Question 15: Is it not possible for man to have been created from a small living being and to become a human being after developing gradually? Is there a verse of the Quran or a hadith contrary to this view?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Answer: Before answering this question, it is necessary to look over how the verses of the Quran mention the creation of man.

There may be some differences in the interpretations of some verses of the Quran. The most important reason for it is the fact that some similes and metaphors are included in some verses. The similes in the verses are interpreted literally by some people and metaphorically by others; thus, some differences of interpretations arise. Therefore, the approaches of those who adopt those different interpretations become different. 

After this short introduction, let us ask the question as follows:

-Are any verses stating that man came from other living beings, reminding this idea or that can lead man to such interpretations?

The creation of the first man is indicated in the verses related to the creation of man; there is no statement implying that he came into being as a result of the change of other beings. On the contrary, it is stated and explained that the first man was created out of dust, that his wife was created from him and that the human species came into being from them.

The Quran mentions various stages of the creation of man. It is possible to divide it into three in general. The first one is the creation of Hz. Adam, the first man, the second is the creation of his wife, Hz. Hawwa, and the third one is the creation of the other people. Attention is attracted to those different types of creation sometimes in different verses and sometimes in the same verse.

It is stated in the chapter of al-Hijr that Hz. Adam was created from clay as follows:

We created man from sounding clay, from mud molded into shape....1

We understand from the chapter of az-Zumar that Hz. Hawwawas created from Hz. Adam. The meaning of the verse is as follows:

He created you (all) from a single person: then created, of like nature, his mate….2

The creation of Hz. Adam, the creation of Hz. Hawwa from him and the creation of other people from them are indicated in the chapter of an-Nisa:

O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women.3

It is not clearly expressed how Hz. Hawwa was created from Hz. Adam in those verses. However, a hadith regarding the issue clarifies it:

O believers! Advise good things to one another about women. For, a woman is created from a rib, and the most curved portion of the rib is its upper portion. And if you attempt to straighten her, you will break her. And if you leave her alone, crookedness will remain in her. Therefore, advise good things to one another about women.4

It is indicated in the chapter of al-Mu’minunthat Hz. Adam was created from clay and the creation of his offspring in the mother’s womb as follows:

Man We did create from a quintessence (of clay); Then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest, firmly fixed; Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (fetus) lump; then we made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then we developed out of it another creature....5

As it is seen, the stages man undergoes beginning from the first creation are mentioned phase by phase. Besides, everybody experiences those phases in the mother’s womb. Therefore, it is not possible to interpret those stages as man’s being created in the form of other beings and undergoing different stages.

It is stated in the chapter of at-Tin that man was created in the best way:

We have indeed created man in the best of molds.6

It is indicated in the chapter of Fatir that the first man was created from dust and that his offspring was created from a sperm-drop:
And Allah did create you from dust; then from a sperm-drop; then He made you in pairs….7

If man had undergone phases of other living beings in creation, Iblis would have mentioned them

We see in the reason why Iblis did not prostrate before Hz. Adam that human species was created directly from dust and that he did not undergo intermediate phases representing other beings. The following is stated in the verse:

(Iblis) said: ‘I am not one to prostrate myself to man, whom Thou didst create from sounding clay, from mud molded into shape’.8

If man hadhad undergone phases of other living beings,Iblis would have mentioned them because he tried to prove his superiority over man in terms of creation. If man had undergone the phases of being a fish, frog, mouse and ape as some philosophers claim, Iblis would definitely have mentioned them because he was listing the evidences of his superiority over man, his greatest opponent. 

The discussions about the past of man belong to the period before Hz. Adam. Written history sheds light on the period after Hz. Adam up to 4000 BC. There is no difference in the structure of man in general in that period. 

The creation of man from dust is likened to the creation of plants from the earth in the Quran as follows:

And Allah has produced you from the earth growing (gradually).9

It is possible to deduce the following meanings from the verse:

a) The creation of Hz. Adam, the ancestor of man, from dust is indicated.

b) Since most of the elements in the body of man, who is in a process of development and growth any moment, are taken from the ground through food directly or indirectly, the development and growth of man is likened to the plants’ growing from the earth.10

The verses we have mentioned so far are not the only verses related to the creation of man in the Quran. However, the other verses are similar to the ones above in terms of meaning. It is stated in a verse that is different that a group of people who did not obey the command of Allah were transformed into apes:

And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: ‘Be ye apes, despised and rejected.’.11

God Almighty prohibited working on Saturday for Sons of Israel. When they disobeyed the prohibition, this incident took place in the town called Eyle. There are two views about this transformation. One of them is that they were transformed into apes in terms of ethics. The other is that they were literally transformed into apes. Besides, those people did not live long after that incident; they died three days later. That is, the incident took place in a town (Eyle); the people who were transformed into apes died three days later.12

In conclusion, there is no statement in the Quran showing or meaning that man was created from lower beings. On the contrary, it is stated that man was created in the best mold, that Hz. Adam was created from dust, that his wife Hz. Hawwa was created from Hz. Adam and that their offspring came into being after developing in the mother’s womb.

There are some evaluations of today’s science and philosophy put forward about the past of man. Those philosophical evaluations and views are presented as if they are scientific facts and it is claimed that the Quran conflicts with science.   The views put forward about the ancestor of man is not scientific knowledge, but philosophical views, evaluations, theories and hypotheses. Nobody has the opportunity to try and show the creation of the first man and the emergence of his wife in the laboratory. Therefore, all ideas and views put forward about the past of man can be nothing but theories and hypotheses.

As the rule the one who does knows and the one who knows speaks indicates, the real and only authority about the past of man is God Almighty and His book, the Quran. It states that the first man, Hz. Adam, developed from dust, his wife from him and their offspring developed in the mother’s womb.

In conclusion, it does not comply with the Quran to accept that man emerged by changing from lower beings. A Muslim must not have such a thought.

May God Almighty enable us to think healthily and to understand the truth and reality! May He not make us drown in the quagmire of denial! Amin!

1.al-Hijr, verse 26.
2.az-Zumar, verse 6.
3.an-Nisa, verse 1.
4.Bukhari, Nikah 80; Ibn Majah, Taharah 77.
5.al-Mu’minun, verse 12–14.
6.at-Tin, verse 4.
7.Fatir, verse 11.
8.al-Hijr, verse 33.
9.Nuh, verse 17.
10.Ibn Ashur, Muhammad at-Tahir, at-Tahrir wat-Tanwir. Tunis, 1984.
11.al-Baqara, 65.
12.Çantay, B. H. MeâlîKerim. Vol. 1. p. 25.

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