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Table of Contents  

I. Introduction: Basic Information   

1. Islam: A Brief Introduction    

2. Three Levels of Faith: Islam, Iman, and Ihsan    

3. The Scientific Evidence That God Exists and the Holy Qur'an Is His Message to Humanity    

4. Creation and Evolution in the Holy Qur'an   

5. Humans, As God's Caliphs on Earth   

6. Adam's Contest With the Angels, and Getting Out of Paradise  

7. Worshippers By Choice Or Forced Slaves?    

8. The Relationship Between the Spiritual and the Physical Aspects of Islamic Teachings   

9. Mind, Self, Soul, Spirit, and Happiness from an Islamic Perspective  

10. Heart-Mind Relationship in the Holy Qur'an    

II. Islam: The Five Pillars of the Faith Structure  

1. Proclamation of Faith  

2. Performing Islamic Prayers  

3. Giving Zakah (Charity)  

4. Fasting the Month of Ramadhan  

5. Making the Haj (Pilgrimage) Journey  

III. Iman: Allah, His Angels, Messengers, Messages, Latter Day, and Qadar  

1. Allah, As He Described Himself in the Holy Quran    

2. Angels  

3. Noo'h, Noah, in the Holy Quran     

4. Ibrahim, Abraham, in the Holy Quran

5. Moussa, Moses, in the Holy Quran  

6. 'Eissa, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Quran    

7. Muhammed in the Holy Quran   

8. Prophet Muhammed's Night Journey and Ascent to Heavens, Al-Issra Wal Mi'raj  

9. Latter Day (Day of Resurrection)  

10. Qada and Qadar: God's Foreknowledge and His Decree  

IV. I'hsan: Watching Allah in What We Say and What We Do  

1. Introduction to Islamic Law, Shari'a, Part I, Prohibition, Don't Do, and Do Commands in the Holy Quran

2. The La (No) Commands  

3. The Imperative Commands  

***

Articles with Islamic Perspective:

Health Care Crisis in the US: An Islamic Perspective

"Terrorism" & "Islamo-Fascism" Propaganda Campaigns: An Interactive Lecture

Six Questions About Islam, Muslims and Jews

Five Islamic Issues: Predestination and choice, position toward other religions, angels, and the End of Days

Food Islamic Rules and Teachings
 

Are Muslim women second-class citizens  

The French Ban on Islamic Headscarf, an Interview with

Links to Islamic Topics 2007-2010

Links to Islamic Topics 2007

Links to Islamic topics 2006

Links to Islamic topics 2005

Links to Islamic topics 2004

Links to Islamic topics, 2003

2002 Links to Islamic topics

 

 

Islam:

God's Message of Guidance to Humanity

1. 6

Adam's Contest With the Angels, and Getting Out of Paradise

By Hassan Ali El-Najjar

25 Jumada Al-Thaniya, 1431, June 8, 2010

 

 

 

ۡ ٱ ٱٰۡ ٱ

I seek refuge with God from the stoned Shaitan (Satan)

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

 

Introduction

A necessary background for this article can be found in two of the authors articles. The first is  "Creation and Evolution in the Holy Qur'an," [1]   which tells the Quran story of how God created life on Earth, let it evolve, and intervened to improve His creation.  The second article is "Humans, As God's Caliphs on Earth," [2]  which is a continuation of the topic of creation and evolution but with focus on human beings, as they represent the climax of the stages of creation, fashioning in the right proportions, walking upright on two, and having the best of images. As God, praise to Him, felt that humans became worthy of His decision to make them His caliphs, or successors, on Earth, through their ability to learn, construct, and choose, He declared to His angels that he had decided to give humans that mandate.

In this article, the story continues by the angels expressing their surprise for God's decision due to their knowledge of humans as corruptors of Earth and shedders of each-other blood. They asked God about why would He do that with a creature who "corrupts the Earth and sheds blood"? He answered them that He "knows what they do not know." Then, He brought Adam, as a representative of humanity, to a contest with the angels to show them that human beings deserve the honor He, praise to Him, accorded them.

Thus, this article addresses the story of Adam, God's will to make him His caliph, the contest with angels, living in Paradise, and getting out of it.

As this author pointed elsewhere, [3]  the verses related to the topics of these three articles, like the rest of the verses of the Holy Quran, are very concise and each word has a specific meaning within a certain context but it may have other meanings in other contexts. That is why the linguistic  translation from Arabic is not enough. It has to be complimented with facts from the sciences, particularly from Anthropology and Biology in this case, as well as with interpretations of prominent early Islamic scholars, may Allah reward them for their great efforts, such as Al-Tabari (Died in 310 Hijriya, about 922 AD), Al-Qurtubi (Died in 671 Hijriya, about 1272 AD), Bin Katheer (Died in 774 Hijriya, about 1372 AD), and Al-Siyouti (849-911 Hijria, 1445-1505), whose interpretations have been used for this article as well as others by this author. Though he consulted with various translations and interpretations, the translation of the meanings of the Quranic verses as well as the interpretations related to them in this article are the sole responsibility of the author.

