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Pakistani Professor forced to apologise for teaching Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, declare ‘women inferior to men’: What Islam says about Evolution

Sher Ali was forced to state that women are inferior to men "in terms of wisdom as specified by Sharia and that unnecessary interaction of women with men is not acceptable."

In a bizarre turn of events, a biology assistant professor from Bannu, Pakistan was forced to apologize on stamp paper for teaching Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. He was also forced to declare that ‘women are inferior to men’ as per Quran and Hadith. 

The professor has been identified as Assistant Professor Sher Ali of the Government Postgraduate Degree College. He was compelled to apologize for teaching Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution which is an elementary subject in biology. In addition, he was also made to denounce mixed-gender sessions and assert that ‘women are inferior to men’.

In a three-page document, Assistant Professor Sher Ali pledged to the Bannu deputy commissioner’s office that “all scientific and rational ideas that are in conflict with Islamic Sharia, including Darwin’s theory of evolution, are falsehood.”

Sher Ali further was forced to state that women are inferior to men “in terms of wisdom as specified by Sharia and that unnecessary interaction of women with men is not acceptable.” Reports mention that Sher Ali has obtained an MSc from the University of Peshawar and an MPhil in human genetics from Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad.

The incident came to the fore after the video of the said event went viral on social media. The video was shared by Harris Sultan, author of the book The Curse of God: Why I Left Islam on X, formerly known as Twitter. “This is why Pakistan will remain a third-world hell hole. These radical Muslims with handsome beards force a University professor Sher Ali, to condemn the Theory of Evolution and say on record that women are ‘intellectually inferior’ to men as per the Quran and hadith,” Sultan wrote on X.

The issue surrounding Assistant Professor Sher Ali emerged earlier this month when he spoke at a lecture on women’s rights in light of the Constitution and the law in the Domel area. His remarks during the conference weren’t received well with local religious leaders, who accused him of “spreading debauchery and speaking against Islam and local culture”. They also demanded that authorities take strong measures against the Professor. 

Shortly thereafter, Ali clarified his opinion on teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution which has been incorporated into the educational system. “Chapter 24 of the biology textbook discusses Darwin’s theory of biological evolution and if someone has problems with this topic, then they should approach the government for the removal of the chapter from the course,” he was quoted as saying.

The professor also stated that if he did not teach this material, his learners would question his teaching competence and that he always taught Darwin’s theory of biological evolution after obtaining permission from his students.

Theory of Evolution and Islam

When evolution is mentioned in Islam, it is inevitably associated with Darwinism and, in most situations, is deemed blasphemy. Previous surveys found that at least three-quarters of Muslims oppose the idea entirely or have basic concerns with it, and they frequently refuse to have the evolution theory taught in Muslim societies. These Muslims intend to restrict Muslim minds by creating confusion and ignorance against the theory of evolution.

It was the strategy of Muslim scholars and scientists who contested evolution before Darwin. Most notable among them was Al-Jahiz. He detected traces of evolution and adaptability in some animal species without resorting to anti-theistic arguments in his magnum work, The Book of Animals (Kitab Al-Hayawan).

As per the reports, the first encounter with Darwin’s theory in the Muslim world emerged in the year 1876 through specific ideological avenues among Muslim intellectuals. Notably, some Muslims believed in the theory and saw it as the only way to save Muslims from backwardness. However, several Muslim ‘reformists’ then, particularly Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, launched a stinging rebuttal to Darwin’s theory in his Al-Radd ‘ala al-Dahriyyin (Refutation of the Materialists), in which he misrepresented Darwin’s theories. He targeted not the Islamists, but the minds who were advocates of Westernisation of the Muslim world.

Similarly, the controversial Turkish writer Harun Yahya today has largely moulded the terminology that dominates debates on evolution. He claims that evolution is opposed to Islam since it promotes atheism. Apart from this, there are many religious scholars who deny the theory of evolution based on ‘their religious understandings’ obtained from the ‘religious books’.

Also, famous Muslim televangelist, Zakir Naik dismisses evolution as “just a theory,” confusing the term’s popular and scientific connotations. This conflation helps strengthen the language gulf between the religious and scientific groups.

It is important to note in the case of evolution that the Quran specifically mentions Adam’s creation as a wondrous creation. It asserts that the human lineage is traced back to him and that Islam is the oldest of all the religions. 

The mention of Adam is also made in the religious Islamic texts which describe the ‘father of humankind’ as the one chosen by Allah to begin the prophethood on this Earth. Reports mention that the Nine Surahs of the Quran include 25 mentions of the name Adam. Adam has been referred to in Islamic Hadiths as Abul Bashar (the father of humanity), Khalifatullah (God’s representative or vicegerent), and Safi Allah (the one chosen by God).

Verse 4 of Surah At-Tin in the Quran mentions that Allah has created man in his best possible capabilities and that humans are the only ones after whose creation God has praised Himself.

Muslims believe that Islam is the oldest religion of all religions and that Adam was the first to appear on this land. They believe that he was the first to begin the chain of humanity.

There are several mentions of Adam in the Hadith as well which say that Adam was created out of the different colours of mud which signifies people with different skin colours and different mentalities. The Islamic texts further state that God sent Adam to the Biblical Garden of Eden or Garden of God, also known as Terrestrial Paradise when he was hungry and there he created Eve out of the material of air. God then forbade the duo to taste the fruit of immortality and condemned them to ‘live and die’.

The Garden of Eden has been mentioned in the Quran as Al-Jannah, which is the commonly used word for paradise in Islam. The book named ‘Islamic Theory of Evolution: The Missing Link Between Darwin and the Origin of Species’ written by TO Shanavas states that Muslims in the Quran are told that the Garden of Eden was paradise itself and that it was located on the Earth. However, it is for Muslims not to be concerned with the exact location of the garden.

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Siddhi Somani
Siddhi Somani
Siddhi Somani is known for her satirical and factual hand in Economic, Social and Political writing. Having completed her post graduation in Journalism, she is pursuing her Masters in Politics. The author meanwhile is also exploring her hand in analytics and statistics. (Twitter- @sidis28)

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