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Have Muslims Misunderstood Evolution? | Yasir Qadhi

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Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi is someone that believes that one's life should be judged by more than just academic degrees and scholastic accomplishments. Friends and foe alike acknowledge that one of his main weaknesses is ice-cream, which he seems to enjoy with a rather sinister passion. The highlight of his day is twirling his little girl (a.k.a. "my little princess") round and round in the air and watching her squeal with joy. A few tid-bits from his mundane life: Sh. Yasir has a Bachelors in Hadith and a Masters in Theology from Islamic University of Madinah, and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Yale University. He is an instructor and Dean of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib, and the Resident Scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center.

36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Mr. Who

    January 9, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    Where’s the other side of the argument? Without that this makes a poor report/blog entry.

  2. Dean

    January 9, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    I must agree with Mr. Who. I’ve seen so many Muslims who hold no punches in unjustly demeaning their brother Dr. Usama Hasan for some views he holds, in flagrant disregard of the respect afforded each one of us in Surah Hujurat. Seeing certain facebook sites like “Quilliam Memes,” set-up by Muslims who aught to know better about adab, pains my heart.

    Until we can see the other side of the debate, we cannot make any just conclusion on the matter.

  3. Hamayoun

    January 9, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    Salam

    To me, the bigger issue is not whether evolution is true or false, but the way Usama Hasan has been crucified by muslims the last few years.

  4. Hamayoun

    January 9, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    Salam

    I am not taking “sides” here, but please also keep in mind that the late Dr Israr Ahmed, who was considered very orthodox and very conservative, seemed to be very open minded to human evolution. See this video for his opinion.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kjw7IyltcNQ&feature=related

  5. Hamayoun

    January 9, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    Again, not taking sides here, but neither Usama Hasan nor Israr Ahmed were the first muslims to talk about human evolution. Even before Darwin, Ibn Khaldun talked about it! This is what he said.

    One should look at the world of creation. It started out from the minerals and progressed, in an ingenious, gradual manner to plants and animals…The animal world then widens, its species become numerous, and, in a gradual process of creation, it finally leads to man, who is able to think and reflect. The higher stage of man is reached from the world of monkeys, in which both sagacity and perception are found, but which has not reached the stage of actual reflection and thinking. At this point we come to the first stage of man after the world of monkeys. This is as far as our physical observation extends.

    • mww_m

      January 9, 2013 at 10:40 PM

      …..I guess watching the video is out of the question?

  6. Mr. Who

    January 9, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    I am surprised to see no one seem to be considering the possibility that Islamic definition of Human could be different from Homo Spaien. If you were to show Adam (AS) to a biologist, what would he see? A being who is 72 cubits tall, living for about 1000 years, always reproducing in doubles (male-female pair of twins). I doubt such a being would be considered to be Homo Sapien.

  7. Abu Asiyah

    January 10, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    @Hamayoun: Clearly you didn’t bother to watch Sh. Yasir’s response if you’re mentioning Ibn Khaldun.

    While I do prefer the position that the Shaikh outlines in the video, I also find the problem with how a video can be titled “Muslim X destroys Muslim Y”. Since when do we support the destruction of other Muslims? Why are people so happy that one scholar won over another one in debate?

    While I do find that the reasons for claiming that Islam accepts evolution of human beings are unsubstantiated, the brother who is promoting them is still our brother and thus deserving of the respect and dignity that is afforded to other Muslims.

  8. kaschif

    January 12, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    salaam all,

    Here is an article that goes over the event in an article:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2013/jan/11/muslim-thought-on-evolution-debate

  9. ahsan arshad

    January 14, 2013 at 6:50 AM

    is there a video of the whole event?

  10. Abu Ibaad

    January 21, 2013 at 6:58 AM

    Salam Alaykum,

    Dear Shaykh, Did you try to find out from Dr Usama who/what the Adam referred to in the quran is? Is he a man, ape, fish, worm, bacteria or just a metaphor? We seek Allah’s aid against the devils’ whisperings.

    May Allaah keep us steadfast on the deen.

  11. Umer Toor

    January 23, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    Surrender of theology to this theory of macro-evolution (in which they claim humans came out as transformed species with some predecessor specie) is not an option. Here’s a discussion of various lines of attack that can be made against this ideological theory:

    http://toorumer.blogspot.com/2010/08/evolution-and-islam-talk-with-dr-seyyed.html

  12. most

    February 3, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    “Destroy” Usama Hasan? Keep it classy MuslimMatters; keep it classy. I didn’t know “discourse” consisted of arrogating an opinion so rudely. Muslim Matters is a joke.

    • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      February 4, 2013 at 2:17 AM

      Dear “most”

      I think you missed this at the top of the article

      “Note that this is not the official video of the entire discussion, which is not yet available online, and neither MuslimMatters nor Shaykh Yasir Qadhi chose the title of the video.”

      Best Regards
      -Aly

      • Fritz

        March 15, 2013 at 5:28 PM

        It is however an apt description of what happened lol

  13. Muslim X

    February 17, 2013 at 6:08 AM

    The full video of the conference can now be viewed here: http://www.thedeeninstitute.com/evolution-conference

    Apparently there is a post conference discussion forum where people can go more into the theology and science in more depth. I attended the conference and thought it was absolutely amazing. I hope the Deen Institute continue to hold such conferences.

  14. Alkalaamblog

    February 21, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    Jazak Allah, may Allah reward all

  15. Muslim biologist

    February 21, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    Jazakumullah khair for uploading the entire discussion!
    Sr. Fatimah Jackson’s discussion was especially moving and touching, grounded so firmly in core Islamic principles as well as modern science. May God bless her and the other speakers.
    In my opinion, though Shaikh Yasir Qadhi is a far better debater, I find his argument heavily based on rhetoric. Maybe because of the format, I don’t find him to convey the “vividness” of Adam’s creation that he relies upon to argue against human evolution. If that vividness is based on the Quran’s statement that Adam was created from “turab” or “teen” or other earthly materials, I wonder what his opinion would be on the following verses:
    For instance, in surah Kahf, one companion says to the other, “Do you disbelieve in the one who created YOU (singular) from turab, then from semen, then created you a man” (18:37). Again in surah Rum, we find, “Among His signs is that He created YOU ALL (plural) from turab, and behold, you are people scattered” (30:20). And again in surah Fatir, we find, “And God created YOU ALL (plural) from turab, then semen, then made you pairs” (35:11) . And again we read that in surah Ghafir (40:67).
    In surah An’am, we read, “He was the one who created YOU ALL from teen and decreed a term” (6:2). And in surah Saffat, “We have created THEM ALL from clay mixed with water” (37:11).
    As the shaikh would probably agree, never in the history of Islam have these many verses been interpreted LITERALLY, so as to say each and every one of us was created first from turab or teen before descending to earth. Instead, scholars have long argued that these verses are a FIGURATIVE reference our ancestor who was created from turab or teen. Traditional commentary has said that ancestor was Adam, but how can any such interpreter honestly then claim that the Muslim scientists’ opinion is hermeneutical gymnastics. The Muslim scientist simply says that the ancestor precedes Adam.
    Based on the Quran alone, one does not find the “vivid” picture of creation that the shaikh claims, but maybe that “vividness” comes from his taking hadith into account. Indeed many hadith narrations are explicit with regards to Adam’s creation. But if the shaikh truly holds to the hadith wording, why does he claim he has no problem denying the geocentric understanding of the universe? This hadith in Saheeh Muslim seems to explicitly state that the sun revolves around the earth:
    “It is narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) one day said: Do you know where the Sun goes? They replied: Allah and His Apostle know best. He (the Holy Prophet) observed: Verily it (the Sun) glides till it reaches its resting place under the Throne. Then it falls prostrate and remains there until it is asked: Rise up and go to the place whence you came, and it goes back and continues emerging out from its rising place and then glides till it reaches its place of rest under the Throne and falls prostrate and remains in that state until it is asked: Rise up and return to the place whence you came, and it returns and emerges out from it rising place and the it glides (in such a normal way) that the people do not discern anything (unusual in it) till it reaches its resting place under the Throne. Then it would be said to it: Rise up and emerge out from the place of your setting, and it will rise from the place of its setting. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said. Do you know when it would happen? It would happen at the time when faith will not benefit one who has not previously believed or has derived no good from the faith. Saheeh Muslim”

    • Gibran

      March 2, 2013 at 6:19 PM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      I didn’t see any geocentrism in that hadith whatsoever…..and yes the sun does move up and down, I remember watching it on Nova.

      Yasir Qadhi clearly won. Evolution when it comes to humans is a total sham.