A Brief Background 

The following three verses give a brief background about the author's first article, "Creation and Evolution in the Holy Qur'an," which tells the Quranic story of how Allah, praise to Him, created life on Earth, let it evolve, and intervened to improve his creation.

The verses tell us that Allah, praise to Him, began the creation of life, including humans out of clay, but He kept improving his creation, fashioning it with the right proportions, leading humans to walk uprightly (on two), and imaging them in the best image.

 

  ( 32: 7).

"(Allah is He) who has made everything He created better, and He began the creation of the human (being) out of clay"  (Al-Sajdah, 32: 7).

 ( 82: 7).

"It is He Who created you, fashioned you perfectly, and made you with the right proportions (straightened you up), to walk in an upright position"  (Al-Infitar, 82: 7).

 ( 82: 8).

"In whatever image He willed, He put you together (assembled you)"  (Al-Infitar, 82: 8).

Who Was Adam?

The following four verses from the Holy Quran tell us that Adam, peace be upon him, was the best of God's human creation. Allah, praise to Him, CHOSE him to represent the humankind to win the contest with the angels because of his ability to learn, choose, and build, as explained in the author's article "Humans, As God's Caliphs on Earth."

First, Verse 11 of Surat Al-Araf (Chapter 7) clearly states that Allah, praise to Him, created humans (khalaqnakum, in plural), then fashioned them in the image He wanted (sawarnakum, also in plural form). These two verbs refer to two of the stages of creating life first, then increasing its complexity, and finally bringing it to the human stage by walking upright, on two  (as mentioned in Verse 82.7).

The use of the word "then" indicates the passage of a period of time between one stage and another of the evolution of the human species under the caring of the Creator.

When Allah, praise to Him, decided that humans have reached to the level of being trustworthy of the mandate to be His caliphs on Earth, He chose Adam to represent them in front of the skeptical angels. When he won the contest, the angels were asked to prostrate to him, as an acknowledgement of the higher human rank.

Second, Verse 59 of Surat Al-Imran (Chapter 3) states that both of Jesus Christ and Adam (peace be upon them) were alike in that they were created of the Earth soil. We know for sure that Jesus Christ was created in his mothers womb, which means that the verse is referring to the first creation of life on Earth, out of clay (which is water and soil together). The verse tells us that this also applies to the creation of Adam, which is another reference to Adam as one of the humans, not the first of them.

Third, Verse 33 of Surat Al-'Imran (Chapter 3), which  states that Allah, praise to Him, CHOSE (Istafa in Arabic) Adam, Noah, the family of Ibrahim (Abraham), and the family of 'Imran above people of all the worlds (through centuries). This means that Adam was chosen as the best human of his time, just like the others were. If he were the only one, then Allah, praise to Him, would not use the word "choose."

The same Arabic verb (Istafa), used in Verse 33 of Surat Al-'Imran (Chapter 3), mentioned earlier, is also used in Verse 42 of the same surat (chapter, in reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus (peace be upon both of them). Allah, praise to Him, mentions that He CHOSE her from among the women of all the worlds. For sure, there were many women in the world for Allah, praise to Him, to choose from to be a mother for Jesus Christ. This further explains the use of the same verb in Verse 33. This means that Adam was also CHOSEN by Allah, praise to Him, to represent humanity in the majestic contest with the angels, as the following verses show.

Finally, the reference to immortality, in Verses 7: 20 and 20: 120 (in the section of Temptation to Breach the Covenant below), gives more support for the interpretation that Adam was not the first human. The verses show that he knew that humans were (and still are) mortals. He could not know that if he never saw other humans dying before him.

 ( 7: 11).  

"And We created you (humans, in plural form), then fashioned you (made you in the image you are, also addressing humans in plural form), then said to the angels: Prostrate to Adam! And they prostrated, all except Iblis (another name for Satan), who was not of those who made prostration"  (Al-A'araf, 7: 11).

ٰ ۖ ( 3: 59).

"The example of Eissa (Jesus) for Allah is as that of Adam. He created him from the earth soil, then said to him: "Be". And he was"  (Al-'Imran, 3: 69).  

ٰ ( 3: 33).

"Allah did choose Adam and Noah, and the family of Ibrahim (Abraham), and the family of 'Imran above the worlds"  (Al-'Imran, 3: 33).

ۡ ٱٰۡٓٮٕڪ ٰۡ ٱ ٱۡٮٰ ٱۡٮٰ ٰ ٓ ٱٰۡ  ( 3: 42).  

"The angels said: "O Mary! Allah has chosen you and purified you, and chosen you above the women of the worlds"  (Al-'Imran, 3: 42).

The Story of Adam  [4]

 

 

ۡ ٰۡٓٮٕ ۬ ٱۡۡ ۬ۖ ٓ ۡ ۡ ۡ ٱٓ ۡ ۡ ۖ ٓ ۡ ۡ ( 2: 30).

"And when your Lord said to the angels: I am making a caliph on the Earth. They said: Are You making therein one who corrupts it and sheds blood, while we hymn Your praise and sanctify You? He said: Surely I know that which you do not know (Al-Baqara, 2: 30).

