Why it is time for Muslims to take Extraterrestrial Life Seriously
The question of whether humanity is alone in the vast universe, encompassing an estimated two trillion galaxies, has long been a subject of significant inquiry. Historical accounts of UFO sightings can be traced back to as early as 1440 BCE, but in modern times, a notable incident occurred on 24 June 1947 when pilot Kenneth Arnold reported witnessing nine shiny, crescent-shaped objects near Mount Rainier in Washington state, USA. Another prominent event unfolded in July 1947 near Roswell, New Mexico, where an unconventional crash took place on a ranch owned by Mac Brazel. Initially reported as the recovery of a “flying disc” by the military, subsequent statements attributed the incident to a weather balloon, triggering suspicions of a cover-up by the U.S. government. Over time, diverse testimonies from witnesses, military personnel, and UFO enthusiasts have given rise to numerous theories surrounding the Roswell incident. The 2021 Pentagon report acknowledged the lack of explanations for 143 Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) sightings, while bipartisan United States Congress members have expressed agreement regarding public access to evidence on UAP sightings by government agency personnel. Concurrently, a team comprising sixteen experts and scientists assembled by NASA is poised to release its initial report on unidentified anomalous phenomena, commonly known as UFOs, in the forthcoming months.
The accumulating evidence concerning Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs), and potential extraterrestrial entities has generated growing interest, yet definitive proof of their existence remains elusive. Consequently, the quest for extraterrestrial life endures. The launch of the James Webb Telescope has heightened prospects of discovering life beyond Earth, as this advanced infrared telescope explores hitherto uncharted regions of the cosmos. Recent astronomical and astrophysical advancements, discoveries, and observations have ignited considerable enthusiasm while also prompting theological considerations, particularly pertaining to the possibility of extraterrestrial life. These developments have spurred investigations by Muslim scholars, delving into relevant passages in the Quran and Hadith to assess potential implications.
From a technical standpoint, the Islamic perspective regarding the presence of life in other regions of the universe not only entertains the notion as a mere probability but considers it a strong possibility, primarily based on the explicit references within the Quran to the existence of angelic beings and Jinn. Despite some scholars attributing metaphysical characteristics to these entities, the Quran directly addresses their creation and emphasizes their origination from tangible matter or a form of energy. Pertaining to angels, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has asserted that they were fashioned from “nur” (light) signifying a material aspect associated with their existence. Such scriptural content within Islamic teachings serves as a foundation for the consideration and affirmation of life existing beyond Earth in the cosmic expanse. In the domain of quantum physics, light is fundamentally composed of discrete energy quanta known as photons, which exhibit dual characteristics of behaving as both waves and particles. Remarkably, this scientific understanding aligns with the portrayal of angelic attributes in the Quran, wherein their exceptional capabilities encompass the capacity to traverse vast distances at extraordinary velocities, exemplified by their ability to traverse a span of fifty thousand years in a single day. This congruence between quantum physics’ description of light as photon packets and the Quranic depiction of angelic behaviour underscores intriguing parallels and potential intersections between scientific knowledge and theological perspectives. On the other hand, hadiths also describe angels as having the ability to take solid form. A famous hadith states that Angel Gabriel visited Prophet Muhammad at a gathering in human form.
While in the Quran, the Jinn are described as being created from a substance termed “smokeless, poisonous, or toxic fire.” An interesting interpretation emerges from this description, as fire typically generates smoke, raising the possibility that the attribute mentioned may allude to a form of radiation, similar to radioactive materials, which do not produce smoke but are characterized by high heat and toxicity. Given these scriptural indications, it becomes reasonable to postulate that the universe abounds with diverse life forms. However, the fundamental query lies in the existence of organic life beyond Earth. Islamic theological perspectives assert a resolute affirmative to this question, viewing it not merely as a probability but a significant possibility, reinforced by explicit references in the Quran to the existence of extraterrestrial realms, exemplified in the verse, “Allah is He Who created seven firmaments and of the earth a similar number.” According to a hadith reported by Ibn Abbas, Prophet Muhammad offered an interpretation of the aforementioned verse as follows: “In space, at a distance of 500 years, there exist worlds akin to your own, and in these worlds, there are Adams and Abrahams like yours (humans or human-like entities)..” This prophetic interpretation lends support to the notion of multiple inhabited worlds existing beyond Earth, thereby suggesting the potential existence of human-like beings in other regions of the cosmos. Such perspectives, derived from Islamic teachings, postulate the likelihood of extraterrestrial life, reinforcing the notion of a diverse and expansive universe inhabited by varied life forms. Numerous Islamic scholars contend that the usage of the term “seven” to describe the firmaments signifies a representation of manifoldness, implying the conceivable existence of a vast number of worlds within the cosmos.
