Your creation and your resurrection are only like the creation and resurrection of a single soul (نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ). Indeed, Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. (Al Quran 31:28)
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
A 2017 Gallup creationism survey found that 38 percent of adults in the United States held the view that “God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.” Gallup found that, when asking a similar question in 2019, 40 percent of US adults held the view that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so”.
Young Earth creationism (YEC) is a form of creationism which holds as a central tenet that the Earth and its lifeforms were created by supernatural acts of the Abrahamic God between approximately 6,000 and 10,000 years ago. In its most widespread version, YEC is based on the religious belief in the inerrancy of certain literal interpretations of the Book of Genesis. Its primary adherents are Christians and Jews who believe that God created the Earth in six literal days. This is in contrast with old Earth creationism (OEC), which holds literal interpretations of Genesis that are compatible with the scientifically determined ages of the Earth and universe. It is also in contrast to theistic evolution, which posits that the scientific principles of evolution, the Big Bang, abiogenesis, solar nebular theory, age of the universe, and age of Earth are compatible with a metaphorical interpretation of the Genesis creation account.
Young Earth Creationists believe in literal reading of the Bible. So, they also believe that Eve came from Adam’s rib. This I have examined in a previous article: Did Eve Come from Adam’s Rib — That is the Question?
A sizeable population of the Muslims believe the Prophet Adam to be the first human.
Nevertheless, many Muslims around the world believe in evolution. In 13 of the 22 countries where the question was asked, by Pew Research Center, at least half say humans and other living things have evolved over time.
In Southern and Eastern Europe, a majority of Muslims in Albania (62%) and Russia (58%) believe in evolution. In Tajikistan and Turkey, the predominant view is that humans have remained in their present form since the beginning of time, 55% and 49%, respectively.
At least six-in-ten Muslims in Lebanon (78%), the Palestinian territories (67%) and Morocco (63%) think humans and other living things have evolved over time, but Jordanian and Tunisian Muslims are more divided on the issue. About half in Jordan (52%) believe in evolution, while 47% say humans have always existed in their present form. And in Tunisia, 45% say humans have evolved, 36% say they have always existed in their present form, and 19% are unsure. Iraq is the only country surveyed in the Middle East-North Africa region where a majority rejects the theory of evolution (67%).
Muslims in Malaysia and Pakistan are divided: roughly four-in-ten Malaysian Muslims (37%) believe in evolution, while 45% say humans have always existed in their present form. In Pakistan, 30% think humans have evolved, while 38% disagree and 32% say that they do not know. In Afghanistan and Indonesia, the prevailing view is that humans and living things have remained in their present form since the beginning of time (62% and 55%, respectively).
Even though significant proportions of the Muslims believe in evolution, thanks to the Western media and educational institutes, almost all the Quranic commentaries have lagged behind and have continued to perpetuate Eve coming from Adam myth overtly or subtly. Almost all the commentators take the Prophet Adam, some six thousand years ago, to be the first human and are mute about the origin of grandmother eve and leave it to reader’s imagination, to follow the Bible’s account that Eve came form Adam’s rib.
To illustrate I will quote the commentary of the first verse of Surah Nisa from a few commentaries of the Quran.
Firstly the verse and what is my understanding of this in light of guided or theistic evolution:
O ye people! stand in awe of your Lord, Who created you from a single soul (نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ) and created therefrom its mate, and from them twain spread many men and women; and fear Allah, in Whose name you appeal to one another, and be mindful of His presence, particularly respecting the ties of relationship. Surely, Allah watches over you. (Al Quran 4:1)
نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ or a single soul, as noted in the above verse and also in the epigraph of this article 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, I being one of them.
Now, let me quote from a very recent and popular commentary by a group of scholars under Seyyed Hossein Nasr. For this verse they say:
That God created human beings from a single soul is also mentioned in 6:98; 7:189; 31:28; 39:6; the creation of its mate therefrom is also mentioned in 7:189; 39:6. Elsewhere, God’s having made for human beings ‘mates from among themselves’ or ‘in pairs’ is considered a Divine gift for which humanity should be grateful and in awe (16:72; 30:21; 35:11; 42:11; 78:8). The present verse indicates a progression in human creation from singularity (a single soul, reflecting the singularity of God), to duality (its mate), to multiplicity (a multitude of men and women). The single soul is widely understood to refer to Adam, and its mate to Eve (Ḥawwāʾ). Although soul (nafs) is grammatically feminine and mate (zawj) is grammatically masculine, this does not necessarily make the correlation to Adam and Eve, respectively, problematic for most commentators (Q, R, Ṭ, Ṭs). The interweaving of masculine and feminine references suggests a reciprocity of the masculine and feminine in human relations and marriage, which is also implied in other verses (cf. 2:187; 30:21).