As stated in Verse 2: 34, God Almighty, praise to Him, is telling the angels that Adam (and humans generally by implication) is higher in rank than angels themselves. Thats why He asked them to make prostration to Adam as an acknowledgement from them that he is higher than they are in the ladder of creation. All angels obeyed except Iblis (Satan) who refused arguing that he is better than humans, saying that he was created of fire while Adam was created of clay.

Humans have been more preferred by God as higher in rank than angels because of their ability to acquire more knowledge, because of their ability to choose between right and wrong, and because of their steady construction of the Earth. Thus, while angels are created to be obedient to God, humans have been given the ability to do that by choice. However, Satan refused to acknowledge that humans are better than him and asked God to give him (and his offspring) the chance to prove his point, by derailing humans from the right path. God accepted the challenge and delayed Satan's punishment, which would also apply to humans who follow him.

So, Gods trust in His human creation to be His representatives on Earth was based on His knowledge of them as being capable to choose between right and wrong. Unlike angels, who are obedient to their Creator by creation (Al-Tahreem, 66: 6), humans have the characteristic of choice between obedience and disobedience, making their own decisions.

 ( 66: 6).

"They (the angels) do not disobey Allah in what He commands them, and do what they are commanded" (Al-Tahreem, 66: 6).

ٱۡۡٓ ۡ ٱٰۡٓٮٕ ۢٔ ۡٓ ٰٓٓ ۡ ٰ ( 2: 31 ). 

"And He taught Adam all the names. Then, He showed them to the angels, and said: Inform Me of the names of these, if you are truthful"  (Al-Baqara, 2: 31).

This verse (2: 31) tells us that when Allah, praise to Him, decided that Adam (as the best human) has  learned enough from His guidance and from the accumulated knowledge of humanity on Earth, He brought him to the majestic contest with the angels, who were skeptical about the ability of this creature to be God's caliph (representative) on Earth.

The knowledge contest was about names of things that Adam knew. The verse does not tell us about these names, which could have included Adam's knowledge about his physical and human environment. God asked the angels to tell Him the names of these things, if they knew better than that creature. They replied that they did not know, as Verse 2: 32 tells us.

The last part of the verse, "if you are truthful," refers to the their (angels') claim that they are better than humans to be given the honor of caliphate on Earth.

But how did Allah, praise to Him, teach Adam?

The Holy Quran tells us that God's teaching to humans is not direct, one-on-one. Verses 42: 51and 53: 4, state that humans cannot communicate directly with God. It has to be by inspiration, to their minds. This also applies to His Messengers, as we read in Verse 53: 4.

( 42: 51).

"A human could not handle that Allah speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a barrier (veil), or by sending of a messenger (an angel) to inspire, with His permission, what He (Allah) wills, for He is Most High, Most Wise" (Al-Shoora, 42: 51).

ٰ

ٰ  ( 53: 4-5). 

 "It is an inspiration sent down (to him),

taught by one mighty in power (Jibril)" (Al-Najm, 53: 4-5).

Furthermore, Verses 2: 239, 2: 282, 55: 4  mention how Allah, praise to Him, teaches humans. Basically, He does that indirectly. He may facilitate their learning, by allowing them to have the peace of mind, the blessings of stability, and the satisfaction of their basic needs. Then, they are ready to learn from each other, as in the example of the scribe, and Allah, praise to Him, knows better. [5]

The Angels' Answer

So, what was the angels' answer to God's question to them to name these things. Verse 2: 32 includes their answer.

ٰۡ ۡ ٓ ۡٓۖ ٱۡ ٱۡ ( 2: 32 ) 

"They said: Praise to You! We have no knowledge except what You taught us. Surely You, (only) You, are the Knowledgeable, the Wise" (Al-Baqara, 2: 32).

 

This, then, was the angels' answer, that they did not know the names of the things He asked them about. At this point, Allah praise to Him, asked Adam to name them, in order to show the angels that he is more knowledgeable than they are. And Adam did, as Verse 2: 33 tells us.  

ٰٓٔ ۢۡ ۡٓٮٕۡۖ ٓ ۢ ۡٓٮٕۡ ۡ ۡ ٓ ۡ ۡ ٱٰٲ ٱۡۡ ۡ ۡ ۡ ۡ ( 2: 33 ) 

"He said: O Adam! Inform them of their names, and when he had informed them of their names, He said: Did I not tell you that I know the unseen of the heavens and the Earth? And I know what you disclose and what you are silent about" (Al-Baqara, 2: 33).

The last part of Verse 2: 33 tells us that Allah praise to Him knew what the angels disclosed (that this creature corrupts the Earth and sheds blood) and what they were silent about (that they are better than this creature).

When Adam won the contest of knowledge, Allah, praise to Him, commanded the angels to  prostrate to him, as an acknowledgement that humans are higher in rank of creation than they are. They all did prostrate except Iblis (Satan), who refused to do so out of arrogance and rejection of God's will, as Verse 2: 34 tells us.  

ۡ ۡ ٰۡٓٮٕ ٱۡ ٓ ٓ ۡ ٰ ٱۡۡ ٱٰۡ ( 2: 34 ) 

"And when We said to the angels: Prostrate yourselves to Adam, they prostrated except Iblis. He refused and showed arrogance, and he was one of the disbelievers" (Al-Baqara, 2: 34).

This theme is confirmed and emphasized well in the Holy Quran as there are nine verses which state that all the angels obeyed God's command to prostrate to Adam except Iblis. These are 2: 34, 7: 11, 15: 31, 15: 32, 17: 61, 18: 50, 20: 116, 38: 74, and 38: 75. Linguistically speaking, the nine verses show that Iblis was an angel as all of them state that he was the exception of the angels who disobeyed God's command.

The main reason of the Shaitan's (Satan's) disobedience to God was his arrogance, which made him think that he was better than Adam, and humans generally. Verses 61: 17, 12: 7, and 18: 50 (below) tell us about the sources of his arrogance. He believed that God created him from a more superior material (fire) than the clay He praise to Him created Adam from.

Because Verse 18:50 refers to Iblis (Satan) as a Jin, made of fire, there were two interpretations for the meaning of Jin, mentioned by the early Muslim interpreters.

The first interpretation, a narration from Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, mentioned clearly that Iblis was an angel to begin with but from a different category from the angels who prostrated. His name was 'Azazil, had four wings, and was one of the most honored, powerful, and knowledgeable angels until he disobeyed God. When this happened, it led to his banishment, so he became Iblis, which means hopeless from God's mercy.

In another narration from Ibn Massa'ud, may Allah be pleased with him, Iblis and his category of angels were called "Jin" because they were the custodians of Al-Jannah, the name of Paradise in Arabic. They were also called "Jin" because of their ability to be invisible.

The second interpretation, a narration from Al-Hassan, may Allah be pleased with him, mentioned that Iblis was not an angel. Rather, he  was from the "Jin," who were different from the angels in that they were made of fire while the angels were made of light. They ruled the Earth first before humans, corrupting it and shedding blood there.

This author finds the first interpretation (The Jin represented one of several categories of angels) to be more supported. First, the word "Jin" means invisible, a derivative adjective of the verb, Janna (to become invisible), as explained in Verse 6: 76 of the Holy Quran. The verb, Janna, in the verse refers to the darkness of night which makes things to become invisible. Second, Iblis had four wings. The Holy Quran tells us that angels had two, three, or four wings (35: 1). Finally, while the Jin were created from fire, the angels were created from light. Apparently, there is a clear relationship between the two categories of creatures. Light is a product of fire anyway, like the sun light, which is the product of its fire. God knows better.

Satan's Disobedience to God

Allah praise to Him, tells us the reasons Iblis (Satan) used to justify his disobedience to God, by refusing to prostrate for Adam, as Allah commanded. He said that he was created from fire, which is a superior material than the clay, which God used to create Adam. This is stated in the following four verses

ۡ ۡ ٰۡٓٮٕ ٱۡ ٓ ٓ ۡ ٱۡ ۡ ۡ ۦۤۗ  ۥ  ۥۤ ۡٓ ۡ ۡ ۢۚ ۡ ٰ ۬ (  18: 50). 

"And when We said to the angels: Prostrate to Adam, and they prostrated except Iblis. He was of the jinn, so he disobeyed the command of his Lord. Are you taking him and his offspring as your patrons instead of Me, while they are your enemy? This is the worst exchange for the unjust (the nonbelievers)"  (Al-Kahf, 18: 50).

 ۡ ۡ ٰۡٓٮٕڪ ٱۡ ٓ ٓ ۡ ۡ ۡ ۡ ۬ (ٕ 17: 61). 

"And We said to the angels: Prostrate to Adam, and they prostrated except  Iblis (Satan). He said: Do I prostrate to whom You have created of clay?" (Al-Issra, 17: 61).

  ۖ ( 38: 75).

 "(Allah) said, "O Iblis, what prevented you from prostrating to (that) which I created with My Hands? Were you arrogant, or were you among the haughty?" (Saad, 38: 75).

  ۡ ۡ ۡۖ ۟ ۡ۬ ۡ ۡ ۬ ۡ ۬ (ٴ  7: 12).

"He (Allah) said: What prevented you to prostrate when I commanded you? (Iblis) said: I am better than him. You have created me of fire while You created him of clay" (Al-A'araf, 7: 12).

God's Punishment to the Shaitan (Satan)

When Iblis disobeyed God Almighty and insisted on his disobedience by stating his reasons for that, Allah praise to Him banished him, ordering him to descend, or get out of Paradise, and out of His mercy, as explained by the early Muslim interpreters. Al-Qurtubi, in particular, explained it as descending out of an Earthen Paradise to other parts of the Earth. This interpretation is in consistence with the development of Adam's story, and God knows better. 

ٱۡۡ ۡ ٱۡۡ ٱٰ (ٴ  7: 13).

"He (Allah) said: Then go down (descend) from it. It is not for you to show arrogance in it. So, get out,  you are of the degraded" (Al-A'araf, 7: 13).

The arrogant Shaitan (Satan), still not backing down, asked Allah praise to Him, to delay his punishment until the Day of Resurrection, to prove his point that humans did not deserve God's honor to them to be His caliphs on Earth.

ۡٓ ٰ ۡ ۡ (ٴ  7: 14).

