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The Prophet Adam and Human Evolution

Sheikh Haitham Al-Haddad

category: Aqeedah


reads: 8784

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The theory of human evolution, namely that man descended from apes, is widely accepted amongst non-Muslims although there have been many non-Muslim scientists, atheists included, who argue that it is flawed. As an opinion, it was wholly rejected by all Muslims as it goes against their basic knowledge that Allah created Adam with his own hands, from clay, in the physical form of a human being, and then breathed life into it. Even so, there have been a few Muslims over the years that have endorsed the theory attempting to initiate a discussion on the topic, whilst there are non-Muslims who criticise us for being 'simple-minded' and 'scientifically inconsistent'.

Due to such attacks, some Muslims felt inferior and thought that the problem could be rectified by an acceptance of the evolution theory, or at least accepting it as a valid alternative. However, the decisive verses of the Qur'an as well as the ahadith (Prophetic narrations) provide a problem for such an undertaking, and so we find that there are mistakes and random misinterpretations. Of course, those of truth will always oppose such heresy, to which these Muslim evolutionists, if there ever was such a term (!), respond that "we believe in the existence of Allah, the initial Creator, yet what is wrong in concluding that the way in which God created all human beings, including the first human, Adam, was by means of evolution, and namely, non-human parents who descended from apes?” Such people insist that this latest version of the theory is compatible with revelation given that there is no unequivocal scriptural text to deny it!

In order to deal with such unfounded claims, I would like to approach the issue in a scholastic and systematic manner so as to demonstrate how theological deviancy comes about through incompetence in systematically and rationally deriving meaning from the scriptural texts. It is due to this incompetence (that we should all be aware of so we save ourselves) that some attempt to legitimise the theory of human evolution and others unrecognised views that accompany it.

It is commonly believed that the Qur'an and the ahadith (Prophetic traditions) are the only sources of Islamic authority, yet we find that one of the primary causes of an individual's theological (and legal) deviancy is the attempt to fully understand the divine texts by his/herself, with complete disregard for the profound understandings and well-substantiated views of hundreds of thousands of Muslim scholars from around the world who have contributed to the vast corpus of Islamic scholarship over the last 1400 years. The irony of such disregard is that Muslim proponents of the evolution process completely brush aside Islamic scholarly consensus yet are the first to advocate the (supposed) consensus of non-Muslim scientists!

It is clear that priorities are misplaced, for in glorifying western scientists the proponents of human evolution neglect the intellectual aptitude of Muslim scholars, particularly, the early scholars who were extremely astute and would, with all dedication, intensely scrutinise each and every aspect of the Islamic religion prior to any form of endorsement or inclination towards a given view – in fact, it is only very recently that scientists have adopted the same level of rigour. Given such a profound analysis, none of Islam's scholars, let alone the greatest amongst them, ever articulated the view that Adam came into existence as a result of some evolutionary process. In fact, none of Islam's early scholars ever even considered the possibility of Adam being created in stages of existence, or that he experienced childhood at some time of his life.

In adopting a religious opinion which is counter to a scholarly consensus made up of thousands of Muslim scholars over a long period of time, the proponents of human evolution expose their distorted outlook on Islamic knowledge and the Muslims scholars (as a collective) whom Allah has appointed as trustees of the faith. Such an attitude implies that Allah, may he be free from such an implication, has allowed the entire Muslim ummah, over a period spanning more than a millennium, to deviate from the truth whilst the correct view is uncovered by (theological) laymen in recent times!

Disregarding the binding legacy of scholastic consensus goes against plain old common sense and a number of verses and Prophetic traditions that state that scholars, not as individuals but as a collective, are the trustees of the faith. The explicit statements are numerous, such as Allah's statement, "And We sent not before you but men to whom We inspired, so ask the people of the Reminder if you do not know" [1], and the Prophet's (peace be upon him) saying, "the scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets.”

To believe that Adam had monkey-like parents (despite the fact that overwhelming evidences go against it) and to completely abandon the consensus of Muslims is indicative of deep-rooted arrogance, a rejection of the clear evidences, or ignoring the correct methodology in understanding the divine texts. For example, the first step of a sound methodology would be to analyse whether the conclusion is consistent with the Arabic language, since Arabic is the primary tool used in interpreting divine revelation, and so, any interpretation that fails to fall within the framework of the Arabic language is one that is redundant. For example, the Arabs did not consider the phrase kun fa yakun (be! And it is/was) to be an indefinite period of time, for indeed, the phrase illustrates the power and might of God that His will is manifested immediately and decisively, without delay. Even the phrase "be! And it is/was” in English implies it (whatever it is) happens instantaneously, and to argue otherwise would be a distortion of the English language!

Another key principle that must be established when dealing with scripture is the inter-contextualisation of the entire divine text - in order to correctly interpret the Qur'an and ahadith we must approach them, not as solitary verses, but as one coherent and homogeneous unit that affords a holistic interpretation, and not an interpretation based on preconceived ideas that singles out isolated verses so as to misconstrue them. Indeed, to approach the divine scriptures having already decided the matter is an insincere attempt to justify one's belief, and to approach them enquiring into what Allah has ordained, in an open an unbiased way, is to demonstrate the sincere intention to receive guidance.

Another irony is the fact that the evolutionists try to place a theory (evolution) over fact (the Qur'an and ahadith). Do we not ponder why it is still considered a theory despite the fact that the idea has been around, in some popular form, since Darwin and is promoted so fanatically by its protagonists? It is truly unfortunate to see those who ascribe to Islam promote the theory of human evolution, and then do so by relying on mutashabih (ambiguous) verses of the Qur'an, some of which are clear kinaya [2] (metonyms), and leave off muhkam (explicit) verses. This is precisely what Allah warns us against, saying,

"Those with deviation in their hearts follow what is undefined in it, desiring conflict, seeking its (false) interpretation." [3]

Evolution, in relating to man, is such an unfounded concept that to engage with it on par with academic and intellectual standards is to afford it credence, it being deserving of nothing but aversion. I could perhaps list all of the scientific inaccuracies of claiming that Adam came from apes, but as a Muslim it is more than sufficient to adopt the understanding of the scholars rather than derive a misconstrued meaning from a lone verse or hadith. This should be the case with any Muslim who believes that Allah has ordained certain measures to guard Islam against innovation, and hence, I shall, very limitedly, mention a small number of proofs which, for the benefit of the Muslim masses, simply expose the foolishness of this supposition.

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