A (Mini) Guide to Evolution for Perplexed Muslims

Translated from the original language by Zeynep Akdaş

Evolution is Not a Theory

Evolution is a fact, it is a clear event. When the life is observed, it is the one and only explanation of it. It is like gravity; there might be many theories related to it, yet the real thing is the fact of the attraction of the masses. Then someone shows up and produces hypotheses and theories to clarify the “mechanisms” that are seen clearly, or “how do they happen to be”. For example, whatever we have in mind as “Law” related to Physics is made up of theories.

Darwin’s Explanation of Evolution is a Scientific Theory

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is one of them as well. All observation based explanations which were embarked to explain life must be grounded on the fact we call “evolution”. Because, WHEN YOU LOOK AT NATURE YOU DO NOT HAVE A CHANCE TO SEE ANOTHER EXPLANATION. Not only life is based on the fact of evolution, but also the creation of all of the matter in the universe does. The case of people who has no problem with the religion aspect, comprehending that stars and planets evolve from gas and dust; but getting troubled when it comes to life is because of not knowing the issue at all. When you look at nature and observe biology, medicine, and the other natural sciences what clearly seen is that all of the living beings, including humans, have come from a common origin. You can see no hint meaning any other explanations apart from this one. The Catholic Church has repeatedly opposed Darwin, who is one of the last to formulate the evolution-evolutionary view that Muslims have developed throughout the centuries and have donated to the world; and it is because of that it did not fit to the universe which the Catholic Church had built up within its own boundaries.

Evolution is a Clear Fact

The mechanism of evolution is not obvious yet just like gravity, nuclear force, and magnetic fields. This problem is valid for nearly all of the theories we know. After all, it is the nature of science. You may find a theory insufficient; in this case, you always have an opportunity to develop a new one.  But the basic problem is the fact that we DO NOT have any other scientific theory apart from the kinship of living beings and their common roots. In other words, we do not have any evidence and observation to oppose the idea of evolution or to find an alternative to it. And yet, with this much knowledge, saying that “I refuse to believe in evolution” is possible only with an obstinate ignorance. For anyone who indigenizes Islam religion, refusing to believe in Allah’s laws, in other words, Allah’s VERSES is shirk (the sin of practicing polytheism) and kufr (denial of the Truth)*. It is because both the written messages and the creations are called verse. In that case, evolution is a created verse, just like gravity, electricity, and magnetism. Refusing it is against the basic sense of Islam.

In Order to Argue about Evolution, It is Necessary to Know Biology

You do not have to know biology in order to learn and understand evolution; but as you pay attention to doctors in medical situations, and physicists in the issues related to physics field; when it comes to evolution and biology, you should give the floor to biologists, to people who work in nature. Religious leaders and philosophers may only have a point in the context of reality if they would consider the scientific findings in their speeches.

Evolution does not Mean “Atheism”

Nobel Prize received Dr. Aziz Sancar’s words, “I am a Muslim and it does not matter if there is evolution or not, but to make it a governmental issue, to argue about this issue is ridiculous” clearly state that a well informed Muslim would not have any problems with evolution. But the media, which narrated Sancar’s word with a ridiculous distortion as if he said that rather than evolution, he believes in Allah; it passes on the provision of his words as the way the media hear them. Evolution does not necessarily be synonyms with atheism or materialism; any opinion or ideology can make use of the evolution idea since they can use physics, chemistry, and anthropology as well. If YOU do know and use it, of course, there would be others to use it; and even abuse it. Evolution is an effort to explain the events happen on behalf of life. At the beginning of this explanation, if you state that “Allah created it to do so”, everything would be appropriate from the aspects of Islam and Qur’an.

Below, there is a summary of this issue by my dearest friend Alper Bilgili:

To Deny the Truths is Deliberate Ignorance

Throughout the Islamic civilization, the idea of evolution and mutual creation constituted the basic worldview. The thing that Islamic philosophers never included in their theories and with the influence of materialism the thing they opposed the most was the “randomness and accidentally showing up”. For instance, Said Nursi’s book called “Tabiat Risalesi”, which is used as a reference to anti-evolutionist arguments in Turkey, nearly all of it contains arguments which are refusing the random and irregular materialistic explanation. You cannot see anything related to a method of creation in it. Even the quote “human is the ripest fruit of the tree of creation” belongs to him, and defining “human” as a fruit of the tree of creation in person, he repeats the basic result of evolution. In a universe in which every atom that has been created HAS TO move within God’s will and knowledge, stating randomness and irregularity would be considered as “unfaithfulness”. Hence, the One who creates the living being out of the matter, nurturing it while varying it and eventually wishes to create mankind out of this origin (from soil and mud). We have to understand this process and its reflections on ourselves as much as we can within the knowledge of our time. Otherwise, if we deny this “verse” just because we could not understand it, we would align with the ones who are the answerers of Baqarah 85: “Do you then believe in a part of the Book and disbelieve in the other?  Then what is the reward of those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be exposed to the most grievous torment.”

