The Huffington Post Writer Nidhal Guessoum’s Errors Concerning Evolution
On 4 January, 2012, the U.S. news portal The Huffington Post carried an article titled “Does Islam forbid even studying evolution?” Written by Nidhal Guessoum, professor of physics and astronomy at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, the piece dealt with a recent report widely covered in the international media regarding the unwillingness of Muslim students in Great Britain to study evolution.
In the article, Guessoum appears to make a number of errors that in no way actually reflect the truth. The author’s errors can be listed as follows:
1. Guessoum claims that evolution is not denied in the Qur’an and espouses the error that Allah created the universe by way of evolution.
This is a very serious error that some other Muslims are also falling into. The Qur’an contains no information regarding or references to creation by evolution. To put it another way, not a single verse of the Qur’an supports the idea of living things having developed from one another and of there being an evolutionary link between them. On the contrary, it is revealed in the Qur’an that Allah created life and the universe in a single moment, in a miraculous manner, by telling them to “Be!” Allah is He Who created from nothing, in a manner and at a time of His choosing, using no previous models.
Almighty Allah has no need of any instruments, natural causes or stages in order to create – surely He is beyond that. This world is a place of testing, for which reason Allah has created everything in the universe in line with natural laws. But this does not mean that our Almighty Lord Himself needs these natural laws (surely Allah is beyond that). Our Almighty Lord is He Who needs nothing and is unfettered by any deficiencies.
The truth revealed in the Qur’an about the creation of the universe and life is that Allah simply willed and created the earth and heavens and all that lies between. Creation is a most easy matter for Allah. It is revealed in several verses of the Qur’an that creation takes place by Allah issuing the command “Be!” Some of these verses read as follows:
… Allah creates whatever He wills. When He decides on something, He just says to it, “Be!” and it is. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 47)
Our Word to a thing when We desire it is just to say to it “Be!” and it is. (Surat an-Nahl, 40)
It is He Who gives life and causes to die. When He decides on something, He just says to it, “Be!” and it is. (Surah Ghafir, 68)
The Muslim writer Nidhal Guessoum has clearly fallen into a serious error. In suggesting that creation took place by way of evolution Prof. Guessoum is clearly ignoring these verses. The fact is that the fundamental guides for anyone who believes in Allah and Islam are the Qur’an and the Sunnah of our Prophet (saas). It is indisputably incompatible with the Qur’an to ignore the verses and maintain that Allah created by way of evolution when He reveals in the Qur’an that creation takes place by His issuing the command “Be!” A Muslim fears to commit such an offense against Allah and carefully avoids falling into any such error. It is to be hoped that Prof. Guessoum will grasp the fact of creation that Allah makes so clear in many verses and will abandon his error as a matter of urgency.
2. Another of the writer’s errors is that he interprets the creation of man from clay to mean that “man evolved from clay.”
This is also very definitely a major error. The fact that man was created from clay is no evidence or suggestion that he was created as the result of evolutionary stages. Verses that speak of creation from clay reveal, not that man evolved from clay, but that the tool employed in his creation shares the same basic elements as clay.
Examination of human tissue reveals the presence of a great many elements that exist on earth. Living tissues are 95% made up of carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and sulfur (S), and there are a total of 26 elements in living tissues. The Arabic word “sulala” in the verse “We created man from an extract of clay” (Surat al-Mu’minun, 12), translated as “extract,” means “exemplary piece, the essence, fundamental or basic.” As we have seen, modern science confirms the reality set out in the Qur’an 1400 years ago by revealing that man was made from clay, consisting of elements such as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur.
The distribution of elements in the body of an average, 70-kg human being
3. Another error the author makes is to claim that there is no account in the Qur’an about how the earth came into being.
