Will you give information about evolution terminology?

The Answer

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Every branch of science has its own terms and expressions; similarly, evolution has its own terminology. Evolution, evolvement, takamul (perfection), istihala (differentiation), tatawwur (moving from one state to another), tahawwul(changing from one state to another), tabdil (changing the shape of something), tabaddul (exchange), taghyir (transformation), taghayyur (metamorphosis), taraqqi (improvement), sudur (occurrence), zuhur (appearing), tajdid (renewal), ontogeny and phylogeny are some of the terms used instead of evolution. Although those words are close to one another in meaning, they express separate concepts. However, instead of the words above and similar words that we have not included here, the word “evolution” is used. Therefore, the expression of different meanings with the same term causes misunderstandings among those who work in this field and causes a confusion about the issue. In this respect, it is necessary to know how similar or different concepts were expressed in the past, that is, the terminology of evolution.

10.1.1- Evolution

People try to express a change, metamorphosis or differentiation with the word evolution. In other words, evolution refers to gradual development and change. Although that is the lexical meaning of the word, it is used,in biology, to explain the emergence of another species from one species or another being from one being gradually in the course of time and by chance. Since there is no limit or restriction in this use, everything is meant to be expressed with the word “evolution” from the slightest difference to any change and metamorphosis and a new structure. The term evolution is preferred even in the sense of “progress or improvement in science”. In fact, it is necessary to limit the use of evolution in the field of biology. The meaning that is usually attributed to this word nowadays seems to be in the sense of evolvement.

10.1. 2- Evolvement (Evolution)

The term “evolvement (evolution)” refers to the occurrence of animals and plants of higher and more complex structures from the primitive ancestors that had previously existed during geological times by change and differentiation. Note that evolvement (evolution) is based on two basic assumptions. The first one is that a being come from its previous ancestor, the next being in the lineage, in the form of a chain in the pedigree beginning from single-celled beings to the higher structures. The second one is that the emergence of a being and its change in the course of time depends entirely on chance/coincidences.

10.1. 3- Takamul (Perfection)

We see that the word takamul were used with two completely different meanings in the past. One refers to any being reaching a certain maturity over time and becoming perfect. The other is its use in the sense evolution that is, instead of the theory of evolution, which states that one species came into being from another by chance. We see that the term the Theory of Perfection (Takamul) was used instead of the Theory of Evolution in the past. However, the use of takamul in place of the theory of evolution is not very common. It is mostly used in the first sense, that is, in the sense of“perfection (maturation) of a being in its own structure without changing its nature, in other words, without losing its characteristic”. In this respect, the meaning expressed by takamul is closer to ontogeny. The use of takamul in the sense of ontogeny, that is, the phases a living being undergoes from the state of embryo to its maturation, is seen in the realm of both non-living and living beings. For example, it is stated that the first form of the earth was not like this, that it was initially together with the sun, that it moved away from the sun and settled in its current place, and that it cooled and formed a crust; those changes in the direction of perfection were expressed with the word takamul; it is pointed out that the earth evolved beginning from the time it was first created to its current structure in which human beings and other living beings can live. However, it is pointed out that, this gradual change continues any moment. It is emphasized that this gradual change, i.e., gradual perfection, takes place in the realm of living beings too. For example, the transformation of an apple seed into a tree, or the development of an embryo to form a perfect creature, has always been expressed with the word “takamul”. We can summarize it as follows:

All of those were expressed with the term “takamul” in the past. As it can be seen from the explanations above, all living and non-living beings in the universe are subject to a gradual law of change within themselves, in a sense, until they become mature beginning from the embryo phase. Therefore, the use of the word takamul in this sense is not a theory, but a law.

10.1. 4 Tahawwul (Changing from one state to another)

One of the words that cause misevaluations about evolution is “tahawwul“. Tahawwul means change of state. It was used in the sense of “changing the structure of a molecule or compound” in the past.

Today, we know that the elements are taken from air, water and soil in the form of ions or compounds and they cause the formation of beings. This incident takes place in the form of a law. For example, an iron atom in the body of man reaches man after being transported in different compounds and in many different ways. The iron atom is initially in the structure of a rock. It will pass into it when it decomposes into soil. It will then be delivered to the plant in the form of ions or small compounds. If an animal eats that plant, it will form compounds in the body of the animal, and when that animal is eaten by a man, that iron atom will be passed on to the man.

