Islamic views on evolution
|Part of a series on|
|Part of a series on|
Islamic views on evolution are diverse, ranging from theistic evolution to Old Earth creationism. Some Muslims around the world believe "humans and other living things have evolved over time," yet some others believe they have "always existed in present form." Muslim thinkers have proposed and accepted elements of the theory of evolution, some holding the belief of the supremacy of God in the process. Usaama al-Azami suggested that both narratives of creation and of evolution, as understood by modern science, may be believed by modern Muslims as addressing two different kinds of truth, the revealed and the empirical. Muneer Al-Ali argues that faith and science can be integrated and complement each other.
Unlike the Bible, the story of creation in the Qur'an is not told in one chapter, but rather can be pieced together from verses all over the book.
Creation of the universe
In the surah Sūrat al-Anbiyāʼ, the Quran states that "the heavens and the earth were of one piece" before being parted. God then created the landscape of the earth, placed the sky above it as a roof, and created the day and night cycles by appointing an orbit for both the sun and moon. Some modern Muslims, including Sheikh Omar Suleiman of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, interpret the Quran's story of the creation of the world in the context of science, and believe that the scientific theory of an expanding universe is described in Sūrat adh-Dhāriyāt:
We have built the heaven with might, and We it is Who make the vast extent (thereof).
Sūrat al-Aʻrāf states that the "heavens and the earth" were created in the equivalent of six yawm. The Arabic word yawm means "day", and so some Muslims believe the universe was created in six days, akin to the story of creation in the Book of Genesis. However, other scholars interpret the term yawm to mean a unit of time much longer than a day, as the Quran states that to God, one day is equivalent to 50,000 years or 1,000 years. After completing the Creation, God "settled Himself upon the Throne". The concept of a "day of rest" does not appear in the Quran.
Creation of life
The only explicit reference to the creation of non-human life in the Quran appears in the aforementioned Sūrat al-Anbiyāʼ, in which God proclaims "We made out of water every living thing." According to Muhammad Asad, "only water has the peculiar properties necessary for the emergence and development of life."
Sunni theologian Said Nursî stated the Earth was already inhabited by intelligent species before humankind. He considered, supported by the hadiths from Ibn Abbas and Tabari, the Jinn lived here before but were almost wiped out by fire. A few interpreters of the Quran believed that even before Jinn, other creatures like Hinn lived on the earth although they failed to provide any narration from Quran or authentic Hadith to support these claims.
Creation of man
The characters of Âdam and Ḥawwāh (Eve) appear in the Quran as the first man and woman. The Quran states that they were created from clay, and were brought to life by the divine breath of God entering their bodies. While verses in the Quran and some ahadith indicate that God created Adam first and that Eve was created from Adam, a few scholars proposed that the verses could have multiple interpretations.
The majority of Islamic scholars, including Yasir Qadhi, believe that Adam and Eve were supernaturally created through a miracle by God, though some modern scholars like Mohamed Ghlian have instead asserted that the pair evolved naturally from a common ancestor.
In Kitab al-Hayawan (Book of the Animals), the 9th-century scholar al-Jāḥiẓ references several facets of natural selection, such as animal embryology, adaptation, and animal psychology. One notable observation al-Jāḥiẓ makes is that stronger rats were able to compete better for resources than small birds, a reference to the modern day theory of the "struggle for existence." In the 11th century, the scholar Sami S. Hawi argues that Persian scholar Ibn Miskawayh wrote about the evolution of man in his Fawz al-aṣghar.
The 14th-century influential historiographer and historian Ibn Khaldun wrote the Muqaddimah or Prolegomena ("Introduction") on what he referred to as the "gradual process of creation." He stated that the Earth began with abiotic components such as "minerals." Slowly, primitive stages of plants such as "herbs and seedless plants" developed and eventually "palms and vines." Khaldun connects the later stages of plant development to the first stages of animal development. Finally, he claims that the greater thought capabilities of human beings was "reached from the world of the monkeys."
In his 1874 book titled History of the Conflict between Religion and Science, John William Draper, a scientist and contemporary of Charles Darwin, criticized the Catholic Church for its disapproval of "the Mohammedan theory of the evolution of man from lower forms, or his gradual development to his present condition in the long lapse of time."
