Evolution

It is quite astonishing that a lot of the discoveries made by scientists now, have already been mentioned 1400 years ago in the Holy Quran.

Evolution means a gradual development of an organism and adapting to its surroundings within a period of time through change, and now, through research, we find undeniable facts that evolution does exist. Recently, an experiment was carried out by Michael Nachman of the University of Arizona College of Science, where some graduate students were observing pocket Mice found in New Mexico and southern Arizona in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. Generally, the surfaces of these deserts are brown and gold in colour, however, there are some areas with very dark surfaces which are caused by volcanic eruptions which took place thousands of years ago. Scientists also found two types of these rodents; some with brown colour pigments and some with dark colour pigments. The astonishing discovery that they made was that the brown pocket mice evolved from a brown to a dark black colour. The scientists studied the DNA of these pocket mice and found no difference whatsoever except in the colour gene, therefore these pocket mice had to camouflage themselves according to their surroundings, otherwise, they would fall prey to owls, coyotes and other sharp-eyed predators. This is an amazing phenomenon that proves that evolution does indeed exist.

Sonoran desert in Arizona, USA
Sonoran desert in Arizona, USA

Darwinists say that all creatures evolved from a single-celled organism meaning that the great ancestors of human beings were actually fish and apes. Moreover, they believe that this was a mere chance and that there is no great design behind this creation.

Within Muslims, the concept of evolution remains a minority position. Ghaffar Hussain writes in ‘The Commentator’ that twenty-two per cent of Turks, sixteen per cent of Indonesians, fourteen per cent of Pakistanis, eleven per cent of Malaysians, and eight per cent of Egyptians believe in evolution. In comparison, belief in evolution is between sixty and eighty per cent in most European societies. The reason why most Muslims do not believe in evolution is that man, being the highest of all creatures, somehow cannot have evolved from apes.

Yasir Qadhi is an American Muslim scholar and the Dean of Academic Affairs at the Al-Maghrib Institute (an Islamic education institution). He has written books and has lectured on Islam and contemporary Muslim issues. Dr Qadhi, in one of his speeches on YouTube on ‘The Quran and Evolution’, said that “we do believe in evolution because there are undeniable facts that it does exist, but only to a certain extent; as Muslims, we cannot believe that somehow our ancestors were apes or fish.” However, he was not so successful in explaining exactly what the explanation to this is with evidence from the Holy Quran. So what is the answer to this dilemma and what can be the logical explanation through the guidance of the Holy Quran? The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" and his Successors raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" through the succour of Allah, have given excellent logical explanations to all of these issues according to the teachings of the Holy Quran. Nonetheless, before mentioning the viewpoint of the Ahmadiyya Community, it is necessary to give a little introduction about Charles Darwin – known as the founder of this idea.

Darwin’s Theory

Charles Robert Darwin was born on 12 February 1809. He was an English naturalist and geologist who is well known for his theory of evolution. Darwin, from a young age, was fascinated by animals and loved collecting beetles. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University but then changed to Cambridge University to study Divinity. In 1831 he went on a five-year expedition on the survey ship HMS Beagle. It was in Galapagos Islands that the idea of evolution came to him. The Galapagos Islands are 500 miles west of South America. Darwin realised that the finches of different islands had a variation in their beaks but, apart from that, everything else was relatively the same. Hence the variation was caused by the atmosphere and their food source. For example, looking at the diagram above we see that the finch, whose food source were seeds, had the ideal small beak, and those whose food source were leaves had longer beaks. Therefore it was changes in the environment and their natural habitat which caused them to evolve and thus natural selection occurred.

In 1859, Charles Darwin published his book ‘Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection’. When it was written, the book was so controversial that it sent shockwaves throughout the world; Darwin believed that all humans, plants and animals evolved by accident and it took billions of years for everything to evolve from single-celled organisms without the involvement of God. He also presented the idea of survival of the fittest, that the animal which is the fittest would always win and its offspring would dominate, whereas the animal that was not fit enough would be unable to survive. This was his whole idea of ‘the Blind Watchmaker’.

However, the scientific community admires his work and a lot of scientists are trying to prove his theory and have also even presented a few hypotheses of their own, claiming our great ancestors were apes and fish. Darwin died in April 1882 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/charles-darwin-evolution-and-the-story-of-our-species/z7rvxyc

Evolution in Islam

In the first verse of Surah Al-Fatiha, the topic of evolution is also referred to:

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds.”

The Holy Quran (1:2)

The word ‘Rabb’ means ‘someone who causes something to evolve from a lower to a higher stage’. For example, we would use the term Rubb-al-Fuluwaa when someone looks after a foal and nurtures it until it is a fully grown, healthy horse. Therefore, this means that nothing has been created at once, and you will find changes in everything at a certain period or stage, except God Almighty. Moreover God Almighty created everything stage by stage until it became adapted to its surrounding.

It was only very recently in the 19th century that scientists proved that evolution does exist, whereas the Holy Quran made this claim 1400 years ago.

