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Islam and the Theory of Evolution

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Below are expressed the opinions of the Imam. A few years ago I met a Saudi engineer who was very particular that Darwin's Theory of Evolution was in agreement with the Qu'ran. In particular he mentioned the description of the fetus in the womb. He gave me a book about Islam which I may still have which mentioned it. If people are interested I'll bring it back to this forum for quoting.

 

Apparently the Imam (at Masjid al-Tawhid) has been threatened by members of his congregation for his beliefs, or his manner of expressing them. Maybe some of you have some more immediate background on this issue.

 

b'salaam

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Knowledge regained

 

In contrast to their forebears, modern Muslims have a childlike view of science, especially evolution. This needs to change

 

 

Usama Hasan

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 11 September 2008 13.30 BST Article history

 

Professor Richard Dawkins recently said that most Muslims were creationists, and their children are taught that the theory of evolution is wrong, which causes a huge problem in schools.

 

He's largely correct, and the Muslim world desperately needs to debate the matter properly without fear, since science can neither prove nor disprove God. Whereas the Christian world, where Charles Darwin first proposed his thesis, has had a century and a half to come to terms with the theory of evolution, it has only begun to be taught rather recently in the Muslim world, where faith and religious practice is still relatively strong.

 

No wonder then that the theory is opposed by some religious elements, especially those that are ignorant of science. Snazzy websites, videos and books produced by fundamentalist Muslim "creationists" such as those at www.harunyahya.com, are obscuring clear scientific thinking.

 

Creation or evolution? Many believers in God have no problem with an obvious solution: that God created man via evolution. Here is some explanation of this view from a Muslim perspective.

I have a background in physical sciences, not biological ones, but there are parallels. Just as we can see clear evidence for the fact that planets, stars and galaxies evolved very gradually over the last 13 billion years since the big bang and weren't just beamed into existence by God, it would seem intuitive that life in its breathtaking variety on Earth also arose through a gradual evolutionary processes. There are plenty of Muslim biologists who have no doubt about the essential correctness of evolutionary theory.

 

The Qur'an teaches that humanity began with Adam, whose wife Eve was made "of like nature". The raw materials from which Adam was created are variously described as dust, clay and water, ie a mixture of water and minerals found on earth and in its soil. God completed the creation of Adam, breathed his spirit into him and taught him the names of everything. Since the angels were ignorant of these names, he commanded them to bow down to Adam, to symbolise human superiority over angels due to our free will, intelligence, capacity to understand and express ourselves in eloquent language.

 

One problem is that many Muslims retain the simple picture that God created Adam from clay, much as a potter makes a statue, and then breathed into the lifeless statue and lo! it became a living human. This is a children's madrasa-level understanding and Muslims really have to move on as adults and intellectuals, especially given the very serious scientific heritage of the medieval Islamic civilisation.

 

Another objection that is sometimes posed is the following: doesn't evolution denigrate and insult all humans, but especially the prophets of God, by insisting that we all originate from apes? I reply that the theory doesn't insult anyone, but does remind us of the humble origins of our created form. This is nothing new or blasphemous, since numerous Qur'anic verses remind us that we are all created from "dust" via sexual discharges: "despised drops of water". Those verses clearly do not insult the prophets. Meanwhile, our spiritual form remains the most exalted, since it is from the spirit of God breathed into Adam: we exist for the most noble purpose of knowing and loving God, freely and after having been given a choice.

 

Another irony in this whole debate is that several medieval Islamic thinkers had ideas that were broadly similar to the theory of evolution. The 10th-century Persian philosopher Ibn Miskawayh may have had ideas about the natural world that were, broadly speaking, evolutionist. The 14th-century philosopher Ibn Khaldun wrote:

 

One should then look at the world of creation. It started out from the minerals and progressed, in an ingenious, gradual manner, to plants and animals.

 

Although Ibn Khaldun wasn't speaking directly about evolution in the modern sense, I don't think he would have had a major problem with Darwin's theory, judging from the passage above. But it is precisely the loss of the heritage of people like Ibn Khaldun that has led to the current, appalling state of science in the Muslim world and the Muslim consciousness.

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Whoa. I don't know if I agree with the last part of the article but I definitely agree that it's silly and childish to immediately deny the whole theory of evolution. We've started studying it at school and a lot of Muslim boys in our class are like "miss, I'm sorry I don't believe in the Theory of Evolution" - aside from the fact that's stupid because the curriculum only requires that we know the theory and not necessarily to believe in it.. it's not right to dismiss something when they don't have even know anything about the topic.

