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Evolution, as a theory describes how life arose on Earth; it draws a genealogical tree connecting all forms of life with Man included.

The physiognomy of animals hints at a certain relationship; and the discovery and elaboration of genetics brings out this relationship more explicitly.

In this picture Man was not literally created; but one could say that the conditions for his creation was brought about - that is the universe which follows laws that have been discovered by disciplines such as physics or chemistry; when Allah created the universe then he created it with its laws that during the evolution of the universe allows for the evolution of Man.

The Qu'ran itself says Man was created from 'dust'; if we interpret dust as matter then this is true; a man himself is continually renewed by food and drink; and these are forms of matter; so we are continually renewing ourselves.

Is this position problematic?

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In principle, an almighty God could do this:

  • God created a universe to exist for billions of years to allow for planet formation, life to form, and the eventual evolution of human bodies.

  • Adam and Eve's human souls are created by God off-planet.

  • Two homonid bodies (created by God through evolution) are imbued with the souls of Adam and Eve, thereby becoming the two first humans on Earth.

(This would be classed as theistic evolution.)

But the main questions is: Would this be compatible with the Qur'an and Sunnah?

It's not a perfect fit...

1. Prophet Adam was created from clay

[So mention] when your Lord said to the angels, "Indeed, I am going to create a human being from clay. So when I have proportioned him and breathed into him of My [created] soul, then fall down to him in prostration." -- Qur'an 38:71-72

In the above setting, God would have used evolution to proportion Prophet Adam's body. But it's not so clear how "clay" fits into it, although alternative translations use "mire" which resembles the modern notion of primordial soup.

This is the main concern listed at Seekers Hub.

2. Adam and Eve's children married each other

‘It is related from Ibn Abbas, and from Murra al Hamdaani, from Ibn Masoud, who are among the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that, ‘Adam did not have children except that a male was born with a [twin] female, so that the male child of one pregnancy would marry the female of another pregnancy, and the female of one pregnancy would marry the male of another pregnancy.’ [Tafsir al Tabari] (Source: SeekersHub.)

This seems unnecessary if there were many humans around. However, it's possible only Adam and Eve and their children were the only ones with souls at that stage.

3. There's no jinn nor angels (nor God) in biological evolution.

Basically, these need to be added in to the model of evolution somehow.

4. "Be" and it is.

There's an immediacy conveyed by the notion of "Be" and it is.

Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, "Be," and it is. -- Qur'an 2:117

This goes against the gradual process of evolution. However, technically it doesn't preclude the possibility.

5. Six days of creation.

Indeed, your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and earth in six days -- Qur'an 7:54

This timeframe is totally inconsistent with evolution. However, there appear to be some apologetic workarounds:

The verses that mention "six days" use the Arabic word yawm (day). ... The word yawm is thus understood, within the Qur'an, to be a long period of time--an era or eon. Therefore, Muslims interpret the description of a "six day" creation as six distinct periods or eons. -- Creation of the Universe as Described in the Qur'an

6. Eve created from rib.

And I advise you to take care of the women, for they are created from a rib ... -- Sahih al-Bukhari 5185, 5186 (sunnah.com)

This seems problematic. However, many things in heaven seem to behave similar to on Earth, so maybe this is possible.

This hadith is also contested:

According to the Holy Qur’an, Eve was not created from the rib of Adam. -- Dr Ali Alsamail Certified by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei (Ask The Sheikh)

And Al-Islam lists a hadith: "She was created from the clay that was left over after making of the rib of Adam."

So do we need to throw away evolution?

From a scientific perspective, there's a lot of evidence for evolution (see e.g. Skeptics.SE) and it underpins biology. (I'm fond of the E. coli long-term evolution experiment and the existence of ring species, where the intermediate species are still alive.) Evolution is not seriously contested in science.

Searching for e.g. phylogeny or transitional forms into Google Scholar gives an idea of how much research scientists conduct on evolution, and what topics they study.

There seems to be workarounds to clashes with the Qur'an:

  • Believe in the Qur'an and treat evolution as a useful biological model.

    All models are wrong but some are useful. -- George Box

  • Accept both evolution and the Qur'an, and attribute inconsistencies to imperfect understanding of the Qur'an and/or evolution.

  • I was thought that evolution did actually place on our planet with God's permission. But not all species went through it. In particular, angels, jinns and humans were created outside the process of evolution. W.r.t humans, Quran tells us how the soul of Adam was breathed into his body in the heavens i.e neither on earth nor through evolution ... as an omnipotent and all powerful God, this notion is a distinct possibility. Also as muslims we are to treat this topic in the realm of 'ghaib' (unseen) as it has not been explicitly explained to us in our religion. – Ahmed Oct 31 '18 at 18:56

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