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Evolving Creation

Evolution is creation in both action and motion. Time dictates and determines when and how something comes into being, as well as its ultimate shape and form.

Islam explains the processes by which the universe came into being as a manifestation of Allah SWT's Infinite and Eternal Knowledge, and in terms of HIS Ability and Power. HE Alone requires no tools, implements or materials - nor helpers, associates and partners - in order to create some-thing from no-thing. It is Allah SWT Who is the Originator and Source of every-thing, (humankind produces, creates or invents things from pre-existing elements).

Since time has no bearing for the Creator and Lord of it, when HE Intends for a thing to exist, it enters into HIS Presence without any delay or resistance. Similarly, whenever Allah SWT Decrees a matter, it comes into effect immediately:

Surah 22 Al-Hajj, Verse 47
And (so, O Muhammad) they challenge you to hasten the coming upon them of (Allah's) chastisement: but Allah never fails to fulfill HIS Promise - and behold, in your Sustainer's Sight a day is like a thousand years of your reckoning.

Surah 2 Al-Baqarah, Verse 117
The Originator of the heavens and the earth, and whenever HE Decrees an affair, HE merely says to it, "BE!" - and it becomes.

Surah 6 Al-An'aam, Verse 73
And HE it is Who has created the heavens and the earth in accordance with (an inner) truth - and whenever HE says, "BE!" HIS Word comes true; and HIS will be the dominion on the Day when the trumpet (of resurrection) is blown. Knower of the Unseen and Seen, HE is The Wise, The Aware.

Surah 36 Yaa Seen, Verses 81-2
Is, then, HE Who has created the heavens and the earth not able to create (anew) the like of those (who have died)?
Yes, indeed - for HE Alone is the All-Knowing Creator:
HIS affair, when HE Intends a thing, is only that HE says to it, "BE!" and it becomes.

Surah 54 Al-Qamar, Verses 49-50
Behold, everything have WE created in due measure and proportion;
and OUR Ordaining (a thing and its coming into being) is but one (act) like the twinkling of an eye.

Please see also: Surah 3, Verse 47; Surah 16, Verse 40; Surah 19, Verse 35; Surah 40, Verse 68.

Part 1
There are divergent views in respect of how the universe came into being. Those who believe in God necessarily also have faith in the Realm of the Unseen - since HE cannot be encompassed within human vision and thought. Innumerable tomes have been dedicated to various scientific theories - some of which conflict with the narrative of creation as appears in the Sacred Scriptures - and others which, more or less agree. This piece concentrates upon and examines how the universe was created and evolved in the light of of the Qur'an.

The things in existence were created by a Supreme Being - one who is independant of time and space, (the something-from nothing theory or belief is untenable and unsustainable. The complexity and order of the universe, the harmony in which it operates as well as the laws underpinning it, all point to a Superior Intelligence and Force directing and governing it) Time, as discussed above, is the medium or means by which the universe, composed of myriad elements, emerges - from the invisible - eventually becoming known and seen. It evolves develops and is continuing to expand. Each thing is granted existence and life for a particular purpose, and is assigned a definite task -

Surah 2 Al-Baqarah, Verse 29
HE it is Who has created for you all that is on earth, and has applied HIS Design to the heavens and fashioned them into seven heavens; and HE Alone has full knowledge of everything.

Surah 41 Al-Fussilat, Verses 9-12
Say: "Would you indeed deny HIM Who has created the earth in two aeons? And do you claim that there is any power that could rival HIM, the Sustainer of all the worlds?
For HE (it is who, after creating the earth) placed firm mountains on it (towering) above its surface, and bestowed (so many) blessings on it, and equitably apportioned its means of subsistence to all who would seek it: (and all this HE created) in four aeons.
And HE (it is Who) applied HIS Design to the skies, which were (yet but) smoke; and HE (it is Who) said to them and to the earth, "Come (into being) both of you, willingly or unwillingly!" - to which both responded, "We do come in obedience."
And HE (it is WHo) Decreed that they become seven heavens in two aeons, and imparted to each heaven its function. And WE adorned the skies nearest to the earth with lights, and made them secure: such is the Ordaining of the Almighty, the All-Knowing.

Surah 7 Al-A'Raaf, Verse 54
Verily, your Sustainer is Allah, Who has created the heavens and the earth in six aeons, and is established on the throne of HIS Almightiness. HE covers the day with the night in swift pursuit, with the sun and the moon and the stars subservient to HIS Command: oh, verily, HIS is all creation and all command. Hallowed is Allah, the Sustainer of all the worlds!

