Tuesday, May 31, 2011

American Imams in support of the teaching of evolution

The Clergy Letter project has been collecting clergy letters in support of the teaching of evolution. About 13,000 Christian clergy and roughly 500 rabbis have signed it over the last couple of years. Now there is a letter from American Imams - launched just this past week. Here are the contents of the letter:

Literalists of various religious traditions who perceive the science of evolution to be in conflict with their personal religious beliefs are seeking to influence public school boards to authorize the teaching of creationism.  We, the Imams of the mosques, see this as a breach in the separation of church and state.  Those who believe in a literal interpretation of scriptural account of creation are free to teach their perspective in their homes, religious institutions and parochial schools.  To teach it in the public schools would be indoctrinating a particular religious point of view in an environment that is supposed to be free of such indoctrination.
We, the undersigned Imams of the mosques, assert that the Qur’an is the primary source of spiritual inspiration and of values for us, though not for everyone, in our country.  We believe that the timeless truths of the Qur’an may comfortably coexist with the discoveries of modern science.  As Imams we urge public school boards to affirm their commitment to the teaching of the science of evolution.  We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.
Sign Up Now!
  • If you are an imam and would like to sign The Clergy Letter Project’s Imam Letter, please fill out the form by clicking here.
  • If you are an ordained member of the clergy and would like to sign one of our other Clergy Letters, please fill out the form by clicking here.
  • If you would like to be added to The Clergy Letter Project’s mailing list, please fill out the form by clicking here.
You can get to the Clergy Letter website here. Here is an excerpt form a related story from New Scientists here:
Like its predecessors, the Imam Letter explains why it's OK for believers to accept the truth of evolution. It also calls for a ban on creationist teaching in science classes. "As imams, we urge public school boards to affirm their commitment to the teaching of the science of evolution," says the letter, written by T. O. Shanavas, a doctor in Michigan and member of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg, Ohio.
"It shows that evolution and science can transcend what some people see as quite deep religious divisions, providing a unifying factor representing common ground between them," says Michael Zimmerman of Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, the architect of the Clergy Letter Project. "Christians are really excited about the Muslim letter," he says. "They realise that Islam is just as fractured as Christianity, with just as many people who take their scriptures out of context to deny the truth of evolution."
Read the full article here. I think is a great effort and should have a positive impact on the Muslim community in the US. I'm unsure about its impact in UK or even the larger Muslim world. For example, the recent craziness about the London Imam had its own local dynamics, and various cultural and political factors are shaping the diverse set of responses we see in different Muslim countries. 

But this is a positive move on behalf of American imams. If you are an imam and support the teaching of evolution (and good science, in general), sign up here.

4 comments:

Akbar said...

Perhaps a positive step in the right direction. And just to remind you that the most eminent Muslim scholars are more positive on the issue of evolution that we usually presume. Scholars like Maududi and Ghamidi actually do not separate evolution from the concept of creation. And they put forward plausible arguments for their viewpoint. I am not saying whether the arguments are correct or not, but at least they bring on point to think on and discuss, rather than galloping away on the back of 'Juju of the Bottom of Sea' in a bid to escape any sane argument. Sometimes such arguments are blatantly rejected based on assumptions which are still nothing more than mere speculations, like creation nucleic acids or nucleotides in abiogenic settings, no valid examples of which are there in any contemporary natural or controlled environment in present times. However any effort to nullify the attempts towards jeopardizing scientific inquiry by religious dogmas or hijacking by atheistic propositions is highly commendable.

Mohamed said...

This is a great development. It’ll be interesting to see how it translates in the wider Muslim world

Salman Hameed said...

"And just to remind you that the most eminent Muslim scholars are more positive on the issue of evolution that we usually presume. Scholars like Maududi and Ghamidi actually do not separate evolution from the concept of creation."

No need for the reminder. Here are my posts on Maududi on Evolution, Ghamidi on Islam and Evolution, and a bonus - Zakir Naik's rant on evolution.

Akbar said...

Soon after I added the response, I realized that you have comprehensive posts over this subject in past.