Sunday, August 02, 2009

Evolution to be discussed at "Islam in America" conference

Lets keep the optimism for a reasonable conversation firmly in check. There is a conference planned for next weekend (Aug 7-9) at Grand Rapids, Michigan, that will address "hot-button" issues in the context of Islam, including evolution. From Grand Rapids Living:

Partners in a local Islamic publishing house next weekend will host a conference aimed at de-linking the faith from terrorists such as Osama bin Laden and sharing Muslim perspectives on topics including environmentalism and evolution.

The event is geared toward non-Muslims.

"I don't think many people in West Michigan even come into contact with a real, live Muslim," said Maaz Qureshi, a native Pakistani who works as a database specialist at Pitney Bowes.
...
Qureshi, 28, of Plainfield Township, and three other local Sunni Muslims in 2006 started the nonprofit Sunnah Publishing company, which translates Islamic texts on a variety of issues, including divorce and prayer.

Ok...so what kind of discussion can we expect at the conference? Here is a bit about evolution:

Evolution: "We don't believe in the theory of evolution as it is stated, but we do believe that there is evolution within a species," said Qureshi, noting Islamic tradition records Adam's height at 50 cubits, or 75 feet. "Obviously, there has been some evolution from that time until now."

There you go - a definitive proof of evolution (at least within species evolution). My guess is that basketball was not as much fun earlier on. Now you see my point about keeping the optimism firmly in check.

From looking at the website of the Sunnah Publications (the group behind this conference), it seems that it is run by Salafi's - a puritan movement that has much in common with the Wahabis (some may quibble about this association whereas some may use the two interchangeably - this confusion is partly due to historical reasons).

I'm not really holding my breath for a triumph of reason at this conference - but will write more if I hear an account from the evolution session. If this quote by Qureshi about evolution any indication, the session will at least be entertaining. In the mean time, you can find the conference program here (the evolution session is on Saturday (Aug 8th) afternoon).

2 comments:

Lina Malkawi said...

Hi Salman,

Very interesting blog. I recently began blogging on the topic of Islam and evolution, among other things.

http://www.linamalkawi.com/search/label/evolution?max-results=100

It's an uphill battle but I think the prospects for Muslims accepting evolution are better than others. I think the main impediment is the paranoia and low self-esteem that makes them constantly fearful and wanting to cling to their comfort zone. I think if the political situation was different, Muslims would be more open-minded about the subject.

coco jumbo said...

your comment about "wahhabis" as a puritanical movement is as ignorant as the ignorance of evolution among those whom you are trying to address through this blog. After all, i would not expect anything else from a Pakistani.

- An ex-Pakistani.