Commentators typically understand this verse as a reference to the story of Eve’s creation from Adam’s rib as found in Genesis 2:21–23 (IK, Q, Ṭ, Z), although some modern commentators are skeptical of this association, feeling it relies too heavily on the Biblical tradition. The story of Eve’s creation from Adam’s rib is referenced in the canonical Ḥadīth, but the Quran nowhere explicitly recounts Eve’s creation. And from it (minhā) created its mate may simply mean that the mate (Eve) was created of the same nature as the original single soul (Adam), since to be “of/from another” (min anfus) can mean to be of the same type or character (R; cf. 3:164; 9:128; 16:72). The fifth Shiite Imam, Muhammad al-Bāqir (d. ca. 114/732), reportedly said that Eve was created from the same superior clay as Adam (Ṭs). The statement regarding humanity’s common origin from a single soul and its mate could also be meant to engender brotherly and sisterly love between all human beings and to discourage boasting about one’s ancestral legacy, as all human beings are ultimately of common parentage (IK, R, Ṭ, Ṭs).
I have saved the whole of this commentary here as well from Archive.org:
The commentaries of other well known commentators is not any different. From Pakistani background I will present from the most well known commentator Mualana Sayyad Abul Alaa Maudoodi:
چونکہ آگے چل کر انسانوں کے باہمی حقوق بیان کرنے ہیں اور خصُوصیّت کے ساتھ خاندانی نظام کی بہتری و استواری کے لیے ضروری قوانین ارشاد فرمائے جانے والے ہیں، اس لیے تمہید اس طرح اُٹھائی گئی کہ ایک طرف اللہ سے ڈرنے اور اس کی ناراضی سے بچنے کی تاکید کی اور دُوسری طرف یہ بات ذہن نشین کرائی کہ تمام انسان ایک اصل سے ہیں اور ایک دُوسرے کا خون اور گوشت پوست ہیں۔
تم کو ایک جان سے پیدا کیا یعنی نوعِ انسانی کی تخلیق ابتداءً ایک فرد سے کی۔ دُوسری جگہ قرآن خود اس کی تشریح کرتا ہے کہ وہ پہلا انسان آدم تھا جس سے دنیا میں نسلِ انسانی پھیلی۔
اُسی جان سے اس کا جوڑا بنایا ، اس کی تفصیلی کیفیت ہمارے علم میں نہیں ہے۔ عام طور پر جو بات اہلِ تفسیر بیان کرتے ہیں اور جو بائیبل میں بھی بیان کی گئی ہے وہ یہ ہے کہ آدم کی پسلی سے حوّا کو پیدا کیا گیا ( تَلموُد میں اَور تفصیل کے ساتھ یہ بتایا گیا ہے کہ حضرت حوّا کو حضرت آدم علیہ السّلام کی دائیں جانب کی تیرھویں پسلی سے پیدا کیا گیا تھا)۔ لیکن کتاب اللہ اِس بارے میں خاموش ہے۔ اور جو حدیث اس کی تائید میں پیش کی جاتی ہے کا مفہُوم وہ نہیں ہے جو لوگوں نے سمجھا ہے ۔ لہٰذا بہتر ہے کہ بات کو اسی طرح مجمل رہنے دیا جائے جس طرح اللہ نے اسے مجمل رکھا ہے اور اس کی تفصیلی کیفیت متعیّن کرنے میں وقت نہ ضائع کیا جائے۔
The above and the commentary that follows, are in Urdu, but take my word for it that these are no different from what Seyyed Hossein Nasr and other traditional commentaries have said about the verse under discussion.
And now from the most progressive and pluralistic commentator from Pakistan: Javed Ahmed Ghamidi:
In short, almost all the recent and the traditional commentaries of the first verse of Surah Nisa, which is often recited at the time of Nikah, and the one used as the epigraph, have copied the mistake of the Bible and the Muslim scholars have not kept pace with the latest and the best scholarship in biology and evolution.
To understand these verses in light of modern understanding of biology and evolution let me suggest a couple of my previous writings:
Old and traditional views take a long time to die out.
Since the mid-20th century, young Earth creationists—starting with Henry Morris (1918–2006)—have developed and promoted a pseudoscientific explanation called creation science as a basis for a religious belief in a supernatural, geologically recent creation, in response to the scientific acceptance of Charles Darwin‘s Theory of Evolution, which was developed over the previous century. Contemporary YEC movements arose in protest to the scientific consensus, established by numerous scientific disciplines, which demonstrates that the age of the universe is around 13.8 billion years, the formation of the Earth and Solar System happened around 4.6 billion years ago, and the origin of life occurred roughly 4 billion years ago.
Just like in Christianity, it will be sometime before the Muslim scholars and the commentators of the Quran catch up to the new biological realities.
Let me conclude with a few articles to show how science has advanced the Quranic understanding and how we should read the Quran in progressive and logical ways: