"And indeed He has created you by various stages... And Allah has caused you to grow out of the earth as a growth, Then He returns you to it, then will He bring you forth a (new) bringing forth (Qur’an 71:14, 17-18).
In the 19th century Charles Darwin put forward a theory that man came into being through a long process of evolution and not all of a sudden in one stroke as stated in the Bible. He concluded that the evolutionary process which produced man in his present form probably took millions of years. The second main point in Darwin’s theory is that man evolved from lower forms of animal life. In the beginning there existed only small types of animals which during the course of time were followed by larger and larger ones. Eventually one of these kinds of animals developed into man as we know him but it has now become extinct although it can be maintained that a better form of that animal, the missing linkage is represented by the monkey.
This theory is based on the fact that ancient human skeletons which have been unearthed in various places show remarkable differences from one age to another in the size or structure of the bones or skull. This is taken to indicate that there has been a slow development and progress of the species from era to era. It is also argued that the embryo in the womb, at different stages of its development, successively resembles a number of lower animals such as a rabbit, fish or something else. This is taken to furnish ground for the conclusion that the stages which the embryo passes through represent, so to say, the stages which man has passed through from a lower animal to that of a human being. A further argument advanced in support of the theory of evolution is that there are a number of similarities which seem to indicate that man and these lower animals are one and the same thing and that the structure of the human body is not an exclusive feature of the human species as it has evolved from the bodies and structures such as those shared by apes.
The second point in Darwin’s theory was that man and apes developed from a common link which is now extinct. The basis of the argument is that certain kinds of monkeys have striking resemblance to man. Darwin surmised that in this chain one link is missing as indicated by the gulf which should not have otherwise existed between man and the apes on one side, and the apes of animals on the other. Since there is a remarkable degree of similarity between man and the apes, and since on the other hand, a gulf seems to separate the apes from other animals, it appears that some link has disappeared which bridged this gulf – the link from which man and the apes have evolved during the process of time.
Heckel, after Darwin, was of the opinion that the missing link was an animal which he called Lipotylu which has become extinct leaving no trace behind it. If this animal, or its remains, could be found then the missing link which breaks the chain of continuity would come to hand and leave no vagueness or uncertainty about the theory of evolution. Thinkers of this kind believe that the gorilla and chimpanzee stand in the line of human ancestry.
Darwin’s theory was subjected to criticism by many thinkers who pointed out that the wide gulp separating man from the apes precluded a common ancestry for both. In these differences, however, Huxley found further support for the theory of evolution. He pointed out that the difference found between different kinds of monkeys was greater than the one found between man and the apes. In spite of the wide differences between varieties of monkeys, all were taken and accepted as monkeys. Huxley argued that when differences between different species of monkeys were so wide then why could not man have also traveled a long way from the ape during the course of time? He concluded, therefore, that the gulf did not stand against evolution but on the other hand tended to support it.
More recent research which is supported by Professor Jones and Professor Osborne, tends to conclude that although man has developed through an evolutionary process he branched off from other animals at a much earlier period; and during that time he developed on independent exclusive lines as compared with other animals. In other words, man did not branch off from some kind of ape, as Darwin believed, but a long time before that during the development of animal life.
Archaeologists and anthropologists have found that human civilization has passed through very distinct stages. In the Stone Age man took his first step towards culture and civilization. Since that time he had evolved into a state of only the most rudimentary human existence and, in contrast with other forms of animal life, he did not have the advantage of claws and fangs, he used stones as weapons for offence and defence. Then came the Bronze Age when made use of this metal. This followed by the Iron age. As a result of excavations archaeologists are agreed that all the stages of his life man has been a bearer or culture of one kind or another.
QURAN ON THE CREATION OF MAN
First I would like to refer to the following passage from the Holy Qur’an:
What is the matter with you that you hope not for greatness and wisdom from Allah?
See you now how Allah has created seven heavens in perfect harmony, and has placed the moon, therein a light and made the sun a lamp?
And Allah has caused you to grow out of the earth as a good growth.
Then will He cause you to return, thereto, and He will bring you forth a new bringing forth. (Qur’an 71:14-19)
A close paraphrase of this passage would be:
O you human beings! What is the matter with you that you fail to understand that Allah does not do anything unless there is wisdom and purpose underlying it? You yourselves are not ready to accept the assumption that you do things with no aim or purpose in view. Why do you therefore assume that Allah, the Most Wise and All Knowing does things without purpose? Why do you jump to the thoughtless conclusion that He created man with no purpose in view. Why do you fail to grasp the evident truth that your creation has not been the result of a sudden meaningless impulse? It was the result of wise planning and deliberate execution in a succession of stages from one point to another. Do you not see that Allah has created seven heavens in perfect harmony with each other and similarly the sun and the moon? Also that the earth was one of the stages through which you passed in a process of slow growth to the point of perfection?
