Islam and Evolution- Is evolution becoming Islamic or is Islam evolving?

The attitudes of people towards evolution
When does the Muslim society become exposed to danger
The slaves of evolution have no limit

Nobody disagrees with the fact that man’s life upon this planet changes and evolves from one state to another. This evolution takes a wide range in some areas and takes a narrower range in others. The largest scale of evolution covers areas that man uses, such as food, clothing,transportation, lodging, arms, machines and so forth. We may take the area of transportation and communications as a clear illustration: Man used to walk to run his errands. After that he started to use such animals as camels, mules, and donkeys to ride and to carry goods on them. Then he started to manufacture ships that could run through the oceans by means of wind. He also made a cart that could be pulled by horses. Then he waited for thousands of years before he could manufacture a car that could run on steam and other kinds of energy. Then he invented the plane, which made parts of the world much closer to each other as if it all constituted one single village. Then the spaceship and the spacecraft, which allowed him to go all the way to the Moon.
The Qur’an has pointed to these means albeit briefly, but meaningfully and inspiredly, in the following verse: “And horses and mules and asses (hash he created) that ye may ride them, and for ornament. And He createth that which ye know not”(Surah 16, Verse 8.).
Beside this, there is evolution in the area of meanings and ideas, in habits and traditions, and in ideals and morality. Evolution in these areas may be praised as it may be condemned, as it is not always in the best interest of man. It may raise him to the point of approaching the horizon of angels, as it may lower him to the level of animals. The question that we would like to raise here is: “What is the stand of Islam towards evolution? Does it accept it and welcome it, or does it refuse it and fight against it?

The attitudes of people towards evolution
In order to clarify the stand of Islam towards evolution, it is our duty to show that there are three attitudes that people have taken towards it.

The attitude of total refusal
The first attitude resides in the total refusal of any change or innovation in any aspect of life – be it scientific or practical, material or moral. It also means keeping all old things in their state, and resisting anything that is new, wherever it comes from, and under whatever aspect it is presented.

This is the attitude of the Catholic church in Europe in the Middle Ages. It adopted views and theories in the sciences of geography, astronomy, medicine, biology and so forth. It wrapped these views in enough sacredness which made them part of religion itself. This was also the case of the ideas and traditions it adopted and gave them a religious character. So, it no longer allowed anybody to oppose it or reach an opposing view through independent research. And damned was anyone who dared to oppose it.

In his book ” Islam, Christianity, science and civilisation” Professor and Imam Mohammad Abdu mentioned attitudes of the church and its clergy which arouse one’s surprise and perplexity.

De Romnes said: the rainbow is not a war bow that is in the hand of God which He uses to take revenge on His subjects whenever He wills. It is the reflection of sunlight in water drops’ Then he was brought to Rome and was imprisoned until he died. Then his corpse and his books were judged and thrown in fire.

Plage has argued that death existed before Adam. That is, that animals were affected by death before Adam erred and ate from the tree. As a result of this statement of opinion a heated and loud discussion arose. The discussion lead to Iynching and that lead to the promulgation of an imperial order to execute anybody who held that kind of belief.

The notion of the earth being round led to a big disturbance in the world of Catholicism, at a time when Muslims were aware of this fact since the beginning of the Abbassid dynasty, and that did not cause the slightest disturbance. It was even quoted in the books of Interpretation and all others without any restriction.

Some Americans discovered that the use of anaesthesia on women during birth allowed them not to feel any pain. All the clergy arose and was all upset, because that amounted to freeing women from the eternal curse and punishment that was cast upon her by the Old Testament during the formative years. Therein it is said: ‘and he said, that is God, to the woman, in order to punish you, I will increase the hardships of pregnancy, and with pain will you give birth to children.’

In Constantinople Muslims discovered a medical method of transfusion from under the skin, and a woman named Mary Monajo took it to Europe in . 1721. The clergy revolted and opposed its use. This kind of opposition increased at the time of the discovery of vaccination against smallpox.

An inspection court was created in Europe in order to oppose science and free thinking, when its emergence was feared, especially at the instigation of the disciples of Averroes and their disciples, and especially in the south of France and Italy. The man who ordered the creation of such a court is Tour Kamanda.

This strange court undertook its task in the best of ways. In 18 years (1481-1499), it sentenced 10,220 (ten thousand two hundred and twenty) people to be burnt alive, and so they were burnt. It also sentenced 61,860 people to be hanged after reviling them publicly, and so they were publicised and then they were hanged. It also sentenced 97,023 people to different sentences, which were executed and all Old Testaments written in Hebrew were burned.