Numerous additional verses within Islamic scriptures point to the existence of intelligent beings dispersed across diverse regions of the universe, exemplified by the verse: “…knowing that all those in the heavens and the earth submit to His Will, willingly or unwillingly, and to Him they will all be returned.” While in another verse of the Quran, it is explicitly mentioned that some of these beings possess an organic nature: “Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one unit (Singularity), then We parted them, and we made every living thing of water?” One of the most significant evidences presented in the Quran can be found in Chapter as-Shuraa, where it states: “And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the dispersion of all living beings throughout both. And He possesses the utmost capability to gather them all together whenever He so wills.” In this context, the Quran employs the term “dabba” to refer to living beings, and it is noteworthy that this term is exclusively used in the Quran to denote organic entities. Furthermore, the verse explicitly indicates that these living organisms have been dispersed throughout both the earth and the heavens.
References to the possibility of extraterrestrial life extend beyond the previously mentioned verses, as evidenced by a distinct chapter in the Quran that addresses the concept of Ya’juj wa Ma’juj, enigmatic beings anticipated to emerge and invade the earth’s surface at a future time.. The chapters Kahf and Anbiya in the Quran, along with the hadiths of Prophet Muhammad, expound upon the concept of Ya’juj wa Ma’juj, elucidating that these enigmatic beings will descend from above and endeavour to colonize the earth, resulting in the destruction of half of humanity’s population. However, their invasion will be followed by a decline, induced by a disease caused by the proliferation of microscopic organisms infesting their necks. Prophet Muhammad further elucidates this account in a comprehensive manner in relevant hadith. According to the narrations found in this specific hadith of Prophet Muhammad, Ya’juj wa Ma’juj are prophesied to descend upon the earth from above. Their arrival will be accompanied by a voracious consumption of available water sources, including the waters of Lake Tiberias (also known as the Sea of Galilee), at a rapid pace. In response to their invasion, humans will seek protection within their shelters and mountainous fortresses. Ya’juj wa Ma’juj will engage in armed aggression against human populations, boasting about their conquest of both terrestrial and celestial realms. They will indiscriminately attack and deplete water supplies wherever they encounter them. Those who seek refuge in mountainous regions will pray to their Lord, imploring for deliverance from these formidable creatures. Subsequently, God will respond by sending minuscule organisms (bacteria or viruses) into the napes of Ya’juj wa Ma’juj’s necks, ultimately leading to their demise.
The hadith culminates with the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) words, predicting that after the demise of Ya’juj wa Ma’juj, the earth’s surface will be strewn with numerous lifeless bodies of these creatures. Following this event, God will dispatch a substantial species of flying creatures (or vessels), characterized by their ostrich-like necks. These flying creatures (or vessels) will undertake the task of collecting and removing the carcasses of Ya’juj wa Ma’juj, effectively cleansing the earth’s surface from their remains.
The explicit statements attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, wherein Ya’juj wa Ma’juj are described as descending from above, defeating human populations, depleting water sources, and ultimately succumbing to diseases their immune systems are ill-equipped to combat, collectively imply an intention of colonizing the Earth upon their arrival from space.
Consequently, from an Islamic theological standpoint, the existence of extraterrestrial life aligns with the belief that God’s creations serve a purpose, and the vastness of the universe suggests a plethora of potentially habitable planets. Therefore, it becomes plausible to consider that God may have created intelligent beings on some of these exoplanets, thus extending the possibility of extraterrestrial life beyond Earth.
Revisiting the subject of UFO or UAP sightings, the abundance of reports documented over many decades includes a subset that has garnered significant attention from government bodies, indicating a growing seriousness towards investigating these phenomena. The nature of these observed objects, whether they signify extraterrestrial craft or employ unfamiliar terrestrial technology, persists as an enigmatic matter. Prudently, the most cautious approach to these reports entails patiently awaiting conclusive evidence before drawing definitive conclusions.
 Muslim, Zuhd, 61, 4/2294
 Quran 70:4
 Musnad, I, 257; Buhârî, Salat, 1
 Buhârî, iman 1; Muslim, iman 1
 Quran 15:27
 Quran 65:12
 Tirmizi, 3317, Abu Dawud, 4723, Ibn Majah, 193
 Quran 3:83
 Quran 21:30
 Quran 42:29.
 Quran 21:96
 Sahih Muslim, Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah: hadith al fitan