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!’