Usama Hasan and the evolution controversy

I have a post up on Cif at the moment about the ongoing controversy surrounding Usama Hasan and his views on evolution. Do contribute to the discussion there or add your comments below on this thread if you prefer. Here are some quick observations:

1. Whether or not you agree with Darwin’s theory of evolution (and for the record I do and have written extensively about it previously), it should be of utmost concern to all who want to see greater debate and discussion amongst Muslims that there are a minority of Muslims who seem to be prepared to use intimidation and thinly-veiled threats to try and silence opposing viewpoints. Is it not possible that there may be multiple valid interpretations of the story of Adam (A.S.)?

2. When I first briefly discussed the issue of evolution with Usama around three years ago, he told me he preferred the Intelligent Design hypothesis. Now ID is really just creationism repackaged to try and get round US laws prohibiting the promotion of religion in schools. This creationist tactic failed and in an important ruling in the USA a few years back ID was declared to be an unscientific theory. The point is Usama was clearly on a journey where he was learning more about science and evolution and overall that had to be a positive thing.

3. I contacted Usama at the weekend to find out from himself directly whether he really believes in his ‘retraction’ statement that Adam had no parents. He had previously ridiculed the notion that Adam had been ‘beamed’ on to the earth and in his statements he had affirmed his belief – which he shared with the overwhelming majority of today’s scientists – that human beings had common ancestors with apes. So does he really now believe Adam appeared fully formed on earth as if by magic? ‘No, I don’t. I’m uncommitted on the issue,’ he responded to me. I then reminded him of what his retraction statement had said ie Adam had no parents and appeared as a miracle. So, I asked him the same question again hoping to get some clarity from him. ‘I prefer not to comment further at this stage,’ he responded.

If Usama is concerned that if he was to be clearer about his true beliefs on evolution he may well be putting his safety in greater danger from extremists then that really is a terrible indictment of the pitiful intellectual state of UK Muslims and the vile influence of a tiny minority of fanatics.

4. It is unfortunate that many more Muslim organisations have not spoken out against this intimidation and in favour of increased debate and discussion. To date, I have only seen supportive statements issued by the ISB and East London Mosque. The reason could be that many organisations are deeply upset about the help and encouragement that Usama Hasan has given to the government-funded Quilliam Foundation. Usama’s decision to become an advisor to QF – he has since left this position – was very naive and hugely disappointing especially given the QF’s constant smearing of mainstream Islamic organisations via influential Israel-friendly journalists in the media. It is also no surprise that Quilliam appear to be using the controversy about Usama in what appears to be an attempt to get more funding from the government. As a consequence, it seems to me that many Muslim organisations have adopted ‘a plague on both your houses’ attitude towards Usama and his detractors.

5. I continue to be astonished by how many Muslims have strongly negative views on evolution without having read any decent books on the topic by mainstream scientists. And this from a community which believes that the very first word revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S.) was ‘Read!’

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72 Responses to Usama Hasan and the evolution controversy

  1. Word Play says:

    Great post! I’ve been involved in spreading the message against the Takfir group!

    http://wordplayblog.co.uk/2011/03/an-open-letter-against-takfir/

  2. Faraz says:

    The reaction of the Muslim “mob” is abhorrent, frightening and sadly quite revealing regarding the current dire situation of the Muslim community. Their attempts to stifle any discussion on the matter smack of ideology rather than any real attempt to uncover the truth.

    I do feel sympathy for Usama Hasan; I can only imagine how it must feel to have the community that you’ve served for so long turn on you in such a way. I do however think that he should have more carefully condsidered the consequences given that he is well acquainted with the intellectual condition of the Muslim community. Taking an incomplete academic and scientific matter and presenting it to a group of lay Muslims was hardly going to lead to meaningful discussion. What was he expecting? Surely he should have been aware that he would face opposition and as such the “fitna” (tribulation) that followed could have been avoided.

    Now I’m not saying that thinkers and intellectuals should cower in the face of opposition but that one needs to carefully consider their approach if their aim is indeed to educate people. There does need to be a space where ideas can be thrashed out and such a space does exist, in academic circles.

    The campaign to defend him is noble in that he should not be facing the kinds of threats that he allegedly has. Though the campaign argues that he has the right to hold any opinion he likes I think it misses one crucial point. The arguments he made in support of evolution, in particular the attempt to reconcile it with Islamic sources are in my opinion rather weak. The are a number of Qur’anic and authentic Hadith sources which seemingly cotradict the prevalent theory of evolution, specifically of man evolving over time from primates. These would need to be looked at and new interpretations offered.

    If we are still operating within an Islamic framework then these sources cannot be disregarded or brushed aside. Any attempt which appears to do that will undoubtedly be met with resistance from Muslims. Usama Hasan’s argument in favour of evolution chose to quote sources such as the poetry of Rumi, in my mind this does not display much academic rigour and points to a work in progress, i.e. something to be worked on, discussed with other scholars and academics.

    Now to clarify, I don’t believe that most Muslims have a problem with Evolution in general, i.e. saying that it is the mechanism by which God has created and fashioned other species. The stumbling point is specifically the creation of Adam and Eve. To say that all other species were evolved by God while Adam and Eve were created in a unique fashion could be a reasonable compromise, pending further research. I really don’t understand the desire to force the acceptance of the the theory wholesale on common Muslims. Is it really a priority? Also, we have to tread carefully and it comes back again to our relationship with the source texts. If we casually say that the verses dealing with the creation of Adam are allegorical, on what basis have we said this and where can the line be drawn?

    What I think Usama Hasan should have done – and should still do – is go away and conduct some real research on the matter, because it is needed. Not from an ideological standpoint, but real honest research. Then produce a paper looking at all the arguments, for and against; present all Qur’anic verses and hadith that discuss the creation of Adam and then offer alternative interpretations in the light of modern scientific theories. This paper should be circulated amongst Islamic scholars of the textual sources and discussed. Even if there was disagreement I think that it would be more likely to be respectful if it was first done at the scholarly level. And secondly if any ideas from it were to take hold, they would eventually filter down to the masses. As I said earlier, taking an incomplete thesis to the Muslim masses as a first step is crazy, especially as we all know the level of education in the Muslim community.

    This whole episode is unfortunate for a number of reasons:

    Firstly it prioritised an issue that in my mind was not top of the list for Muslims in the UK today. As something to be discussed amongst academics and scholars is one thing, but it distracted Muslims and led to more infighting when we have a whole host of more pressing issues facing us which are too many to list.

    Secondly on both sides of the debate a distinct lack of academic rigour was apparent and emotions seemed to lead the way. For example the anti-evolution camp really don’t understand science and regarding Islamic sources many were using a hadith narration reported on the Internet to be from the collection of Bukhari which after some basic research turned out to be from a completely different collection and classified as weak rather than authentic. And at the sme time the pro-evolution camp were quoting poetry and regarding that same hadith they were dismissing it as not even being a hadith, which was also incorrect.

    Thirdly throughout this whole affair I don’t seem to recall (forgive me if I’m wrong) either side saying “I don’t know”. Everyone seems to be so convinced of their standpoints before even entering into the discussion, which inevitably leads to discord. Some humility in seeking the truth from all sides is needed, and God willing together we can arrive at the Truth and what pleases our Creator.

    Regardless of the outcome, one thing we know for sure; it’s God who created us and it is to Him that we are to return.

  3. Abdul says:

    AA Faraz, you hit the nail on the head. Well done.

  4. Usman k says:

    Well said Faraz MA!

  5. AA Faraz,

    Here is a brief response to some of the points you raised:

    1. ‘Surely he should have been aware that he would face opposition and as such the “fitna” (tribulation) that followed could have been avoided.’

    What is the ‘fitna’ you are referring to? Is it the fact that there are so many Muslims who are likely to be unhappy about hearing a different interpretation of the story of Adam to the traditional one? If so, then Usama can hardly be blamed for that!

    2. ‘There does need to be a space where ideas can be thrashed out and such a space does exist, in academic circles.’

    This was the point I addressed in my original 2006 article ie because of the widespread lack of training in science among many Muslim religious scholars, it is important that Muslim scientists engage with them to properly apprise them of our latest understanding about the evolution of man so they can hopefully reconsider traditional interpretations of the creation of humankind and offer alternative interpretations that better fit the known data.

    3. ‘Though the campaign argues that he has the right to hold any opinion he likes I think it misses one crucial point. The arguments he made in support of evolution, in particular the attempt to reconcile it with Islamic sources are in my opinion rather weak.’

    On the contrary I think it is you that has missed the crucial point! The crucial point in my view is that someone should be able to offer a different interpretation – whether it is strongly or weakly argued – of the story of Adam without having to face threats and suchlike.

    4. ‘To say that all other species were evolved by God while Adam and Eve were created in a unique fashion could be a reasonable compromise, pending further research.’

    No, to deny human evolution would be to contradict what we know from the fossil and DNA evidence. Far from being a ‘reasonable compromise’ it would be scientifically illiterate and a shabby lie.

    5. ‘I really don’t understand the desire to force the acceptance of the the theory wholesale on common Muslims.’

    Who is ‘forcing’ anyone to accept it? To encourage people to take the time and study a little before making up their minds about evolution is a call for developing greater knowledge and lessen ignorance. It is not forcing anything on anyone.

    Happy to continue to discuss this as time permits, insha’ Allah.

  6. Jameela Al-Bakhnuti says:

    Faraz, mashaAllah amazing response that is very well articulated.

    If I may respond to some of Inayat’s responses from what I understood to be your points.

    1) I believe the ‘fitna’ is what we are witnessing now, the fitna of some acting angrily and threatening the life of a scholar. A person should be aware of who they are adressing and should try and forsee what would happen. So disturbing both a community and causing fitna for yourself should be avoided.

    2) I do believe his theory is a work in progress and Usama should have written an academic paper and not addressed this publicaly just yet. This should be done amongst scholars of Islam AND science not with joe public.

    3) Everybody has the right to hold different opinions, that is not what Faraz is talking about. He is making a clear point about clear cut verses and hadiths on the creation of Adam – i.e. the Arabic language cannot be read in any other way. Any opinion beyond this is purely imaginative not based on actual Islamic text. The whole issue of ‘evolution’ is not contended only the issue of Adam(as).
    Nobody should face death threats, that is simply unacceptable.

    4) If we take your logic, then what do you call the birth of Jesus? Since we know (from science) nobody can be born without intercourse and sperm etc, then Jesus’s birth must be lie? I believe you, Inayat, should have more room for the possibilities of God’s miraculous nature where even science cannot have answers for. Science cannot explain the concept of ‘Rooh’ or soul, but as Muslims, we believe in it. Science has no theory on Jinn and Angels, but it is part of our core belief. What if science decided that Angels do not exist, will you then change your beliefs?

    5) I don’t think anyone is forcing opinions, but nor should we HAVE to accept a scientific theory just because some fossils and DNA evidence exists.

    Do excuse any mistakes I have made, happy to have a respectful discussion.

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  8. Shaheen Amin says:

    Academic Paper:

    As for the suggestion that Usama Hasan writes an academic paper regarding the Darwin’s theory and Islam –

    It should be noted that Usama Hasan is not qualified in the biological sciences to do so. His field of speciality does not allow him to do so.

  9. AA Jameela,

    1. I am afraid I don’t agree with your definition of fitna. In my experience people often use the ‘fitna’ excuse to prevent others from speaking on a topic they do not want discussed. This whole saga began when Usama wrote a piece for Cif in 2008 supporting Darwin’s theory. Are you really saying that he should not have written that article for fear that some of those who do not believe in the theory might issue threats against him? And what does that say about the state of Muslim intellectual life?

    2. As for your argument that Usama should have addressed this to ‘scholars of Islam and science’ I did write on Cif back in 2006 that there was an urgent need for Muslim scientists to engage with traditional religious scholars about this but there is very little evidence of this happening. I mentioned in my latest Cif piece on Wednesday that new websites have been set up by Muslim scientists to encourage discussion on these matters and what a shame it was that this discussion cannot take place in some of our mosques. I spoke with a senior UK Muslim scholar this week and he said that the Islamic seminaries we have for training Imams have no science input whatsoever. Darwin’s theory is now 150 years old. How much longer do you want to wait for religious scholars to actually engage with the theory and should the rest of us just sit tight meanwhile?

    3. As for Jesus, jinn, souls or indeed the existence of God etc they are all matters of belief. Science cannot adjudicate on those matters. However, the evolution of humankind is a scientific matter which can indeed be examined on the basis of the facts at our disposal in the fossil record and in the DNA of organisms.

    4. As for your final point that ‘nor do we have to accept a scientific theory’ like evolution then you are correct. And some evangelical Christian groups are also free to believe the world is only 6000 years old etc. One would hope though that at some point those people would start engaging with the findings of science and if they disagree with them then they are free to come up with better theories for the benefit of us all.

    • D$ says:

      Faraz made the most super-fly comment on the whole topic I’ve read in decades… Yes brother! You are 250% right!

      Except on one thing: the poetry. Poetry is used in Qur’an and hadith interpretation and even in setting up the rules for Arabic language because it is evidence of how Arabs used to speak. So if, for example, Usama quoted an early Arabic poem where a phrase like “created from clay” meant something like “his parents are not known” then he could use that as evidence to say that the Qur’anic verse referred to a child whose parents were unknown rather than to a child who was made literally out of clay. But it seems that he quoted al-Rumi (d.13thC.) and Iqbal (20thC. Urdu), so in this case the use of poetry was not relevant.

      Inayat, I think you’re missing the point with (some of) your counter-criticisms.
      1. Faraz’s point is that Usama should have developed a better theory before he started trying to debate ‘The Refuters’. Of course dealing with people like Murtada ‘I-refute-everybody’ Khan was going to lead to problems/fitna/whateveryouwanttocallit…

      2. Your point about imams and science is very valid. But it’s not really imams in the UK that people like you and Usama Hasan should be engaging with, but famous ulama from the Muslim world. I mean, if you get Taqi Uthmani, Qaradawi and Salih al-Fuzan to admit that it is possible to interpret Qur’anic and hadith texts in line with evolution you’ve won three quarters of the argument with all the ‘Refuters’.

      3. You seem to think of evolution as something that can be proved with certainty. But it’s not as simple as 1+1=2. Theories come into existence in particular historical and social contexts. The theory of evolution came into existence at a time when Europeans wanted to desperately prove that they were the superior race to justify colonialism and slavery, and it was very easy to use Darwin’s theories to support that. Could it be that there were other better theories of the origin of species (and man) that could have been used but were discarded because they didn’t serve the same political purposes? Excuse my cynicism, but I’m studying economics which I thought was somewhat scientific until I actually started reading alternative criticisms. Now I can see that economics as is taught in universities is ideology pretending to be a science. The point being that once an idea becomes orthodoxy it’s very difficult to challenge. Which leads onto your next point…

      4. It’s time we started developing alternative theories generally. Perhaps the theory of evolution is right in spite of the politics, and that’s fine. But even if it’s right, there’s plenty of theories that are wrong (most neoclassical theory in economics as an obvious example). So yes, let’s work on theories with an open-minded attitude, and let’s not assume that because theories come from Caucasians they are infallible. In fact, many of the developments in social sciences in the last few decades have come precisely from non-Caucasians because they challenged dominant Caucasian ideas.

  10. Asif says:

    A sincere question: Were threats of death or violence issued upon Usama? I am aware of the fatwa by Ibn Uthaymin. But were there any explicit threats?

  11. AA Asif,

    I don’t know if there have been actual threats of death or threats of violence against Usama. I saw a statement from Usama saying he has been subject to such threats so I very much hope he has reported them to the police. I did see this Youtube video by someone who calls himself Abuz Zubair (real name Saleem Begg) which seems to come very close indeed to calling for Usama’s death, where he declares Usama to be an unbeliever who in Islamic law should be executed – albeit only where Islamic law has jurisdiction. Just sickening.

  12. Jameela Al-Bakhnuti says:

    WS, thanks for your response Inayat.

    1. By fitna, the meaning in Arabic is to cause tribulation, disturbance and turmoil in communities, amongst people and for oneself. This is the most common definition. Yes I do believe he should write a paper on this topic, but NOT address a work-in-progres to a congregation or a public post. It should be academic and scientific with clear Islamic references in his research. Only then can it be studied and taken seriously by scholars of both Islam and Science. So the fitna is what you see now, the death threats, the confusion, the sacking of an imam etc. Not sure how you define fitna? I understand the Arabic definition of it.

