The Holy Quran makes several observations with regards to evolution of life and the preparatory stages preceding it. The fundamentals are a total absence of contradiction in the entire universe created by God and a stage-by-stage development of all that has been created. (67:2-4). The Qur’an describes that Allah
“made from water every living thing” (21:31)
.. Allah creates what He wills, for truly Allah has power over all things” (24:46).
Human beings are a special act of creation. Humans are the best of the creations (95:5), created with unique gifts and abilities, a soul and conscience, knowledge, and free will. Man did not randomly evolve. from apes. The purpose of creation of man is described by Allah, that they may worship Me (51:57) . The goal being the creation of The Perfect man , The Prophet (peace be upon him). (53:10) (72:20)
The Qur’an says that
“the heavens and the earth were a solid mass, then We split them asunder (21:31).
Following this big explosion, Allah turned to the heaven, which was all mist, and said to it and to the earth: Submit ye to My command, willingly or unwillingly. They said: we have submitted willingly (41:12). Thus, the elements and what was to become the planets and stars began to cool, come together, and form into shape, following the natural laws that Allah established in the universe
The Qur’an describes how Allah created man, And, surely, We created man from dry ringing clay, from black mud wrought into shape (15:27). And, Who has made perfect everything He has created, He began the creation of man from clay, and made his progeny from an extract of insignificant of fluid (32:8-9).
The life of human beings began with the creation of a male and a female. Allah says He it is Who has created you from a single soul and made therefrom its mate, that he might incline towards her and find comfort in her (4:2 7:190) This is elaborated in the Quran as: 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 (53:46-48). We now know that if sperm with a “y” chromosome fertilizes ovum, it is a male child and if sperm bearing “X” chromosome fertilizes ovum it is a female child.
We know that evolution operates at the chromosomal level and different species evolve according to the specific DNA and its sequencing in their chromosomes. Humankind evolutionary blueprint is written into our genome under divine intent and design. God created man as a unit of physical and spiritual dimensions. The spirit exists unendingly beyond the lifespan of the physical body. Human evolution progresses from matter to mind (لَبَّ lubb) in stages of increasing God consciousness with the physical form complementing the spirit to evolve progressively with the potential for self-effacement and complete servitude to God (6:163). Although all creation pays subservience to Allah (24:42), God consciousness and awareness is specific to man and a requirement for man to evolve spiritually (39:22) (40:55). There is an innate nature in man that seeks God.
A feature of divine design is polarity. It creates balance. It invokes gratitude and leads man to seek God. Polarity causes movement and striving and promotes greater awareness. We have male and female, right and left (chirality), good and evil, , reward and punishment and life and death. The Chinese call it Ying Yang. Remove one, and the other will disappear. Because of polarity we have water. Without water there would be no life. In physical evolution pain and suffering , anomalies, defects, mutations, and disease all play a role in effecting growth and progress and alleviate pain and suffering. It is beyond the reach of human compassion to efface suffering without effacing life
The beginning of the first chapter of The Holy Quran points to the law of evolution in the world consistent with four cardinal attributes of God. The attribute of Rabb which is translated as The Provident indicates that God the Creator provides for all the subsequent stages of development of His creation. Further, Rabbul-‘Alamin implies that God develops everything from a lower to a higher stage and this is possible only if after every stage there is another stage in a never-ending process as promised by Allah, That you shall assuredly ascend from stage to stage (84:20)
In the spiritual evolution, the greatest spiritual and moral aids are the prophets sent by God. The Quran elaborates this by saying that The Prophet (sa) was sent by The Lord of the worlds (1:2) as a mercy for all people (21:108) , as an excellent exemplar (33:22) with high moral excellences) (68:5) who brought us the Ultimate Guidance (5:4) as a healing and mercy for the believers (17:83) . Man cannot find all the truth using rationality and knowledge. Divine guidance is necessary to enlighten the human mind, providing it with answers to unresolved questions during stages of our evolution.
