Since the advent of Darwin’s theory of evolution, there has been an increased interest in the ‘monkey’ family. They are widely used as pets, circus performers or in psychological tests. According to the theory of evolution, monkey family, is the closest to man in the hierarchy. This tailed creature is the immediate predecessor to the ‘tail-less creature’. Scientists have found both relatively close to each other in terms of intelligence and body movements. In body shape also there are similarities.
The evolution theory has found as many supporters as adversaries. To some, the theory states that there can be no more development of the man and that man has reached the acme of evolution. They believe that the evolution has culminated in the present state of man. In the words of the Poet-Philosopher, Sir Muhammad Iqbal, “…the formulation of the same view of evolution with far greater precision in Europe has led to the belief that ‘there now appears to be no scientific basis for the idea that the present rich complexity of human endowment will ever be materially exceeded.’ That is how modern man’s secret despair hides itself behind the screen of scientific terminology.”
A few months back, the appearance of the ‘Monkey-Man’ that assaulted many had caused an outcry not only in the region where it was discovered, but rest of the world as well. And the media made it sure that this ‘fiction’ remained a ‘fact’ in the minds of the readers, viewers and the ‘visitors’ as well. What remained a fiction in the streets of Delhi and other parts of India was a ‘fact’ even in European tabloids. Despite making tremendous advance in the world of ‘facts’, there still remains a desire in modern mind for ‘fiction’.
Many theories were put forward to explain the Monkey-Man phenomenon. Some thought it must be doing of the intelligence agencies of the neighboring country. For a while I thought whether the evolution was running ‘anti-clockwise’. Was Darwin’s theory working the opposite direction? Doubts remained in the minds of experts and laymen alike. Another Darwin was in demand to explain this ‘fact’.
However, the real investigations proved that the ‘M-M phenomenon’ was pure myth and no more than a hype supported by media. It was just the fantasy of the victims in the attack. Thus the hopeless ‘fact’ was proved a fiction.
While monkeys are normally found in jungles or in circus troupes, one maybe surprised to find the creature in sand dunes of the Arabian Desert. A few days back, a rhesus monkey appeared in my neighborhood that caught the attention of the young and old alike. The rumor mill in the neighborhood was lucky enough to get another topic for analysis. And the children found a ‘living alternative’ to keep them busy in the summer holidays. Not everything went happily. Some onlookers had a taste of the creature’s little claws while others were chased to their homes. One set of people thought whether this desert monkey would be the counterpart of Monkey-Man that appeared on the streets of Delhi.
The theory of evolution framed by Darwin was developed under the influence of Western civilization. In the past and present, it has ignored the spiritual aspect of man.
Dr. Allama Iqbal invites our attention to the ‘spiritual evolution’ of Man according to the greatest Mystic poet, Jalaludhin Rumi.
“The modern man with his philosophies of criticisms and scientific specialism finds himself in a strange predicament. His naturalism has given him an unprecedented control over the forces of nature, but has robbed him of faith in his own future. It is strange how the same idea affects different cultures differently. The formulation of the theory of evolution in the world of Islam brought into being Rumi’s tremendous enthusiasm for the biological future of man.
Low in the earth
I lived in realms of ore and stone;
And then I smiled in many tinted flowers;
Then roving with the wild and wandering hours,
O’er earth and air and ocean’s zone,
In a new birth,
I dived and flew,
And crept and ran
And all the secret of my essence drew
Within a form that brought them all to view
And lo, a Man!
And then my goal,
Beyond the clouds, beyond the sky,
In realms where none may change or die-
In angel form; and then away
Beyond the bounds of night and day,
And Life and Death, unseen or seen,
Where all that is hath ever been,
As one and whole.
(Rumi: Thadani’s translation)
This essay was written on June 22 2001.