Origin of Life

http://www.bbc.co.uk/darwin/?tab=20&start_at=17

This month marks the 200 anniversary of one of the most profound scientists in the history of the world.  Charles R. Darwin revolutionized the way we thought about the world (for better or for worse is debatable, but only by the extremists on both ends.) Putting  aside religion and sentiment and even the “beliefs” of science, and talk about facts, the man put a seemingly ridiculous idea and turning it into a scientific fact. No one, not even the most devout of believers of God can deny evolution. 

On the seventh day God created Man, or so goes the Bible, in the book of Genesis. In the Quran, Allah created man from a drop of blood, Surah Alaq. Every religion tells the story of the creation of the world and the human life. As a child, during that damned Jurassic Park days, I was fasinated by dinosaurs and geology and paleontology and all that. I read up so much stuff that I gave my parents the impression that I was some genius wiz-kid. But I think that was a phase on every kid living in the nineties. First, its space and then its dinosaurs and then comes in computers. But I being raised as a Muslim in a conservative environment, was lead to believe in a very strict Allah which performed miracles and answered your prayers with just the answer you were looking for. But I had no qualm of believing in evolution either. And I think my answer as a kid was the not just the politically correct one, but also the right and true one . That Allah has laid down the rules by which our universe works and His rules are never broken. And we would be naive to believe that we as moral humans with feable minds would know these divine rules. The order of natural selection and evolution is one of those rules. Over the years the original theory proposed by Darwin has been changed so much that it no longer remains a ridiculous idea, but a scientific treatise. It not only encompasses plate techtonics from geology and geo physics to genetic and DNA interactions from Chemistry to Mathematics (Genetic Algorithms) to Engineering (Biological, Chemical, Electrical, MEchanical and Civl). It is one of the most elaborate notion known to us, and we may not believe in it on paper but be all use it and think about it and trust it.

Humans were sent to this earth as a “Khalifah” of Allah. And I think with an open mind and beliefs we can be just that. When I asked one of my elders once about genetic, he said Man cannot creat life,only Allah can. Well I would agree to that. But Man can cut and paste Allah’s work to ‘create ‘ new variations now. And I think that is what a Khalifah is, to translate Allah’s work of justice and also creation in this world. But it WILL always remain a translation, a copy, even if we learn to create matter and energy out of nothing.  Believers and aethists fail to see that their debate is pointless seen from either end. In the end, Allah will fit into any definition and set of rules that the atheists propose, while if seen the other way around, all fact can disprove the existence of a higher being. It comes down to a matter of faith. Believing in Allah (or God) is as much a matter of faith as not believing in Allah (or God) is. 

I have read Harun Yahya and his points to reject Darwinism. Yes people, there is actually a “religion” called Darwinism. He makes a convincing point to rejecting evolution and creation by the supposed “Natural” means, but takes it too far and proposing some ideas that cannot not be proven either by science or religion. 

My point is simple. A God can exist even with the belief of evolution and also while believing in the fact that Humans are a part of this world rather than descended onto it from a heaven. The point is, that the stories in the Quran are are deep with layers upon layers of interpretation that even the most obscure of truths in science can be found to be in those verses. If you cant see these truths in these verse and in the natural world then you are as blind and as fanatic as the other guy who proposes the opposite. Allah created Man from a drop of blood says it all. You dont need to go further than that to chalk out the details of when Hazrat Adam (Alaihi Salam) descended onto the earth, or whether he came by bus or train. 

I m a simple man with simple tastes and try (but vainly) not to over-think things. At one end the atheists tend to ignore some very very fundemental truths while at the other, religious fanatic tend turn things into a fantasy. These are the people involved in a futile debate just to prove the other side wrong when the way to go is to move forward. In the days when Islam had nt turned into s rigid lore of beliefs, scientists and mathematician were being bred when the rest of the world declared them heretics. Islam is the religion of evolution. 

