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Islam: God's Message of Guidance to Humanity

By Hassan Ali El-Najjar

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. Islamic Proclamation of Faith  

2. Performing Islamic Prayers  

3. Giving Zakat, Charity, The Third Islamic Duty  

4. Fasting and Ramadhan, Great Gifts from Allah to Muslims  

5. Haj, Pilgrimage, the Fifth Pillar of Islam

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. The Last Day, The Hour, Resurrection, Reckoning, and Judgment

10. God's Precise Measurement and His Just Decree, Al-Qadar Wal Qadha

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 No (La) 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

Revised During Rabi' Al-Thani, 1438 - January 2017

***

 

 

 

1438   2017  

 

***

 

ۡ ٱ ٱٰۡ ٱ

 

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

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

 

***

 

Introduction

This Chapter 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. However, a necessary background for this Chapter can be found in two other chapters. The first is Chapter I.4,"Creation and Evolution in the Holy Qur'an," which tells the Quran story of how Allah (God), praise to Him, created life on Earth, let it evolve, and intervened to improve His creation.  The second is Chapter I.5, "Humans, As God's Caliphs on Earth," 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 Allah, praise to Him, felt that humans became worthy of His decision to make them His caliphs, or successors, on ruling 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 Chapter, the story continues by the angels expressing their surprise for God's decision due to their knowledge of humans as corruptors of the Earth and shedders of each-other's blood. They asked Allah, praise to Him, about why would He do that with such a creature? 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.[1]

 

 

A Brief Background 

 

The following six verses of the Holy Quran give a brief background about the story of how Allah, praise to Him, created life on Earth, let it evolve, and intervened to improve his creation, as was presented in Chapter I.4.

Verse 11 of Surat Al-Araf (Chapter 7) clearly states that Allah, praise to Him, created humans (in plural), fashioned them in the image He wanted, then He said to the angels to prostrate to Adam (who was one of these humans).

 ( 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).

Verse 59 of Surat Al-Imarn (Chapter 3), states that both of 'Eissa (Jesus) and Adam, peace be upon them, were alike in that they were created of the Earth soil. We know for sure that Jesus 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. 

ٰ ۖ   ( 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: 59).

The same meaning about the beginning of creation of life out of water and soil (clay) is also mentioned in Verse 32: 7. 

  ( 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-Sajda, 32: 7).

Verses 82: 7-8 and 64: 3, mention the four stages of human creation, starting with the first creation, fashioning, straightening up, and making humans in the best of images.

  ( 82: 7).

  ( 82: 8).

 

 ۖ   ( 64: 3).

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). 

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

He created the heavens and Earth in truth and made you in the best of images, and to Him is the (final) destination (Al-Taghabun, 64: 3).

 

 

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, build, and choose, as explained in Chapter I.5.

First, Verse 11 of Surat Al-Araf (Chapter 7) of the Holy Quran 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 four main stages of creating life first, then increasing its complexity, bringing it to the human stage by enabling humans to walk uprightly, on two legs (as mentioned in Verse 82.7), and finally making humans in the best of images.

 ( 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).  

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 intervention and the caring of the Creator.

When Allah, praise to Him, decided that humans have reached 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 'Eissa (Jesus) and Adam, peace be upon them, were alike in that they were created of the Earth soil. We know for sure that Jesus 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.

ٰ ۖ  ( 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).   

Third, Verse 33 of Surat Al-'Imran (Chapter 3) 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 (throughout the centuries). This means that Adam was chosen as the best humans of his time, just like the others were in their times. If he were the only one, then Allah, praise to Him, would not use the word "choose."

ٰ  ( 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). 

The same Arabic verb (Istafa), used in Verse 33 of Surat Al-'Imran (Chapter 3) is also used in Verse 42 of the same Surat (Chapter 3), in reference to Mary, the mother of 'Eissa (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 'Eissa (Jesus). This further explains the use of the same verb in Verse 33, which confirms that Allah, praise to Him, CHOSE Adam, to represent humanity in the majestic contest with the angels, as verses below show.

ۡ ٱٰۡٓٮٕڪ ٰۡ ٱ ٱۡٮٰ ٱۡٮٰ ٰ ٓ ٱٰۡ  ( 3: 42).  

And [mention] when the angels said, "O Mary, indeed Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds (Al-'Imran, 3: 42).

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

ۡ ۡ ٱٰۡ ٰٓٔ ۡ ٰ ٱۡۡ ۡ۬ ٰۡ (ٰ  20: 120).

Then, the Shaytan (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)

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

Then, the Shaytan (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).

 

Finally, Verse 75 of Surat Saad (Chapter 38) of the Holy Quran mentions God's direct intervention in the creation of Adam (and the humankind in the previously-mentioned stages), with His Own Hands.

 ۖ   ( 38: 75).

(Allah) said: O Iblees (Satan), 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).   

 

The Story of Adam  [2]

The story of Adam started with God's decision to give humans a mandate to be His caliphs (successors) in ruling the Planet of Earth, as stated in Verse 2: 30.

ۡ ٰۡٓ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).

To  show the angels that Adam was worth His trust, Allah, praise to Him prepared him for a knowledge contest with them. He asked them about names of things that they did not know about. When they acknowledged their lack of knowledge, He asked Adam to tell them about what they did not know. As a result, Allah, praise to Him, told the angels to make prostration to Adam, in acknowledgement to his winning of the contest. All angels prostrated in obedience to God's command, except Iblis (Satan), who refused to do so in arrogance and disobedience, as stated in Verses 2: 31-34. 

ٰ ﴿٣١

 ۖ ﴿٣٢

 ۖ ﴿٣٣

ٰ ﴿٣٤﴾  (  2: 31-34).

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

They said, "Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You who is the Knowing, the Wise." (32)

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 [aspects] of the heavens and the earth? And I know what you reveal and what you have concealed." (33)

And [mention] when We said to the angels, "Prostrate before Adam"; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers. (34) (Al-Baqara, 2: 31-34).

 

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: 4-5, 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 by adaptation to their environment and to each other, as in the example of the scribe, and Allah, praise to Him, knows better.

 

 ۖ    ( 2: 239).

 ۚ   ( 2: 282).

ٰ ﴿١﴾ ﴿٢﴾ ﴿٣﴾ ﴿٤﴾  ( 55: 4). 

And if you fear (an enemy, then pray) on foot or riding. But when you are secure, then (pray) mentioning Allah, as He has taught you that which you did not know (Al-Baqara, 2: 239).

Let no scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him (Al-Baqara, 2: 285).

The Beneficent (1) Taught the Quran, (2) Created the human, (3) taught him clear speech (4) (Al-Ra'hman, 55: 1-4). 

 

All Angels Prostrated to Adam Except Iblis (Satan)  

 

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 (Satan). 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 Shaytan'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 created Adam from.

Because Verse 18: 50 refers to Iblis (Satan) as a Jinn, made of fire, there were two interpretations for the meaning of Jinn, 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 "Jinn" because they were the custodians of Al-Jannah, the name of Paradise in Arabic. They were also called "Jinn" 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 "Jinn," 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 Jinn represented one of several categories of angels) to be more supported. First, the word "Jinn" 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

 

When Allah, praise to Him, asked the Shaytan (Satan) about why he refused to prostrate to Adam as he was commanded to do, he answered saying that he was better than him, as he was created of fire while Adam was created of clay, as we read in Verses 17: 61, 38: 75, and 7: 12. 

ۡ ۡ ٰۡٓ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 (Satan), 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).

(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 Shaytan (Satan)

When Iblis (Satan) disobeyed his Creator 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 mentioned in Verse 7: 13.

ٱۡۡ ۡ ٱۡۡ ٱٰ (ٴ  7: 13).

(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 early Muslim interpreter of the Holy Quran, Al-Qurtubi, explained it as descending out of an Earthen Paradise to other parts of the Earth. This interpretation is consistent with the development of Adam's story, but Allah knows better. 

The, Iblis (Satan) asked Allah to give him (and his offspring) the opportunity to show that humans do not deserve His trust, saying that he would derail them from the right path. Allah, praise to Him, accepted the challenge and delayed Satan's punishment, which would also apply to humans who follow him, as stated in the following Verses.

ۡٓ ٰ ۡ ۡ  (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).

 ٰ   ( 38: 81).

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

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

After securing God's approval of delaying his punishment, the Shaytan (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).

(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).

(Allah) 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 Shaytan announced his intention to control and misguide the vast majority of Adam's offspring.

ۡ ٰ ٱ ڪۡ ٮٕۡ ۡ ٰ ۡ ٱٰۡ ۡ  ۥۤ ۬  (ٕ  17: 62).

(Satan) 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 Shaytan (Satan) that He accepted the challenge, and that He would punish him and his human followers, in the Hell fire. 

ٱۡۡ ۡۡ ٓۡ ٓ۬ ۡ۬  (ٕ 17: 63).

(Allah) 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 Shaytan'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 Shaytan (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

 

Then, Allah, praise to Him, turns to Adam to warn him not to listen to the Shaytan (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 Shayitan (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 early agricultural stage, known as horticulture, 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, Al-Qurtubi, one of the prominent early interpreters of the Holy Quran, used a narration from Sa'id Bin Jubair, may Allah be pleased with both of them, 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. [3]

 

 

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 His commands, which aim at their welfare and well-being. 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 plant, 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 unjust (to yourselves) (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 Shaytan'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 firmness in him (Taha, 20: 115).

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

ۡ ۡ ٱٰۡ ٰٓٔ ۡ ٰ ٱۡۡ ۡ۬ ٰۡ  (ٰ  20: 120).

Then, the Shaytan (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 Shaytan continued in his wicked plan to cause Adam and Eve to breach their Covenant with Allah, thus losing their privileges in Paradise, including their innocence. 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 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 Shaytan (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). 

ۡ ۡ ٱٰۡ ٰٓٔ ۡ ٰ ٱۡۡ ۡ۬ ٰۡ (ٰ  20: 120).

