Commentary: Religion & Astronomy:
Extraterrestrial Intelligence in the Holy Quran
Professor M. A. Mosalam Shaltout, Chairman, Space Research Center
Where are they? Enrico Fermi is reputed to have asked this question at the dawn of the atomic age. He must have been wondering why, having discovered and tamed nuclear energy sources, advanced extraterrestrials were not in evidence here on Earth or out in the skies 
Hector Avalos from Lowa State University quoted in his article “Heavenly Conflicts: The Bible and Astronomy” : The relationship between the Bible and modern astronomy has been very complicated and often turbulent. For most of the last two thousands years, any research on astronomy had to follow the biblical interpretation of the Church as the famous case of Galileo in the 17th century so elegant by illustrated. According, many scientists would argue that for modern astronomy to be born, biblical cosmology had to die. Galileo took one of the first steps leading toward the death of biblical cosmology by mounting a systematic challenge to the biblical notion that the earth was the center of the universe. The centrality of earth had long been associated with the cosmologies of Aristotle and Ptolemy that had been adapted as the official teaching of the church.
Seth Shostak from SETI Institute quoted in his article “Religion, Science, and Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence” : This time the battle concerns sentient beings from other worlds. The idea of cosmic company is an old one, of course. The thought of intelligent being occupying the heavens did not trouble the ancient Greeks, who believed in an infinite number of distant, populated worlds. But the so-called Adamist religions (e.g., Christianity, Judaism, Islam) postulate a special relationship between God and man. We are God’s charge, His special concern. So how would that relationship be affected if we admit, or discover, that there are a few hundred thousand other societies sprinkled around the galaxy? Would not that diminish our own relationship to the creator? This question is being asked because the discovery of extra-solar system planets and reports of possible Martian fossils have given greater credence to the possibility that the universe is filled with living things. If we are only one thinking special species among many, just how special are we? Advances in science have generated this potential problem, but only theology can resolve it. Of possibly greater consequence is another contemporary research activity: SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. So far, SETI scientists have not heard any alien signals beamed to their radio telescopes. But today’s experiments are enormously more sensitive than earlier efforts, and it’s conceivable that success could be around the corner. We would then have concrete proof of the sort of intelligent company that some see as a threat to our special relationship with God. Discovery could lead to communication (even if only one-way), and in that case we might find out something about the alien’s own spiritual sentiments.
The American astronomer Dr. Carl Sagan was the most outspoken voice for the existence of other intelligent being in the universe. This scientist was affected by the Indio religions. The interpretation of some Western scientists on the Sagan trend was that the Indo religions have no restrictions accepting the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. On the other hand, the heavenly religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) prevent thinking of the existence of other intelligent beings in the universe other than humankind on the earth.
In 1600, the Church in Rome burned the astronomer Monsh Georwand Brono because of his belief of existence of an infinite number of suns having an infinite number of planets in orbit around them. This belief was considered heresy.
For more than 1300 years (610-633 A.D), the Holy Quran told us about many universal facts that have been discovered and proved many centuries later. So, it is not strange if the Holy Quran tells us about facts of existence of other types of life in the universe. We can read in the Holy Quran :
(It is God who created seven heavens and of the earth the likeness thereof; His command and controlling power circulate among them; signs indicative of His Omnipotence over all things and inductive to the realization that God is aquatinted with all the facts and that His Omnipotence covers all things in all respects). Al-Talaq 12.
This means that intelligent beings must have existed on the planets out of our solar system. Also, we can read:
(And among His visible signs and His marvels, which display omnipotence and authority, is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the beings which He scattered over both; and the power and omnipotence together when He will, is attributed to Him). Al-Shura 29.
This means that these beings are scattered everywhere throughout the heavens and earth and they are not limited to one single place. Also, God says in (Al-Nour):
(And God created every animate being from water. Some walk, move or crawl with their bellies touching the ground (worms, reptiles, etc), others are bipedal who walk on two feet (man and some animals) and others are quadrupedal which walk on four feet (mammals, etc). God creates what He will, God is indeed omnipotent). Al-Nour 45.
