Usamah Hasan, Darwinism, Evolutionary Forces and the Creation of Man - Part 6: Usamah's Lecture 'Islam and the Theory of Evolution'
Monday, January 24 2011 - by Abu.Iyaad
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Audio of Lecture, "Islam and the Theory of Evolution"

We received a link to the audio recordings of the lecture of Suhaib and Usamah Hasan (of 22/01/2011) this morning, and inshaa'Allaah what follows below is a loose transcription of it (around an hour and a half), some parts are quoted verbatim. We will add relevant comments where appropriate, and as we only have limited time, we will try to make only brief indications and observations, even though we would have liked to write more extensively.

Suhayb Hasan's Introduction

Suhaib Hasan awaits his son's arrival and fills the gap in the meanwhile with the following:

Expresses surprise at such a large turnout, questions whether it is to support the truth or to create a disturbance. Usamah has not arrived yet, so he starts giving history of the mosque. He says people should know their position and recognize those who came first in da'wah to those who came later. He draws upon his connection to Shaykh Ibn Baz and the initial setting up of the mosque at Francis Road, Leyton to the one on High Road, Leyton...

Appears to be cut in audio...

Gives example of Shaykh al-Albani asked to leave university of Madinah because some complained about his views. He says that a person might say he was deviant because he was expelled because he was a deviant, but really it was just a difference of opinion in which some people did not like his view and did not tolerate it, and so they complained. He says a similar thing happened in Jordan, with complaints made against him and he was expelled and ended up in Syria. He equates this with the issue of Usamah Hasan's view on Evolution, and he says, "This is why I have invited him here to let him explain his views, because his views are not understood ... or i think he was not able to express them in a way that could be understandable..."

Suhayb Hasan continues:

He then speaks about many figures of the Indo-Pak subcontinent who are present in this country and who are from various groups who state that prayers behind certain factions like Deobandis, Wahhabis and so on in not valid and prayer is only valid behind them. Yet the truth to them is that the prayer is valid behind them only, behind their imaams only. He says that they have created a lot of dissension through these and that he does not agree with it and others should not agree with it. And that a greater fitnah is created when it is claimed that prayer is not valid behind others, and it has implications with respect to takfir, either the person is a kaafir or he is not, and if he is not the kufr returns upon the one making that claim. He uses this to draw into the issue of charging Usamah Hasan with kufr, and states that he is a haafidh of the Qur'an who has been leading prayers here (at the mosque) and that he has arranged for Usamah to address the congregation. And that it may be possible that a person has fallen into ta'weel (faulty interpretation) which could be tolerated in Islam. This is the intention behind this meeting, to listen to Usamah Hasan's views and see if they are deviant or if they have room within the fold of Islam or whether other Muslims have preceded him in these views or not.

Usamah Hasan's Lecture

Usamah Hasan starts:

Apologizes for lateness, he states he is using a laptop and projector, and as he starts his speech there is some immediate commotion from the audience for a few minutes and is calmed down by some person.

... Usamah then speaks again and says opportunity for debate will be given later on. Then he states that his presentation is from a year ago, one that he gave at the Cheltenham Science Festival [April 2009] along with a Jew, Christian and Atheist (all professors). He says that through this material all the lies against him will be cleared.

He complains that Muslims are quick to make certain matters from the core of the aqidah without there having been a discussion between all scholars and them all having agreed. He then asks the audience some questions (to illustrate), first whether the earth is flat. He says that for centuries Muslim scholars believed the earth was flat and he cites Tafsir al-Jalaalayn and a statement from al-Suyuti mentioning the disagreement between some Muslim scholars and the non-Muslims. He then states that around thirteen years earlier in that very mosque, he did a lecture using a globe to illustrate the earth is round and cited the verse regarding the two Easts and the two Wests.

Usamah continues:

He then uses the example of the embryo being created from male and female fluid, and stated that for many centuries Muslim scholars believed that the embryo was created only from the male fluid and that this was taken from Aristotle and the likes of Ibn al-Qayyim and al-Ghazali repeated what was current (from the likes of Aristotle), and this view of Aristotle was that the female receives a sperm that contains a tiny copy of a human which is then lodged and then grows in the womb but without there being any contribution from the female.