In the 19th century, a scholar of Islamic revival, Jamal-al-Din al-Afghānī agreed with Darwin that life will compete with other life in order to succeed. He also believed that there was competition in the realm of ideas similar to that of nature. However, he believed explicitly that life was created by God; Darwin did not discuss the origin of life, saying only "Probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some primordial form, into which life was first breathed". A contemporary of Al-Afghani, Shia scholar Hussein al-Jisr, declared that there is no contradiction between evolution and the Islamic scriptures. He stated that "there is no evidence in the Quran to suggest whether all species, each of which exists by the grace of God, were created all at once or gradually," and referred to the aforementioned story of creation in Sūrat al-Anbiyā.
In Turkey, important scholars strove to accommodate the theory of evolution in Islamic scripture during the first decades of the Turkish Republic; their approach to the theory defended Islamic belief in the face of scientific theories of their times. The Saudi Arabian government, on the other hand, began funding and promoting denial of evolution in the 1970s in accordance to its Salafi-Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. This stance garnered criticism from the governments and academics of mainline Muslim countries such as Turkey Pakistan, Lebanon, and Iran, where evolution is taught and promoted.
Islam also has its own school of Evolutionary creationism/Theistic evolutionism, which holds that mainstream scientific analysis of the origin of the universe is supported by the Quran. Many Muslims believe in evolutionary creationism, especially among Sunni and Shia Muslims and the Liberal movements within Islam. Among scholars of Islam İbrahim Hakkı of Erzurum who lived in Erzurum then Ottoman Empire now Republic of Turkey in the 18th century is famous for stating that 'between plants and animals there is sponge, and, between animals and humans there is monkey'.
Contemporary Islamic scholars Ghulam Ahmed Pervez, Edip Yüksel, and T.O. Shanavas in his book, Islamic Theory of Evolution: the Missing Link between Darwin and the Origin of Species say that there is no contradiction between the scientific theory of evolution and Quran's numerous references to the emergence of life in the universe.
While Muslims scholars reject Young Earth creationism, and claim the story of creation in the Book of Genesis was corrupted, a movement has begun to emerge recently in some Muslim countries promoting themes that have been characteristic of Christian creationists. This stance has received criticism, due to claims that the Quran and Bible are incompatible. Adnan Oktar, also known by his pen-name Harun Yahya, is a Muslim advocate against the theory of evolution. He is considered a charlatan by many Muslim scholars, and his representative at a conference on Islam and evolution in January 2013 was ridiculed during and after the conference. Most of Yahya's information is taken from the Institute for Creation Research and the Intelligent Design movement in the United States. Oktar largely uses the Internet to promote his ideas. His BAV (Bilim Araştırma Vakfı/ Science Research Foundation) organizes conferences with leading American creationists.
According to the Guardian newspaper, some British Muslim students have distributed leaflets on campus, advocating against Darwin's theory of evolution. At a conference in the UK in January 2004, entitled Creationism: Science and Faith in Schools, "Dr Khalid Anees, of the Islamic Society of Britain stated that 'Muslims interpret the world through both the Koran and what is tangible and seen. There is no contradiction between what is revealed in the Koran and natural selection and survival of the fittest'." Maurice Bucaille, famous in the Muslim world for his commentary on the Quran and science, attempted to reconcile evolution with the Quran by accepting animal evolution up to early hominid species, and then positing a separate hominid evolution leading to modern humans. However, these ideas differ from the theory of evolution as accepted by biologists.
Contemporary Islamic scholar Yasir Qadhi believes that the idea that humans evolved is against the Quran, but says that God may have placed humanity perfectly into an evolutionary pattern to give the appearance of human evolution. Modern scholar Usaama al-Azami later argued that scriptural narratives of creation, and evolution as understood by modern science, may be believed by modern Muslims as addressing two different kinds of truth, the revealed and the empirical. The late Ottoman intellectual Ismail Fennî, while personally rejecting Darwinism, insisted that it should be taught in schools as even false theories contributed to the improvement of science. He held that interpretations of the Quran might require amendment should Darwinism eventually be shown to be true. Another scholar, Muneer Al-Ali, argues that faith and science can be integrated and complement each other in explaining the complexity and mysteries of existence.
A research paper published in 2016 by the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research wrote that there is not a consensus among scholars on how to respond to the theory of evolution, and it is not clear whether the scholars are even qualified to give a response.
As per a 2008 report, Evolutionary biology was included in the high-school curricula of most Muslim countries. Science foundations of 14 Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Indonesia, and Egypt, recently signed a statement by the Interacademy Panel (IAP, a global network of science academies), in support of the teaching of evolution, including human evolution.