Surah 10 Yunus, Verse 3
Verily, your Sustainer is Allah, Who has created the heavens and the earth in six aeons, and is established on the throne of HIS Almightiness, governing all that exists. There is none that could intercede with HIM unless HE grants leave therefore.

Surah 11 Hud, Verse 7
And HE it is Who has created the heavens and the earth in six aeons; (and ever since HE has Willed to create life) the throne of HIS Almightiness has rested upon water...

Surah 21 Al-Anbiya, Verse 30
Are, then, they who are bent on denying the truth not aware that the heavens and the earth were (once) one single entity, which WE then parted asunder? - and (that) WE made out of water every living thing? Will they not, then, (begin to) believe?

Surah 51 Adh-Dhaariyaat, Verses 47-49
And it is WE Who have built the universe with (Our creative) power; and verily, it is WE Who are steadily expanding it.
And the earth have WE spread out wide - and how well have WE ordered it!
And in everything have WE created opposites, so that you might bear in mind (that Allah Alone is One)

Surah 10 Yunus, Verse 5
HE it is Who has made the sun a (source of) radiant light and the moon a light (reflected), and has determined for it phases so that you might know how to compute the years and to measure (time). None of this has Allah created without (an inner) truth.
Clearly does HE spell out these messages to people of (innate) knowledge.

Surah 16 Al-Anbiya, Verse 16
And (know that) WE have not created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in mere idle play.

Surah 38 Saad, Verse 27
And (thus it is) WE have not created heaven and earth and all that is between them without meaning and purpose, as is the surmise of those who are bent on denying the truth: but then, wor from the fire (of hell) to all who are bent on denying the truth!

Part 2
Human beings are complex creatures, multi-layered and multi-dimensional - composed of facets which are physical, sensual, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. The material aspect of humankind is formed out of elements which are present in and upon the earth. However, the creation of humans is not comparable or equal to the creation of the universe:

Surah 40 Ghaafir, Verse 57
Greater indeed than the creation of man is the creation of the heavens and the earth: yet most men do not understand (what this implies)

Surah 79 An-Naazi'aat, Verses 27-33
(O men!) Are you more difficult to create than the heaven which HE built?
High has HE reared its vault and formed it in accordance with what it was meant to be;
and HE has made dark its night and brought forth its light of day.
And after that, the earth: wide has HE spread its expanse,
and has caused its waters to come out of it, and its pastures,
and has made the mountains firm:
(all this) as a means of livelihood for you and your animals.

The basic life-giving element is, of course, water. As well as 21:30 - quoted in Part 1 - references to humankind and creatures having been created out of water are also to be found in the following Verses:

Surah 24 An-Nur, Verse 45
And it is Allah Who has created all animals out of water; and (HE has Willed that) among them are such as crawl on their bellies, and such as walk on two legs, and such as walk on four.
Allah creates what HE wills: for, verily, Allah has the Power to Will anything.

Surah 25 Al-Furqan, Verse 54
And HE it is Who out of this water has created man, and has endowed him with (the consciousness of) descent and marriage-tie: for your Sustainer is ever Infinite in HIS Power.

In addition to water, the other essential components for the creation of humankind are dust and clay -

Surah 15 Al-Hijr, Verse 26
And, indeed, WE have created man out of sounding clay, out of dark slime transmuted.

Surah 55 Ar-Rahman, Verse 14
HE has created man out of sounding clay, like pottery.

Though water, dust and clay - "like pottery" - may provide the materials for a creature moulded and shaped into some kind of physical form, they are not sufficient, in and of themselves, to bring into existence and conscious life a living entity as complex as humans. Much more is required, and a specific time-frame alloted to the creation and evolution of a human being:

Surah 22 Al-Hajj, Verses 5
O men! If you are in doubt as to the (truth of) resurrection, (remember that) verily, WE have created (every one of) you out of dust, then out of a drop of sperm, then out of a germ-cell, then out of an embryonic lump complete (in itself) and yet incomplete, so that WE might make (your origin) clear to you.
And whatever WE Will (to be born) WE cause to rest in the (mother's) wombs for a term set (by US), and then WE bring you forth as infants and (allow you to live) so that (some of) you might attain to maturity: for among you are such as are caused to die (in childhood), just as many a one of you is reduced in old age to a most abject state, ceasing to know anything of what he once knew so well.
And, you can see the earth dry and lifeless - and when WE send down waters upon it, it stirs and swells and puts forth every kind of lovely plant.