Usamah continues:

The next example he gives is whether the earth or the heaven was created first, and gives proofs for either view, and he states that from his background as an astronomer, the heavens and stars were created first.

Usamah continues:

He then mentions how he was given or came across a book by Harun Yahya called the Evolution Deceit which led him to study the subject further and came to a different conclusion. He said he met other religious leaders who were also academic students or professionals and that they all came to the same conclusion, after they had studied the matter, and they all realized there were flaws in Harun Yahya's polemical works in this matter.

Usamah continues:

He then speaks for a few minutes of the Muslim contribution to science and speaks of the tragedy that science declined amongst Muslims over the past centuries, leaving the Western powers and colonial powers to take over politically because they dominated these fields of knowledge.

Usamah continues, and we now come to core of the matter, so we can bring most of it here as for his argument using the authorities he has mentioned, we have addressed them all in Part 3, so you can refer that:

[Quality of audio decreases] He then gives a list of a few points of belief such as that Allaah taught man, Aadam was the perfect man, that the young earth teaching of the Christian (and Jewish) fundamentalists is wrong, and he says we do not have this problem. Then he moves on to Darwin and states that he is credited with the theory of Evolution, and he says that although he put a lot of ideas together through his research, he was not the first with such ideas, the first came from the Muslims, such as al-Jahiz (Kitab al-Hayawaan), and that he was the first to speak of "the struggle for existence" and the influence of the environment upon life.Then he moves onto Ibn Miskawayh and Ikhwan al-Safa that they spoke of a progression from the mineral world to the plant world to the animal world to the human world... He continues for a bit about these writings being published by contemporary scholars [could not catch the name]. He moves onto the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun, and gives the quote from Ibn Khaldun (we quoted it in Part 3) and uses it as a proof for transformation (of one species to another). From this quote he says that from observation whoever looks at gorillas and monkeys will see they are very similar to us [a little commotion from audience] and they also live in families and in the way they operate are similar to humans. Commotion breaks out at this stage, and Usamah continues to talk over the commotion addressing the audience. After two minutes or so Suhaib Hasan takes the microphone and shouts,

Please brothers, you wan't to make a brother kaafir [unclear] you want to exclude him from Islam so he can't the right to explain his position... if you are insulting you have no right to say to me 'We are not going to pray behind him', I am not going to allow such things to happen in this mosque if you can't listen to him, if you have got no tolerance to even to listen to some idea then you have no right to be here in the mosque. [Commotion from audience]. I have said to you you have to listen, you have to listen first. If you don't want to listen you can leave... you have no right to speak here until you listen, if you are not going to listen, go away, leave this place!

Commotion continues for half a minute or so, Usamah takes the microphone and begins to explain that the theory of Evolution does not contradict the Qur'an but says the same thing as the Qur'an, that human beings were created, when creation began, with water, dust, soil and that this is what they (the evolutionists) say. [Some commotion] and some wrangling with audience. After half a minute or so he states again his point that

...the theory of Evolution does not contradict the Qur'an, and that if correctly understood the Qur'an can support the theory of Evolution and so there is no question of saying that if a person believes in the theory of Evolution and that they are a kaafir, this is nonsense...

Someone from audience quotes the verse "We have honoured the sons of Aadam" (17:70) and Usamah says:

I've explained already, Aadam (alayhis salaam) was the first human being, the perfect man...

Then members from the audience seek clarification from Usamah asking whether Aadam had a mother and father ape and Usamah states:

Ok, I'll deal with that, according to Evolution, Aadam (alayhis salaam) had parents who were nearly human, who were very close to human.

Commotion from the audience. A portion of the audience decide to leave and Usamah says, "Whoever wants to leave, leave..." There is a discussion heard between two people in the audience, confirming what Usamah just said that Aadam (alayhis salaam) had parents that were "nearly human."

Then Usamah shouts:

I did not say that Aadam (alayhis salaam) was the son of apes

And someone from the audience retorts:

You said they were "nearly humans" ... he said Aadams parents are "nearly human" that is what he said I've got it recorded...

After some commotion, Suhaib Hasan takes the microphone and rebukes the audience for their behaviour and says that they are behaving the same way as the Americans did to the [Red] Indians (?) and then he shouts at the audience, "Please be quiet!" He then seeks to clarify what Usamah attempted to clarify (i.e. "I did not say that Aadam (alayhis salaam) was the son of apes"). [More commotion].

