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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
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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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What moves faster than light?

We know though science Space is expanding faster than light!

How did the angels came and go about their business on earth all those years?

God possibly had angels travel through the wormhole. I dont think Angels are like photons or Neutrinos... they might be but i suspect even they have to abide by the laws of physics which governs our universe. The fact they are made from light maybe gives them an edge that they can move as fast as light but still even light takes thousands of years to travel between the closest of the stars. For something to move within a day you need a wormhole!

So what happened during the Night of Miraj? Our prophet took a nights journey which otherwise was impossible back then and has remained so and in a course of last 40 years has gone from impossible to plausible after the paper on Alcubierre's drive was published last year or so. NASA's advanced propulsion teams has been working with this new data and well even though we dont possess the means to create it as yet but it is possible to exists. The Universe consists 78% of dark Energy which is EXPANDING SPACE faster than light!

If space is allowed to expand faster than light this means the universal speed limit of light barrier can be exploited through a loophole which we can derive from expanding on Einstein's equations i.e. E= -mc2 where-m is the Negative Mass required to expand space.

Our observations tell us a dark energy expands space faster than light; either we find a way to harvest this energy or find an equivalent i.e. create Negative mass in our labs. Negative mass could be a by product of dark energy required for the next big leap in FTL drive. Observations surely suggest that but we still dont know how to create it.

Now negative mass is NOT anti mass, because anti mass has positive gravity, we need negative gravity in order to achieve a warping bubble which contracts the space in front of us allowing us to move through it faster than light while space expands behind us. We can move between stars maybe whole galaxies in mere seconds if not minutes or hours or days and weeks. It has become PLAUSIBLE and with more work some day it WILL become POSSIBLE.

To say it all science fiction mumbo jumbo, that is NOT true, Quran has already told us God moved his angels between heavens and made distances that would take 50,000 years as short as a few steps. This is wormhole technology. If God used it that means its exists. Which only means as humans we have to find a way to create it. Think of it as a challenge from God.

God gifted us with a brain and then God hassed science tio create this universe. He tells us again and again how superior he has made us over all other beings on earth. We need to use our brains to do not just good but Great! So far we are slowly decoding all of his secrets through science, and there's nothing wrong with that, in fact God wants us to do just that.Its why he has made us Ashraful Makhluat

God has given us this challenge to do good, this good does Not only mean to be righteous, it also means to build create develop learn adapt and achieve great works.

God has gifted us humans with a capable brain and its awesome capacity to learn adapt and create unlike no other species on earth. All we must do is evolve our understanding of this universe and become our better selves in that process.

Is Faster then Light travel possible?

There is a great deal of evidence it is!

  • Where did you get the negative mass in Einstein's equation assuming speed of light is a constant? Also we still do not fully understand Dark Matter nor Dark Energy. – Ahmed Sep 23 at 12:58
  • Hi Kenan Tahir Welcome to stack exchange Islam. Your question is well written but still I don't think we can prove anything with Islam on this matter. So this question is out of scope of this website. – xitas Sep 25 at 21:47

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