In general, Muslims accept the theory of evolution– there are many types of evolution Muslims have no issue affirming. Muslims generally have no problems with the concept of microevolution. Muslims have no issues affirming the evolution of animals over time, adapting to their environment, and developing an immunity to negotiate their environment. For example, the beaks of an animal can evolve to assume different shapes and sizes to access food on a particular island better, or an animal can develop thicker skin over the years to survive better in their habitat. This process displays the power and intelligence of the Creator of all, God the Almighty. Muslims also do not have an issue believing that all animals might have come from the same origin animal because this belief doesn’t go against the Holy Quran and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad PBUH. A name of Allah, after all, is Al-Bari, which means the Evolver, the giver of forms.
On the other hand, Muslims cannot accept Darwinian evolution or human evolution, where human beings evolved from pre-human ancestors, as it goes against the Holy Quran. We believe everything stated in the Holy Quran because we have good reasons to believe that the entire text came from our Creator. The Holy Quran explicitly states that God fashioned Adam with his own two hands. God created Adam as a fully formed man, not a baby. He created Adam PBUH from a pool of mud with components of clay, soil, Earth, and water. Then God breathed life into him. Then God taught him the name of all things. Then he brought down Prophet Adam PBUH to this Earth. From Adam and Eve came multitudes of men and women. Adam was born miraculously without the intervention or presence of a father or a mother. Human beings were created separately from animals and other creations.
“Recall when your Lord said to the angels, “I will create a human being out of clay from an altered black mud” (Quran 15:28)
“O humanity! Be mindful of your Lord Who created you from a single soul, and from it He created its mate, and through both He spread countless men and women…” (Quran 4:1)
It’s imperative to note that the miraculous creation of Adam PBUH cannot be confirmed or rejected by science, nor can science disprove the existence of God. Since science is restricted to providing natural explanations explaining how things work, it cannot explain who created things and why. We need Revelation and religion to provide these explanations. Everything around us is living evidence of an intelligent designer behind it. The origin of our universe has a cause, and we know that chaos cannot create such an intelligently designed system. However, the scientific method cannot indicate the cause of the creation of the universe and why it was created since science looks only at nature—that is, what we can observe, touch, see, and smell–and tries to find natural explanations, excluding anything outside of nature. As for things outside of the natural world, science has no way of dealing with them. Science doesn’t take into account the metaphysical realm, the unseen world, so science cannot include explanations not based on nature, like pointing to the Divine as the cause of the universe’s inception.
“And Allah has created from water every living creature. Some of them crawl on their bellies, some walk on two legs, and some walk on four. Allah creates whatever He wills. Surely Allah is Most Capable of everything” (Quran 24:45)
Science and religion can coexist. Aside from Darwin’s theory of evolution, the teachings of Islam do not necessarily conflict with scientific explanations of the natural world. Muslims understand that the process of natural selection and other forms of evolution do not occur of their own accord. Instead, they are simply evidence of the existence of an intelligent designer and fashioner behind them, one who controls everything and wills everything to occur. He is our Creator.
No other creation of God compares to the creation of human beings, as human beings have intellect, culture, and other assets that differentiate them from other creations. Simply because humans share some DNA with chimpanzees doesn’t mean humans evolved from apes. Humans also share some similar DNA to bananas, but that doesn’t mean humans share a common ancestor with fruit.
Muslims have no problem believing other creations exist or have existed in the past, which we may have never known about. Simply because Muslims believe that Prophet Adam PBUH was the first human that ever lived doesn’t necessarily mean that no two-legged creations of God walked upright before the creation of Adam PBUH. The Holy Quran is silent about whether there were predecessors of Adam PBUH in that regard. If fossil records are discovered depicting human-like upright bipedal apes with the ability to walk with two legs, large brains, and use tools, a belief in such animals will not go against the Holy Quran or Sunnah. Still, one thing is for sure; these creatures would not be the forefathers of Prophet Adam PBUH, as that belief would certainly go against the Holy Quran and Sunnah.
“…And He creates that which you do not know.” (Quran 16:8)