By Amal Ben Hadda
The oldest Homo-sapiens discovered on June 2017 at Jbel Irhoud near to Marrakech make unexpected adjustments in science. New hypotheses about human history are actually being considered and it is now believed that human beings have been around for more than 300,000 years.
While these new discoveries are “shaking up” the scientific community, we should ask ourselves why these theories of evolution are not being taught in Moroccan schools. Why is this scientific approach to revealing the origin of humanity not considered in the manuals programs?
From a religious perspective, some Muslim scholars support the study of human evolutionary theory. The different levels of human conception are mentioned in many verses in the Quran. However, the exegeses of these verses have been influenced by Talmudic interpretations of the Torah and have been accepted as authentic versions of the human “genesis”. As an example of this influence, there is the creation of woman from Adam’s rib. This version, interpreted from the Torah and resumed by mainstream Islamic exegeses, doesn’t exist in the Quran.
In the original text of the Torah, the chapter Genesis shows in 1:27 that man and woman were conceived at the same level and no one is superior to another. However, this woman was diabolized by the patriarchal tradition. Only the version of the creation of woman from Adam’s rib named Eve is considered by the creationists as per the interpretations of the Genesis 2:23.
A neutral reinterpretation of the Quran is therefore necessary. The book Sharjarah Code Decoded by Imad Hassan discusses the conception of human beings as mentioned in the Quran away from the traditional beliefs. This work gives an interesting insight into how the God’s message could be manipulated by the interpretations of man. As Muslims, we should therefore accept scientific theories even if they seem to go against our beliefs.
Since science and religion coincide in the Moroccan classroom, human evolution as a scientific theory shouldn’t be seen as a threat to the religious belief at school. Science class is a place to develop epistemological understanding and critical thinking.
It is important to note that human evolution isn’t limited to the natural selection driver as per Darwinism. Intelligent design theory adds that the existence of an intelligent cause to explain empirically the complexity of the organisms instead of the law of chance. Conversely, “radical” Creationism is based on religious texts and suggests that human beings first came about through an incestuous relationship between siblings from a single couple and rejects any scientific finding against this belief.
The conflict between science and religion has a long history. The book Islam’s Quantum Question: Reconciling Muslim Tradition and Modern Science by Nidhal Guessoum explains the discord between religious beliefs and science on the one hand and between Muslim tradition and Islam on the other hand. However, the Muslim world is unfortunately more interested in the so called “Al-Ijaz Al Ilmi commonly translated as “Scientific miracles of the Quran.” This belief system presents religious texts as miracles by misusing scientific discoveries and sometimes by improvising inconsistent argumentation.
In Morocco, mentalities are beginning to change. The seminar about “Scientific Miracles in the Quran and Sunnah”, taken at the University of Fes in April 2017, demonstrates that Moroccan students are aware of scientific methods and do not just blindly believe religious arguments.
Scientific research is recommended by Islam and should be a top priority for Muslims. As the Quran encourages reasoning and rational thinking, there should be no controversy in teaching scientific theories in Moroccan schools. The curriculum in Morocco needs to adjust to accommodate the latest scientific updates so that Moroccan students have the opportunity to learn about them.
The question remains: will the Moroccan oldest Human find a place in the Moroccan schools’ manuals? Will these new scientific discoveries be a turning point for science in Morocco?