"He said: Reprieve me (delay my punishment) till the day when they are resurrected" (Al-A'araf, 7: 14).

To prove him wrong, Allah praise to Him agreed to delay his punishment until all humans die, following to the first Blow of the Trumpet, but not until they are resurrected as he requested.

ٱۡ (ٴ  7: 15).

"He said: You are of those reprieved"  (Al-A'araf, 7: 15).

  ٰ ( 38: 81).

"Till the day of the appointed time" (Saad, 38: 81).

After securing God's approval of delaying his punishment, the Shaitan (Satan) revealed his evil plan of derailing as many humans as he can from the straight path of their Creator, by sitting on that path in order to block it for them.

ٓ ۡۡ ۡ ۡ ٲ ٱۡۡ (ٴ  7: 16).

"He (Satan) said: Now, because You have sent me astray (to destruction), I shall sit for them on Your straight path"  (Al-A'araf, 7: 16).

The cursed Iblis (Satan) continued saying that he would come to humans from all directions trying to tempt them away from God's straight path, by telling them to focus on the pleasures of this life and forget about the hereafter, and he predicted that most of the humans would not be thankful to God.

ۢ ۡ ۡۡ ۡ ۡۡ ۡ ٰۡۡ ٓٮٕۡۖ ۡۡ ٰ (ٴ  7: 17),

"Then, I shall come to them from between their hands and from their back, and from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful"  (Al-A'araf, 7: 17).

Allah, praise to Him, then ordered him out of Paradise, and out of His mercy, promising to punish him and his human and Jin followers in the Hell fire, as stated in Verse 7: 18.

ٱۡۡ ۡ ۡ۬ ۡ۬ǝۖ ۡۡ ۡ ۡ ۡ (ٴ  7: 18).

"He said: Get out of it, disgraced, expelled. As for those of them who follow you, I will fill Hell with all of you"  (Al-A'araf, 7: 18).

So, Satan's request to have his punishment delayed, as mentioned in  7: 16, is also mentioned in 17: 62. The cursed Shaitan announced his intention to control and misguide the vast majority of Adam's offspring.

ۡ ٰ ٱ ڪۡ ٮٕۡ ۡ ٰ ۡ ٱٰۡ ۡ  ۥۤ ۬ (ٕ  17: 62).

"He said: Do You see this whom You have honored above me, if You reprieve me until the Day of Raising (Resurrection), I will seize his offspring, except a few' (Al-'Issra, 17: 62).

Allah, praise to Him, as also mentioned in 7:18, replied to the Shaitan (Satan) that He accepted the challenge, and that He would punish him and his human followers, in the Hell fire. 

ٱۡۡ ۡۡ ٓۡ ٓ۬ ۡ۬ (ٕ 17: 63).

"He said: Go, and whosoever of them follows you, Hell will be the ample reward for all of you" (Al-Issra, 17: 63).

In the following Verse (17: 64), Allah praise to Him, accepted the Shaitan's challenge, forwarding a warning to humans not to follow him and to beware of his deceptive tools, methods, and promises.

ٱۡۡۡ ٱۡۡ ۡ ۡ ۡۡ ۡ ۡ ۡۡ ٱۡۡٲ ٱٰۡۡ ۡۡۚ ٱٰۡ (ٕ 17: 64).

"And fool any of them whom you can with your voice, and bring your horse and foot (soldiers) against them, and be their partner in wealth and children, and promise them. And whatever the Shaitan (Satan) promises them is no more than deception" (Al-Issra, 17: 64).

In reply to Satan's announcement of his evil intention to derail humans from the straight path, Allah praise to Him announces that no matter what the devil does he has no power over God's faithful worshippers, who will be guarded by Him.

  ۡ ۡۡ ٰۡ۬ۚ ٰ ڪ۬ (ٕ 17: 65).

"(As for) my worshippers, you have no power over them, and your Lord is (their) sufficient Guardian" (Al-Issra, 17: 65)

 

God's Warning to Adam

 

Allah praise to Him, then, turns to Adam to warn him not to listen to the Shaitan (Satan), his enemy. Otherwise, he will be expelled from Paradise, which will cause him to toil in order to earn a living.

ۡ ٰٓٔ ٰ ۬ ۡ ۡ ٱۡ ٰۡٓ (ٰ 20: 117).

"We said: O Adam! This is an enemy to you and to your wife. So, do not let him get you both out of Paradise, and cause you to toil"  (Taha, 20: 117)

Then, Allah praise to Him tells Adam about the privileges which will be available to him in Paradise, in order to motivate him not to listen to the Shaitan (Satan). These privileges include abundance of food, clothing, water, and nice temperature, as mentioned in Verses 20: 118-119.

ٰۡ

  ۡ ٰۡ (ٰ 20: 118-119).

"(It is ordained for you that) you will neither be hungry in it nor be without clothes,

And that you will neither get thirsty in it, nor get exposed to the sun's heat"  (Taha, 20: 118-119).

 

In explaining the last word of Verse 20: 117 (fatashqa), the early Muslim interpreters mentioned that it meant "to toil in earning your living," as contrasted with the easy and comfortable way of life in Paradise, where food was abundant.

