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Islam and Science (12 Mar 2012 NewAgeIslam.Com)

There is a Muslim in Evolution Class

By Ahmad Ali

March 12, 2012

Protest is becoming a fanatical obsession within Islamic discourse. In recent news, British Muslim students have been walking out and boycotting biology lectures that focus on the theory of evolution. Before we revert to citing the phenomenon of religious fundamentalism let us remind ourselves these are students that are clearly intelligent enough to study medicine in one of the most competitive universities within the country.

Clearly, we must move beyond stereotypical divisions of ‘faith vs. reason’. This is a complex issue because the issue here is clearly not about intelligence, scientific curiosity, hard work or open enquiry. These British Muslim students have enrolled and successfully qualified for these courses beating thousands of other applicants by exhibiting these very qualities. So calling these individuals backward or insulting their intelligence in any other similar type of fashion is wrong.

Having said that, I myself, as a British Muslim student studying medicine deeply disagrees with this walkout; protest cannot be the way we engage with new scientific discoveries. Our faith cannot be so weak and so fragile that it shatters at the first sight of apparent contradiction and doubt. It cannot be held hostage to reactionary forces that channel emotional frustrations at the state of Muslim power in the world. Instead of seeking head on confrontation; dialogue must be sought for.

A new conversation must be started about what it means to be a person of faith and yet practice science. What are the possible interactions between faith and science? Are faith and science talking about the same questions or are they addressing different dimensions of human existence? Only by asking questions can we shed light on these difficult and complex issues. Simple yes or no answers cannot suffice or be satisfactory.

But the issue at hand is more theological and philosophical. Allama Iqbal in his work ‘’Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam’’ argued that,

“The task before the modern Muslim is, therefore, immense. He has to re-think the whole system of Islam without completely breaking with the past”, and furthermore,

“The only course open to us is to approach modern knowledge with a respectful but independent attitude and to appreciate the teachings of Islam in the light of that knowledge, even though we may be led to differ from those who have gone before us.”

The need of the hour is intellectual integrity; there must be some substance to the idea that evolution is a credible way of describing the intricate process of life if it has the support of leading scientists and institutions. Denying this is simply harboring a victim mentality and fostering an atmosphere of conspiracy that fuels paranoia about the ‘West’ – instead we must address the difficult questions that the theory of evolution raises for people of faith and not just Muslims.

In this respect, we must adopt the open minded thinking of the first philosopher within Islam, Al Kindi, who famously remarked that;

“We must not be ashamed to admire the truth or to acquire it, from wherever it comes. Even if it should come from far-flung nations and foreign peoples, there is for the student of truth nothing more important than the truth, nor is the truth demeaned or diminished by the one who states or conveys it; no one is demeaned by the truth, rather all are ennobled by it.”

Ibn Rushd, the famous Muslim philosopher, cited support from the Quran to exercise philosophical investigation in his magisterial work, “On the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy”;

“We maintain that the business of philosophy is nothing other than to look into creation and to ponder over it in order to be guided to the Creator — in other words, to look into the meaning of existence; for the knowledge of creation leads to the cognizance of the Creator, through the knowledge of the created. The more perfect becomes the knowledge of creation, the more perfect becomes the knowledge of the Creator. The Law encourages and exhorts us to observe creation.’’

In the spirit of reconciling ourselves with intellectual integrity and remaining faithful to the One we must renew our theological and philosophical understanding of Islam. With patience, dialogue and integrity British Muslim students must engage positively with the scientific community instead of protesting against it. Intellectual renewal and exertion (ijtihad) can come about only in an atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance.

What accounts for the rising influence of ‘’Islamic Creationism’’ are the works of Harun Yahya.

Interestingly, Yahya has no apparent credentials as a reputable scientist yet his word is taken as gospel truth by millions of Muslims. On issues of science instead of reading the work of leading scholars in the field and reputable journals increasing numbers of Muslims are turning to a person who is essentially an evangelical preacher. In another example of this ‘’cultural resistance’’ is when Usama Hasan a London Imam at the ‘’Masjid al-Tawhid mosque in Leyton, east London, and a senior engineering lecturer at Middlesex University’’ started receiving death threats for even suggesting that it may be possible to believe in both the theory of evolution and Islam. A disturbing trend, that highlights how Muslims increasingly put importance on the ‘’Islamicness’’ of an individual instead of their methodology and reasoning. Scientific debate is being hijacked increasingly by a fiery brand of emotional politics that blackmails Muslims into accepting creationist accounts because if they dare to disagree they have strayed from the ‘Straight Path’.

