I recently purchased a copy of Professor Muhammad Abdel Haleem’s book “Understanding the Qur’an: Themes and Style“. I enjoyed reading his English translation of the Qur’an a couple of years ago and particularly his introduction which revealed him to be a man who was very learned in his field of study. He is after all a Professor of Islamic Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
From what I have read so far of “Understanding the Qur’an” it is a very helpful guide to the Qur’an and Professor Abdel Haleem’s mastery of his topic is hugely impressive and indeed inspiring.
However, I will have to disagree with him about how Muslims regard Evolution. He says in his book – very rightly in my view – that the story of the creation of Adam in the Qur’an should be understood symbolically and not literally. To quote:
“In the Qur’anic version, even such details as God forming Adam with His own hands and the number of days in which He created Heaven and Earth have to be understood, on the instructions of the Qur’an itself, symbolically because elsewhere in the Qur’an we are told that there is ‘nothing like God’ (42:11; 5:103; and 112:3), and that ‘the angels and the Spirit ascend to [God], on a Day that lasts fifty thousand years’ (70:4). Because of the declared figurative nature of the language and the lack of detail in the Qur’an, Darwin’s theories of evolution did not have the same effect on the Muslims as they had in the West.”
I wish that was true! From my own encounters with Muslims, too many of them appear to reject human evolution in a knee-jerk response. Over a thousand years ago, Islamic civilisation was at its most creative and innovative. Now look at us today. How far Muslims have fallen! How sad! Today, the overwhelming majority of Muslim nations are not trailblazers in the sciences, but simply dumb consumers.