Religious Studies

Islam: beliefs about creation and evolution

Most of the world’s religions have produced theories as to how the world was created and how people and animals came to be here. Usually these take the form of creation stories in the sacred books of the religions concerned.

The origins of the universe

In the Qur’an (the Divine Book revealed to the Prophet Muhammad) there are details of the Creation:

Surely, your Lord is Allah. Who created the heavens and the earth in six periods; then He settled Himself on the Throne. He makes the night cover the day, pursuing it swiftly. He has created the sun and the moon and the stars, all made subservient by His command…

He it is Who sends the winds… Good land brings forth vegetation plentifully by the command of the Lord.

Surah 7:55-59

I have created men, high and low, that they may worship Me. I desire no support from them, nor do I desire that they should feed Me. Surely, it is Allah who is the Great Sustainer, the Lord of Power, the Strong.

Surah 51:56

There is no particular order given for the Creation and there is no suggestion as to how long the ayyam (periods of time) were.

Scientific ideas


  • Cosmology is the study of the universe, and humanity’s place in it.
  • One of the theories put forward by cosmologists is the Big Bang theory. This suggests that about 15,000 million years ago there was a massive explosion. This was the point at which all matter in the universe began; space and time began then too. Over time the universe that we know, and human and animal life, emerged.
  • This theory is generally accepted by scientists as being the best theory they have to explain the origins of the universe.
  • If this theory is true, then it could mean that the universe ‘just happened’ and that it did not emerge as a result of the activity of a creator God.

Evolutionary biology

  • The idea that life might have evolved was first mentioned as early as the 4th century CE by St Augustine, who wrote that God probably only created very simple life forms and that these developed over time.
  • Today we associate evolutionary science with scientists such as Charles Darwin who wrote ‘On the Origin of Species’ in 1859. He argued that life begin with very simple cells and later developed into what we see today. He said that Natural Selection was one of the major mechanisms driving evolution.
  • Darwin upset many people with his views and even some respected scientists such as Philip Gosse argued that the fossils which were discovered in the ground had been placed there by God deliberately to fool people.

Muslim perspectives

Muslims would argue that science does not affect their belief in Allah’s (God's) creation of the world, instead it explains what the Qur’an [Qur'an: That which is read or recited. The Divine Book revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Allah's final revelation to humankind. ] does not say. An important part of being a Muslim is to strive for clear understanding, therefore scientific explanations are welcomed as they help Muslims to have a greater understanding of Allah.

Muslims would say that the Qur’an has an account of the beginning of Creation which appears very close to modern scientific theories:

Do not the disbelievers realise that the heavens and earth were a solid mass, then We split them asunder, and We made from water every living thing? … He it is Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon each gliding freely in its orbit.

Surah 21:31-34

Because of the Muslim interest in and respect for science which helps them come to know and understand more about Allah, ideas from cosmology and evolutionary biology do not cause any problems.

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