Evolution or Creation?


Was the world born in 4,004 BC? This was the accepted view in Europe until the eighteenth century, when scholars began to suspect the Earth’s great age and the natural forces shaping its surface. (The Earth, London, 1984, P.13.)

This concept, that the Earth was created 4,000 years earlier to the birth of Jesus Christ has its basis in the Bible. According to it, the Earth, the Heavens and the entire paraphernalia supporting life in them were raised by the God in six days. Adam, the first man was created on the sixth day. The Jewish and Christian scholars considered the Biblical term of the “day” equal to our day of 24 hours. But in the Qur’anic terminology, this is a reference to “periods” and each day in the divine calendar ranges from 1,000 to 50,000 years. Chapters 22:47 and 70:4 of the holy Qur’an provide clear indications to this effect. In this light, the “week” involved in the creation of this universe should be taken as a reference to a vast period rather than merely a week of our Gregorian calendar. How exactly vast this period could be, is something known only to the Almighty Allah, the Master Creator. There is great divergence of opinion and belief between scholars of Islam and the People of the Book viz. Christians and Jews. Yet the Christian and the Jewish scholars maintain that Islam was merely a derived form of their respective faiths. In fact, it is their own scriptures that fail to corroborate the latest scientific discoveries, whereas, there is no contradiction between them and the Islamic concepts.

The Controversy between religious and scientific views depended on the tacit acceptance of the Bible as intended to contain historical and scientific information. As Biblical criticism probed into the dating, sources and authorship of the texts, and especially in the later 18th century questioned the historicity of the Bible, Genesis i - iii was perceived as a myth. Science began to supply a new world picture: Buffon (1707-88) raised the question of the 'origin of species', challenging 'Adam's' claim to be made in the likeness of God; geology began to establish a history of the Earth with a longer time span than the Biblical calendar allowed, and to explain the defects of Nature in terms other than Adam's Fall; Kant (1724-1804) undermined the Argument from Design, the basis of natural theology. Darwin (1809-82) gave the coup de grace to Adam as the Father of Mankind. Biblical exegesis no longer looks to Genesis for scientific explanation, but sees it as epitomising Hebrew beliefs about the mutual relations of God, man, and the universe. (Macmillan Dictionary of the History of Science, London, 1985, P. 6.)

The scientific discoveries together with the materialistic ideologies have thus done enough damage to the religion in as much as every concept rooted in religion has been rendered apocryphal. Criticism of religious ideologies has almost become a fashion. However it is noteworthy that western scholars’ major criticism against religion stems from their rejection of Christian beliefs which have been found incompatible with the modern scientific theories. It was natural, as for them, Christianity represented the religion. To the contrary, Islam offered a rational and logical explanation for the universal phenomenon. Nor were its teachings at variance with any of the scientifically proven facts and discoveries. It is because Islam is a religion totally in conformity with nature. Had the western scholars gained a better understanding of Islam, perhaps Islam would have been spared of their charge of obscurantism. However, it is high time that Muslim scholars and authors studied the modern literature on science and established the supremacy of Islam in this light and guided the humanity along the divine path. It is the crux of the intellectual challenge posed by the modern age. It is the Muslims alone who carry the responsibility to guide the humanity and it is they who can discharge it.

“Theory of Evolution” is the most misleading of the modern materialistic concepts currently in vogue. Though it has had acceptance since antiquity, but never before had it found so widespread recognition. It has rather attained its apogee and holds an unquestioned sway over the educated minds. In itself it carries the negation of the divine creation. “Evolution” implies progressive creation of things without any divine role. It implies that “matter”, the basic ingredient, came into being by itself and progressed into “living matter”, then evolving itself into living germ. This living germ developed from a simple organism to a “complicated species. Flora and fauna both grew into Multiple Species.” According to the modern man, the whole process involved millions of years as the geological and archeological evidences point out. (The modern science estimates the age of the Earth to be around four billion years and puts the age of life on earth at several crores of years.) Anthropological researches show that the man has been found since lakhs of years in various forms ranging from monkey to sub-humans. Therefore it will not be correct to estimate the life of the human beings on the Earth to be merely 6,000 years as adduced from the Biblical concepts. Consequently, those who had faith in the Bible were greatly disturbed by these revelations, in as much as it shattered the foundations of the Christianity. Rather the Christian doctrines appeared to be nothing more than a mendicant’s mumbo-jumbo vis-a-vis the recent discoveries. In fact, the Christianity totally surrendered before the Darwinism. The Encyclopedia Britannica describes the situation in the following words:

The fourth wave occurred in Victorian England, following the publication in 1859 of Darwin’s Origin of Species. This book was taken as a challenge to the authority of Scripture because there was a clear inconsistency between the Genesis account of creation and the biological account of man’s lower forms of life. The battle raged with bitterness for several decades, but died away as the theory of evolution gained more general acceptance.” (Vol. 15, 1983, P.531.)

