Imam threatened over evolution

Usama HasanUsama Hasan

A prominent British imam was reportedly threatened "for expressing his views on evolution and women's right to refuse the veil," according to the Guardian (March 6, 2011). On January 22, 2011, Usama Hasan was speaking on "Islam and Evolution" at Masjid al-Tawhid, a mosque in London, when his talk was disrupted by a group of protesters "handing out leaflets against him and shouting in the mosque for his execution." Hasan told the Independent (March 5, 2011) that one protester told him, "You are an apostate and should be killed." Police have urged him not to return to the mosque.

There are conflicting reports about the mosque's reaction; while the secretary of the mosque claimed that Hasan was suspended from his position as vice chairman on account of his views, the chairman of the mosque (who is Hasan's father) claimed that there was not a quorum of trustees present for the vote. Hasan told the Guardian, "I've been a Londoner all my life and I grew up in that mosque," adding, "I'm very passionate about living our lives in a modern way but, as far as they [my opponents] are concerned, that makes me an extremist. I'm going to have to live with extra cautions for the rest of my life."

In a column in the Guardian (September 11, 2008), Hasan, who holds a PhD in electrical engineering and is a lecturer at Middlesex University, argued that there was no necessary conflict between Islam and evolution, writing, "Many believers in God have no problem with an obvious solution: that God created man via evolution. ... There are plenty of Muslim biologists who have no doubt about the essential correctness of evolutionary theory." In recent statements on his blog, however, he insisted on the special creation of Adam as revealed in the Qur’an and apologized for any "inflammatory" remarks of his on evolution.

The Independent emphasized, "Like Christianity, Islamic opinion is divided over evolution," commenting that "a small number of orthodox scholars, mainly from Saudi Arabia — where many clerics still preach that the Sun revolves around the Earth — have ruled against evolution, declaring that belief in the concept goes against the Koran's statement that Adam and Eve were the first humans"; the Guardian also noted that Harun Yahya, the pseudonymous leader of a prolific creationist organization headquartered in Turkey, was about to begin a speaking tour in the United Kingdom.