A 2009 survey conducted by the McGill researchers and their international collaborators found that 85% of Indonesian high school students and 86% of Pakistani high school students agreed with the statement, "Millions of fossils show that life has existed for billions of years and changed over time."
According to a more recent Pew study these numbers appear to increase slowly but steadily. For instance, a relatively large fraction of people accept human evolution in Kazakhstan (79%) and Lebanon (78%), but relatively few in Afghanistan (26%) and Iraq (27%), with most of the other Islamic countries somewhere in between.
In 2014, when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant captured the Iraqi city of Mosul, the group issued a new set of rules for the schools there, which included a ban on the teaching of evolution.
Rana Dajani, a university professor who teaches evolution in Jordan, wrote that almost all of her students are hostile to the idea of evolution, at the beginning of the class, but by the end of the class, the majority accept the idea.
In 2017, Turkey announced plans to end the teaching evolution before the university level, with education Alpaslan Durmuş claiming it is too complicated and "controversial" a topic to be understood by young minds.
Ahmadiyya views of evolution
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Movement's view of evolution is that of universal acceptance, albeit divinely designed. The movement actively promotes god-directed "evolution". Over the course of several decades the movement issued various publications in support of the scientific concepts behind evolution.
- Religious interpretations of the Big Bang theory#Islam – Islamic interpretations of the Big Bang theory
- History of evolutionary thought#Islamic philosophy and the struggle for existence – Early evolutionary thoughts in Islam
- Chang, Kenneth (2009-11-02). "Creationism, Without a Young Earth, Emerges in the Islamic World". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
- "The World's Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society" (PDF). Pew Research Center. April 30, 2013.
- al-Azami, Usaama (2013-02-14). "Muslims and Evolution in the 21st Century: A Galileo Moment?". Huffington Post Religion Blog. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- Al-Ali, Muneer (2013). A scientific Tafsir of Qur'anic verses: interplay of faith and science (2nd Ed.). North Charleston, S.C.: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1480169968[self-published source?]
- Dodge, Christine Huda (2003). The Everything Understanding Islam Book: A Complete and Easy to Read Guide to Muslim Beliefs, Practices, Traditions, and Culture. Simon and Schuster. p. 221. ISBN 9781605505459.
- Quran 21:30
- Quran 21:31–33
- Ashraf, Faheem. "Islamic Concept of Creation of Universe Big Bang and Science-Religion Interaction". Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- Guessoum, Nidhal (Oct 30, 2010). Islam's Quantum Question: Reconciling Muslim Tradition and Modern Science (PDF). I.B.Tauris. p. 351. ISBN 9780857730756. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- Suleiman, Omar (31 March 2015). "The Beginning and the End with Omar Suleiman: 6 Days, 7 Heavens, 7 Earths? (Ep. 15)". Bayyinah Institute. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- Oladapo, Oludare Samuel (2007). "Is it Fallacious that Creation of the Earth is Ongoing? A Rejoinder from Geographic (Science) and Religious Perspectives". IIARD International Journal of Geography and Environmental Management. 3 (2).
- Quran 7:54
- Asad, Muhammad (1984). The Message of the Qu'rán (PDF). Gibraltar, Spain: Dar al-Andalus Limited. p. 677. ISBN 978-1904510000.
- Tubanur Yesilhark Ozkan A Muslim Response to Evil: Said Nursi on the TheodicyRoutledge ISBN 978-1-317-18754-7 page 141
- "Life on Earth Before Adam - Islam Question & Answer".
- Quran 15:28
- Quran 15:29
- "Sahih al-Bukhari » Book of Prophets » Hadith » Chapter: The creation of Adam and his offspring". Sunnah.com. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
- Wheeler, Brannon M. (18 June 2002). Prophets in the Quran: An Introduction to the Quran and Muslim Exegesis. A&C Black. p. 15. ISBN 9780826449573.
- Lim, Eunice (13 September 2014). "Muslim scholar explains relationship between evolution and the Quran". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- Ghlian, Mohamed (6 April 2014). "On Muslims & Evolution". On Matters Islamic, Political, Scientific, & Philosophical. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- Zirkle, Conway (1941). "Natural Selection before the "Origin of Species"". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 84 (1): 84–85. JSTOR 984852.