Fact is that the Christianity is devoid of any capacity to defend itself bamboozling from the modern philosophy as it possessed nothing of eternal value. It was a temporary doctrine so it is full of discrepancies. To the contrary, Islam is the only faith that not merely defends itself against scientific and philosophical onslaughts, but also effectively demolishes the modern materialistic and baseless ideologies. In this respect, Islam appears to be the only divinely revealed sanctioned religion. The very absence of conflict between Islam and the universal laws only shows that the source of the two is one and the same i.e. Almighty Allah, the Creator of this universe.

Notwithstanding all that, it has to be admitted that the theory of evolution is a great challenge to the religion. It is as symbolic of modern education as the faith in God is for a devout follower of any religion. The theory of evolution forms part of biological sciences in school curricula and is taught as an absolute fact. Consequently, be they Muslim or non-Muslim students, the innocent brains are poisoned regardless of one’s own faith. It is therefore imperative that we concerned ourselves with this atheistic concept and adopted measures to safeguard from its disastrous impact.

It has to be clarified at the outset that “a gradual creation of the universe” and “evolution of life” are two entirely different issues. But the materialists, in order to negate the divine existence, have to perforce believe in evolution of life and its spread without any divine role notwithstanding the absence of any scientific verification or justification for such a theory. They cannot even stand any empirical scrutiny. But in reality, the man is yet to know the elementary facts about the life.

It is therefore necessary that the Ulama study science and expose the irrationality of such concepts in scientific light. This will indeed be a great contribution towards revival of Islam and a great service to religion. The task is termed as Ilmul Kalam (Scholasticism) and is the greatest intellectual challenge of the age.

It should also be borne in mind that scientific discoveries and materialistic concepts are two different things. The intermix of individual’s whims with scientific facts is a known quality of materialist ideologies. They must be separated. Pure scientific facts are assets for anyone who values the knowledge. Even from the Islamic point of view they are debatable. Our main adversaries are the materialistic ideologies. Theory of Evolution is one among them.

The Muslims developed the Ilmul Kalam in Medieval ages to counter the Greek philosophy. We need to evolve a new quality of the Ilmul Kalam to counter the modern and materialistic ideologies. The Islamic world keenly awaits this modern Ilmul Kalam. If the Muslim scholars and intellectuals fail to perceive the gravity of the situation and took steps to meeting the challenge, we will be handing over a disastrous legacy for the posterity. The Western ideologies have proved to be a source of atheism and secularism. It is therefore imperative that we took steps to save the humanity in general from its venomous influence and Muslims in particular. And it is obvious that the challenge has to be met at the intellectual plane itself. The responsibility solely rests with the Muslims who alone carry the divine law and can thus salvage the humanity from the ideological chaos.

It must be clearly understood that the modern Ilmul Kalam has influenced all walks of life, be they rites and rituals, or moral side of life or the human relationship. It no longer confines itself to merely faith or belief. So multifaceted efforts are necessary to assert Islam’s status as a complete, eternal and true code which addresses all human needs. Therefore it is the need of the hour that Islam is presented as a complete code of life against the materialistic philosophy and ideologies. This alone will bring about a revolution on the ideological plane. It is imperative in view of the rationalism being the basis of argument. Mere sermonising will not help.

It could be summarised that the materialistic ideologies and philosophies pose the biggest roadblock for the religion and the theory of evolution is one and major of these concepts. And in reality it is merely a hypothesis which took birth in the wake of conflict between the Church and Science. It later became symbol of fight against religion. It was propagated by the Jews and the Marxists whose individual and national interests it served best. It is how it progressed from a “mere hypothesis” to “faith” through “an absolute fact” in the intellectual circles parallel to the religion. As already said, it has even occupied a place in biology textbooks at schools, preaching the theory that complex species on earth are the result of continuous evolution in ordinary organisms. Belief in the theory of evolution means negation of God. It naturally leads one to refuse special bindings prescribed by the religion. The theory in itself has the effect of promoting a rebellion against social and moral code that regulates the human society. It stimulates a “born free” attitude which urges “freedom from all social fetters” and hedonistic tendencies. Renunciation and contentment become alien to such people. In short, the concept of a “super animal” put in question the very relationship with the God. All these logical consequences flow from this man-made concept. It is why this concept is held responsible for promoting atheism and irreligiosity. Rather, it has emerged as the major challenge for the humanity. The Encyclopaedia of Ignorance considers it as one among the three major threats. It says:

“The psychiatrist, Karl Stern places it (evolution) as second of the three great threats to human complacency of which the first was represented by Marxist reductionism and the third by Freudism.” (Oxford, 1978, P. 228.)

