Is there truth to Evolutionary Theory?

The question of evolution in relation to Islam is one that is engaged with on a spectrum of theories and debates. As it stands, there is no single understanding of the relations between Islam and Evolutionary theories. It is helpful to begin by understanding the different concepts around the theory of Evolution.  

First, it is crucial to understand the term evolution. Islamic scholar Ayatullah Murtadha Mutahhiri (n.d.,-a), in his book “Evolution of Man,” delineates between two types of evolutionary concepts.  

Currently, there are four main theories of evolution:

Islam’s Views

In Islam, there is no belief in blind and forcible courses of events that occur (Scott, p. 62-63). In Ayatullah Murtadha Mutahhiri’s book “Evolution of Man,” he delineates between evolution and progress.  

As aforementioned, there is no consensus on the understandings of evolution within Islam, or Islamic countries. Some students of evolution believe that humans and other living things have evolved over time. Others say they have always existed in their present forms.  

It is evident through the Quran that there have been different evolutionary processes. First, there was the creation of the Universe, then came the creation of life, and finally, the creation of Man. The Quran itself points out that there are systemic changes of life, and God has willed there to be stages by which the Universe was created.

According to professor Christine Huda Dodge, the first chronological mention of creation in the Quran is in Surah Anbiya, verse 30 where God says that the universe was “joined together as one unit, before we clove them asunder.”

After this, Allah demanded the planets and stars to form and reshape themselves according to the destinies that were set up for each body:

“He who created… the sun and the moon; all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course”

Faheem Ashraf of the Islamic Research Foundation Int. Inc. and Sheikh Omar Suleiman of the Yaqeen Institute for the Islamic Research argue that the scientific theory of an expanding universe is described in Surah Dhariyat:

“And the heaven, we constructed with strength, and indeed, We are [its] expander.”

Surah A’araf states the “heavens and the earth” was created in the equivalent of 6 yawm. Some people interpret yawm to mean days; others as eon, or unit of time much longer than a day.  In Surah Ma’arij, yawm is equal to 50,000 years, and in Surah Hajj, it is equal to 1000 years (Bayyinah Institute, Web)

From the Islamic point of view the world is a collection of multifarious but interconnected realities which have and continue to come into existence through the will of Allah. The world is constantly changing and moving in the gradual direction of perfection, for which it is suited. The Qur’an says:

“We did not create the heavens, the earth and all that lies between them in sport. We created them with a purpose; though most of the people do not know that”. (They are not aware of the importance of the world, its rationale and its system).

(Surah al-Dukhan, 39-40) (Behishti, page 38)

Balance and order are the inevitable laws governing nature. The natural phenomena are not free to choose what kind of mutual relationship they should have or whether they should or should not maintain a balance. Even the reaction produced by some sort of disturbance in nature is meant to restore equilibrium and to remove the hurdles in the way of evolution. This reaction also follows an inevitable course already prescribed. In fact, even any disturbance in the natural order has its own special methodand procedure when order in a wider sense is disturbed; nature itself produces some correctives from within or without. (Behishti, 1993, p. 64-65)  

However, Man’s agency is also at play here. Free will has enabled him to make decisionsfor evolutionary benefit or as a danger to himself, the societies he lives in, and the world. Take for example, all of man’s decisions, and willful ignorance on the subject and actions surrounding climate change. Man knew of his mistakes in the past, and continued along that path; likewise, man knows the actions to take to stagnate climate change yet continues to ignore or delay the course to improve the situation. The Sun will expand, which will signal the end of times according to the evolutionary path that God has set upon humankind in this world.  

To conclude, faith provides the belief that nothing in this world occurs by mistake; rather there is a Divine Plan, and along with that Divine Wisdom, as the world unfolds. Therefore, in the discussion around evolution, we can note that God has laid out the detailed way in which He has created all aspects of the universe and the life within it, but also take note of empirical evidence of microevolutions that have occurred through timeperhaps resulting in macroevolutionsall of which occur on God’s timeline.  

Note that this discussion is simplistic and does not take an interdisciplinary approach. Furthermore,while it does not delve directly and holistically into the discussion between revealed and empirical evidence, it does offer tools of thoughts, which center the Quranic text. Finally, let us consider that Allah (SWT) has allowed for the 12th Imam to remain in Ghaybat-al-KubraHe can stop the processes of time according to His Divine Plan and can accelerate it in due course. It is the hope of the writer that the discussion offers support in beginning the journey, conversations, and engagements in understanding the theories of evolution.  


Al-A’araf. (n.d.) In Qur’an (p. 107).  

Al-Anbiya. (n.d.) In Qur’an (p. 324).  

Al-Dhariyat. (n.d.) In Qur’an (p. 522).  

Al-Dukhan. (n.d.) In Qur’an (pp. 397-398).  

Ashraf, F. (n.d.). Islamic concept of creation of universe, big bang and science-religion interation. Islamic Research Foundation International Inc. Retrieved from concept of creation of universehtml.htm

Behishti, M. H., & Bahonar, M. J. (1993). Philosophy of Islam. Islamic Seminary Publications.

Emergent evolution. (2018, August 18). Retrieved from

Lev Berg. (2018, June 17). Retrieved from

Matzke, N., & Gross, P. (2007). Analyzing Critical Analysis: The Fallback Antievolutionist Strategy. In Not in our classroom: Why intelligent design is wrong for our schools (pp. 28–56). Boston, MA: Beacon.

Muṭahharī, M. (n.d.-a). Evolution of man. Qom: Bethat Islamic Research Centre (BIRC).

Muṭahharī, M. (n.d.). The Quran and the Nature of Life. Maqalat-e Falsafi (Philosophical Essays), 8, 1–12.

Orthogenesis. (2018, August 24). Retrieved from

Scott, Eugenie Carol. Evolution vs. Creationism: an Introduction. International Society for Science and Religion, 2007.

Suleiman, O. (2015, March 31). Retrieved from

What is microevolution? (n.d.). Retrieved from

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