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Regaining the Lost Paradise: The Story of Adam (Surah al Baqarah 2:30-39) 

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Surah 2 Verse 30:

And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.”


According to Tafsir ibn Kathir:
‘Allah reiterated His favor on the Children of Adam when He stated that He mentioned them in the highest of heights before He created them.

Allah said, and (remember)
when your Lord said to the angels,
This Ayah means, “O Muhammad! Mention to your people what Allah said to the angels.
Verily, I am going to place a Khalifah on earth.
Meaning people reproducing generation after generation, century after century, just as Allah said,

And it is He Who has made you (Khala’if) generations coming after generations, replacing each other on the earth. (6:165)

And makes you (Khulafa) inheritors of the earth. (27:62)

And if it were Our will, We would have (destroyed you (mankind all, and) made angels to replace you (Yakhlufun) on the earth. (43: 60)
and,

Then after them succeeded an (evil) generation (Khalf)) (7:169).


It appears that Allah was not referring to Adam specifically as Khalifah, otherwise he would not have allowed the angels’ statement,
They said: “Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood!”
The angels meant that this type of creature usually commits the atrocities they mentioned. The angels knew of this fact, according to their understanding of human nature, for Allah stated that He would create man from clay. Or, the angels understood this fact from the word Khalifah, which also means the person who judges disputes that occur between people, forbidding them from injustice and sin, as AlQurtubi said.


The statement the angels uttered was not a form of disputing with Allah’s, nor out of envy for the Children of Adam, as some mistakenly thought. Allah has described them as those who do not precede Him in speaking, meaning that they do not ask Allah anything without His permission.
When Allah informed them that He was going to create a creation on the earth, and they had knowledge that this creation would commit mischief on it, as Qatadah mentioned, they said, َ


(Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood).
This is only a question for the sake of learning about the wisdom of that, as if they said, Our Lord! What is the wisdom of creating such creatures since they will cause trouble in the earth and spill blood.
“If the wisdom behind this action is that You be worshipped, we praise and glorify You (meaning we pray to You) we never indulge in mischief, so why create other creatures” while we glorify You with praises and thanks and sanctify You.”

Allah said to the angels in answer to their inquiry,
He (Allah) said: I know that which you do not know.
meaning, “I know that the benefit of creating this type of creature outweighs the harm that you mentioned, that which you have no knowledge of. I will create among them Prophets and send Messengers. I will also create among them truthful, martyrs,
righteous believers, worshippers, the modest, the pious, the scholars who implement their knowledge, humble people and those who love Allah and follow His Messengers.”’


He further states:
Others said, َ:”(Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood, ـ while we glorify you with praises and thanks and sanctify You) is their request that they should be allowed to inhabit the earth, instead of the Children of Adam. So Allah said to them, (I know that which you do not know) if your inhabiting the heavens is better, or worse for you.”
Ar-Razi as well as others said this.
Allah knows best.


Surah 2 Verse 31
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.”

According to Mufti Taqi Usmani,
“The word ‘Ism’ has many lexical and intellectual nuances of meaning, the knowledge of which would not be essential for the average reader. It is sufficient to know that this word is translated in English as ‘Name’. ” (Maariful Quran, Vol. 1 pg. 57)


According to Ibn Kathir, citing Ibn Abbas, the ‘Names’ refers to:
‘Meaning, the names that people use, such as human, animal, sky, earth, land, sea, horse, donkey, and so forth, including the names of the other species.’ (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, surah al Baqarah pg. 115)

According to Abdullah Yusuf Ali,

“The names of things”: according to
commentators means the inner nature and qualities of
things, and things here would include feelings.
The particular qualities or feelings which were outside
the nature of angels were put by Allah into the nature of
man. Man was thus able to love and understand love,
and thus plan and initiate, as becomes the office of
vicegerent.
The angels acknowledged this. These things they could
only know from the outside, but they had faith, or belief
in the Unseen. And they knew that Allah saw all – what
others see, what others do not see, what others may
even wish to conceal.
Man has many qualities which are latent or which he
may wish to suppress or conceal, to his own detriment. (The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary, surah 2 verse 31.

