Question: Islam and Evolution

A question for readers: Does anyone know what Muslims think of evolution?

About Chirol

Sir Ignatius Valentine Chirol (1852 - 1929) was a journalist, prolific author, world historian, and British diplomat. He began his career as a foreign correspondent and later became editor of the London Times. After two decades as a journalist he joined Her Majesty's Foreign Ministry as a diplomat and was subsequently knighted for his distinguished service as a foreign affairs advisor. Additionally, he wrote a dozen books on foreign affairs including The Far Eastern Question (1896), Serbia and the Serbs (1914), The End of the Ottoman Empire (1920) and The Egyptian Problem (1921). He is generally credited with popularizing "Middle East" in reference to the Arabian Peninsula with his book The Middle Eastern Question (1903). "Chirol" is a US citizen and graduate student studying Defense and Strategic Studies and government contractor. As with the historical Chirol, he has traveled to over two dozen countries and lived abroad for many years. Chirol speaks English and German fluently with basic knowledge of manyl of others.
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14 Responses to Question: Islam and Evolution

  1. Note: That’s kind of like saying what do Christian’s think of evolution. Depends on what type you ask: New Earth Creationist, Old Earth Creationist. Evolutionary Creationist, etc…

    “Here”: is a bit of a rundown by Christian creationists, maybe not the best source but the table does its best to be objective.

  2. patrick says:

    I think it depends on the sect (Sunni or Shia) and the interpretation (fundamentalist, conservative, or liberal). There is a significant creationist movement among Sunni Islamists, particularly in Turkey; there have been attempts to introduce “intelligent design” curricula into Turkish schools.

  3. Brotherhood says:

    I imagine it depends on the Muslim.

  4. As Catholicgauze suggests, it all depends who you ask…. For a reasonable view try of the diversity of opinion, try “here,”:
    “here,”: or “here.”:

  5. There’s a WIkipedia article on the subject.

    During an Islamic Studies class I took (not that it was at all informative…) I came across a different perspective – that evolution, along with such theories as black holes, the atom, etc, is all described in several rather vague passages in the Qu’ran. Also, we were given a translation of a verse by Rumi which supposedly described evolution, but it seems unlikely. I think it was this one:

    I died as a mineral and became a plant,
    I died as plant and rose to animal,
    I died as animal and I was Man.
    Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?

    Originally, you were clay. From being mineral, you became vegetable. From vegetable, you became animal, and from animal, man. During these periods man did not know where he was going, but he was being taken on a long journey nonetheless. And you have to go through a hundred different worlds yet.

  6. Boy says:

    i am muslim and i know the verses Phil spoke of. it’s a verse that says that first there were animals crawled on their bellies then came four legged animals and finally two. as far as evolution of men coming from monkeys, muslims don’t believe that. we actaully believe that a group of fishermen were turned into primates b/c they broke the sabbath a long time ago in a city by the sea for their transgression. as far as species continously modifying themselves, sure, we believe they do, but not when it applies to humans. i’m no expert on anything, but there’s my 2 cents.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    The Muslims I know (mainly traditional, fairly liberal) fall into two camps. The first, less common, is composed of Muslims who believe that the Quran is metaphorical in its passages on the origins of man, and that the common understanding of evolution is true. They cite passages and texts much like the ones Phil cited.

    The second, much more common view is that the theory of evolution is a bunch of malarkey and that the Quran is literally true at least on some level- just as Boy wrote. In Turkey I saw a lot of videotapes and books in Islamic bookstores about “the truth about evolution” and how man “really” came to be.

    Most of my closest Muslim friends and relatives believe the same as I do, which is that although the Quran might sometimes be metaphorical, the whole theory of evolution is also something to be skeptical about, and ultimately, God is the creator.

  8. hack says:

    Islam says nothing about a timeline for creation, if I’m notmistaken. So Islamic creationists don’t need to come up with tortured rationalizations about how everything was created on a biblical timeline. Re Turkish creationists, what seems to be interesting is that an ID movement sprung up in a place where many people are somewhat secular and Western. In more religious Islamic states, there’s not enough awareness about evolution to trigger a reactionary ID-promotion group.

  9. Ruhayat says:

    Actually, in the Quran God did specify the process of how He had created the universe but the timeline is not specific as it is in the Bible. The Quran too said that the universe was created in stages. The main difference being that while the Bible apparently says “days”, the Quran says merely “parts of time”. Ie, the universe came to be in six phases of time unspecified.

  10. Ruhayat says:

    As to the question of evolution in the Quran, my understanding is similar to Boy’s: while the Quran is more explicit in seemingly describing the evolution of almost every other living being in the world we know, it remained vague about that of humans. Most Muslims believe that humans sprang forth fully formed as Adam.

