What Does Islam Say About Aliens? A Look at Quranic Verses and Hadith – Part 2

Nouri Sardar (The Muslim Vibe)

Aliens in the Qur’an

The Holy Qur’an, perhaps, alludes to the existence of alien life multiple times.

In a surah we read every single day – Surah Al-Fatiha, Allah (SWT) says:

All praise is for Allah—Lord of all worlds.”

(Holy Qur’an 1:2)

Allah emphasises that He is the Lord of all worlds, perhaps referring to worlds as in planets, universes, or dimensions. ‘Aalam’ – the word used for worlds here – can refer to an entire world or an entire people. Classical scholars obviously understood ‘aalam’ to mean people, animals, jinn, angels etc, but Allah is, from the very beginning, saying here that we are not alone.

The biggest pointer to life on other planets is a verse in Surah Ash-Shuraa, where Allah says:

And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and of whatever living creatures He has spread forth in both. And He has the power to gather them together whenever he pleases.”
(Holy Quran, 42:30)

Examination of this verse leads many to believe that Allah is being clear here about the existence of extraterrestrial life. Firstly because the plural is used for heavens – ‘Samawaat’, meaning He is not just referring to the sky above us. Secondly, because the word used for creatures here is ‘daabah’. ‘Daabah’ refers to land-dwelling animals that move along the surface of the Earth. Therefore He is not referring to spiritual beings, but literal beings that occupy the Heavens (i.e., outside of Earth).

The famous Qur’an translator Abdullah Yusuf Ali seems to agree. He writes:

…it is reasonable to suppose that life in some form or another is scattered through some of the millions of heavenly bodies scattered through space.”
(The Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary, Ad-Dar Al- ‘Arabiah, Beirut, 1938, 1314)

He isn’t the only one. In a commentary on this verse, Allamah Tabatabai says:

The apparent meaning of this verse is that there are living creatures (Dawab) in the heavens similar to those on earth…”

(Al-Mizan – Volume 18, Page 58)

Islamic theologian Fahir al-Din al-Razi says in his commentary of this verse:

It is not impossible that in the heavens there are species of animals that move just like humans walk on the earth.”

(Religions and extra-terrestrial life, David Weintraub, pg. 165)

Agha Mahdi Puya, the Ayatollah who authored his famous Qur’an tafsir, was quite specific about the existence of alien life. He writes:

Life is not confined to the earth. It is indicated in this verse that life in some form or other is existing in the millions of heavenly bodies scattered through space. The Almighty who created such countless beings has surely the power to bring them together when the trumpet is blown.”

(Pooya/Ali Commentary 42:29)

What’s also interesting is the latter portion of the verse, where Allah says ‘He has the power to gather them together whenever he pleases’, emphasising that He can gather these various types of life together. Meaning that if the verse does refer to extraterrestrial life, He could be alluding to contact between beings on Earth and beings living beyond it. Let’s not forget that we look back at many verses today that highlighted hidden mysteries which science later “discovered”, such as living things being made of water, the expansion of the Universe, etc. We may one day look back at this verse and point out that the Qur’an foretold first contact with extraterrestrial life.

An Artist’s rendering of an exoplanet.

However, it’s important to remember that how we interpret this verse is based on how we choose to interpret the word used for Heavens – ‘Samaawat’. Objectively, the word has been used in the Qur’an for multiple meanings, including referring to above, planets in the sky, and the atmosphere on the Earth. So when Allah uses the word ‘Daabah’ in the context of ‘samaawat’ meaning the atmosphere of the Earth, ‘Daabah’ may actually be referring to microscopic life forms or large creatures (like birds) that surround or travel in the atmosphere.

Furthermore, Allah referring to gathering these beings together, could simply be referring to gathering them on the Day of Judgement, and not before.

In another verse, Allah (SWT) says:

Allah is He Who created seven heavens, and of the earth the like thereof. The divine command comes down in their midst, that you may know that Allah has power over all things, and that Allah encompasses all things in His knowledge…”
(Holy Quran: 65:13)

Here Allah alludes to the fact that there are similar, if not identical bodies to Earth. While this may be referring to planets in general, He also reminds us that divine revelation comes down to all of them. This could mean that divine revelation descends to alien life as well.

In another verse, Allah says:

The seven heavens and the earth and those that are in them extol His glory…”
(Holy Quran, 17:45)

Here, Allah uses the pronoun ‘men’ when saying ‘those’, indicating that He is referring to intelligent life that occupies the heavens, or distant star systems, perhaps.

