September 30, 2012
Transmogrification: an explanation for hominid evolution?



5 min read

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Transmogrification is defined a:

“the act of changing into a different form or appearance (especially a fantastic or grotesque one)”

This action is known as Maskh (مسخ) in the Arabic language. Can this be an explanation for hominid evolution? A reader wrote into to ask:

I was wondering if you could give me some insight on a subject. I know this might require some knowledge of biology/evolution/earth’s history, but is there a possible connection with those whom Allah transformed/devolved as mentioned in the Qur’an (5:60) and the bones of humanoids (i.e. Lucy) found that people assoc with Neanderthals?

There is seemingly no connection between the transmogrification of humans and the presence of hominid fossil evidence. This is due to a number of reasons:

  1. Ibn Masoud narrates in Sahih Muslim that the Prophet was asked if he apes and swine seen at that time were descended from the transmogrified?”
    He said (إِنَّ اللهَ لَمْ يَجْعَلْ لِمَسْخٍ نَسْلًا وَلَا عَقِبًا، وَقَدْ كَانَتِ الْقِرَدَةُ وَالْخَنَازِيرُ قَبْلَ ذَلِكَ)
    “Allah never leaves those transmogrified procreant or reproductive. Apes and swine existed before them.”
  2.  The rarity of this act and the presence of numerous fossil remains seems to indicate these were distinct groups of creation.
  3.  DNA testing would seem to indicate that there was breeding and procreation amongst those populations (see for example:, as well as, the latter a good article debunking how we *may* be part Neanderthal).

And Allah knows best.

PS: Credit to “Fringe”  for exposing me to transmogrification. 🙂


I remembered I had a few links on the topic and a quote, so here they are for those of you interested in Talmudic studies.

1- Review: *Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews*Bernhard Heller/The Jewish Quarterly Review/, New Ser., Vol. 24, No. 4 (Apr., 1934), pp. 393-418/doi:10.2307/1451860
From Pp. 402-403

“The old Aggada already knows the punishment by transformation into apes. In the wicked generation of Enoch, human faces are transformed into monkey faces (Gen. Rab. XXIII.6) According to the Talmud, the builders of the tower of Babel were transformed into apes (Sanh. 109a) Ginzberg (VI, 85.452), therefore, sees a Jewish legend in the story of the Koran that Jewish Sabbath desecrators are transformed into apes. Ginzberg (VI 85.458) cleverly interprets the tannaitic-amoraic Aggada, that the Sabbath wood-gatherer descended from the family ????? ???, house of monkeys, to mean that, having desecrated the Sabbath, he was transformed into an ape.”

2- The Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg Translated from the German Manuscript by Henrietta Szold. Read the entire text here. and another copy here.


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