 

After getting out of Paradise, the same word described Adam's lifestyle as toiling. If Adam lived during the agricultural stage, it could have meant working hard to earn his living, through plowing under the heat of the sun, using a bull to tract his plow, throwing the seeds, tending the crop, harvesting, carrying the harvest home, grinding the wheat seeds to make flour, and baking the flour dough on fire to make bread. Briefly, the early interpreters, used a narration from Sa'id Bin Jubair, may Allah be pleased with him, describing an agricultural lifestyle, thus indirectly telling us about the approximate time of Adam's story.

 

Anthropological research marks the beginning of horticulture as about fifteen to twelve thousand years ago, which was the beginning of the domestication of plant food. This mode of production was accompanying another mode related to the domestication of animals, or what is known as pastoralism. Horticulture evolved to intensive agriculture about eight to six thousand years ago, when more sophisticated methods were used, such as irrigation, construction of roads, building dams and canals, and using wagons on wheels. This means that Adam and Eve could have lived in Paradise sometime between fifteen and eight thousand years ago, according to the accounts of early interpreters, and Allah knows better.  [6]

 

God's Covenant With Adam 

 

Allah, praise to Him, offered Adam and his wife to stay in Paradise, enjoying its comfort and its abundance of food , in return for obedience to Him. He told them that they can eat anything in Paradise except from one tree. He further warned them not to be even near that tree. If they did, they would be unjust to themselves because they would cause themselves to be expelled from Paradise. The Holy Quran does not tell us what kind of tree was that but the early interpreters mentioned that it could be the wheat, grape, or fig tree but nobody knows for sure.

ۡ ٰٓٔ ٱۡۡ ۡ ٱۡ ۡ ۡ ۡ ۡ ٰ ٱ ٱٰ ( 2: 35).

"And We said: O Adam! Dwell you and your wife in Paradise, and eat from it freely wherever you will, but do not come near this tree. Otherwise, you will be of the unjust (to themselves)"  (Al-Baqara, 2: 35).

Verse 7:19 is identical to Verse 2: 35, mentioned above, but without the word "raghadan," which maybe translated as freely, describing how much they can eat.

ٰٓٔ ٱۡۡ ۡ ٱۡ ۡ ۡ ۡ ۡ ٰ ٱ ٱٰ (ٴ  7: 19).

"And O Adam! Dwell you and your wife in Paradise and eat from whatever you will, but do not come near this tree. Otherwise, you will be of the unjust (to themselves)"  (Al-A'araf, 7: 19)

 

Verse 20: 115 tells us that Adam forgot his covenant with God, which allowed him to enjoy living in Paradise as long as he did not eat from that tree. He did not persist in rejecting the Shaitan's whispering and was not firm (strong) enough to repel his temptations.

ۡ ۡٓ ٰٓ ۡ ۡ ۡ  ۡ۬ (ٰ  20: 115).

"And We did make a Covenant with Adam beforehand, but he forgot, and We found no constancy (firmness) in him" (Taha, 20: 115).

He listened to the whispering of the Shaitan (Satan), who told him that he would be immortal with permanent dominion if he ate from that tree.   

ۡ ۡ ٱٰۡ ٰٓٔ ۡ ٰ ٱۡۡ ۡ۬ ٰۡ (ٰ  20: 120).

"Then, the Shaitan (Satan) whispered to him, saying: O Adam! Shall I lead you to the tree of eternity and a dominion that does not decay?" (Taha, 20: 120)

The Shaitan continued in his wicked plan to cause Adam and Eve to breach their Covenant with God, thus losing their privileges in Paradise, including clothes (or God's light), which covered their nakedness (or their private parts). He whispered to both of them that if they ate from the tree they may become angels or immortals.

The reference to immortality, in Verses 7: 20 and 20: 120, gives more support for the interpretation that Adam was not the first human. The verses show that he knew that humans were (and still are) mortals. He could not know that if he never saw other humans dying before him.

ۡ ٱٰۡ ۡ ۡ ۡٲ ٮٰ ۡ ٰ ٱ ٓ ۡ ۡ ٱٰۡ (ٴ  7: 20).

"Then, the Shaitan (Satan) whispered to both of them, in order to manifest to them that which was hidden to them of their shame (nakedness), and he said: Your Lord forbade you from this tree to prevent you from becoming angels or becoming of the immortals"  (Al-A'araf, 7: 20)

 

The Shaitan intensified his pressure on them, shifting from whispering to swearing to them, saying that he was just advising them to their best interest. Because of their innocence, they could not believe that the Shaitan would deceive them by swearing, as mentioned in Verses 7: 21 and 7: 22.

ٓ ٱٰ (ٴ  7: 21).

"And he swore to them (saying): I am a (sincere) adviser to you"  (Al-A'araf, 7: 21).

Breaching the Covenant

Then, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and went astray away from God's guardianship. As soon as they ate from that tree they lost their innocence and realized that they were naked. They were ashamed of that and started to cover themselves with leaves from the Paradise (fig trees, as one story relates), as related in 20: 121.

ڪ ۡ ۡ ۡٲ ۡ ۡ ٱۡۚ ٰٓ  ۥ ٰ  (ٰ  20: 121).

