 42: 29 CONTAINS A PROPHESY THAT A TIME WILL INDEED COME IN THE FUTUTE WHEN HUMANS WILL DISCOVER ALIENS.
In Sura 55: 33-34, we are addressed,
"O ye assembly of Jinn and men! If it be you can pass beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth, pass ye! Not without authority will ye be able to pass! Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny? " (52)
Why does God ask us to go into space? There must be some purpose. Maybe it be for us to fulfill some grand destiny in store for our species- maybe to become a galactic race, a respectable part of the galactic community of civilizations. Maybe, it is our travels in space that may lead to our encounter with aliens and fulfill the prophesy in 42: 29. Only time will tell. In anticipation of the time when we become space-travellers, we are told in Sura 29: 22, "Neither on earth nor in heaven shall you be beyond reach: nor have you any guardian or helper besides Allah. " (53)
To reach other civilizations, we must be capable of feasible interstellar transport. Might we one day be capable of undertaking such a voyage? Sura 16: 8 says,
"And (it is He Who creates) horses and mules for you to ride. . . and He will yet create things of which (today) you have no knowledge. " (54)
The latter part of this verse is often translated in the present tense but as Asad points out, "The use in this context, of the aorist "yakhluqu" implies the future tense ("He will create") . . . Since this reference to God's continuing creation comes immediately after a mention of primitive means of transport, it obviously relates to other- as yet unknown- things of the same category: that is to say, to new means of transport which God unceasingly creates through the instrumentality of the inventiveness with which He has endowed man's mind. " (55) Therefore, it is possible that we may one day make the spacecraft required for interstellar travel. After all, God Himself has encouraged us to, "pass beyond the regions of the heavens". Sura 42: 29 ends with the statement that God has the power to gather the creatures of the heavens and earth together if He wills. This also points to the possibility of our meeting aliens in the future. However, this gathering may well refer to that which will occur on Judgement Day as mentioned in Sura 19: 93-96 (see above).
Man's Position Among Creation
The most revolutionary discoveries in history have been those which altered the way humans perceived themselves in the universe. We discovered that the earth was not at the centre of the universe. We discovered that our Sun was a very ordinary star located in an insignificant part of an ordinary galaxy, which was only one of millions of galaxies. These discoveries should have humbled us. Yet, even today, many of us triumphantly proclaim ourselves as being the most supreme creation of God. It is common to ascribe our cherished position among all living things to our higher intellectual abilities. If we were to find out that there are other intelligent beings in the universe, and that some may be intellectually more superior to us, where would that leave us ? Would we finally be dethroned?
Sura 17: 70 informs us, "Verily We have honoured the children of Adam. . . and preferred them above many of those whom We created with a marked preferment. " (56) Many translations fail to mention the "marked preferment" in the verse, although the verse contains the Arabic "tafzelan" which conveys this. Note that the verse mentions that there are other creatures besides humans, who have also been given a position of distinction, and humans have been preferred above many, not all, of these creatures. Usmani states in a comment on this verse, "Under this verse a debate is opened: Who is superior- Man or Angel? But logically this verse does not decide the issue. " (57) Another scholar has written, "From this (verse) it is evident that whatever superiority humans have got over other creatures is not whole. Allah's creatures contain such creatures upon which humans have got no superiority. "It must be remembered here that while so far we have been discussing material alien life forms, the debate of man's position in creation includes both material and spiritual creatures of God. Some early authorities, such as Hasan, have not accepted the word "akser" mentioned in 17: 70 as meaning "many". Hasan maintains that the word "akser", as used in 17: 70, should be understood as meaning "all", since the same word is used in 26: 233 and 10: 36, where it would be inappropriate to take its meaning as "many" but rather as "all". With such a substitution in verse 17: 70, the meaning would be altered to mean that man is preferred by God over all creatures.
