Islam, like most religions, has its own set of beliefs and practices that shape the understanding of its followers. One of the socially-perceived controversial issues in Islam is the relationship between religion and science, specifically the understanding of evolution. While some scholars argue that Islam is incompatible with the theory of evolution, others argue that the two can coexist. In this article, we will explore the different interpretations of Islam and evolution, and how they can be reconciled.
The theory of evolution, proposed by Charles Darwin in 1859, states that all living organisms
have evolved over time through the process of natural selection. This theory has been widely accepted by the scientific community and is considered to be one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time. However, some religious groups, including Muslims, have rejected the theory of evolution, arguing that it contradicts the creation story in the Quran. One of the main reasons why Muslims reject evolution is that they believe it contradicts the idea
of a divine creator. According to the Quran, God created the world and everything in it, and evolution suggests that the world and its inhabitants have evolved through natural processes. Some argue that this undermines the belief in God as the creator of the world.
Another reason why Muslims reject evolution is that they believe it contradicts the idea of the
special creation of humans. The Quran states that God created Adam and Eve and
that they were the first humans on earth. Evolution, on the other hand, suggests that humans evolved from apes.
Understanding Islam & Evolution
The article “Facts vs. Interpretations: Understanding Islam & Evolution” by Dr. Yamina Bouguenaya explores the relationship between Islam and the theory of evolution. Some Muslims reject the theory of evolution, arguing that it contradicts the creation story in the Quran. However, other scholars argue that the Quran should be understood in its historical and literary context, and that it is consistent with the theory of evolution. The article highlights that facts and interpretations can be different things and that it is important to understand the Quran in its historical and literary context, rather than interpreting it literally. It also emphasizes that the relationship between science and religion is not always a zero-sum game and that both can coexist and complement one another.
The article argues that genuine faith in God, as described in the Qur’an, cannot be blind, but rather requires testimony that is based on clear evidence that satisfies both the heart and the mind. To interpret the Qur’an, it is important to define it, understand who is speaking, for what purpose and to whom. The Qur’an’s purpose is to guide people in answering core human questions about the meaning of existence and to solve the “riddle” of the universe. It establishes four major points: oneness of God and worshipful response, prophethood, resurrection and justice. The article emphasizes that these statements regarding the Qur’an should not be accepted on blind faith, but rather confirmed by reason, heart and experience. If there seems to be a contradiction between the Qur’an and logic or facts, it is either that what was thought was logical and factual is not so, or the Qur’an is not being interpreted correctly.
The theory of evolution is not a proven fact, but rather a theory that is open to questioning and disagreement. The theory of evolution makes use of factual evidence such as the existence of species that are now extinct, the age of the Earth, the similarity across species, and genetic mutations. However, the theory also involves questionable interpretations such as the belief that all life forms evolved from one thing, that a consistent progress of creatures happened over millions of years and that all species emerged through chance and without any purposeful cause. The article also states that there are facts that challenge such interpretations and that the weakest aspect of the theory of evolution is the belief that life is based on selfish struggle.
According to Dr. Yamina Bouguenaya, the theory of evolution claims that the emergence of species on earth happened without any purposeful cause, and that the combination of a messy cosmic soup of chemicals with changing climate conditions can eventually produce highly organized and coordinated life forms through genetic mutations and environmental conditions such as selective pressures. This claim is not only illogical but also contradicts empirical data. The more we learn about the biological constitution of living beings, the more it becomes clear that it is impossible to conclude that all these purposefully working structures are the result of pure luck and blind chance. It is not only that we see things arranged purposefully, but also that they are in great dynamic cooperation and harmony with the rest of the body and with other species. Such adjustment is only possible with comprehensive knowledge and power and cannot be the result of ignorant beings acting cluelessly.
The insistence on randomness and purposelessness in the theory of evolution is its weakest point.
The theory’s claim that random genetic mutations and environmental conditions can produce highly organized and coordinated life forms is not a reasonable claim and is unacceptable on empirical, logical, and mathematical grounds. This claim is far from being scientific and is not supported by evidence. Furthermore, the more we learn about the complexity and interconnection of life forms, the more it becomes clear that the emergence of species on earth is not the result of blind chance but rather the result of a purposeful cause that requires knowledge, care, skill, and power.
Evolution through an Islamic Lens
This Yaqeen Institute video covering evolution is titled Is Darwinism Compatible with Islam? Evolution through an Islamic Lens,
Dr. Hatem is a scholar and an attending pediatrician based in the United States. He was granted his PhD in Comparative Fiqh from al-Jinan University in Lebanon, and his Master’s Degree in Islamic law from the American Open University. He is a board-certified pediatrician by the American Board of Pediatrics. He also holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from Alexandria University Medical School in Egypt. He currently teaches Fiqh at Sharia Academy of America and works as an attending pediatrician at the Albert Lea Medical Center. He is a senior member of several organizations such as the Fatwa Committee of AMJA, Islamic Jurisprudence Council of Minnesota, North American Imam Federation, and a fellow at the American Academy of Pediatrics. He founded the “Building Blocks of Islam” and is currently its president.
Dr. Hatem al-Haj highlights the importance of analyzing what is definitive and speculative in science and religion. He also states that denying Adam’s direct creation from soil is contradictory to Islamic principles. He states: it is extremely important that we do not make hasty conclusions, and that we try to understand what the question is about, and what the whole discussion is about. What does the question mean in the first place? What is Darwinism? How does it relate to Islamic teachings? There are certain truths in Islam, but there are also certain interpretations and room for different perspectives.” Dr. al-Haj emphasizes that one should not be hasty, or give answers that are premature. It is important to do your research, especially with such a proposition that some people believe to be a fact.
“We are all children of Adam, who was created from soil”, Dr. Hatem al-Haj states. This is certain, and the creation of Adam (as) from clay was direct, there were no phases, except the phases of the mud and clay. These two facts are certain from an Islamic perspective. We all came from a single man and single woman, and because of that we are brothers of humanity.
Dr. Haj doesn’t believe Darwinism is established enough to tilt the apparent meanings of the scriptures or the common narrative in our tradition. Darwinism, when it comes to macro-evolution, a species developing into a different species, has not been established as a fact for Muslims to look for a way to look for an apparent narrative in our scriptures with a goal to support Darwinism. There is nothing definitive to say that Adam (as) was the only homosapien, and that there haven’t been other homosapiens before Adam other than Adam. There is nothing definitive to say that animate life developed from one another. This is against the apparent implications from the scriptions and the common narrative from our traditions. This is a conflict with the certainty we have from the knowledge of the scripture.
Dr. Hatem al-Haj concludes his discussion by stating: “the blind nature has a purpose of survival of the fittest, and assumes that there is direction. It tells us that the direction is advancement, and progress. How could order come from chaos? He emphasizes what is certain in Islam; that we are the children of Adam, and that God himself blew into Adam with clay.”