By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
28 August 2019
Animals of the species homo first appeared about 2.5 million years ago. Except for the estimated last seventy thousand years, they did not stand out from other animals such as monkeys, cats or cows. This period before history or before there could be a meaningful history, is mentioned in verse (76:1) of the Quran as:” Has there not been over Man a long period of Time, when he was nothing - (not even) mentioned? “. This long period of undistinguished existence is a story unlike that of every other living organism.
The behaviour of animals is determined to a large extent by their genes and to a very small extent by conditioning and idiosyncrasies. Different social behaviours found among different species and sub-species is genetically determined. For example, chimpanzees live in hierarchical groups headed by an alpha male. Bonobos live in more egalitarian groups dominated by female alliances. The two closely related sub-species are incapable of learning from the behaviour of the other or by social conditioning. Changes in behaviour that would make a chimpanzee behave like a bonobo or vice versa can occur only if their DNA changed. For similar reasons, pre-historic humans did not change during the very long pre-historic period. Two million years ago, genetic mutations resulted in the appearance of a new human species called Homo erectus. This species distinguished itself by developing and using tools made out of stone. Homo erectus did not undergo further genetic alterations for 2 million years because of which its stone tools remained the same. Significant changes in social behaviour among all other species except modern humans are possible only with genetic mutations.
What Noah Harari calls “the Cognitive Revolution “occurred 70,000 years ago with the creation of Adam. This creation is so different from any other species that it can be considered a new species. The progeny of Adam have been able to change their behaviour quickly, transmitting new behaviours to future generations without any need of genetic or environmental change. While the behaviour patterns of pre-historic humans remained fixed for millions of years, the progeny of Adam could transform their social, political and economic structures several times within one’s lifetime. Yuval Noah Harari, in his book “Sapiens” gives the following example: “Consider a resident of Berlin, born in 1900 and living to the ripe age of one hundred. She spent her childhood in the Hohenzollern Empire of Wilhelm II; her adult years in the Weimar Republic, the Nazi Third Reich and Communist East Germany; and she died a citizen of a democratic and reunified Germany. She had managed to be a part of very different socio-political systems, though her DNA remained exactly the same.” This is how different the progeny of Adam is from every other creation.
While the social behaviour of animals is instinctive or built into their DNA, in the case of the progeny of Adam, it is learned. Humans have enormous capacity to transform through learning and unlike every other creation; they are not complete slave even to their instincts. Allah’s revelations through the ages have played an exclusive role in the learning to control instincts to behave as “moral agents”. Humans are the only species with the cognitive ability to choose what they believe to be right over what gives them pleasure or what avoids pain. The transformation from the creation of Adam to reaching a level of maturity when compulsion was no longer necessary to make man behave as a moral agent, took roughly 70,000 years and culminated with the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad (pbuh) the last and the seal of the prophets. The Quran contains the “perfected and complete religion”(5:3). There are parts that are confirmation of what came before and indeed the Quran can be looked upon as a collection of the best practices of all its prophets and People of Virtue.
“….and guide you to the [good] practices (Sunana) of those before you” 4:26.
Nothing is said to you that was not said to the apostles before you 41:43.
“This Qur´an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah; on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book - wherein there is no doubt - from the Lord of the worlds.” (10:37)
If the Quran contains the perfected and the complete religion as per verse 5:3, then what is found in the previous scriptures but not in the Quran is abrogated.
None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things? (2:106)
God created Adam, distinct from every other creation, with astounding cognitive abilities, and guided this creation through revelations, from an existence not very different from that of animals, to a stage when the final,perfect, and complete religion could be revealed in accordance with the full human potential determined by the genetic make-up of this species, which has not changed since the creation of Adam and will not change till doomsday. This is why the Quran is eternal and unchanging and will remain so till the end of time.
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com