Astronomers have found the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date, a world which could have water running on its surface.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.
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.
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.