In the end I give credit where credit is due. Charles Darwin was a scientist and a person we are indebted to for opening a world to us which allowed us to question rather than answer. And what I believe is that the ability to question is the greatest gift while the ability to answer is the greatest curse.

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15 Responses to Origin of Life

  1. Leena S. says:

    ok that was a post which reminded me of a time wen I used to say that I respect Hitler (I still do but I just dont say it too often). Obviously, people thought I was crazy…he is after all one of the most cruel people (really?) I just think he would have been a hero if he wasnt defeated in WWII, the history would have been written with a completely different perspective! Khair anyway, wat I wanted to say is that in our biases, we often do not give credit to people for the talent that they have. There’s just so much to learn from Hitler’s life: from his modest beginnings to the time when he was literally worshiped in Germany. We got to respect him for that. The same goes for Darwin. Although, I just dont want to believe that my great grand parents were monkeys, Darwin deserves to be respected for putting forward a completely new point of view.

  2. Ok, keeping the discussion only on Darwin, There has been so much research on our genealogy and just the fact whether are we or are we not descended from the apes.

    While not getting into a lengthy debate, you and I both have read Harun Yahya’s work, and just looking at the universe should make a person believe in a higher power or completely refuse it all together. He also makes a move on our genealogy with the “monkeys”. What I have seem and read to date, history can not pin point the time when the homo sapiens turned into the cro-magnon man. It seems that the transition was abrupt.

    I think the correct answer is that As far as the Quran is concerned, it does not give a complete and “divine” method of creation of human life. This is also compliant with the fact that even to date, there are many unanswered questions about the origins of human life.

    The beauty of Quran is that It does not try to answer every question posed by us, it tell us how to do things rather than what to think about things. As long as you believe in five things you are given quite a lee-way in the belief department. And those five things are that, There is a God and He is one, Mohoammad (Sallallaho Alaihi Wasallam) is His Last Prophet. There is a Life hereafter, and no creature except Allah is immortal, and finally, That this world and life on it will eventually seize to exist one day.

  3. Leena S. says:

    I believe that there must be an answer to this somewhere hidden in the Qur’an, we just dont know where it is. You know, there are so many times when things happen and then it turns out that Qur’an already talks about it. The Qur’an talks about the origin of ‘human’ life at various places and there are actually verses in the Qur’an which give an indication that there might actually have been life on Earth before Hazrat Adam (AS). What sort of life it was, only Allah knows but the credit goes to Darwin that he did let a lot of Muslim scholars, including Harun Yahya who is a front runner in refuting Darwinism, to actually look closely at the origin of life, ask questions and try to find the answers in religion and science.
    As for trying to answer each and every question that you might have, it is obviously best to be a naqshband at heart to the the true naqshband: Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddiq (RA) and have a firm belief on Qur’an, Hadith and Sunnah like him. Because, every time you make an attempt to answer one question, you get thousands of more questions challenging you. We do not have enough knowledge as yet to be able to answer each and every question ‘logically’. Now, that doesnt mean I am against learning new concepts or trying to clear out confusions.

  4. Exactly! The problem with Muslims (or maybe human knowledge) is that we discover a lot of things in retrospective. Yeh Qur’an probably does have an answer somewhere hidden away. And if it was nt hidden away, It would have meant that Allah already gave humans all the knowledge in the world.

    Allah wants us to struggle for that knowledge and this is where Science comes in. Allah has nt answered all the questions for us. He has hidden them away in His vast Universe and He want us to make an effort to find those answers, to improve humanity in all respects.

    Sadly Muslims have turned Islam into a ritualistic cult rather than a open minded and “scientific” religion, and decayed away the true teachings and values described by Islam.

  5. Leena S. says:

    Islam is now usually practiced as nothing more than a set of rules limited to the length of beard and burqa…altho it is very clearly stated in the Qur’an that people should look for the signs of Allah (SWT) in the cattle and in the skies. I just say that we should read everything, try to find answers to our (some of em being very controversial too) and then stay strong on our faith rather than just closing the eyes and assuming everything is perfectly fine.