Finally, regarding the ‘names’ taught to Prophet Adam specifically:

According to Islam QA,
Imaam Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his Tafseer (1/256, ed. by Abu Ishaaq al-Huwayni), commenting on the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):
“And He taught Adam all the names (of everything)…” [al-Baqarah 2:31]

“The correct view is that He taught him the names of all things, what they are, and their qualities, right down to the noiseless fart, i.e., the names and qualities of all things, great and small. Thus al-Bukhaari said in his commentary on this aayah in Kitaab al-Tafseer in his Saheeh, and Ibn Katheer mentioned al-Bukhaari’s isnaad from Anas, that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘The believers will assemble on the Day of Resurrection and will say, ‘Let us ask somebody to intercede for us with our Lord.’ So they will go to Adam and say, ‘You are the father of
all the people. Allaah created you with His own Hands, and ordered the angels to prostrate to you, and taught you the names of all things…’” This indicates that Allaah taught him the names of all created things, which is why He then said (interpretation of the meaning): “… then He showed them to the angels” [al-Baqarah 2:31] – i.e., the objects whose names He had taught to Adam.”


Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar listed various opinions on this topic in al-Fath (8/10), where he said,


“There was some dispute as to the meaning of the ‘names.’ It was suggested that this referred to the names of his offspring, or the names of the angels, or the names of the different species – without going into details, or the names of everything on earth, or the names of all things, even a platter.”

Imaam al-Shawkaani said in Fath al-Qadeer (1/64): “The ‘names’ are phrases or expressions, and what is meant is the names of the objects whose names Allaah taught him. This is the opinion of the majority of scholars, and this is the true meaning of the word ism (name). This is confirmed by the word all (all the names), which indicates that He taught him all the names and did not omit anything, no matter what it was.”
And Allaah knows best.

Surah 2 Verse 32:
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.”

According to Ibn Arabi, Fusus al Hikam pg. 52:


“The angels do not enjoy the comprehensiveness of Adam and comprehend only those Divine Names peculiar to them, by which they glorify and sanctify the Reality, nor are they aware that God has Names of which they know nothing and by which they cannot glorify Him, nor are they able to sanctify Him with the [complete] sanctification of Adam. Their condition and limitation being what it is, they said, concerning his formation, Will You put in it one who will work mischief in it? meaning [his] rebellion,
which is precisely what they themselves evince, for what they say of Adam applies equally to their own attitude toward the Reality. But for the fact that their own formation imposes this [limitation of knowledge], they would not have said what they said concerning Adam; but they are not aware of this.
If they indeed knew their own [essential] selves they would know [their limitation], and if that were so, they would have been spared [their mistaken utterance]. Furthermore, they would not have persisted in their challenge by calling attention to their own [more restricted] glorification of God, as also their [limited] sanctification. Adam enshrines divine Names the angels have no part in, nor are they able to glorify their Lord by them or by them to exalt His transcendence, as Adam does.”


Surah 2 Verse 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 [aspects] of the heavens and the earth? And I know what you reveal and what you have concealed.”


According to Mufti Taqi Usmani,
“Then, Allah demonstrated the truth to them in a vivid form. He gave to Adam (peace be upon him) a kind of knowledge for which he alone had been endowed with the proper aptitude, and not the angels. That is to say, He taught him the names, the properties and qualities of all the existents, animate or inanimate. Angelic nature is not capable of such awareness – for example, an angel cannot really experience the pain of hunger and thirst, the tumult of passions, the torment from the bite of a scorpion or a
snake, or the exhilaration from an intoxicant. Only Adam had the capacity to learn such things, and he was taught to know them. Then, there is no indication in the Holy Qur’an to show that he was taught in privacy, apart from the angels. It may well be that the teaching in itself was open to the angels as well as to him; his nature allowed him to receive it, and he learnt the lesson, while, they were impeded by their own proper nature, and could not. Or, it may be that the teaching did not take an external form at all, but that the Adamic nature was made to carry this particular kind of knowledge
within itself without the need of a formal education, just as an infant does not have to be taught how to suck the mother’s milk, or a duckling how to swim.” (Maariful Quran, pg. 162)


Surah 2 Verse 34:
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.

The Qur’ânic words are not sajadu adam–prostrate before Adam but Sajadu li-Adam that is pay homage to the humankind, as the word “Adam” throughout this section (2:30-33) stands for human beings and not to a particular man. The verse implies that a human being has superiority over the angels, which are the guardians and controlling powers of the forces of
nature, and that by his capacity of acquiring knowledge a human being can subsequently harness the forces of nature. (Exegesis of The Holy Qur’ân Commentary and Reflections p. 349)

Definition of Malaika (Forces of Nature)

Regarding the concept of Iblis or Satan, see the following posts:

On the term and concept of Jinn

The Meaning of “Iblees”

Surah 2 Verse 35
And We said, “O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat therefrom in [ease and] abundance from wherever you will. But do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.”