    2. I believe it should be an academic issue that needs a thorough paper and not thrown out to the public just yet. I support your call for a medium or space to discuss these issues and we need this badly.

    3. Like I said, I am not discussing ‘evolution’ which I do believe in (to a point), nor does Islam deny this as far as I know. But the creation of Adam (as) is quite clear in the Qur’an and ahadith and thus does not go in line with existing scientific theories. I do not reject scientific evidence, but for most Muslims they have made up their minds on Adam(as) miraculous birth like that of Jesus(as). For Muslims if someone is to believe that Adam(as) evolved and not created (as Allah says), then they have to possibly reject the birth of Jesus(as) too. Since we know that humans cannot travel thousands of miles in a night (unless in a plane), how do we explain the Night Journey of the Prophet (pbuh)? As you can see, this is not a simple matter for Muslims and throwing this subject out in the open to a community not well read on the subject will create a massive problem. This whole affair eventually deals with belief and hence is such a touchy topic.

    4. I think there are many people trying to engage with science and from an Islamic point of view. But I also believe many of them are mature and wise and they tread carefully so as to not disturb the masses. They also think through, research and present their best work and not randomly make comments on posts, tv or to an un-trained congregation.

    Many have knowledge, but many also lack hikmah.

  13. Night Man says:

    Come on! Inyat, have you read what the Qur’an and the authentic hadiths say about the creation of man!?

  14. Captain says:

    ‎Salam

    The Prophet (saw) has already informed us that the ” [my] Ummah will never unite upon falsehood” (Reported in at-Thirmidi I believe)

    This means whenever the Ummah unites upon an issue (ijma/consensus), it is upon the truth with regards to that issue. This is also the reason why Allah (swt) asks us to refer back to Him and His Prophet ONLY WHEN WE HAPPEN TO DIFFER. Meaning when we do not differ there is no need to refer back to Allah and His Messenger, as Ijma (consensus) represents the truth anyway (see Sura Nisa v.59)

    So when the Ummah has already agreed upon the fact that Adam (as) was created without parents, it means that ANY OPINION that contradicts this is DEFINITELY falsehood. It can never be the truth, as otherwise we would be saying that the Ummah united upon falsehood— and that is not possible as declared by our Prophet (saw)

    Furthermore to believe Adam (as) had parents would mean to go against amny clear cut verses of the Quran and ahadith.

    Finally if we maintain the theory of evolution, where did ‘Hawaa’ (Eve) come from? How willwe explain away the verses/ahadith about the mother of all humans???

    • D$ says:

      The hadith (لا تجتمع أمتي على ضلالة) is weak. The other arguments for consensus are not particularly strong either. Shawkani discusses this in depth in one of his books. Juday’ also challenges this issue in his Usul book. Even Shaykh Akram says that actually finding any evidence that Ijma’ happened (according to the definition of the scholars) is impossible except on perhaps a handful of issues at the time of the Sahaba.

      So perhaps we should leave this argument aside. The other points are fair enough.

  15. Night Man: ‘Come on! Inyat, have you read what the Qur’an and the authentic hadiths say about the creation of man!?’

    Yes, I have. I have also read the verses about the creation of the heavens and the earth in 6 days, but I don’t interpret them literally either.

    Captain: ‘So when the Ummah has already agreed upon the fact that Adam (as) was created without parents, it means that ANY OPINION that contradicts this is DEFINITELY falsehood.’

    But who has decided that the ummah is united on this issue? If there exist divergent opinions about Darwinism – and there clearly do as this controversy has shown – then the ummah is clearly not united on the issue. Although, I readily admit that in my experience most Muslims have never read a decent book on the topic and have a kneejerk reaction against it.

    I just think it is really sad and it says much of our current intellectual condition that many people seem to hold such strong opinions on a matter they have not taken the time to study in any detail. What a huge difference from the time when Muslims led the world in science.

  16. Jameela Al-Bakhnuti says:

    Some of us our scientists and are also learned in the Islamic sciences, I dare say that Inayat is neither, so it really proves the lack of understanding of the basics of Islamic belief. If you reject the core basis of Adam(as)’s creation, you are rejecting the Qur’an and thus Allah. What about our mother Hawa? What is your explanation of that?

    Secondly, there is NO other interpretation or translation of the verses according to the majority of the Ulema of our ummah. The reality is Inayat, you are not at either level, Islamicaly or scientifically.

    If you believe you have the means (qualifications) or hold a different opinion as to the tafsir of the following verse (one of the strongest Islamic evidence against the evolution of Adam/man theory), please do us the honour and let us hear it:

    إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَىٰ عِندَ اللَّـهِ كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ ۖ خَلَقَهُ مِن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ

  17. AA Jameela,

    Yes, you are right that some Muslim scientists are indeed knowledgeable about science and Islam. I pointed out a very good website in my Cif article that some of them have set up to encourage greater discussion of the Qur’anic verses in light of the theory of evolution. Here is the link again:

    http://sciencereligionnews.blogspot.com/

    I was speaking with a senior Muslim scholar just this week and he said unfortunately our Islamic seminaries in the UK which train Imams have no scientific input in their curriculum whatsoever so they are not really capable as matters currently stand of dealing with scientific issues such as evolution.

    I don’t claim to be any sort of Islamic scholar although the way you are prepared to declare that I am rejecting the ‘basics of Islamic belief’ and indeed rejecting the Qur’an and Allah for me sums up the fanaticism which regrettably surrounds this controversy. It also highlights the appalling state of intellectual life amongst Muslims today where people in Muslim countries are routinely being declared to be kaafirs and subsequently killed by extremists. That is one of the reasons I have come to reject the very idea of an Islamic state. The examples of Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan and Saudi Arabia show that it would very quickly turn into a tyranny where religious extremists seek to shut down debate on issues they do not want discussed.

    Thank God for the internet!

    • D$ says:

      I understand you claiming Iran and Afghanistan to be Islamic states (at least they try to be), but Saudi Arabia and Sudan? You’ve got to be kidding, right?

  18. Asif says:

    Does that mean that our belief (not jurisprudence) evolves (pun intended!) i.e. can we living in the 21s century know something about an aspect of Islamic belief that the Prophet (saw) and his companions did not know?

    • D$ says:

      There are plenty of issues which the Companions did not know about but we do and we consider them to be crucial:
      1. Can the Prophets (as) make mistakes? As far as I know, they never declared an opinion one way or another, but later scholars spent a long time debating about it.
      2. Are Allah’s attributes literal or metaphorical? I haven’t come across any authentic statement of the Sahaba going one way or the other. The earliest statement I’ve found is from Malik (d.179h).
      3. Is the Qur’an created or not? Again, I know of no authentic statement from a Companion one way or the other, and when it first came up many of the scholars were so confused they said the Qur’an was created, yet it later became the dominant view that it not created.
      4. Did the Companions believe in consensus (ijma’) as we know it? They never said anything along the lines of “If all the mujtahids of our time agree upon something it is binding upon all the Ummah for all history so let’s make sure we write it down for posterity.”

      The list could go on indefinitely…

  19. Asif: ‘Does that mean that our belief (not jurisprudence) evolves (pun intended!)’

    Did your understanding of the Qur’an’s verses about the Heavens and the Earth being created in 6 days evolve with your knowledge that science has revealed that they were created over a period of billions of years? I certainly hope so.

  20. Asif says:

    Not really answering my question explicitly. Can we living in the 21s century know something about an aspect of Islamic belief that the Prophet (saw) and his companions did not know? Yes or No will do fine.

  21. AA Asif,

    I think I did address your query in my earlier comment. We can and should be prepared to reinterpret verses of the Qur’an in light of new knowledge. That does not in any way impact on the central Islamic beliefs (One God, Day of Judgement etc) in my view. Usama provided a good example in the 10th century Persian philosopher Ibn Miskawayh who advocated very similar ideas to Darwin and yet no one accused Ibn Miskawayh of unbelief. How tragic that many in our generation of Muslims seem so keen to pronounce takfir on fellow Muslims and how appalling our intellectual life has become.

    • Muhammad says:

      How many would have had access to Ibn Miskawayh in 10th century especially with his background of philosophy not traditional Islamic sciences?

  22. AA Muhammad,

    Ibn Miskawayh was a very-known and widely read figure in his day. In our own times, I have a book by the well-known Indian scholar Muhammad Hamidullah (translator of the Qur’an into French as Le Saint Koran) and his lectures in Bahawalpur. In one of those lectures, he is asked a question about Darwin’s theory of evolution and whether it conflicts with Islam. Hamidullah answers by approvingly quoting Ibn Miskawayh and says it does not contradict Islam.

