In the above captioned article we discuss sexual selection in evolution alongside with what Islam taught about the subject to the world since its inception. Let us read to find out how the two corroborate with each other.
For propagation of the human race marriage between the sexes is deemed indispensable. Islam therefore views the institution of marriage with utmost concern and has promulgated laws for its enactment, protection and perpetuation. Little wonder the Holy Prophet Mohammed, on whom be peace, in an authentic utterance says: “Marriage is part of my way of life (sunnat). He who does not marry is not part of me” (Bukhari, Muslim). Thus making marriage obligatory on Muslims for a successful material, moral and spiritual life. The Quran therefore preaches against celibacy and monasticism. According to dictionary of contemporary English by Longman a monastic is a monk living a quiet simple life or not having sex, thus making monasticism synonymous as with celibacy. Abstinence from marriage means an end to the propagation of the human race. Equally repugnant and reprehensible in Islam is homosexuality, since through its practice and promulgation mankind could become extinct after a few generations.
With the above little permeable in mind let me begin to discuss the marital arrangements made by Islam towards sexual selection. By sexual selection is meant those desirable qualities and traits in either the male or female that make them suitable for marriage. In Islam and in most cultures, the choice of natural selection lies in the hands of the man. Little wonder God has made females more beautiful to serve as force of attraction for males. In birds and animals, God has made males rather more beautiful to serve as force of attraction for the females. You can here appreciate the fact that the trend is reversed. In the case of humans, males suitable for marriage must possess some of the following traits and characters. He must be strong, healthy, virile and economically stable and dependent. If any of these traits is impaired the success of marriage cannot be ensured. Similarly, the lady to be married, upon whom depends the institutions of marriage in Islam, must possess certain traits and characters. According to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace. “A woman is married for four qualities: First, for her wealth. Second, for her family status. Third, for her beauty. Fourth, for her religion, which is the best” (Sahih Bukhari). One must keep in mind that a primary aim of marriage is to enable males and females transmit their desirable traits and qualities to their off springs among other factors. In this respect a wealthy lady becomes a preferred choice, since she can be of great assistance in the upbringing of children, particularly on such issues as modern education. By family status in the above is meant women from families that have high social standing in the eyes of the community. Example is a lady from a royal family; such ladies most likely would like to impart excellent upbringing and training to their offsprings to maintain the image of their families. Equally important is the trait of beauty which is a divine gift. In other words the offsprings of a beautiful lady are most likely to be beautiful. If you look at the Old Testament you will realise that Saul was chosen as king of Israel for his tallness, handsomeness and knowledge. These he possessed in excess over the Israelites.
In our traditional settings one of the qualities used in making choice of chiefs and kings is their handsome physical appearance. The fourth and last quality is the religious upbringing of a lady, which according to Islam’s Prophet is the best. This should be so far the fact that such ladies possess religious and moral training. Hence the husband spends very little time on her further training. No one should misconstrue the above saying of the Prophet of Islam to mean that if a girl is poor, does not come from a noble family, neither is she very beautiful then she cannot be married. A religiously trained girl may not possess any of these qualities, yet she is the best in the Prophet’s estimation. Thus compensating for lack of all the other qualities. But by the use of the above enlisted qualities as criteria for the selection of a wife, the Prophet, on whom be peace, has taught the world what is now known as sexual selection, which is a very important topic in evolution.
Birds and Mammals
Sexual selection is therefore observed in the female barn swallow that likes to mate with male counterparts with symmetric even tails. Scientists have also observed that, males with even tails resist parasite infections better than males with uneven tails. In other words beauty, as the outward trait, is a manifestation of healthy trait. Hence when the female barn swallow is attracted to a swallow with even tail then it is practicing sexual selection for healthy future offsprings. But then as more females are attracted to even tail swallows, it means that males with uneven tails become neglected. With time they and their offsprings diminish in the population, while those with even tails dominate. The even tails become successful in reproduction, since they have greater access to female to mate with.
You can here appreciate the fact that natural selection, as sexual selection, has acted on a population of male barn swallows leading to a variant (one with even tails) dominating in the survival of the fittest competition – an evolution has taken place. From the above discussion can be deduced the following evolutionary steps: First, is the existence of even and uneven tail male swallows in a given population. Second, the female swallow sexually selects the even tail and neglects the uneven tail. Third, survival of the fittest sets in with the two variants competing for survival. Fourth, the even tail procreates more offsprings and dominates, while the ragged tail unable to procreate, becomes extinct. Evolution has occurred. It is never the intension of the female barn swallow to bring about the extinction of the uneven tailed male. Its primary aim is to select a variant that will enable it to reproduce healthy off springs. This is what scientists mean when they say that evolution is not purposeful or is unconscious. Muslims science students must study evolution with all the seriousness it deserves.
Sexual selection is very vital for reproductive success of human beings, animals and birds according to Islam and science.
BY KHALID KOFI AHMAD