Who is Charles Darwin? I am positive that almost every one of you has heard this name, even once. Charles Darwin was an English naturalist, in other words, a scholar of natural history. From his research, he realized that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestor, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection. This theory was published in his book entitled The Origin of Species in the year 1859.
This, very controversial part of Darwin’s Theory is that he concluded that mankind was evolved from apes, which is contradicting with Islamic belief that human (Adam) was created from mud.
Your Lord said to the angels, “I am creating a human being from aged mud, like the potter’s clay.
“Once I perfect him, and blow into him from My spirit, you shall fall prostrate before him.”
So what about his theory of evolution? Can we accept this theory? Does believing this theory means that we believe humans are descendants of apes?
Darwin’s general theory of evolution states that life-form developed from non-life and stressed a purely naturalistic point; living things descent with modification, this means that complex creatures evolve from more simplistic ancestors naturally over time. In a nutshell, as random genetic mutations occur within an organism’s genetic code, the beneficial mutations are preserved because they aid survival. This process is known as “natural selection.” These beneficial mutations are passed on to the following generations. Over time, beneficial mutations accumulate and the result is an entirely different organism, not a variation of the original creature.
Because of humans and apes has many common features, Darwin derived that humans are descendants from apes. Of course there should be many transitional species between the two, as he had claimed. Each would be slightly different from the other as the features continue to develop.
Now we go back to our previous question. Does accepting this theory means that we believe humans are descendants of apes?
Maybe not! Islam is not only about black and white, halal and haram. There is always a guideline (light) to align our daily activities with the Islamic law (syariah). Moreover, in this globalization era, clashing of ideologies and believes is inevitable. Muslims should be very critical and analytical in interpreting Islam as a way of life.
You may accept this theory of evolution that living things evolve to ensure the continuation of their species as long as you know your stand when it clashes between ideologies and faith.
In fact, this evolution theory had been discussed in the early tenth century by the Muslim scholars where it was ten centuries earlier before this theory was spoken in Europe. Al-Mas’oudi, one of the scholars who lived in the time where Islam centered in Baghdad believed that there were another Ummah before Adam, which greatly resemble Adam with only slight differences. These Ummah then may had interact and resulted into another 120 Ummah. This shows that there is a possibility for evolution to happen. But again, this doesn’t mean we believe that humans are descendents of apes! Yet, we can only guess. Only Allah holds the knowledge that we don’t even know exists.
As a conclusion, we should try to be a good observer and try to go deeper to increase our understanding of the knowledge Allah has lend us. Every creation must have its own function, like human, we are created by Allah to be Khalifa on Earth. Therefore, let us start to look around, evaluate and explore the possibilities with guidance from our Quran, in order to increase our Iman and strengthen our faith in Islam.
by Nur Erliza Lydia Mohd Safri