Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Origins" by Charles Darwin

I grew up in the belief that creation was opposed to evolution: man was either created by God OR he evolved from monkeys.  'Belief' according to Bucky, is when you let someone else do the thinking for you - lazy me!

Charles Darwin first published his book in 1859  with the title "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection" and it has been available ever since.  I never had any intention of reading this book but for the fact that someone had translated this book into Malay and the Malaysian Authorities thought fit to BAN the translation, though not the original English.  (Read my post here.)  I had to read the book for myself.

I remember reading somewhere that "Origin of Species", Thomas Malthus's "An Essay on the Principal on Population" and Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" form the 'triumvirate' of Capitalism - now 2 other books on my 'to read' list.

I got the book on-line.  It's not easy reading, the language can be a little too technical for a 'lay-person' like me, but I persevered as I wanted to know how this book was going to affect my Islamic Faith.

I consider myself orthodox in matters of my Faith and I did not find anything in this book that would challenge that.  In fact, Darwin appears to be a deeply religious man (Christian though and not Muslim) in this book.  He does not challenge God as I have heard some accusing him of.

"... it is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that He created a few original forms capable of self-development into other needful forms, as to believe that He required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of His laws."  

Nature according to him, is not necessarily the creative agent (i.e. God) but "the agent of an agent (God)".

There is also no mention in this book of man being descended from monkeys.  That is the subject of another book, "The Descent of Man" published in 1871.

An 1871 caricature following publication of The Descent of Man was typical of many showing Darwin with an ape body, identifying him in popular culture as the leading author of evolutionary theory.
(Image and caption from Wikipedia.)

Could it be that our Authorities were actually spooked by the sub-title of the book, "Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life"?  I wonder how it would have looked in translation.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

When Asking Questions is Dangerous

I came across this article in and I wanted to share my 2 sen worth here.

Wan Sulaiman Wan Ismail
(photo from
In my experience, people ask questions for one of two reasons - (1) they don't know something and are keen to know or (2) they are not really interested in knowing but want to show off as someone superior to the person being questioned.  There may be other reasons but I have no experience with those others.

The subject of the article, Wan Sulaiman Wan Ismail, is what some would call "Anti-Hadith" (I think 'name calling' makes it easier to demonize someone). 

Actually asking questions is encouraged in the Quran.  Even the Prophets asked questions of Allah.  Take the example of Prophet Ibrahim AS who wanted to know how Allah returns life to one who has died.  Was the Prophet Ibrahim AS of weak faith?

Logic, however, tells me that when I have a question I need to ask, I need to approach someone who would be in a position to answer.  When it concerns my heart (the organ in my body that pumps blood) I talk to a cardiologist not my GP, although the GP would be the first person I approach.

Similarly, concerning Islam talk to the 'experts' in the particular branch of 'religious knowledge' not the 'Ustadz Pondok' (village teacher).  More so when the Ustadz tries to stop you from questioning.

Coming back to the article, Wan Sulaiman (I am only inferring here) seems to have read the Quran.

".... Wan Sulaiman wanted to know the origin of the shahadah, which comes in two parts: to declare a Muslim’s belief in the oneness of Allah, and the acceptance of Muhammad as Allah’s prophet.
Indeed, a semblance of the first part was mentioned in the Quran, specifically verse 3:18. But one might ask: where did the second part come from?"

Verse 3:18 is verse 18 of Surah Al-Imran which translates as, "There is no god but He: that is the witness of Allah, His Angels, and those endued with knowledge, standing firm on justice.  There is no god but He, the Exalted in Power, the Wise."

When he read that, how come he missed Surah Al-Fath verse 29,  "Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; ……. " (48:29)

Translation from: The Meaning of the Holy Quran; Text, Translation and Commentary; by Abdullah Yusuf Ali. Published by Islamic Book Trust, Kuala Lumpur (2010 Reprint). (There are so many Abdullah Yusuf Ali translations that I need to be specific which translation I referred to.)