"Thus, they both ate from it. Then, their shame (nakedness of their private parts) became apparent to them, and they began to cover themselves of Paradise leaves. And Adam disobeyed his Lord, so he went astray"  (Taha, 20: 121).

At that moment, their Lord called them asking about why they did forget his warning to them, not to eat from that tree and not to listen to the Shaitan, their clear enemy?

ٮٰ ۬ۚ ٱ ۡ ۡٲ ۡ ۡ ٱۡۖ ٮٰ ٓ ۡ ۡ ۡ ٱ ٓ ٱٰۡ ۬ ۬ (ٴ  7: 22).  

"Thus, he led them on with deception. And when they tasted (of) the tree, their shame (of nakedness) became manifest to them, and they began to cover themselves with leaves of Paradise. And their Lord called them, (saying): Did I not forbid you from that tree and tell you that the Shaitan (Satan) is to you a clear enemy?" (Al-A'araf, 7: 22).

Then, Allah praise to Him, addresses children of Adam, who would come after him, telling them that covering themselves with righteousness and piety is better than false ways of covering their wrongdoing. He, praise to Him, uses the analogy of what happened to Adam and Eve after losing their innocence. They were ashamed of realizing their nakedness before God, and started to cover themselves with leaves from the Paradise (fig) trees.

ٰٓ ۡ ۡ ۡۡ ۬ ٲ ۡٲۡ ۬ǝۖ ٱٰۡ ٲ ۡ۬ۚ ٲ ۡ ٰ ٱ ۡ (ٴ  7: 26).  

"O Children of Adam! We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your shame, and feathering, but the clothing of piety is better. That is of the revelations of Allah, so that they may remember"  (Al-A'araf, 7: 26).

In explaining Verse 7: 26, Ibn Katheer referred to the agricultural society, saying that Allah, praise to him, caused rain to fall down so that children of Adam (by inspiration from Him) could grow cotton and linen, from which they made clothes to cover their nakedness. However, He praise to Him reminds children of Adam that the best clothing is that of piety, which was explained by the early interpreters as fear of God, faith in Him, good deeds, shyness, obedience to God, and observance of His commands.

Getting Out of Paradise

Thus, as a result of breaching their Covenant with their Lord , He, praise to Him, ordered Adam and Eve out of His Paradise to other parts of the Earth, where they would live, die, and be resurrected for the Day of Judgment. From that moment on, they would toil to earn their living. Their offspring would compete for the possession of resources, which leads to enmity and hostility among them. The Shaitan, their enemy, would also be there, doing his best to derail them from God's straight path, as the following three verses tell us.

Explaining the word "descend" in the following verses, Ibn Katheer provided two interpretations, one about descending from Heavens to Earth, and the other other about descending from the Earthen Paradise to other parts of Earth, as Al-Tabari narrated above but mentioning descent from heavens to Earth in this Verse.

Ibn Katheer added that Paradise could not be in heavens because Iblis was already banished from it when he disobeyed God. So, he could not enter it again. Apparently, Ibn Katheer's interpretation has the support of the main Caliphate Verse (2: 30), which states that humans would be God's caliphs on Earth, not in heavens.

ٱٰۡ ۡ ۡ ۖ ۡ ٱۡ ۡۡ ۡ ۬ۖ ۡ ٱۡۡ ۡ۬ ٰ ٰ ۬ ( 2: 36 ). 

"So, the Shaitan (Satan) caused them to err, (thus) slipping them out of it (Paradise), away from the (happy  state in) which they were. And We said: Descend (of Paradise), some of you are enemy to others. There shall be for you on earth a habitation and belongings (or enjoyment) for a time"  (Al-Baqara, 2: 36).

ٱۡ ۡۡ ۡ ۬ۖ ۡ ٱۡۡ ۡ۬ ٰ ٰ ۬ (ٴ  7: 24).  

"He said: Descend! some of you are enemy to others. There will be for you on earth a habitation and provision for a while" (Al-A'araf, 7: 24).

ۡۡ ۡ ۡ (ٴ  7: 25).  

"He said: On it (on Earth), you shall live, and on it you shall die, and from it you shall come out" (Al-A'raf, 7: 25)

Finally, more support for the interpretation that Paradise will be on Earth comes from Verse 74 of Surat Al-Zumar (Chapter 39) of the Holy Quran, an interpretation which was mentioned by Al-Qurtubi.

 ۖ ﴿ 39: 74﴾.

And they will say, "Praise to Allah, who has fulfilled for us His promise and made us inherit the Earth (so) we may settle in Paradise wherever we will. And excellent is the reward of (righteous) workers" (Al-Zumar, 39: 74).

 

Repentance and Forgiveness

Realizing their wrong doing, Adam and Eve started asking their Lord for forgiveness. They wanted to plead with Him, using the best words they could muster. The Compassionate, the Merciful conveyed to them the words with which they could plead with Him correctly.

ٰٓ ۦ ٰ۬ ۡۚ   ٱ ٱ ( 2: 36 ). 

"Then Adam received from his Lord words, and He accepted his repentance. He is the Acceptant of Repentance, the Merciful"  (Al-Baqara, 2: 37).

