In recent years, the debate over teaching the account of human creation provided by religious texts has intensified in the U.S. Some Christians insist that schools teach "creationism" side by side with the theory of evolution. Most recently this call has been echoed by several Muslim writers, most notably the prolific Turkish scholar Harun Yahya.
The call for embracing the theory of creationism should be treated with caution. Not only because it would undermine scientific research that aims at exploring metaphysical assertions through scientific methodology, which has for long been embraced and supported by Islamic scholarship, but also because it seems to contradict facts alluded to by the Qur'an itself.
Undoubtedly, no human being has ever had the opportunity to witness the beginning of human life. We are members of a species whose origin is counted by tens - if not hundreds - of thousands of years. The many narratives about the origins of human life can be ultimately subsumed under two grand narratives: creation and evolution. Evolution is widely embraced by natural scientists who attempt to reconstruct the beginning of human life by tracing prehistoric animal life, finding in the shared biological traits of all living creatures evidence of common ancestry and common evolution. Human life, they claim, evolved from the general animal life through a process of "natural selection".
The followers of monotheistic religions, however, share a grand narrative that places the beginning of human life with the creation of the first masculine human being, Adam, along with his feminine spouse. The Qur'an describes human creation by narrating an exchange between God and the angles:
"Behold, your Lord said to the angels: "I am about to create man from clay: When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My Spirit, fall down unto him." (38:71-2)
Another Qur'anic verse provides a similar but a more elaborate account. It describes that the clay from which the human body was shaped went through organic transformation that it turned into smelly and darkened clay:
"Behold! Your Lord said to the angels: "I am about to create man, from dark malodorous clay, from mud molded into shape; "When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of my spirit, fall you down [in prostration] unto him." (15: 28-29)
The human being, according to the Qur'an, is made of earthly matter mixed with water, and left for a while until it went through a process of transformation. This clay had already gone through a transformation to become a malodorous and dark substance, thereby suggesting an organic process. This transformed clay was then molded into the human shape, and into which the Divine breathed a spirit derived from His own.
The Qur'an is silent as to the nature of the process through which the human body took its final shape. Was the human body created instantaneously, or did it go through an evolutionary process? What is clear, though, is that the Qur'an places the question of the origin of life within the realm of natural observation rather than theoretical reflection. Thus, investigating human creation belongs to scientific observation and not to theology.
"Say: Travel through the earth and see how God did originate creation; so will God produce a later creation: for God has power over all things" (29:20)
Yet the Qur'an describes in so many different ways human creation as an elaborate and phased process, whereby the human being goes through various phases before it evolves into the human shape. The above verses of Chap. 15 refer to a process of "molding into shape" or taswiyah that culminates in the human creation. In Chapter 7, the Qur'an refers to the two phases of human creation: the act of creation and the process of shaping:
"It is We who created you then gave you shape; then We bade the angels bow down to Adam, and they bowed down; not so Iblis (Lucifer); he refused to be of those who bow down" (7:11).
Indeed, the Qur'an describes human life as an ever evolving through distinct stages, taking different forms, beginning with the most primordial stage of earthly matter, the dust, through various stages in the mother's womb, through the various stages of development from infancy, to full adulthood, to senility for those who reach the very advanced age, ending with death.
"O mankind! if you have a doubt about the Resurrection, (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We may manifest (Our Power) to you; and We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do We bring you out as babies, then (foster you) that you may reach your age of full strength; and some of you are called to die, and some are sent back to the feeblest old age, so that they know nothing after having known (much). And (further), you see the earth barren and lifeless, but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells, and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth in pairs" (22:5).
In this account, one sees a clear allusion to an evolutionary process of creation, in which life starts with dust, and then evolves into a single cell (sperm) that multiply to form a clot ('alaqah) that grows into bone and finally to flesh. While the process that referred to here mainly describes the growth of the fetus in the mother's womb, the Qur'an starts its description of the fetus's growth by referring to the earthly dust, thereby suggesting a comparable evolutionary process that was part of the act of creation of the first human being. This suggestion is further enforced by the conclusion of the verse, where the Qur'an invokes the ever observable process of rejuvenation of vegetation in the desert during the annual rain season. The return of life to an apparently lifeless desert after receiving heavy rain is gradual and relatively slow process associated with the growth of vegetation.