In the physical development and evolution of man, after the fertilization of the ovum by the sperm, the zygote that forms evolves in stages, taking human form after forty days and develops as Quran says , Then We fashioned the sperm into a clot; then We fashioned the clot into a shapeless lump; then We fashioned bones out of this shapeless lump; then We clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed it into another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators (23:13-15) … then He perfected his faculties and breathed into him of His spirit (32:9-10).
The Holy Quran tells us that the earth was created in 6 stages. Man was created at the end of the sixth stage. He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six periods, then He settled Himself on the Throne (57:5 ). After completing the Creation, the Qur’an describes that Allah “settled Himself upon the Throne” (57:5) to oversee His work. A distinct point is made to counter the Biblical idea of a day of rest: “We created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six days, nor did any sense of weariness touch Us” (50:39). Allah is never “done” with His work because the process of creation is ongoing. Each new child who is born, every seed that sprouts into a sapling, every new species that appears on earth, is part of the ongoing process of Allah’s creation
Allah describes six stages of physical development of man (23:13-15) and six stages of spiritual progress of man (23:2-12) . Man was created from an extract of clay (23:13) and was not derived from apes or animals similar to apes. The apes existed, as did all the other animal kind millions of years before man was created… Man appeared at the pinnacle of evolution So when I have fashioned him in perfection and have breathed into him of My Spirit, fall ye down in submission to him. (15:30 38:73)
After highlighting the stages of creation of heaven and earth and man, Allah says : We sent down water from the sky according to measure, and We caused it to stay in the earth — surely We have power to take it away (23:19)… And in the earth are Signs for those who have certainty of faith, And also in your own selves. Will you not then, see? (51:21-22). Implicit in this metaphor is that Allah provides for the physical and spiritual needs of man. All life, it says, depends on water which descends from heaven, in the form of rain, snow or hail. Similarly, spiritual water descends from heaven in the form of Divine revelation without which no spiritual life can exist.
The gift of free will, in man, makes man different and superior to all other creations, with ability to change his destiny and become uniquely virtuous, as Allah says And He revealed to it what is wrong for it and what is right for it. He, indeed, prospers who purifies it. And he is ruined who corrupts it (91:9-11).
The Islamic interpretation about the creation of man and woman differs from prior scriptures. We understand prior scriptures to believe that mankind began with two people and that Eve was born out of Adam’s rib. These statements are metaphors meaning that woman was created to live close to man. She is an integral part of his life. As Allah says, So virtuous women are obedient and safeguard, with Allah’s help, matters the knowledge of which is shared by them with their husbands. (4:35). Man should always be mindful that just as the rib’s curvature is not a weakness while other bones are straight; just the same, women differ from men in specific tendencies for good reasons. Therefore, when engaging with women, men should exercise kindness and forbearance, keeping in mind her natural differences are for good reason. In another tradition, the Holy Prophet (sa) has used the same words for women and has likened them to a curved rib; and this curve is the beauty of the female sex. So, man should keep in mind this structural beauty and should not try to straighten it lest it should break and lose its beauty. The ribcage protects the heart and lungs, and similarly, women safeguard the family unit. (Our God). While many may see this as a weakness, to have peace at the macro level, we must have peace at the most micro level – which is the family unit. Women safeguard the family unit and society by a proper upbringing of children.
