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Mohammedan Theory of Evolution

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    Sorry couldnt find a Science area so ill just put this here, this is an intresting thing to look at for people curious about the Evolution of Evolution.

    The Muslim scientists ibn Kathir, ibn Khauldun, ibn Arabi, ibn Sina, among other scientists, such as the Ikhwan school of thought, arrived at the same conclusions as Darwin with a convincing amount of evidence. Some westerners, including Darwin’s contemporary, Sir William Draper, called it the Mohammedan Theory of Evolution.

    The Mu’tazili scientist and philosopher al-Jahiz (c. 776-869) was the first of the Muslim biologists and philosophers to develop an early theory of evolution. He speculated on the influence of the environment on animals, considered the effects of the environment on the likelihood of an animal to survive, and first described the struggle for existence and an early theory on natural selection. Al-Jahiz wrote the following on the struggle for existence:

    “Animals engage in a struggle for existence; for resources, to avoid being eaten and to breed. Environmental factors influence organisms to develop new characteristics to ensure survival, thus transforming into new species. Animals that survive to breed can pass on their successful characteristics to offspring.”

    There are clearly things which are simply argument by analogy. For instance: coral has branches like a tree; the date palm “does not wither if all its branches are chopped but it dies when the head is cut off” — so it’s like an animal. And through such analogy they link minerals to plants to animals.

    In fact, Hamidullah’s summary reads something like a Great Chain of Being — which was associated with commoners earlier — while al-Jahiz’s description reminds of natural selection.
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    Just had a quick Google of this since I have never heard of it before

    From what I can understand they seem to adopt macroevolution, but believed humans were separate and didn’t evolve from anything non human? Am i in the ball park here, seemed to be a few different descriptions of it

    Although obviously i disagree with the God part, they did seem to get a very good understanding of evolution at a very early age, defo going to buy al-jahiz's book if a translation is avaliable
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    Seems pretty advanced given the time, always thought Islam was quite heavily against evolution though
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    Yeh I've always found this interesting.

    What Al-Jahiz wrote in the book of animals:

    Animals engage in a struggle for existence; for resources, to avoid being eaten and to breed. Environmental factors influence organisms to develop new characteristics to ensure survival, thus transforming into new species. Animals that survive to breed can pass on their successful characteristics to offspring.
    Change the word characteristics in the last sentence to 'alleles' or 'genes' and bang - that's our modern theory right there.
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    (Original post by Aj12)
    Seems pretty advanced given the time, always thought Islam was quite heavily against evolution though
    same here, but seems that they accept it for other animals, just deny it happened to humans because it goes against their faith.
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    Quite an interesting catch OP. Will defo look further into it.
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    (Original post by Darth Stewie)
    same here, but seems that they accept it for other animals, just deny it happened to humans because it goes against their faith.
    Quite an odd position to take really. I could understand divine evolution? Or whatever it's called, God/higher power inspiring or sparking off evolution
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    (Original post by Aj12)
    Seems pretty advanced given the time, always thought Islam was quite heavily against evolution though
    Interestingly (and I wish more people would know this - especially intelligent and objective people like yourself) - evolution was taught in madrassas quite extensively during the Islamic Golden Age.

    As Europe started to develop at the phenomenal rate it did, and Europeans started developing their own theory of evolution which soon surpassed the level of detail that Islamic scientists has achieved, it came to be seen by madrassas as a 'foreign' and threatening idea and one what was un-Islamic (unfortunately). It was accordingly wiped out.

    William Dalrymple gave a lecture on this which was on YT - I'll try and find it now and paste it here.
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    (Original post by DJkG.1)
    Interestingly (and I wish more people would know this - especially intelligent and objective people like yourself) - evolution was taught in madrassas quite extensively during the Islamic Golden Age.

    As Europe started to develop at the phenomenal rate it did, and Europeans started developing their own theory of evolution which soon surpassed the level of detail that Islamic scientists has achieved, it came to be seen by madrassas as a 'foreign' and threatening idea and one what was un-Islamic (unfortunately). It was accordingly wiped out.

    William Dalrymple gave a lecture on this which was on YT - I'll try and find it now and paste it here.
    Can you quote me if you find it? I'd be interested in that
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    Anaximander got there first.

    6th Century BC.
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    (Original post by legendaro)
    Sorry couldnt find a Science area so ill just put this here, this is an intresting thing to look at for people curious about the Evolution of Evolution.

    The Muslim scientists ibn Kathir, ibn Khauldun, ibn Arabi, ibn Sina, among other scientists, such as the Ikhwan school of thought, arrived at the same conclusions as Darwin with a convincing amount of evidence. Some westerners, including Darwin’s contemporary, Sir William Draper, called it the Mohammedan Theory of Evolution.

    The Mu’tazili scientist and philosopher al-Jahiz (c. 776-869) was the first of the Muslim biologists and philosophers to develop an early theory of evolution. He speculated on the influence of the environment on animals, considered the effects of the environment on the likelihood of an animal to survive, and first described the struggle for existence and an early theory on natural selection. Al-Jahiz wrote the following on the struggle for existence:

    “Animals engage in a struggle for existence; for resources, to avoid being eaten and to breed. Environmental factors influence organisms to develop new characteristics to ensure survival, thus transforming into new species. Animals that survive to breed can pass on their successful characteristics to offspring.”

    There are clearly things which are simply argument by analogy. For instance: coral has branches like a tree; the date palm “does not wither if all its branches are chopped but it dies when the head is cut off” — so it’s like an animal. And through such analogy they link minerals to plants to animals.