  23. Captain says:

    Brother Inayat,

    Ibn Miskawayh certainly DID NOT have similar ideas to Darwin. Where on earth did you get that from?

    Please read Peace Bruv’s response to Usama’s claim that Ibn Miskawayh held similar views to Darwin:

    Ibn Miskawayh (932-1030 or 4th century AH)

    “…In the quote from ibn Miskawayh, Hamidullah ends by saying, “…He then became a superior human being. Man becomes a saint, a prophet. He evolves into a higher stage and becomes an angel.”

    “Firstly, you fall short of quoting directly from Ibn Miskawayh, and your Wikipedia-based research (literally) had you present Muhammad Hamidullah’s description of the evolutionary ideas found in Ibn Miskawayh’s al-Fawz al-Asghar. Secondly, your supreme ignorance is indicated in the fact that you posit that Ibn Miskawayh believes one entity came from the other, yet, Ibn Miskawayh merely describes the scala naturae – the (Christian) theological hierarchical structure of all life. This is clearly seen from Hamidullah’s statement, ‘The date-palm is therefore considered the highest among the trees and resembles the lowest among animals. Then is born the lowest of animals.’ There are two key words in these sentences –‘resembles’ and ‘then’. He posits how the date-palm metaphorically resembles animals in that cutting off the head results in death, but this, however, is only one point of resemblance – there are also many points of differences between them. He then says, ‘Then is born…’ the word ‘then’ clearly indicates that one does not come from the other, but that Ibn Miskawayh will now start with describing the next category: the lowest form of animal. Your awful system of reasoning would allow us to conclude that because humans and chairs both share legs, that man somehow came from chairs!

    Hamidullah then clearly states that (unnamed) Muslim thinkers (and not Ibn Miskawayh) state that ape then evolved into a lower kind of a barbarian man and so on. However, we know from Islamic orthodox theology that the description of man’s evolution to prophethood, and then an angel, and then God Himself constitutes nothing short of disbelief. Man does not evolve into a prophet, and such a consideration is foolish – even Judeo- Christian theology seems to be sounder than your new supposed doctrine! To posit that an angel evolves into God which is the meaning of ‘everything begins from Him and everything returns to Him’ is clear pantheism (hulool) and rebuked by every orthodox scholar of Islam as I’m sure you are well aware of.”

    http://peacebruv.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/a-response-to-usama-hasan/
    http://peacebruv.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/follow-up-comments-uh-issue/

  24. AA Captain,

    Here is the relevant extract from Muhammad Hamidullah’s book ‘The Emergence of Islam’:

    “Among the text books prescribed for Arabic studies at the time [of Darwin] were selections either from the Epistles of Ikhwan al-Safa or al-Fawz al-Asghar of Ibn Miskawayh. Both the books mention the theory of evolution. Nobody ever criticised their Muslim authors on this account nor were they dubbed unbelievers. The books in question belong to the third or fourth century of the Hijrah.”

    Your quotation from ‘Peace Bruv’ says:

    “Hamidullah then clearly states that (unnamed) Muslim thinkers (and not Ibn Miskawayh) state that ape then evolved into a lower kind of a barbarian man and so on.”

    However, the notion that Hamidullah was referring to unnamed thinkers is quite wrong. Hamidullah was clearly referring to both Ikhwan al-Safa and Ibn Miskawayh here as is obvious from the context. Here is the quote in context which hopefully will make this clear for you.

    “Then is born the lowest animal. It evolves into an ape. This is not the statement of Darwin. This is what Ibn Miskawayh states and this is precisely what is written in the Epistles of Ikhwan al-Safa. The Muslim thinkers state that ape then evolved into a lower kind of barbarian man. He then became a superior human being. Man becomes a saint, a Prophet.”

    Hope that helps.

  25. The Muslim scholar Michael Mumisa has written a very good response to those extremists who have been so eager to declare takfir over the issue of evolution. It is well worth reading in full:

    http://www.facebook.com/notes/michael-mumisa/may-someone-please-explain-to-me-the-shari-basis-of-this-whole-takfir-business-a/10150122372732491

  26. Fauzia Khan says:

    I would like to reply in a more detailed way but for all the appologists who believe in evolution theory as a fact I suggest you pick up a good degree book on Genetics.
    Learning about how DNA works, what can go wrong and what the stats are on positive mutations ( which is what is needed for Evolution theory to be plausible) will explain WHAT A LOAD OF UTTER TWADDLE IT IS.
    Evolution also fails to take in to account all the natural laws of the Universe- energy laws laws of motion, quantum mechanics. If you want to have a serious dialogue about this then you can contact me any time.
    In the meantime I suggest that all this attention seeking is put to rest and we concentrate our energies on things that are really important such as helping humanity get out of the disgudting condition they are living as recently shown in the Comic relief progs in Kenya.
    Grow up -that goes for Brs on both sides.

    • Alan Niven says:

      Are you familiar with the Intelligent Design movement? Websites such as “evolution news and views” and “uncommon descent” etc?

  27. Fauzia Khan says:

    That should read disgusting conditions

  28. Yusuf says:

    Inayat,

    Thank you for this post.

    As a correction however, Abuz Zubair has reiterated continually on the internet that he believes it is unlawful for Usama Hasan to be harmed. I have yet to see any evidence of death threats from him or indeed from other sources, although Usama only seems to make mention of Abuz Zubair. He has received threats of violence from the Hasan family himself as have others on the mosque management committee who oppose Usama Hasan holding the position of Imam more recently. I find the deafening silence on this point from Mr Hasan’s supporters, and their censorship of any polite opposing comments on the Facebook group in support of Dr Hasan, highly disturbing. Sadly the majority of Muslim organisations, including the MCB, have jumped on the bandwagon without verifying the facts in the case.

    He responds to the allegations in this statement here http://islamicawakening.com/viewarticle.php?articleID=1501&

    “I am personally unaware of any threats that have been made against Usama Hasan, but would utterly condemn any if there have been any made. Certainly, I have not made any threats against him as has been insinuated.

    I wrote an article the subject and aim of which is clear in its title and conclusion. It is about whether or not someone should take position of Imam of the prayer, whilst holding evolutionary beliefs about the origins of man. In that article I chose to cite legal verdicts by Saudi authorities who are known to have been highly respected by Usama Hasan, and his father Suhaib Hasan – in order to highlight condemnation of Usama Hasan’s views from his own teachers, and for no other reason.

    I am astonished that anyone could distort the meaning of this article, interpreting it as a threat, particularly since I added an explicit caution for the readers, expressing my long held and previous expressed belief, that any such action would be illegal in terms of both Islamic and British law.

    However, I regret citing the full texts of the legal opinions because the distortion of my article that has been made has become a complete distraction from what I believe are the central issues:

    1. That Usama Hasan’s previously expressed views on evolution contradict orthodox Islamic beliefs, and whilst they might be acceptable on the pages of the Guardian, they are non-appropriate for one who leads the congregational prayers for Muslims.

    2. Concerns of worshippers that are being ignored that nepotism exists in this mosque – concerns which warrant investigating. I have been led to believe these concerns exits because that people in the mosque have been bullied into to accepting Mr Hasan’s Junior position in deference to his father’s position of seniority – and against the wishes of many in the congregation. I am led to believe that many people who have opposed Usama Hasan’s position have been threatened, and that they would be subjected to media intimidation. Indeed, I have evidence of the latter.

    Whilst some may wish to portray this as a battle between ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’ Islam, this is clearly disingenuous – as many of Suhaib Hasan’s views would be considered ‘extreme’ not only by the UK media, but by other Muslims.

    I fully expect that others may twist my words and intentions to suit their own agendas, but remain steadfast on my central concerns about the issues of leading the prayer, evolution and the unanswered concerns about nepotism in the mosque.”

    • D$ says:

      I’ve read some of Abu Zubayr’s articles on Usama before and my feeling is he’s a bit sly. His style is to kind of say Usama deserves to be killed but he shouldn’t, which could very easily be understood to be incitement. How would you understand it if some right wing neocon nut posted something saying: “These Muslims are traitors, and we know what the punishment for traitors is, but I’m not saying they should be killed.” We’d all suspect that incitement was intended. I think Abu Zubayr is playing a similar game.