The debate on man's status continues among scholars and also among the public. Let us make an analogy to the debate of whether man is superior to woman. Suppose for a moment that we hand the trophy to man and let him enjoy his "superior" position. On the Day of Judgement, it will only be deeds that count and good women will go to Paradise and bad men will burn in Hell. Who would have been more superior? As you can see, in the final analysis, any debate on the status of a race, or species is useless. From earlier verses mentioned in this article, the reader will remember that, according to the Qur'an, God will judge humans as well as aliens on the basis of their deeds and reward them accordingly. Many humans will be sent to Hell for their wrongdoings. At the same time there will be aliens who will be rewarded for their good deeds. Who would be more superior- the unbelieving human or the faithful alien? The answer is obvious. Therefore, what's the use of debating this point? Status of a creature is relative to its moral conduct. Sura 95: 4-5 states,
"Surely We created man of the best stature, then We reduced him to the lowest of the low. " (58)
Islam and the Geocentric Universe
It is the fanciful idea of religion-bashers that the discovery of extraterrestrial life will undermine any remaining credibility that religion may have. In the case of Islam, as one can see from this discussion, that can hardly be the case. On the contrary, such a discovery would verify the truth of the statements contained in the Qur'an relating to the subject of alien life, and strengthen the position of Muslims. The vision of Islam is that of a truly universal religion. It is far removed from the exclusiveness of Judaism ("We are the Chosen Ones for God's message"). It is a pity that the image of all religions has suffered a setback from the great scandal of the Church- its treatment of Galileo, for (rightly) challenging their views of a geocentric universe, in which Man was The Central Figure in God's Plan of Creation, living on a planet around which all the rest of creation revolved.
The Qur'an gives us a picture of our place in the universe that is quite different. In Sura 40: 57, God says,
"Assuredly the creation of the heavens and the earth is a greater (matter) than the creation of men: yet most men understand not. " (59)
Comments Yusuf Ali, "Man is himself a tiny part of creation. Why should he be so ego-centric? " (60) No one race of humans was chosen to be the exclusive custodians of the truth. Sura 16: 36 tells us,
"For We assuredly sent amongst every People an apostle, (with the command), "Serve God, and eschew Evil":
of the people were some whom God guided, and others on whom Error became inevitably (established). So travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who denied (the Truth). " (61) According to some Traditions of The Prophet (pbuh), 124, 000 messengers have been sent into the world by God, throughout the ages to people all over the world. No nation was denied access to the Truth. Even on earth, guidance was provided not only to humans, but also the Jinn who co-habit this planet with us- 6: 130: "(Then He will say): "Jinn and men! Did there not come to you apostles of your own who proclaimed to you my revelations and warned you of this day? " (62) . God's bounty, according to Islam, is not confined to creatures of the earth because He is,
". . . Lord of the heavens and Lord of the earth, the Lord of the Worlds" (45: 36). (63)
To the people were sent revealed Books also, the last of which is the Qur'an. About the Qur'an itself, we are told in 43: 4, "It is in the Mother Book with Us, sublime and full of wisdom. " (64) About other planets, S. Bashir-ud-din Mahmood has this to say, "On the basis of the interpretation of verse 65: 12 by Ibn-e-Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him), we can say that inhabitants of these worlds must have their religion like ours and so the Holy Books. They all come from the same "Supreme Source" of revelation from where the Holy Qur'an originated for us on the Earth. It is evident from the verse of the Holy Qur'an" (i.e.. 43; 4. All Books come from the "Mother Book with Us"). (65) The very first verse of the Qur'an begins, "Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. " (66)
Summing up, while the Qur'an does point out that man has a favoured position on earth, (2: 30- "Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth. ""; (67) 2: 34- "We said to the angels: "Bow down to Adam. . . "" (68) 95: 4- We have indeed created man in the best of moulds. " (69) ) there are other creatures of God who have also been favoured in the universe (17: 70). Humans are just a small part of God's creation (40: 57). When they act wrongly, they are reduced to the lowest of the low (95: 5). Salvation is not only for some race of humans, but for all humans and creatures throughout the universe. There is a grand destiny planned by God for all of them. All humans as well as aliens who follow the guidance that God sent to their respective planets, will be rewarded (19: 96). ". . . it is God Whose praise all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate. . . " (24: 41). (70) All will return to Him. How far the picture of the universe that Islam paints is from that of a geocentric universe!