In the thirteenth century, the compounds formed by atoms and molecules and the way they enter the structure of living or non-living beings were tried to be explained in a manner similar to the one above, but with tahawwul. In his book called “Marifetname”, which was written in an encyclopedic style at the end of the 1200s,  İbrahim Hakkı expresses this issue as “atoms’ changing states“ and states the following:

 “The planets and stars move with Allah’s command and the four elements (fire, air, water and earth) mix together. Mines occur before this mixture and composition. Plants occur from it; animals are formed from the combination of mines and plants; when animals reach perfection, human beings occur.”1

İbrahim Hakkı points out that atoms pass from one state to another; he states in what phases of living beings these elements take place step by step. As a matter of fact, he makes the following evaluation in another statement:

“When that  fluent body enters the plant kingdom, some disasters and diseases attack it; therefore, it cannot be a plant. Or, while becoming a plant,  it breaks down before it becomes mature,. It loses its plant quality and is no longer food for animals. Sometimes an animal that becomes appropriate to be eaten breaks down before being eaten by man; therefore, the animal is prevented from being elevated to the degree of man. Sometimes it is transported to the degree of man without breaking down.”2

  According to İbrahim Hakkı, a sodium atom taken from the soil through a plant, for example, gains vitality in the flower, becomes more active in the sheep and reaches the highest level when it enters human body. The event that is meant to be expressed here is the movement of elements in the realm of beings. This change in the structure and movement of atoms should not be expressed with the Theory of Evolution. For, the change of the state of atoms in this way, is expressed as transformations of particles. As it is seen, this change of state is not a theory, but a law that is effective in the realm of all living beings.

10.1. 5 Istihala (Differentiation)

We understand that the words “istihala” and “takamul” were used in the sense of “evolution” in the past. As a matter of fact, Hamdi Yazır, objects to the opinions of those who advocated takamul and istihala and states the following:

“When all animals are classified perfectly, it is seen that there is a gradual gradation from deficiency to perfection, that is, from simple to compound. Nevertheless, we do not find any experience or any witness that one species came into existence from another species. A human gives birth to a human, a lion gives birth to a lion, a horse gives birth to a horse, a monkey gives birth to a monkey, and so on. However, despite this experience, some people use some kind of logic acting upon the fact they come from the same origin, that is, soil. They attribute the fact that animal species resemble one another to istihala or takamul, that organisms with higher forms come from the ones with simple forms. According to this claim, one day an animal, say a monkey or a few monkeys, gave birth to a human and humans came into being from them. We always follow the scientific way and proudly say that coming into being from the same origin is a fact. First of all, the origin of animals is the same: matter and simple elements. In other words, it is soil. It is only possible for a life to come into existence with an external cause that has wisdom, willpower, might and power so that a living being can derive from that simple element. For, perfection cannot come into existence from a deficient being on its own. For instance, a weight of one kg cannot drag a weight of two kg. If it is assumed that it is true, it becomes necessary to accept that something could come into existence without a cause. Then there is no intelligence, knowledge and science.It is neither natural nor necessary for a species to give birth to another species, which are close to each other, contrarily to experience. For a claim like ‘frogs are delivered by fishes’ one must show an actual example. Otherwise, it is neither a scientific decree nor a philosophical one since there is no observed experience or a logical necessity.

10.1. 6- Tatawwur (Moving from one state to another)

In fact, since evolution is a new concept, it does not have a well-established equivalent in Arabic. Some authorities in this field suggest that the word “tatawwur” can be used to mean moving from one state for the word evolution. In the item Darwin, this theory is called “Tatawwur Theory“. However, the word "tatawwur" does not exist in  the translation of “Qamus” or in the Arabic dictionary called “Lisanul-Arab”.

10.1. 7- Tabdil (Changing the shape of something)

Changing the shape, appearance of something, being a replacement. Changing clothes.

10.1. 8- Tabaddul (Exchange)

Mutual replacement, exchange, change. Something replacing something else. In social life, it means one custom being replaced by another. In biology, it is used to mean “one living being to be replaced by another”. For example, the flowers of a tree are changed to fruit. Green leaves are changed to yellow in autumn. The green cover of the earth in spring is changed to yellow in autumn. The flowers in the tree are changed and the fruit is created. So, flowers are replaced by fruit.

10.1. 9- Taghyir (Transformation)

Change from one state into another. Transforming into another state. Change by adding water to milk.

10.1. Taghayyur (Metamorphosis)

Changing state. Change of color, mutual metamorphosis.

In a writing on the wisdom and purpose of creation, Badiuzzaman Said Nursi uses the termsTabaddul and Taghayyur as follows:

God Almighty gave every species and all the members of each, a particular being which is the source of its particular works and the perfections of which it is worthy. For since all species and realms of beings are contingent, as are the never ending chains of causes, none can go back in unbroken succession to pre-eternity. Also, since there is constant change in the world, it proves the world’s createdness, sometimes through observation and sometimes through rational necessity.

It has also been demonstrated by biology and botany that there are more than two hundred thousand sorts of species and that each has a progenitor and forefather. Contingency and createdness prove therefore that necessarily these progenitors and forefathers emerged without intermediary from the hand of divine power. Moreover, causes cannot be imagined at the first creation as they are imagined in the chains of causes. Furthermore, the delusion of the splitting off of some species from others is invalid, for since either the offspring are barren or the line becomes extinct, an intervening species mostly does not become the start of new chains through reproduction. It is most likely therefore that since the origins and beginnings are thus, the successive members will also be thus.