This was the attitude of the church, but the movement of evolution was stronger, so that the spark which went from the Muslim East to the Christian r West, kept widening and heightening, until it became an enormous flame under which nothing could stand. So it is no surprise that the wild crowds revolted against the church which lined up with ignorance against knowledge, and with folklore against thought and with kings and nobles against the people, until the people spoke their minds and said: “Hang the last of the kings with the intestines of the last priest”

The attitude of total obedience to evolution
The second attitude, in opposition to the first, is that of total obedience and blind adaptation to all change and innovation. This obedience does not distinguish between what is allowed and what is not, and what should be and what should not. This is based on a western idea the gist of which is that what follows is better than what precedes, and that anything new is better than anything old, and that today’s new born is better than yesterday’s new born. They go much further than this and call for the reform of everything, and the change of all values, qualities, traditions and regulations. In other words, life must be turned upside down.
This attitude is represented in our societies by two groups of people. The first group is made up of people who tag and imitate the western camp, and are
in awe of the advance of western civilisation. They motivate everything that it brought, and are enthusiastic about it. They advocate it in the name of evolution and innovation, even if that leads to nakedness and decadence and atheism and permissiveness. This is at a time when westerners themselves have started to revise their attitudes, to criticise their civilisation and review their concepts in many matters.

These are the ones about whom the Arab and Muslim men of letters, the late Mustapha Sadiq Al Raafi’i commented sarcastically: they want to innovate the religion, the language, the Sun and the Moon! Shawqii, also, wrote the following lines about them:

Do not follow the steps of the restless gang
For whom everything old is indecent
If they have a chance they would publicly deny
Those of their parents who have died and those who lived to be very old
And the steps of all those who look for what ; old and destroy it
And when they are given a chance to build, they fail

The second group is constituted by the Marxists who believe in the necessity of evolution, and who ad that whatever results from evolution is necessarily better than what used to be. They always talk about the evolutionary aspect of the life of man, and ignore its stable side.

No one can argue with the fact that human life is subject to much change and evolution, but most of this evolution revolves around the environment of the human being rather than the human being himself. The essence of man remains the same. For example, Adam was persuaded by Satan, through the instinct of the love of immortality and eternity, to eat from the tree. This instinct is still present in his children and still makes them commit other contraventions.

Another example would be that of the son of Adam who out of jealousy killed his brother with some such object as a stone. Then, he did not know what to do with the body, until a crow, which was searching in the ground, showed him what to do with the corpse of his brother. Thus remains man today, at a time when the instruments of death have varied and developed and become available to him. He still envies and kills his brother man, to the point that he can melt a corpse with all kinds of acid and chemical mixes and leave no sign of it whatsoever!!

The moral obstacle which made Adam regret and repent after his sin, saying: “Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If Thou forgive us not and have not mercy on us, surely we are of the lost!”(Surah 7, Verse 23) is the same one as that which is more clearly stated in what the nobler son of Adam said to his brother: “Even if thou stretched out thy hand against me to kill me, I shall not stretch out my hand against thee to kill thee, io! If earAllah, the Lord of the Worlds”(. Surah 5, Verse 28.). In some sense, this obstacle is represented in the regret of the killer after the burial of his brother. It is still present in the instinct of the humans in spite of the fact, that they have stepped on the surface of the moon, and in spite of the differences between them.

Instinctive motives have not changed in man, although the ways of satisfying them may have changed. Man used to eat his food raw, like animals and birds. Then he learned how to cook it on a fire that is fed by twigs, wood or coal. Afterwards he invented stoves that used oil and then electricity. But he still remains as human as he used to be, eating and drinking, he gets hungry and then gets full, he gets thirsty and then quenches his thirst. He still gets nervous or emotional when he gets hungry or thirsty, and feels rested and satisfied when he is no longer hungry or thirsty.

Authentic religious and moral values relating to the deeply-felt need for Allah, and the recourse to Him at times of distress and regret after committing a sin, love of truth, trust and virtue, dislike of vice, and Iying and betrayal, still have their weight and value in the life of human beings and their behaviour, even if they had sometimes been overcome by unconsciousness, or contaminated by rust.

So we should not exaggerate the level of evolution that man has reached, it is an evolution of the environment of man, not of his essence. It is an evolution of what man uses, not of his reality. It is true that man’s knowledge of the universe and what it includes has changed and widened, but this has not changed the essence of man.

The moderate attitude is the attitude of Islam

The third attitude is the moderate attitude, it is the attitude of weighing, and moderation between the fanatics and the laxist, between those who want to freeze life and stand in the way of its progress and evolution and those who want to turn it into chaos. This attitude is neither governed by values or beliefs, and nor is it ruled by qualities or regulations. It is an attitude which faces evolution with wisdom, and guides it with truth. Then it leads towards useful evolution, invents it and feeds it.

