Evolution

Is it possible for Muslims to believe in the Theory of Evolution?  The answer is both Yes and No.  It’s possible that God has programmed His creatures to change with environmental and climatic shifts but not evolve into different species.  Science has been able to show these transformations but has yet to establish the missing links, which would make it possible for all people to be fully convinced that mankind evolved from apes.  Thus, Muslims would readily accept the idea of evolutionary changes within one species, but not linear progression of one species evolving from the previous one.  Muslims can also accept the idea of “Survival of the Fittest,” as long as it allows the elements of chance and divine intervention.

It is not hard to imagine within the framework of Islamic theology that before God created Adam and Eve, He created other humanoids on earth who, like dinosaurs, eventually died out.  This would also be consistent with modern scientific research which now says that Homo habilis and Homo erectus lived side by side in eastern Africa for nearly half a million years, and at least  in this case there was perhaps no linear evolution.

Few years ago, Nature magazine, a well-respected Science journal reported these findings of Meave and Louise Leakey: “Their co-existence makes it unlikely that Homo erectus evolved from Homo habilis”, explained Meave Leakey. “The fact that they stayed separate as individual species for a long time suggests that they had their own ecological niche, thus avoiding direct competition.” This means that both were two different species and perhaps none evolved from the other. Similarly, researchers have also found that hobbits, Homo floresiensis, lived in Indonesia until recently. Yet, many scientists, who also happen to be atheists, continue to assert the validity of linear evolution by opinion rather than clear scientific facts.

Nevertheless, there is another way to look at evolution, the idea that it’s the spiritual essence of man that has its origins in other species and would continue to evolve. Rumi, the Persian Sufi poet, said it beautifully in this poem:

Low in the earth
I lived in realms of ore and stone;
And then I smiled in many-tinted flowers;
Then roving with the wild and wandering hours,
Over earth and air and ocean zone,
In a new birth,
I dived and flew,
And crept and ran,
And all the secret of my essence drew
Within a form that brought them all to view_
And lo, a Man!
And then my goal.
Beyond the clouds, beyond the sky,
In realms where none may change or die_
In angel form; and then away
Beyond the bounds of night and day,
And life and Death, unseen or seen,
Where all that is hath ever been,
As One and Whole.

Rumi (Thadani’s Translation)

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8 thoughts on “Evolution

  1. Herman December 18, 2013 at 9:16 pm Reply

    The writer of all this truly must more closely study his own Koran. In the Koran is it stated that there were other “humanoids” before Adam. NO. In fact, Koran 38:71 reads “Lo! I am about to create a mortal out of mire…” This was Adam. Adam was not created by other “humanoids”. Allah used both of his hands to directly create Adam (38:75). (Perhaps the writer can explain why Allah needs hands anyway!!).
    One cannot logically believe both the scientist Darwin and the illiterate Muhammad. One must choose.

  2. sincereadvisor December 19, 2013 at 3:53 am Reply

    If Quran doesn’t mention earlier humanoids, is it denying that they existed? You are not being logical, are you? God might have created them too with His own hands. Muslim theologians all say that these descriptions, such as hands of God or throne of God, are not to be taken literally. But I’ll tell you something: I used to make sculptures and human face must have been sculpted by “hands.” It is hard to imagine it otherwise.

  3. Herman December 19, 2013 at 3:27 pm Reply

    Alright then, do your best to reconcile the notion of Adam being derived from what you call “humanoids,” with Koran 38:71 and 38:75.
    Perhaps you are of the opinion that the humanoids are the product of evolution, but that Adam and Eve are not. Maybe you suspect that the humanoids mated with the direct descendants of Adam & Eve. (This by the way would avoid the thorny issue of “Allah” having created a world where incest had to occur). But if such mating did occur, I suspect that the resulting children would be sterile, unless the humanoids were in fact human.

  4. sincereadvisor December 20, 2013 at 3:36 am Reply

    No, my point was that Allah could have created human-like creatures before Adam, just the way He created Adam, and He didn’t feel a need to mention it in Quran, as there was no need for it. Why does God have to tell you everything? And I agree that these different species didn’t mate.

  5. Noelle February 1, 2014 at 7:44 pm Reply

    Actually, scientist have known since the 70’s that humans didn’t evolve from apes. We have a common ancestor that existed over 400,000 years ago. From this common ancestor, the ape line broke separated from the human line (by that I mean that the ancestors that lead to apes became distinct, separate species from the ancestors that lead to humans). So no, humans are not evolved from apes. We share a common ancestor.

