In this critique, Sohail argues that the following verse speaks of creationism, rather than “God-guided evolution”:
Surely, the case of Jesus with Allah is like the case of Adam. He created him out of dust, then He said to him, ‘Be!,’ and he was.Quran 3:60
He alleges that the Ahmadiyya position poses as progressive, by welcoming the notion of evolution, but that when you dig down in the tafasir (commentaries) of the Ahmadiyya community, we accept creationism. Thus, he hones in on the following passage (image taken from Reason on Faith website here):
The commentary of Malik Ghulam Farid, based on the notes of the 2nd Khalifa (ra), on this particular verse, states:
“If however the word ‘Adam’ be taken to refer to the progenitor of the human race, then the verse would be taken to point to the resemblance of Jesus and Adam in being born without the agency of a male parent”.
On this point, Sohail writes (in big bold red):
“The official Ahmadiyya commentary published in 2002 allows for the creation of Adam to be taken in a snap-your-fingers way, without a male parent, supporting the view that Adam was the FIRST actual human male on Earth, not born of a union of the mother and father”.
The Quran describes those who are perverse in their understanding of the text as those who create contradiction between various verses that should be read in a complementary manner to one another (Quran 3:8-9)
In this particular instance, Sohail is not guilty of contradicting two separate verses. Rather, he is guilty of laying an interpretation on a verse that is contradictory to the verse itself!
The verse states:
- The case of Jesus is like that of Adam
- Adam was created out of dust, then God said to it “Be” and he was.
The natural consequence of the above two premises is that Jesus, being like Adam, was also created of dust, and God said to him “Be” and he was. Otherwise, any similarity drawn between the two is meaningless.
If you’re going to interpret the verse as meaning that Adam was created ex-nihilo, we have to ask the question: Did Jesus spontaneously come from nowhere? Did he arise as creation ex-nihilo? Was he not preceded by any humans? Is there not an active discussion in Ahmadiyya literature about the biological mechanism by which Jesus’ conception came about?
It is a misrepresentation of the verse to foister an “ex-nihilo” interpretation on the creation of Adam while knowing full-well that the Quran does not subscribe to an ex-nihilo creation of Jesus, and the case of the two in the matter of their creation is described as the same.
Thus, Sohail seems to have not grasped the basic import and purpose of the verse, since the verse itself refutes his understanding!
Indeed, despite describing Jesus as being born from a mother, not ex-nihilo, the Quran still puts forward the view that he was “created of dust” and received the command of God in the word “Be!” Indeed, the Quran describes this process at the moment of Mary’s conception of Jesus:
She said, ‘My Lord, how shall I have a son, when no man has touched me?’ He said, “Such is the way of Allah, He creates what He pleases. When He decrees a thing, He says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is.Quran 3:48
Thus, the Quran uses the term “Be: And it is!” (FYI the expression is “Kun Fayakoon”) as a command not simply to matters that are ex-nihilo, but, as the Quran says, to matters that relate to His decrees. This does not mean that they happen outside of a physical mechanism. Indeed, according to Ahmadiyya theology as detailed by the Promised Messiah (as) in Elucidation of Objectives, nothing in the universe happens except through a mechanism.
Indeed, the 2nd Khalifa (ra) of the Ahmadiyya community made clear that the term “Be!” does not signify the completion of a process, but the beginning of a process that may yet take millions of years. In fact, the Promised Messiah (as) and Khulafa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community have repeatedly rejected any notion of Creationism, all pointing to the Quranic verses that speak of all creatures having been created in stages and not at once. Their quotations have been compiled on this website under the section relating to beliefs on Evolution. The 2nd Khalifa (ra) thus writes:
‘What is the matter with you that you expect not wisdom and staidness from Allah?
And He has created you in stages/different forms and different conditions
Have you not seen how Allah has created seven heavens, tier upon tier?
And has placed the moon therein as a light, and made the sun as a lamp?
And Allah has raised you from the Earth like the raising of vegetation,
Then will He return you therein and bring you forth in a special way.”
(Holy Qur’an, 71:14-19)
“What clearly emerges from this subject matter is that the Qur’an supports the opinion that Man was born through an evolutionary process, but not one that occurred by chance. In fact, it speaks of the birth of Man through stages without, however, approving of the idea that the particle destined to become human was at any point in time anything other than human. Rather, according to the Qur’an, at every point in time and in whichever form it took, the capacity to become human and to accept revelation was present. In all the periods it went through, it was marching forward towards a special objective and it wasn’t according to the theory of Darwin, in that some of its imperfect versions continuously branched off whilst other good versions continued to advance forward separately.” –Tafsir-e-Kabir, Volume IV
The 2nd Khalifa (rh) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community further explicitly and roundly dismissed and condemned the notion that all life was created in its current state through an act of special creation:
“Whatever the Holy Qur’an states about this development can be likened to the example of the mountains. Wherever one sees the mountains they appear to be arranged in the form of a series. First there are smaller hills, then higher ones and then mountains which are even higher. When altitudes reach their highest point the summits begin to gradually decrease thereafter to such an extent that heights reach a low level. After this, they begin to rise and then begin to fall. A similar sort of evolution also took place in the case of animal species, that is to say, there has definitely been contraction and expansion in chains of evolution. Every species was not created in one day, nor were individual species created one day at a time. In fact, every species underwent evolution and even individual species progressed to their own [evolutionary] completion.Hasti Bari Ta’ala
This position was reiterated by the 4th Khalifa (rh) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in his voluminous and brilliant work, ‘Revelation Rationality Knowledge and Truth.’
Comparison to Other Verses
When we look carefully at the Quran, the description of Jesus and Adam as having been born from dust is equally applicable, according to the Quran, to all humans on Earth! In respect of creation from dust, the Quran states:
And one of His Signs is this, that He created you from dust; then, behold, you are men who move about on the face of the earth.Quran 30:21
O people, if you are in doubt concerning the Resurrection, then consider that We have indeed created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop, then from clotted blood, then from a lump of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We may make Our power manifest to you…Quran 22:6
The use of this language, far from being a sign of it being written by human hands, is a sure sign of it being from God. From God’s perspective, the matter of thousands or even millions of years is meaningless. For God, who is unbound by time, these incidents happen together. Thus, the Quran describes God’s attitude towards the Day of Judgement:
The angels and the Spirit ascend to Him in a day the measure of which is fifty thousand years. So be patient with admirable patience. They see it to be far off, But We see it to be nigh.Quran 70:5-8
Thus, only a Divine Being could link the creation of biological life from stardust to the creation of humans, travelling over Earth. To Him, these matters happened almost together. The purpose of bringing them together in one sentence is to show that God’s intention, even at that early stage of creation, was the creation of living, sentient life.
Indeed, this is something science is uncovering more and more every day – the fine tuning of the laws of nature, and how perfectly the universe is constructed to permit life to flourish. It has been constructed so from the earliest moment of the Big Bang. You can read more about that here.
The final point to make is that Ahmadi commentators have explained this verse as relating to a refutation of the Christian notion of Jesus’ exceptionalism by virtue of having been born by the “command of God” without the agency of a male. The Quran, it is argued, puts forth the case of Adam, explaining that Adam too was born by the command of God, so the case of Jesus cannot be regarded as without precedent.
Indeed, this argument makes perfect sense, since the preceding verses leading up to this verse are a detailed refutation of multiple points the Christians believe as regards Jesus’ uniqueness.
It should be noted that the Quran does not use the argument that Adam was born without a mother or father, to refute notions of Jesus’ exceptionalism. It only uses the argument of their both being born by God’s decree and from a state of dust, as all humans are described to have been.