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Ikhwan al-Safa, Ibn Miskawayh, Biruni and Biological Evolutionary Theory

Author(s): Dr Hassan Miandari

Journal: Metaphysik
ISSN 2008-8086

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: Evolutionary theory | the great chain of being | Muslims | substatial movement.

Evolutionary theory contains two major ideas: common descent and natural selection. This theory goes back to mid-nineteenth century and Darwin. Some scholars have claimed that this theory had been given by Muslims such as Ikhwan al-Safa, Ibn Miskawayh, and Biruni. Among contemporary scholars who agree with this claim are Ebrahimzadeh, Motahari, and Azkaei. But there are scholars who disagree with this claim, among them are Nasr and Falatouri. Nasr says that those Muslims believed in "the great chain of being." And Falatouri says especifically about Biruni that he believed in some kind of gradual evolution, not a Darwinian one. In this paper we first explain these opinions. Then to clarify what is at stake, evolutionary theory and the great chain of being will be described. Criticisms and suggestions come next. We argue that because evolutinary theory was the result of gradual changes of the great chain of being, there is some truth in the ideas of the first camp. And because the great chain that those Muslims hold was of the type of that of Ibn Sina, there is also some truth in the ideas of the second camp. At last we claim that the great chain of the type that Mulla Sadra maintained is consistent with evolutionary theory.

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