    • sincereadvisor March 5, 2014 at 4:38 am Reply

      Again, this has nothing to do with what I had stated. It seems that you are using my web site to project your Biblical views. Isn’t that intellectual dishonesty?

  6. Melanie Dodge February 21, 2014 at 5:09 pm Reply

    The first two chapters of Genesis actually reflect the findings of modern science. Please allow me to summarize:

    Genesis 2:7-8… God made man from dust/clay, then placed him in a garden in the east.

    Q: Why did God use dust/clay? A: Scientists have long theorized that the original building blocks of life were first present in clay.

    Q: East of where? A: Where he was formed and began (the wilderness, described in verses 5-6, descriptive of Africa, where science says mankind began).

    Q: Where was the eastern garden? A: the Fertile Crescent (described in verses 9-14, where science says that mankind thrived and agriculture took form, see verse 15).

    Q: Could early man in the wilderness have been like the animals? A: Yes; it is possible that, until man had lived in the garden for some time, he may have been lacking the capacity or resources to develop any type of spirituality.

    Genesis 2:18-22… God makes a woman from a man.

    Q: If this was a group of people, weren’t there already males and females? A: Yes, which leads us to consider that this is more likely an account of the development of modern femininity. Science tells us that early females were much less differentiated from their male counterparts and that early humans as a group were more like modern males than modern females in regard to looks and behaviors. Science further asserts that the females of the species took additional strides in order to develop what we define as modern femininity. Before this greater differentiation of the sexes, there was little need for partnerships beyond what was required for mating, as males and females were relatively independent of each other. Thereafter, however, increasingly long-term relationships became necessary and desirable in order to “reunite the two halves” which in turn increased the success of the entire family and community (see verse 24).

    The first two testaments of scripture poetically state that “God is the Potter”, given that He created mankind from clay. The Quran reiterates this message of creativity, dominion, and origin.

    Q: God made man with “His hands”, yet to ascribe literal form to Him is degrading of His true nature, so what is meant by “His hands”? A: Scripture repeatedly shows us how God uses what He has created to actually achieve His will, even the poor choices mankind makes. God guides and intervenes through nature, people, angels, etc. to actually achieve His greater goal, but we cannot claim that every tiny detail is oriented toward that goal. Rather, there is a constant struggle between good and evil that constitutes a process and it is the whole of that process which He directs toward His goal.
    When something happens that is clearly the goal of God, we give Him credit for the work by stating that He did it, as if directly, because we recognize that He is in control of everything that He has created. Sure, we have been given free will but we are also mere tools in the Maker’s hands; God knows what we will choose and has already decided what His response to us will be in order to achieve His perfect will. He predetermines the system, the machinery, the process, and the rules in order to achieve His goals but allows us freedom within that framework. Consider the perfect parent who gives his child limits and choices and constantly remains in control of the outcome, regardless of what the child does within the framework that the parent has provided. Now imagine if that parent not only had control of his child’s environment, but of every factor that might otherwise interfere. That parent would be in complete control of the child, despite the child’s free will to just ignore the parent.
    Since God is in control of everything, why then should we not consider that God made mankind from clay through a process if God indeed created evolution as a function of nature? Otherwise, Moses would have simply written that God made man and left it at that, never mentioning that He did so from something else that He created (clay). Which brings us to the first chapter of Genesis…

    Day 1… The Big Bang
    Verse 1: Thesis statement. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Moses tells us that God alone was and is fully and totally responsible for the creation and changes present in the universe, regardless of the means He uses to go about His work. Verse 2: “And the earth was in chaos and void and there was darkness over the surfaces of the abyss and God’s spirit was vibrating over the surfaces of the waters” – There is so much that is packed into this short statement. Let’s take a look at what science proposes.
    Q: What existed before the “Big Bang”? A: Science proposes many theories, and for each theory there are several perspectives for visualizing the complex equations on which each is based. Currently, the most popular theory is called Membrane Theory, which proposes to combine several major theories into one cohesive system. The visualization of this theory describes two surfaces, layered very near to each other, which ripple like waves on water. The surfaces are essentially composed of pure potential. Occasionally the waves of the two surfaces touch, which causes massive potential to be released, enough to cause the Big Bang.
    If we read this verse again, we can see how it reflects scientific theory, but that is not to say that Membrane theory is completely right. Regardless, we should give due recognition to the fact that the theory does come close to visualizing what Moses was inspired to write so long ago. The universe, including the earth, was formless and empty. There was darkness over the surfaces of the abyss, nothing was yet created to witness the hidden potential, even space itself was not yet created. Everything was in darkness. God’s spirit, the only source of potential, was active and churning and ready to catapult the universe into existence. Such was the beginning of Day 1 for our world.
    “And God said, let there be light and there was light. And God saw the light and that it was good and God separated the light from the darkness.” It is important to note that darkness is the absence of light and not vice-versa. It is not something on its own which was created. Darkness does not technically exist except in context of light, yet the absence of light can be absolute where light exists somewhere else. This apples in both the physical realm and the spiritual realm. For instance, cold is the absence of heat and wrong is the absence of right. Heat and right and light and heaven are real things that God has clearly separated from their supposed opposites of cold, wrong, darkness and hell.

