Ibn Abbas and NASA's Discovery of New Worlds

Ibn ‘Abbas was once asked about the verse, “It is Allah who has created seven heavens and of the earth, the like of them.1 He replied, “Seven earths: In every earth is a prophet like your Prophet, an Adam like your Adam, a Noah like your Noah, an Abraham like your Abraham and a Jesus like your Jesus."2

If the above report from Ibn Abbas has you scratching your head maybe it shouldn't. Flash-forward fifteen hundred years and modern theoretical physics is suggesting something similar. The concept is known as the “Parallel Universe” theory, or Multiverse (M-theory). So briefly, how does this work?

Our Universe is One of Many

We are all aware of the Big Bang Theory. Simplified, it states that our universe was a tiny dot that quickly grew forming the celestial bodies around us—the stars, planets, moon and everything else. Some scientists suggest that our Big Bang was just one of many, each Big Bang sequentially forming its own universe leaving us with the Multiverse (many universes).

The concept of an expanding universes is found in the Qur'anic verse. “And it is We who have constructed the heaven with might, and verily, it is we who are expanding it."3 Since the cosmos are in constant expansion, astronomical calculations state that there may be a galaxy that is an identical twin to ours. The distance between these two identical galaxies is so large that it’s “beyond astronomical”.

According to level one of Parallel Universe theory, this identical galaxy has an identical you, just a little different. This may sound like a stretch, but it is scientifically plausible. It's based on the idea that the ever expanding universes are made of finite material. Finite material can be arranged in a limited ways until it starts to repeat and that repetition could possibly be another you. If you take into account the statement of Ibn Abbas, it does add weight to this theory.

If this all sounds a bit too far-fetched, we can stick to something a bit more tangible. This week NASA announced the discovery of seven hundred and fifteen new worlds. Ninety-five percent of these worlds are four times the size of Earth, and are orbiting a star similar to our sun. Of them, four are orbiting their sun’s habitable zone. This means they could possibly support life. These are all recent discoveries in the physical world pointing to the possible existence of life on other planets. In the spiritual realm, some of the early Awliya of Allah have spoken of traversing to other worlds, and meeting other created beings on other planets. Maybe science is just starting to catch up.

1. Qur'an, Surah at-Talaq, 65:12.

2. As reported in Al-Durr Al-Manthur Fi Tafsir Bil-Ma'thur by Imam Suyuti:

وأخرج ابن جرير وابن أبي حاتم والحاكم وصححه والبيهقي في الشعب وفي الأسماء والصفات عن أبي الضحى عن ابن عباس في قوله:

{ومن الأرض مثلهن}
قال: سبع أرضين في كل أرض نبي كنبيكم، وآدم كآدم، ونوح كنوح، وإبراهيم كإبراهيم، وعيسى كعيسى

3. Qur'an, Surah ad-Dhariyat, 51:47.