Scientists in Islamic countries must emphasise the theory of evolution's practical applications and its role as the bedrock of modern biology to avoid its rejection, says Salman Hameed.
Evolutionary biology is widely taught in the Islamic world. But a recent survey found that just 25 per cent of adults in Turkey — one of the most educated and secular Muslim countries — accepted the theory of evolution.
The problem, says Hameed, is that it is often taught in a highly religious context. Opponents highlight the social and cultural threats that the theory poses for Muslims — many people confuse evolution with atheism and consider it irreligious.
But a peaceful religious accommodation of evolutionary ideas is possible, Hameed insists.
He says that scientists have a high prestige in the Islamic world — they should take advantage of this to write newspaper and magazine articles on evolution, and tailor their message to local political and cultural realities.