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

ٓ 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 His guardianship. As soon as they ate from that tree they lost their innocence and realized that they were naked. They were ashamed of their nakedness and started to cover themselves with leaves from the Paradise trees, as related in Verse 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 Shaytan, 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 Shaytan (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 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 (righteousness) 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 (righteousness), which was explained by Al-Qurtubi as fear of God, faith in Him, doing 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 Shaytan, their enemy, would also be there, doing his best to derail them from God's straight path, as Verses 2: 36, 7: 24, and 7: 25 tell us.

Explaining the verb "descend" (ٱۡ) in Verses 2: 36 and 7: 24, Ibn Katheer summarized two interpretations from other scholars before him, one about descending from Heavens to Earth, and the other about descending from the Earthen Paradise to other parts of Earth. However, Ibn Katheer sounded like more supportive of the latter interpretation. He added that Paradise could not be in heavens because Iblis was already banished from heaven when he disobeyed God. So, he could not enter it again. Apparently, this interpretation is consistent with 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 Shaytan (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 (get down), 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).

 

 ۖ   ( 2: 38).

We said: Descend (Go down) from it, all of you. And when guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows My guidance - there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve (Al-Baqara, 2: 38).

ٱۡ ۡۡ ۡ ۬ۖ ۡ ٱۡۡ ۡ۬ ٰ ٰ ۬  (ٴ  7: 24).  

He said: Descend (get down)! 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)

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 and Al-Tabari.

 ۖ  ﴿ 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).

 

Finally, this author adds more support for the above interpretation, that Paradise in the Adam story was on Earth, from a linguistic perspective. Researching the verb "descend" (ٱۡ) in the Holy Quran shows that it is included in four verses. These are the three verses mentioned above in relation to the Adam story (2: 36, 2: 38, and 7: 24) as well as in Verse 2: 61, which reads as follows:   

   ۗ   ( 2: 61).

Descend (get down) to Egypt and you will have what you asked for (Al-Baqara, 2: 61).

 

This verse was about the story of the Israelites when they were in the Sinai Peninsula desert, after fleeing Egypt. Allah, praise to Him, provided for them with sustenance from Him, in the form of Manna and quails (Verse 20: 80). However, they complained, demanding to get the vegetables they used to eat in Egypt. Then, Allah, praise to Him, replied to them saying: Descend (get down) to Egypt and you will have what you asked for (Al-Baqara, 2: 61).

 

Thus, the verb "descend" (ٱۡ) here is used to mean leaving a place to another, which is lower, but both of the two places are for sure on Earth, as the Sinai Peninsula desert is part of Egypt. So, the use of this verb should not necessarily be understood to mean descending from heaven to Earth. Rather, it is simply descent from a higher to a lower place, here on Earth, and Allah, praise to Him, knows better. 

 

 

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 their Lord using these words, which are included in Verse 7: 23.

ۡٓ ۡ ۡۡ ۡۡ ٱٰۡ  (ٴ  7: 23).  

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

Then, Allah, the Merciful, praise to Him, 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 Verses 20: 123 and 2: 38.

ٱٰۡ  ۥ ۡ ٰ  (ٰ  20: 122).

ٱۡ ۡ ۢǝۖ ۡۡ ۡ ۬ۖ ۡڪ ۬ ٱ ٰۡ  (ٰ  20: 123).

Then his Lord brought him back to Him, accepted his repentance, and guided him (Ta Ha, 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 (Ta Ha, 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 Chapter is about the story of Adam's contest with the angels and his expulsion from Paradise. Together with Chapter I.4 and I.5 about creation and evolution as well as human caliphate on Earth, the three chapters have attempted to answer some of the fundamental questions about the origins of life and how humans came into being on Earth, reaching the climax of ruling this planet, as Caliphs of God.

The three Chapters are closely related, in a sequence. Though verses have been selected from different Suras (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 Allah be upon him, more than1400 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 can get a lot of support from the basic facts mentioned in the verses discussed in these three Chapters.

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

He, praise to Him, called himself "Allah" (See Chapter III.1, "Allah, As He Described Himself in the Holy Quran").  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 in Chapter I.9, "Mind, Self, Soul, Spirit, and Happiness from an Islamic Perspective."        

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 Notes

[1] The verses related to the topics of this book, 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 Anthropology and Biology in this case, as well as with the interpretations of prominent early Islamic scholars, may Allah reward them for their great efforts, such as Al-Tabari, who died in 310 Hijriya (about 922 AD), Al-Qurtubi, who died in 671 Hijriya (about 1272 AD), and Bin Katheer, who died in 774 Hijriya (about 1372 AD). Their interpretations have been used throughout this book. Though this author consulted with various translations and interpretations, the translation of the meanings of the Quran verses as well as the interpretations related to them in this book are his sole responsibility.  

 

[2] 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.

 

[3] Stages of the human society development so far included hunting-gathering, pastoralism, horticulture, agriculture, industrial, and post-industrial modes of production. Details about these stages can be found in anthropology and sociology textbooks, such as:

 

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

 

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

 

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Dr. Hassan Ali El-Najjar has a Ph.D. in Sociology and a Masters degree in Cultural Anthropology. He is also a native speaker of Arabic.

 

Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.

editor@aljazeerah.info