While the Qur'an describes a purposive act of creation of human beings, it does not exclude an evolutionary biological process leading to the completion and physical maturation of the human being. What sets human and animal lives apart, according to the Qur'an, is not primarily the biological development of the human body, but the moral, intellectual, and spiritual capacity of the human spirit. Human life enjoys dignity that is unique to human being, dignity that is rooted in human spirituality, not biology.
The debate over creation and evolution is lively one. While Muslims may question an account of evolution that is used to propagate a purposeless process of creation, it should not close the mind to scientific methods that look at natural evidence to figure out the natural dimension of human existence.
Dr. Louay Safi is executive director with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). He writes and lectures on issues relating to Islam and the West, democracy, human rights, leadership, and world peace.
houses, each and every house will have a similar
trait to the previous house, so the houses will
change in time but have one builder. So to all of
creation from the big bang to the day of
judgement, there is one creater (builder), so
common sense will tell you that God (Allah) has
created everything. Something to think about.
1. Adam had Non human Parents? (Adam being the first Human)
2. Hawua (Eve) must have same or different Parents. again Non Human, but parent nonetheless.
2. Hauwa (Eve) came from Adam (As Quran states).
2.a Evolutionarily, this would call for Asexual Male Reproduction.
2.b Allah (SWT) created Hauwa from Adam as he willed.
Allah Knows Best.
21:30 ARE, THEN, they who are bent on denying the truth not aware that the heavens and the earth were [once] one single entity, which We then parted asunder? - and [that] We made out of water every living thing? Will they not, then, [begin to] believe?
24:45 And it is God who has created all animals out of water; and [He has willed that] among them are such as crawl on their bellies, and such as walk on two legs, and such as walk on four. God creates what He will: for, verily, God has the power to will anything.
25:54 And He it is who out of this [very] water has created man, and has endowed him with [the consciousness of] descent and marriage-tie: for thy Sustainer is ever infinite in His power.
37:11 AND NOW ask those [who deny the truth] to enlighten thee: Were they more difficult to create than all those [untold marvels] that We have created? - for, behold, them have We created out of [mere] clay commingled with water!
The character limitation on postings prevent my posting all of Asad's commentary on these verses, but they can be viewed on this website by going to the Qur'an search and selecting the Asad interpretation and searching the verses.
I think that it is clear that, while there is no conclusive interpretation that description of an evolutionary progression of life forms coming from the seas or a description that water is part of the make-up of every living thing is meant, both possibilities are present in the verses, including the one that would apparently support the presence of evolution as it is currently understood - a point which has been recorgnized by other modern tafseers.
I believe one has to be very careful about the theory of evolution. We, muslims, believe in micro- evolution where Allah (SWT) - as explained in the Quran - created man from one phase to another phase in the womb. But Macro-evolution where over long period of time, an animal (eg ape)changed to a man or a reptile changed to a bird is totally against islam. It implies imperfection in the creation of Allah SWT) as a lot of trial and errors are required to attain to the final species through the process of natunal selection and mutation. Allah (SWT) created each species in a specific way in a particular habitat to communicate to us His power and hence to take heed and submit to Him. And Allah knows well.
For example is seems to intermingle the concept of growth, i.e. development in the womb, growth into adulthood etc. with Evolution. Two totally different concepts.
Unless the implication is that Prior to Adam(PBUH) Allah created Apes etc. as part of an experimental process leading to Man, I struggle to see what the author is trying to say.
I was of the impression that Allah simply had to 'say' BE and it would come to pass and that the Allahs knowledge was Infinate. So he has no need to develop, fine tune and evolve an idea to the point of creating something with which he was satisfied and so give it the title of Man.
If Allah created other creatures many of which have many things in common, it is simply because it was his wish to do so. Not because of the need to evolve something.
Perhaps a clear alternative interpretation to what Evolutionists suggest could be offered by the Author to help clarify what was meant.
Allah knows best.
recent years about the qur'an supporting
evolution.it is laughable to think that God
created the human being and after a while
(necessarily on earth) gave him his final shape
and then took him up to Himself so that the angels
bow down to him. We expect far better from
glad that someone has finally stated it in clear language. I see
nothing contradictory about accepting some parts of
evolutionary theory but analyzing it under an Islamic lens.
Muslims are falling for a harebrained idea propagated by right-
wing Christians with a political agenda and nothing else. What's
worse is that books like Harun Yahya's on evolution are copied
directly from non-Muslim, evangelical sources. Allah reward
him for his intentions though because I know some Muslims
have become enthusiastic because of him.