Conclusion - A "Secret" Waiting to be Told
If the Qur'an is so explicit in stating the existence of living organisms in the universe (42: 29), we would suppose that the Muslim population would generally be aware of the fact that the Qur'an mentions extraterrestrials. Unfortunately that is not the case. A significant proportion of Muslims have no idea that this exciting piece of information is provided in their Holy Book. I have quoted a number of scholars in this article, who have commented on the verses relating to extraterrestrials. Among them are those such as Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Asad, whose works are known to Muslims throughout the world. Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani was a prominent figure in the Freedom Movement of Pakistan. All scholars quoted are from the mainstream of Islam. So, at least, Muslim scholars are aware of the Qur'an mentioning aliens. Yet, there are scholars also who have no idea about this subject. Surprisingly, even Maurice Bucaille, whose brilliant book, The Bible, The Qur'an and Science is extensive in its coverage of scientific topics in the Qur'an, completely overlooked the mention of aliens.
How aware were the early Muslims, about the existence of extraterrestrials, or verses in the Qur'an on this topic? Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood writes, "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. "This clearly implies that all type of people, good and bad live in the other worlds as they live on our Earth. " (71) He also writes, with reference to the Rasial Imam Ghazali, "According to Imam Muhammad Ghazali (11th Century), people in some of these planetary worlds have learnt to travel and communicate with each other. " (72)
The case of Ibn-e-Abbas is interesting. He was one of the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) had prayed to God specially to endow Ibn-e-Abbas(73) with knowledge of the Qur'an, and he became one of the great scholars of the Qur'an. Maulana Maududi writing in his Tafhim-ul-Qur'an, tells us that, "Ibn-e-Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him). . . believed with confidence that there are many more 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 the inhabitants on the Earth. 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 (pbut). " (74) The knowledge of the existence of aliens and that they are mentioned in the Qur'an, has been present among Muslims from the earliest days of Islam!
There is something else that we know about Ibn-e-Abbas. He did not widely publicize his views about aliens. Rather, he was quite secretive about this matter. The reason is that he was afraid that his ideas would confuse people. In fact, he was afraid that people would be in danger of becoming unbelievers by not accepting the truth of this matter, which the Qur'an itself attested to. Perhaps it was such considerations that lead Muslim scholars of later times not to touch on the topic of aliens much, and so today, also, so many Muslims remain unaware about this matter. But times have changed. We've come a long way in our voyage of discovery of the wonders that surround us. The recent discoveries of extra-solar planets, of ice on the moon (75) , of microbes deep beneath the earth's surface and around thermal vents in the oceans (76) , of water on the sun (77) and many other amazing findings are setting the stage for a grand finale. The public is mentally prepared to hear soon about the discovery of life outside the earth.
In recent times, Muslims have missed golden opportunities of propagating their religion to the peoples of the world. For example, the Qur'an mentions the expansion of the universe. This phenomenon was discovered by scientists only in 1929. If Muslims had let the world know beforehand, that the Qur'an mentioned this fact, then upon its discovery, a big impact could have been made on the non-Muslim world. We would have shown the world the power, the miracle, of the Qur'an. Of course, even today, the miracle remains that the Qur'an mentions the expansion of the universe, but non-Muslims tend to say, "Now you tell us, after science has already discovered this! You must be construing the meaning of Qur'anic verses to suit your wishes. "
Today, as we stand at the threshold of making the most revolutionary discovery in the history of humankind, we Muslims should ask ourselves, "Hasn't the time finally come for the "secret" that Ibn-e-Abbas held to be made known to the whole world? "Yes, the time is ripe. Let the world know, before it discovers for itself, that 1400 years ago in the deserts of Arabia, a prophet received revelations, mentioning the existence of extraterrestrial life through countless heavenly bodies in the universe, and prophesying that one day, humans will indeed discover aliens.
The Qur'an contains many amazing statements relating to science. There is no reason to believe that it has finally yielded all of its scientific secrets and as we enter the next century, we can be confidant that the Qur'an will continue to shed light on some of the most enduring and intriguing scientific mysteries of our times.