Similarly in Surah Nuh God Almighty says that:

وَقَدْ خَلَقَكُمْ أَطْوَارًا

“And He has created you in different forms and different conditions.”

The Holy Quran (71:15)

The Holy Quran made this claim 1400 years ago, whereas if we look at any other holy scripture such as the Bible, Torah and Vedas, they all testify to a spontaneous creation. It was only very recently in the 19th century that scientists proved that evolution does exist, whereas the Holy Quran made this claim 1400 years ago.

In Tafseer-e-Kabir, which is written by Hazrat Mirza Bashir Uddin Mahmood Ahmad raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them", it is stated regarding the different stages of man’s development in light of the Holy Quran. In the Quran the fundamental stage of man is that he was created from dried sand – تراب – and in another place, the word طين is used which means mud. God Almighty says that from dried sand, He used the elements of water, and then, through this, He began the creation of mankind. From the study of the Holy Quran, we find that water played a crucial role in the creation of all living things, for example in Surah Al-Anbiyaa, God Almighty says:

وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ حَيٍّ

“And We made from water every living thing.”

The Holy Quran (21:31)

Then God Almighty says in Surah Maryam that:

أَوَلَا يَذْكُرُ الْإِنْسَانُ أَنَّا خَلَقْنَاهُ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَلَمْ يَكُ شَيْئًا

“Does not man remember that We created him before, when he was naught?”

The Holy Quran (19:68)

So this was the first stage of mans ‘creation’, he was made out of clay and mud without the fertilisation of the sperm and the egg.

The second stage of humans was reproduction, God Almighty says in Surah Al-Sajda:

ثُمَّ جَعَلَ نَسْلَهُ مِنْ سُلَالَةٍ مِنْ مَاءٍ مَهِينٍ

“Then he made his progeny from an extract of an insignificant fluid.”

The Holy Quran (32:9)

However, if we look in the animal kingdom the same principle is used for reproduction. So, what makes humans distinctive in comparison to animals? In the Holy Quran it is mentioned in Surah Al-Dahr:

إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ نَبْتَلِيهِ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا

“We have created man from a mingled sperm-drop that We might try him; so We made him hearing, seeing.”

The Holy Quran (76:3)

The term نُطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ means a sperm-drop, which is a mixture of different qualities, and this verse shows the beauty and great design of the Divine. Man is not like animals but he has been gifted various natural powers and faculties. He has been granted understanding and free will; therefore he is responsible for his actions. If you look at an ape or a lion from thousands of years ago, it will have the same mental capacity as an ape or lion we see today. However, in comparison, humans have developed so much more mentally and in so many other ways within thousands of years.

سميعاً بصيراً – Even animals have the ability to see and hear, however, the word “Samee” means someone who listens in great detail, and the word “Baseer” means someone who uses sight with great scrutiny. Moreover, these are also the attributes of God, He is the All-Hearing and the All-Seeing. Therefore, when these two words are used for man, it means that he has the ability to go into great detail which animals cannot do.

Just like there is physical evolution, there is also spiritual evolution.

Moreover, the Holy Quran claims that the physical realm and spiritual realm are closely related. Just like there is physical evolution, there is also spiritual evolution. That is why the Holy Quran, which is the perfect book was not revealed to Hazrat Adam asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", the first Prophet, but was revealed to the Holy Prophet saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" when human minds were capable enough of understanding it. Adam asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", Noah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", Abraham asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", Moses asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", and Jesus asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" came, but it was the design of the Divine that the perfect Book and Shariah should be revealed to the Holy Prophet saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". That is why Jesus asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" said to his people:

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

John (16:12-13)

Survival of the fittest

Therefore, Islam’s teaching is that life developed via evolution, but this evolution was not blind or random, and not to the extent that everything evolved from a single-celled organism. Darwinists say this is possible through the theory of ‘survival of the fittest,’ but, according to this theory, you can imagine how many animals would have died in vain until the ultimate creation came into existence.

Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad rhabbreviation for "May Allah have mercy on him/her/them" has written beautifully on this topic in the book ‘Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth’, saying that even the animals which are poorly equipped have survived in extreme conditions. This idea of survival of the fittest cannot always be applied as an animal can lose in a particular competition but at the same time, it might have amazing qualities which will make it more dominant in another challenge.

Imagine a scenario where there is an extreme drought; the soil is completely dried from the surface, some trees in this condition have amazingly long roots. Archaeologists exploring caves have found roots of trees going to extreme depths to find water. In this scenario, all grazing animals would have died and carnivores sooner or later would have also become extinct because they no longer have their food supply. In such a hostile situation, where there is a lack of water, sometimes animals such as worms, scorpions, millipedes, meerkats and rodents too, such as rats and squirrels are known to survive.

Giraffes with long necks will also be at an advantage here, as they can reach the canopy of the tree, in addition, those animals which can run fast to find water and those animals which can sense water right under their noses will all have some sort of advantage. Clearly, even in such a catastrophe, God Almighty has given unique abilities to poorly-equipped animals which can survive in some of the harshest of conditions. Is this what scientists refer to as natural selection? Is this survival of the fittest?