A person speaks and says that everyone should be civilized and let Usamah speak so that they can seek clarification from him as to what he means by "nearly human." He calls for everyone to sit down and to listen. Another person takes the microphone with a very strong accent, it's hard to make out a lot of his speech but it is similar to the person before him, he is asking for people to at least hear Usamah through, and he says Usamah said that he did not say Aadam was born of apes... then others from audience retort that he said "nearly human parents."

The heated exchanges and discussion continues:

After some more wrangling and shouting a person takes the microphone and says let us ask Usamah one question and let him answer because that is what we all want to hear, he says the question is, "Aadam (alayhis salaam), did he have parents and what exactly were those parents and what is your proof for it." [Some commotion]. There is some clarification from others about the nature of the question that should be answered.

Usamah Hasan then speaks and he mentions poetry cited by Muhammad Iqbal [commotion from audience who want him to answer the question]... So he leads to his answer by mentioning the case of how the scholars used to believe the earth was flat or that the sun goes around the earth and then when modern science told them otherwise, they changed their views. Then he mentions the verse about the similitude between Jesus and Aadam (3:59) in that both were made from dust. He gives his understanding of the verse that the verse means Jesus was born through a natural process and that no one understands that he just came to be instantaneously, even if there was a miraculous element to it. He says the same is true for Aadam (alayhis salaam) in that it too was through a natural process. He then justifies his stance by asserting that the theory of Evolution is scientific and is true and it is on this basis, he is saying what he is saying and that if it is proven wrong he will take that back... he mutters for a while with what is unclear ... and then says that he does not deny the Qur'an.

Usamah continues:

Then he addresses the issue of man descending from apes and says that he used to deny the theory of Evolution too until he looked at the evidence, and he says that the belief that humans were descended from apes is just like saying the Prophets were made of a despised fluid, that there is nothing which entails any revilement upon them just because of this, and he uses this to analogize with the issue of Evolution from apes. Then he uses [a false] argument that if you find fault with the theory of Evolution in that it entails kufr (for revilement upon the Prophets), then likewise you will fall into kufr for asserting what the Qur'an states that humans (and Prophets therefore) originate from a despised fluid.

Usamah continues:

He then states that what he says about Aadam's parents is that they "resembled humans (shibh al-insaan)." He advises the audience to go to the Natural history Museum and then goes on to speak of modern humans who have existed for around 200,000 years and that the ape ancestors go back millions of years. He then says that you often hear on the news that fossils or skeletons (skulls) have been found of part apes and part humans which are millions of years old. [Some commotion]. Someone asks "Have we been descended from apes" and Usamah confirms, "I said Yes." Statements of takfir are heard, "Who want's to pray behind this kaafir?" [Commotion for a while].

The exchange continues:

Then there are calls and shouts for a debate. About the commotion someone says "We are acting like monkeys at the moment", there are some shouts, and this continues for a while, and there are demands that some people in the audience be allowed to speak. There are calls for everyone to calm down. Suhaib Hasan takes the microphone and uses some emotional rhetoric and says "I am prepared to become like Uthman", he meant here that he is prepared to step down and withdraw and become a sacrifice, he says, that Uthman was besieged for six weeks, and that the people never listened to him, he tried to explain his position, and that even though he was the khalifah, no one listened to him and behaved just like the audience is behaving (i.e. in the mosque now), until Uthman was martyred. He then says that he will make the last statement and not say anything after that, he then says:

There are two theories, two views...[commotion]... the only thing is I said I want to be an Uthmaan al-Maqtool, if you want to do that you can do that, you can even come and attack us... [commotion]... there are two opinions... this is the jumhoor opinion that Aadam was the first man who was created and that Allaah (the Sublime and Exalted) has blown the soul into him... that was the opinion view that was held by most Muslims, and those like Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Miskawayh who held something which corresponds to Evolution theory so what is the difference between the two...the first view is just like "kun fayakun" that Allaah created hima and blew the soul into him and then He was Aadam and he started speaking.. this is the opinion held by the Muslims. The second view, the theory that Usamah is advancing is that this is the same thing that Adam was created by the clay without disagreement and that he was created out of clay out of salsaalin fakhkhaar and was created with all these substances... but it took an evolutionary process... this is how Allaah mentioned about Eesaa (alayhis salaam) in that he was created in the womb of Maryam... so there was a process... and Adam came in a similar way as well. This is an opinion which I said at the beginning is a ta'weel by some of the scholars which he has mentioned..

He then says is there any room for this opinion for Usamah and this is what should be discussed. Someone from audience says, "Not in matters of Eemaan and kufr... this is Eemaan and kufr brother..."

Suhaib Hasan continues to say that there are two views and Usamah has the second view, that he has this ta'weel (interpretation) and can he become outside the fold of Islam because of this ta'weel and he says that this is a matter you can't decide, as this is difference of opinion. [Some commotion]. Suhaib Hasan continues to speak over and says:

The second opinion is based upon science, those Ulamaa who know the science... [not clear] ... so I still think there is room for ta'weel

Someone from audience says "Not in matters of Eemaan and kufr." [Some commotion]. In the background Suhaib Hasan continues speaking and is heard saying, "it is a theory which may be right or it may be wrong" speaking about the theory being propounded. [Some more commotion]. Suhaib Hasan says that he holds the opinion of the Scholars, but that with respect to his son's opinion it comes under a ta'weel, and that it can't be said he has exited Islam on account of it. [More commotion] and Suhaib Hasan continues to talk and asserts that there is room for this ta'weel. And someone says, "Not in the matter of Eemaan and kufr." [Commotion] Suhaib Hasan continues talking but it is unclear. Then Suhaib Hasan likens this issue of ta'weel like that of the Ash'aris and Maturidis, and members from the audience contest this. Suhaib Hasan is haggled by audience. Then Suhaib Hasan says that it appears they want to kick Usamah Hasan out and the second target will be him, some of the audience deny that and there is much commotion.

The discussion continues:

There is more commotion, some haggling, and there are calls for a debate. Someone who is not a native English speaker takes the microphone and says that Suhayb Hasan is with the jumhoor and that the second opinion is ta'weel through science, and if you disagree with Usamah Hasan you can disagree and leave. There is some commotion and argumentation. There are calls for a debate and a question and answer suggestion. After things settled down it appears that questions are being taken from the audience. The rest of the session is a series of questions answered by Usamah Hasan which lasts around 30-40 minutes, most of it does not add anything to what has appeared above except Usamah saying that he is simply holding the Qur'anic view in light of modern science. Usamah also explained that he has come across many Muslims leave Islam or doubt Islam due to science and so he has taken a position where he is trying to help these people by reconciling Islam with science, and his position on Evolution is from this angle. Within this session, he states that this issue (the theory of evolution) is not one that pertains to aqidah but that people have made it into an aqidah issue and this is just a matter of making tafseer of the Qur'an according to what we know. He repeats what he said earlier that certain scholars like Ibn al-Qayyim simply repeated the theories of past non-Muslim scientists (like Galen and Hippocrates).

We will comment on what is in this last paragraph through our summary notes and remarks on this whole episode.

Closing Notes and Remarks

First: We have to get inside Usamah's mind here. Whilst he is asserting that which is clearly kufr because it entails takdheeb of Allaah and His Messenger, his thinking is along the lines that there are many Muslims who have been put to trial in their deen by science. And this observation is true and we come across many people with many doubts of this nature and some even leave Islam, if not in a formal sense (as in officially repudiating it), but through the development of shakk (doubt). So his angle is that he has tried to help Muslims by reconciling between Darwinism and the Qur'an, after he has been convinced by the Darwinian theory of the origin of species. However, what works against Usamah is that he has displayed elements of conniving, dishonesty, false inference of proof, and following hawaa in order to build his case. When you analyze his case as it relates to his attempted merger between Darwinism and the Qur'an (see all previous articles) it is clear that he has no case at all.

