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Last Updated: 2007/02/26
Summary of question
What is Islam’s view on dinosaurs?
question
What is Islam’s view regarding the existence of dinosaurs?
Concise answer

            The Quran is a book of guidance and everything which supports this goal [of guidance] has been mentioned in this Holy Book. The method used in expressing matters is: focusing on the general aspects and less on the details and particulars, and the reason for that may be the unimaginable amount of specific topics and Islamic laws.[1]

           

In the Quran, even though much has been mentioned about the reality of life, various creatures, classification of living organisms into plants[2] and animals, and the categorization of land animals into quadrupeds (four legged animals) and birds[3], and the categorization of quadrupeds into reptiles, animals that walk on two legs and animals that walk on four legs[4]. Not only have the names of some insects, fish and other creatures been mentioned in the Quran, valuable details about them have been mentioned as well. However as far as dinosaurs and the nature of their life, nothing has been [specifically] mentioned in the Quran and Islam has not expressed any particular viewpoint on this topic. For these types of issues one must refer to the scientist and scholars of the respected fields and derive the Islamic laws and conduct from the basis of their opinions.

            Discussions relating to the various types of animals and plants and inanimate objects are all a part of natural sciences as a result the answer must be sought out from natural sciences. Information about dinosaurs must be researched in paleontology books, books regarding extinct animals and zoological museums.

           

As it has been mentioned in the Quran and in other Islamic sources; much importance has been given to nature, its manifestation and a variety of beings, and they have been referred to as blessings and signs of the One God and His magnificence and dominance; because one of the methodical concepts of theism is paying attention to the existence of livening creatures and the works of God. And this is why the majority of animals that people have seen and are familiar with have been mentioned [in the Quran], so that we can reflect upon their creation.

 

If science is able to prove the existence and details of prehistoric and extinct animals such as dinosaurs then in actuality this proof itself is one of the numerous signs of God, which paves a new way for understanding the magnitude of the Lord, just as it states in the Holy Quran:

Say, ‘Travel over the land and then observe how He has originated the creation. Then Allah shall bring about the genesis of the hereafter. Indeed Allah has power over all things.[5] In Nemuneh Commentary it explains this verse saying: today, these types of verses can correspond to a more precise and deeper meaning for scientist, meaning that they should go and observe the remainings of prehistoric creatures which can now be found as fossils in the depths of the seas, and in the core of mountains and in between the layers of the earth in order to comprehend some of the mysteries of the origination of life on earth and the supremacy and splendor of God, and realize that He is capable of the restitution of life.[6]

 

Another point which we must pay attention to is that – Islam is unlike other religions which sometime have teachings which contradict and oppose scientific facts (especially natural sciences and issues relating to creation), which is the primary reason why they have separated their religious discourses from scientific discourses, as well as the methodology of religious livelihood from scientific livelihood, and it is also one of the reasons for many other irrational religious discourses.

The teachings of Islam and the Quran not only have absolutely no type of contradiction with scientific facts, rather from the very time when the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) embraced the divine mission of prophethood, Islam foretold many scientific advancements, inventions and discoveries, and gave value and worth to knowledge, scholars and their respected opinions, and in many instances Islam has used the phenomenon and marvel of creation as evidence and proof of ‘origin and end’ (initiatial creation and resurrection).

 

Nonetheless, the Islamic laws and rulings for the Nijasat (ritual impurity), Hiliyat (permissibility by Islamic law) and Hurmat (prohibition by Islamic law), of living creatures whose existence has been proven, has been presented as “factual propositions” meaning that the rulings and laws have been presented as universal laws upon the assumption of the subject’s existence. Therefore if dinosaurs did exist or if in the future such a creature with the specifics of a dinosaur comes into existence, even though Islamic legal laws (fiqh) may not have any specific opinion on it, legal scholars can unambiguously derive the Islamic rulings from the principals of Islamic law, just as they have derived rulings for a number of ‘Mustahdatha’ cases (instances without precedence).



[1]For more information, see: “Vicegerency and Religiosity”, Studies in Islamic Political Thought: Dr. Mehdi Hadavi Tehrani – Pages 47-57.

[2]Sura An’aam (The Cattle) – Verse 99: … وَهُوَ الَّذِیَ أَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاء مَاء فَأَخْرَجْنَا بِهِ نَبَاتَ کُلِّ شَیْءٍ

[3]Sura An’aam (The Cattle) – Verse 38:…وَمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ فِی الأَرْضِ وَلاَ طَائِرٍ یَطِیرُ بِجَنَاحَیْهِ َ

[4]Sura Noor (The Light) – Verse 45:

 وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَ کُلَّ دَابَّةٍ مِن مَّاء فَمِنْهُم مَّن یَمْشِی عَلَى بَطْنِهِ وَمِنْهُم مَّن یَمْشِی عَلَى رِجْلَیْنِ وَمِنْهُم مَّن یَمْشِی عَلَى أَرْبَعٍ   

[5]Sura Ankabut (The Spider) - Verse 20

[6]Nemuneh Commentary, Volume 16, Page 238

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