Wed. Jul 15th, 2020

Islamic Web Library

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Who created you and those before you

9 min read

Quran 2:21:

O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous –

The following excerpt is taken from “Islamic Theory of Evolution” by T.O. Shanavas pg. 140-141:

“The Quran adresses mankind, proclaiming that God created both mankind and also “those who came before” mankind: ‘Oh! Mankind! Worship your Lord, Who hath created you and those before you, so that ye may ward off (evil).” (2:21) Hence, it tells us that there existed other people before the emergence of modern man (Homo Sapiens). We call them Homo erectus, Homo ergaster, Neandrathal man, Cro-Magnon man, etc. but six hundred years before Darwin, the great Muslim Sufi Ibn Arabi called them “the animal men.” Most Muslims interpret the above verse in a more limited fashion, believing that the term “mankind” means people living at the time of the Prophet, and that “the people before you: refers to the ancestors of the contemporaries of the Prophet.

However the best explanation of a verse in the Quran is by another verse. We have learned earlier the divine epithet al-Musawwir (sculptor) could also mean, in current scientific vernacular, someone who creates a distinct species. Therefore, al Musawwir created perfect human beings sculpted from a previously created hominid species. Verse 6:133 gives explicit evidence that modern humans were evolved from earlier hominids and explains the Quranic verse 2:21 the way as it is explained above.

“Thy Lord is All-Suffiecient, Merciful, if He will, He can put you away, and leave after you, to succeed you, what He will, as He produced you from the seed of another people.” (6:133) The context in verse 130 of the same chapter shows that it is addressed to mankind. Almost all translators of the Quran render the arabic word ‘ansha’ as “raised”. This is not a correct translation of the word, however. Lane translates it as follows: “originated it; brought it into being or existence; made it, or produced it for the first time, it not having been before.”

Initially, verse 6:133 states that God may replace modern humans with another species (“whomever he pleases to succeed you”). The process of the new species (khalifah) from human seed is similar to when God “produce humanity into existence for the first time (ansha).” The verse also suggests that the human species was originally created from “the seeds of another people,” i.e. that modern humans were evolved form earlier people. Therefore, verse 6:133 can be rephrased as: “Thy Lord is all Self-sufficient, Merciful. If He will, as He originally created you (ansha) [as a species] from the seed of another people.”