Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Aliens, Islam and New Earth

I read of the discovery of a new Earth-like planet with interest.
Astronomers have found the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date, a world which could have water running on its surface.
They say the benign temperatures on the planet mean any water there could exist in liquid form, and this raises the chances it could also harbour life.
One of the first television series I watched with any regularity was Star Trek TNG. The fantasy world of starships exploring galaxies and aliens had never failed to fire my imagination. Of course in my role playing the Federation captain was Muslim and often he would say "Mr Riker you have the bridge" and then go to the ready room to say his prayers! How he would find the Qiblah ten light years away from Sector 001 and what prayers he would pray at warp speed were details not to be bothered with at the tender age of ten.

I had often wondered - what Islam says about the possible existence of alien life? For example, the first verse of the first chapter of the Quran ends with "Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds".

Worlds. Plural. Why did He use the plural - does it mean there are worlds besides ours? Other planets containing life, or parallel universes? Or just a translation using the royal form of Old English?

Then there is this verse when Allah tells the angels "I will create a vicegerent on earth" referring to man (Adam) [2:30]. Now, humans are appointed as God's deputy on Earth. Could He have appointed some other creature a vicegerent on some other planet?

I am of course confident we won't be invaded by smarter aliens because "Do ye not see that Allah has subjected to your (use) all things in the heavens and on earth ..." [31:20]. Maybe this is why we haven't received any radio signals from that new "Super-Earth" planet they discovered - those aliens just aren't as smart as humans.

It's great that we discovered such a planet - now we have something to aim for. I hope the day when we can travel faster than light is closer than it seems. I am sure there will be a way to make it into a reality now that we have something to aim for. I still have a newspaper cutting of when they discovered the first extra-solar planet, now there's more than 200 known.

The Quran is of course clear on the existence of other intelligent forms of life - there's the angels, and then there's the Jinn with whom we apparently share this planet. Although if you believe the stories we were told on summer nights in our village in Bangladesh at a bonfire when the power would go out, Jinns apparently have a whole kingdom on the planet of Uranus.

I don't know, if I were a being with the power of inter planetary travel I would probably choose Mars. Then of course, there is the story of the Jinn in the Bermuda Triangle.


mousehunter said...

I think about extra-terestrial life once in a while, I don't discount it though, because of the "Lord of all the worlds" verse. Could possilby be Jinn on every planet, not capable of interplantary travel, but Earth being the only planet with humans. And since we can't hear or see Jinn (normally) here, no way we're gonna hear them over the space waves right?

Maliha said...

We mess up the earth and start looking around for another planet to trash. I say we no inter-planetary travel; we should stay put and reap the consequences of our stupidity.

(and yes, I believe that more intelligent life could potentially exist...we aint that smart :p )

saqi namah said...

I think this is an empirical question i.e., if there is life out there then hopefully we will find it and if there is intelligent life out there then we will deal with the theological consequences of the discovery when we meet them.

Ms said...

ooh, well done mezba!jinns... now when i stay up all night, i'll be looking over my shoulder and wondering...and panicking... then going to bed and staying under the covers... so im going to blame u if i fail! :D

isheeta said...

ps that was me, isheeta

Shovon said...

suppose the "aliens" in their superior intelligence choose not to communicate with others?

In our self-induced isolation, we look to the stars to fill the void that would otherwise have been filled by our relatives and friends/neighbors. Humans, go figure.

If you are really interested, read the book Contact by Carl Sagan, interesting take on communication with The Others...

Anonymous said...

Hmmm,I never really thought about it but at times, I do wonder if there is any other life form (aliens???) out there. Still, that ayah about the *worlds* makes someone pause and think about it. Back home, growing up, there was only 1 tv station and Star Trek was like the IT show! So pathetic, I still remember it though, you brought back all those memories. :) sf

Anonymous said...

The polar bears are drowning, we are creating mountains out of garbage (also created by us) and we've crated havoc on the planet. We should leave this other planet alone and go fix the problems we have created on this one.

Suroor said...

I have thought about alien life too and to be honest I think aliens exist. Saying that alien life is impossible is limiting God's creativity which we know is limitless.

Great post!

The Bengali Fob said...

I like what Suroor said. It's a great quote!

Aisha said...

Great post.... I used to always wonder before i got married... hmmm so if there is ife on other planets like the Quran seems to imply.. what if they're people.. and if they are people.. what if my soul mate lives on a planet I will nver see..

I'm so strange!

Alhamdullilah managed to meet my soul mate here on earth though he does occassionally engage in alien like behavior :)

Aisha said...

and incase you wondered. I've been MIA recently b/c i'm on a friends computer since mine is acting funny, hence no bookmarks! :(

mezba said...

Mousehunter: Jinn on other planets... truly I didn't think of that. Why not? They may not need air and oxygen like us - after all they are supposed to be energy while we are matter, right?

Maliha: haha I think pretty soon we have to start minining the other planets in the solar system though - as soon as they figure out a faster way to travel it will happen.

Saqi: Should Klingon women wear hijab? They are unattractive anyways. Except Lt. Torres.

Isheeta: Ah you take me back to those childhood nights of getting scared on purpose by Jinn stories. You want Jinns in Canada? Travel Montreal to Ottawa at night (past 2 am). One of the most desolate, darkest roads ever!

Shovon: hmm.. fascinating. I got Contact last night will watch the movie instead :-p

Sf: Star Trek was the best.

Beam me up Scotty.
Very funny scotty - now beam up my clothes.

Ruby: Not when Bush and Harper are in charge!

Suroor: Excellent quote. You are so thoughtfully skilled with words.

Bfob: Aint it?

Aisha: hahaha that was cute and funny!

saqi namah said...

I am sure Muslim Klingon women do wear hijabs, As for Lt. Torres she is actually half-human and half Klingon. As for Muslim shapeshifters like Lt. Odo from Deep Space Nine the can morph their heads into hijabs when non-mehram are present so that's not a big deal for them

mezba said...

Haha Saqi good one!