The gravity of the situation demands that the myth of evolution theory is exploded in order that the modern “rational loving” man comes off its aura. And the modern educated Muslims are no exception in this regard. Though they appear to be “Muslims” under domestic and societal pressure, their conviction in Islam indeed stands eroded in the face of these concepts. For this, however, only a rational and logical argument will serve the purpose. Fatawa cannot counter them. Argument recognises only the counter argument. The prophets in various ages came armed with logical arguments in reply to the contemporary riddles, arguments and differences among human beings.

Mankind was one single nation, and Allah sent Messengers with glad tidings and warnings; and with them He sent the Book in truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differed. (Qur’an, 2:213)

We sent aforetime Our apostles with Clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that men may stand forth in justice. (Qur’an, 57:25)

In order to set right the distortions in various ages, the prophets and the divine books have always been equipped with arguments. The Qur’an, being the final divine scripture, embraces a wide variety of arguments and rational explanations applicable to all hypothetical queries. It is now left to the Ulama to make a comparative study of Islam and the contemporary sciences to counter the present day “rationalism”. It is their responsibility to highlight the divine portents. In this regard it has to be borne in mind that the divine guidance will be revealing a new meaning in every age and reinforcing its veracity as the divine scripture.

The concept of evolution is a vast subject with multifaceted aspects. A single individual cannot master it in its entirety. It is ideal for a team work. Innumerable volumes have been added on this topic in English. But Urdu has seen little work. This is quite bizarre in view of the grave threat it poses to the Islamic faith. It will be totally unacceptable to dismiss it as a worthless issue on the plea that broaching the subject itself will result affecting the minds of Muslims adversely. It is not a correct attitude as the Urdu readers are not entirely unaware of it. Instead the situation is such that more of the educated people in the younger generation view the theory as convincing. Even a few Ulama with vast reputation are sceptical about it. One does not come across any comprehensive discussion on the theory of evolution from Islamic ranks which has naturally led the laymen among the Muslims to develop a faith in it. Consequently, the personality of Adam ( peace be upon him) and genesis of the humanity from him has run into serious doubt. Gravity of the issue has always been cause for concern for the author of the present volume. Once various facts of the issue revealed themselves on me, I approached the holy Qur’an with an open mind. It became abundantly clear that the Qur’an and the theory of evolution are in conflict and no compatibility is possible anywhere. I was convinced that those of the Ulama and philosophers who have tried to bring about compatibility were at fault. I delved into the matter deeply and started collecting relevant material. Notings piled into several volumes. The book in your hand is the first of the series. It comprises mostly such of the arguments as are advanced in the light of Shariah and which established Adam’s fatherhood of humanity.

This attempts at removing the misgivings found in the Muslim mind on this score. It stems from my basic approach that Muslim attitude deserves to be rectified well before we proceed to offer Islam to non-Muslims. The arguments based on the Shariah have however been blended with scientific observations. The first two chapters have been devoted to an Introduction of the theory of evolution with a commentary.

It is my humble opinion that it is an attempt, and perhaps the first serious one, to formulate a new philosophy based on Shariah vis-a-vis the theory of evolution. It is also possibly the maiden attempt to offer an accurate Islamic viewpoint while reviewing the issue from a wider angle.

I cannot anticipate what kind of reception it will evoke and to what extent I have been able to carry my point. Nor do I harbor any wishful thinking on this score that the book is all embracing in its coverage. But it could surely be called a good beginning for the versatile effort taken. The Shariah side of the aspect has been clearly laid down in the book. There cannot be any dispute about its absolute nature. But there is always scope for supplementing it with scientific evidences, a sphere where the author is fully aware of his own limitations.

The most forceful evidence marshaled in proof of the theory of evolution are fossil remains found in the form of bones of the species between the apes and the Homo sapiens (existing species of human beings). They are supposed to be the evidences for development of lower species into a higher animal finally taking the shape of the present man without any divine intervention. Thus the very existence of Adam is pushed into doubt. In other words none among the species from apes to human beings of this day could possibly be called ‘Adam’. In the final analysis, it strikes at the scriptural basis of Adam’s fatherhood of humanity. It also challenges the age of the humanity estimated by the Bible at around 6,000 years. The age of the human beings on earth goes back to millions of years into the antiquity.

The fossil based history has even evoked favorable reaction from a few Muslim intellectuals. Finding it difficult to defend the creation of Adam, they have gone to the extent of considering “Adam” merely a simile, not withstanding the hypothetical nature of the theory of evolution. The first two chapters discuss the issue in the light of the latest findings leading to point to point analysis and contradiction of the materialistic viewpoint and affirmation of the Islamic viewpoint. It is my view that the study has thrown up certain facts that may constitute significant milestones for further reading on the subject.