  6. I could nt have put it better than that.

    Our eyes and our mind stray immediately to the worst possible scenario and the most absurd of implication, although in Darwin’s case he proposed those implication but that is besides the point. You may take teaching of “Western” education in the subcontinent during the 19th century as a case. The fear amongst our people then was that we ll loose our traditions and values! What traditions? What values? I thought education and research were our values and tradition! The values and traditions the were un-Islamic? Yes that was more the case. Lucky for us we had Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, although I dont agree with his philosophy completely, but I have great respect for him.

    But the real dilemma is, that Muslims try to reject every new idea impulsively immediately as it is introduced as blasphemous, without doing any research and any pondering on the relevant implications.

  7. Absar says:

    *sigh* I can’t believe I’m giving you the lemonade award! 😛

  8. Brickwall says:

    I will share here what I wrote quite sometime ago on a mailing list. It enlists some opinions that I knew of on the subject except that of Harun Yahya because it wasn’t in need of mentioning. Though my opinion hasn’t changed one bit, I am still intrigued by the ingenuity of the third one. Here it goes:

    1) Dr. Israr Ahmed understands that it was actually animal the homo sapien in whom the spirit was blown to make him Adam, superior to all other creatures. He probably extracts his standpoint from the verses or traditions that state that the stuff for the creation of Adam was taken from earth… Anyway, this is what I know from one of his speeches which wasn’t on the subject of evolution or creation of man so he didn’t go into details. Those who follow him regularly may be able to detail his arguments.

    2) Another opinion, which I find correct, states that Adam was craeted as it is literally described in Quran and traditions. I agree with you jehanzeb bhai, there could have been species with similar dna characteristics existing before/after the arrival of Adam (may peace
    be on him) on earth through evolution or anything. If anyone is interested in learning more about this, here is the link:

    http://www.islamtoday.com/showme2.cfm?cat_id=29&sub_cat_id=792

    3) This is the opinion of Dr. Hamidullah who I think was one of the greatest research scholars of recent times. People in france might know him for his translation of Quran and biography of prophet Muhammad PBUH in french. I am translating below what he has to say in response to a question. It’s taken from his book “Khutbaat e Bahawalpur” page185. I have added my own comments in square brackets and please overlook typos, I am putting it without any proofread.

    Question: Darwin’s theory of evolution, if correct scientifically, is in conflict with Islam. Kindly explain how you see it.

    Answer: It’s your presumption that Darwin’s theory of evolution is rejected by Islam. So it’s on you to explain your presumption, then we will see whether it is in consonance or dissonance with Islam. I think that Darwin’s theory creates apprehensions in our minds because we
    take him to be an atheist (mulhid). We think that he didn’t believe in god whereas if you read the biography of Darwin, you will come to know that he believed in god.

    He went through a drastic transformation after completing his studies in medicine. He turned ascetic and inclined toward god. Therefore he went to the Divinity school at Cambrige to study Christianity where comparative religion was also taught to the students. There Darwin
    also learnt arabic to study Islam. The anthology of his letters published contains a number of letters he wrote to his teacher of Arabic addressing him with great respect and honor. I think that the Arabic curriculum taught to students then included excerpts of “Ikhwan
    As-sifa” or selections from “Al-Fawz Al-Asghar” of Ibn Maskooya [can’t say if this is the correct spelling in english]. In both of these books, theory of evolution is being described and you might be surprised to know that during the lifetime of these authors, not a
    single person objected or excommunicated them on the basis of these ideas. “Ikhwan Al-Safa” and “Al-Fawz Al-Asghar” were written in 3rd and 4th centuries after Hijrah. It is written in these books that God first created the matter and characterised it with the ability to make
    progress. Therefore, matter initially takes the form of dust or smoke and then develops into the form of water which progresses further and become Jamadat (minerals or inorganic mater). These minerals then take the form of various stones which later form Corals which are stones in
    a sense but have branches like trees. After the formation of corals comes the development of Nabataat (Vegetables of organic matter). Trees start developing and in the last stage a tree is formed which is very close to the form of animals. This is the date tree. Unlike other
    trees, Date tree has distinct male and female counterparts [I don’t understand this]. Other trees don’t necessarily die if we cut all of their branches, but Date tree dies if its head [top] is cut off. Therefore, Date tree has resemblance with most developed form of
    plants and least developed form of animals.