Surah 30 Ar-Rum, Verse 20
And among HIS Wonders is this: HE creates you out of dust - and then, lo! you become human beings ranging far and wide!

Verse 54
It is Allah Who creates you (all in a state) of weakness, and then, after weakness, ordains strength (for you), and then, after (a period of) strength, ordains weakness and grey hair. HE creates what HE Wills; and HE Alone is All-Knowing, Infinite in HIS Power.

Surah 35 Al-Faatir, Verse 11
And (remember) Allah creates (every one of) you out of dust, then out of a drop of sperm; and then HE fashions you into either of the two sexes. And no female conceives or gives birth unless it be with HIS Knowledge; and none that is long-lived has his days lengthened - and neither is aught lessened of his days - unless it be thus laid down in (Allah's) Decree: for, behold, all this is easy for Allah.

Surah 71 Nuh, Verses 14-18
..seeing that HE has created you in successive stages?
Do you not see how Allah has created the seven heavens in full harmony with one another,
and has set up within them the moon as a light (reflected) and set up the sun as a (radiant) lamp?
And Allah has caused you to grow out of the earth in (gradual) growth; and thereafter HE Will return you to it (in death)
and (then) HE Will bring you forth (from it) in resurrection.

As well as the physical elements of which humankind is composed, there is that breath of life forthcoming from the Divine which enables it to exist, survive and live: this gift elevates human beings above all other created things, both animate and inanimate. It is this spiritual aspect which drives humans to seek a greater understanding of their true nature and origins.

Surah 15 Al-Hijr, Verse 29
and when I have formed him fully and breathed into HIM of MY Spirit, fall down before him in prostration!"

Surah 32 As-Sajdah, Verses 7-9
..who makes most excellent everything HE creates.
Thus, HE begins the creation of man out of clay;
then HE causes him to be begotten out of the essence of a humble fluid;
and then HE forms him in accordance with what he is meant to be, and breathes into him of HIS Spirit: and (thus, O men) HE endows you with hearing, and sight, and feelings as well as minds: (yet) how seldom are you grateful!

Surah 16 An-Nahl, Verse 78
And Allah has brought you forth from your mother's wombs knowing nothing - but HE has endowed you with hearing, and sight, and minds, so that you might have cause to be grateful.

As well as being endowed with the ability to see, hear, feel and think, humankind is also gifted with the capability of acquiring knowledge: of recording this knowledge - the foundation upon which civilizations are constructed - and thus, of preserving it for future generations.

Surah 96 Al-'Alaq, Verses 1-5
Read in the Name of your Sustainer, who has created -
created man out of a germ-cell!
Read - for your Sustainer is the Most Bountiful One
Who has Taught (man) the use of the pen -
Taught man what he did not know!

The evolution of humankind, from the lowly elements of dust and water, to a single cell, developing into an embryo, unknowing and unaware, utterly dependant upon its carrier for sustenance and survival, into an independant living entity - capable of growth, of attaining physical strength, with the capacity to engage in intellectual pursuits, and the desire to connect to its deeper spiritual layers, reveals a profound meaning as well as purpose to its creation.

Surah 4 An-Nisaa, Verse 1
O mankind! Be conscious of our Sustainer, Who has created you out of one living entity, and out of it created its mate, and out of the two spread abroad a multitude of men and women. And remain conscious of Allah, in Whose Name you demand (your rights) from one another, and of these ties of kinship. Verily, Allah is ever Watchful over you!

Surah 49 Al-Hujuraat, Verse 13
O men! Behold, WE have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the Sight of Allah is the one who is most deeply conscious of HIM. Behold, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.