The earth is billions of years old, and it is obvious that it would have also faced scenarios of extreme cold and rain, and in such a situation it would not always be the Giraffes or the Meerkats who would have survived; it thus depends on the circumstances. Sometimes, poison, for one thing, can be meat for the other. For example, a gorilla that is stranded in the Arctic, in such hostile conditions, in comparison to a Polar Bear or an Arctic fox, the gorilla will definitely be less likely to survive.

Polar Bear and Arctic Foxes

Let us now look at some of the unique features of the polar bear and the arctic fox and see how God Almighty has equipped them perfectly and ideally to help them survive in such hostile conditions.

Polar Bear

The arctic polar bear can swim a lot faster than other bears. It can weigh up to 800kg and grows three meters wide which helps them against the cold, to prey and to hunt. These polar bears have black skin which is why when they are born, they are black without any fur. Their white fur is good for camouflage and the fur and fat also make good protection against the cold. The hairs of the polar bear are hollow; ultraviolet rays can thus pass through and are absorbed by the black skin, which helps to keep the polar bear warm.

Polar Bear

The big paws it has gives it a good grip, and on ice, the polar bear runs like dogs do on dry ground, and in winter, when darkness prevails, it is harder for it to look for seals, so it uses its nose with which it can smell seals and meat from as far as 20 kilometres away. Another unique feature of the polar bear is that it can swim underwater with its eyes fully open and nostrils closed. Scientists say this was a cause of evolution and naturalists say that it would have taken millions of years for a normal bear to evolve this way.

Arctic Foxes

Arctic fox in the snow

In winter these foxes grow dense white fur to keep themselves warm and to camouflage themselves, however, in the islands on the coast of the Arctic Ocean where there is less snow, they have bluish-grey fur which is ideal for it to adapt to that environment.

So considering that these polar bears and arctic foxes must have evolved, then how many thousands or millions of years would it have taken? How many generations of polar bears and foxes would have perished until its ultimate evolution? If the polar bear and the fox did survive for millions of years without these amazing features then what was their need for evolution in the first place?

According to Darwin’s theory, for polar bears and foxes to have fully evolved there must have been different features by chance before natural selection created the ultimate species. Therefore fossils should testify to the fact that there were polar bears and foxes of different variations e.g. colour matches of red, blue, saffron and pink etc. Moreover, why did nature in the first place pick the colour black and white which is ideal for this intensely cold environment? There should also be fossils of completely different variations e.g. tiny polar bears, giant, lightweight, heavyweight etc, and some with dim vision and a weak sense of smell. To believe in the theory of survival of the fittest to this extent would mean that the fossils of those animals which were not compatible, that died in this extreme climate should have been fully preserved, so where are they? Some animals have been found by archaeologists and scientists which have been buried for thousands of years in an arctic deep freeze in an edible condition. There is a very interesting video on YouTube, in which there is a brief article about a baby mammoth which scientists say is an astonishing forty-two thousand years old, found in a very good condition:

A 42-thousand-year-old baby woolly mammoth arrives in Hong Kong as part of an Asian Tour. The mammoth was discovered in Russia five years ago and will tour several Asian countries. A 42-thousand-year-old female woolly mammoth – named Lyuba – has arrived in Hong Kong for the first leg of her Asian tour. Lyuba was discovered five years ago by Yuri Khudi, a Siberian nomad of the Nenet tribe who gain their livelihood by herding reindeer. It is thought that Lyuba was one month old when she met with her untimely death. Scientists suggest that her death may have occurred by becoming smothered in mud and subsequently buried in the Siberian permafrost for more than 40-thousand years. Although slightly the worse for wear in that her tail and one ear has been chewed, she is – in the main — almost intact. Curator of the Shemanovsky Museum, Galina Karzanova explains, [Galina Karzanova, Curator, Shemanovsky Museum]:

“Lyuba has a trunk and it is almost intact and this is the most fragile part of a mammoth, so she’s very rare because she has the trunk. Also her ears are more or less still there. Her skin is intact which is very rare, and what is most important for scientists are her inner organs her intestines, her insides are more or less there.”

Published on 11 April 2012

Conclusion

It is quite astonishing that a lot of the discoveries made by scientists now, the Holy Quran has already mentioned them 1400 years ago, and although the Holy Quran claims that mankind was created in different stages, it rejects the idea that everything evolved from a single-celled organism. It has given distinct features of man in comparison to animals. Furthermore, it would be wrong to believe in the theory of ‘survival of the fittest’ to its fullest extent as that would mean so much of creation was created in vain and this is against the attribute of God. God is Just; how would it be just if more creation were created with the ideal faculties to survive whereas other creation was not able to adapt to the environment and dies in vain. Therefore ‘survival of the fittest’ cannot be accepted to its fullest extent.

Disclaimer

This article was originally published in the Annual Printed Edition of Majallatul Jamia

Touqeer Tanvir

Touqeer Tanvir

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