Darwin and Those Great Muslim Scientists
23 Feb, 2009
On February 12, the world celebrated the 200th birth anniversary of Charles Darwin, the great scientist, philosopher, and naturalist. Darwin’s contribution to the understanding of the development of biological species is crucial to the evolvement of modern genetics, biology, and medicine. Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species, is perhaps the most influential book in human history to understand how the natural systems works, and demolishes the creationist worldview.
Darwin's theory is summarized in the Origin of Species as follows:
A struggle for existence inevitably follows from the high rate at which all organic beings tend to increase. Every being, which during its natural lifetime produces several eggs or seeds, must suffer destruction during some period of its life, and during some season or occasional year, otherwise on the principle of geometrical increase, its number would quickly become so inordinately great that no country could support the product. (The Origin of Species, pp.116–117)
… Can it, then, be thought improbable, seeing that variations useful to man have undoubtedly occurred, that other variations useful in some way to each being in the great and complex battle of life, should sometimes occur in the course of thousands of generations? If such do occur, can we doubt (remembering that many more individuals are born than can possibly survive) that individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best chance of surviving and of procreating their kind? On the other hand, we may feel sure that any variation in the least degree injurious would be rigidly destroyed. This preservation of favourable variations and the rejection of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection. (ibid pp. 130–131)
Many Islamic scientists of today, unable to refute the forceful and convincing Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the evolution of species, bite the reality and propound that Darwin’s theory is, in fact, contained in the Qur’an. To support this preposterous claim, they might cite a few verses from the Qur’an, such as:
Allah made every living being from water… 21:30
Allah sends the fertile wind to cause the rain that makes the vegetation to grow... 15:22
Allah sends rain from the sky for drinking water and for vegetation to grow... 16:10
Allah created every living creature from water and some walk on four legs (like cattle); Allah creates what He wills… 24:45
Allah sends wind as glad tidings, and sends pure water from the sky… 25:48
Allah sends down rain from the sky, and causes the spring to flow which causes the vegetation to grow... 39:21
Allah sends down rain from the sky for plants to grow and gives life to the dead land... 50:8 11
When a stream dries up, only Allah can supply water… 67:30
Allah created us from despicable water… 77:20
The water causes vegetation to sprout… 78:15 16
Allah has sent water on earth… 80:26
Allah converted some Jews to monkeys and pigs… 2:65, 5:60, 7:166
In other words these Islamists contend that Darwin’s concept of ‘Natural Selection’ is actually Allah’s law. Thus, we may conclude that many Islamists consider that Darwin was actually following the Qur’an: he is a Muslim. To bolster their claim, they may even cite his portrait of later years (bearded in Islamic style) and his private life, such as: Darwin’s marriage to his cousin sister, Emma Wedgwood, and his ten children. All these acts of Darwin are acts of sunna, according to Islam.
The interesting point is, whenever any non Muslim personality discovers or theories anything which changes the course of human history, these Islamists will immediately brand that personality as a Muslim. In fact, they basically emulate the Qur’an in making such claims. For example, the Qur’an claims that the biblical prophets—namely, Abraham, Moses, Jonah, Elias, Zachariya, Solomon, David, Jesus—were all Muslims. Allah even claims that Alexander the Great (Zulkarnain, in the Qur’an) was a Muslim.
These Islamists will let us believe that, perhaps, we do not realise that many scientific theories and discoveries are rooted in various verses of the Qur’an. When scientists and inventors read such verses they are startled with awe and admiration that the very foundations of science and technology are embedded in Islamic Holy scriptures. They are compelled to bow down their heads in submission to Islam!
Here are a few scientists and inventors who converted to Islam after they found their inventions and discoveries mentioned in the Qur’an. This list of inventions is at random, and not in chronological order.
1. John Dalton (1755–1844), English Chemist. He proposed the theory of Atoms (Dalton’s Law).
Verses 10:61, 34:3, 34:22 and 99:7–8 of the Qur’an talks about atom (an atom’s weight of good deed). Obviously, John Dalton read the Qur’an and became a Muslim.
2. James D. Watson (1928…) and Francis Crick (1916–2004), American scientists. They constructed the first accurate model of DNA structure.
Some Bangladeshi Muslim scientists discovered that the theory of DNA actually lies in the Qur’an: in verses 13:4 (Allah has created His signs in plants and vegetables), 16:66 (there are instructive signs in cattle), 16:67 (there are also instructive signs in the palm and vine); 20:54 (signs of Allah is in cattle pasture) and 23:21 (there are instructive examples in cattle).
3. Gregor Johann Mendel (1822–1884), Austrian Biologist. He is the founder of genetics.
Muslims may claim that in verse 2:260, the Qur’an mentions the cloning of birds (Abraham killed four birds, but they became alive again); in verse 3:51 Allah talks about genetic fingerprint (Jesus made a clay-bird and breathed life into it). Allah also implies genetic theory in 4:1 (Allah created mankind from a single person).
4. Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727), English physicist and mathematician, probably the greatest scientist ever.
He formulated the Universal Laws of Gravitation and discovered the light spectrum amongst many other discoveries.
The Qur’an talks of gravitation in 2:34, 7:11, 7:120–121 and 16:49 (when Muslims prostrate to Allah they obey Allah’s law on gravitation).
There is a complete sura about theory of light (sura 24: Light), while verse 4:174 and 5:15 talk about the light spectrum (Allah has sent a light manifest).
5. Albert Einstein (1879–1955), Germany-born American physicist and philosopher. He is the inventor of Theory of Relativity and the Time Dilation Formula.
The Qur’an talks of theory of relativity and time dilation in verses 32:5 (one Allah year = 1,000 human year) and 70:4 (one Allah year = 50,000 human year). The Qur’an provides the principle of relativity in verse 17:1 (Allah takes Muhammad for the night journey from Kaba to Jerusalem (Isra), and then to the seven Heavens (Miraj) to show Allah’s signs).
6. Max Planck (1858-1947), German physicist. He formulated the Quantum Theory.
Verse 3:191 talks indirectly about the quantum mechanics (Allah alternates night and day); verses 17:106 and 25:32 also imply quantum energy theory (Allah revealed the Qur’an in stages).
7. Dimitri Mendeleyev (1834-1907), Russian chemist. He framed the periodic law in chemistry.
The Qur’an discusses period (women) in verses 2:222, 2:226, 2:231and 65:4-5. Verse 39:5 talks about periods of the moon.
8. Alexander Graham Bell (1847–1922), American inventor of the telephone.
In verse 2:253, Allah says He had telephone conversations with some prophets (to some Allah spoke); in 3:55, Allah made a direct telephone call to Jesus.
9. Charles Babbage (1792–1871), English mathematician and inventor of the first workable computer.
Some Bangladeshi Islamic scientists say verse 27:82 talks about computer (Allah sends a beast).
10. Lazlo Biro (1900–1983), Hungarian inventor of the ballpoint pen.
Verses 18:109 and 31:27 say about Allah’s pens (trees) and ink (oceans).
11. Rene’ Descartes (1596–1650), French philosopher and mathematician. He is the inventor of the Cartesian co ordinate system.
Allah talks of co ordinate system in verse 2:149-150 (Muslims must face qibla), 2:142 (every nation has a qibla; to Allah belongs the East and the West) and 2:144 (Allah changes the co ordinate system from Jerusalem to Mecca). The Qur’an mentions the Cartesian axis system in verses 2:213, 4:68, 4:175, 6:153, and 6:161 (Islam is a straight path).
12. Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686–1736), German inventor of the first Fahrenheit thermometer.
In many verses, the Qur’an talks about heat in Islamic Hell and coolness in Islamic Paradise. Allah measures heat using Islamic thermometers. Example of a few such verses are: 16:81 (Allah made garments for protection from heat), 35:21 (shade and sun’s heat are not the same), 52:16 (Allah will force the unbelievers to taste the heat of hell fire) and 76:13 (in Islamic Paradise there will be no excessive heat of the sun; no excessive cold of the moon).
13. Michael Faraday (1791–1867), English chemist and physicist. He invented the process of electrolysis.
Allah talks of Islamic electrolysis in verses 18:29, 22:20, 41:22, and 70:11–16 (changing skin, melting skin).
14. Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), Austrian physician. He invented the method of Psychoanalysis.
The Qur’an talks of psychoanalysis (Islamic mind analysis) in verse 6:135 (Muhammad is to let the unbelievers mind their own businesses; Allah will take care of them). In verse 4:81, Allah mentions psychoanalysis (Allah records the innermost feelings of the hypocrites).
15. Robert Goddard (1882–1945), US rocket scientist. He invented the liquid fuelled rocket.
The Qur’an mentions rocket fuel in verse 72:15 (non Muslim men and jinns are fuels for hellfire).
16. Guglielmo Marconi (1874–1937), Italian electrical engineer. He invented the radio.
There are many verses in the Qur’an which solidly prove that Allah communicates with His messengers with radio. Examples of a few verses expounding the theory of radio are: 2:35 (Allah never speaks directly), 6:121 (Muhammad receives Allah’s revelations) and 20:114 (Gabriel brings revelation, Gabriel is invisible).
17. James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879), Scottish physicist. He developed the electro magnetic theory.
Allah mentions electromagnetic waves in 4:126 (Allah is everywhere).
18. James Watt (1734–1819), Scottish engineer and inventor of steam engine.
Allah considers steam as smoke. He mentions the theory of steam engine in verse 41:11 (the sky was a smoke or steam, Allah joined the steam and the earth).
19. Orville (1871–1948) and Wilbur Right (1867–1912), US inventors of aeroplane.
The Qur’an provides the theory of flying (angels with wings) in verse 35:1. In verse 16:79, Allah provides the theory of aircraft design (Allah holds the birds in air), jet-engine in verses 22:31 (birds snatch up) and 24:41 (flying birds glorify Allah) and about jet-fuel in 67:19 (birds get their sustenance from Allah).
20. Henry Bessemer, English engineer. He developed the method to convert iron into steel.
The entire sura 57 (Hadid: Iron) deals with conversion of iron. Besides, verses 17:51, 18:96, 18:98 and 22:21 also mention using Islamic iron for various purposes, including punishing the infidels.
21. Edwin Hubble, American scientist. He developed the theory of expanding universe.
In verse 21:30, the Qur’an unerringly presents the theory of expanding universe (separation of the heavens and the earth).
22. Thomas Alva Edison (1847–1931), American inventor of incandescent lamp, gramophone, and motion picture.
The Qur’an mentions incandescent lamp in verses 24:35 (light from olive tree) and 25:61 (Allah put a lamp). The Qur’an talks of gramophone in verse 4:164 (Allah played a recorded message to Moses) and in verse 21:79, Allah mentions about the gramophone record played by prophet Dawud (recitation of Zabur).
23. Johannes Gutenberg (1398–1468), German inventor of movable type printing press.
In verses 11:11, 12:2 and 16:103, Allah talks about printing the Qur’an in clear Arabic. The Qur’an mentions about movable blocks in 7:145 (Allah wrote His Laws in a tablet and gave that to Moses); Allah talks about the printed Qur’an in verse 6:7 (even when Allah sends His message written in paper, the unbelievers will consider that as sorcery).
24. Vladimir K. Zworykin (1889–1982), US inventor. He demonstrated the first modern television.
The Qur’an narrates the television of Allah in verse in 11:37 (Noah constructed the ark right in front of Allah’s vision and instruction); verse 12:5 mentions television (prophet Yusuf had a vision of Allah); and verse 17:60 says Allah broadcast a television program to Muhammad (Allah showed Muhammad a vision of ordeal of mankind).
25. An unknown Chinese inventor (AD 900) invented the gun-powder.
The Qur’an provides the theory of gun-powder in verse 54:23 (mighty blast).
26. Samuel F. B. Morse (1791–1872), US scientist and inventor of telegraph. He developed the Morse code.
In verse 4:16, Allah talks about codified law (sharia code). Verse 2:38 says that Allah sent telegraphic messages to Adam when Adam landed on the earth.
27. Lewis Waterman (1837–1901), US inventor of the capillary fed fountain pen.
The Qur’an has an exclusive sura on pen (sura 68: al Qalam).
28. Enrico Fermi (1901–1954), US physicist and developer of the first fission atomic reactor.
The Quran’s similitude of an atomic reactor is the sura exclusively written for the sun (sura 91: the Sun, ash Shams), because scientists agree that the sun is nothing but a huge atomic reactor. The Qur’an also mentions the principle of modern atomic reactor in verses 99:7–8 (atom) and 54:23 (mighty blast).
29. William C. Roentgen (1845–1923), German scientist, who discovered the X ray.
The Qur’an mentions X-ray in verse 66:8 (invisible light of Allah).
30. Godfrey Hounsfield (1919–2004), English engineer and inventor of CT Scan.
The Qur’an provides evidence of CT scan in verse 35:22 (Allah can see and hear what is inside a grave).
31. Raymond Damadiam (1936-), Larry Minkoff, and Michael Goldsmith, US scientists and physicians. They invented the practical MRI.
The Qur’an mentions MRI in verses 38:71 (Allah breathed His image into Adam) and 95:5 (Allah created man in the best image).
32. Arthur L. Schawlow (1921–1999) and Charles H. Towns (1915…), American physicists and inventors of the LASER.
The Qur’an talks of LASER (deafening lightening) in 2:20, 2:55 56 and 4:154; Allah sent a manifest light (4:174, 5:15) and light amplification in verse 24:35 (light upon light).
Encyclopaedia Britannica 2007 (CD ROM version)
Darwin, Charles. Origin of Species. Penguin Books, 1985.
The Holy Qur’an; see online
Abul Kasem is an Bengali ex-Muslim and academic. He has contributed in Leaving Islam - Apostates Speak Out and Beyond Jihad - Critical Voices from Inside and Why We Left Islam.. He has also written extensively on Islam in various websites and is the author of five e-Books: A Complete Guide to Allah, Root of Terrorism ala Islamic Style, Sex and Sexuality in Islam, Who Authored the Quran? and Women in Islam. Mr. Kasem leaves in Sydney, Australia. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.