As-Salaam-Alaikum. This question is follow up to fatwa no. 39742. I’d appreciate if Hussein Mohammed, student Darul Iftaa from Arusha, Tanzani could answer this. Is the concept of alternate reality or parallel universe compatible with Islam? This would essentially mean that there are infinite universes with infinite versions of the same human beings including the Prophets (PBUT) existing in these universes. A Muslim in one universe could be an unbeliever or vice a verse in another universe. Please clarify. Jazak Allah.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
Brother in Islam,
The concept of an Alternate Reality or Parallel Universe is entirely theoretical with no empirical evidence. It is purely a speculative idea constructed by some scientists. There are many scientists that label this theory as unscientific and irrational.
The concept of an Alternate Reality is based on Everett’s Many-World theory. Hugh Everett III, an American physicist, was the first to propose the Many-Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics in his doctoral thesis at Princeton University in 1957.
Assurance that the Many-Worlds interpretation is theoretically possible, came in the late 1990s from a thought experiment – an imagined experiment used to theoretically prove or disapprove an idea- called quantum suicide.
Another theory which suggests that there are universes parallel to our own is the String Theory of the Japanese-American physicist Michio Kaku.
String Theory has been tested once with negative results.[i]
Till today this concept remains an extremely controversial view.
You enquire if the concept of Alternate Reality and Parallel Universe is compatible with Islam.
There is no mention of the concept of Alternate Reality or Parallel Universe in the traditional Islamic texts, rather certain matters related to this theory are contrary to Islam and its teachings.
According to the Many-Worlds theory, if an action has more than one possible outcome, then the universe splits into distinct universes to accommodate each of the possible outcomes. It is explained as the unravelling of two realities that were previously just possible futures of a single reality.[ii]
This also means that if one ever found himself in a situation where death was a possible outcome, then in a universe parallel to his, he is dead.[iii] This means a person is dead and alive.
Everyone has a fixed time and place of death.[iv] A person cannot be alive and dead at the same time.
Furthermore, the many-worlds interpretation is based on the logic of imkān (“absolute” possibility). If something is theoretically possible, irrespective of any empirical evidence, it will be regarded as a valid interpretation.
According to this logic process, it is possible that there are many parallel realities. Therefore, rendering the many-worlds theory as a conclusive and valid interpretation.
However, Islam does not agree with the logic of “absolute” possibility and its application to determine definite knowledge. As the possibility of existence of something does not necessitate its existence.
According to this logic process of “absolute” possibility, it is possible that the universe that Muslims believe to be haadith (preceded by non-existence) is qadeem and that Allah who is qadeem is haadith.
Haadith is something that is brought into existence from non-existence, and that there must be a causer that brings it into existence. It is the belief of all Muslims that everything besides Allah is haadith and that Allah is the causer of everything coming into existence.
Qadeem is something that is not preceded by non-existence and it does not have a causer for its existence. A being who is qadeem is ever-present without a beginning and will continue to exist without an end. Only Allah is that being who is qadeem and no other entity in the universe shares this quality.
To have the believe that other entities besides Allah are qadeem is to associate partners with Allah (shirk). This is contrary to our belief in Tauheed, the most fundamental and ultimate pillar in Islam. Having such beliefs will render a person kaafir.
Similarly, to believe that Allah is haadith leads on to believe that Allah has a creator. This is also kufr.
It will be irrational to consider this logic process in ones communal and personal life. For example, if this logic process was to be applied to determine the correct verdict between two disputants, then both the disputants will believe that their argument has the possibility of being correct. Thus, making it impossible to conclude who is correct.
In brief, the concept of parallel universe is based on assumptions, which is erroneous.
Consider the following verses of the Quran.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ (سورة الحجرات:12)
O you who have Imān! Refrain from excessive assumptions. Verily, some assumptions are a sin. (Surah Hujurāt: Verse 12)
وَمَا يَتَّبِعُ أَكْثَرُهُمْ إِلَّا ظَنًّا إِنَّ الظَّنَّ لَا يُغْنِي مِنَ الْحَقِّ شَيْئًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ بِمَا يَفْعَلُونَ (سورة يونس:36)
Most of them follow only assumptions. Indeed (mere) assumptions is of no significance against the truth. Without doubt Allah has perfect knowledge of what you do. (Surah Yunus: Verse 26.)
Brother, we advise you not to waste your precious time behind these baseless and unsubstantiated speculations. Rather apply your intellect and mental capacity in pondering over the marvel feats and perfection of the universe. This will help to increase your Imān and attain true recognition of Allah.
Pondering on these speculative and hypothetical theories will only confuse you from the truth and cause great harm to your Imān.
Consider the following Hadith:
مِنْ حُسْنِ إِسْلاَمِ المَرْءِ تَرْكُهُ مَا لاَ يَعْنِيهِ. ]سنن الترمذي:ح2317[
Translation: It is from the excellence of a believer’s Islam that he should leave that which is of no concern to him. [Sunan At-Tirmidhi: 2317]
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Student – Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.
[iv]سورة آل عمران (3145)
وَمَا كَانَ لِنَفْسٍ أَنْ تَمُوتَ إِلا بِإِذْنِ اللهِ كِتَاباً مُؤَجَّلاً
سنن الترمذي التأصيل (3/ 318)
حَدثنا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ مَنِيعٍ, وَعَلِيُّ بْنُ حُجْرٍ, المَعْنَى وَاحِدٌ, قَالاَ: حَدثنا إِسْمَاعِيلُ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ, عَنْ أَيُّوبَ, عَنْ أَبِي المَلِيحِ (1), عَنْ أَبِي عَزَّةَ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلى الله عَليه وسَلم: إِذَا قَضَى اللهُ لِعَبدٍ أَنْ يَمُوتَ بِأَرْضٍ, جَعَلَ لَهُ إِلَيْهَا حَاجَةً, أَوْ قَالَ: بِهَا حَاجَةً.
هَذَا حَدِيثٌ صَحِيحٌ.