The Single Quranic Verse that Can Convince You about Evolution

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A cartoon to suggest evolution in the apes. The Muslim Times has the best collection to support guided evolution both for our biophylic universe and life on our planet earth

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Allah has advised us to read the Quran on a daily basis. (Al Quran 17:78/79) This is not merely a ritual to define sacred in our lives, but, also to give us new ideas and epiphanies as we go through the text with our ever changing state of mind.

This is what indeed happened for me today. I have read the following verse before, several times, but, today it dawned on me with much greater significance and clarity.

وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنشَأَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ فَمُسْتَقَرٌّ وَمُسْتَوْدَعٌ ۗ قَدْ فَصَّلْنَا الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَفْقَهُونَ 

The translation here is from translation by Muhammad Abdel Haleem, whose translation has been published by Oxford University press:

It is He who first produced you from a single soul, then gave you a place to stay [in life] and a resting place [after death]. We have made Our revelations clear to those who understand. (Al Quran 6:98/99)

I have confirmed the most relevant part of this translation, ‘a single soul,’ in 54 different English translations of this verse, 53 of these in the following site, IslamAwakened. The 54th translation is by Sir Muhammad Zafrulla, which I use most often, but, is not listed in the site, with the 53 different translations.

نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ or one living soul can be interpreted in only two possible ways. Either as prophet Adam as the creationists will have or the very first unicellular organism some 3.5 billion years ago, as the evolutionists will have it.

If one believes that it means the prophet Adam as the first man, it not only implies that God created him from a statue of mud, but also that He created grandmother Eve from Adam’s rib, making her a twin sister for Adam.  All these are irrationalities not only in terms of science and biology, but also theology and whatever we hold sacred in human relations and marriage.

I will go with the evolution story any day of the week with full confidence, what would you do?

No where does the Quran say that Allah created mankind from Adam and Eve. In fact the name Eve is not mentioned in the Quran. But, there are at least three other occasions where the Quran highlights that Allah created us from a single soul. See 31:28/29 and the article: Biology of Our Human Family: Who are We Related To?

The holy Quran does however say:

O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognize one another. Indeed, the most honorable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely, Allah is All-knowing, All-Aware. (49:13/14)

This, however could mean a stage in evolution, when reproduction changed from asexual to sexual, for Allah could choose to say Adam and Eve, but didn’t.

The verse under discussion in this article is from Surah An’am and this surah does not mention the prophet Adam at all even though 18 other prophets are mentioned by names and even different categories of cattle are mentioned in this surah. Additionally, the context of this verse is the creation of our solar system and plant kingdom, perhaps a subtle reference to the stages of creation through gradual evolution:

Surely, it is Allah Who causes the grain and the date-stones to sprout. He brings forth the living from the dead and it is He Who brings forth the dead from the living. That is your Allah; wherefore, then are you turned back? He causes the break of day, and has made the night for rest and the sun and the moon the means for reckoning time. That is the measure determined by the Mighty, the All-Knowing. He it is Who has made for you the stars, that you may follow the right direction in the darknesses of the land and sea. We have expounded the Signs in detail for a people who possess knowledge. It is He who first produced you from a single soul, then gave you a place to stay [in life] and a resting place [after death]. We have made Our revelations clear to those who understand. (6:95/96-98/99)

Please pick up your copy of the Quran and also read the verses that follow and then the whole of the surah to confirm that there is no mention of the prophet Adam by name in this surah, even though he is mentioned several times in other parts of the Quran. Therefore, ‘the single soul,’ in the verse under discussion means the very first unicellular organism.

Best wishes to my readers until we meet again regarding some other aspect of biological evolution.

Suggested reading and viewing

Meeting the Quranic Adam with Charles Darwin

TheQuran.Love: Surah Baqara (The Cow): Section 4: Adam and Eve

Videos: Biological Evolution Session of Quran and Science Symposium 2014

Charles Darwin: An Epiphany for the Muslims, A Catastrophe for the Christians

Molecular biology: A Checkmate to Creationism

12 Minute Video: Everything You Wanted to Know about Guided Evolution

Evolution: Natural Selection or Divine Choice?

Two Words for the Christian Apologist Ravi Zacharias: Biological Evolution

10 replies

  1. The one verse that unequivocally states creative evolution of Homo Sapiens from earlier species is verse 6:133.

    أَنْشَأَكُمْ means “originally created.” See Lanes Lexicon. Verse 6:133 states unequivocally that modern human species were created from earlier species:

    وَرَبُّكَ الْغَنِيُّ ذُو الرَّحْمَةِ ۚ إِنْ يَشَأْ يُذْهِبْكُمْ وَيَسْتَخْلِفْ مِنْ بَعْدِكُمْ مَا يَشَاءُ كَمَا أَنْشَأَكُمْ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّةِ قَوْمٍ آخَرِينَ

    Shakir 6:133] And your Lord is the Self-sufficient one, the Lord of mercy; if He pleases, He may take you off, and make whom He pleases successors after you, even as He raised you up from the seed of another people.

    Imam Faqarudeen Razi in 11th century had the following interpretation to the above verse:

    “God said ‘As we created you from the seeds of different people.’” For a wise person, were he contemplate…he would have known that Almighty originally created (أَنْشَأَكُمْ )mankind from sperm that did not contain his picture in any form or way.”

    If Imam Razi is writing today he would have used contemporary vocabulary as follows:

    “ For a wise person, were he contemplate…he would have known that Almighty originally created ( أَنْشَأَكُمْ) mankind from sperm that did not contain his picture
    genetic composition in any form or way.”

    (See my article in academia.edu:
    https://www.academia.edu/16758457/Islamic_History_of_the_Theory_of_Evolution)

  2. “The holy Quran does however say:”

    O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; …… (49:13/14)

    Please note: the verse states “…created you from male and female..;
    It does not say “single male and single female.”

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