With the advent of Adam (as) began the evolution that would culminate in the birth of The Perfect Man, The Prophet (sa). Prior to Adam (as) man lived in a state of innocence, unaware of the existence of evil and, therefore, of necessity of making a choice between the many possibilities of action and behavior. He lived, like all other animals, in the light of his instincts alone. This innocence was only a condition of his existence and not a virtue, it gave to his life a static quality and thus precluded him from moral and intellectual development. This changed with the advent of Adam (as). Man was transformed from a purely instinctive being into a full-fledged human entity capable of discerning between right and wrong and thus of choosing his way of life. (91:9)
The growth of man’s consciousness-was symbolized by the willful or unwilful act of disobedience to God’s command, as is evidenced by the story of Iblis. The primary trait causing man to stumble, is his ego and arrogance. The Promised Messiah (as) (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani) cites the example of Adam(as) on how he sought Allah’s help and forgiveness by praying Our Lord (Rabbana), we have wronged ourselves; and if Thou forgive us not and have not mercy on us, we shall surely be of the lost (7:24). The Promised Messiah (as) further says that in the Holy Quran whenever the word Rabbana is used implicit in its meaning is repentance. (Taubah) (Malfuzat Vol 4 page 285 2016 Edition) This also indicates that only God is infallible. All human beings are fallible. That man can only redeem himself by turning to God and seeking His forgiveness.
How long will mankind last? The Promised Messiah (as) said that human civilization and dispensation have a cyclic life. The progeny of Adam (as) also has a life cycle of seven thousand years. Only God knows how many Adams have passed away and how many are yet to come. (Lecture Lahore). The Promised Messiah (as) also said that “Adam (as) was born in the last hours of Friday… it was on account of this resemblance that God decreed for The Promised Messiah (as) to be born at the end of the sixth millennium, which can be likened to the end of a day. As there is a resemblance between the first and the last, God created the Promised Messiah in the likeness of Adam. Adam was born a twin on a Friday and I-The Promised Messiah -was born a twin on Friday. My birth was preceded by my twin sister.
How do we fulfill the objective of our creation? Man is born with a pure and unsullied nature, with a natural tendency to do good, but he has also been given a large measure of freedom of will and action to mold himself as he chooses. He has been endowed with great natural powers and qualities to make unlimited moral progress and to rise spiritually to become the mirror in which Divine attributes are reflected. They are the ones who turn to God in repentance, who worship Him, who praise Him, who go about in the land serving Him, who bow down to God, who prostrate themselves in prayer, who enjoin good and forbid evil, and who watch the limits set by Allah. And give glad tidings to those who believe. (9:112 )
It will end. The law of entropy dictates that physical and spiritual decline is inevitable. Because man has been endowed with free will, he can modify entropy based on the choices he makes. As Allah says that which benefits men, it stays in the earth (13:18). Meaning that a person who does good for mankind may have his life prolonged. Man is also prone to devolution. Prior to the advent of a prophet historically we note that there is general descent into idolatry and the neglect of the worship of God, manifested in all manner of vices, corruption, and evil to such a level that man, the most sublime of God’s creations, becomes worse than despicable (95:5-7). This has happened across the ages and to all peoples.The Holy Quran mentions this in the matter of the Israelites and as a warning to mankind , Allah says : And when they insolently rebelled against that which they had been forbidden, We said to them, Be ye as apes, despised.( 7:167 ; 2:66) and on whom His wrath has fallen and of whom He has made some as apes and swine who worship the Evil One (5:61). Man tends to regress and revert to animal like behavior, and he rebels. To curb this Allah, out of His infinite Mercy, has sent prophets and reformers to rekindle the righteous spirit in man.
The final rekindling and revival has begun. It was decreed that from the Community (Ummah) of The Holy Prophet (sa) the last Adam would be born, as is documented It will be from progeny of Adam, Seth, that the last true Adam will be born. There will be born with him a sister who will be born before him so his head will be at her feet… Spiritual Sterility will then set in. Although many will be born. No true man will be born. He will call them to God without success. When God has taken him and those of his time who have believed, the others will remain living as beasts with no sense of right and wrong, not knowing halal or haram given over to their natural instincts, devoid of reason and law. Upon them the last hour will occur.”
When the last hour occurs All that is on the earth will perish, and there will remain only the Person of thy Lord, Master of Glory and Honor (55:27-28)
This article is based primarily on the reading of the book Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IV Published 1998 by Islam International Publications, Tilford, Surrey, United Kingdom
Deficits and Shortcomings are mine
Numbers in brackets indicate Holy Quran references Chapter:Verse