  29. Yusuf: I am afraid I don’t have much sympathy for this Abuz Zubair (Saleem Begg) character. That video clip I linked to earlier was just awful. He should publicly apologise for describing Usama as an apostate. His conduct was just inexcusable.

    Fauzia: Please can you quote from a decent book on genetics which you believe serves to undermine the theory of evolution. I have quite a few books on genetics here at home and they are all supportive of Darwin’s theory. Professor Steve Jones, for example, is Professor of Genetics at University College London, and he is a staunch supporter of evolution. Perhaps you can point me to some prominent Genetics Professors who are anti-evolution.

    • Skillganon says:

      1. Whether or not you agree with Darwin’s theory of evolution (and for the record I do and have written extensively about it previously), it should be of utmost concern to all who want to see greater debate and discussion amongst Muslims that there are a minority of Muslims who seem to be prepared to use intimidation and thinly-veiled threats to try and silence opposing viewpoints. Is it not possible that there may be multiple valid interpretations of the story of Adam (A.S.)?

      I would be very much interesting in what exactly you have written about it previously I would like to make a few following point.

      1. Yes one can make Mutiple valid intepretation of the story of Adam (A.S) by largely ignoring certain problematic passage, re-intepreting and by being cunningly imaginative.
      It should be noted that mutiple valid intepretation cannot exist if fundementaly they contradict each other, such in that case only one can be true. One can have “other” intepretation that does not contradict the apparent intepretation, otherwise human being would have a hard time reading and communicating with each other.

      2. The problem here is not the lack of understanding of Human Evolution among Muslim who reject it but rather there is a lack of belief in it especially regarding Adam, as to the point there is no evidence to say that you understand it any better than those who continue to believe otherwise.
      Any form of meaningful debate cannot be had by continuing to misconstrue lack of belief as an indicator of lack of understanding regarding Human evolution in respect to Adam.

      3. Your idea that muslim scientist should challenge and debate islamic scholars on those point is rather ill-concieved as the former has no grounding in the subject of religion as he’s a scientist albeit a muslim one but not an Islamic scholar, who has no authority.

  30. Yusuf says:

    I don’t think he has retracted his comments on apostasy, and I doubt he will, and that’s based on his own background in Islamic Sciences (he is a graduate in Shar’iah and a former friend of Usama Hasan as far as I know). I’ve found from my own reading that scholars of all persuasions have considered such views (that the Prophet Adam descended from apes and had half-human parents, as Usama Hasan professed) to be disbelief, whether that’s Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller or those of a Wahabist background.

    I think in the interests of freedom of speech there is no harm in him stating his view, substantiated by evidence, in the same vein that you support Usama’s right or your own to share opinions many may deem unorthodox. You’re perfectly entitled to find his views repugnant, as much as he is to find Usama Hasan’s views contrary to Islam. The concern is the one-sided distorted depiction of this episode – surely we should condemn people for their actual beliefs and actions (such as takfir) and not on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations (death threats – something no one will support which could land the accused in considerably deep waters)?

    Again I find it bewildering that there’s silence on the actions of the Hasan family and their supporters – defaming, threatening or intimidating individuals is for some reason no worthy of criticism or condemnation. Their childish hacking of this website and naming and shaming of mosque trustees therein is a classic example – http://www.savemasjidtawhid.com. I’m confused why this is not ‘inexcusable’?

  31. Fauzia Khan says:

    salaams br
    It doesnt matter what the writers say. The facts of how DNA works and is transcripted , and replicated, what affects the base pairing , and hence ultimate coding for traits etc are scientific facts that can be very simply explained, and are facts that stand on their own. Everything else is just frivolous supposition. I will send you the info inshallah, if you want to contact me by email. Or Br Ajmal has my phone contact if you want to contact him.

    • Abdurahman Dollie says:

      Asslamu ‘alaykum

      I am interested to know whether Fauzia Khan completed her article yet. I would like to read it.

      Personally, I find that Faraz’s point number 4 may actually have substance, particularly after reading Shaykh Nuh’s letter on ToE. See http://masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/evolve.htm

  32. Fauzia Khan says:

    Sorry what I was trying to say is that Evolutionists contradict what they teach in genetics

  33. Captain says:

    Brother Inayat,

    You first said “…Persian philosopher Ibn Miskawayh who advocated very similar ideas to Darwin and yet no one accused Ibn Miskawayh of unbelief. ”

    But then when I asked you where you got this from, you presented Hamidullah’s INTERPRETATION of Ibn Miskaway’s statement as the basis of your claim.

    Ibn Miskaway said that man changes into Saints and then into Prophets and then into Angels. How is this referring to the biological evolution of man???

    Brother, I honestly do respect you much, but please don’t claim that Miskaway held similar views to evolution by presenting someone else’s interpretation of Miskaway’s statement.

    It’s evident from Miskaway’s own statement that he was not referring to the biological evolution of man.

    • Alan Niven says:

      I made a comment to your post where you questioned the hauling out of early scholars to promote Darwinism, but it is in the wrong place, and I can’t change it. It was posted on March 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm

  34. Captain: Hamidullah clearly approvingly compares Ibn Miskawayh’s ideas as being similar to Darwin’s theory of evolution and indeed refers to the emergence of man from lower biological forms. So I am not sure what your point is.

    Fauzia: Your initial comment was a rather bombastic statement that modern genetics refutes the theory of evolution (‘utter twaddle’ as you described it) . I then queried this saying the books on genetics that I possess in my library all seem to support evolution and I have several books by Steve Jones – Professor of Genetics at UCL – and he does the same. So I asked you for your sources and to name some actual books or scientists who support what you are saying. I am still waiting.

    • Fauzia Khan says:

      Br Innayat
      Your comment was very rude especially since I invited you to contact me directly so I can send the full article to when it is finished with all refs. I want to make sure that even a child can understand the basic concepts, hence wanting to put it in a proper article. I also offered that you can also go through Br Ajmal who knows me as well. Maybe you are not interested in reading it after all?
      Bombastic indeed.
      The words over inflated ego come to mind, but lets move on in an intelligent fashion shall we?

      • AA Fauzia,

        My apologies if I was rude. I really did not mean to be. It’s just that in your first comment (March 11, 10.55pm) you were very categorical that modern genetics has demolished Darwin’s theory as being ‘utter twaddle’ in your own words. I then asked you to substantiate this by quoting from actual scientists or from some books on genetics because my experience is rather different in that the books on genetics that I own are all very supportive of evolutionary theory. I know you have asked me to contact you privately to see these sources of yours but I hope you won’t mind if I ask you to quote from them here in the open for all to see and learn from, insha’ Allah.

      • Fauzia Khan says:

        replyto below.
        Obviously br you are not reading what I wrote. I told you when I finish the article I would be happy to send it to you, hence I asked for an email so I could send it, or I said you can contact me via someone we both know, if you felt better about that, just exercising ettiquete. This is because I cannot give a time when the article will be complete. and it woudl be too long for this blog. What I have to explain needs to be read in its entirety.You can then do put it up on your site or not as the case may be, or quote from it yourself.
        Will be in touch inshallah when done.

  35. Skillganon: ‘I would be very much interesting in what exactly you have written about it previously’

    I have written several articles about evolution previously. Here are some links:

    2006 article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/jul/03/darwinismmuslimscientistsha

    2008 Debate with Harun Yahya:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jul/01/evolution.islam

    2011 on Usama Hasan controversy:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/mar/09/islam-science-evolution

    Yusuf: I am not persuaded by your defence of Abuz Zubair (Saleem Begg). The Youtube video I earlier linked to showed rather clearly that he is a demogogic character who thought nothing of declaring Usama to be an apostate and indeed pointing to a ridiculous fatwa which said believers in evolution deserved to be executed. I can’t stand extremists. Just look at the way they are slaughtering fellow Muslims in Pakistan after declaring them to be unbelievers. It is vile and repugnant.

