Muslim History of the Theory of Evolution: A Challenge to Traditional Adam Story

Source: New Age Islam

By T.O. Shanavas, New Age Islam

12 November 2015

According to the theory of evolution, all living beings share a common ancestry, and therefore they are interconnected and interrelated. This vision of continuum of life seems to challenge our traditional religious sense of ontological discontinuity between human and the rest of life. Most Imams and Muslim scholars, who express an opinion on the theory of evolution, counsel the community that the theory of evolution is a dangerous idea and it rejects belief in God and with it the sense of divine purpose, design, or intentionality to the world and especially to human life. Therefore, for example, Muslim medical students in U.K are refusing to attend the theory of evolution class that is part of their medical school curriculum. An Imam was fired because he suggested not to ignore the theory of evolution.

In our country, USA, sadly, science is never discussed in the Islamic centres even though science is the driving force of the economy of any country.  The result is reflected in the performance of Muslims high school children in the prestigious Intel Talent Search in Science. In its list of three hundred semi-finalists every year for the past eight years, there were 0-3 traditional Muslim names. But there are 58-62 Hindu sounding names and many Chinese names.

At personnel level my son, while in high school, asked me, “Dad, you send me to the best school around our home to study science. You send me to the Islamic Center to study the religious truth. Science says that human beings evolved from earlier species, but the Islamic Center informs us that humans were initially created in Heaven and came to earth fully formed. The teacher provides us lots of evidence for evolution but Islamic Center does not give any proof, but tell us to believe. What is the truth?” His question led me to study the creation/evolution topic.

Unlike contemporary Muslim scholars and Imams, I do not believe that the theory of evolution is a dangerous idea, but a great idea. I have drafted four questions and its answers to justify the theory as a great idea.

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