Evolution-Islamic world a thousand years ahead of the Western World
I found this on wikipedia
Early Muslim scientists and philosophers developed theories on evolution, and the transmutation of species, which were widely taught in medieval Islamic schools. John William Draper, a contemporary of Charles Darwin, wrote the following on what he called the “Mohammedan theory of evolution” in 1878:
“Sometimes, not without surprise, we meet with ideas which we flatter ourselves have originated in our own times. Thus our modern doctrines of evolution and development were taught in their schools. In fact, they carried them much farther than we are disposed to do, extending them even to inorganic or mineral things. The fundamental principle of alchemy was the natural process of development of metalline bodies.”
Al-Jahiz and the struggle for existence
The Mu’tazili scientist and philosopher al-Jahiz (c. 776-869) was the first of the Muslim biologists and philosophers to develop an early theory of evolution. He speculated on the influence of the environment on animals, considered the effects of the environment on the likelihood of an animal to survive, and first described the struggle for existence, a precursor to natural selection. Al-Jahiz wrote the following on the struggle for existence in his work, Book of Animals:
“Animals engage in a struggle for existence; for resources, to avoid being eaten and to breed. Environmental factors influence organisms to develop new characteristics to ensure survival, thus transforming into new species. Animals that survive to breed can pass on their successful characteristics to offspring.”
Ibn Miskawayh and the Brethren of Purity
Ibn Miskawayh’s al-Fawz al-Asghar and the Brethren of Purity’s Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity (The Epistles of Ikhwan al-Safa) developed theories on evolution that later had an influence on Charles Darwin and his inception of Darwinism. Muhammad Hamidullah describes their evolutionary ideas as follows:
“[These books] state that God first created matter and invested it with energy for development. Matter, therefore, adopted the form of vapour which assumed the shape of water in due time. The next stage of development was mineral life. Different kinds of stones developed in course of time. Their highest form being mirjan (coral). It is a stone which has in it branches like those of a tree. After mineral life evolves vegetation. The evolution of vegetation culminates with a tree which bears the qualities of an animal. This is the date-palm. It has male and female genders. It does not wither if all its branches are chopped but it dies when the head is cut off. The date-palm is therefore considered the highest among the trees and resembles the lowest among animals. Then is born the lowest of animals. It evolves into an ape. This is not the statement of Darwin. This is what Ibn Maskawayh states and this is precisely what is written in the Epistles of Ikhwan al-Safa. The Muslim thinkers state that ape then evolved into a lower kind of a barbarian man. He then became a superior human being. Man becomes a saint, a prophet. He evolves into a higher stage and becomes an angel. The one higher to angels is indeed none but God. Everything begins from Him and everything returns to Him.”
Eloise Hart also describes the evolutionary thought in the Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity as follows:
“Another section describes the creation of worlds and the evolution of life in details that would have impressed Darwin. It explains how manifestation unfolds through successive layers, or stratified planes down to the mineral kingdom. Where, in this lowest kingdom, the most developed mineral entities live within its highest strata and blend imperceptibly into the next higher or vegetable kingdom. Likewise the vegetable kingdom contacts, at its highest level, the animal kingdom, whose culmination is man. The most evolved men contact higher spheres and, standing between the angelic and animal orders, serve on earth as vicegerents of God.”
English translations of the Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity were available from 1812, while Arabic manuscripts of the al-Fawz al-Asghar and The Epistles of Ikhwan al-Safa were also available at the University of Cambridge by the 19th century. These works likely had an influence on 19th century evolutionists, and possibly Charles Darwin, who may have been a student of Arabic.
Al-Khazini and the transmutation of species
In the 12th century, al-Khazini wrote the following on how evolution in alchemy and biology were perceived by natural philosophers and common people in the Islamic world at the time:
“When common people hear from natural philosophers that gold is a body which has attained to perfection of maturity, to the goal of completeness, they firmly believe that it is something which has gradually come to that perfection by passing through the forms of all other metallic bodies, so that its gold nature was originally lead, afterward it became tin, then brass, then silver, and finally reached the development of gold; not knowing that the natural philosophers mean, in saying this, only something like what they mean when they speak of man, and attribute to him a completeness and equilibrium in nature and constitution - not that man was once a bull, and was changed into an ass, and afterward into a horse, and after that into an ape, and finally became a man.”
The Ash’ari polymath Ibn al-Haytham later wrote a book in which he argued for evolutionism (although not natural selection), and numerous other Islamic scholars and scientists, including the polymaths Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī, al-Khazini, Nasir al-Din Tusi, and Ibn Khaldun, discussed and developed these ideas. Translated into Latin, these works began to appear in the West after the Renaissance and may have had an impact on Western philosophy and science.
Concerning evolution, the Islamic world was a thousand years ahead of the Western World. But now, people like Morreale and Oktar, deny this.
Please report any
broken links to
Copyright © 1988-2012 irfi.org. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer