Monday, February 8, 2010

Adaptations of living things, an Islamic perspective

We discussed “adaptations” from an Islamic perspective. I feel its really really necessary even at this stage to explain that we as Muslims do not believe in the theory that living things “adopt” certain traits in order to survive in any given habitat. We are informed in the noble Quraan that every living thing or non living thing has been especially designed and “equipped” by Allaah (SWT) in order to survive in its habitat and perform the duties assigned to it.
More on the topic of “Adaptation” from an Islamic perspective:
Sura Aa’la verse number 2,3 are
(who created [everything], then made [it] well, and who determined a measure [for everything], then guided
[it] ... 87:2,3).
In Maariful Quran under the explanation of the above is written,
All these are the attributes of the 'Most Exalted Lord'. The
first attribute is khalaqa which does not simply mean 'to make' or
'manufacture'. It has a deeper significance: 'to bring out something from
pure non-existence into the realm of existence without the help of any
pre-existing matter'……..
The second attribute, which is connected with takhliq (creation), is sawwa. This word is derived from taswiyah, and it literally means 'to
make well or equal'. The verse signifies that Allah made the constitution
of everything symmetrical or made it congruously consistent in its several
parts, the body structure, shape and size, limbs and organs. Man and
every other animal is adapted to the requirements of wisdom. The hands
and legs, the tips of the fingers and toes have joints with different types of
springy connective tissues that make it possible to bend and fold in
different ways. If we look at another limb or organ of human body, its
symmetry and balance baffles our imagination and is sufficient for us to
believe in the consummate wisdom and power of the Creator of the

The third attribute is qaddara which is derived from taqdir and it
means 'to determine; to measure; to balance; to design symmetrically; to
decree1 decide'. The word is used in the last sense here. The verse purports
to say that things in the world have not been created without purpose.
Everything has been created for a specific purpose, and has been
endowed with natural capacities to fit its function. If we look carefully,
the principle does not apply only to specific species. Every member of the
universe has been assigned a specific function to perform. We witness the
manifestation of the assignments in the sky, the stars, lightning, rain,
humans, animals, vegetation and minerals.

Romi says:
'The earth, the wind, the water and the fire all of them are
slaves of Allah.
According to me and you, they are senseless, but according to
Allah, all of them are alive and sensible.

Allah has especially geared man and every species of animals to do
particular works and they perform them according to their natural
inclination, and their predisposition pivots around their respective tasks.

Romi says:
Allah has created everything for a particular purpose and has filled its heart with inclination towards it.

The fourth attribute of Allah is fa-hada 'then guided it'. In other
words, The Creator of the universe did not create things and left them to
their own mercy to perform their particular function as they like, but they
are shown the way in which they should be performed. As a matter of
fact, He guided the entire creation by equipping each member of it with
suitable nature to function for which it was created, whether the member
is the sky or celestial creation, or it is the earth or the earthly creation.
They all possess a special type of sense, though it is of a lower than that of
The Qur'an says:
'Our Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature,
then guided it aright . [20:501'

As a result, since the inception of their creation, the skies, the earth,
the stars and planets, mountains and oceans are all performing their
functions accurately, without any failure or deviation. Humans and
animals, in particular, whose intellect and sensibility can be observed
easily, have been invested with capabilities of fulfilling their minute
needs and repelling harmful things in a way that baffles the one who
thinks about it. Since man possesses sense and intelligence of a higher
degree, his capabilities may not be so much surprising, but let us look into
wild animals, ferocious animals or beasts of prey, birds and insects. Each
and everyone of them is able to obtain its necessities of life. They are able
to find their habitats. They have not acquired the skills of fulfilling their
individual and communal needs through a teacher that may educate or
train them, nor did they need any school or college to acquire this
knowledge and skill. Their education and training comes directly from the
Creator of the universe. It is this divine guidance that has been referred
to in the Holy Qur'an by saying,
'Our Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature,
then guided it aright . [20:501'

and in this Sura thus:
'and who determined a measure (for everything), then guided
(it), [3]”
Obviously for smaller kids we need to simplify the above, but i think its really necessary to explain them from the beginning that nothing can “adopt” itself for its habitat, its “equipped” for its habitat.

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