Part 3
The expansion of space - referred to in Surah 51, Verse 47 (Part 1) - corresponds to the increase in knowledge which humankind has acquired over the course of time. This evolution of knowledge has led to sophisticated technologies, and has been the means by which great advancements have taken place in virtually all areas of human endeavour. Faster methods of travel and more complex ways of communication may - just - be regarded as benefits (others would, perhaps, disagree) Deadlier forms of armaments, which kill human beings in huge numbers and destroy large swathes of the natural world, manifests the negative application or employment of this knowledge. The evolution of the human race has not brought about any marked alteration in its overall condition: it remains the same. In all this, the believer glimpses signs from the Almighty - HE it is Who bestows upon humankind every kind of blessing, and unceasingly sends all kinds of messages:

Surah 41 Al-Fussilat, Verse 53
In time WE will show them Our Messages (through what they percieve) in the utmost horizons (of the universe) and within themselves, so that it will become clear to them that this (Revelation) is indeed the truth. (Still) is it not enough (for them to know) that your Sustainer is Witness to everything?

Since the Creator brings things into being with meaning and for a reason, they cannot then transform or evolve into anything other than what HE originally created them for. So, human beings are what they are because their Creator shaped, formed and fashioned them as such - both inwardly and outwardly. Though, if HE so Willed, HE could quite easily make them static - without ability to progress, only able to remain in one fixed place:

Surah 36 Yaa Seen, Verses 66-68
Now had it been Our Will (that men should not be able to discern between right and wrong), WE could surely have deprived them of their sight, so that they would stray forever from the (right) way: for how could they have had insight (into what is true)?
And had it been Our Will (that they should not be free to choose between right from wrong), WE could surely have given them a different nature (and created them as beings rooted) in their places, so that they would not be able to move forward, and could not turn back.
But (let them remember that) if WE lengthen a human being's days, WE also cause him to decline in his powers (when he grows old) will they not, then, use their reason?

All things are created for a particular purpose: thus, they are specifically designed to perform their assigned role in accordance with their nature - it is the latter which ultimately helps them to function with relative ease. However, each thing also has a definite time-limit or life-term. Nothing and no-one has the power or ability to outlive its pre-determined life-span. Whether this be a creature, a human being, a civilization or even an idea - everything is bound to meet its demise.

Part 4
For believers, the creation of the universe and all that it contains, the evolution of time, space and all things, are but an outcome of the Might and Grace, Knowledge and Wisdom, Favour and Mercy of The Creator. Had HE Willed, non-existence would have prevailed, and nothing about anything could ever have been known, witnessed, sensed, endured or experienced. Life, however brief it may be, affords humankind the opportunity to see the splendid, unlimited visions of perfection and beauty which the All Encompassing, All-Embracing, All-Enfolding Sustainer has created:

Surah 59 Al-Hashr, Verses 22-24
Allah is HE save Whom there is no deity: the One Who knows all that is beyond the reach of a created being's perception, as well as all that can be witnessed by a creature's senses or mind - 'Aalimu-L-Ghaybi Wa-Sh-Shahaadati: HE, The Most Merciful, The Most Gracious - Huwa-R-Rahmanu-R-Raheem.
Allah is HE save Whom there is no deity: the Soveriegn Supreme - Al-Malik - the Holy - Al-Quddus - the One with Whom all Salvation rests - As-Salaam - the Giver of Faith - Al-Mu'min - the One Who determines what is true and false - Al-Muhaymin - the Almighty - Al-'Aziz - the One Who subdues wrong and restores right - Al-Jabbaar - the One to Whom all Greatness belongs! - Al-Mutakabbir.
Utterly remote is Allah, in HIS Limitless Glory, from anything to which men may ascribe a share in HIS Divinity!
HE is Allah, the Creator - Al-Khaaliq - the Maker Who Shapes all forms and appearances! - Al-Baariu-L-Musawwir.
HIS (Alone) are the Attributes of Perfection - Al-Asmaau-L-Husnaa. All that is in the heavens and on the earth extols HIS Limitless Glory: for HE Alone is Almighty, truly Wise! - Al-'Azizu-L-Hakeem.

Part 5
The modern theories of evolution have their origins in early Muslim scientific thought. Thinkers and scientists such as Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Arabi held beliefs not entirely dissimilar to scientists working in the field today. The distinguishing characteristic between the former and the latter, however, was Religion. The Faith of Muslim scientists increased the more discoveries they made, finding in all their astonishing, ground-breaking research and studies, evidence of a Consciously Active Intelligent Creator.

As insufficient evidence presently exists, to conclusively prove - beyond any shadow of a doubt - the absolute truth and veracity of the theory of evolution (as envisaged, promoted and propogated by its adherents), the very most as well as the very best believers can do, is to keep an open mind.

Allahu 'Alam

Translations from:
"The Message Of The Qur'an" by Muhammad Asad.

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