How can it be imagined that simple, lifeless natural causes, which are devoid of intelligence and will, should be capable of bringing into existence these chains of beings which astound the mind, and of creating the individual beings, each of which is a marvel of art and miracle of divine power? Hence, all beings and the chains of which they are parts testify decisively through the tongues of their createdness and contingency to the necessary existence of their Creator, may His glory be exalted.3

10.1.11- Taraqqi (Improvement)

Ascension, elevation, stage, stage. Ascension step by step in the material or spiritual field, improvement step by step, development.

10.1. 12- Sudur (Occurrence)

Appearance, occurrence, being created. This term, which is also expressed with the word “tajalli”, is used in the sense of “being taken out of non-existence into the realm of existence, creating out of non-existence”.

10.1. 13- Zuhur (Appearing)

Lexically, it means to appear, to specify, to seem, to occur. It expresses the cosmological evolution of living species.

10.1. 14- Tajdid (Renewal)

Regeneration, innovation. It was used by Nazzam in the sense of “a species passing from one state into another”.

10.1. 15- Ontogeny

It covers all of the stages a living being undergoes from the embryo to becoming mature. A plant is developed from zygote to produce multicellular structures and tissues. The stages observed in the plant are “sprout, sapling, tree and tree with fruit”, in animals “from a multicellular embryo to a young animal and an adult animal” and in man, “baby, child, teenager, adult and old person”. This development seen in the realm of plants, animals and human beings appears as a law. In this sense, ontogeny coincides, to a great extent, with takamul in a sense in terms of terminology.

10.1. 16- Phylogeny

It covers all of the stages that a living being is assumed to have undergone from its first creation to its present form and that are tried to be explained through scientific studies. According to the thought of evolution, a single-celled being formed first; as a result of the changes and metamorphoses it underwent in the course of time, other creatures of high structure emerged in the form of a chain and completely based on chance. The first living beings constituted the root of the family tree and the ones that came later formed the trunk. They were gradually divided into two, like branches of a tree; one branch formed the plant kingdom and the other branch the animal kingdom. This family tree is called the Phylogenetic Family Tree. Phylogeny is used in place of evolution.


As it can be understood from the explanations above, the word “evolution” is used in place of many words, terms and expressions such as change, metamorphosis, differentiation and progress.

In addition, the view of “evolution”, which claims the emergence of one species from another species and hence the emergence of all living beings by chance, is also expressed with that word.

All of those meanings are tried to be expressed under the name “the Theory of Evolution”. However, if “evolution” is used in the sense of “takamul (perfection)”, that is to say, if you want to mean “takamul” with the term“evolution”, evolution is not a theory, but a law.

Likewise, if you want to mean the transformation of particles, that is, the change of state of atoms, with the term “evolution, it is not a theory but a general law that is effective in the whole universe.

Thus, evolution, which is used in place of the concepts such as takamul, tahawwul, tabaddul, is actually Sunnatullah (the laws that Allah has imposed in the universe). Bringing the elements together in the living being, putting them in some chemical reactions there, and the gradual growth and development of living beings with the nutrients taken from outside occur within the framework of this Sunnatullah.

The genetic structure of living beings does not allow the idea of creation in such a chain because the genetic potential of every living being is limited to the gene pool of its species. There is no scientific evidence suggesting that one gene pool belonging to any living group changed to form the gene pool of another group.

As it can be understood from those explanations, creation should not be used as the opposite of evolution because Allah can create whatever He wishes in any way He wishes. In other words, He can create beings suddenly as well as gradually by changing, differentiating and transforming them from one state into another over time from simple to perfect.

The main reason for the discussion here is the view that all living beings came into existence from a single source from each other in a chain. There is no scientific evidence for this idea expressed as evolution because the genetic structure of living beings does not allow the idea of ​​creation in such a chain. Furthermore, the genetic potential of every living being is limited to the gene pool of its species. There is no scientific evidence suggesting that one gene pool belonging to any living group changed to form the gene pool of another group.

Those who advocate evolution in the sense of evolvement can be divided into three groups:

The first group is advocates of an ideological view and positivist philosophy and thought that completely supports atheism.

The second group is the people who accept the first man-like fossils put forward in relation to the creation of the first human being, all of which are fabricated and are examples of hoax, and archaeological and geological age determinations as unchangeable truths and make interpretations and evaluations accordingly.

The third group is the people who accept some baseless and unscientific fabricated evidences put forward by evolutionists about the past of human beings as true and interpret verses and hadiths according to this philosophical view.

*It was published beforehand (ÂdemTatlı. Evrim veYaratılış. Hilal Ofset, Isparta, the impression, 2019).
1.Hakkı, İ. Ma’rifetname. Ahmet Kamil Matbaası. Istanbul, 1297, p. 28.
2.Hakkı, İ.: ibid p.32.
3.Nursi, B. S. İşarat-ül İ’caz. Diyanetİşleri Başkanlığı Yayınları-983. 2nd impression, Ankara, 2014. p. 416.

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