Then, they pleaded with Him using these words, as expressed in Verse 7: 23.

ۡٓ ۡ ۡۡ ۡۡ ٱٰۡ (ٴ  7: 23).  

"They said: Our Lord! We have oppressed (wronged) ourselves. If You do not forgive us and have no mercy on us, surely we will be of the losers"  (Al-A'araf, 7: 23). 

Thus, Allah, the Merciful, not only accepted Adam's repentance, but also guided him to the straight path (20:122), promised followers of His guidance (His Messages or Books) not to get lost in this life or be distressed in the hereafter (20: 123), and not to have fear from the hereafter or sadness about what they miss in this life, as expressed in the following verses.

ٱٰۡ  ۥ ۡ ٰ (ٰ  20: 122).

ٱۡ ۡ ۢǝۖ ۡۡ ۡ ۬ۖ ۡڪ ۬ ٱ ٰۡ (ٰ  20: 123).

"Then his Lord brought him back to Him, accepted his repentance, and guided him" (Taha, 20: 122).

He said: Descend of it, both of you. Some of you are enemy of others. When guidance comes to you from Me, then whoever follows My guidance will neither get lost nor be distressed  (20: 123).

ۡ ٱۡ ۡ ۬ǝۖ ۡ ۬ ۡ ۡۡ ۡ ۡ ( 2: 38 ). 

"We said: Descend of it, all of you. When guidance comes to you from Me, then whoever follows My guidance no fear shall come upon them, and they shall not be saddened" (Al-Baqara, 2: 38).

Finally, just as Allah, praise to Him, extends His mercy for those who repent of their wrong doing, He warns those who reject His revelations (messages of guidance brought to them through His Messengers) to be everlasting in the Hell Fire, as stated in Verse 2: 39.

ٱ ٰٔٓ ٰٓٮٕ ٰۡ ٱۖ ۡ ٰ ( 2: 39 ). 

"But those who reject and belie Our revelations, such are companions of the Fire. They are everlasting in it"  (Al-Baqara, 2: 39).

Conclusion

This article about the story of Adam's contest with the angels and his expulsion from Paradise, together with the other two articles (Cited in Endnotes 1 & 2) about creation and evolution as well as human caliphate on Earth, have attempted to answer some of the fundamental questions about origins of life and how humans came into being on Planet Earth.

The three articles are closely related, in a sequence. Though verses have been selected from different chapters of the Holy Quran, the coherence cannot be denied by any person with an open mind and reasoning. These verses were revealed to Prophet Muhammed, peace and blessings of God be upon him, 1431 years ago. Only in the 19th century, human scientists were able to start thinking in an evolutionary perspective, particularly in biology and anthropology. Their accounts are almost identical to the basic facts mentioned in the verses discussed in these three articles.

We are absolutely led to one striking conclusion: The author of the Holy Quran is not a human being. He is the Scientist who knows everything about the Earth and its inhabitants, as well as the heavens and what's in them.

He, praise to Him, called himself "Allah." He also described Himself as the Beneficent and the Merciful of his creation, particularly human beings. His pleasure is to see them happy in this life and in the hereafter. In order to lead them to happiness, He has prescribed to them a lifestyle that protects them from self-inflected misery, as this author pointed to elsewhere (See "Mind, Self, Soul, Spirit, and Happiness from an Islamic Perspective"). [7]

 

End Notes:


[2]  http://www.aljazeerah.info/Islamic%20Editorials/2010/May/Humans,%20As%20God's%20Caliphs%20on%20Earth%20By%20Hassan%20Ali%20El-Najjar.htm

 

[3]  Ibid.

 

[4]  The story of Adam, and Gods decision to make humans as His successors, or caliphs, on Earth, is narrated in the Holy Quran in several Suras (Chapters). In particular, it is found in Al-Baqara (Chapter 2), Verses 30-39; Al-Imran (Chapter 3), Verses 33 and 59; Al-Araf (Chapter 7), Verses 11-26; Al-'Hijr (Chapter 15), Verses 26-43; Al-Issra (Chapter 17), Verses 61-65; Al-Kahf (Chapter 18), Verse 50; and Taha (Chapter 20), Verses 115-123.

 

[5]  http://www.aljazeerah.info/Islamic%20Editorials/2010/May/Humans,%20As%20God's%20Caliphs%20on%20Earth%20By%20Hassan%20Ali%20El-Najjar.htm

 

 

[6] Scupin, Raymond. "Cultural Anthropology." 7th Edition, Pearson, Printice Hall (2008: 254),

      Henslin, James. "Sociology." 8th Edition, Allyn and Bacon (2007: 150).

 

[7]  http://www.aljazeerah.info/Islamic%20Editorials/2007/November/Mind,%20Self,%20Soul,%20Spirit,%20and%20Happiness%20from%20an%20Islamic%20Perspective%20By%20Hassan%20Ali%20El-Najjar.htm

 

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* Dr. Hassan Ali El-Najjar has a Ph.D. in Sociology and a Masters degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Georgia, USA. He is also a native speaker of Arabic. He was born in Gaza, Palestine, in 1369 Hijriya, 1950 AD.

 

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