Theory of Evolution is the most controversial theory uptil now in the history. Most religions refuse to accept it and mock about it because they think that this theory denies God - when in fact it doesn't. The thing that religions deny the theory even before studying it is sad, because once you study it with an open mind you will see that it does not go against religion. No doubt that it is a scientific theory and as such everyone has a right whether to accept or reject it, but to reject it in the name of religion is a stance based on false assumptions and misconceptions which is wrong. The question whether evolution is true or not is unimportant, whats important is that religions should not have an ignorant attitude towards modern science and knowledge. We should be open to all ideas and take them broadmindedly while keeping a firm belief in what we believe, because if you're sure that you're on the right path - ideas, opinions and objections shouldn't bother you. What I'm saying is just that we should study and research the theory first and then pass a verdict on it.
As a Muslim, if something goes against Quranic teachings, then we should be biased in studying it. But as far as evolution is concerned, I personally do not think it goes against Quran.
Quran says Adam descended from heaven, pretty much we've all descended from heaven in a way. Adam spent his initial life in paradise, but a lot many tafasir maintain that this paradise was not the 'paradise' which is promised to believers in the hereafter, but it was a Garden in this world, and Adam was expelled from it and sent to Mecca which was a desert and a barren land.
Moreover, there is no phenomenon on Earth which happens 'magically', there is always a scientific explanation behind it, although it may appear as magic.
Can we really think that Adam literally came down from sky in his perfect body ? Can such a thing happen ? Even though God has all powers to do such a thing, but if we take a good look at how HE does things, we'll know that thats not God's way of doing things. Allah has made this universe conquerable for man, and therefore, every phenomenon of this universe has a scientific explanation. There is not one single phenomenon on earth which happens magically. For example rain, it comes down from sky, but we all know that sky is not its origin.
Islam accepts that this world is the world of CAUSE and EFFECT and therefore every worldly effect has a series of worldly causes behind its presence.
So what caused the first human to come into existence ? just a descent from sky? That can't be true. Moreover it means that we should believe that the firsts of ALL creatures came into existence THAT way!... If that was how God wanted it to be... then He could have sent all humans down that way, why did He make the whole process of reproduction, pregnancy and child-birth.
So in my opinion, such magical descents from sky are not Allah's way of doing things, at least not in this world, because in this world, every worldly effect has a worldly cause.
When atheists cite the theory of evolution, they mean to present an idea that everything came into being by itself and there is no authoritan over this process.
We muslims think that if we accept this theory it would be akin to denying existence of a Creator, which is not true because even if early conditions gave birth to required chemical bases and transformed it into DNA, then who is it that gave such properties to atom to react accordingly? who told the chemicals to mingle in a certain way? who prepared ground for all this to happen? It is Allah only. Everything in this world APPARENTLY happens all by itself in accordance with the pre-defined laws.. but who defined these laws? no one but Him. Therefore, if evolution is a law, then Allah is the Creator of this law. If evolution is a process, then it is Allah who has designed it.
Nahjul Balagha's first sermon while explaining the process of creation of the universe, it is stated:
'Allah the Almighty destined things(i.e. matter and energy) to be dissolved into time. He so arranged and consolidated these factors that the intensity of their diverse and opposing properties was reduced.
As soon as things came into existence they were alloted properties and place in nature. And soon after creation of things, order for expansion and extension was given and just as things were obeying this order each one of them was given a form and a body'
So the properties of matter, energy, time and space, their forms and structures are the foremost objects which are the cause of all the processes which occur in the universe, and these properties have been assigned by God.
Nothing in this universe happens without apparent worldly causes and effects. If a child comes into world, then worldly mediums cause him to be born. If rain falls, then worldly phenomenons are responsible for it. If lightning occurs, there are worldly causes behind it. In actual we do not see the hand of God anywhere, but we know that it is He who creates.
Similarly, the first single and multi-cellular organisms also had worldly precursors which were responsible for their creation. Then these further evolved, with an even complicated DNA structure each time.. so from bacterias, to other microscopic creatures things further evolved into visible creatures and so on... just the way limitied elements can interact to form so many distinguished compounds and minerals.
