Living as we do in a world thriving with life, from microscopic organisms to gigantic whales, It is no surprise that people have been trying to figure out the source of life since ancient times. These days, many people feel that Darwin’s theory of evolution is the answer to this question, since it connects all species to a singular origin and claims that this origin is the source of life. Because it is a scientific theory, many advocate that it is solid and dependable, and, as such, any statements that refer to evolution should be taken as fact. However, such statements vary in terms of what they require people to accept, and some of these assumptions might be incompatible with religious doctrines. This particular incompatibility is sometimes interpreted as tension between science and religion.

In terms of the relationship between Islam and science in general, it is noteworthy that there has never been any significant conflict between scientific and religious authorities at any point in Islamic history. Scientists in the Islamic world, such as Al-Khwarazmi, Al-Jazari or Ibn Sina, never had to fight against the doctrinal or jurisprudential scholars of religion with administrative power; nor did these scholars try to control what scholars of science discovered and shared. In fact, scientists such as Ibn Rushd or Ali Qushji were renowned for their religious knowledge studies as well.

When it comes to discussing the Islamic stance towards evolutionary theory, it helps to zoom out and broaden the subject matter to the Islamic stance towards any scientific theory. This may come as a surprise, but it is the same as the secular stance towards all scientific theories. In line with what the principles of science say, Islam values theories with regards to explaining observations in an accurate and useful way. However, Islam also takes into consideration any defects that prevent a scientific theory from being considered factual, and Darwin’s theory of evolution suffers from such defects.

To be considered factual, the theory of evolution requires observation that all species come from the same origin. These observations are just as likely to negate the theory as they are to verify it. Moreover, the theory presents various scenarios based on assumptions that cannot be tested when it comes to explaining how life on this planet diversified out of one entity. Finally, the Darwinian theory of evolution is subject to objections or alternative theories raised by other academic approaches in the field of biology.

In the light of these points, we once again assert that the Darwinian theory of evolution features several shortcomings that confine it to remaining a theory. Now, let’s consider the epistemic status of a scientific theory. The philosophy of science informs us that rejecting a theory is just as reasonable as it is to accept it, as new developments can change the accuracy level of that particular theory. That means that the epistemic status of theories accommodate the possibility of rejecting a theory, or at least hesitating to accept it, without having our sanity questioned. Another feature to note here is that since theory is not fact, we are not obliged to replace any beliefs that may contradict Darwinian evolutionary theory with statements based on the theory, such as the claim that human beings evolved from the ancestors of apes, or that this evolution happened through random mutations.

As a result, because Islamic stance towards any theory is the same as the secular—or, let’s say, universally logical—stance, as we previously explained, there is nothing wrong with distancing oneself from Darwinian evolutionary theory from an Islamic perspective. This perspective specifically requires accepting that human beings were created by Allah, wilfully and purposefully, as the most distinctive creatures in the universe.