By far, Einstein's best-known equation is "E=mc2 - energy equals mass times the velocity of light squared." According to this equation, any given amount of mass is equivalent to a certain amount of energy, and vice versa.

In other words, the speed of the light in vacuum is the upmost limit of the motion for anything which carries energy and or information.

But as per many incidents in Islam scriptures, we know that angels are able to travel to the heavens and back in under a 'earth day'. Angel Gabriel has also visited our planet from the seventh heaven many a time.

It is also believed that Prophet Muhammed (SAW) traveled to the seventh heaven, visited paradise and hell, crossed the Sidrat al-Muntaha all in less than a night.

Given that space is denser than vacuum and things tend to travel even slower in a denser medium, if angels can cover such large distances in such short intervals, are they faster than light particles?

Note :
It takes light 100,000 light years to traverse from one corner of the milky way to the other as per current scientific knowledge. We are not aware of the orientation of the milky way w.r.t to the sky of our first heaven. But given the tilt of earth's axis and assuming the sky is 'above', it would take light particles ~1000 light years to exist the galaxy at a perpendicular angle (Avg thickness of Milky Way is 0.3kpc.)

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    I don't think we have an explanation (textual or otherwise) that explains the dependence of inertia on energy content. Is the purpose of the question to correlate scripture to science? Like how did Moses part the Red Sea against the laws of fluid dynamics? Or that when Prophet 'Issa ﷺ brought a person back from the dead against all laws and traditions at the time and until now? – III-AK-III Apr 23 '18 at 16:07
  • Not quite. I do believe that Moses parted the Red Sea and that Jesus brought a person back from dead by God's will. I'm just trying to find out if believing that light particles are the fastest thing negates that Angels can travel such large distances in short periods of time. Either they are faster than photons or they can't travel so fast (my heart says the former is true but my mind wants me to analyze before assuming). – Ahmed Apr 23 '18 at 16:18
  • @Ahmed . I don't see how believing they are the fastest natural thing makes a difference. Like you believe that naturally seas cannot part into two. – The Z Apr 23 '18 at 18:41

The short answer is we have no explanation.

From the first hadith in Sahih Muslim, partially quoted below, narrated on the authority of 'Umar ibn al-Khattāb, we know that belief in angels is one of the six articles of imān (faith):

قَالَ فَأَخْبِرْنِي عَنِ الإِيمَانِ.‏ قَالَ: أَنْ تُؤْمِنَ بِاللَّهِ وَمَلاَئِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَتُؤْمِنَ بِالْقَدَرِ خَيْرِهِ وَشَرِّهِ.‏ قَالَ صَدَقْتَ

He (the inquirer) said: Inform me about Iman (faith). He (the Holy Prophet) replied: That you affirm your faith in Allah, in His angels, in His Books, in His Apostles, in the Day of Judgment, and you affirm your faith in the Divine Decree about good and evil. He (the inquirer) said: You have told the truth.

Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Hadith 1

The six articles of faith involve, to one degree or another, a belief of an unseen. In the case of angels, it is all a matter of the unseen, which means that we can only attribute to them what has reached us through a verse of the Qur'an or a hadith by the Prophet ﷺ, for example being created of light:

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: خُلِقَتِ الْمَلاَئِكَةُ مِنْ نُورٍ وَخُلِقَ الْجَانُّ مِنْ مَارِجٍ مِنْ نَارٍ وَخُلِقَ آدَمُ مِمَّا وُصِفَ لَكُمْ

'A'isha reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: The Angels were born out of light and the Jinns were born out of the spark of fire and Adam was born as he has been defined (in the Qur'an) for you (i. e. he is fashioned out of clay).

Sahih Muslim, Book 55, Hadith 78

When saying that angels are created from light, this does not necessarily mean that this is their current form (similar to us as humans being created from dust but or form does not indicate so). In the Qur'an:

يُدَبِّرُ الْأَمْرَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ ثُمَّ يَعْرُجُ إِلَيْهِ فِي يَوْمٍ كَانَ مِقْدَارُهُ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ مِّمَّا تَعُدُّونَ

He arranges [each] matter from the heaven to the earth; then it will ascend to Him in a Day, the extent of which is a thousand years of those which you count.

Surat As-Sajdah 32:5

Ibn Kathir, in his tafsīr, aid that an angel descends a distance that is normally covered in 500 years one way in a split of a second. Such matters of the unseen have no scientific explanation; it is a matter of faith. Furthermore, your question implies an assumption that angels are capable of doing so willingly, and that angels are bound by the same laws of physics that apply to us, both of which there is no Islamic textual evidence to confirm or deny.

Moreover, science evolves over time. Until the turn of the 20th century, Newton laws were perceived to be an accurate representation of the physics of motion; that is, until Einstein produced his theory of special relativity then his theory of general relativity. Now we know that kinematic time dilation (Ives–Stilwell experiment) and gravitational time dilation (Pound–Rebka experiment) cancel out (among several other experiments). Our understanding of the universe and where the limits of laws of physics that we currently hold to be universal are drawn will continue to evolve:

سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ ۗ أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ

We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. But is it not sufficient concerning your Lord that He is, over all things, a Witness?

Surat Fussilat 41:53

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