Many people are amazed at the theory of biological evolution – the theory that species living on Earth today were derived from others in the past, and that the present diversity of living things as we see them now is a result of descent with modifications in the course of time of numerous generations. Muslims are also amazed at one of the main processes, as evolution theory suggests, how evolution takes place – the process of natural selection. This is the notion that individuals within populations as living organisms have differences in their individual traits – they are not exactly the same – and that the organisms that are the most successful in leaving offspring
To say it right at the beginning. This article is not intended to discuss the scientific meanings of the theory of evolution. We want to address this issue from the perspective of Islamic teachings.
We have to ask:
Does the theory of evolution – and, accordingly, the theory of natural selection as a mechanism of evolution – fit with or conflict with the Islamic teachings?
Is a Muslim allowed to believe in human evolution as a scientific theory as long as he or she accepts that God is behind it? If not, how can we explain the fossils of upright, bipedal, tool-using monkeys with large brains that have been discovered?
We would like to point out again that it is not our concern to examine the scientific merits of the theory of evolution. What we want to know is what the Islamic teachings say about the idea. Whether evolution is scientifically true or false is another matter entirely.
If we look at the sources of Islam – the Quran and the Sunnah – we see, with regard to the people who live on earth today, that they are all descendants of Adam and Eve. God also says:
“O people, we have created you from man and woman and made you peoples and tribes so that you may know each other. Verily, the most respected of you is Allah, who is most fearful of God. ” (Quran 49:13)
The Prophet, God’s blessings and peace be upon him, informed us that “man” in this verse means Adam. He said:
“Humans are the children of Adam and Adam was created from earth. God says: „O people, we have created you from man and woman and made you peoples and tribes so that you may know each other. Verily, the most respected of you is Allah, who is most fearful of God. ” (Al-Tirmidhî)
We can also see that God created Adam directly, without parents.
“Verily, Jesus is like Adam before Allah; He created it out of earth as if He said to him: „Be!“ and there he was. ” (Quran 3:59]
We also know that Eve was created from Adam without parents.
In the Quran, God says clearly:
“O people, fear your Lord, who created you from a single being; and from him He created his wife, and from the two He made many men and women arise. And fear God, in whose name you ask one another, and (in the name of your kinship). Surely God watches over you. ” (Quran 4: 1)
So the Quran informs us that Adam and his wife were the father and mother of all human beings living on earth today. We have knowledge of it through the direct revelation of God.
The direct creation of Adam (peace be upon him) can in no way be confirmed or denied by science. This is because the creation of Adam (peace be upon him) was a unique and unique historical event. It is one of the things of the hidden, and it is something whose confirmation or denial is not in the power of science. As a matter of the secret, we believe in it because God has told us about it. We say the same thing about other miracles mentioned in the Quran. By their nature, wonderful events do not obey any scientific laws and their occurrence cannot be confirmed or denied by science.
What about the other living things that live next to humans on earth today? What about the plants, the animals, the mushrooms and the like?
If we turn our attention to this question, we find that the Quran and Sunnah do not tell us so much about the flora and fauna on earth that existed before or during the time when Adam and Eve thought of it. The sacred texts also say nothing about how long ago Adam and Eve arrived on earth. Therefore, these are things that we cannot safely determine from the sacred texts.
The only thing that the Quran and Sunnah ask us to believe about today’s living things on earth is that God created them in the way that He intended for them.
„God is the creator of all things and He is the sustainer of all things.“ (Quran 39:62)
In fact, God emphasizes that He created all forms of life:
„And We made all living things out of the water.“ (Quran 21:30)
We know that „God does what He wants“. He can design His creatures as He pleases.
As far as living things are concerned, one can say that the Quran and Sunna neither confirm nor refute the theory of biological evolution or the process of natural selection. The question of evolution remains a purely scientific matter. The theory of evolution stands or falls with its own scientific merits – and that means with the means of physical evidence that either confirm or refute it.
The role of science is to only observe and describe the patterns that God has used in His creation. If scientific observation shows the pattern of evolution of a species over a period of time, which can be called natural selection, it is not itself unbelief. It is only unbelief if someone thinks that evolution took place on its own and not in the context of God’s creation. A Muslim who accepts evolution or natural selection as a valid scientific theory must know that this theory is only an explanation of one of the many patterns in God’s creation.
As for the fossils of the biped monkeys and the tools and artifacts associated with them, their existence does not pose a problem for the Islamic teachings. There is nothing in the Quran and the Sunnah that enables the existence of more upright, reasoned, tools monkeys or predecessors using monkeys who have lived at some point have been confirmed or refuted. Such animals may very well have left Earth before Adam got there. All we can conclude from the Quran and the Sunnah is that even if such animals did exist, they were not Adam’s ancestors (peace be upon him).