      • Dean

        March 3, 2013 at 6:48 PM

        No geocentrism? That, if anything, is “hermaneutical gymnastics.” ;)

      • Muslim

        March 4, 2013 at 2:50 AM

        Wa’alaikum Salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,

        Thank you brother Gibran for your interesting interpretation of the hadith. You suggest that the setting and rising of the sun mentioned in the hadith refer to these blips of the sun (something you think you saw on Nova). In the Arabic version of the hadith, the terms used include “maghrib” and “matli’,” which Arabs understand as the sunset and sunrise, respectively.

        I will not question the validity of your interesting interpretation except to ask the following: Do you honestly think that the Sahabas understood those terms the same way you are interpreting those terms? Do you honestly think that the Tabi’een and the Salaf understood those terms the same way you are interpreting those terms?

        It is highly unlikely that the early Muslims understood terms like “maghrib” and “matli'” in this novel way that you are. It is because of hadith like these that scholars thought the sun revolved around the earth for centuries.

        But you (and Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, apparently in his talk) believe that such hadith can be reinterpreted in light of modern science. That’s fine and good, alhamdulillah. And yet for Sheikh Yasir to apply one methodology for this matter and another methodology for human evolution smacks of an inconsistent approach.

        Indeed, Sheikh Yasir is a far better speaker and he “won” this round, so to speak. But speeches and rhetoric only goes so far when one’s underlying methodology is inherently inconsistent.

        By applying Sheikh Yasir’s own methodology consistently, one can easily interpret the Quran in light of human evolution. Alhamdulillah

        God knows better

        • Gibran

          March 8, 2013 at 12:32 AM

          Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

          Yasir Qadhi was not being inconsistent at all. The reality is, there is no feasible way to interpret evolution and Quran in the same manner.

          As Yasir Qadhi points out, Usama’s position is neither the Muslim position, nor even the position of biologists.

          • Gibran

            March 8, 2013 at 12:42 AM

            Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

            “No geocentrism? That, if anything, is “hermaneutical gymnastics.”

            By all means, point out to me the geocentrism in this. Even upon first hearing the hadith I don’t remember associating it with geocentrism….

            Surely Allah guides whosoever he wills.

        • Gibran

          March 8, 2013 at 1:12 AM

          Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

          “By applying Sheikh Yasir’s own methodology consistently, one can easily interpret the Quran in light of human evolution. Alhamdulillah”

          No, Alhamdulilah one cannot. Usama’s “interpretation” neither confirms to Islam nor to biologists. Adam and Eve (alayhumasalam) does not confirm to biology at all…

    • UZ

      March 22, 2013 at 9:03 PM

      Just wanted to add that scientists are predicting that the earth will flip on its axis. So the north pole will be where the south pole relative to the sun. When that happens– due to global warming, rising oceans and increased earthquakes or possible astroids or meteors hitting the earth making the earth unstable–the earth will continue rotating, but flip on its axis. If this happens the sun will rise from the west, and not the east….and this will have a calamitous affect on human life on the earth. Some scientists say this polar wander has a probability of happening in the next 2000 years, and they have now evidence that the earth has shifted on its axis 800 million years ago. Something to think about regarding to the hadith quoted above where science clarifies the meaning of hadith and Quranic verses. Evolution also explains other verses in the Quran that didn’t make sense until science began showing how the earth and universe was created. Humans are made from this earth and will return to this earth. That is what Allah says in verses of the Quran. Our souls however are heavenly as they come from Allah’s breath. But for sure humans were made to live on this earth from the beginning, however they had a choice to live in peace and free of sin by obeying Allah (swt) or in misery by disobeying Allah. Each one of us has this choice. Allah says no one can carry the burden of one another. Than why would all humans suffer life on earth for the sin of Adam and Eve? This would mean that each of us suffers on earth because of the mistake a human made thousands of years back? That never made sense to me until I realized that the Jannah Allah was speaking about was a Jannah on Earth. Each of us starts our lives in that state of innocence but our sins makes us descend spiritually unless we repent.

      http://www.universetoday.com/558/did-the-earth-flip-over-in-the-past/

  16. shahzad

    February 26, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    A video of full event would be appreciated, Jazak Allah Khair for Sharing this discussion.

  17. Umm Zaheen

    February 28, 2013 at 10:54 PM

    Thank you so much for posting this debate and the full event. With all respect with Sh. Yasir, I think he is citing some verses and completely ignoring others in the Quran that completely spell out that one species can become another species.

    In three different places in the Quran, Allah describes that He transformed humans into apes and swine! They didn’t just become “ape like or pig like”. It says he turned them into those animals. So Allah (swt) can create anything He wants in any form He likes, whether through evolution or instant creation. All is a miracle of creation.