“Adam أدم is derived from adama َ
أدم ,which means to reconcile or be brown. In classical Arabic dictionaries adam stands for a human being, man, person, intelligent person, brown man, brave man, civilized person, chief, honest person, kind and polite person, a person who is created from different substances, a person in
possession of different powers, one who enjoys the comforts of life,
one who is by nature social, one who has heirs. Adam also stands for
the whole human race and humankind. All these meanings are given
to the word adam آدم) َTâj, Lisân, Lane, Râghib).” [Exegesis of The Holy Qur’ân Commentary and Reflections, pg. 342]

“It is believed that Adam, supposedly the first man created by Allah, (whose story is narrated in the Quran regarding his exit from Jannah) was the first Rasool. This is not supported by any verse of the Holy Quran, neither is the name of Eve (Hawwa) mentioned in the Quran. The story is narrated in a symbolic form and does not pertain to a particular person or a couple; in fact this is the story of mankind and Adam is its representative. The word Adam occurs 25 times in the Quran and only in one place (3:32) it appears that Adam was also the name of a chosen person.” (Exposition of the Quran, pg. 1141)

“In the Qur’an, “Adam” is stated seventeen times. The word of Adam has a connotation of proper noun in the Ayat where it is mentioned alone. We prefer that the word of “Adam” comes from the word of “edim” in Arabic, meaning “interior, inner surface, inner layer,” and we think accordingly that a person has an internal, spiritual, feature in addition to his dimension of being a bashar or insan.

That is to say:

Surah Al-Hajj 75, 76:

Allah chooses messengers from among the harbinger Ayat and from among the mankind. Indeed, Allah is the One Who hears best, sees best, He knows that which is between their hands and behind them. And all matters will be returned only to Allah.

Surah Ali Imran 33, 34:

Indeed, Allah favored Adam, Noah, family of Abraham and family of Imran -being from each other’s lineage- over the people of the time. And Allah is the One Who hears best, knows best.

Adam is a prophet: He was chosen from among humans.” (Creation of the Universe and Man according to the Quran, p. 31-32)

“In the Qur’an, there is also the expression of “Benî Adam” (Sons of Adam). This expression takes place seven times. What are meant here are not the sons of Adam but lineage of Adam. This expression, while warning people, states that they are not ordinary persons but the lineage of a knowledgeable and conscious ancestor with spiritual aspect subjected to Wahy (revelation) and that they must be the persons that deserve their ancestors. That is to say, an art of Reference is exhibited through these expressions and first Prophet Adam is reminded.” (Ibid, p, 33)

Mate (Zawj):

Regarding this word, Maurice Bucaille writes:

One of a pair’ is the translation of zawj (plural azwa’j) whose original meaning is that which, in the company of another, forms a pair.’ The word may just as readily be applied to a married couple as to a pair of shoes.


Regarding the word “Paradise”, Muhammad Asad writes:
“Lit., “the garden”. There is a considerable difference of opinion among the
commentators as to what is meant here by “garden”: a garden in the earthly sense, or the paradise that awaits the righteous in the life to come, or some special garden in the heavenly regions? According to some of the earliest commentators (see Manar I, 277), an earthly abode is here alluded to namely, an environment of perfect ease, happiness and innocence. In any case, this story of Adam is obviously one of the allegories referred to in 3:7.”

The Arabic word “Al Jannah” means “Beautiful Garden” not only in the meaning of “Paradise in the heaven”, but also in the meaning of “gardens of this world“. This word in the meaning of the “garden of this world” and also in its plural form has been used in many other verses of Quran. For example verses: 2:265, 2:266, 6:99, 6:141, 13:4, 17:91, 23:19, 25:8, 26:57, 26:134, 26:147, 34:15, 36:34, 44:25, 50:9, 71:12 and 78:16. The part of the verse 2:265, is clearly in the meaning of a garden on a high and fertile ground on earth. Therefore it is quite logical to consider that Adam was created on earth in a beautiful garden, probably situated on a high and fertile ground. (Excerpt taken from ADAM: Our Foremost Father).