Islam itself is eternal, but our interpretation of it always remains time bound and error prone due to the fallible nature of human beings. In this respect, the work of the French Christian philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (The Phenomenon of Man) is a praiseworthy attempt at reconciling religious metaphysics with modern scientific knowledge. In the spirit of past Muslim thinkers and philosophers, who characterize the open nature of rational enquiry emphasized in the Noble Quran, that evolution must be discussed rather than automatically discarded.

Source: The Express Tribune

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-science/ahmad-ali/there-is-a-muslim-in-evolution-class/d/6832


  • Dear Mahmoud Akrat
    Have you understood the evolution and stand of majority of the scientists?
    There are some pseudo-Scientists paid in petro-dollars pushing Islamic Science(???) into main-stream science.

    By rational - 10/6/2012 11:47:40 PM

  • @ALL
    Mr Mohammed Yunus is using same dirty trick as Islamist do. He is repeating again and again that Rational slandered the character of the prophet. Who knows better than him that Muslims can't bear this attack on the prophet. He knows I never said a single word against the prophet.
    Has he guts to stop the "True Muslims" following the True Islam not the stripped off the Quran.
    He quoted verses from the Shaikh Sadi. Luckily I had already read the one book of the Sadi.
    Shaik sadi also narrates how a Qadhi fell in the love of a boy and spent the night with his lover and wrote the poetry.
    Sadi has some explicit verses some nice people will feel ashamed to share with others.
    He to malign me compared me with dog(sag) and khar(gadha). Should someone be surprised? At least I don't. He simply followed the noble Quran.
    I leave it on readers how he did follow.

    By rational - 10/6/2012 11:42:35 PM

  • Darwinism is consistent with the qur'anic insights on evolution:



    By muhammad yunus (1) - 10/6/2012 8:44:38 PM

    It seems that British Muslim students have not grasped the fundamentals of science. Science is based on evidence. Since its inception, huge amount of evidence has accumulated in support of theory of evolution. If scriptures are presented as evidence, scientists will not accept it, because the concept of authority is not compatible with science. Instead of boycotting the biology lectures that focus on the theory of evolution, they should present evidence in support of creationist theory. Many scientist and other students will like to hear their opinion.
     According to Bible, earth is about 6000 years old, a claim made without presenting any evidence. Even Christians feel difficulty in supporting this claim. If you are a member of the  Flat Earth Society, you have to produce evidence.
    Holy books are not manuals of science. Science and religions should be kept in separate compartments as they not compatible. One is based on authority, while the other is based on evidence.Science progressed when it was able to escape from the clutches of Authority and Dogma.   It would be more convenient for believers to concentrate on rituals.Before criticizing theory of evolution, they should study the relevant scientific literature. As the students in question are studying medicine, they should study sickle-cell disease. It should also be remembered that according to Science, physical laws cannot be broken. The “Apple” will always fall to the ground when it is dropped.

    By Hasan Abbas - 10/6/2012 11:51:24 AM

  • Well, I liked the way you presented the point of view.
    However, regardless religion, is evolution in Richard Dawkins form could be considered as a Fact? Did we really evolve from some sort of apse? Are scientists biased towards the evolution theory because it contradicts with religion?
    I'm actually not specialized in the field of biology, But I just need a rational conclusion, Is evolution 100% correct?

    By Mahmoud Akrat - 10/6/2012 8:22:21 AM

  • PLease read this book on evolution and islam
    By robert - 7/3/2012 10:10:50 PM

  • It’s an outstanding presentation of the diagnosis of the disease. May I recommend the writings of Ali Shariati, who was a Shia Philosopher of Iran - to look for the treatment part. I have a gut feeling that after reading Shariati’s views on Quran’s take on Evolution, the British Muslim students would start attending their Biology classes.

    Incidentally, I am a Sunni but the reconstructive ideas of Ali Shariati on Islam satisfy me a great deal, and by his own admission Hazrat Allama Iqbal was one of his closest spiritual gurus. At least my recommendation to the brilliant Muslims (the distinction between Shia and Sunni does not exist at this level) would be to further continue with the Iqbal-Shariati line of thinking and seek to answer every little question with the intellectual modesty and spiritual boldness of these Masters.

