Can You Explain 38:75?

Can You Explain 38:75?


Salaam, Can you explain to me the ayah “God said “O Iblis! What prevents you from prostrating before the being whom I have created with My two Hands?…”” Does this not go against evolution?

Wa alykum as-salaam,

The ayah you are referring to, I believe, is 38:75, which is from Surah Sad, in which (this section) tells the story of God creating Adam and commanding the angels and Iblis to prostrate before Adam, where Iblis, as we know, refused, ergo this ayah you refer to.

So, let’s look at the larger picture:

“(72) and when I have formed him fully and breathed into him of My spirit, fall you down before him in prostration!’
(73) Thereupon the angels prostrated themselves, all of them together, (74) save Iblis: he gloried in his arrogance, and [thus] became one of those who deny the truth.
(75) Said He: “O Iblis! What has kept thee from prostrating thyself before that [being] which I have created with My hands? Art thou too proud [to bow down before another created being], or art thou of those who think [only] of themselves as high?” [38:72-75] Muhammad Asad

Now, when we look at the larger picture, we get some interesting phrases. First, in the 72nd ayah, God described Adam as something that will be “formed” and that the process involves God “fully” doing so, in which we are inclined to see a process and therefore see an argument for evolution.

Simply because God refers to Adam as His creation, does not mean that “this goes against evolution,” and while I have explained an Islamic conception of evolution, before, I would only say this:

Evolution being “real” or not is really of little consequence for The Qur’an. Muhammad Asad writes that The Qur’an’s reference to God creating “with My hands” is clearly metaphorical, and which is confirmed by the most eminent historical scholars, like Zamakhshari and Razi, who both render their understanding of the phrase (“with My hands” and other Qur’anic variants) to mean “which We alone have or could have created.”

How can we justify our metaphorical understanding of The Qur’an? Easy, with The Qur’an:

“He it is who has bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, containing messages that are clear in and by themselves – and these are the essence of the divine writ – as well as others that are allegorical.” [3:7] Muhammad Asad

Even beside that point, Islam does not have this need to prove its superiority over science, indeed, Islam makes no distinction between what we label “scientific knowledge” and “religious knowledge,” they are one in the same, for they may all benefit man.

Let’s say evolution is true, who cares? That just means, that’s how God “did it,” that was the way that God decided to create the world, everything: dinosaurs, the earth, human beings, everything. If we later find out evolution was wrong, again, who cares, because The Qur’an is not structured with a rigid cosmology.

What is a cosmology? A cosmology is not just a “world view” but like a “universe view,” how everythingworked out, and how it all fits together. The Qur’an is made for us, on this earth, until The Last Day, and so if there are aliens, great, they probably got their own Qur’an, if there are no aliens and we’re the only ones in the entire universe, fantastic, we got our Qur’an.

The Qur’an touches upon how the world was made, and some frankly vague concepts, but the simple aggregate result is a marked indifference towards giving a final answer as to when the earth started, what species Adam was, because for our human purposes and frankly, the main thrust of The Qur’an, it doesn’t matter.

Seriously, flip through The Qur’an, does God really care about whether we think that the whole universe was created in six days or six eons? No, it (The Qur’an) uses vague terminology, and while there are hintsat certain concepts we believe to be true, today, that might change, and frankly, it probably will change, because, again, The Qur’an concerns itself with human interaction.

Let’s compare stories, from the Bible and The Qur’an, let’s pick, I dunno, Jesus (Eisa).

So, in the perception (p-e-r-c-e-p-t-i-o-n) of the Western Christian tradition on Jesus, Jesus walked on water, turned water into wine, was the son of God, and did magical stuff showing how awesome he was.

Jesus in The Qur’an, yes, had miracles, but they are secondary. It’s kind of like, “yeah, yeah, he did that, but look at what he did.” You might ask yourself, “uh, what’s the difference?”

Jesus in the Bible can do magical stuff, so, if we are to believe in that Jesus, we must believe in those magical stuff, otherwise, our belief cannot be true, because that magical stuff is what proves our belief, substantiates it, and proves that he is the son of God.

Jesus in The Qur’an, isn’t the son of God, he’s a Prophet, and as a Prophet, his miracles are bestowed upon him by God, but the more important issue is what Jesus represented, socially. He advocated revolutionarychange, he pushed people to think differently, not differently in the sense that Apple uses in marketing so you’ll buy their products and feel like an “individual,” but truly challenging people to think about what they are doing with what they have, how their actions influence and affect others, that the only difference between the high-born and the low-born is our silly human categories that we obsess endlessly over, yet, mean nothing once we die.

This message, embedded within The Qur’an and the Bible, is unfortunately lost within the discourse of Western society, they debate over the historical possibility of miracles, which are truly of secondaryconcern, because by focusing on those issues, they have missed the importance of the message of Jesus.

So, by devoting our time towards trying to find some sort of “agreement” between evolution and Islam, or “science and religion,” not only are we wasting our time, but as Muslims, if we subject Islam to this unnecessary tension, we are not just wasting our efforts or missing the point of these stories, but we would be imposing upon our religion issues that it does not have.

There is no tension between science and Islam, and indeed between Islam and any sort of knowledge, the point of The Qur’an is to ensure that we act with justice, not that we try to find how “evolution” agrees or disagrees with The Qur’an, because The Qur’an doesn’t care, it’s about what wedo to each other.

The only time that evolution, science, or any knowledge that we may ascertain is relevant, is as proof of the existence of God. So, what marks Islam as different to other religions is in its procedures of thinking, in that it focuses us on this earth, concerning each other, and that we may understand God from what we may know of our universe. So, again, if evolution is true, guess what, we just found out God’s blueprint; if not, well, whatever it is, that’s how He did it, yay, 5 points.

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude or anything, I just struggle to find the relevance of whether something reflects evolution or not, because we always look to the ideas that people before us had as ridiculous, that the earth was flat, or whatever, and do we ever stop to think, maybe whatever it is that we think, today, will be seen as just as stupid?

We must maintain this level of modesty, and while I apologize for being immodest in my response, and hope that you will grant me forgiveness for that, I hope that you free yourself from trying to reconcile things that do not really need to be reconciled in the first place. The ayah you brought up is about modesty and how that lack of modesty, that arrogance, is what condemned Iblis, because he did not check his arrogance, and frankly, the willing ignorance of Adam is what ensured that both (BOTH) Adam and Eve, together, violated the one rule they had to follow, both are stories for us so that we may learn, and the Muslims understood that, I fear that we Muslims today might be forgetting this. I pray that we do not, insha Allah.

Insha Allah, I hope this answers your question, and if you, or anyone else, has a question on this, or any other topic, please do not hesitate to ask me.

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