Can Islam and Science go together?


13 Jan 2013

Evolution, Miracles / Ijaz

Yasir Qadhi

Yasir Qadhi, in this brief lecture (date unknown) at Birbeck College, University of London, discusses the situations in which the Qurʾān may be overridden by science, and when science is overridden by the Qurʾān.  For examples of the various positions, he mentions extraterrestrial life, whether the Earth is round (and suggests that according to Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328) a consensus of the scholars said it is), blood clot/embryo, evolution and Adam.  Qadhi closes by cautioning against reading “too many” miracles (iʿjāz) into the Qurʾān, which he suggests only makes Muslims look foolish to non-Muslims.

Those who do not know Arabic technical terms for certainly and ambiguity in Qurʾānic studies will have a difficult time following some of the points, as Qadhi does not explain the terms.

The lecture was a part of iERA’s External Challenge Workshop.


The material on Islam is within the bounds of what Muslims have historically understood as acceptable.  Qadhi’s assertion for a non-metaphorical understanding of the Adamic narratives in the Qurʾān is one of the accepted interpretations of this material.

Some of the statements Qadhi makes about science are acceptable, such as the lack of complete certainty about extraterrestrial life.  On the other hand, the consensus of the scholarly community today, analogous to the consensus of scholars in Ibn Taymiyyah’s time, supports evolution for all living things, including humans, contrary to Qadhi’s assertion.

There is limited historical material on which to base an evaluation.  However, Qadhi makes two statements that must be questioned.  The first is that somehow people in the 7th century, during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad did not know about umbilical cords.  Anyone who has seen a mammal (including humans) give birth knows about umbilical cords and placentas, and given the place of animal husbandry in 7th century life, most people would be familiar with this basic element of biology.

About Yasir Qadhi

Born in 1975 to Pakistani parents in Houston, Texas, Yasir Qadhi is among the most influential and controversial Islamic scholars in the world. An incredibly smart young man, Qadhi graduated two years early from high school as valedictorian and went on to earn a Bachelors of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Houston. While at the University of Houston, Qadhi became interested in pursuing Islamic studies and eventually studied at the Islamic University of Madinah in Saudi Arabia. There he earned a second Bachelors Degree in Hadith, and a Masters in Islamic Theology.  He then attended Yale University where he earned two more Masters degrees in Islamic Theology and Philosophy, respectively, and is expected to receive his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies in the near future.

Qadhi began his career in Islamic scholarship as studying through a Salafist lens, though his views have tempered over the years. In addition, on Christmas Day 2009, one of his former students from the Al Maghrib Institute (an Islamic Studies institute with locations around the world) was convicted of attempting to blow up a plane headed to Detroit by sewing a bomb into his underwear. More of Qadhi’s former students have also been convicted in terrorist activities. This led to Qadhi being investigated by the US government and he eventually emerged as a spokesperson for a nonmilitant portion of Salafi Islam.

As of 2015, Qadhi is still an instructor and Dean of Academic Affairs at the Al Maghrib Institute. He is also the Resident Scholar at the Memphis Islamic Center in Memphis, Tennessee in addition to lecturing as an Assistant Professor at Rhodes College, Tennessee. Qadhi is very active on social media with Facebook and Twitter pages amassing close to a million followers. His articles as Resident Religious Advisor to Muslim Matters, a popular Islamic blog, can be found on the website.

Selected Bibliography:

Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d.  Accessed 18 June 2015.

Elliott, Andrea. “Why Yasir Qadhi Wants to Talk About Jihad.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 19 Mar. 2011. Accessed 18 June 2015.

Qadhi, Yasir. “Dr. Yasir Qadhi.” Muslim Matters. N.p., n.d. Accessed 18 June 2015.

Qadhi, Yasir. Facebook. Facebook, n.d.

Qadhi, Yasir. Twitter. Twitter, n.d.

Rhodes College | Faculty & Staff.” Rhodes College | Faculty & Staff. Rhodes College, n.d. Accessed 18 June 2015.

Yasir Qadhi.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Accessed 18 June 2015.