An artists impression of Proxima B, orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri / SO / M. Kornmesser / UNIG

The last verse, which Dr. Yasir Qadhi mentions is perhaps the biggest proof for extraterrestrial life (though he leans toward its existence, as opposed to fully supporting the idea) is where Allah says:

Indeed, We have dignified the children of Adam, carried them on land and sea, granted them good and lawful provisions, and privileged them far above many of Our creatures.”
(Holy Qur’an 17:1)

His point is that Allah is telling us here that we are higher than many other creatures – but not all of them (hence His use of the word ‘many’). And since we know that we are higher than angels, jinn, and animals, this verse is alluding to another form of creation that we are not aware of – perhaps, alien life.

The famous Qur’an translator Abdullah Yusuf Ali seems to agree. He writes:

…it is reasonable to suppose that life in some form or another is scattered through some of the millions of heavenly bodies scattered through space.”
(The Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary, Ad-Dar Al- ‘Arabiah, Beirut, 1938, 1314)

He isn’t the only one. In a commentary on this verse, Allamah Tabatabai says:

The apparent meaning of this verse is that there are living creatures (Dawab) in the heavens similar to those on earth…”

(Al-Mizan – Volume 18, Page 58)

Islamic theologian Fahir al-Din al-Razi says in his commentary of this verse:

It is not impossible that in the heavens there are species of animals that move just like humans walk on the earth.”

(Religions and extra-terrestrial life, David Weintraub, pg. 165)

Agha Mahdi Puya, the Ayatollah who authored his famous Qur’an tafsir, was quite specific about the existence of alien life. He writes:

Life is not confined to the earth. It is indicated in this verse that life in some form or other is existing in the millions of heavenly bodies scattered through space. The Almighty who created such countless beings has surely the power to bring them together when the trumpet is blown.”

(Pooya/Ali Commentary 42:29)

What’s also interesting is the latter portion of the verse, where Allah says ‘He has the power to gather them together whenever he pleases’, emphasising that He can gather these various types of life together. Meaning that if the verse does refer to extraterrestrial life, He could be alluding to contact between beings on Earth and beings living beyond it. Let’s not forget that we look back at many verses today that highlighted hidden mysteries which science later “discovered”, such as living things being made of water, the expansion of the Universe, etc. We may one day look back at this verse and point out that the Qur’an foretold first contact with extraterrestrial life.

An Artist’s rendering of an exoplanet.

However, it’s important to remember that how we interpret this verse is based on how we choose to interpret the word used for Heavens – ‘Samaawat’. Objectively, the word has been used in the Qur’an for multiple meanings, including referring to above, planets in the sky, and the atmosphere on the Earth. So when Allah uses the word ‘Daabah’ in the context of ‘samaawat’ meaning the atmosphere of the Earth, ‘Daabah’ may actually be referring to microscopic life forms or large creatures (like birds) that surround or travel in the atmosphere.

Furthermore, Allah referring to gathering these beings together, could simply be referring to gathering them on the Day of Judgement, and not before.

In another verse, Allah (SWT) says:

Allah is He Who created seven heavens, and of the earth the like thereof. The divine command comes down in their midst, that you may know that Allah has power over all things, and that Allah encompasses all things in His knowledge…”
(Holy Quran: 65:13)

Here Allah alludes to the fact that there are similar, if not identical bodies to Earth. While this may be referring to planets in general, He also reminds us that divine revelation comes down to all of them. This could mean that divine revelation descends to alien life as well.

In another verse, Allah says:

The seven heavens and the earth and those that are in them extol His glory…”
(Holy Quran, 17:45)

Here, Allah uses the pronoun ‘men’ when saying ‘those’, indicating that He is referring to intelligent life that occupies the heavens, or distant star systems, perhaps.

An artists impression of Proxima B, orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri / SO / M. Kornmesser / UNIG

The last verse, which Dr. Yasir Qadhi mentions is perhaps the biggest proof for extraterrestrial life (though he leans toward its existence, as opposed to fully supporting the idea) is where Allah says:

Indeed, We have dignified the children of Adam, carried them on land and sea, granted them good and lawful provisions, and privileged them far above many of Our creatures.”
(Holy Qur’an 17:1)

His point is that Allah is telling us here that we are higher than many other creatures – but not all of them (hence His use of the word ‘many’). And since we know that we are higher than angels, jinn, and animals, this verse is alluding to another form of creation that we are not aware of – perhaps, alien life.

About the author

Nouri Sardar is a British poet, spoken word artist and television personality from London. At the age of 15 he converted to Shia Islam. He began his writing in 2007 and published his first poem titled 'We Remember' in 2009. He is known for writing poetry related to Shia Islam and hosting TV shows on Ahlulbayt TV.

Sardar than began performing his poetry as spoken word in seminars and conferences. In 2011, he released his debut spoken word album "Hussain To Me". In 2013, Sardar began presenting a show on Ahlulbayt TV titled, 'Poetry Corner'.

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