A conference will be held on 5th January 2013 in London entitled ‘Have Muslims misunderstood evolution?’ The event is organised by the Deen Institute which claims the debate to be the first of its kind in the UK and calls it a ‘Dialogue within Islam’ event.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A conference will be held on 5th January 2013 in London entitled ‘Have Muslims misunderstood evolution?’ The event is organised by the Deen Institute which claims the debate to be the first of its kind in the UK and calls it a ‘Dialogue within Islam’ event. The organisers say that 'Dialogue within Islam' events seek to engage with challenging ideas of concern to Muslims, in a setting that allows for critical dialogue.
The invited speakers for the upcoming event include Muslim scientists, intellectuals and religious figures who agree with the idea of Islam and evolution as well as those who are against it. Adam Deen, co-founder of the Deen institute who describes himself as a “conservative Muslim” and sees himself as one who encourages critical thinking faced much criticism about his ideas and particularly the forthcoming debate in London. “It’s symptomatic of a bigger problem in the Muslim world where people representing practical Muslims have to be seen to be more literalist. It’s almost like there’s an intellectual mafia movement who won’t allow any freedom of thought,” he said.
Mr Deen’s public Facebook account illustrates many of the concerns people raised. In one comment Mohammad Ali Harrath, the founder of the Islam Channel, wrote “This debate is a big mistake. It is shifting debate to make it a Muslim issue rather than an issue between atheists and creationists.” Others like wrote Amina Crashaw wrote “If our faith is strong we can only gain from looking at, hearing and understanding difference.” Eagerness for ignoring the idea of evolution has been encouraged by Muslim figures such Harun Yahya whose writings have been seized upon by those who exhibit a theological rejection of Darwin and his ideas.
Dr Oktar Babuna, a representative from the Harun Yahya movement, is scheduled to speak at the conference alongside Shaikh Yasir Qadhi, a religious figure who accepts evolution at a micro level but refuses to countenance the idea that man evolved from anything other than Adam himself. Two Muslim scientists, American biologists Ehab Abouheif and Fatimah Jackson, will also speak alongside Usama Hasan, a controversial British religious figure who preaches the commonly held scientific view that man is descended from ape-like forebears.
In an interview with Forbes magazine following a similar conference in the United States, biologist Dr Abouheif explained why he felt it was important to begin challenging literal creationists. “There’s a lot at stake here because it’s well beyond evolution,” he said. “If it’s not about the evidence, if you reject science, if you reject evolution as a science and you’re not willing to listen to evidence, then that means that for all of science, when it comes into contact with sociological, political conflicts, then you won’t believe it either.” Of course Dr Abouheif fails to acknowledge what he calls evidence is not always reliable and many of these are based on presumptions rather that concrete scientific findings.