the idea d (e) that species change gradually over time through a mechanism called natural selection revolutionized our understanding of the living world.
In his 1859 book, «on the origin of species», Darwin defined evolution as a «descent with modification», showing how different species emerge from a shared ancestor.
«Good for nothing» genius of why it is possible that Charles Darwin is one of the best economists in the history, but it seems that the theory of evolution itself also has an ancestor in the Islamic world.
Natural selection around thousand years before Darwin, a Muslim philosopher who lived in Iraq, known as al – Jahiz, did I wrote a book about how animals change through a process that he called «natural selection».
His real name was Abu Usman Amr Bahr Alkanani al – Basri, but history remembers him by his nickname, al – Jahiz, meaning someone with bulging eyes.
Qatar Post Office issued a stamp depicting al – Jahiz, as part of its personalities of the IslamNo series is the kindest way call someone, but the fame of al – Jahiz lives in his seminal book, «Kitab al – Hayawan» (the book of animals).
He was born in the year 77 dC in the city of Basra, South of Iraq, at a time when the movement Mutazilah – a school of theological thought that advocated the exercise of human reason – was gaining ground in the region.
It was during the peak of Abbasid power. Academic works were translated from Greek into Arabic and in Basra important discussions were held about religion, science and philosophy that gave shape to the mind of al – Jahiz and helped him develop his ideas.
The role was introduced in Iraq by Chinese merchants, which promoted the dissemination of ideas, and the young al – Jahiz began to write about a variety of topics.
Interests covered many academic areas, including science, geography, philosophy, Arabic grammar and literature.
It is believed that it produced 200 books during his lifetime, but only a third of them survived until our days.
When Charles Darwin died in 1882, Great Britain honored him by burying in Westminster Abbey, where they rest famous national figures «The book of animals» his most famous work, «The book of animals», is designed as an encyclopedia that has 350 animals. There al – Jahiz posits ideas that look very similar to the theory of the evolution of Darwin.
«Animals are involved in a struggle for existence and the resources, to avoid being eaten and reproduce,» writes al – Jahiz.
«Environmental factors influence organisms to develop new characteristics to ensure survival, thus transforming them into new species».
Goes on to say: «the animals that survive to reproduce can transmit their successful characteristics their descendants».
It was clear to al – Jahiz the living world was in a constant struggle to survive, and a species was always stronger than another.
A French magazine with a caricature of Darwin and his theory that humans and apes share a common ancestor. To survive, the animals had to have competitive features to find food, avoid becoming another person food and reproduce. This forced them to change from generation to generation.
Al – Jahiz’s ideas influenced other later Muslim thinkers. His work was read by men like al – Farabi, Al – Arabi, al – Biruni and Ibn Khaldun.
The «spiritual father» of Pakistan, Muhammad Iqbal, also widely known as Allama Iqbal, noted the importance of al – Jahiz in his collection of lectures, published in 1930.
There, he stressed that «it was al – Jahiz, who pointed out the changes that occur in the life of animals due to migration and changes in the environment».
«Mohammedan theory» the contribution of the Muslim world to the idea of evolution was not a secret to the European intellectual of the 19th century. In fact, a contemporary of Darwin, the scientist William Draper, spoke of «the Mohammedan evolution theory» in 1878.
However, there is no evidence that Darwin was familiar with the work of al – Jahiz, or that understood Arabic.
Darwin noticed a variation of the peak while observing different species of finches on the Islands British naturalist Galapagosel legitimately deserves its reputation as a scientist who spent years traveling and observing the natural world, and who founded his theory with details and clearly unprecedented, transforming the way we think about the world.
But the science journalist Ehsan Masood, who has done a radio documentary series for the BBC called «Islam and Science» (Islam and science), said that it was important to remind others that they have contributed to the history of evolutionary thought.
Creationism also highlights that creationism seemed not to exist as a significant during the 9th century in Iraq movement, when Baghdad and Basra were the main centres of learning in Islamic civilization.
«Scientists not spent hours examining passages from revelation to see if they are compared with observed knowledge of the natural world», wrote Masood in an article on al – Jahiz in the British newspaper The Guardian .
«Instead, they came out and tried to discover things for themselves.»
In the end, was the search for knowledge which resulted in the death of al – Jahiz. It is said that at the age of 92 years, when he tried to reach a book of a heavy bookcase, this collapsed on top of him, killing him.