    Then comes the most inferior form of animal which progressively develops into a multitude of forms. Ibn Maskoya says which is also stated in Ikhwan As-safa that this animal subsequently takes the form of apes/monkeys [:D]. This is not the statement of Darwin, rather the
    statement of Muslim Hukama [Plural of Hakeem, the word is used for philosophers, sages and physicians. I think it’s been used for physicians here]. It then progresses further into the form of Human, barbaric one. The barbaric human then progresses and becomes the
    sophisticated Human. This human is Bashar, Walee or Prophet. However, this human makes further progress and becomes Angel. After Angels, there is then only the Being of God Almighty [i.e. there is nothing left to progress now]. Everything begins from God and in the same way
    returns to Him – And towards Him everything will return and take rest [In italics is the translation of a verse given without any reference or translation so I have translated it myself using my knowledge of Arabic. Please note that I have only tried to convey the sense, actual translation might be a bit different].

    This is what our own philosophers/physicians say. When these things were said by muslim physicians and not rebuked by muslim jurists as Kufr in their lives, then calling it against Islam now is worth considering. Moving ahead, it’s certainly mentioned in Quran that
    Allah created Adam (PBUH) from dust. Our concept is that Allah took dust like a potter, made a sculpture out of it, blew spirit in it and Adam (PBUH) is created. Possibly, this is the truth. I don’t deny it but how would you then interpret the verses (18:37, 22:5, 35:11, and
    40:12) which repeatedly state that Allah created man from dust and then sperm. Obviously, sperm is never formed from dust. Sperm comes from man or animal. It means that Allah omitted the details of all the intermediate stages and said that your beginning was from dust and the
    last cause of your creation is the sperm of your father. It stays in the womb of your mother and this is how you are created now. Take another verse (71:14) “God created man in stages”. Tor is the same root from which the word Tatawwur (Evolution) is derived. God created
    man in stages which can possibly mean that God created man initially in the form of minerals [Jamadat or inorganic matter], then those minerals evolved into organic matter and ultimately Haiwan [living beings]. In short, I don’t see any conflict here. For your knowledge,
    look a for an article in Arabic in your university’s library which is titled “Khalq Al-Kainaat wa Tatawwur Al-Anwaa Hasb Aaraa Al-Mufakkireen Al-Muslimeen” [Creation of world and evolution of creatures in the opinion of Muslim intellectuals]. You can find all these details there. It contains a myriad of references to the opinions of Muslim scholars and Sufees.

  9. Dude!!!! Thanks for sharing!!! I only read half yet, but I ll complete it later on. I have to agree with this in concept.

  10. Leena S. says:

    @ Brickwall
    dude, thanks for sharing! The third part actually makes a lot of sense

  11. Brickwall says:

    Safee: You are welcome. Please pay special attention to the second one!

    Leena: But… but… the second one makes sense too!

  12. Actually I think the second one explains a few things, and the third one is more of a defense.

    I have an explanation of my own and I ll be putting it up very soon…

  13. Stat Quo says:

    Haroon Yahya is a disgraced Turkish creationist, in fact Richard Dawkins, address him in his video I advise you to watch this video:

  14. Ok, since I dont have a broad band right now, I cant watch the video, but thanks for sharing. Like I said, I dont fully agree with Haroon Yahya on the matter of evolution. (In fact, I dont agree with him on a lot of thing.)

    As for creationism, That I believe in to the core. Though my beliefs are widely different from those of the rest, I do believe in the fact that this universe was created and its existence is hinged on a very precise balance.

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