- Bakar, Ibrahim Abu (1989). "Some Aspects of Ibn Miskawayh's Thought" (PDF). Islamiyyat: The International Journal of Islamic Studies. 10: 116. ISSN 0126-5636.
- Rosenthal, Franz. Ibn Khaldun: The Muqaddimah. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691017549.
- Draper, John William (1874). History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science (PDF). p. 126.
- "al-Afghani, Jamal al-Din (1838-97)".
- Charles Darwin and Evolution Archived August 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
- Muslims' debate about religion and science
- Iqbāl, Muẓaffar (2007). Science and Islam. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 157. ISBN 978-0-313-33576-1.
- Kaya, Veysel (April 2012). "Can the Quran Support Darwin? An Evolutionist Approach by Two Turkish Scholars after the Foundation of the Turkish Republic". The Muslim World. 102 (2): 357. doi:10.1111/j.1478-1913.2011.01362.x.
- Burton, Elise K. (May–June 2010). "Teaching Evolution in Muslim States:Iran and Saudi Arabia Compared" (PDF). Reports of the National Center for Science Education. 30 (3): 25–29. ISSN 2158-818X. Retrieved 2014-01-13.
- "Turkish academics tell ministry that evolution theory excluded from curriculum 'only in Saudi Arabia'". Hürriyet Daily News. 1 March 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
- IAP Member Academies (June 21, 2006). "IAP Statement on the Teaching of Evolution". IAP. Trieste, Italy: The World Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
- Vlaardingerbroek, Barend; Hachem-el-Masri, Yasmine (23 October 2006). The Status of Evolutionary Theory in Undergraduate Biology. International Journal of Educational Reform. 15. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 161–162. ISBN 9781475816457.
- Papineau, David (2004-01-07). "Creationism: Science and Faith in Schools". Guardian. Retrieved 2008-07-18.
- Erzurumi, İ. H. (1257). Marifetname
- Quran and the Theory of Evolution
- Are evolution and religion compatible?, aljazeera.com, accessed April 12, 2013
- Edip Yuksel, Blind Watch-Watchers or Smell the Cheese, 19.org, accessed February 17, 2013
- David Yonke, Adrian doctor to lecture on evolution, The Blade, accessed March 7, 2013.
- "The Origin of Life: An Islamic perspective". Islam for Today. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 2007-03-14.
- Morris, John D. (2003-08-01). Is the Big Bang Biblical?. New Leaf Publishing Group. p. 92. ISBN 9781614581840.
- Campbell, Duncan (2006-02-21). "Academics fight rise of creationism at universities". Guardian. Retrieved 2008-07-19.
- Sayin, Ümit; Kence, Aykut (1999). "Islamic Scientific Creationism: A New Challenge in Turkey". National Center for Science Education. Retrieved 2009-11-12.
- Koning, Danielle (2006). "Anti-evolutionism amongst Muslim students" (PDF). ISIM Review. 18: 48. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 March 2009. Retrieved 2007-03-14.
- "Seeing the light -- of science". salon.com. Archived from the original on 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- Hameed, Salman (11 January 2013). "Muslim thought on evolution takes a step forward". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
- Hameed S (2008). "Bracing for Islamic creationism". Science. 322 (5908): 1637–8. doi:10.1126/science.1163672. PMID 19074331.
- Darwinism's Contradiction with Religion, Why Darwinism is Incompatible With the Qur'an, Harun Yahya
- Bilgili, Alper (2015). "The British Journal for the History of Science V48:4". The British Journal for the History of Science. 48 (4): 565–582. doi:10.1017/S0007087415000618. PMID 26337528.
- Youssef Chouhoud (2016). "Modern Pathways to Doubt in Islam". Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
What these varied responses point to is a lack of consensus around not just the best way to tackle this issue, but whether the leaders charged with addressing it are qualified to do so.
- Salaheddin, Sinan; Salama, Vivian (September 15, 2014), ISIS Bans Teaching Evolution In Schools, Talking Points Memo, retrieved 2015-02-23
- Dajani, Rana (April 22, 2015). "Why I teach evolution to Muslim students" (PDF). Nature. 520 (7548): 409. doi:10.1038/520409a. PMID 25903591. Retrieved October 27, 2016.
- Kazeem Shaheen (23 June 2017). "Turkey schools to stop teaching evolution, official says". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
- Jesus and the Indian Messiah – 13. Every Wind of Doctrine Archived 2010-05-09 at the Wayback Machine