T.O. Shanavas writes,

“Most contemporary Muslims across the world believe that Adam and Eve were created in Paradise (Jennat-ul-Khuld) but were expelled for eating fruit from the forbidden tree in the garden. Early Muslims carried on great debates about the location of the garden. According to the two foremost exegetes of the Quran, Ibn Kathir (died in 1372) and arRazi (died in 1209), four interpretations of the location of the garden prevailed: that the Garden was Paradise itself, that it was a separate Garden created especially for Adam and Eve, that it was located on Earth, and the view that it was best for Muslims not to be concerned with the location of the Garden. Unorthodox as it seems for our time, more reasons lead us to believe that the garden was on Earth rather than in Paradise.”

(For a scholarly discussion on the location of this Garden, see the post: The Garden of Eden

He further reasons,


“Ordinary humans become prophets only when God reveals His wisdom to them. So, God elevated Adam to become the first of His long chain of prophets by teaching him “knowledge of the nature and reality of all things and everything.” (Qur’an 2:31) Then God blessed them to live in a spiritual “Garden” of ease, happiness, and innocence. Muslims believe that Islam is the religion of all of the prophets. This belief is based
upon the following verses:


The Religion before God is Islam. (Qur’an 3:19)
Say: We believe in God, and what has been sent down to us, and what has been revealed to Abraham, Ismael, Isaac, Jacob, and their progeny, and that which was given to Moses and Christ, and to all other prophets by the Lord: We make no distinction among them, we submit to Him (Qur’an 2:136)
No; Abraham in truth was not a Jew, neither a Christian but he was a Muslim. (Qur’an 3:67)

According to these verses, all prophets preached Islam and so they are all Muslims. Adam being the first prophet of God preaching Islam, he and his mate became the original spiritual parents of all humans. If Adam was the first prophet, he must have had a human community to whom to preach the divine message.”


According to Ghulam Ahmad Pervez,
“The word Jannah has been used in the Quran extensively to convey a definite concept; the social order, which results by following the Quranic way of life. Jannah is established both in this world and the hereafter.
While narrating the story of Adam, the Holy Quran says that Adam was living in al Jannah, where he could eat as much as he liked and from anywhere, but was warned not to go near shajara (2:35). In other words, Jannah denotes a social order where each and everything can be had without undue labor. These things, however, are to be utilised within the limits laid down by Allah – (hudood-ullah). If that limit is respected, then there would be no end to these bounties and the sources would never
exhaust.” (Exposition of the Quran)


According to Tafsir Abduraheem As Saranbi,
“However one condition that Adam (as) and Huwaa (as) were given when they were in the garden was that they could not approach one tree. Allah (swt) tells them that they could eat all that they wanted but they could not come near one tree. The scholars say this is similar to our situation in this world. We can have anything that we want from this world; all objects have been made permissible for us, except for those few that the Law of Allah (swt) has made forbidden. With regarding these forbidden objects we
should not even come close to them. Similar was the condition for Adam (as) and Huwaa (as). Everything was made permissible for them except that tree. The tree was what was forbidden for them, and they were forbidden from even coming nearing that tree.” (Tafsir as Saranbi, pg. 177)

Explaining the purpose of the story of Adam, Muhammad Asad writes:
“In his earlier state of innocence man was unaware of the existence of evil and therefore, of the ever-present necessity of making a choice between the many possibilities of action and behavior: in other words, he lived, like all other animals, in the light of his instincts alone. Inasmuch, however, as this innocence was only a condition of his existence and not a virtue, it gave to his life a static quality and thus precluded him from moral and intellectual development. The growth of his consciousness—symbolized by the willful act of disobedience to God’s command— changed all this. It transformed him from a purely instinctive being into a full-fledged human entity as we know it—a human being capable of discerning between right and wrong and thus of choosing his way of life. In this deeper sense, the allegory of the Fall does not describe a retrogressive happening, but, rather, a new stage of human development: an opening of doors to moral considerations. By forbidding him to approach this tree, God made it possible for man to act wrongly—and, therefore, to act rightly as well: and so man became endowed with that moral free will which distinguishes him from all other sentient beings.” (The Message of the Quran, Surah 7, Note 16)

Elsewhere (67:2), the Holy Quran mentions:

Who created death and life that He might try you as to which of you is better in deed. He is the Most Mighty, the Most Forgiving:

