Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas
Question: Assalam aleykum
The Quran states: “And when your Lord said to the angels, ‘Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.’ They said, ‘Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?’ Allah said, ‘Indeed, I know that which you do not know.'”
Does it mean that there was life before humans on earth?
Answer: assalamu alaykum
There is nothing clear and decisive on this matter.
Some of the major Quranic commentaries mention that the Jinn were present on earth prior to human beings. This is narrated by al-Tabari from Ibn Abbas who states, “The first to reside on earth were the Jinn. They spread corruption and bloodshed in it and killed one another. So, God sent Iblis with an army of angels and he fought them until they were forced to settle on islands and mountain tops. God then created Adam and placed him on earth. Thus, God said, ‘I will place upon earth a successor.’”
There are a few other narrations in this regard. At the same time, some narrations mention that there was no creation present on earth prior to Adam.
Ultimately, the existence of beings before Adam is a possibility but its knowledge is known only to God.
[al-Tabari, Jami al-Bayan (2:455-56)]
[Ustadh] Salman Younas
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.