Second: Usamah is just one of a growing number of "Muslim intellectuals" who are caught up in the firecross between three factions. Fundamentalist Christian creationists, Muslims who are influenced by some of their arguments and approaches, and the Darwinian atheists. They clearly see that the fundamentalist creationists are wrong, and as for those Muslims, they have not refuted Darwinism appropriately and effectively, they use weak tools, methods, and reasoning and have goaded Muslims like Usamah to be polarized in the opposite direction to seek answers through a reconciliation between Darwinism (which appears to them to have a strong case) and the Qur'an. So it is as if to them it is either Darwinism (which they don't accept as it is atheism) or it is fundamentalist Christian creationism (alongside which they put Muslims who may have followed those Christians in certain respects) and none of these two are viable to them, and so they simply use their own reason to find a middle path. And this is not dissimilar to how the Ash'arites and their likes were thinking back in the early period of Islam, in that it is either the Philosophers, or it is the Mu'tazilah and there is no other way, and so they formulated a viewpoint which they considered to be intermediate, combining between the use of the conceptual tools of the Philosophers themselves with the texts of the Qur'an and Sunnah which lead them to a false, rejected type of ta'weel which is in fact tahreef. This leads us nicely and perfectly to the next point.

Third: Contrary to what Suhaib Hasan is claiming, his son Usamah is not making ta'weel, but tahreef of the revealed texts in order to make them fit Darwinism, just like the Jahmiyyah and their offshoots made tahreef of the revealed texts to make them fit the great idea and science of the day, which is proving the universe is originated through the proof of huduth al-ajsaam (argument through bodies and their incidental attributes). And just like the asl (foundation) of the Jahmiyyah was that when aql (reason) and naql (revelation) conflict, the proof of aql (reason) is given precedence because it is qat'ee (definitive) whereas revelation in its interpretation is only dhannee (speculative) [even if in its authenticity it is qat'ee (definitive)], then so is Usamah's mashrab (orientation), it is from this angle, and for this reason you see him relying upon the Mu'tazilah and the Baatiniyyah and others in order to find justification for his view. In short, they are all eating from the same bunch of bananas.

Fourth: As for Usamah trying to exclude this matter from being an issue of aqidah then it is false and this is because everything Allaah has revealed to us is from His knowledge (all the Qur'an is his knowledge), and thus we are obliged to believe in what is plain and evident and also upon whatever lawaazim follow on from what is plain and evident, all of that is from the aqidah. And from the plain and evident things are Allaah's names, attributes, actions, the books, messengers, prophets, angels, paradise, hellfire, previous nations and so on. Likewise the creation of Jesus (alayhis salaam) without male intervention and likewise the creation of Aadam (alayhis salaam). And likewise, when you put all of the verses together (which we have addressed in Part 2 and Part 3) the binding necessities following from such verses (which make the origin of man from apes invalid and inadmissible), that also becomes aqidah. So this is a false argument from Usamah and he is speaking here of an issue in which all of the Ummah is united, regarding the unique and special creation of Aadam (alayhis salaam) as the first human without parents. All he has are the sayings of people (al-Jahiz, Ibn Miskawayh, Ikhwan al-Safaa, al-Rumi, and others) who are not accepted as scholarly authorities on religious matters. Further, the verse in (3:59) which likens Jesus' creation to that of Aadam's is a refutation of him in that Allaah's argument is that if you wonder and marvel at Jesus' creation (from without male intervention) and you have deified him and worshipped him, then you have more reason to worship Aadam since he was born of no parents at all indicating the falsehood and the false argument of their worship of Jesus. Now even though the negation of parents is not explicitly stated in the verse, we know it is the laazim of the verse because those who were taught the intent of this verse by the Messenger, explained it in this manner, and they know better about Allaah's intent than ignoramuses of the 21st century struggling to reconcile between the science by which their hearts and feeble intellects have been put to trial and between the speech of Allaah, the Exalted. So this is the correct understanding of the verse and this is the intent (muraad) of Allaah, the Exalted, and this is what is conveyed from the Sahabah and Taabi'een, and this therefore demolishes Usamah's theory from its very foundations.

Fifth: An appropriate way to frame this matter is like this: Usamah is doing tahreef (not ta'weel), and we could say here that Usaamah is resembling the approach of the Jahmiyyah, just as we have Jahmites in sifaat, and Jahmites in qadar, and Jahmites in eemaan, then Usamah is "being a Jahmee" towards the issue of the creation of Aadam - he is making tahreef of the Qur'an (disguised as ta'weel by his father) after assuming the absolute truth of a modern theory and assuming its precedence over revealed texts (aql over naql), such that revealed texts have to be made to conform to it if they are in the Qur'an or just dismissed if they are from the Sunnah (upon Mu'tazili arguments of aahaad and mutawaatir, or majaaz and haqeeqah and what is similar to that) - and we see all of this essentially coming together in Usamah Hasan, as in the type of approach and outlook, it can be characterized by what happened with the Jahmiyyah and their offshoots, when they tried to combine with the science and philosophy of the day with the revealed texts, it has strong parallels.

Sixth: The reason why Usamah chose his words very carefully in describing Aadam's alleged parents as "nearly-human" is because he has to do a juggling act in trying to give the appearance of conformity to all the revealed texts on this matter. As we said before, when you put all the revealed texts together, they collectively falsify Usamah's claim, because when it comes to the nitty gritty details and the lawaazim (binding necessities) of those texts, the so called merger between Darwinism's explanation of origin of man and the Qur'an, is shown to be spurious. But he had to say "nearly human" to allow him to maintain that he believes Aadam is indeed the "first human." Hence, by the necessity of propping up his illusion, Aadam's alleged parents must be "nearly human" and not "actually human." This is sophistry and word play, just like the word-plays and sophistries of the Ahl al-Bida' we are familiar with from the Mutakallimeen (Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, As'hariyyah). Usamah really means "apes that have not become fully human" and as much as he tried to wriggle and wrangle and peel bananas, the reality of what he is actually saying is that Aadam's parents were the last stage of apes closest to the beginning stage of perfect humans and in whose genes there must have been a "much larger than usual" degree of mutation to allow the transition of "nearly-human" to "fully-human" in just one generation! And you have to remember the quotes from Ibn Khaldun and the Baatinee Ismaa'eeliyyah in this regard, that is where he is coming from, and you would do well to read Part 3 in particular which deals with those quotes. With this bit of conniving and play with words, Usamah Hasan can maintain that he believes Aadam to be the first human, endowed with a spirit, reason, thought, reflection and intelligence. This does force Usamah into a very difficult position in that he has to deny these qualities from the alleged parents of Aadam and Eve to the degree that renders them from the highest stage of ape-like beings (i.e. "nearly humans") without having fully entered into the stage of perfect humans. Upon what has preceded, the reality of the matter with Usamah is that Aadam and Eve were in fact born of ape-like parents who had not reached full humanity. And we seek refuge in Allaah from such kufr, as this is takdheeb of Allaah and His Messenger and is a view that fundamentally clashes with the combination of all revealed texts in this regard which collectively falsify and render spurious such a claim.

Seventh: There are other people who have attempted to reconcile Darwinism with the Qur'an by saying that whilst man in general descended from apes, Aadam was unique and exceptional in that He was created by Allaah in a special way (i.e. that outlined in the Qur'an) but humans descended from apes and there were already human or human-like beings on earth prior to Aadam. This also implies takdheeb of Allaah and His Messenger (alayhis salaam), since it would mean denial that Aadam is the first human and also a denial that mankind today have all descended from Aadam, since Allaah refers to all of mankind as "Banee Aadam" often in the Qur'an (see 7:26, 27, 31, 35, 7:172) and addresses mankind as the offspring of a single soul and its mate (4:1). There also occurs in the hadeeth of Muslim and others (see Part 5), that when Allaah fashioned Aadam in Paradise and left him as He willed to leave him, Iblees came and saw that he was hollow and would not be able to restrain or control himself (as in, the nature of his constitution). This shows that mankind (Aadam's offspring) are created upon certain constitutions, and some are mentioned in the Qur'an, such as being weak (4:28), being created of haste (21:37), oppressive and ignorant (33:72), impatient (70:19) amongst others. Collectively, these texts reconciled and put together show that Aadam is indeed the first human, and Allaah created him upon that form and that constitution, and this is the nature and constitution of all of his offspring, as in these traits and characteristics manifest in them as a whole, even though amongst them are those who are the best of creation and the most noble and honourable, with the loftiest of manners (the Prophets and Messengers). Thus, anyone denying these texts of the Qur'an or the lawaazim (what is necessitated) by these texts, upon knowledge and intent, has made takdheeb of Allaah and His Messenger and has fallen into kufr.

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