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Islam and Science ( 29 Nov 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Darwinism is Consistent with Qur’anic Insights on Man’s Origin





By Muhammad Yunus,

 (Joint Author), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009

In response to the reported boycotting of Biology classes by mostly Muslim students in UK.

In the early centuries of Islam, the Muslims sourced knowledge from all over the world. Scholars from distant lands gravitated to Baghdad, which thus became the knowledge capital of the world. This enabled Islam to make phenomenal advancement in diverse fields of knowledge. The Abbasid Caliphs, notably al-Ma'mun (813-833) established the House of Wisdom (bait al hikmah) that was equipped with observatories and became an unrivalled centre of learning for the era. It undertook a massive translation exercise lasting many decades and translated into Arabic, the ancient Greek and Hellenic works such as those of Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Plotinus, Galen, and others, which were later retranslated from Arabic into European languages. It also pooled the best brains from the farthest regions of Islamic world that spanned from the recesses of China to Spain - regardless of their religion, and harnessed their collective talents and made phenomenal advancement in diverse fields of knowledge - notably, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, alchemy, chemistry, botany, zoology, geography and cartography. The knowledge thus accumulated served as the springboard for Renaissance – an uncontested historical reality that hardly needs any elaboration. It is therefore most regrettable, shameful and disgusting that more than a millennium later this day, the Muslim students in UK are boycotting Biology classes as the Darwinism allegedly is not consistent with the Qur’an.

The irony is compounded by the fact that their said assertion itself is in conflict with the Qur’anic message. That is to say, the classical Evolution theory pioneered by Charles Darwin is not outside the broad spectrum of the Qur’an’s creative insights. No doubt, as is well known, the Qur’an speaks of the creation of Adam and Eve in the primordial plane in several places, but it also features clear verses listed below that are in complete harmony with Darwinism.

“He is the One who created you (khalaqnakum) from clay (tin) (inorganic matter), then decreed a term, and there is a determined term with Him. Yet you remain doubtful” (6:2).

“He is the One who created (khalaqa) human being from water and established for him relations of blood and marriage...” (25:54).

“What’s wrong with you: you do not contemplate the glory of God (71:13), who created you (khalaqnakum) in stages (atwara) (71:14).

“... He (caused) you to grow (ansha-akum) from the earth (ard) and settled you in it...” (11:61).

“Don’t those who deny (God) see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (before), and We split them apart? We made (ja‘alna) every living thing from water. Won’t they still believe” (21:30).

“God evolved you (ambatakum) from the earth as a living organism (nabata) (71:17); then He will return you into it, and raise you again” (71:18).

The truth is, the Qur’an does not restrict itself to a monolithic model of creation. Thus, apart from 1) the populist Creational and 2) the above patently evolutionary models, the Qur’an also offers other insights into God’s creative scheme.

An evolutionary process (Embryonic development) in a woman’s uterus:

“Surely We created (khalaqna) man from an extract of clay (tin, inorganic matter) (23:12). We then placed him as a drop (of semen) in a secured resting place (23:13). We then transformed the drop into a clot and We transformed the clot into a chewed (lump of) flesh, and We transformed this chewed (lump of) flesh into bones, and We clothed the bones with flesh, and then We caused to grow (ansha-ana) into another creature from it. So blessed be God, the Best of Creators” (23:14).

“O people, if you are in doubt about the Resurrection, (consider) that We created you (khalaqnakum) from dust (turab), then from a drop (of semen), then from a clot, then from a chewed (lump of) flesh, formed and unformed, that We may manifest (Our Power) to you; and We keep those We wish in the wombs for a determined term, then We bring you out as babies and then you (grow and) reach your prime…” (22:5).

“…He creates you (yakhluqukum) in your mother’s womb - transformation after transformation, within three (veils of) darkness…” (39:6).

Creation of man and woman from an integrated single self (nafs)

 “He is the One who caused you to grow (ansha-akum) from a single self (nafs) and (gave you) a habitation and a repository. Thus We elaborate the Signs for a people who (are keen to) understand” (6:98).

“He made for you (ja‘ala lakum), of yourselves, spouses (azwaj), and made you children and descendants from your spouses and provided you with good provisions …” (16:72).

“And among His signs is that He has created for you (khalaqa lakum), of yourselves spouses (azwaj), that you may have tranquility and relief in them,…” (30:21)

“O People! We have created you (khalaqnakum) as male and female, and made you into races …” (49:13).  

“He is the One who created (khalaqa) the spouses (zaujain) – male and female” (53:44).

“Was he not a drop (of semen) discharged (75:37) And then a clot that God created (khalaqa) and proportioned (fasauwa) (38). And made from it spouses (zaujain) – male and female” (75:39). 

It is worth noting that this Qur’anic reflection presents male and female sexes as co-equals in creation hierarchy and purports to deprive the male sex of the anthropological privilege traditionally accorded to him,    

Conclusion: The Qur’an’s divergent insights into the creation/evolution of man, mixing the abstruse and the corporeal, the abstract and the scientific make it amply clear that it has not been the object of the Qur’an to unravel the mystery of man’s creation. Conceivably, the Qur’an’s chief concern has been to tell humans of their role and responsibilities on earth and their unique position in the creation, and to warn them of their innate infirmities and ultimate accountability to God. By any stretch of imagination, it is not a textbook on biology or any other branch of physical sciences or field of knowledge. Hence, the UK Muslim students’ boycotting of Biology class as it teaches Darwinism is doubly ironical. First they are dividing knowledge between Qur’an-compatible and Qur’an-incompatible – a division that was never applied in early Islam and is antithetic to Islamic message – as God alone is the fountainhead of all knowledge – a theme discussed in detail in a recent write up:

Secondly, and more shamefully because they are being utterly ignorant of the broader dimensions of the Qur’anic message! It is hoped that sense will prevail upon them before the academic authorities are forced to take any disciplinary action as their boycotting of classes is unquestionably subversive of academic discipline, though a greater reckoning may await them in a higher plane for their utter ignorance of a book they hold divine and inviolable but unlawfully and childishly use as a pretext for causing confusion (Fitnah).

The transliteration of critical Qur’anic words is given in the rendition of listed verses to bring across the consistency of Qur’anic diction for any inquisitive reader to reflect on the precise connotations of each key words (verb form): khalaqa, ja‘ala, ansha-a, ambata, fasauwa, lest an uninitiated reader may charge the Qur’an of being ‘a wearisome, confused jumble, crude, incondite, endless irritation, long windedness, entanglement, insupportable stupidity in short.’ [1]   


1.  These are the words of Thomas Carlyle, who otherwise held Muhammad (PBUH) in a high esteem and declared him ‘The Hero as Prophet.’ – Karen Armstrong, Muhammad – A Western Attempt to Understand Islam, London, 1991. p. 38.

Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.