  36. Alan Niven says:

    Unfortunately, Inayats “important ruling” concerning the banning of teaching Intelligent Design in one court district in America could turn out to be EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGIES “Galileo moment”. The utterly irrelevant Dover ruling has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with the abuse of power to censor unpalatable ideas, especially where they challenge core secular values. Fortunately, science has a habit of eventually shaking free from such dogma, as the original Galileo moment illustrated nicely. It’s certainly looking that way, given the shabby state of modern Darwinian theory. As Gil dodgen puts it:

    “Once it was discovered in the 20th century that living systems are not essentially based on chemical reactions and stochastic processes, but upon information and information-processing systems, the proponents of chance-and-necessity biology left their area of expertise and were doomed to defend an indefensible proposition, as the onslaught of statistical mathematics, information theory, and computer science rendered their hypotheses utterly bereft of plausibility.”

    For anyone holding out in hope that Darwinism may eventually silence it’s scientific critics, try this short video showing the unfathomable complexity present in each of our 100 trillion cells

    Inayats thinking is guided not by the evidence of science, but by some vague philosophy that life could not have been created instantaneously 6000 years ago, THEREFORE, the full Darwinian package, as promoted by arch atheist Richard Dawkins must be true. Lets just grow to love the theory (warts and all), then we can once again hold up our heads in the kind of circles that he regularly mixes with, and for whom uncritical devotion to Darwinian thinking is an entry requirement.

    I fully understand Inayats dismay at the the agressive way in which Darwinian ideas, or any other ideas that challenge Islam are often processed by parts of the Muslim community, but I dissagree with the solution. Darwinian theory can be easily criticised for its glaring scientific holes, without resorting to the kind of aggressive attacks that are borne out of laziness. Rather that capitulate to the Darwinists “Uncle Tom” style, lets really upon up the debate, putting all cards on the table, like real scientists who want to get to the truth. Lets quit pretending that Intelligent Design is merely a religious idea, and remove this convenient excuse to dismiss a host of evidence that increasingly points towards a purposeful origin of life and the universe.

  37. Alan Niven: I read Michael Behe’s ‘Darwin’s Black Box’ – the flagship ID book – several years ago to see if ID made any sense. I thought it was very poor. Later I read ‘Intelligent Thought’ containing a number of papers by a group scientists in which they argued why ID was unscientific. I thought their arguments were very persuasive. The book can be purchased here:

    Kenneth R Miller’s follow up book to his fabulous ‘Finding Darwin’s God’ called ‘Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul’ was also to my mind a devastating destruction of ID.

    I would certainly encourage everyone to read any ID book and then read the books I have mentioned above and decide for themselves whether Darwin’s theory or ID offers a more compelling explanation for the record of life on earth.

  38. 'Uthmān says:

    I’ve been following the Usama Hasan controversy since it’s inception and I’d like to add some comments:

    - There have been some suggestions on this thread that Usama Hasan should have written a paper on the subject. It should be pointed out that he actualled planned to do this as he mentioned on his blog:

    “I plan to write a detailed paper later insha’Allah on how I believe Darwinism is compatible with the Qur’an. I would be happy to send that to Muslim scholars around the world for their opinions.”

    I left a comment (which didn’t get pubished for some reason) under that post saying that, although I’m not convinced at this time that Darwinism is compatible with Islamic scriptures, I would be willing to read his paper, objectively consider his arguments and then form a judgement for myself. I think that was a sensible approach to take.

    - When I watched the YouTube video of the lecture that never was about “Islam and the theory of evolution”, I was horrified at the way he was treated. The least they could have done was listen to what he had to say. How could they be 100% sure he was wrong until they had actually heard his arguments? I left a comment on his Facebook page expressing my thoughts and sympathy with the way he had been treated. However, I think his history of, amongst other things, support for an “Islamic secularism” and his description of covered women and men with beards as “ninjas and clown” probably didn’t help here either. They probably thought this was the last straw – with him now supporting Darwin’s theory of evolution.

    - I’m not aware of anyone actually making death threats against him, but if that happened, then it goes without saying that it should be condemned.

    - I’m still not convinced that the Qur’an and ahadeeth can be reconciled with Darwinism. It’s all well and good saying that there could be more than one interpretation but simply saying that isn’t enough. It requires actual demonstration of how exactly the scriptures can be interpreted such that the two are compatible. Presumably, that would have been the content of Usama’s paper that he said he planned to write which, like I said, I would have been eager to read with an open mind.

    - If indeed there is a consensus amongst the scientific community that Darwinism is true, as I have heard some claim, then neither Islamic scholars nor Muslim laypeople should not be blind to this reality. At the very least, they should accept that this poses a challenge regarding our current understanding of the scriptures and so, if somebody does claim to be able to reconcile the two, it’s only fair that their arguments are heard and considered before simply condemning them.

  39. Captain says:

    “Captain: Hamidullah clearly approvingly compares Ibn Miskawayh’s ideas as being similar to Darwin’s theory of evolution and indeed refers to the emergence of man from lower biological forms. So I am not sure what your point is. ”

    Inayat, my point is Miskawayh did not hold similar views to Darwin. You have yet to provide any quote of Miskaway’s to support this. You keep referring to Hamidullah’s ‘TAFSEER’ of what Miskawayh said.

    It is clear from Miskaway’s own words that he was not referring to the biological evolution that you believe in. As otherwise he would not say that man then becomes Angels. Do you believe man evolves into Angels?

    Wasalam

  40. ‘Uthman: I am very impressed with the last post of yours, especially the final paragraph. You certainly seem to have moved on a bit from our discussion last week! Throughout these threads on evolution my main hope has been that people will at least take them time to read some good books on the topic before making up their minds on the matter.

    Captain: Muhammad Hamidullah clearly states that Ibn Miskawayh’s ideas were similar to that of Darwin (and note that ‘similar’ does not mean they were exactly the same). Hamidullah is a very respected scholar who as I mentioned earlier translated the Qur’an into French. I am not sure what your hang-up is on Ibn Miskawayh. The strength of the theory of evolution stands on its own evidence. People have been trying to knock down Darwin’s theory for over 150 years and no one has yet succeeded. That is why it has gained such widespread acceptance in the scientific community. It does not mean it is infallible. In principle, it could be replaced by a better theory in future that is even more successful at explaining the data we have in the fossil record and in DNA just as Einstein’s theory of relativity supplanted Newtonian mechanics. It is worth noting, however, that no one opposing evolution in this thread has actually put forward a more convincing alternative to explain the data we have.

  41. 'Uthmān says:

    Thank you Inayat. However, I want to clarify that, even last week while all of this was going on, I was still horrified at the way Usama had been treated by certain elements of his conregation. Therefore, I could have easily written the first four points of my above post last week and would still have meant every word of it.

    The last point is really the one which marks a change in my thinking since I wasn’t previously aware of the extent to which scientists agree on the subject.

    Also, two corrections to my post above:

    - I referred to his lecture as “the lecture that never was”. It turns out that the lecture actually did go ahead – I didn’t realise that before.

    - My comments on Usama’s blog actually have been published now. You can see one of my comments left on January 4th here which shows that I was still open to possibility that Islam is compatible with evolution, but not yet convinced: http://unity1.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/a-response-to-sheikh-salih-al-sadlan-and-the-so-called-save-masjid-tawhid-petition/#comment-526

  42. I just got sent the following link from a friend. It is apparently a fatwa from the Saudi cleric ibn Uthaymeen claiming that the sun revolves around the earth.

    http://www.ummah.com/forum/showthread.php?181811-Does-sun-revolve-around-the-earth

    That Abuz Zubair fellow I linked to earlier who declared Usama to be an apostate was quoting a fatwa from the very same Ibn Uthaymeen. I don’t know if Ibn Uthaymeen’s alleged fatwa claiming the sun revolves around the earth it genuine or not though. Perhaps others may know for sure.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if it was true though. The current chief cleric in Saudi Arabia has issued a fatwa prohibiting demonstrations against the Saudi regime because he says the Saudi royal family are pious rulers who are upholding the law of God. Just so unbelievable!

    • Skillganon says:

      @ Inayat.

      The alleged fatwah, if it ever turns out to be true, is a clear example of jumping into conclusion based on observable evidence. Indeed it appears from one point of view that the Earth is stationary and the sun rotates around the Earth. As it appears to me and you that the Earth also does not rotate around it’s own axis. The astronomical model of geocentrism is an example of superseded theory, that explained the obervable evidence at the time but latter was descredited and replaced by Nicolaus Copernicus model.
      Incase of Shaikh Ibn Uthyman the mistake is quite innocent as his fatwah is influenced from what he observed and not the neccesarily the text as the religious ayat are correct when it describes the appearance of the sun rising from the east and settling in the west. Thus you would find the Quran does not contradict the modern astronomical model, called Copernican heliocentrism, as the passages in question was not alluding to intricacies of how our solar system work.