Thus is the attitude of true Islam, which joins firmness and leniency in its judgements and recommendations. Firmness in its aims and goals and leniency in its ways and instruments; firmness in its foundations and general conceptions and leniency in its branches and details, firmness in behaviour and religious values and leniency in its materialistic and worldly matters.

We find this firmness in the authentic texts, whose authenticity is certain and based on evidence as we find leniency in the texts that are based on hypotheses in their authenticity and evidence. We also find leniency in the areas that the texts left open to the research of the scholars in compassion and ease for us.

This firmness is also found in the main beliefs, the basic obligations, and the virtues, the reasons of the forbidden acts and the general conceptions of the Islamic Law and so forth for all aspects of Islam which do not change with the change of time, contexts or states. We find leniency in the details of the branch judgements which do not allow more than one view, or more than one innovation, and where Allah has not made it difficult for his subjects. Whoever innovates in these areas and succeeds earns double reward, and whoever innovates and errs then he earns a single reward. This is the context in which our scholars have said: it is here that the formal legal opinion changes according to place, time, custom and state.

And we find greater leniency in worldly matters: the technical and artistic matters concerning ways and means. It is in this context that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “You are in a better position to know about worldly matters’“(. Quoted by Muslimin Sahlih Al Jaami’, no. 1482, second edition, Al Maktab Al Is]aamii.)

Muslims have to master these matters and they need to excel in them, and there is no harm for them to adopt them from other people if they do not have them.
The Prophet (PBUH) used to lecture at the foot of a palm tree in Al Madina, when the number of Muslims grew and they settled, he called a nonMuslim carpenter, and asked him to manufacture a three step mimbar for him. He used it for his preaching and never said that it was manufactured by a nonMuslim and therefore he was not going to use it.
In the Ahzaab expedition, Salman suggested to the Prophet to dig a trench around Al Madina to protect it from infidel conquerors. He liked the suggestion and applied it, and never said that that was brought by a Magi so he was not going to listen to it.

The same can be said about his companions who governed after him. They established systems and actions that did not exist during His time, such as establishing the books, listing the estates, collecting the Qur’an in books and distributing them over the provinces. They also established the specialisation of judges in the justice area only, and the introduction of a postal system, along with other matters whose benefits are doubtless. These are also innovations which did not disturb Islam in the least, especially that they were established by the Rightly Guided caliphs whose tradition is considered as part of the religion, and is followed and clung to by all.

God Willed it that His last words to humanity be comprised in this religion, after it reached its maturity and deserved that He Sends to it the Whole and Eternal Message. It comes as no surprise that He Included within it ease and leniency that help to face evolution and fit every context, nation and generation. He also included within it values, ideas, moral, intellectual and legal foundations which lead to growth, action and progress. He also included within it what is sufficient to create a civilisation that is divine and human at the same time, where both religious and worldly matters are in harmony, and where science and faith, or civilisation and morality are also harmonious.

Islam neither reffises evolution which includes knowledge, wisdom, truth and goodness, nor does it accept evolution which includes in its process deviance, delinquency and failure. It confronts everything with the Book which Allah has Revealed with truth and justice. Allah has not neglected His subjects nor has He made them aimless, He Gave them a standard with which they can evaluate everything in life.

Islam advisagainst inertia adaction, a continuous and indefatigable action, which is meant to be wise and purposeful, not an excited and destructive action. Islam intends this action to be like that of the river that is flowing smoothly and safely in its bed, not that of the flow that has no bed, rules nor limits. The river and the torrential stream both flow with drinking water. But the river spreads life, greenness, and wealth wherever it flows, whereas the stream brings destruction and kills plants and crops.

Islam means for man to be active and to work, under the condition that his action be towards a goal fitting the humanism that is noble in the eyes of Allah, and that it be in a peaceful context that can neither destroy nor be destroyed. The martyr Sayyid Qotb said rightly: “Action must be within a framework that is steady and around a firm focus”.

Islam accepts an evolution that is wise and sound, which is governed by the values of truth, goodness and virtue and is controlled by the requirements of the justice that Allah has included in His book and that He included in the message of His Prophet. But chaotic action is like stupid inertia. Both of them are unacceptable to Islam.

When does the Muslim society become exposed to danger
Muslim society becomes exposed to danger and damage as a result of two situations:

First: When we freeze what would naturally be inclined to change, evolution and action, then life is contaminated by sterility, and becomes like stagnant and brackish water, whose stagnancy turns into a hotbed for germs and microbes. This is what happened in the times of decadence and deviance from the right path of true Islam. Then we saw how the avenue of research and innovation in religion was closed and, creativity in science stopped. The same affected authenticity in literature, discovery in industry and progress in war and so forth. Thus life was affected by stagnancy and imitation in everything to the point that the following adage became familiar: “The first one did not leave anything for the last one, and it is not possible to be more creative than what there was!” In the meantime the other stagnant nations – which for a long time were the students of the Islamic society – started to awaken, rise and evolve, grow and progress, conquer and colonise while the Muslims became forgetful and indifferent.