Commenting on this verse, Maududi writes,

“That is, the object of giving life to man in the world and causing his death is to test him to see which of them is best in deeds. Allusion has been made in this brief sentence to a number of truths: (1) That life and death are given by Allah, no one else can grant life nor cause death. (2) That neither the life nor the death of a creation like man, which has been given the power to do both good and evil, is purposeless. The Creator has created him in the world for the test. Life is for him the period of the test and death means that the time 2) That neither the life nor the death of a creation like man, which has been given the power to do both good and evil, is purposeless. The Creator has created him in the world for the test. Life is for him the period of the test and death means that the time has come to an end. (3) That for the sake of this very test the Creator has given every man an opportunity for action, so that he may do good or evil in the world and practically show what kind of a man he is. (4) That the Creator alone will decide who has done good or evil. It is not for us to propose a criterion for the good and the evil deeds but for Almighty Allah. Therefore, whoever desires to get through the test, will have to find out what is the criterion of a good deed in His sight. Every person will be recompensed according to his deeds, for if there was no reward or punishment the test would be meaningless.” (Tafhim ul Quran, Surah 67 verse 2 note # 4)

The Holy Quran also mentions in 51:56,

I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained this verse as follows:

It is related by Umar Ibn al-Khattab (RA) that he heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say: “The actions are but judged according to intentions; and to every man is due what he intended. Thus, whosoever migrates for the sake of Allah and His Messenger [and there is no other motive of his migration except compliance with the commands of Allah and the Prophet and winning of their good pleasure], his migration is accounted for the sake of Allah and His messenger [and, doubtlessly, he is a true Muhajir-Emigrant]-and shall receive the recompense prescribed for Hijrat-Migration- towards Allah and His Messenger]; and whosoever migrates for the sake of this world or to wed a woman [his migration will not be for Allah and the Prophet], and it will be accounted only for the purpose for which it is intented.” (Bukhari and Muslim) [taken from Maariful Hadith, Noomani]

For details, see the following post: Actions are by Intentions

And Allah Almighty knows best.


Surah 2 Verse 36
But Satan caused them to slip out of it and removed them from that [condition] in which they had been. And We said, “Go down, [all of you], as enemies to one another, and you will have upon the earth a place of settlement and provision for a time.”

Adam made a mistake despite he was a chosen prophet. He noticed his mistake and asked forgiveness of Allah. Allah accepted his repentance. Hence, in the hailing of Beniadem, such things and beauties are reminded. (Creation of the Universe and Man according to the Quran, pp. 34-35)

“The statement means that Shaitân (the evil suggestions in the human mind) made them both (the male and female) forget their respective duties, whereupon they commit an unintentional fault.” [Exegesis of The Holy Qur’ân Commentary and Reflections, pg. 353]

Satan cast an evil suggestion into the minds of both Adam and Eve, as he casts evil suggestions into the minds of all of their offspring to divert them to the way of guile and deceit (7:20). This is what is indicated by the expression “slipping”; evil gradually tempts human beings from a higher to a lower state (cf. .)62-65 ; 36:60” [Exegesis of The Holy Qur’ân Commentary and Reflections, pg. 352]


According to A Study of Quran,

“The first man created by God – according to the Scriptures – is Adam. God also created a wife for Adam, and the whole of humanity is supposed to have descended from them. Adam is also regarded as the first prophet as he received guidance in the form of revelation from God after he and his wife were evicted from Paradise for disobedience to His command. This traditional interpretation, that humanity, as we see today, descended from Adam and his wife, is untenable for biological and other reasons. Therefore, we have to look for an allegorical interpretation. The one used by Parwez appears to fit very well with the story described in the Qur’an in verses 2:30-39. In this story, Adam stands for Man and his wife for Woman, the angels (Malaika) for the forces of nature, Iblees or Shaitan (Devil) for baser human desires.

Man was given autonomy and free will, unlike the forces of nature which do not have any independent will and, therefore, have to be subservient to Allah. Although nothing in ‘nature’ obeys Man, he can obviously learn to channel its workings to his advantage. When Man was made to settle on earth at first his needs were very limited and the means of subsistence plentiful. However, the baser instincts of Man eventually got the better of him. Driven by selfishness, human beings began to live according to their own self-made systems. As a result, they lost their blissful life. Humanity was split into different races, tribes and nations, with enmity amongst them. When man lost his blissful life, he was told:

(7:35) O children of Adam! If messengers of your own come unto you, who narrate unto you My revelations, then whosoever refraineth from evil and amendeth – there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.