It first needs to be made quite clear that the Qur’an is a true scripture sent down by Allah from His Presence as an explanation of all things. This essential characteristic of the Qur’an is set out as follows in verses:
... We have sent down the Book to you making all things clear and as guidance and mercy and good news for the Muslims. (Surat an-Nahl, 89)
... We have not omitted anything from the Book … (Surat al-An’am, 38)
It is a fact known to anyone even with an average level of general culture that Allah reveals in the Qur’an a great many scientific and mathematical miracles and that such information is in complete agreement with the findings of modern science. Allah refers to the creation of the universe and living things in many verses of the Qur’an. Anyone who scans the Qur’an even briefly will immediately see these verses about creation. To say that, “the Qur’an contains no information on these subjects” when many of its verses refer to the creation of life and the universe is a violation of both reason and of good conscience.
On the other hand, it is most interesting how from the very outset the writer depicts the reference to “creation from clay” in the Qur’an as evidence of evolution. To put it another way, he tries to fabricate his own evidence for evolution from the Qur’an, while in another paragraph he says it is a mistake to make any scientific statement on the basis of the Qur’an. This shows that the author is contradicting himself here.
4. The author falls into the error of equating denial of evolution with a rejection of modernity and claims that the Islamic world has failed to attain modernity because of its rejection of evolution.
Modernity in the true sense can only be achieved through faith in Allah and living the kind of life He desires. Had our Prophet Muhammad (saas), the blessed Companions, all the other prophets from the past and all the believers who followed them been living today they would be the most modern people in the world. If the Muslim world is not living in a modern manner today, it is not because of their rejection of evolution, but because they live far removed from Allah and Islam. If they were to submit themselves to Allah and obey His commandments to the letter, then Allah would increase His blessings on the Muslim world and produce a glorious plenty and abundance, and would give them great power and ability in scholarship, technology, art and science. Under the leadership of the Prophet Jesus (pbuh) and Hazrat Mahdi (pbuh), Allah will increase these blessings still further, insha’Allah.
Yet despite this manifest truth, some Muslims admire the Western life far removed from Allah and religion and fall into the error of equating irreligion with modernity. They foolishly imagine that in order to be modern they need to develop a materialist mindset and ignorantly seek to prove themselves to sections of society that live irreligious lives by making concessions on matters of faith.
Such Muslims persist with that same defeatist behavior when it comes to evolutionists. The fact is, however, that it is not believers who should be defeatist, but evolutionists, who lack any scientific foundation or evidence with which to defend themselves. Evolutionists strive to keep their theory, to which they are devoted for purely ideological reasons, propped up by engaging in demagoguery and using psychological pressure to silence those opposed to them. That it because they are well aware of the impasses of the theory they espouse. It is for these reasons that they have for years been trying to cover those impasses up with scientific frauds. But the truth is now out, and falsehood has collapsed. People have seen that the theory of evolution is groundless and has been completely defeated in the face of scientific progress. The fact of the matter is that evolution is a theory that has collapsed, and the falsity of which anyone with even a primary school level of education can clearly see. (See: www.confessionsofevolutionists.com)
5. Another error made by the author regards the works published across the world by Mr. Adnan Oktar under the pen-name of Harun Yahya.
Everyone agrees that the works by Mr. Adnan Oktar on the subject of the damage done by Darwinism and the collapse of the theory of evolution in the face of modern science have had a huge positive impact. Tens of articles about Mr. Oktar’s success have been published in world-renowned scientific journals. Prof. Guessoum himself actually referred to the effect of Mr. Oktar’s campaign against evolution, albeit expressing his own opposition to it, in these words:
“... there are also strongly creationist positions in today"s Muslim culture, the clearest and strongest one being expressed by Harun Yahya and his group, who for the past decade or more have launched an aggressive campaign targeting Muslims throughout the world, including the UK and France, where lecture tours are organized and books (such as the infamous Atlas of Creation) are massively distributed either freely or in subsidized sales.”
The works of Mr. Oktar, which have attracted enormous global appreciation, are instrumental in many people coming to faith and many others growing in it.