      I must add that I find using the above fatwah to smear the character of a scholar is rather childish and does not bring anything new to this discussion, in regards to Human evolution, with any clear headedness.

      The issue is here not that a muslim have a problem of accepting modern scientific notion but and you may very well ask yourself why the antagonism towards Darwnism and not the same indifference or acceptance shown towards other scientific theories is because the religious text unequivoally does not support the notion that Man shares a common ancestor with apes, rather it contradicts and goes against the very idea.

      Although one might say there are ayat in the Quran that aludes to certain things we came to know by modern science however that does not mean statement in the Quran, especially those concerning man may be all examined in the light of modern science. For example in the Quran Jesus was not born of a father, in the biological sense, cannot be countered because there is no example in the Human species of a man being concieved without a contribution of paternal chromosome, something you would find scientifically inexplicable, what we call a miracle. What we find today from amongst the most ardent group in professing there love of Jesus, a clear denial of Jesus miracalous conception.
      Let us direct our attention to Adam, keeping in mind what I mentioned earlier, you would find the creation of Adam who has neither a mother or a father unprecedented in Human reproduction. Hence without contribution of maternal and paternal chromosomes. Thus you would find in the Holy Quran the miracles birth of Jesus is given a similitude to Adam.

      What should be proposed and better is giving a alternative reading to the scientific data that concerns muslims regarding evolution of man and not evolution per se.

  43. Captain says:

    Inayat, my issue was of you claiming that Miskaway held similar beliefs to Darwin. You did not provide any reference for that except for Hamidullah’s understanding of what Miskaway was talking about.

    I gave you the full quote of Miskaway which clearly showed that he could not have been talking about the biological evolution that Darwin was talking about as he stated that Man becomes prophets and then become angels.

    I am not here trying to refute evolution. All I wanted to show you was that your claim with regards to Miskaway was incorrect. Thats all. So please in future do not try to claim that Miskaway held similar beliefs. Please be clear and say that Hamidullah believed that miskaway held similar beliefs.

    Wasalam.

  44. Abu Kamel says:

    As salam alaikum

    It is naive for sincere people to be ‘shocked’ at the reaction to Hasan’s positions, whether they are intellectually based, religiously based, or even violent in nature.

    Why?

    Because Western powers have stepped up their ideological, military, political, and intellectual offensive against Islam and those who believe in it.

    There is a global conflict which is heating up day by day and there are 100s of billions, if not trillions of dollars to be made in this venture.

    The evolution debate is just one front on this ideological agenda. Women’s issues, criminal punishment, family vs individual rights, democracy vs. theocracy, etc etc etc. All of these issues have heated up to the point that many vehemently anti Islamic personalities have made their careers and gained millions in support from being MORE anti Islamic, more vehement and zealous.

    As for the issue of evolution and Darwinism, it is sophmoric for people to debate on issues without distinguishing which is which.
    Darwinian theory is not a single theory, but a collection of concepts applied. Here is a good explanation of them:
    dissect Darwin’s conceptual framework of evolution into a number of major theories that formed the basis of his evolutionary thinking. For the sake of convenience, I have partitioned Darwin’s evolutionary paradigm into five theories, but of course others might prefer a different division. The selected theories are by no means all of Darwin’s evolutionary theories; others were, for instance, sexual selection, pangenesis, effect of use and disuse, and character divergence. However when later authors referred to Darwin’s theory thay invariably had a combination of some of the following five theories in mind:

    Evolution as such. This is the theory that the world is not constant or recently created nor perpetually cycling, but rather is steadily changing, and that organisms are transformed in time.
    Common descent. This is the theory that every group of organisms descended from a common ancestor, and that all groups of organisms, including animals, plants, and microorganisms, ultimately go back to a single origin of life on earth.
    Multiplication of species. This theory explains the origin of the enormous organic diversity. It postulates that species multiply, either by splitting into daughter species or by “budding”, that is, by the establishment of geographically isloated founder populations that evolve into new species.
    Gradualism. According to this theory, evolutionary change takes place through the gradual change of populations and not by the sudden (saltational) production of new individuals that represent a new type.
    Natural selection. According to this theory, evolutionary change comes about throught the abundant production of genetic variation in every generation. The relatively few individuals who survive, owing to a particularly well-adapted combination of inheritable characters, give rise to the next generation.

    These concepts have been built upon, modified, even largely altered over time so that Darwin’s conceptualizations are not the modern evolutionary theory. Rather, one has to address the evolutionary theory of today which stands with greater authenticity.

    As for the questions of the most contemporary evolutionary theory, the real question which has controversy for the Muslim community is the origins of Man.

    The reality is the exact origin of Man is NOT conclusively established by the evolutionary theory to the intellectual level of certainty required by Islam to adversely effect the doctrine. the doctrine of Islam is established on conclusive, decisive narration and content. 100s of 1000s of people confirmed the narration of the Quran, rendering it the highest of decisiveness.
    There is NO such decisive narration that witnessed the origins of Man.
    Whether the claim is Man originated from multiple origins or originated from a single genetic male, called Adam by genetists, or Man originated from a mixture of the two, there is no decisive narration to establish it as conclusive either way. In this regard, seeking to establish the origins of Man from a primitive hominid over time serves to diminish the threshold of certainty and conclusivity which has been upheld by the Quran and tawatur hadith.

  45. Abu Kamel says:

    The Max Planck Institute discovery slams the theroretical evolutionary concept of “slight, successive” changes—the evidence contradicts the theory. Evidence for evolution is not found in morphology or molecules. “At a molecular level,” Australian molecular biologist Michael Denton, explains, “there is no trace of the evolutionary transition from fish to amphibian to reptile to mammal.”

    “The more one approaches the molecular level in the study of living things,” Richard Dickerson, as director of molecular biology at the University of Minnesota pointed out, “the more similar they appear, and the less important the differences

    http://www.darwinthenandnow.com/2010/12/haeckel-slammed-once-again-max-planck%E2%80%99s-turn/
    The sad part of this controversy is that irresponsible journalists with personal agendas have been misrepresenting genuine scientific investigations and conceptualizations to maintain popular narratives about the origins of Man without intellectual and scientific integrity.
    This issue of Usama Hasan’s ouster from the masjid has served as yet another vehicle for this ideological agenda.

  46. Abu Kamel: Instead of just reproducing nonsense about the Max Planck Institute from creationist websites why don’t you go directly to the source to find out the facts. Here is the official website of the Max Plank Institute:

    http://www.eva.mpg.de/english/index.htm

    Here is the link to their Department of Human Evolution:

    http://www.eva.mpg.de/evolution/

    Does it really look like they deny human evolution to you?

    My advice is always double-check the sources referred to in creationist material. I referred in my debate with Harun Yahya to the dishonest and misleading quotations in his books from genuine scientists.

  47. Abu Kamel says:

    As salam alaikum

    I’m quite certain that the Max Plancke Institute is zealously devoted to evolutionary theory scientifically as well as financially, culturally, even ideologically.

    BTW, I didn’t mean to imply you by my previous post about irresponsible journalists and their ideological agenda. It is common practice in America in particular for biologists to criticize journalists for their pop evolutionary summaries of the most recent scientific discoveries, ala “is this the missing link?”. When I took biology in college, one of the first things my professor rejected was the pop cultural views of evolution promoted in the media.

    As for the matter of science and Islam, scientific methodology is NOT superior to Islamic thought in terms of encompassing indepth comprehension. I have listened to and read many discussions on evolution and the reality is their is no conclusivity in the Origins of Man and thus there is no contradiction or conflict with the Quranic explanation of Adam (as) being created by Allah (SWT). How exactly he was created in terms of assembly: ie. via some evolutionary process, is NOT conclusively established in the text NOR does the scientific method establish a conclusive explanation sufficient to reach our standards. What is most significant in the Quranic explanation is that all humanity originates from a single father, Adam (as). Recent genetic studies of the Y chromosome have established this scientifically as well.

    Let it be known that of those nonMuslims who vehemently base their worldview and ideas of life on evolution, it can be expected that the majority ignorantly cast aspersions on the Quran and suspend objective intellectual analysis quite readily. I have come across this far too often in my discourses with them on this topic. The vast majority refuse to even investigate higher comprehension and thought than their scientific methodology. In many ways, evolutionary science and its cultural relevance has replaced religion for them.