By: Samir Khalid Munir
References and Links
1. NASA Home Page
2. Medline citation
--Ref: Search For Past Life On Mars: Possible Biogenic Activity In Martian Meteorite
2. ALH84001. McKay et al. in Science, Vol. 273, pages 924-930; August 16, 1996.
--Scientific American: The Case For Relic Life On Mars. December 1997.
3. Ref: Scott, Edward R. D. et al, Petrological evidence of shock melting of carbonates
3. in the Martian meteorite ALH84001. Nature, 387, 377-379(22 May, 1997).
4. Galileo Home Page
5. Water on Europa:
--Scientific American: Exhibit: Great Balls of Ice: August 19, 1996.
--NASA Space Science News: The Frosty Plains of Europa
6. The Qur'an:
--Translations by Yusuf Ali, Pickthall and Shakir. Muslim Students Association site
--(MSA-USC), containing the entire translated text by three scholars.
--Qur'an Search Engine. Search for verses in the Qur'an by key words.
--Transliteration of the Qur'an. The complete transliterated text of the Qur'an.
--Listen to the Qur'an. The complete text recited in Arabic and English in RealAudio files.
--Qur'an in MP3 format. Download the Qur'an as mp3 files.
7. The Astrobiology Web. Information on space life science. Highly recommended.
8. Sura 42: 29. The Holy Qur'an. Text, Translation and Commentary. Abdullah Yusuf Ali.
9. Sura 24: 41. Yusuf Ali.
10. Note 33 on Sura 42: 29. The Message of the Qur'an. Muhammad Asad.
11. Sura 16: 48. Yusuf Ali.
12. Sura 16: 49. Yusuf Ali.
13. Note 55 on Sura 16: 49. Asad.
14. Note 4568 on Sura 42: 29. Yusuf Ali.
15. Sura 2: 164. Yusuf Ali.
16. Sura 24: 45. Yusuf Ali.
17. Note 43 on Sura 42: 29. The Nobel Qur'an. Tafseer-e-Usmani. Allama Shabbir Ahmed
18. Note 4569 on 42: 29. Yusuf Ali.
Is There Any Alien Intelligent Life ?
19. SETI organizations:
---The SETI Institute.
---SETI@home. Now you can participate in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence
---from your own home by installing a screen saver. Check it out.
20. The Planetary Society. This has the world's largest SETI program.
21. Steven Spielberg.
22. Sura 27: 65. Yusuf Ali.
23. Sura 19: 93-96. Yusuf Ali.
24. Sura 72: 14-15. Yusuf Ali.
25. Sura 39: 68. Yusuf Ali.
26. Sura 57: 21. The Meaning of the Qur'an. Dr. Mahmud Y. Zayid.
Where Can Aliens be Found ?
27. A planet around 51 Pegasi:
----Mayor, M. & Queloz, D. A Jupiter-mass companion to a solar-type star. Nature
----378, 355-359. (1995).
28. The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia. The main internet catalogue of all extrasolar planets
28. discovered so far.
29. Challenge to a planet around 51 Pegasi:
----Walker, Gordan. One of our planets is missing. Nature, 385, 775-776. (27 Feb 1997).
----Gray, David F. Absence of a planetary signature in the spectra of the star 51 Pegasi.
----Nature, 385, 795-796. (27 Feb 1997).
----Update: - New evidence for a planet around 51 Pegasi:
----Marcy, Geoffrey. Extrasolar planets: Back in focus. Nature, 391, 127. (8 Jan 1998).
----Gray, David F. A planetary companion for 51 Pegasi implied by absence of pulsations in the
---- stellar spectra. Nature, 391, 153-154. (8 Jan 1998).
----Hatzes, Artie P. et al. Further evidence for the planet around 51 Pegasi. Nature, 391,
----154-156. (8 Jan 1998).
30. The possible earths are potential moons of planets orbiting 16 Cygni B in the Swan
----and 47 Uma in Ursae Majoris.
----Chyba, Christopher F. Exobiology: Life on other moons. Nature, 385, 201. (16 Jan '97).
----Williams, Darren M. et al. Habitable moons around extra-solar giant planets. Nature,
----385, 234-236. (16 Jan 1997).