    By Manzoorul Haque - 6/7/2012 1:39:45 PM

  • Is Allah the creator? Who created time and space?
    1)Allah is the creator of all mankind. The following is the extract:
    Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #21, “O mankind! Worship your Lord (ALLAH), Who CREATED YOU AND THOSE WHO WERE BEFORE YOU so that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious - See V.2:2).” (Mohsin Khan’s translation)
    2)Allah is the creator of all that is on earth and this includes all materials, space, time, medicine, living things, oxygen and etc. that could be located on earth. The following is the extract:
    Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #29, “He it is Who CREATED FOR YOU ALL THAT IS ON EARTH. Then He rose over (Istawa) towards the heaven and made them seven heavens and He is the All-Knower of everything.”
    3)Allah is the one that creates living things in the wombs. The following is the extract:
    Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #228, “And divorced women shall wait (as regards their marriage) for three menstrual periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what ALLAH HAS CREATED IN THEIR WOMBS, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have the better right to take them back in that period, if they wish for reconciliation. And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.”
    4)Allah created Adam from dust instead of being generated by evolution from apes. The following is the extract:
    Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #59, “Verily, the likeness of 'Îsa (Jesus) before Allah is the likeness of ADAM. HE CREATED HIM FROM DUST, then (He) said to him: "Be!" - and he was.”
    5)Allah was the creator of seven heavens and earth. The following is the extract:
    Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #191, “Those who remember Allah (always, and in prayers) standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about THE CREATION OF THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH, (saying): "Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose, glory to You! (Exalted are You above all that they associate with You as partners). Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire.”
    Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #29, “HE it is Who created for you all that is on earth. Then He rose over (Istawa) towards the heaven and MADE them SEVEN HEAVENS and He is the All-Knower of everything.”
    6)Allah created Adam first and then used him to create Hawwa (Eve). The following is the extract:
    An-Nisa, Chapter #4, Verse #1, “O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), AND FROM HIM (Adam) HE CREATED HIS WIFE [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women; and fear Allah through Whom you demand (your mutual rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship) . Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.”
    7)Allah was the creator of sky and rain. The following is the extract:
    Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #22, “WHO HAS MADE THE EARTH a resting place for you, AND THE SKY as a canopy, AND SEND DOWN WATER (rain) FROM THE SKY and brought forth therewith fruits as a provision for you. Then do not set up rivals unto Allah (in worship) while you know (that He Alone has the right to be worshipped).
    8)Allah created the heavens and the earth in six days. Besides, he created also the sun, the moon and the stars. The following is the extract:
    Al-Araf, Chapter #7, Verse #54, “Indeed your Lord is ALLAH, Who CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH IN SIX DAYS, and then He rose over (Istawa) the Throne (really in a manner that suits His Majesty). He brings the night as a cover over the day, seeking it rapidly, and (HE CREATED) THE SUN, THE MOON, THE STARS subjected to His Command. Surely, His is the Creation and Commandment. Blessed is Allah, the Lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)!”

    By Zuma - 6/7/2012 11:01:42 AM

  • An enlightening article that brings to light the scientific proclivities of Muslim scholars and philosophers of the Classical era that may be a news to the present day Muslims. As far as the Evolution theory is concerned, the walk-out staged by some UK students - however unrepresentative of the community, is most uncalled for and shameful as it indicates both their ignorance of the Qur’an and abhorrence of universal knowledge that is nothing but manifestation of the kalimat or signs of God. The theme is debated at length in the article referenced below, which concludes as follows and sheds further light on the subject:
    The Qur’an’s divergent insights into the creation/evolution of man, mixing the abstruse and the corporeal, the abstract and the scientific make it amply clear that it has not been the object of the Qur’an to unravel the mystery of man’s creation. Conceivably, the Qur’an’s chief concern has been to tell humans of their role and responsibilities on earth and their unique position in the creation, and to warn them of their innate infirmities and ultimate accountability to God. By any stretch of imagination, it is not a textbook on biology or any other branch of physical sciences or field of knowledge. Hence, the UK Muslim students’ boycotting of Biology class as it teaches Darwinism is doubly ironical. First they are dividing knowledge between Qur’an-compatible and Qur’an-incompatible – a division that was never applied in early Islam and is antithetic to Islamic message – as God alone is the fountainhead of all knowledge – a theme discussed in detail in a recent write up:
    Secondly, and more shamefully because they are being utterly ignorant of the broader dimensions of the Qur’anic message! It is hoped that sense will prevail upon them before the academic authorities are forced to take any disciplinary action as their boycotting of classes is unquestionably subversive of academic discipline, though a greater reckoning may await them in a higher plane for their utter ignorance of a book they hold divine and inviolable but unlawfully and childishly use as a pretext for causing confusion (fitnah).
    Re: Darwinism is Consistent with Qur’anic Insights on Man’s Origin


    By muhammad yunus - 3/12/2012 10:48:53 PM

  • British Muslim medical students who walked out of a class teaching evolution
    do not represent an average Muslim medical student. They represent a mind set which is hell-bent to move backwards. A section of British Muslim population, hailing from rural areas in Punjab, Bangladesh or Sudan, and under the influence of Saudi-trained mosque imams, is in a very unhealthy conflict with the community and the times they live in.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 3/12/2012 1:23:38 PM

  • 10 out of 10 for this article !
    By adis - 3/12/2012 11:24:51 AM

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