Creation or Evolution?

Question and answer details
Asad Khan
Creation or Evolution? Just curious of how you guys think about it. Being a Muslim, I think creation.
Idris Tawfiq

Salam dear brother,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

I will be quite honest with you and say that I am not a scientist and I cannot claim to give an answer to your question based on scientific proofs and facts. However, all Muslims have a belief and an understanding about how this world was made. You might like to hear this answer from the point of view of just such a person.

Islam is not afraid of science, nor of scientific debate, and Muslims are very happy to engage with people who hold different views than theirs. One of the criticisms leveled against Muslims is that they are somehow backward and uneducated and that they cannot engage with science at all.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Science is not a threat to the beliefs of Muslims, but rather confirms them in their belief. It is from this point of view, then, that I attempt to give an answer to your question about creation and evolution.

Some people, you know, find that it helps and encourages their faith to look at facts and figures. They find it inspiring and somehow reassuring to examine all of Allah's works with a scientific, rational eye.

Many of these people find that the so called miracles of the noble Quran confirm them in their understanding of Islam, showing that only now are scientists able to discover and understand facts that were revealed about the universe in the noble Quran 14 centuries ago. How, they ask, could anyone have known about these facts unless it were Allah alone who revealed them? They point to this as a proof of the divine origins of the noble Quran.

Other people find that their faith is encouraged and sustained in different ways. Some find, for example, that the beauty of a sunset is quite enough evidence for the existence of a Creator. They say that the magnificence of the natural world is a proof of Allah's greatness.

So, you see, in speaking about what Muslims believe about creation and evolution you are appealing to different audiences, different ways of seeing things.

Islam, however, is perfectly clear. Allah created the heavens and the earth and all that is in between them. He is the source of all creation and the reason for it. Without Him willing it to be so, nothing would exist. This is why, as Muslims, we use the phrase in sha' Allah in every sentence we utter.

This in sha' Allah doesn't mean "maybe" or "perhaps" or "possibly." It means that nothing happens unless Allah wills it to happen. The sun will not come up tomorrow unless Allah wills it to do so. Night will not follow day unless Allah wills it to do so.

There is in nature an order that Allah has placed. Things don't just happen haphazardly, without a meaning. We have times and seasons, days and nights, months and years. Allah has placed within His creation a mechanism of order for how things will work. We are born, we grow old and we die. This is the natural way of things.

But it is all underpinned by the fact of Allah as the Creator. There would be no times or seasons without Him. Year would not succeed to year unless He chose it to do so. All things depend on their existence from Him. 

Sometimes, we might telephone a car mechanic to have our car repaired. Over the phone we say, "Is that Ahmad?" His answer is as deeply profound as it is simple, "Yes, this is Ahmad, in sha' Allah." In other words, this man knows that he exists only because Allah wills him to exist. He is not a scientist, but he knows this like he knows how to breathe.

We read in the glorious Quran that Allah

{… created the heavens and the earth in six days, then he settled Himself on the throne; He manages everything.} (Yunus 10:3).

As Muslims we go on to read the beautiful "verse of the Throne" (in Arabic, Ayat Al-Kursi):

{Allah there is no god but He, the Living, the Self-Subsisting, the Everlasting. Slumber does not seize Him, neither sleep; to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. Who is there that will intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they do not encompass anything of His knowledge except what He wills. His throne extends over the heavens and the earth, the preservation of them does not burden Him; He is the High, the Great.} (Al-Baqarah 2:255)

Over the centuries, scientists have claimed to discover different things. Many of these discoveries have been to the great advantage of humankind. A great mistake, however, is to think that by gaining knowledge of things currently unknown, we are somehow in control of those things.

Discovering something simply means finding out something we didn't yet know. In making a new discovery, we are not creating anything from nothing. We are understanding something for the first time.

You see how science poses no threat whatsoever to belief. In fact in discovering things previously unknown, scientists are letting us know more and more about the greatness of the One Who created these things from nothing.

Charles Darwin proposed a theory of how human beings were created. It is precisely that: a theory, an idea. Many scientists liked the idea because it seemed to fill in gaps in their own knowledge about the world. Science likes to fit things very neatly into boxes.

We should never forget, though, that this theory about human evolution is one of many theories. There are other ideas about how human life and the universe came into being. None of them take away from Allah's role as Creator.

Putting science against faith, then, is a false notion. Muslims believe that Allah created the universe. Precisely how He did this, in what manner, and in what length of time, are things known to Him alone.

One day in His sight, remember, is not like a day to human beings. Time itself is an invention that we as humans manipulate twice a year when we change the clocks back or forward, saying that what was one o'clock yesterday is now two!

As time progresses, scientists will help us to discover more and more about our world. They will shed more and more light on how the world came into existence, letting us see for the first time the means Almighty Allah used to create something out of nothing.

We must never fall into the trap of thinking that seeing things for the first time means that we are in control of those things. We see precisely what Allah chooses us to see.

Not a scientist or a mathematician then, but simply a Muslim knows that the question of creation–or-evolution seems very simple. Allah created all things. Our knowledge of things unknowable depends on Him.

We hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.


Useful Links:

All in Pairs: Glory of Creation

Imperfect Creation of the Perfect Creator


The Story of Creation


More on The Story of Creation


Who Created the Creator?


Why Did Allah Create Us?


Why Did Allah Create Humans?


Adam and Eve or Evolution?

Can I Believe in Evolution?