This is the description of the origin and emergence of man given in the Qur’an. The law of evolution working in the universe which Europe claims to have discovered was clearly defined in the Holy Qur’an more than fourteen hundred years ago that man was not created in an instant in the form in which he is today. God did not make a model of clay and breathed life into it to become the first man. No! Man has reached his present stage after passing through many intermediary stages. Man originated from and on this earth – Allah caused you to grow out of the earth as a good growth.
It is particularly distressing to note, however, that the present day popular Muslim belief has lost sight of the two crucial points that man’s creation and emergence did not take place in an instant. He was created from the earth and on the earth. Popular Muslim belief has come to have it that man was created in paradise from where he was put down on earth. It is also believed by a large section of Muslims that God has a bag of souls which, from time to time, He releases singly to become human beings. In view of the prevalence of such foolish fancies that the popular Muslim mind, through some irony, is peculiarly bent upon holding views contrary to the clear teachings of the Holy Qur’an.
The Qur’an tells us that the creation of man took place in gradual stages, the underlying wisdom being that through this slow development defects should be eliminated from his constitution and nature. The gross ignorance of the views held by some Muslim religious leaders may be gauged from the following. Maulvi Syed Sarwar Shah, a prominent member of the Ahmadiyya Movement and companion of the Promised Messiah, used to related that one of his teachers once said that the explanation for one man being handsome and another ugly, and yet another middling, is that at the time God decided to make man He awarded a contract to the angels for carrying out the job fixing a daily quota which had to be fulfilled. The angels started kneading the clay well and shaping it nice and handsome figures. They worked steadily, without hurry, until noon giving careful attention to each piece. After a while they found that they were lagging behind the quota fixed and began to work only with the idea of completing it. They ceased paying careful artistic attention to their work with the result that the beings formed during the fist spell of their work were very attractive while those formed in the early part of the afternoon were middling. As the afternoon wore on the angels realized with dismay that they were lagging far behind the quota for the day so they threw all care to the wind. They hurriedly shaped a figure from the clay with a finger-poke to make the mouth and two pokes to make the eyes. No wonder these ungainly dented figured could not be compared with those made during the first spell of work.
This example shows how, through ignorance, unwarranted beliefs among Muslims, Christians, Jews and others have turned beautiful truths into distressing caricatures and spurious myths.
The next point revealed by the Qur’an in connection with the creation of man is that the first stage was a condition of non-existence. A controversial subject. The view of Arya Samjists is that matter from which the universe has been shaped, is eternal. God did no more than to bring the soul to matter together into a close relationship so man was created. This belief is repudiated by the Qur’an which teaches that matter is not eternal but it is a creation of God and that man was created. God says in the Holy Qur’an:
Does not man remember that We created him before, when he was naught? (19:68)
Human birth now takes place from the seed of the male. This verse refers to the first original creation of the species, or the first man. It should be carefully noted that the Qur’an does not say that the existence was created from non-existence. It says that prior to the stage when matter and other things came into being, there was a stage when nothing existed. We say that a chair can be made from a piece of wood; or we say that a chain ca be made from a piece of iron. Here we have matter in one form which can be utilized to make another article. Atheists often raise the objection that it is not possible to shape out anything from nothing. This, however, is not what is meant by the Qur’an. What is meant is that prior to the creation of the universe there was a stage when nothing existed. Then came creation and the creation of man. God has not given knowledge to man as to how this came about, possibly because it is beyond the comprehension of man to grasp. If man could visualize how creation too place then he would be in a position to create man himself.
It appears from the Holy Qur’an that the second stage in the creation of man was a state of existence when the human body was there but the brain or its active faculties which distinguish a human being from the lower animals were not operative and active as they came to be later. There was, so to say, a human body which was not yet a human being or, in other words, there was the physical human body minus the evolved and perfected human brain or mind. We are not in a position to say whether in this state he was some kind of rock formation of a kind of plant. We can say, however, that he was not yet an animal. The Qur’an says:
There has certainly come upon man a period of time when he was not a thing spoken of.
In other words, there has been a stage in the history of man when it was not madhkur, i.e., it was not aware of itself, lacked consciousness at the time and was not capable of recognition. He was a form of being without consciousness and intelligence, not aware of himself or of other things.
The third stage in the evolution of man was reached when he attained to a state of being where the production of the species began to take place through the seed of the male planted in the body of the female through sexual intercourse. From this point onwards occurs the almost infinite variety of individual human temperaments. Among animals there are varieties not characterized by sex. God says in the Qur’an that a stage came in the course of the evolution of man when he developed into an animal characterized by sex, divided upon into males and females, when his procreation began to take place through the seed of the male which is a characteristic of the higher forms of animal life. His procreation began to occur from a nutfatin amshajin, from the male sperm drop embracing a combination of a number of elements. God says in the Holy Qur’an:
Indeed We have created man from a mingled sperm-drop, that We might try him, so We made him hearing, seeing.
