All major religions provide a framework for understanding moral behavior, the world around us, our obligations to others, and what we can expect from the afterlife. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the Islam views the potential for life beyond our planet with great interest.
What the Quran Says About Aliens
The Quran is the central holy text of Islam. It is believed to be a revelation from Allah revealed to the final prophet, Muhammad, through the archangel Jibril.
The Quran has 114 chapters, or surahs, which were revealed over a period of 23 years. The surahs are divided into verses known as ayat.
The Quran does not admit to the uniqueness of our planet Earth or a belief that is stationary. In fact, the universe is described as being comprised of many units of heavens that are each divided into groups of seven (which is considered a perfect number) with at least one earth supported by the entire system of that heaven (galaxy). Allah says, “The seven heavens and the earth and those that are in them extol His glory…” (Holy Quran, 17:45)
There are several potential mentions of extraterrestrial life in the Quran. Surah Al-Fatiha, which is read every single day, states, “All praise is for Allah—Lord of all worlds.” (Holy Qur’an 1:2) Many people believe this refers to planets, universes, or dimensions beyond our own.
In Surah Ash-Shuraa, 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)
Reading this in the original Arabic can bring you to the conclusion that Allah is being clear about extraterrestrial life. ‘Samawaat’ is used for heavens, a plural that suggests a reference to more than just the sky above. ‘Daabah’ refers to land-dwelling beings that move along the surface of Earth, as opposed to spiritual entities.
Many people who believe in aliens wonder if they are superior beings. In the Quran, humans are higher than animals, angels, and jinn—but not all possible life forms. 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)
Jinn as a Potential Type of Alien Life Form
Jinn are mentioned in the Quran a total of 29 times. In Islam, the jinn were created by Allah alongside humans and angels. Humans were made from clay, angels were made from light, and the jinn were made from smokeless fire.
The word jinn is often anglicized as genie, but the American pop culture portrayal of genies doesn’t quite match how jinn are described in Islam. The jinn have free will and can thus choose to be good, neutral, or evil. They are thought of as parallel to human beings and will face eventual salvation or damnation as a result of their individual choices.
Jinn are thought to be invisible and seldom interact with humans despite having the ability to do so whenever they choose. In folklore, they sometimes take the form of humans, animals, or inanimate objects such as stone or trees.
Historian Jörg Matthias Determann, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, discusses jinn and Islamic views on alien life in his book Islam, Science Fiction and Extraterrestrial Life: The Culture of Astrobiology in the Muslim World. He states that Islamic tradition has generally been supportive of the idea of extraterrestrial life and the scientific search for it—and that the popular view of Muslim culture as being oriented towards the past doesn’t provide a complete picture of their faith.