    Instead, where it mentioned the creation of humans, the Quran sticks pretty much to describing what we know medically today (and which was not known back in the 7th century): that we all started from a drop of filthy (smelly) fluid, and then became a bloodclot, which then grew in the womb as a foetus until it reached maturity until soul was breathed into it and it lives.

  11. nena says:

    what I think as a turkish muslim, we are secular. religion is not a big part of our lives I never read QURAN by myself but what I learnt is the last religion is quran and islam is also a life style it makes you to believe this world is only an exam the real life is when you reach eternity everything you make now in this world will be your credits… some of the parts of quran are very very logical everything has an explanation and god gives you lots of details about everything. even the earthquake in turkey in 2000 is written as a small detail..

  12. Burakius says:

    Muslims dont believe in evolution from group to another group.

    so to explain myself. A bird can evolutionise into a bird with maybe stronger wings. But a bird cant evolute from an bird to lets say a monkey. Therefore we dont believe in the monky human thing.

  13. von Kaufman-Turkestansky says:

    The e-volution will not be televised… apologies to Public Enemy.

  14. Ismail Sahiner says:

    I am a Turkish Muslim so I can give you a perspective on how evolution is viewed in Turkey and much of the muslim world. Majority of the muslims believe evolution as Darwinists/materialists outlined is false because these two groups exclude God in the creationary process and leave everything to coencidence/ unconcious randomness.God in Islam is not the same thing as Theo who sits outside of universe and intervenes time to time, this is not Islamic at all. God in Islam is involved in every single atom and as a whole it is his power and conscious that holds the universe together at every second. Therefore there is no randomness or coencidence in life or God’s creation. HOWEVER beyond this point gets complicated. Some totally rejects the idea of evolution from A to Z like Harun Yahya, some does not accept or reject evolution and leaves the issue to time, some believe in evolution as a way of God’s creation much like Evolutionary Creationists in Christian World with slight but importat differences. Bahaeddin Saglam a religious scholar from Turkey can be cited as an important figure who wrote a book about this subject. He accepts evolution as a process that God uses all the time to show the efficiency and the miracle in creation. Well accepting evolution is not a new thing for Muslims there are references in Islam to evolution over thousand years ago. Some muslim scholars and scientists -hundreds of years ago- understood some of the evolutionary process and wrote about it (i.e. Nazzam, Cahız, Ä°bn Tufeyl, Ä°bn Haldun) , it must be noted that their understanding of evolution was according to their time’s understanding of biology but regardless they caught many important key points of evolution and wrote about them. Some Mutezila Imams made researches in Africa and concluded that there is evolution. But again their version of evolution does not see the Life as a result of billions of years of chaos or coencidences yet they saw evolution as a tool of God’s creation is logical and islamic indeed. Rumi, Shariati, Filibeli Ahmet Hilmi, Said Nursi, Ä°bn Arabi and Ikbal all touched this issue in a similar way sometimes explicitly and sometimes indirectly. That’s why even the followers of Said Nursi today in general rejects evolution completely because he was not understood well and he kept somethings somewhat unclear.
    There are several problems that affect the muslim world but specifically Turkey. This issue is very pollarized and people are emotional rather than logical. A lot of times before you even start explaining you may hear things like ” Are you saying we evolved from Monkeys?” “what you are saying is un-Godly” etc etc . in mid 20the century when Communism was strong Turkey was a frontier where fight against Communism was the major issue politically and socially. Religous people got worried because many of the youth who did not get proper religious education were losing their faith to Communism and evolution was used by communists in a great way to brainwash muslim youth. Looking at what happened in Europe and how the entire continent almost became Godless many of these Muslim scholars chose the short cut and rejected evolution and spent their time and effort on refuting it. However this was not entirely scientific and as a result we see what we see today.

    My take on this is the same as Bahaeddin Saglam. Evolution is there and there is no denial, it is a tool that God has used since the beginning. Creation and life cannot be a result of sheer coencidence, that is too silly to believe when we see that creation is so perfect and an intelligent design (God’s hand) is seen in every atom and cell. There are many verses in Quran and some hadith that point to evolution Bahaeddin Saglam’s book is a very good one for reference. There is one issue that even the Evolutionary Creationists cannot usually explain is the concept of Adam and Eve. Bahaeddin Saglam shows how Quran is full of evidence that Adam and Eve were/are symbolic characters that represent the humanity from the first group of humans until Doom’s Day. Adam alone represents the humanity in many verses. He is a prophet in a sense that humanity gave birth to thousands of saints,prophets, messengers but Quran repeteadly starts the receiving of revelations (vahy) from Noah not from Adam. Humanity’s colletive character is what Adam is.

    I hope this helped.