We said, “O Adam, dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden and eat freely thereof, wheresoever you will. But approach not this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.”
The following excerpt is taken from “The Study Quran” under the commentary of the above verse:
The story of the fall of Adam and Eve from Paradise appears here and in 7:19–25 and 20:120–23. Relative to Genesis 2–3, the Quranic account gives fewer details. Some commentators mention an array of details about Adam, Eve, the Garden, and the fall, many of which find their origin in Jewish and Christian, and perhaps even Arab, oral traditions. Many of these traditions describe Eve (Ḥawwāʾ), who is referred to as Adam’s wife rather than Eve in the Quran; the kind of tree or plant from which Adam and Eve ate (apple vs. some type of grain); what form Iblīs took; and even where they were first exiled. But some of these details are not attested to very strongly in the Ḥadīth, and some (such as some registered by al-Ṭabarī) do not rise above the level of folklore. The Quran itself provides the foundation and details of the story of Adam and Eve, which has a different meaning in Islam than in Judaism or Christianity. The Garden in which Adam and Eve dwelled is indeed paradisal; they would neither hunger therein, nor go naked, . . . neither thirst therein, nor suffer from the heat of the sun (20:118–19), in addition to experiencing the unconstrained enjoyment of the Garden’s fruits, as mentioned in this verse. Eating from the tree, according to Iblīs, would have made them angels, or able to live forever (7:20), and in 20:120 he promises them the Tree of Everlastingness and a kingdom that never decays. Among the possibilities offered for the type of tree
are grain, grapevine, and fig. (The Quran never uses the word “fruit” in this context, but says only that they ate from the shajarah, a word that can include also vegetative growth such as trees, shrubs, and bushes.) One view (R) has it that the promise of eternal life mentioned in 7:20 and 20:120 would have had no attraction if Adam were already dwelling in the “Garden of Rewards,” which the Quran promises to believers. The command to get . . . down (v. 36) is the same verb used in v. 61 (Go down to a town . . .), where it does not imply a vertical descent, but a change in location. Moreover, those who enter the Garden will not be expelled therefrom (15:48). Also, if Adam were created from earth, then where is the ascent from earth to Heaven in this account? The commentator al-Qurṭubī (who is not of this opinion) also mentions that the Quran says of the Garden, They hear therein neither idle talk nor lying (78:35), and yet Iblīs did lie to them, which is indeed how he caused them to be expelled from it. These considerations would seem to indicate that this is a different Garden from the “Garden of Rewards.” The consensus view, though, is that the Garden of Adam and the promised Garden are the very same (R, Q). It is not “a” garden, but “the” Garden (aljannah), “well known” as the eternal Garden promised to believers. Some respond to the opinion that Iblīs could not have lied in the Garden by arguing that he could have whispered to them from somewhere outside the Garden, and that the promise never to be expelled applies only to those granted entry to Paradise after their sojourn on earth as a reward for their good deeds (Ṭs). Surveying these options, al-Rāzī offers this final possibility: “These are all possible, and the textual proofs are weak and contradictory; so one should cease, and refrain from being categorical. And God knows best.” On this and similar issues (such as Eve’s creation and entry in the Garden) he takes a similar attitude, that one cannot know for sure, and one does not need to know, as this is not central to the Quranic telling of the account.