Authenticity of “My DNA origins”

Q: A Muslim doctor advises something called “My DNA origins” on her website. I would appreciate Mufti Saheb’s comment on the permissibility of such tests. In the description it states:

The modern human (Homo sapiens) originated in Africa, the continent where we have spent most of our existence, some 200 000 – 300 000 years ago. It was onlyabout 60 000 – 70 000 years ago that a small East thAfrican population migrated out-of-Africa, giving birth to all non-African populations. As genetic diversity continues to increase with time, so the greater genetic diversity within the much older African population can be better explained.

One group of the out-of-Africa migrants moved east, reaching India, Southeast Asia and finally Australia approximately 50 000 years ago.

Another group of out-of-Africa migrants moved to the Near East/Arabian Peninsula, and further split into two groups; one eventually reaching and settling in Europe about 45 000 years ago, and the other returning to the continent to settle in North Africa. The populations that settled on the Asian continent eventually reached Siberia. Approximately 15 000 – 20 000 years ago they crossed the Bering Strait, reaching the American continent for the first time.

Ancient DNA studies showed that when the modern humans travelled out-of-Africa, they crossed paths with other human groups, namely Neanderthals and Denisovans. Hence, the genome of current European and Asian populations has approximately 2.3% of Neanderthal input; and the Southeast Asian population can have up to 4% of Denisovan input in their genomes. Interestingly, the Sub-Saharan African population does not have any input of either Neanderthal or Denisovan in their genomes, as these groups were never present in Africa.

Given the origin and migration of our species, human populations have primarily been organised into three large ancestral groups: African (Sub-Saharan Africa), Asian (more precisely East Asia) and Eurasian (not only Europe, but related by ancestry, Southwest Asia, North Africa and to some extent Central Asia).

There are gradients of genetic diversity between the human populations – some DNA variants are more frequent in certain regions than in others. Thus, as we analyse millions of DNA variants at the same time, we acquire an excellent resolution in identifying the origin of an individual based on their specific genetic profile.

A: Their findings are nothing more than speculation and guesswork. We do not have to believe in what they say. Most of such people do not believe in a creator. They base their arguments on fossil remains and that in itself is not conclusive evidence.

And Allah Ta'ala (الله تعالى) knows best.


Answered by:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)