    Day 2: Air… (Proterozoic Eon)
    Science tells us that, originally, the celestial bodies were as a singular cloud of particles and that they did not separate into individual bodies until later, causing space to form between them. Likewise, the earth was completely covered in water and mist and there was no air delineating between the water and clouds. Again, something similar can be said to have happened between the spiritual and physical realms as, reading from scripture, they seem to have been more united early on in creation but separated as time went on. In regard to the earth’s physical development, science refers to this as the Great Oxygenation Event (GOE).
    The GOE, which marks the boundary between the explains how very early life caused oxygen to be produced and thereby helped to form the atmosphere. Before the GOE, life on earth did not resemble animals but rather was comprised of simple bacteria and archaea, life forms that split from the cenancestor, which itself was formed from the lifeless building blocks of life which were present in the rocks/dust/clay of the earth. After the GOE, life began to diversify exponentially, more rapidly and to a much greater extent as the development of the environment progressed.

    Day 3: Dry land, followed by land-based vegetation…
    Commencement of plate tectonics during the Proterozoic Eon eventually leads to the separation of the waters on the earth from the hard surface below the waters, forming the seas and dry land. The newly formed ozone layer allows plants to take root on land (later to lead to seed-bearing plants which will eventually flourish with the presence of birds and other animals).

    Day 4: Means of telling time… (Phanerozoic Eon)
    In Moses’ day, the primary scientific means of telling time was based on the celestial cycles of the Sun, moon, and stars. Later, we discovered that we could even tell time using the fossil record. This record was already in place during Moses’ day, but we didn’t yet know how to read it. The point in this verse, however, is not the creation of the celestial bodies, which were actually addressed as having been created in verse 1, but rather the establishment of the fossil record and likely the extent of accuracy regarding the calendar that mankind was using at the point of writing for the reverse-calculation of time as previous to this, the systems of the heavens and earth were less settled and the calculations were much more dynamic. Science calls this point the beginning of “the period of well-displayed life” or the Phanerozoic Eon.

    Day 5: Aquatic and aviary life dominate…
    While life on earth started long before this day, by the fifth day it was fish and birds which dominated the earth. Land-based life was still not well-established. This day begins with the Mesozoic Marine Revolution and is followed by the expansion and diversification of aviary animals, both of which survive the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event.

    Day 6: Land animals dominate…
    The beginning of this day seems to be marked by the appearance of grasses, which in turn allow land-based animals to flourish. Soon after, land-based animals grow to dominate, eventually leading to the development of the earliest human ancestors and subsequently to modern-day mankind.

    Day 7: God rests from his creative work…
    It would seem that creation is like an ant-farm or garden, created by God for His enjoyment. He sets it up and watches it grow within the limits and allowances He has set for it. He uses His creation as tools to achieve what He wants for that creation, using the ants to build tunnels or the weather and soil to help the plants grow. And, like anyone else, His goal is for the farm or the garden to become self-sustaining, a paradise which He can simply enjoy without needing to guide or intervene further in order to have it progress on His intended path. Yet, what would such a thing be without free will and the possibility of challenge? Clearly, God wills for us to have a choice to follow or disobey in order to show us that His path is the best path within the universe that He has created for us. It is because He loves the dynamic systems and behaviors of those beings that He has created that He does not simply build the most efficient tunnel system possible Himself and then set the ants in it, telling them “don’t dig”. He created them to be able to dig for a reason, just as He created us to be able to choose to disobey… not for us to fall short of His perfection but to watch us work towards it. Eventually, God expects us to stop breaking His laws and work within the laws He has given in order to manage His creation ourselves and discover and work paradise under His rule.

  7. Melanie Dodge March 29, 2014 at 11:37 pm Reply

    (P.S. For anyone here, I highly recommend Rumi as the ultimate poet for fanning the flame of holy matrimony.)

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