The Evolution of Darwin to a “Unique Christian Species” in Modernist-Apologetic Arab-Islamic Thought

Uriya Shavit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Darwin's theory of evolution has been the cause of great distress and the subject of intense and constant debates among Jews, Christians and Muslims. The article analyzes why and how Sunni Muslim-Arab modernist-apologetic scholars, whose approach emphasizes the compatibility of Islam with empirical sciences, shifted from reluctantly reconciling the theory of evolution with the Qur'an in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to rejecting Darwin as a fabricator and describing his theory as a Christian aberration in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Through a comparative survey that focuses on the works of Ḥusayn al-Jisr (d. 1909), Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā (d. 1935), Muḥammad al-Ghazālī (d. 1996), Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī (b. 1926) and Muḥammad ʿImāra (b. 1931), the article suggests that this shift corresponded with changes in the American anti-evolutionist discourse, and that, while contemporary modernist-apologetic literature casts Darwin as illegitimate, it does not close the door to a future acceptance of the theory of evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-32
Number of pages16
JournalIslam and Christian-Muslim Relations
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2015


  • American fundamentalism
  • Charles Darwin
  • Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī
  • Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā
  • Muḥammad al-Ghazālī
  • Muḥammad ʿImāra
  • Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī
  • creationism
  • science and Islam
  • theory of evolution
  • Ḥusayn al-Jisr


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