    Sh. Yasir also says that Adam came down from the heaven Jannah. Yet the Prophet explicitly said that no human will understand or has seen the actual Jannah Al-Firdous, which is meant for humans “after” the Day of Judgement. Even Shaytan in the Quran knew of the Day of Judgement and was not in Jannah of after Day of Judgement.

    What the evolutionists should wonder is the amazing accuracy of the Quran verses regarding creation 1) life started from water and clay 2) everything came from a “single” ancestor and from it, its mate. 3) life was created in “stages” and 4) that humans were able to be transformed into apes and pigs.

    How are we able to do heart transplants with pig’s hearts if these pigs didn’t have a “human” similarity. Pigs are the descents of the humans who became pigs. Hence eating them is cannibalistic!

    I am not making these up. This is all in the Quran, as well as the Big Bang! Also all knowledge comes from Allah. To think science is human knowledge is arrogant and wrong. Scientific knowledge is divine knowledge as Allah tells us that He is the one who teaches us how to transform “iron” into armor to protect ourselves, or the ships we ride on and so forth.

    Our religion is the only truth and the science of evolution helps us understand the actual verses of Quran, not counters it.

    Thank you to all the panelists, especially Dr. Jackson who I felt really understood both Islam and Science.

    Jzk,

    • Parvez

      February 19, 2019 at 4:37 PM

      Islamic scripture is unequivocal on the creation of humankind from Adam: “Behold! Verily to Allah belong all creatures, in the heavens and on earth. What do they follow who worship as His “partners” other than Allah? They follow nothing but conjecture, and they do nothing but lie.” (Qur’an, 10:66) In the opening passage of Surah al-Nisa, God describes all humanity as descendants of Adam and Eve: “O Humankind, be mindful of your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and made from him his mate, and from the both of them He created many men and women” (Qur’an 4:1). The verse is patently explicit: all of mankind, without exception, originates from one couple.

  18. Umm Zaheen

    February 28, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    One other note. The bio diversity of the world cannot fully be explained without evolution, as it was not possible to have all the diverse animals in the world today in the Arch of Noah. But it is possible to have all the animals in the Arch if he was just having the archetype of animals, their ancestors.

    • Gibran

      March 8, 2013 at 12:57 AM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      Quit obfuscating the argument. Yasir Qadhi wasn’t arguing against all evolution, just when it comes to humans.

  19. Umm Zaheen

    March 1, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Here is a link by a brother who has found many more verses that express support for the idea of a single ancestor for all life that branched out to the different species including humans. While the Quran mentions that Allah fashioned the first human with his hands and breathed His spirit in him, he didn’t describe whether this was all at one time or over a process. When life first forms in the womb, we know according to hadith that Allah sends the angels to breath in the spirit after 40 days of conception, not before. Is this not a sign from Allah (swt) that life creation is a process, not an instantaneous development?

    Lastly in Surah Hashr 59, Allah describes Himself as “Bariul wa musawir”

    He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor of all things(the EVOLVER, the shaper, the maker, the initiator), the BESTOWER OF FORMS (the fashioner). To Him belong the Best Names . All that is in the heavens and the earth glorify Him. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. (59:24)

  20. Pingback: Islam, Biological Evolution, and Adam | Abdullah Sameer – My Journey From Islam

  21. Parvez

    February 19, 2019 at 4:38 PM

    “It is He Who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her in love.” (Quran 7:189). From these two individuals, generations of human beings have inhabited the earth. “Oh humankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may know each other. Indeed the most honoured among you in the sight of Allah is the one who is the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted.” (Quran 49:13) And “O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat from wherever you will but do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers. But Satan whispered to them to make apparent to them that which was concealed from them of their private parts. He said, “Your Lord did not forbid you this tree except that you become angels or become of the immortal.” And he swore [by Allah] to them, “Indeed, I am to you from among the sincere advisors.” So he made them fall, through deception. And when they tasted of the tree, their private parts became apparent to them, and they began to fasten together over themselves from the leaves of Paradise. And their Lord called to them, “Did I not forbid you from that tree and tell you that Satan is to you a clear enemy?” They said, “Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers.”[Allah] said, “Descend, being to one another as enemies. And for you on the earth is a place of settlement and enjoyment for a time.” [Quran 7:19 -24] The above verses clearly states that Allah created Adam from clay in Paradise. Then Adam and eve were sent to earth. Thus there is no human evolution from animals.

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