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Islam & Evolution: Is there a Controversy?

In the mid-19th century, the English biologist Charles Darwin formulated the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection, published in his book On the Origin of Species (1859).

Evolution by natural selection is a process demonstrated by the observation that more offspring are produced than can possibly survive, along with three facts about populations: 1) traits vary among individuals with respect to morphology, physiology, and behaviour (phenotypic variation), 2) different traits confer different rates of survival and reproduction (differential fitness), and 3) traits can be passed from generation to generation (heritability of fitness).

Thus, in successive generations members of a population are replaced by progeny of parents better adapted to survive and reproduce in the biophysical environment in which natural selection takes place.

The following lecture was given last February by the Jordanian molecular biologist Dr. Rana Dajani at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge in the UK.

Dr. Dajani; Ph.D. in molecular biology, University of Iowa, USA; Eisenhower Fellow a Fulbright alumnus twice, is an Associate Professor and former Director of the Center of Studies at the Hashemite University, Jordan. She is also a former visiting Professor at the Yale Stem Cell Center. Her research focuses on genome-wide association studies concerning diabetes and cancer in ethnic populations in Jordan.

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The female Muslim biologist is a consultant to the Higher Council for Science and Technology in Jordan. She has written in Science and Nature about science and women in the Arabophone world.

She is on the UN Women Civil Society Advisory Group in Jordan. She has established a network for women mentors and mentees and received the PEER Award for the model Three Circles of Alemat.

She was chosen as one of the 20 more influential scientists in the Islamic World in 2014 and 13th on the list of the 100 most powerful women in the Arabophone World, also in 2014.

In the field of education, she has been appointed a Higher Education Reform Expert by the EU-TEMPUS office, Jordan, and an Education Expert Consultant to the Islamic Development Bank in Saudi Arabia.

She is also the Founder of the Center for Service Mearning at the Hashemite University, advocate of teaching using problem-based learning, novel reading, drama and social media, speaker at TEDxDeadsea and at the World Islamic Economic Forum 2012.

On the broader horizon, Dr. Dajani has developed a community-based model and philosophy, “We Love Reading” (WLR) to encourage children to read for pleasure which received the Synergos award for Arabophone World Social Innovators 2009.

She became a member at the Clinton Global Initiative 2010, and took a place in the book Innovation in Education: Lessons from Pioneers Around the World, published by Qatar Foundation in 2012.

Her WLR community is also one of the 2014 WISE Award Winners. WLR has spread throughout Jordan, the Arabophone world and internationally, reaching Turkey, Mexico, Thailand, Uganda and Azerbaijan.

 This lecture took place in 2015 and is currently republished for its importance.