Was there ʿAql before Adam? On Rationality and Adamic Exceptionalism

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Salwani Muhamad


Many Islamic positions have emerged in response to the theory of evolution. One particular response is the Adamic exceptionalism, which asserts that although Adam is exempt from the process of evolution, there were still other “humans” existing before or contemporaneous to him who were natural products of evolution. The argument for the humanness of the pre-Adamic human-like creatures is hinged on the supposed shared rationality between them. On this position, Shoaib Malik is of the opinion that it is the most reconciliatory solution for Sunnī theology and scientific findings. Hence, this article aims to conduct a paradigmatic comparison between the concept of rationality in anthropology and the concept of ʿaql in the worldview of Islam with special reference to Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas. Based on his articulation of the conception of man within the worldview of Islam, anthropology’s “rationality” can be said to amount to only some fractions of what is known as the practical reason in Islam. This study concludes that all human-like creatures prior to Adam are not proper humans as defined in the name insān.

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How to Cite
Muhamad, S. (2024). Was there ʿAql before Adam? On Rationality and Adamic Exceptionalism. TAFHIM: IKIM Journal of Islam and the Contemporary World, 17(1 (June), 91–114. https://doi.org/10.56389/tafhim.vol17no1.4


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