Thus, the Holy Quran tells us about the existence of other intelligent beings other than angels. This is because it distinguished between them as we read:
(And to God all created beings in the heavens and creatures on the earth prostrate themselves in reverence and adoration and so do the angels who do not display inordinate self-esteem). Al-Nahl 49. Dr. El. Ghamrawy (God bless him) explained this statement as follows :
The wording ("created beings") here can be interpreted as the intelligent and unintelligent creatures found in both the heavens and earth. Also:
(And to God, who controls the fate of all, do all beings, the material and the immaterial, in the heavens and on earth submit to His government and to His supreme controlling and influencing power willingly or unwillingly and so do their shadows which are cast on the ground or on a surface by intercepting the sun rays fore and afternoon, and other luminary in the hull of the eve). Al-Ra’d 15.
It is known that the wording "the sun rays fore and afternoon" and "other luminary in the hull of the eve" express the axial rotation of the earth in front of the sun, which causes the night and day and variation of the times. This means that those creatures, which are in the heavens, live on a planet, like the earth, having a similar astronomical system. This is because the phenomenon of the shadows cannot be found unless by existence of two conditions:
(Do you see how God, your creator, prolonged or lengthened the shadow of any object intercepting the sun or other luminary! Had He willed, He would have made it still, and we made the sun the indication which asserts the phenomenon, its presence and its dimensions). Al-Furqan 45.
Thus, the Aya (the statement) of Al-Ra’d is clear evidence of the existence extra-intelligent creatures (beings) in the heavens, and those creatures are tangible and visible like us. Also, it can be understood that those beings, which are bowing (prostrating) to God with their bodies and so do their shadows, are neither angels nor jinn. This is because angels are created from light and jinn are created from fire, and both are intangible. Therefore, they do not obey our physical laws. Thus, they cannot be seen unless they change their conditions. Those creatures have no shadows. Thus, the Aya (statement) of (Al- Ra’d) means that the tangible beings of the heavens and earth which are mentioned in the Aya (statement) number 49 of (Al- Nahl). Also, this can be assured by God’s saying:
(And God created every animate being from water. Some walk, move or crawl with their bellies touching the ground (worms, reptiles, etc), others are biped who walk on two feet (man and some animals) and others are quadruped which walk on four feet (mammals, etc). God creates what He will, God is i ndeed Omnipotent). Al-Nour 45.
Al-Qortoby (The Cordobith) said : Both angels and jinn are not referred to in this statement because we have not seen them explicitly and there is no certainty that they are created from water. The truth is that the angels have been created from light and the jinn have been created from fire.
In the Arabic text of the Holy Quran, we notice that there is a word called (man) mentioned in the previous Aya (statement). This word (man) in Arabic refers to the intelligent (minded) beings. This means that the Holy Quran is speaking of the existence of some intelligent beings both in the heavens and upon earth. Also, we can notice this in some statements like :
(And God, your creator, knows best all creatures, the animate and inanimate, in the heavens and on the earth and We invested some prophets with more privileges than We invested others and gave David the Psalms). Al-Israa 55
(And to God belong all created beings in the heavens and on earth, each and all being obedient and submissive to His will). Al-Roum 26.
(And to God, who controls the fate of all, do all beings, the material and the immaterial, in the heavens and on earth submit to His government and to His supreme controlling and influencing power willingly or unwillingly and so do their shadows which are cast on the ground or on a surface by intercepting the sun rays fore and afternoon, and other luminary in the hull of the eve). Al- Ra’d 15.
(The seven heavens and the earth and all animate and inanimate beings therein praise His glory and extol. His glorious attributes, and there is not one single of an inward and spiritual grace reflecting God’s Omnipotence and exclusive authority, but you -infidels- do not apprehend their way of ascribing His glory. Indeed, He has always been Forbearing, Forgiving). Al-Israa 44.
Do you not see you (O you who are oblivious of God’s Omnipotence) that to God do all creatures in the heavens and on earth prostrate in adoration, praise and worship, and so do the sun and the moon, the stars and the mountains, the trees and the animals and a great many among mankind! Moreover, a great many have deserved punishment. And he whom God defames or treats with contempt shall no one be able to restore his honor. God does what He will). Al-Hajj 18.
(Do you not see that all created beings, animate and inanimate, in the heavens and on the earth submit to God and celebrate His praises and extol His glorious attributes (whether through the bodily structures which fulfill the necessary functions of life or through expressing the thoughts in words — as in some men — or through a peculiar mode of prayer), and so do the birds upon the wind extending their wings, each group knowing its mode of prayer and its mode of expressing admiration to God and extolling His glorious attributes, and God is Omniscient of all that they do). Al-Nour 41.
And since the speech or the language is the separating barrier between the minded (intelligent) and non-minded (unintelligent) beings, there is a Holy Aya (statement) in the Holy Quran which shows that God knows what the beings of the heavens and of the earth speak of:
(Having known by inspiration the conclusion of their secret counsel), the prophet said:” God, my creator, knows all that is being said or discoursed in the heavens and on earth; He is The Omnipotent”). Al-Anbiyaa 4.
Also, the beings in the heavens need God in their lives, as do those upon the earth, as the conditions of their lives change day by day, as the following Aya (statement) states:
(All created beings, the spiritual, the animated the inanimate in the heavens and on earth address to Him a humble prater for mercy and blessings individually or in litanies, pray to Him with supplication in difficulty and in difficulties, or pray to Him for deliverance from what is burdensome, or beg Him for relief, aid and assistance in adversity and in time of danger, or ask Him forgiveness for iniquities, or to exalt the pious and debase the despot and oppressor. Each and every day countless and different prayers and petitions, some being a repetition, and others being born a new, are addressed to Him for different requests each according to his or her circumstances and needs). Al-Rahman 29.
Also, there are many hints in the Holy Quran show that the minded (intelligent) beings in the heavens have the will and the choice and the ability to disobey God in the heavens, just as do intelligent being on the earth, but they too cannot escape His retributive punishment, as stated:
(“Nor are you (people) in a position to over — power God or frustrate Him on earth or in heaven(nor escape His retributive punishment) and besides Him you have no tutelary protectors to defend you against Him”). Al- Ankabout 22.
Also, the Holy Quran hints to the probability of bringing or joining all of the worlds together:
(And among His visible signs and His marvels, which display omnipotence and authority is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the beings which He scattered over both; and the power and omnipotence together them all together when He will, is attributed to Him). Al-Shoura 29.
The last statement means that this bringing together may happen in the present life or in the future life when God brings all beings in the heavens and on the earth together for the reward and judgment as He said:
(That is besides the fact that there is not one single creature in the heavens and on earth but shall come back to stand before Al- Rahman as a servant (slave) submitting to His authority and surrounding himself to Judgment. He has counted them and ascertained their number). Mariam 93-94
(And the trumpet is blown or sounded emitting so violent penetrating shocking and thunderous blast (indicative of the Final Event) as to overwhelm all those in the heavens and on earth who shall be stunned into unconsciousness save those whom God excepts as He will. Next follows another trumpet blast and there, they are all up upon their feet and looking around). Al Zumar 68.
Thus, the Holy Quran shows in explicit texts and clear statements that
the heavens are full of life and croded beings (minded and not minded).
These statements that the Holy Quran date back some 14 centuries and
bring forth many points that can be interpreted as having been
consequently scientifically proven over the centuries since the texts
BWW Society member Professor Dr. Mosalam Shaltout is Chairman of the Space Research Center at the Desert Environment Research Institute of Minufiya University, in El-Sadat City, Egypt. While still pursuing his advanced education, Dr. Shaltout worked as a Research Assistant at the National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (NRIAG) in the Helwan area of Cairo, Egypt between 1968 and 1977. He then worked as a Researcher at NRIAG from 1978 to 1981. Following this, from 1981 to 1985 Dr. Shaltout served as an Associate Professor of Solar-Terrestrial Physics in the Faculty of Science of King Abd-EI-Aziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He has been a full Professor at NRIAG since May 1987, and was Vice Chairman of the Solar and Space Research Department from 1989 to 1995, and Chairman of the same department from 1995 to 1998. In addition to his service in academia, Dr. Shaltout was a consultant for the New and Renewable Energy Authority in Cairo from 1990 to 1991. He is the author of Egyptian Solar Radiation Atlas, the first book of its kind, and Typical Solar Radiation Year of Egypt. Other books he has penned are The Sun and Nile Flooding and Energy Management and the Future Horizons. He has written many scientific and technical articles for international professional journals, including approximately 80 articles in the field of Solar Energy and the Environment, and about 50 papers in the field of Space Science and Technology. Dr. Shaltout is one of the most famous intellectuals in the Arab world, and is well known to the general public through television, radio and daily newspapers. He is an independent writer on the subjects of national strategy and projects in the fields of scientific research, technology development, energy and the environment.
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