Second: When what is inclined to firmness, eternity and stability is subjected to change and evolution. An example of this is when in our modern era we see and hear that some of the sons of Muslims want to bare the nation of its religion, and separate it totally from its heritage in the name of evolution.
They want to open the door to atheism in our faith, and separation from legislation and virtue. All of that in the name of this new statue: evolution.

They want to change the religion in its essence, so that it fits the beliefs, ideas, values, standards, systems, traditions, ideals and codes of behaviour that they want to import from the east or the west. Allah has made the religion just so that it prevents humanity from decadence and collapse. That is why it was made obligatory that the religion be the firm standard that people use as a reference when they disagree, and consult it when they deviate. If religion submits to the disturbance of life and its conditions, and thus becomes straight if life is straight and wavering when life becomes wavering. That is exactly when religion loses its function in the life of man: i.e. Iife starts to guide and govern religion, instead of religion guiding and governing life, and submitting it to its ideals and guidance, instead of it submitting religion to its reality and decadence.

This is why we tell those who demand from Islam to evolve, why don’t they demand from evolution to be Islamic. Islam governs and evolution is governed.

The slaves of evolution have no limit
The slaves of evolution have no limit, they never make a concession without asking us for a second and a third and an endless series of concessions. Even when they accept Islam, they want one that is of the make of their own hands and ideas! They say: we do not accept the sayings of the imams, or scholars, or interpreters, because they are the opinions of people like us, we only accept the sacrosanct revelation.
If, supposedly, you agree with what they say: we accept some revelations, but not all of them. We accept the Qur’an, but we do not accept the tradition! In this tradition, there is what is weak, or invented, or unacceptable; or we accept the successive traditions and not accept the single traditions

And if you allow them that, they say in audacity and impudence: The Qur’an itself only addressed the limited conditions of the Arab context, and the affairs of the small rural society, thus it is necessary to take only what is appropriate to our evolution and leave what is otherwise.

When the Qur’an says: “He hath forbidden you only carrion, and blood, and swine flesh” (. Surah 2, Verse 173 or surah 16, Verse 115), and when swine flesh is called an infamy, they say: the Qur’an was referring to swine that were badly nourished, but today’s swine are not so.

When the Qur’an is dealing with inheritance and says: “to the male the equivalent of the portion of two females’ (Surah 4, Verse 11), they say: that that was before the woman started to work and assert herself in different domains of life. Whereas today, she has developed her personality and economic independence, so she must inherit like the man does, and there is no motivation any longer to distinguish between the sexes.

When the Qur’an says “Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. Leave it aside …'(Surah 5, Verse 90.), they say: the Qur’an has forbidden that in the context of a hot climate. Had the Qur’an been revealed in a cold weather, it would have had a different attitude.

The meaning of all this, is that they impute to Allah Almighty ignorance of the situation of His subjects, and knowledge of what is real. They also consider that whatever the morrow conceals, and what the future hides, He does not know about and does not take it into account. Allah transcends by far what they say.

True reform is to understand clearly what aspects of life need to evolve and change, thus we would make our utmost to change it and improve it, with the logic of the courageous wise men, not the gullible imitators. Islam supports us in such undertaking with all the powers of intellect and action that it provided us with, and the innovation and militancy that it allowed us to undertake. The support of Islam also resides in the fact that it has made it an obligation upon us to seek wisdom wherever it can be found. So we must understand what must remain firm and stable in terms of the values, beliefs, concepts, morality, literature and laws, which remain even when high mountains may collapse.

It is thanks to this wise attitude that we can face and guide evolution: we live our time, we please our Lord, so that we earn the happy endings, and we gain the world without losing our religion, and we attain the blessings of Allah, and the amazement of the wise people.

2 thoughts on “Islam and Evolution- Is evolution becoming Islamic or is Islam evolving?

  1. Oh my goodness, please include that we don’t believe in the evolution of monkeys to humans. that is crazy talk. but maybe scientists found skeletons of humans turned into apes during the old times where Jewish tribes rebelled against God and God turned them into apes and pigs.

  2. One thing I have noticed about these non-Muslim scientists is that they won’t accept what God has revealed. They sit about conjecturing, saying that humans evolved from monkeys , and how the world will be in the twenty-second century- IF the world even lives that long, because the Day of Ressurection may come. I’m sure that even Christians know that humans came from Adam, and Adam from earth.

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