    Lastly, Inayat, as a journalist, there is a big story out there in this “Arab awakening” which much of the media has missed. Its how Islamic thought has been repressed in Muslim countries by repressive regimes. And you mentioned this how Friday prayers are essentially government propaganda stages. But look at how ulama at Al Azhar recently staged a protest for greater freedom to actually teach Islam free of government policing and censorship. And look at how Tunisia was before, where Ben Ali was like a communist dictator, harassing any man who attended fajr prayers, or wore a beard, harassing and even raping women who wore niqab, silencing adhan, cancelling hajj, changing the dates for Ramadan. And those are just the basic pillars of worship. The level of police censorship of Islamic thought has been truly Orwellian, Kafkaesque.
    So if you could examine this it might bring greater light on the reality of the state of affairs in the Muslim world for all to see.

    Take care.

  48. Pingback: Denying clear Islamic principles and inciting violence – both are unacceptable « iDISCUSS

  49. majid says:

    I seem to be a little late getting involved in this discussion, but there’s only one point that I really wushed to make: the fact that Usama Hassan has probably done a greater dis-service to atheism than he has done to Islam or to religion generally. By accepting ( albeit rather tentatively) evolution AND having his faith stregthened in religion seems to have opened the doors for all intelligent muslims who were hovering precariously on the ‘either -or’ boundary. I really do think it’s Richard Dawkins and his crew who should be pulling their hair out and not us. Perhaps he has done some muslims a favour….

  50. suyuti says:

    “. What is most significant in the Quranic explanation is that all humanity originates from a single father, Adam (as). Recent genetic studies of the Y chromosome have established this scientifically as well. ”

    Actually the studies DON’T establish any such thing. Even a basic understanding of those studies will show that your conclusion is wrong.
    Anyways what we know for CERTAIN from the Qur’anic and Prophetic texts is=
    1) The Qur’an is from God
    2) Adam had no father or mother
    3) Adam was very tall
    4) Woman was created after man
    5) There were initially 2 humans
    6) Adam existed

    Evolutionary theory denies all the above as they believe that religion is an evolutionary thing and not from God. They also think as pseudo-science that Adam existed or that humanity came from one couple. Instead according to the theory it is IMPOSSIBLE for a species to grow from only one couple.
    I suggest people learn some basic things about evolutionary theory before accepting that its ok according to the Qur’an or according to some physicist who clearly doesn’t know much about evolutionary theory.
    And see:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/darwinism/a-christian-addresses-muslims-who-are-asking-about-evolution/#more-19228

  51. MB says:

    What has upset the worshippers at his ‘local’ mosque is the incoherency in the expression of Dr Usama Hasan’s views coupled with his high-handed approach.

    How can the situation be resolved when he will not agree to a debate on evolution, but prefers to lecture the local congregation, who he considers intellectually inferior to himself, which, if true, is a situation that he and his family have encouraged over many years.

    For instance, his mother criticises women who go out from the home, but allowed her own daughter to study at university. Not surprising when her sons graduated from the best universities and studied at perhaps the best schools in England.

    For some of Usama Hasan’s critics the issue is not with his recent views on evolution, but that they consider him a careerist and a hypocrite. Some are hungry for revenge and so the issue on evolution may have become a smoke-screen for some other underlying issues.

    Yes, from those against him, there are some who are behaving child-like, but Usama is no saint either.

  52. sarah says:

    Just for the record I think this “Dr” Hasan is a fake, I don’t believe his intentions are pure, anyone whom western media outlets like the Guardian invite to write for them usually have an “angle” and its not the truth that’s for sure.

    There is very little education on what exactly the Qur’an and hadiths state about early humans mainly Adam(as) and even less education about evolutionary theory with words like “Darwinism” bandied about with little understanding of what they actually mean.

    Science is a way of observing and interpreting reality, just like our emotions are, just like our sight is all of which are falliable. So all we can say is there is a high likelihood that macro evolutionary theory is correct at best, even athiests and self proported rationalists have to accept this.

    The words of Allah(swt) are reality, infalliable, the miracles of formation of the embryo described in the Qur’an is still something that makes my heart soar and is used regularly in dawa. Yet if we take the words exactly as they are stated they mean little in this context.
    At the end of the day God created Adam(as) from clay (I doubt any Muslim
    believes that Allah(swt) created Adam(as) like a potter makes a vase)
    and then gave him a soul, then Adam(as) disobeyed Allah(swt) and learned
    to feel shame so covered himself with clothing. I would quote the
    actual verses but am indisposed to do so at the moment. But at the end
    of the day where is it stated that Adam(as) looks as we do today? In
    fact there are hadiths that state to the contrary saying Adam(as) had
    different appearances and reproductive capabilities to modern humans.

    My point: Evolutionary theory maybe incorrect, the higher likelihood is that its had a few holes but the premise is correct. But its is the epitomy of foolishness to reject scientific observations without understanding of the theory or what the Qur’an says about it.

    Just get an education and read a few books objectively, I’m sick of all this Christian creationism bandwagon jumping. Forget about all the theological stigma attatched to evolutionary theory or that non-Muslims thought of it and evaluate as you would the theory of relativity or any other less controversial scientific principle.

    If you dont have the ability to do that then keep quiet, you have no right to speak in ignorance.

    As a genetics student, the theory of evolution did not challenge my beliefs but actually deepened them in awe of the complexity of not only our creation but that of even an ant and effects very little of my day to day life. Maybe I was lucky that I studied the topic before being exposed to “Muslim creationism”, thinking it was just a silly Christian idea and that Muslims were above this type of reactionary ignorant thinking.

    • aminriadh says:

      “Just for the record I think this “Dr” Hasan is a fake, I don’t believe his intentions are pure, anyone whom western media outlets like the Guardian invite to write for them usually have an “angle” and its not the truth that’s for sure.”

      Dear … comments like this show your own prejudice.

    • Shenaz says:

      So if you think adam was differant to humans today… What was he? Was he human or ape like human… And why would you stop there…. Why not go back further to previous speicies until you get to the ameoba or rna strand or whatever you call the first life on earth.

      Theres lots of things in quran and hadith which goes against scientific teachings…like beleifs in angels, jinns, people livng long lives, people being transformed into other animals.

      The point is, no reasonable person can reconcile opposing views such as these, even with the most liberal of interpretations.

  53. Pingback: Question Has Bunglawala disbelieved? - Page 15

  54. Does Usama Hasan still believe these things? says:

    I just wanted to ask: Does Usama Hasan still believe his nonsense about evolution, hijab and wali-less marriage? If so, is his wife still “married” to him? If so, someone needs to tell her that she needs to divorce him, because it would not be halal for a Muslimah to be married to someone who believes these things.

  55. J SINGH says:

    Imagine three ‘great religions’ that say- [1] We are the chosen ones [2] I am the only way [2] OR we are the FINAL word are hanging by a threat.
    A simple ‘oops’ of fate and boom.
    A RELIGION should be bigger than science and science shall never be able to find a problem with true religion. Spiritual world is there to give us peace BUT does it?
    I beleive in Evolution and God and there is no problem. IN God’s world evolution exists like erosion and volcanoes. Sometimes thye build earth and sometimes they destroy earth. God’s world is too vast. Problem happens when ‘some’ [prophets and saints and believers'] people try to be bigger than God.
    IF anyone new ALL about God than they would be better than God. The three religions are not a religion but answers that best fit in those times.
    A true religion will talk to a human’s mind not about pseudo science, twisted past and future.which may be influenced by self-fulfilled prophecies.
    COME on! Where are the smart people? I can’t believe that people exist in 21st century who say that evolution exists and even more puzzling that educated peopel have to waste time on these loonies.
    THERE are a few more ‘OOPSies’ in these religions and hopefully we will get smarter before THEY get us all killed.I am serious about that.
    RELIGION should be about love and forgiving. Than how come these believers foam at mouth when they here the word SCIENCE? Where is the other cheek?
    ALSO I would like to say that they are not practical in sense when we have to protect ourselves from terrorists.
    WORDS [from pen or mouth] might be mighty but in the end It is all about sword in the end when one needs to fix a Hitler, a Saddam, an Osama, An Indira Gandhi or an Aurangzeb.
    AND I am glad that the west has a bigger sword at this moment because I can believe in a sane God, a sane world and a sane future.

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