The Theory of Evolution in the QURAN
18 Jun 2016
This video is a compilation of three clips from Adnan Ibrahim videos, and one section that was apparently inserted by the video creator, all of which discuss biological evolution and the Qurʾān. There are no dates for any of the segments.
The video’s creator apparently wanted to address some of the basic misconceptions about biological evolution, which often focus on the ideas of Charles Darwin.
The first segment addresses the misunderstanding that “humans descended from apes”. Adnan Ibrahim points out that Samuel Wilberforce, the bishop of Oxford, was the one who presented this misunderstanding during a debate with Thomas Huxley, who was defending Darwin’s ideas in 1860. Huxley pointed out that the bishop was intentionally misleading people. This segment is from Ibrahim’s “The Theory of Evolution” series. (See description below.)
The second segment is from a different lecture by Adnan Ibrahim, apparently in a mosque. It starts about 3:39. Ibrahim suggests that God’s method is not creation “in one strike”, but “evolutionizing”, by which he seems to mean a kind of directed evolution. To support his ideas, he quotes a number of Qurʾānic verses (without references). He notes a Qurʾānic verse that says God creates vegetation with rain that He sends down, which Ibrahim interprets as speaking of photosynthesis. This segment closes with Ibrahim connecting this to human differentiation from other primates through God breathing into him (Adam) of His (God’s) spirit, which he calls the divine evolutionizing of humans.
The third segment, which starts at about 9:30, is inserted text cards, with some accurate and inaccurate information. It claims Arabic is the oldest language, which is not true. It says Adam’s partner, called Eve in the Bible and Hawwa among Muslims, is not named in the Qurʾān, which is true. It goes on to suggest that the Noah/Nūh “story” is “completely different” in the Qurʾān as compared to the Bible, which is questionable. Finally, it suggests that “the story” in the Qurʾān about “natural selection” is quite similar, although no passages are indicated for either.
The fourth and final section, which starts at about 10 minutes into the video, is also clipped from Ibrahim’s “The Theory of Evolution” series. Ibrahim argues that Muslims understand that “Allah doesn’t do or make things directly.” He quotes verse 35:1 of the Qurʾān, “He increases in creation what He wills”, and uses it to suggest that evolution continues creation rather than replacing it, and that it is “not in our interest as Muslims to distort the truth” by rejecting natural selection. Without naming any individuals, he says, “They are lying to people when they say that the theory is no longer taught in Europe.”
The video includes front and back bumpers advertising the curator.
The Islamic material presented here is the bounds of what Muslims have historically understood as acceptable.
Although most evolutionary biologists would object to the discussion of God directing natural selection, most of the other scientific material is adequate.
The historical material presented here is correct by Adnan Ibrahim. The reference to Arabic being the oldest language is not. For a discussion of pre-Islamic languages of Arabia, see Macdonald’s article from 2000, and Beeston’s 1981 article, which situates the various Arabic dialects within their Semitic framework. (Thanks to Dr. Carlos Molina-Vital for the linguistic references.)
About Adnan Ibrahim
Born in 1966 in Gaza, Ibrāhīm and his family moved several times. Dr. Ibrāhīm now calls Vienna, Austria home. He studied medicine as an undergraduate, and eventually went on to receive a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Vienna.
Ibrāhīm has been a proponent for more open debate. He has produced a number of videos in Arabic, most of which have not been translated into English. In terms of natural sciences, his most important series is on biological evolution, a 31-part sequence entitled Nazariya al-taṭawar (The Theory of Evolution), the first two videos of which include English subtitles. Ibrāhīm has been outspoken about largely agreeing with biological evolution, framing it within his understanding of Islam.
In 2000, Ibrāhīm together with his brothers founded an organization, Rencontre des Civilisations (Meeting of Civilizations), which in turn led to the creation of the mosque al-Shūrā where Ibrāhīm continues to preach and teach.
Ibrāhīm is active on social media, primarily in Arabic, and has a web page, http://www.adnanibrahim.net, which in addition to its Arabic default, has material in French (http://www.adnanibrahim.net/category/francais/) and a limited selection in English (http://www.adnanibrahim.net/category/english/) and Spanish (http://www.adnanibrahim.net/category/espanol/).
Ibrāhīm, Adnān. (2012). Présentation du Cheikh Adnan Ibrahim. Cheikh Adnan Ibrahim. Retrieved from http://cheikh-adnan.blogspot.com/2012/04/presentation-du-cheikh-adnan-ibrahim.html.
Mazouz, Zohair. (n.d., ca. 2014). Islam. A (Thundering) Voice of Progress. Free Arabs [website]. Retrieved from http://www.freearabs.com/index.php/ideas/113-video-gallery/859-jb-span-islam-jb-span-a-thundering-voice-of-progress.
Facebook (English): https://www.facebook.com/DrAdnanIbrahimEnglish/
Twitter (primarily in Arabic): https://twitter.com/dradnanibrahim
YouTube (English): https://www.youtube.com/user/shikhadnanibrahimENG (with a limited number of videos)
YouTube (Arabic): https://www.youtube.com/user/shaikhAdnanIbrahim