Usama Hasan and the evolution controversy

I have a post up on Cif at the moment about the ongoing controversy surrounding Usama Hasan and his views on evolution. Do contribute to the discussion there or add your comments below on this thread if you prefer. Here are some quick observations:

1. Whether or not you agree with Darwin’s theory of evolution (and for the record I do and have written extensively about it previously), it should be of utmost concern to all who want to see greater debate and discussion amongst Muslims that there are a minority of Muslims who seem to be prepared to use intimidation and thinly-veiled threats to try and silence opposing viewpoints. Is it not possible that there may be multiple valid interpretations of the story of Adam (A.S.)?

2. When I first briefly discussed the issue of evolution with Usama around three years ago, he told me he preferred the Intelligent Design hypothesis. Now ID is really just creationism repackaged to try and get round US laws prohibiting the promotion of religion in schools. This creationist tactic failed and in an important ruling in the USA a few years back ID was declared to be an unscientific theory. The point is Usama was clearly on a journey where he was learning more about science and evolution and overall that had to be a positive thing.

3. I contacted Usama at the weekend to find out from himself directly whether he really believes in his ‘retraction’ statement that Adam had no parents. He had previously ridiculed the notion that Adam had been ‘beamed’ on to the earth and in his statements he had affirmed his belief – which he shared with the overwhelming majority of today’s scientists – that human beings had common ancestors with apes. So does he really now believe Adam appeared fully formed on earth as if by magic? ‘No, I don’t. I’m uncommitted on the issue,’ he responded to me. I then reminded him of what his retraction statement had said ie Adam had no parents and appeared as a miracle. So, I asked him the same question again hoping to get some clarity from him. ‘I prefer not to comment further at this stage,’ he responded.

If Usama is concerned that if he was to be clearer about his true beliefs on evolution he may well be putting his safety in greater danger from extremists then that really is a terrible indictment of the pitiful intellectual state of UK Muslims and the vile influence of a tiny minority of fanatics.

4. It is unfortunate that many more Muslim organisations have not spoken out against this intimidation and in favour of increased debate and discussion. To date, I have only seen supportive statements issued by the ISB and East London Mosque. The reason could be that many organisations are deeply upset about the help and encouragement that Usama Hasan has given to the government-funded Quilliam Foundation. Usama’s decision to become an advisor to QF – he has since left this position – was very naive and hugely disappointing especially given the QF’s constant smearing of mainstream Islamic organisations via influential Israel-friendly journalists in the media. It is also no surprise that Quilliam appear to be using the controversy about Usama in what appears to be an attempt to get more funding from the government. As a consequence, it seems to me that many Muslim organisations have adopted ‘a plague on both your houses’ attitude towards Usama and his detractors.

5. I continue to be astonished by how many Muslims have strongly negative views on evolution without having read any decent books on the topic by mainstream scientists. And this from a community which believes that the very first word revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S.) was ‘Read!’

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72 Responses to Usama Hasan and the evolution controversy

  1. suyuti says:

    “. What is most significant in the Quranic explanation is that all humanity originates from a single father, Adam (as). Recent genetic studies of the Y chromosome have established this scientifically as well. ”

    Actually the studies DON’T establish any such thing. Even a basic understanding of those studies will show that your conclusion is wrong.
    Anyways what we know for CERTAIN from the Qur’anic and Prophetic texts is=
    1) The Qur’an is from God
    2) Adam had no father or mother
    3) Adam was very tall
    4) Woman was created after man
    5) There were initially 2 humans
    6) Adam existed

    Evolutionary theory denies all the above as they believe that religion is an evolutionary thing and not from God. They also think as pseudo-science that Adam existed or that humanity came from one couple. Instead according to the theory it is IMPOSSIBLE for a species to grow from only one couple.
    I suggest people learn some basic things about evolutionary theory before accepting that its ok according to the Qur’an or according to some physicist who clearly doesn’t know much about evolutionary theory.
    And see:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/darwinism/a-christian-addresses-muslims-who-are-asking-about-evolution/#more-19228

  2. MB says:

    What has upset the worshippers at his ‘local’ mosque is the incoherency in the expression of Dr Usama Hasan’s views coupled with his high-handed approach.

    How can the situation be resolved when he will not agree to a debate on evolution, but prefers to lecture the local congregation, who he considers intellectually inferior to himself, which, if true, is a situation that he and his family have encouraged over many years.

    For instance, his mother criticises women who go out from the home, but allowed her own daughter to study at university. Not surprising when her sons graduated from the best universities and studied at perhaps the best schools in England.

    For some of Usama Hasan’s critics the issue is not with his recent views on evolution, but that they consider him a careerist and a hypocrite. Some are hungry for revenge and so the issue on evolution may have become a smoke-screen for some other underlying issues.

    Yes, from those against him, there are some who are behaving child-like, but Usama is no saint either.