31. Sura 65: 12. Yusuf Ali.
32. Note 5527 on Sura 65: 12. Yusuf Ali.
33. Sura 21: 30. Yusuf Ali.
34. Sura 41: 11-12. The Glorious Qur'an. Text and Explanatory Translation. Muhammad
35. Sura 71: 15-16. Pickthall.
36. Sura 51: 47. Asad.
37. Note 38 on Sura 21: 30. Asad.
38. Note 12 and Note 13 on Sura 41: 11. Asad.
39. Note 14 on Sura 41: 12. Asad.
40. Note 31 on Sura 51: 47. Asad.
41. Sura 50: 38. Pickthall.
42. Sura 21: 104. Pickthall.
43. Sura 14: 48. Yusuf Ali.
44. Note 20 on Sura 2: 29. Asad.
45. Note 32 on Sura 65: 12. Usmani.
46. Ref: Bucaille, Maurice. The Bible, The Qur'an and Science. Section: The Qur'an and
46. Modern Science. Chapter III: The Creation of the Heavens and the Earth.
46. Subheading: The Basic Process of the Formation of the Universe and the Resulting
46. Composition of the Worlds.
47. Ref: Sagan, Carl. Cosmos. Chapter II.
----Read the classic article: The Quest for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. By Carl Sagan.
Will we ever Discover Aliens ?
48. Sura 6: 104. Zayid.
49. Sura 6: 109. Zayid.
50. Sura 7: 73. Zayid.
51. Sura 41: 53. Yusuf Ali.
52. Sura 55: 33-34. Yusuf Ali.
53. Sura 29: 22. Zayid.
54. Sura 16: 8. Asad.
55. Note 6 on Sura 16: 8. Asad.
Man's Position Among Creation
56. Sura 17: 70. Pickthall.
57. Note 105 on Sura 17: 70. Usmani.
58. Sura 95: 4-5. Pickthall.
Islam and the Geocentric Universe
59. Sura 40: 57. Yusuf Ali.
60. Note 4431 on Sura 40: 57. Yusuf Ali.
61. Sura 16: 36. Yusuf Ali.
62. Sura 6: 130. Zayid.
63. Sura 45: 36. Pickthall.
64. Sura 43: 4. Zayid.
65. Ref: Mahmood, Bashir-ud-din. Doomsday and Life After Death. Chapter 18,
65. Sub-heading: The Qur'an in Other Worlds. Ta-Ha Publishers.
66. Sura 1: 1. Pickthall.
67. Sura 2: 30. Yusuf Ali.
68. Sura 2: 34. Yusuf Ali.
69. Sura 95: 4. Yusuf Ali.
70. Sura 24: 41. Yusuf Ali.
Conclusion - A "Secret" Waiting to be Told
71. Ref: Mahmood, Bashir-ud-din. Doomsday and Life After Death. Chapter 18,
71. Sub-heading: Life in Other Worlds.
72. Ref: Mahmood, Bashir-ud-din. Doomsday and Life After Death. Chapter 18,
72. Sub-heading: Life in Other Worlds.
73. Ibn-e-Abbas- a short biographical note
74. Maududi, Abul Ala. Tahfhim-ul-Qur'an.
75. Ice on the Moon:
----Scientific American: Science and the Citizen. Water, Water Everywhere: May 1998.
----NASA Press Release: Ice on the Moon.
76. Subterranean microbes:
----Wellsbury, Peter et al. Deep marine biosphere fuelled by increasing organic matter
----availability during burial and heating. Nature, 388, 573-576. (7 Aug 1997).
----Scientific American: Article: Microbes Deep Inside the Earth. October 1996.
77. Water on the Sun:
----Polyansky, Oleg L. et al. Water on the Sun: Line Assignments Based on Variational
----Calculations. Science, Vol. 277, pages 346-348; July 18, 1997.
Free Online Video on Islam & Science:
78. The Qur'an and Space Sciences- by Zahir Abbas- watch this 30 minutes movie online for free,
78. using Real Player! The movie also discusses aliens in the Qur'an.
Free Online Books on Islam & Science:
79. The Bible, The Qur'an and Science- by Maurice Bucaille- read the entire book online!