    In fact, Hamidullah’s summary reads something like a Great Chain of Being — which was associated with commoners earlier — while al-Jahiz’s description reminds of natural selection.
    Very interesting stuff there. Unfortunately Mu'tazilites are considered by Sunnis to be outside of the fold of Islam. It's strange that they came up with this theory when Mu'taziliah are the school which put reason and intellect as important in finding God, while in Sunni Islam, reason is put on a level below almost all Islamic scriptures (Qur'an, Hadith) when it comes to law. If only Mu'taziliah predominated eh, their outlook on reason and human intellect are very encouraging. Not surprisingly, they're now a minority.
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    Unfortunately its incorrect and much closer to lamarckian theory.
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    (Original post by obstupefacere)
    Anaximander got there first.

    6th Century BC.
    In fact, there were even more ancient rudimentary theories proposed before Anaximander! Though between those and that of al-Jahiz it's a matter of choice where you choose to say that 'this guy got it right' depending on how close it is to what we currently understand today.
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    (Original post by DJkG.1)
    Interestingly (and I wish more people would know this - especially intelligent and objective people like yourself) - evolution was taught in madrassas quite extensively during the Islamic Golden Age.

    As Europe started to develop at the phenomenal rate it did, and Europeans started developing their own theory of evolution which soon surpassed the level of detail that Islamic scientists has achieved, it came to be seen by madrassas as a 'foreign' and threatening idea and one what was un-Islamic (unfortunately). It was accordingly wiped out.

    William Dalrymple gave a lecture on this which was on YT - I'll try and find it now and paste it here.
    Bit confused (presuming you are Muslim?) is it forbidden in Islam to put forward theories of human evolution?

    Because their concepts were really good, tbh i am amazed they managed to come up with something so advanced at such an early time, but i would have thought that their natural progression of thought would turn to humans and if it’s possible that we evolved.
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    (Original post by IceWater)
    It's strange that they came up with this theory when Mu'taziliah are the school which put reason and intellect as important in finding God, while in Sunni Islam, reason is put on a level below almost all Islamic scriptures (Qur'an, Hadith) when it comes to law.
    Do you have any source for this because that is the first time I have heard such a thing and I find it difficult to believe.

    (This is a philosophy thread in the philosophy forum so mods - I hope this is not off-topic).
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    (Original post by DJkG.1)
    Do you have any source for this because that is the first time I have heard such a thing and I find it difficult to believe.

    (This is a philosophy thread i the philosophy forum so mods - I hope this is not off-topic).
    I read it in a chapter about Islamic law in some book I saw at the library. Basically it put human reasoning and intellectual capability (called aql in Arabic) at the lowest rung; below any Islamic scripture. I don't know if I can be bothered to search for it now but if I find it I will quote you in this thread.

    Just search "aql" "Islam" and I'm sure you'll find something. Or add "shari'ah" to the terms also.
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    (Original post by Darth Stewie)
    Bit confused (presuming you are Muslim?) is it forbidden in Islam to put forward theories of human evolution?

    Because their concepts were really good, tbh i am amazed they managed to come up with something so advanced at such an early time, but i would have thought that their natural progression of thought would turn to humans and if it’s possible that we evolved.
    As regards your first question - nobody will be able to give you a definitive yes or no answer. Many will try but they will only be interpreting the sources of Islamic doctrine in a certain way. The answer is an answer in the art of interpretation. Some say yes, some say no.

    I was also amazed when I was introduced to the Book of Animals in school when we did it in class 11 - it will always remain a counterfactual hypothesis whether they would have established the idea of human evolution as the entire doctrine was thrown out due to European advocacy (as I wrote above). Also madrassas were in decline then; education in the Islamic world started to head downhill in terms of a social priority and doesn't seem to have yet recovered from that.
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    (Original post by Excandersham)
    Unfortunately its incorrect and much closer to lamarckian theory.
    I read it that way too.
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    (Original post by DJkG.1)
    As regards your first question - nobody will be able to give you a definitive yes or no answer. Many will try but they will only be interpreting the sources of Islamic doctrine in a certain way. The answer is a answer in the art of interpretation. Some say yes, some say no.

    I was also amazed when I was introduced to the Book of Animals in school when we did it in year 11 - it will always remain a counterfactual hypothesis whether they would have established the idea of human evolution as the entire doctrine was thrown out due to European advocacy (as I wrote above). Also madrassas were in decline then; education in the Islamic world started to head downhill in terms of a social priority and doesn't seem to have yet recovered from that.
    Just ordered it from amazon

    Will definitely make for a good read, sad that the Islamic world didn’t carry on this research, they were really onto something
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    (Original post by DJkG.1)
    As regards your first question - nobody will be able to give you a definitive yes or no answer. Many will try but they will only be interpreting the sources of Islamic doctrine in a certain way. The answer is an answer in the art of interpretation. Some say yes, some say no.

    I was also amazed when I was introduced to the Book of Animals in school when we did it in class 11 - it will always remain a counterfactual hypothesis whether they would have established the idea of human evolution as the entire doctrine was thrown out due to European advocacy (as I wrote above). Also madrassas were in decline then; education in the Islamic world started to head downhill in terms of a social priority and doesn't seem to have yet recovered from that.
    I'm sure scholars and speakers or whatever they call themselves these days will claim that Islam supports microevolution (it is almost impossible to deny it). However I have heard of barely any Muslim that supports evolution of man, mainly because of Adam. The Hadith state very clearly that Allah created Adam from dust.

    Oh and by the way, what sort of law are you planning to go into? I've been reading some jurisprudence lately, very interesting subject must be fun to learn. Though the idea of practising of law (as a solicitor) is my idea of absolute torture.

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