  3. sarah says:

    Just for the record I think this “Dr” Hasan is a fake, I don’t believe his intentions are pure, anyone whom western media outlets like the Guardian invite to write for them usually have an “angle” and its not the truth that’s for sure.

    There is very little education on what exactly the Qur’an and hadiths state about early humans mainly Adam(as) and even less education about evolutionary theory with words like “Darwinism” bandied about with little understanding of what they actually mean.

    Science is a way of observing and interpreting reality, just like our emotions are, just like our sight is all of which are falliable. So all we can say is there is a high likelihood that macro evolutionary theory is correct at best, even athiests and self proported rationalists have to accept this.

    The words of Allah(swt) are reality, infalliable, the miracles of formation of the embryo described in the Qur’an is still something that makes my heart soar and is used regularly in dawa. Yet if we take the words exactly as they are stated they mean little in this context.
    At the end of the day God created Adam(as) from clay (I doubt any Muslim
    believes that Allah(swt) created Adam(as) like a potter makes a vase)
    and then gave him a soul, then Adam(as) disobeyed Allah(swt) and learned
    to feel shame so covered himself with clothing. I would quote the
    actual verses but am indisposed to do so at the moment. But at the end
    of the day where is it stated that Adam(as) looks as we do today? In
    fact there are hadiths that state to the contrary saying Adam(as) had
    different appearances and reproductive capabilities to modern humans.

    My point: Evolutionary theory maybe incorrect, the higher likelihood is that its had a few holes but the premise is correct. But its is the epitomy of foolishness to reject scientific observations without understanding of the theory or what the Qur’an says about it.

    Just get an education and read a few books objectively, I’m sick of all this Christian creationism bandwagon jumping. Forget about all the theological stigma attatched to evolutionary theory or that non-Muslims thought of it and evaluate as you would the theory of relativity or any other less controversial scientific principle.

    If you dont have the ability to do that then keep quiet, you have no right to speak in ignorance.

    As a genetics student, the theory of evolution did not challenge my beliefs but actually deepened them in awe of the complexity of not only our creation but that of even an ant and effects very little of my day to day life. Maybe I was lucky that I studied the topic before being exposed to “Muslim creationism”, thinking it was just a silly Christian idea and that Muslims were above this type of reactionary ignorant thinking.

    • aminriadh says:

      “Just for the record I think this “Dr” Hasan is a fake, I don’t believe his intentions are pure, anyone whom western media outlets like the Guardian invite to write for them usually have an “angle” and its not the truth that’s for sure.”

      Dear … comments like this show your own prejudice.

    • Shenaz says:

      So if you think adam was differant to humans today… What was he? Was he human or ape like human… And why would you stop there…. Why not go back further to previous speicies until you get to the ameoba or rna strand or whatever you call the first life on earth.

      Theres lots of things in quran and hadith which goes against scientific teachings…like beleifs in angels, jinns, people livng long lives, people being transformed into other animals.

      The point is, no reasonable person can reconcile opposing views such as these, even with the most liberal of interpretations.

  4. Pingback: Question Has Bunglawala disbelieved? - Page 15

  5. Does Usama Hasan still believe these things? says:

    I just wanted to ask: Does Usama Hasan still believe his nonsense about evolution, hijab and wali-less marriage? If so, is his wife still “married” to him? If so, someone needs to tell her that she needs to divorce him, because it would not be halal for a Muslimah to be married to someone who believes these things.

  6. J SINGH says:

    Imagine three ‘great religions’ that say- [1] We are the chosen ones [2] I am the only way [2] OR we are the FINAL word are hanging by a threat.
    A simple ‘oops’ of fate and boom.
    A RELIGION should be bigger than science and science shall never be able to find a problem with true religion. Spiritual world is there to give us peace BUT does it?
    I beleive in Evolution and God and there is no problem. IN God’s world evolution exists like erosion and volcanoes. Sometimes thye build earth and sometimes they destroy earth. God’s world is too vast. Problem happens when ‘some’ [prophets and saints and believers’] people try to be bigger than God.
    IF anyone new ALL about God than they would be better than God. The three religions are not a religion but answers that best fit in those times.
    A true religion will talk to a human’s mind not about pseudo science, twisted past and future.which may be influenced by self-fulfilled prophecies.
    COME on! Where are the smart people? I can’t believe that people exist in 21st century who say that evolution exists and even more puzzling that educated peopel have to waste time on these loonies.
    THERE are a few more ‘OOPSies’ in these religions and hopefully we will get smarter before THEY get us all killed.I am serious about that.
    RELIGION should be about love and forgiving. Than how come these believers foam at mouth when they here the word SCIENCE? Where is the other cheek?
    ALSO I would like to say that they are not practical in sense when we have to protect ourselves from terrorists.
    WORDS [from pen or mouth] might be mighty but in the end It is all about sword in the end when one needs to fix a Hitler, a Saddam, an Osama, An Indira Gandhi or an Aurangzeb.
    AND I am glad that the west has a bigger sword at this moment because I can believe in a sane God, a sane world and a sane future.

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