The third chapter deals with the creation of Prophet Adam. First it reviews the evolution related views of the Muslim scholars and Ulama who under the influence of its propaganda had the courage to misinterpret the Qur’an on this score. In the fourth chapter a review of such views has been made. The fifth and the sixth chapters quote from the Qur’an and the Hadith (Traditions of the holy Prophet) statements which could be considered as absolute affirmation of Adam being the first member of the human race, lest any wrinkle is left on this account.

Those of the Ulama who sought to justify the theory of evolution from the holy Qur’an concluded that the story of Adam was metaphorical or allegorical. Out of naivety, they even went on to argue that it does not amount to denial of God, He (the God) being the Creator of life on earth. Evidently there is a contradiction between the two. Perhaps this stand by a few Ulama is an outcome of the apprehension that the theory may be proved right by later scientific discoveries, thereby rejecting the Qur’an for being “unscientific”. But most of such Ulama have even committed the mistake of justifying the theory from the Qur’an itself the next moment. Thus they, in reality, would like to prove the Qur’an elastic enough to be supporting the theory but never contradicting it.

This is a rather strange interpretation of the Qur’an which was revealed in order to “distinguish the truth from the falsehood and to guide the humanity to truth”. (Qur’an, 25:1) But its interpreters want it either to support a theory based on falsehood or would like it to maintain silence. It is indeed an irony. The Qur’an is meant to counter all false claims on the creation of the universe, not to justify them. This is why it has been called the Furqan.

There are only two alternatives: either to testify to the faith and belief in Islam or to back out of the faith and accept any other faith. The two cannot go together. Nor it is rationally possible. The man has been however given the liberty to accept whatever he deems correct in his wisdom. But two self-contradicting faiths cannot be gathered.

We have guided him to the right path, now it is upon him to choose between being grateful or ungrateful. (Qur’an, 76:3)

The present volume seeks equal support from the Hadith to interpret the Qur’anic verses. The Qur’an and the Hadith verify each other. The denial of Hadith as a source of guidance has emerged as yet another contemporary pastime and a menace. It could be countered only by seeking its support from them in the interpretation of the Qur’an. A deeper study of the Qur’an reveals that every Sahih Hadith has its origin in some verse of the holy Qur’an. Thus the Hadith plays a complementary role in countering the theory of evolution by supporting the verses from the Qur’an. It only reveals that the Qur’an and the Hadith spring from the same source of guidance.

Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) Desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him. (Qur’an, 53:3-4)

In this way, the Hadith too confirms its greatness.

That those who died might die after a clear Sign (had been given), and those lived might live after a Clear Sign (had been given). (Qur’an, 8:42)

Now have come to you, from your Lord, proofs (to open your eyes): if any will see, it will be for (the good of) his own soul; if any will be blind, it will be to his own (harm). (Qur’an, 6:105)

The rational arguments do not pertain to any particular aspect of life, but cover all the aspects. In other words the Qur’an enjoins a reason-based attitude and advances arguments for those who refuse to accept the facts in order that the truth manifests itself in its entirety. Islam therefore has no element of force or compulsion.

The Qur’an is dotted with references and arguments that contradict all materialistic and atheistic concepts and philosophies which simultaneously counter the theory of evolution. These have not been put in philosophical terms nor follow Greek argumentation style. But have been deduced on the time honoured tradition of argument. It is now a task for the Ulama to ponder over the divine verses of the holy Qur’an and utilise them in proving the irrelevance of material rationalism and reasoning.

This volume has been named as Evolution or Creation? The second book of this series will be brought out as Holy Qur’an and the Theory of Evolution, which will mostly carry the scientific arguments and evidences and will be meant for the common reader. I invite the comments from scholars and their valuable suggestions to improve the work.

When the details about Prophet Adam (Pbuh) as described in the holy Qur’an and Hadith are compiled, we get not only the comprehensive account of his personality and life but a number of instructive lessons are derived from it. Adam was no mythological character but is an historical personality. The author intends to portray Prophet Adam. A sketch has already been prepared for that work and even a few chapters have been authored. The whole study will be done in the light of the latest scientific discoveries and the glorious Qur’an.

I am pleased to acknowledge the assistance provided by my son-in-law, Mr. Abdullah Zubair in obtaining references and excerpts from the books of science and the Encyclopaedia Britannica. My thanks are due to Mr. Maqbool Ahmed Siraj for rendering this English translation of the original Urdu in a lucid style. Mr. Khalid Irfan and my son, Sayeedur Rahman Nadvi took pains in revising the English translation. Sayeed also prepared the index and DTP-processed the book.

Mohammed Shihabuddin Nadvi,


Copyright FURQANIA ACADEMY TRUST. All rights reserved.