 

Also, from what I've heard, Usama Hasan is a bit iffy :ph34r: A lot of people here don't like him.

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I agree with Keena, I'm not sure why people like Ibn Khaldun should be under fire for expressing their belief, or how it would be insulting in any way. One should be able to dig deep, yes? I myself don't deny the possibility of humans having gone through some changes before we attained our current balance. Allah S.W.T says:

 

"O man! What has deceived you concerning your Lord, the Most Noble,

Who created you, then fashioned you, then balanced you?"

 

"What is the matter with you that you do not expect for Allah any dignity, although He has created you in successive stages?"

 

I'm not saying "OMG these verses mean evolution!", since they could also be referring to other things such as a foetus' development, or the stage of Adam's creation. It's just that I don't see why the theory could not be applied somehow, since the verses do seem to agree. I find it amazing how there can be so many different meanings behind the verses.

 

God also refers to men as a group, and how various groups have been replaced over time.

 

"They are very proud that they are mighty and strong; but they forget that We have created them; and We have endowed strength and stability to their countenances. If they oppose Our Laws, then according to Our Law of Mashiyyat, it is not at all difficult for Us to wholly replace them with another nation."

 

"If (Allah Almighty) wills He destroys you and in your place appoints whom He wills, as your successor, just as He brought your forth, from the descendants of other people."

 

These Ayas could very well explain our discovery of the various early hominids which existed many years ago that are different than us. They were perhaps people who were replaced.

 

My point is with this post, is that whoever has been attacked because of their belief in the possibility of evolution should not be attacked. Loss of heritage? I don't think so. Sometimes you gotta think outside the box, and Allah S.W.T has created the Qur'an in such a way that we are encouraged to open our minds to all possibilities.

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The "Evolution has no validity" is one extreme and "omg quran talks about evolution" is another extreme.

 

As it stands evolution denies divinity, its called Evolution by natural selection. Further, science needs to be falsifiable. Evolution is not really falsifiable.

 

So there is good and bad in it.

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As it stands evolution denies divinity, its called Evolution by natural selection.

ha?

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The "Evolution has no validity" is one extreme and "omg quran talks about evolution" is another extreme.

 

As it stands evolution denies divinity, its called Evolution by natural selection. Further, science needs to be falsifiable. Evolution is not really falsifiable.

 

So there is good and bad in it.

 

I haven't done a great deal of reading on the topic, but from what I understand, the theory of evolution definitely is falsifiable.

 

Just to clarify for those who aren't sure: scientists contruct their experiments to do two things. 1) to prove their hypothesis and 2) to disprove their hypothesis. Every theory must have ways it can be disproved as well as proved. This is to ensure that they aren't just getting false positives all the time, which doesn't give a true picture of what's really happening, and is called falsifiability.

 

For example - you believe protein X causes mice to be born with brown fur. So to prove the theory you could give the mother extra protein X and see: are all her pups born with brown fur? If they are, you need to rule out the fact that something else could cause brown fur as well. You could do this by creating a genetically engineered mouse that does not have protein X. Are her pups still born with brown fur? If yes, then it's doubtful that protein X causes the fur colour. If not, then you still haven't proved protein X causes brown fur, but you do have supporting evidence that protein X causes brown fur.

 

From my understanding - while you couldn't conduct an experiement per se into the falsifiability of evolution, you could undertake a number of reviews. So to disprove evolution, you'd expect to see no change in the fossil record. Or, as one scientist whose name escapes me said, "fossil rabbits in the pre-cambrian era", meaning you'd expect to see modern day animals in the layers of the earth that correspond to various pre-historic times, proving that modern day animals have always been around. So far, neither of these have been shown to be the case. There are probably other ways, but I can't think of them off the top of my head.

 

In terms of Usama Hassan, I quite like his article, but there is the argument that if the congregation as a whole is no longer happy with you, then maybe you need to review the way you do things, or at least discuss with them where to go next. Obviously, death-threats and other intimidation and harrassment is absolutely out of line. Furthermore - are the people involved in harassing him the same delightful group of geniuses who put up posters all around the east end of London proclaiming it to be a 'gay-free zone'?

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ha?

Divinity= God.

 

From my understanding - while you couldn't conduct an experiement per se into the falsifiability of evolution, you could undertake a number of reviews. So to disprove evolution, you'd expect to see no change in the fossil record. Or, as one scientist whose name escapes me said, "fossil rabbits in the pre-cambrian era", meaning you'd expect to see modern day animals in the layers of the earth that correspond to various pre-historic times, proving that modern day animals have always been around. So far, neither of these have been shown to be the case. There are probably other ways, but I can't think of them off the top of my head.

 

 

The problem with that argument is that

1. I was talking about human evolution only

2. its widely accepted that most life was wiped out at least once so that will explain the different fossil records.

 

Further Darwin actually admitted to two flaws

 

1. That it would require more than 100 million years for evolution to happen.(at the time the lifespan of the earth was assumed to be 100 million)

2. The missing links in human evolution.

 

Having said that, talking about evolution from a religious perspective is not going to be productive unless we define "beni Adam". If there was some human evolution and hadith do refer to people in the ancient times being taller, then how do we define the first human. Fossil records can't tell you which humonoid had a soul and which ones do not.

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Divinity= God.

So?

 

The problem with that argument is that

1. I was talking about human evolution only

2. its widely accepted that most life was wiped out at least once so that will explain the different fossil records.

 

Further Darwin actually admitted to two flaws

 

1. That it would require more than 100 million years for evolution to happen.(at the time the lifespan of the earth was assumed to be 100 million)

2. The missing links in human evolution.

 

Having said that, talking about evolution from a religious perspective is not going to be productive unless we define "beni Adam". If there was some human evolution and hadith do refer to people in the ancient times being taller, then how do we define the first human. Fossil records can't tell you which humonoid had a soul and which ones do not.

 

I think theory of evolution is fine, and muslims are panicking needlessly by copying Christians. And there is Harun Yahya, doing more harm than good.

 

Human (or bani-Adam) is not same as homosapien, or it doesn't have to be. If modern biologists were to look at at Adam (AS), who lives for 1000 years, 72 cubits tall, reproducing always in pairs; he wouldn't be categorized as homosapien.

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So?

Its a fundamental aspect of the theory.

 

I think theory of evolution is fine, and muslims are panicking needlessly by copying Christians. And there is Harun Yahya, doing more harm than good.

 

I agree actually. The issue is the needlessly part.

 

Human (or bani-Adam) is not same as homosapien, or it doesn't have to be. If modern biologists were to look at at Adam (AS), who lives for 1000 years, 72 cubits tall, reproducing always in pairs; he wouldn't be categorized as homosapien.

SO in light of the theory being fine, where do 72 cubit tall humans fit into the idea of "evolving from a common accestor of the chimps and apes" fit?

 

Most fossil records show a shorter humanoid rather than a taller one.

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Its a fundamental aspect of the theory.

 

 

I agree actually. The issue is the needlessly part.

 

 

SO in light of the theory being fine, where do 72 cubit tall humans fit into the idea of "evolving from a common accestor of the chimps and apes" fit?

 

Most fossil records show a shorter humanoid rather than a taller one.

 

omg u brought such a great point! ^+

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That's what I'm really confused about... Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said that humans have gotten smaller since the time of Adam, but early humanoid remains that have been found were smaller than we are, not taller.. *scratches head* What about Homo Erectus, Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon? I can only think of them as different nations of people that were replaced over time. Obviously we'd believe that they all must have come from Adam and Eve because they are our common ancestor.

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That's what I'm really confused about... Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said that humans have gotten smaller since the time of Adam, but early humanoid remains that have been found were smaller than we are, not taller.. *scratches head* What about Homo Erectus, Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon? I can only think of them as different nations of people that were replaced over time. Obviously we'd believe that they all must have come from Adam and Eve because they are our common ancestor.

It is speculation which is why we can't really say "its wrong" or "it is right". Realistically the best option is "maybe".

 

Also the lack of large fossils does not negate their existance.

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Some parts of evolution is true, such as bacteria changing from their previous state in order to live and survive in a certain area but not everything that the non Muslims say about evolution is true. Do you remember how they discovered that the earth is an egg shaped and then tried telling us the sun doesn't move at all?

 

I think there is a misconception going around where people think that evolution disproves that Allah exists, well that is not true, it only shows The Way of Allah (Sunnata'Allah)

 

All evolution is, is the change of ability to live in a certain environment. One thing is for sure, Humans did not evolve from monkeys. A lot of non Muslims exaggerate the truth.

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That's what I'm really confused about... Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said that humans have gotten smaller since the time of Adam, but early humanoid remains that have been found were smaller than we are, not taller.. *scratches head* What about Homo Erectus, Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon? I can only think of them as different nations of people that were replaced over time. Obviously we'd believe that they all must have come from Adam and Eve because they are our common ancestor.

Humans have gotten smaller as compared to Adam and it will be shown to be true, but who said that the remains they have found were human at all? They could be a whole new species we didn't know about that existed but became extinct but the non Muslims mistake them for human.

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