Evolution is a Crucial Matter, Especially for Muslims

The reason why I always warn others about this issue is, as a human, all lies, and efforts to cover the truth that take us away from the reality are my enemies. Because, just like everyone I have come to the Earth to “understand”, not to repeat the old recitations like a parrot. And as a Muslim, making this issue an interest of ours is commanded repeatedly in the Holy Qur’an that we believe in without a doubt. I guess, for this reason, this evolution issue is one of the main subjects that have basic importance scientifically and religiously. Mankind, who does not understand the evolution and their place in the universe, would only act nonsense, just as they did so in every era. Ignorance has been our arch enemy for centuries, in every age; and even today, unfortunately, this “willful ignorance” can keep us in ignorance in this ocean of knowledge. I am convinced that we cannot awake from our sleep which has lasted for centuries unless we come up with a solution for this issue. Therefore, if you would like to say something about it, I suggest you read some biology textbooks. Especially if you think you are a religious person, thinking that this issue is an important one from the religious aspect… For I believe, Muslims are the ones who should study and complete the theory of Evolution! (Al-Ankabut 20: Say: Travel in the Earth and see how the first creation was. Then Allah will build the Creation of the Hereafter. Surely Allah has Power over all things.)

The Source of Anti-Evolutionists

We know that there had been books written about Darwin in the last period of the Ottoman Empire, then, until the end of 70’s the idea of evolution existed in textbooks quite detailed. While the people in Turkey had had no problems with the idea of evolution up until 1980’s, how in the Earth did we adopt the statements of the Catholic Church after the 80’s, all of a sudden? We have transformed into one of the societies that are strangers to the idea of evolution, with the help of the US, which is under the reign of the Evangelist Church, that is aware of the NECESSITY of making people strangers and keeping them away from the idea of evolution, science, and biology, which is certain to be one of the most critical subjects of our near future this much. Just think about it; these broadcasts, books, TV Channels, and various propaganda with the structures which work on the “evolution is a lie” prompting tirelessly with unknown monetary resources; which source of motivation do they have to display these expenses and efforts of theirs, do you think? This effort, which is seen as the ideology of “anti-evolution” is actually a quite successful project to keep Muslims busy with meaningless agendas, politics, and valours instead of taking care of their actual problems. This opposition to evolution and science, which has been trying to be pumped systematically for a long time; is indeed a clear and planned assault to the future of the community of Islam in particular. of

Have we Descended from Monkeys?

Unfortunately, today, evolution can be seen to be understood and even if rarely, caricatured as “descendence from monkeys” still. Evolution suggests that all living beings are descended from a common ancestor. Humans are also included in this statement. Modern theories of evolution included the Darwinist one as well, states that humans and apes we see today share a common ancestor. Humans are classified as under a group of living beings called “Primates”, yet this classification has existed long before Darwin. A common ancestor looked like neither monkey nor human who had lived millions of years ago seems to be the source of races that will constitute apes, and eventually humans. Yes, “it does seem so”; because the hundreds of records of fossils, bones, and geological data do not allow us to think of any alternatives. In all of the creation stories that are aforementioned in the Qur’an, it is told that Man (not Adem himself) was created from the mud; in other words, the Qur’an states that he was created with an earthly essence in the first place. The Qur’an clearly remarks that Man did not fall from the heavens, instead, he was shaped with the earthly essence in due course and was given the best form. If you know some biology, these verses may look like a poetic variation of modern biology. Whatever transformed Man into Adem was, it is told as a “gift” in the Qur’an. And whatever this “gift” is, it may be considered as an evaluation of the Qur’an of the interesting “increase” of our intellectual skills beside our bodies’ quite ordinary features that are similar to animals the reason why;  which cannot be solved by anthropologists, biologists and experts of human biology’s different fields. After all, our bodies are shells and they seem to be tasked with and gifted with being humans when they have gained the form that will enable them to host humans after being shaped for billions of years. From this point of view, there is no contrast between modern evolutionary theories and Islamic belief, in fact, there is a tremendous complementarity and harmony.

Adem and Havva Issue

Instead of the creation related parts, in the Qur’an, the name “Adem” is mentioned in the parts where the gifts that are granted to humans are narrated. The name “Havva” is never mentioned, but we do know about her story by heart thanks to the Torah and the Bible versions. The forbidden fruit in the paradise, the trick of Satan and Adam and Havva falling for that trick, their embarrassment and being expelled from the paradise in the Qur’an are clearly allegorical narrations, and a rational Muslim should try to understand the real case with the help of the current anthropological, archeological and evolutional findings. Trying to understand these stories without knowing anything about the Earth and the life is nothing more than a mythological literature study. (Al-Baqarah 164: Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and of the day and the ships which sail through the sea with that profits men, and the water (rain) which Allah sends down from the sky, then gives life to the earth after its death and scatters in it all kinds of moving creatures and in the veering of the winds and the clouds made subservient between the sky and the earth, there are signs for a people who are mindful.)

An Alternative to Evolution?

Even so, there will be people who will deny the evolution fact persistently. I have a loud and clear question for them, you should ask it too:

Do you have any other explanation besides evolution, of how living beings were created by Allah based on the (created) proofs in nature, or did you hear of any?

I wonder what will you receive as an answer…

A note for my friends that will have struggles to understand: These lines were written for the ones want to learn, open to a new point of view. It is just a summary; a case like this cannot be solved properly here. I suggest you do plenty of research and readings. There is a risk to be mistaken in a substantial part of what I’ve said, they are all my concern. I, who wrote these lines down would like to introduce myself as a human first of all, then a Muslim, and then a science lover. My real profession is a biologist. After the graduation, my expertness is on brain and neuroscience. I have never tripped on the differentiation of religion and science; as I respect the ones who think otherwise, I take a pity on them a bit. Whatever the borders and definitions in your minds are, they are your concerns, not mine, naturally. I read, write and do research about whatever I am curious of. While suggesting you the same, I thank you for reading and sparing your time. J

Note of the translator:


Everyone is ‘incomplete’…

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