Do these verses support the theory of evolution?
Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi & Ayatullah Ja'far Subhani
Question: Recently a book is written whose author has tried to prove evolution. That is the transformation one living species to another living species. After much argumentation for the correctness of the theory of evolution he has tried to compare it with the verses of Quran. And according to his saying, he proved that the Holy Quran also supports evolution of a living existing species towards another species. To prove his view correct, he has argued with the following two verses.
(1) “Does not man remember that when We created him initially, he was nothing?”
The author has also quoted the Quranic words:
Before reaching to this state of excellence man was nothing. He lived a life like that of single cell of living organisms, which gradually evolved into man-like monkeys. Even that he did not have any sign of presently existing physical or psychological excellence of man.
(2) There surely came over man a period of time when he was a thing not worth mentioning.
The author here also has deduced from these words that: Before man could acquire the capability that his name be mentioned in heavenly books, he was nothing. Extremity is that because the man was not having human excellence and being in the animal gathering was not having the capability that his name and condition be mentioned in the heavenly books. [Sohofe Ibrahim (‘a) – Taurat, Injeel and Quran]
The above-mentioned verses do really argue about the man’s (transformation) gradual evolution from one species to another species and if this is not consistent with the theory of evolution. Then what is the meaning of these verses?
Answer: According our point of view the above-mentioned verses have no connection with evolution. These verses have other meanings, the explanation of which is given below:
Tafseer of the first Ayat:
One of the issues which are difficult for man to believe satisfy himself easily is the hereafter i.e. man will be transferred to live in another place. That is the reason that many Ayats of the Holy Quran were revealed explaining the state of affairs of those atheist (non believers in hereafter) and with the purpose to remove their doubts. The verses 66, 67, 68 of Surah Maryam are also from them.
In those verses Allah mentions the condition of those atheists negating the concept of the day of resurrection and giving them answer in this way:
“And says man: What! When I am dead shall I truly be brought forth alive?
Does not man remember that We created him before, when he was nothing?
So, (O Prophet (‘s)) by your Lord! We will most certainly gather them together and the Shaitans,
As you have observed, the verse that the author has used to base his argument is in reply to those who say that how it is possible that man after his death, when the particles of his body have separated from each other and scattered, can again become alive and come to his first (original) condition? Have they forgotten the beginning of their creation? Do they not know that We brought them into existence from nothing?
Those who know, that We have that ‘Power’, why they think that to resurrect the dead again is impossible for Us. Whereas their initial creation was as per the laws of permanence of matter and strength, which can never be destroyed, and remains existing forever. The God Who has the power to bring man into existence from nothing, can He not put together the scattered parts of his body?
Therefore the verses cannot in any way be construed to mean that man before attaining this stage of excellence was in the category of unlimited living existences. But this verse is like many other verses, which were revealed regarding the proof of Qiyamat for atheists.
Tafseer of the second Ayat:
When a newborn child in a very strong winter is separated from its parents as a result of some misfortune, naturally that child will die very soon. Now if some good person reaches there on time and takes that child to his home and looks after him/her as an affectionate father and that child is lucky with his love and receives his full favor filled with trays of grace, then that child of yesterday who was without any preparations today will find himself to be in such a situation that he apparently will be the basis of all necessaries of life and be independent of others.
Many a times it is possible that arrogance and selfishness in that boy may obliterate the remembrance of that virtuous man’s previous love from his heart, and he for the sake of his temporary benefits may fight and quarrel with that man and become guilty of being ungrateful. In that case the pious man has the right to make that boy remember his time of helplessness and powerlessness and rebuke him for his ungratefulness and thanklessness.
The Almighty Allah has also in the beginning of Surah Dahr to admonish those headstrong and rebellious people, who forgetting their initial creation have taken to ungratefulness and thanklessness.
Accordingly He says: Those children of Adam who have become headstrong and arrogant, was not there a time which passed on them, when they were absolutely nothing and non-existent; and there was absolutely no existence whatsoever of them? When he was a thing not worth mentioning.
But We decided that We would bring them from non existent to existence and cover their bodies with the dress of humanism? Have they forgotten these blessings and favors and accepted the way of rebellion and ingratitude?
Thus this Ayat also has no connection, whatsoever to the theory of evolution.
 Surah Maryam 19:67
 Surah Dahr 76:1