I begin here with a parable that comes under the heading: You can make this stuff up, and there will be believers.
It seems that Mohammad was an Area 51 junkie centuries before the place was laid out by the U.S. government. He was one of the original Predators (his band of merry acolytes being mere predators), slashing his way through the Arabian Peninsula, beheading and mutilating non-believers wherever he found them, especially if they were caught hiding behind rocks. Now and then, one supposes, he gazed up at the heavens, and wondered if there were others like him in the universe. Then he would rouse himself, leave the side of the captive woman or nine-year-old girl he had just raped, pad over to another partitioned section of his commodious tent, and call for his biographer.
“Take a note, Abdullah,” he commanded when the harried-looking man arrived, slightly groggy with disturbed sleep. “Gabriel just spoke to me again. There are other planets out there! See those stars?” he exclaimed, pointing to the roof of the tent. “They’re really shining planets, and they are home to beings just like us, and they all acknowledge Allah as the one true God. If they don’t, it means war, it means jihad, and righteous conversion. We shall slay the jinns of Satan!”
Abdullah said, “Well, that’s all find and good, but…How do we get there?”
“Where the infidel aliens live.” The biographer was seated cross-legged on his straw mat, parchment and ink pot at the ready on a low stand before him. His quill was poised in his left hand to take down the words of the Prophet.
Mohammad was too distracted by the novelty of his new message, and did not notice this left-handed and insulting breach of etiquette. “Allah will fly us there, in magic bubbles. Or on carpets, or broomsticks. He’ll think of something. He is all-powerful.”
“Camels and steeds, too?”
“Of course. Or, Allah will just provide them. He wouldn’t expect us to walk into an infidel city and take it over, would he? We’d look pretty silly. We must scare the Beejesus out of the infidel aliens! Our mounts will appear magically on those worlds. They will be magnificent, and be comfortably saddled, and not need water or forage.” Mohammad waxed poetic. “And we will be armed with the finest swords and spears, gleaming with merciless justice, true at every thrust, and we will be garbed in cloaks of invincibility.”
He paced excitedly back and forth before Abdullah, his mind reeling with visions of conquest. He wondered what alien women looked like. Did they wear veils? Or burkas? Maybe they looked like burkas, with mandibles over their mouths and boasting many stringy, handless arms! Oh, well, nothing risked, nothing gained! Women aren’t everything! He imagined that their men-folk had amassed fortunes in gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And an unlimited banquet of dates, nuts, and kosher delicacies. Kosher? No, no, he meant halal delicacies! Allah be merciful and forgive me!
Mohammad pinched himself once as punishment for the unclean thought.
Abdullah busied himself and scribbled away, his tongue lodged firmly in his left cheek. Then he paused and looked quizzical. “Master, there is one thing I do not understand.”
“Why would they not come to us? After all, you are the mountain. It would only be proper.”
“It is Allah’s will that we go to them. We couldn’t very well spread the faith if we did not venture forth. What kind of a missionary would I be, if we just sat on our heinies and waited for them to come to Mohammad? Sometimes, compromise is a virtue. It’s in the Koran there. I said so!” He pointed to a mass of pages at Abdullah’s side, next to masses of pages that were the Torah and proof-pages of the Bible. His past biographers had found it necessary to adapt some of the material from those works to spice up the Koran, to give it some momentum and action, and also authority.
Abdullah demurred on this point. He scratched his turban once, then asked, “There is another thing. If Allah is all-powerful, and made all living things, including us and the Jews and pagans and other non-believers, why didn’t he just make us all believers, and save you the trouble of killing them? It seems rather short-sighted of him. And not a little whimsical!” Abdullah shook his head, and added with some indignation, “For a Potentate of the Universe, methinks he has a self-esteem deficiency that does not comport with his reputation. He is against idolatry, but wishes to be idolized himself. It would explain his need to be worshipped, to be the center of attention. It all seems a bit narcissistic to me.” Abdullah smiled. “Pardon me for saying so, but I think many of your lieutenants are also full of themselves.”
Mohammad thoughtfully stroked his beard, causing some lice to change abodes, and cast a baleful eye on the biographer. He held out a commanding hand. “Let me see what you have written.”
Abdullah handed him the new Koranic page.
Mohammad read. He cocked his head in appreciation. Reading was a new skill to him, and he did not understand half the words. But what he read was nebulous and ambiguous enough to be taken any way one wished. It read like a glorious prophecy. Worthy of that upstart, Moses. And of Nostradamus. Or Madame Blavatsky. He had knowledge of these future infidel prophets, for the angel Gabriel had whispered their names to him in his past dreams. Still, he scowled. He hummed in doubt, and glanced down at his biographer.
“What means this, dog??” he barked, holding the page out and pointing to an image Abdullah had absently doodled over the script while the Prophet was careening through the stars. It was a likeness of Mohammad, a fair representation of his visage, and accurate to a fault. There was a prominent mole on his left cheek, and an unsightly sty over his right eye. A long scar also ornamented his right cheek, put there not by an enemy’s sword, but by the nails of an infidel woman who had resisted his urgings. He had slain her on the spot, and felt cheated. But righteous.
Abdullah knew the story, but it meant nothing to him. It was impolitic to mention the Prophet’s less glorious episodes. A strong desert breeze blew. The tent swayed and its supporting poles creaked ominously. He cringed before the silent rebuke of his Master, suddenly regretting his outspokenness. He wished now that he had taken that reporter’s job in Haifa.
The next morning, Mohammad advertised for a new biographer. Abdullah’s head was perched atop a spear planted outside the Prophet’s tent. A sign on parchment hung by a cord from around its neck. It read: “Wanted: Ghost-Writer. Must believe everything I say. Spoils of war to be negotiated. Generous retirement plan (not this person’s). Blasphemers and Irish need not apply.”
Yes, I made up that parable. However, here are some excerpts from serious approaches to the Koran. When it comes to outer space and aliens, Muslims had the West beat by 1,400 years. Don’t “believe” me? Take a gander.
Within Islam, the statement of the Qur’an, “All praise belongs to God, Lord of all the worlds” suggests multiple universal bodies, and maybe even multiple universes, which may indicate extraterrestrial and even extradimensional life.
According to Ahmadyya, Islam as a more direct reference from the Quran is presented by Mirza Tahir Ahmad as a proof that life on other planets may exist according to the Quran. In his book, Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth, he quotes verse 42:29 “And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and of whatever living creatures (da’bbah) He has spread forth in both…” according to this verse there is life in heavens. According to the same verse “And He has the power to gather them together (jam-‘i-him) when He will so please”; indicates the bringing together the life on Earth and the life elsewhere in the Universe. The verse does not specify the time or the place of this meeting but rather states that this event will most certainly come to pass whenever God so desires. It should be pointed out that the Arabic term Jam-i-him used to express the gathering event can imply either a physical encounter or a contact through communication.
In Shia Islam the 6th Imam Ja’far al-Sidiq has been quoted as saying that there are living beings on other planets.
Of course, taking the Koran literally is much like believing that Charlie Sheen, Russell Crowe, and Mel Gibson all got gold stars from their anger management monitors. More likely, because the Koran, like the Bible and the Torah, was a work-in-progress for centuries, some anonymous, bored, and underpaid scribe, and perhaps even Ja’far al-Sadiq himself, had a tad too much spiked date juice, and let his imagination run away with him. And perhaps that alien Jodie Foster met on Vega after a wild ride on an interstellar subway train in Contact was really Allah in disguise (taking a leaf from Zeus). If it was, she was lucky she didn’t get the Lara Logan treatment.
End of story.