For decades we have tended to follow the belief that Charles Darwin created evolutionism. Since he initially drew a sketch roughly representing the theory of evolution in 1837 Darwin has been the “standard” in our biology learnings.
But as time evolves, we are discovering slowly but surely that Darwin may not have been the first one to analyse biological evolution. In fact, it now seems ever more sure that Islamic scholars already wrote about the theory of evolution a thousand years before Charles Darwin.
Now professors are starting to attempt to correct things and also include these past learnings in curriculums. Recently New York University professor James Higham announced how he updated his classes on primate behavioral ecology and they now include acknowledgement to the Islamic scholars.
In an email to Vice, Higham related to his surprise about the extend of the ideas the Islamic scholars covered:
“I was struck by the extent to which Al-Jahiz appears to have had not just evolutionary ideas, but many ideas that could be said to be related specifically to the process of evolution by natural selection. This seems to have included ideas such as competition over finite resources, adaptation in response to the environment, and speciation over time as an outcome.”
— James Higham, Professor New York University
He also referenced a graph, from a 2017 paper by senior author Rui Diogo published in the Journal of Biological Education, of the most prominent Arabic and Persian scholars who wrote about evolution theory, long before Darwin.
Higham’s tweet drew response from other professors who have also been active in the subject and equally updated their curriculum.
Without diminishing Darwin’s standing, it seems that we may need to re-evaluate his position in the history of evolutionary thinking. As more and more will be uncovered of the writings of the earlier scholars about evolution, not only will Darwin’s discoveries be reinforced — some people still think evolutionary thinking is a hoax — but we may also discover new observation due to the different geographical location the Islamic scholars observed. Maybe “Darwinism” may even need to be renamed as time evolves.