'Evolution Theory/Creation' in Muslim Thought

Ibn Khaldun, writes about "Evolution" 500 hundred years before Charles Darwin. Read online www.muslimphilosophy.com/ik/Muqaddimah

Whatever, stance one’s take on 'Evolution Theory' – it is not a theological doctrine for Muslims nor does it in any way undermine the existence of God.

The purpose of this article is not to endorse theory of Evolution, but to point out that there may be support  for such a [nuanced] theory (it can be called: 'evolution creation'), which God may have implimented from the Quran's perspective.


What is Islam's view on evolution?  How do we explain the fossil bones of our ancestors?  Does that mean that the prophet Adam also looked like them?

Question from Canada


In your question, if 'evolution' implies that man is actually an evolved form of a certain other creature, then Islam does not affirm such a standpoint. According to the Qur'an, Adam (peace be upon him) - the first man - was a direct creation of God, as a man. The Qur'an does not support that Adam evolved from another species.

However, it may be of some interest to note that in Al-Sajadah 32: 7 - 9, the Qur'an has referred to three different stages involved in the creation of man in such words that a slightly varied version of 'evolution' may be derived from it. The Qur'an says:

He, Who perfected everything that He created - He started the creation of man from clay then he inculcated in him [i.e. man] the potential to reproduce through a drop of humble fluid then He embellished and fashioned him in due proportion; and breathed into him of His spirit and [thereby] developed in you [the abilities of] listening, vision and feeling.

The above verses clearly tell us that in the beginning man was created from clay. The words 'creation from clay', obviously, do not necessitate that God created an effigy of man from clay and then gave life to it. It may, as we know, imply that in the beginning man came into existence out of the earth [the mud or the clay etc. of the earth]. In other words, God inculcated in earth - mixed with water - the potential to produce life. Over centuries or even millennia, the life-bearing potential of the earth materialized and a species quite similar to, yet somewhat different from man was born[1]. This was the first stage in the creation of man, as is evidenced by the words: "He started the creation of man from clay".

In the second stage, the potential of reproducing life - of bearing offspring - through sexual contact between the male and the female genders was inculcated in this species. This stage is mentioned in the words: "then he inculcated in him the potential to reproduce through a drop of humble fluid".

In the third stage, the species was physically fashioned into proportion and with that God also breathed into it of His spirit, which developed in it the abilities of listening, vision and feeling[2]. The words: "then He embellished and fashioned him in due proportion; and breathed into him of His spirit and [thereby] developed in you [the abilities of] listening, vision and feeling", point to this final stage in the development of the human species.

It may be interpreted from the above explanation that it was only the first pair of near-humans - i.e. Adam and Eve - who went through the three stages explained above. That is Adam's (and Eve's) creation was initiated from clay - that is they were produced through the life-generation potential inculcated in the earth. Later on, the potential of reproduction through sexual contact was inculcated in Adam (and Eve). In the third stage, Adam (as well as Eve) was physically fashioned into due proportion and God breathed into them of His spirit and thereby developed the higher sapiential abilities in them.


However, contrary to the above interpretation, another theory that may be developed on the basis of the information given in the referred verses may be as follows[3]:

1.Man's creation, in the first stage, was initiated by the production of a like species from the earth. In this stage, a number of near-human pairs - male and female - were produced directly from the earth.

2.In the second stage, the near-human pairs were inculcated with the ability of reproducing life through sexual interaction between the male and the female gender of the species.

3.In the third stage, one of the directly produced pairs (as in the first stage)[4] - i.e. Adam and Eve - were physically fashioned into due proportion and were inculcated with the advanced human abilities. It was at this stage that Adam and Eve became complete humans.

4.Over subsequent centuries, the other directly produced pairs (in the first stage) and their offspring became extinct. The only pair that survived, through its offspring was that of Adam and Eve.

5.The whole human race that populates the planet is the offspring of the one directly produced pair, which was physically fashioned into due proportion and inculcated with the advanced human faculties. 

In view of the information provided by the Qur'an and the human knowledge that has developed over time, one may ascribe to any explanation that seems correct to him. However, if the latter theory is accepted to be correct, it also helps explain the existence of the slightly different fossil bones. It seems that these bones are of the near-humans that, in contrast to Adam and Eve and their subsequent generations, were not physically fashioned into proportion or inculcated with the advanced human faculties and which became extinct over time.

It should be stressed here that the above is a development of a somewhat detailed scenario, on the basis of some vague indications of the Qur'an and the general knowledge that has become available to man. The scenario may or may not be completely accurate.


[1] The last part of the referred verses clearly informs us that it was at a later stage that the species was physically fashioned into proportion and inculcated with advanced human abilities.

[2] It may be noted that it was not merely the faculties of 'hearing' and 'sight', which, like other living things, the species seems to have possessed before this stage as well. On the contrary, at this stage the abilities inculcated in man were that of 'listening', 'vision' and 'feelings', which is a stage ahead of mere 'hearing' and 'sight' and is probably possessed, at such an advanced level, only by man.

[3] The theory is primarily developed by my teacher Javed Ahmed Ghamidi.

[4] As the Qur'an at another place (Aal Imraan 3: 59) tells us that Adam was directly produced from clay (earth) and was not born to a father and a mother.

Answer published by Moiz Amjad


There are other nuanced explanations that differ with the above. The purpose of this article is to point out that Evolution theory is not contrary to Islamic or Muslim thought as far as the Quran is concerned. This is why centuries earlier before Darwin there has been discourse on "Evolution" amongst Muslim scholars.


And Allah Knows best


For Younger Readers

God teaches in the Quran, the holy book of Muslims that:

  • To study nature

  • God is the Creator (or Maker) of all things including the laws of nature (incuding Evolution)

  • Evolution Theory does not disprove God rather it shows how awesome nature is – Then what about its Maker (God)?

  • It is possible that there were 'near man' like creatures existing before and/or around the first Man (Adam and his mate or wife)
  • Adam (peace be upon him) was not evolved from another creature but may have been created by an 'evolutionary process'
  • The Quran is not meant to be a science text book - rather it is a book for spiritual ('religious') guidance





It is quite useful for the purposes of this article to understand the differences between the two terms which are usually understood to be synonymous...

Islam and Evolution: Is there is a controversy?