Islamic views on evolution
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Islamic views on evolution are diverse, ranging from theistic evolution to creationism. Some Muslim thinkers have proposed and accepted elements of the theory of evolution, while believing in the supremacy of God in the process. In modern times, some Muslims have rejected evolution, and teaching it is banned in some countries. One modern scholar, Usaama al-Azami, suggested that both narratives of creation and of evolution, as understood by modern science, may be believed by modern Muslims as addressing two different kinds of truth, the revealed and the empirical.
The creation of man in the Quran
The creation of mankind is mentioned several times in the Quran. For instance, it says, "It is He who has created you out of clay" (Surah 6:2), "It was He who brought you into being from the earth..." (11:61), "We first created you from dust, then from a sperm drop, then from a clinging clot, then a lump of flesh, both shaped and unshaped, so that We might manifest to you Our power" (22:5), "He originated the creation of man from clay, then He made his progeny from an extract of a humble fluid" (32:7-8) and, "We made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?"(21:30)
Muslims scholars do not believe in Young Earth creationism. Islamic views of the Bible vary. In recent years, a movement has begun to emerge in some Muslim countries promoting themes that have been characteristic of Christian creationists. This stance has received some criticism, due to claims that the Quran and Bible are incompatible.
"One should then look at the world of creation. It started out from the minerals and progressed, in an ingenious, gradual manner, to plants and animals. The last stage of minerals is connected with the first stage of plants, such as herbs and seedless plants. The last stage of plants, such as palms and vines, is connected with the first stage of animals, such as snails and shellfish which have only the power of touch. The word "connection" with regard to these created things means that the last stage of each group is fully prepared to become the first stage of the next group.
The animal world then widens, its species become numerous, and, in a gradual process of creation, it finally leads to man, who is able to think and to reflect. The higher stage of man is reached from the world of the monkeys, in which both sagacity and perception are found, but which has not reached the stage of actual reflection and thinking. At this point we come to the first stage of man after (the world of monkeys). This is as far as our (physical) observation extends."
"Islam also has its own school of Evolutionary creationism/Theistic evolutionism, which holds that mainstream scientific analysis of the origin of the universe is supported by the Quran. Many Muslims believe in evolutionary creationism, especially among Sunni and Shia Muslims and the Liberal movements within Islam. Among scholars of Islam İbrahim Hakkı of Erzurum who lived in Erzurum then Ottoman Empire now Republic of Turkey in the 18th century is famous for stating that 'between plants and animals there is sponge, and, between animals and humans there is monkey'."
A research paper published by the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research wrote that there is not a consensus among scholars on how to respond to the theory of evolution, and it is not clear whether the scholars are even qualified to give a response.
The verse,"...and We made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?"(21:30), is believed by evolutionary Muslims to refer to humans evolving in the oceans millions of years ago, as suggested by modern evolution.
In the 19th century a scholar of Islamic revival, Jamal-al-Din al-Afghānī agreed with Darwin that life will compete with other life in order to succeed. He also believed that there was competition in the realm of ideas similar to that of nature. However, he believed explicitly that life was created by God; Darwin did not discuss the origin of life, saying only "Probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some primordial form, into which life was first breathed".
Islamic scholars Ghulam Ahmed Pervez, Edip Yüksel, and T.O. Shanavas in his book, Islamic Theory of Evolution: the Missing Link between Darwin and the Origin of Species say that there is no contradiction between the scientific theory of evolution and Quran's numerous references to the emergence of life in the universe.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Movement's view of evolution is that of universal acceptance, albeit divinely designed. The movement actively promotes god-directed "evolution". Over the course of several decades the movement issued various publications in support of the scientific concepts behind evolution.
In Turkey, important scholars strove to accommodate the theory of evolution in Islamic scripture during the first decades of the Turkish Republic; their approach to the theory defended Islamic belief in the face of scientific theories of their times.
Adnan Oktar, also known by his pen-name Harun Yahya, is a Muslim advocate against the theory of evolution. He is considered a charlatan by many Muslim scholars, and his representative at a conference on Islam and evolution in January 2013 was ridiculed during and after the conference. Most of Yahya's information is taken from the Institute for Creation Research and the Intelligent Design movement in the United States. Oktar largely uses the Internet to promote his ideas. His BAV (Bilim Araştırma Vakfı/ Science Research Foundation) organizes conferences with leading American creationists.
According to the Guardian newspaper, some British Muslim students have distributed leaflets on campus, advocating against Darwin's theory of evolution. At a conference in the UK in January 2004, entitled Creationism: Science and Faith in Schools, "Dr Khalid Anees, of the Islamic Society of Britain stated that 'Muslims interpret the world through both the Koran and what is tangible and seen. There is no contradiction between what is revealed in the Koran and natural selection and survival of the fittest'." Maurice Bucaille, famous in the Muslim world for his commentary on the Quran and science, attempted to reconcile evolution with the Quran by accepting animal evolution up to early hominid species, and then positing a separate hominid evolution leading to modern humans. However, these ideas differ from the theory of evolution as accepted by biologists.
Contemporary Islamic scholar Yasir Qadhi believes that the idea that humans evolved is against the Quran, but says that Allah may have placed humanity perfectly into an evolutionary pattern to give the appearance of human evolution. Usaama al-Azami later argued that scriptural narratives of creation, and evolution as understood by modern science, may be believed by modern Muslims as addressing two different kinds of truth, the revealed and the empirical. The late Ottoman intellectual Ismail Fennî, while personally rejecting Darwinism, insisted that it should be taught in schools as even false theories contributed to the improvement of science. He held that interpretations of the Quran might require amendment should Darwinism eventually be shown to be true.
Evolutionary biology is included in the high-school curricula of most Muslim countries. Science foundations of 14 Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Indonesia, and Egypt, recently signed a statement by the Interacademy Panel (IAP, a global network of science academies), in support of the teaching of evolution, including human evolution.
A 2007 study of religious patterns found that only 8% of Egyptians, 11% of Malaysians, 14% of Pakistanis, 16% of Indonesians, and 22% of Turks agree that Darwin's theory is probably or most certainly true, and a 2006 survey reported that about 25% of Turkish adults agreed that human beings evolved from earlier animal species.
According to a more recent Pew study these numbers appear to increase slowly but steadily. For instance, a relatively large fraction of people accept human evolution in Kazakhstan (79%) and Lebanon (78% for college students), but relatively few in Afghanistan (26%), Iraq (27%), and Pakistan (30%), with most of the other Islamic countries somewhere in between.
Rana Dajani, a university professor who teaches evolution in Jordan, wrote that almost all of her students are hostile to the idea at the beginning of the class, but by the end of the class the majority accept the idea.
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What these varied responses point to is a lack of consensus around not just the best way to tackle this issue, but whether the leaders charged with addressing it are qualified to do so.
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