From this stage his procreation began to be compounded from many elements because his role in the universe was to be many sided which necessitated that he should possess a wide range of qualities.
The fourth stage came when the human brain reached perfection and characterized a highly developed form of awareness and intelligence. From having the capacity of hearing and seeing which are qualities also to be found in the lower animals, he became capable of exercising his intelligence to a point where, through a sustained spirit of enquiry and search, inference and invention came within the range of his faculties. Here he rose one very distinct step higher than the other forms of animal life, an animal capable of sustained thought and speech.
These links in the chain of the evolution of man are the initial links of the various stages. The intervening periods between the emergence of these links has not been clearly brought out by the Qur’an for it is not a scientific treatise on the subject. The Qur’an refers to these matters which were necessary for bringing out a point of moral spiritual truth, leaving the filling in of the gaps to the human mind. We glean from other passages in the Qur’an that there are also other links in the chain of human evolution:
And Allah created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop, then he made you pairs.
Elsewhere the Qur’an says: ‘And Allah caused you to grow from the earth, a good growth,’ while here it is said, ‘Allah created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop.’ The remaining links have been omitted, till He made you pairs, i.e., a being capable of living in social units the point from which emerges what we call civilization and culture, with a system and order of life.
The meaning of Azwaj used in the Arabic text of the verse which I have just quoted does not mean division into male and female because that point has already been covered in the mention of creation by sperm-drop. The he made you pairs, coming after sperm-drop has to be interpreted to mean something beyond the emergence of sex. In Arabic the word zauj also means kind, variety or complimentary groups; and this is the meaning implied here. When the human mind fully developed and a variety of temperaments emerged, individuals began to evince learning towards or away from certain other individuals. This gave rise to the emergence of social units on this or that basis such as family groups or combination of certain individuals well disposed towards each other.
The evolution of man may be summed up by saying that at first man was only a cod of earth or some kind of rock formation. After some intermediary stages which the Qur’an has not mentioned, man reached a stage where he became a kind of animal growth divided into male and female and procreating through sexual intercourse. Again the Qur’an leaves out some intermediary stages until man emerges as a social being divided into several groups a result of which there sprung up a variety of mental, physical or economic affiliations. This is the point where the story of human civilization begins.
Among the stages of evolution of man is when water mingled with the particular dust, clod of earth or rocky substance. This mingling of the dry clod with water which resulted in a kind of life being born in it is mentioned in the Qur’an:
And We made from water every living thing… (21:31)
He Who has made perfect everything He has created, and He began the creation of man from clay. (32:8)
The word in Arabic text for clay is teen which means earth mixed with a quantity of water which becomes adhesive. According to the Qur’an, therefore, human life originated in a substance which was a mixture of earth and water which, in the course of time, developed into man. In the fore-going verses we are told that an early initial stage in the evolution of man was when he was given a particular form from wet earth. That was followed by a stage when man began to be procreated through function of the sex organs of the male and the female of his species. In the words of the Holy Qur’an:
Then He made His progeny from an extract of insignificant fluid. (32:9)
Did We not create you from an insignificant fluid, and we placed it in a safe place? (77:22)
These verses indicate very clearly that man’s origin in dry earth or rock was one stage from which step by step he passed through a stage when it was mixed with water causing the development of a rudimentary form of life which later on began to procreate through the functioning of the sex organs which had developed in the male and the female. All these stages represent different periods of time the duration of which can at best be only vaguely conjectured or imagined.
The Holy Qur’an mentions a general principle with regard to the creation of man:
And what with thy Lord is the final judgment; and that it is He Who makes people laugh and makes them weep; and it is he Who causes death and gives life; and that He creates the pairs, male and female, from a sperm-drop when it is emitted; and that it is for Him to bring forth the second creation. (53:43-48)
From these verses of the Qur’an which I have quoted emerge the following conclusions:
(1) The material from which man was created is not eternal. It was created by God.
(2) Man’s creation involved an evolutionary process extending over a long period of time. He was not created in a moment.
(3) Man was created from an origin of his own species. It is not correct that he evolved from a species of monkeys or apes which is the theory advanced by Darwin.
(4) One of the evolutionary stages through which he passed was something akin to stone or rock.
(5) He next passed through a stage of animal life but intelligence had not yet developed in him although he moved about, ate and drank like other animals.
(6) He became an intelligent being able to speak and communicate.
(7) In his final stage he devised a system of life and started on the road to civilization and culture. Instead of each individual living for himself, as is the case with other and lower animals, he began to work in co-operation with others of his species evolving a system of law and life.