If you say coal becomes diamond after thousands of centuries because of a number of forces acting upon it, people accept it. Although it is as unbelievable as it is to say that a simple DNA structure of bacteria might evolve into a fish DNA after thousands of centuries... but people accept the former and reject the latter. Why? because we think it contradicts with tauheed(monotheism and theism), but actually it doesn't.
Just as the arrangement and number of particles in an atom distinguish one element from another, and with the addition and subtraction of one electron the whole substance is altered along with its properties... the cells behave similarly. As long as the basic constituent of all animals remain similar, the possibility is there that they all are related to each other.
As far as the human evolution is concerned, the actual truth is known to Allah alone.
However, it is proposed in the theory that humans evolved from primates; we are aware that human belongs to the primate group as regards its attributes, and its DNA structure is closest to the chimpanzee, it is a known fact that the difference between a human and chimp DNA is only 4%. Even though this small difference causes great effects, just like in atoms. But analytically it means that when God created Adam, He only had to make 4% additional changes in the DNA format of the chimpanzee(who was his earlier creation), even if in the process of creating 'human' He started from scratch, He ultimately was moulding a clay which resembled the constituents and structural formation of the 'chimpanzee' A LOT! which is a weird thing to me when I think of it.
But, does this all goes against what we have been taught? We're taught that Adam was a perfect human being. If we say that we cannot call coal a diamond unless it becomes one, then we cannot call chimp a human unless it becomes one, and when it becomes human, it is perfect and thus Adam is the first and perfect human being.
On the other hand we're told that he was kept in Paradise after birth, but many tafaseer of Quran tell us that this paradise was not the 'jannah' which is for the hereafter, but it was a garden on Earth only.
Thirdly, we're taught that God made him Himself from clay... but we must know that by clay, the DNA is meant; the basic chemical bases that form the DNA are all found abundantly in clay.
Plus, there are many other traditions and sayings... which are based on idiomatic phrases and metaphors, so as such they have ambiguous meanings, and can be understood either way.
The basic thing is that Allah has made a worldly procedure for the creation of every living and non-living thing, this procedure can be found out and studied upon. Those who don't agree with me on this point must present an example of any procedure which does not have a worldly explanation and happens divinely. The truth is that even miracles have scentific explainations, but the wonder is only that when they occur, people are unaware of that scientific technology, and thus the miracle is a miracle.
The other thing is that in a lot of verses Quran uses metaphoric terms, so untill it hits us in the face we cant find jack.
That is because Quran is a book of Signs and not Science... you can't really learn science from Quran, but if you have learnt Science then you will definitely find signs in Quran that approve of the scientific facts, and this is what proves the worth of Quran as a scientifically authentic and logical book.
And for this reason I say, that muslims must learn science and all other advance studies, because in this way we can really know how true our religion is, we can achieve the highest level of Yaqeen(Belief) through this assurance and strong belief in the rightness of our Book and Religion.
In short, what I mean to say is that Atheists are wrong when on the basis of the theory of evolution they deny God, and Muslims are wrong when they deny the theory of evolution because they think it denies God. I'm not saying that this theory is the whole truth, but I'm saying that we should take this theory just as all other theories out there, because seriously, I don't see any difference between this theory and other numerous scientific theories and laws. When you sow a seed in the ground, God turns it into a tree, but science maintains that it is the water, climate, quality of sand and properties of the seed which turn it into a tree. Now, shall we Muslims deny that this is the case? that sand or water or climate have anything to do with growth of a seed ? No, they are undoubtedly responsible and we all believe this fact. Just because Science highlights the CAUSE behind an EFFECT, does not mean that there was no one who provided for the CAUSE to EXIST.
It is Allah Who has given a seed the property to grow, it is Allah Who has designed the atoms and molecules constituting a seed, it is Allah Who granted all of them their respective properties on account of which they behave the way they do as Allah planned for them to be. Anything that happens in the universe happens the way Allah has planned it to be and evolution is just one of those things(if it is true).
Its like I design a watch, provide it with a cell thats gonna keep it working for an year. Scientists can come investigate the watch and tell you the cause of moving needles and the mechanics behind it; they'll tell you its the cell that provides energy for the mechanics to work - so what? Just because they can prove that the system apparently works on its own does not mean that no one meant it to be so.
The systems in the universe are apparently working on their own, they are, but this in no way eludes the possibility that somebody DESIGNED it. In fact it is a proof, that someone did design it.