(20:124) But he who turneth away from remembrance of Me, his will be a narrow life, and I shall bring him blind to the assembly on the Day of Resurrection.”


“Another interpretation is that the initial history of humanity was one without the need for the commands and prohibitions of religion, and the sending of prophets mentioned in this verse refers to a later time when prophecy became necessary (Th). Al-Rāzī disapprovingly relates an opinion he attributes to Qāḍī ʿIyāḍ (d.544/1149), a prominent Mālikī jurist and theologian, that the first period was one in which human beings acted
according to the intellect (both theoretical and practical); that is, they knew that there was a Creator, that one should be good to others, that lying and oppression are bad, that one should be just, and so forth. Pride, envy, and other vices eventually crept in and led to division, which then necessitated the sending of prophets. But such a view would have to take into account that Adam was the first prophet according to Islamic belief, and the clear proofs would have begun with him and continued throughout history. It is useful to recall here that in discussing 3:19 (Those who were given the Book differed not until after knowledge had come to them), many commentators point out that after several generations the Jews and Christians came to differ each within their own group, and an analogy can be made with Adam and the initial one community, whose members began as one, but then came to differ among themselves over the truth.” (Study Quran, under the commentary of 2:213)


For more information on the initial human community, see the following post:
Mankind was once one Community


According to T.O. Shanavas,
“As the interpretations of the early Muslim scholars do not find credence within a realistic biological model, I offer a third interpretation. This interpretation is compatible with the modern scientific understanding. Returning to the verses 2:35-36, initially Adam and Eve are addressed while in the Garden as “you” in the dual grammatical form when God offered to enjoy the “Garden”. Adam was nevertheless deemed a Prophet.
Adam must have had contemporary human beings by whom he was ordained to convey the Divine message. God ordered them to “get you down” from their paradisiacal mental state of perfect ease and happiness when the Prophet Adam and his congregation, the trustees of God on the earth, violated the divine guidance. The use of the plural form (“get you down”), in the divine command suggests the presence of a generation of human beings along with Adam and Eve. Then, the Quran states, “Some
of you are enemies to others.” The use of the plural form, (some of you), referring to a group of human beings is another reason to suppose that there were other human beings with Adam and Eve. So, based on Quranic verses 2:35-36 and 7:10-11, God peopled the world of Adam and Eve with rich genetic diversity so that His vicegerents would not go extinct due to the population bottleneck until the end of the world.” (Islamic Theory of Evolution, p. 160)


For further information on the dispersal of modern humans from ‘the Garden of Eden’,
see the following post:
Out of Africa Theory

At this point, one might ask “what is the purpose of the story of Adam if this event occurred on the Earth?” Who were Adam and Eve?

T.O. Shanavas explains,

Islam’s greatest historiographer, Abd-ar-Rahman Muhammed ibn-Khaldun, believed that the creation of mankind was gradual and that it evolved from the world of apes. In an earlier section of this work, we have seen many other pre-Darwin Muslims echoing the same belief. How, then, did the Judeo-Christian belief that God created Eve from Adam’s rib become a part of the Muslim faith? The Muqaddimah supports the argument that the story was not based on the Qur’an, but was incorporated into Muslim belief through Jewish and Christian converts to Islam. Ibn-Khaldun maintains that the sources for this story can be traced back to early Muslims, contemporaries of the Prophet Muhammad and to men who belonged to the generation that succeeded him. Records preserved by these men involved both reliable and unreliable materials. The reason for that, according to Ibn-Khaldun, is that the early Arabs “had no books or scholarship [and] desert attitude and illiteracy prevailed among them. When they wanted to learn certain things that human beings are usually curious to know, such as the reasons for existing things, the beginning of creation, and secrets of existence, they consulted earlier People of the Book (Jews and Christians).”

Ibn-Khaldun maintains that when these men converted to Islam, they clung to some of their Judeo-Christian beliefs, such as the beginning of creation. He asserts that converts such as Ka’b ul-ahbar, Wahb ibn Munabbiah, Abdullah Ibn Slam, and others “filled the Qur’anic commentaries with such materials, which originated . . . with the people of the Torah,” and therefore such information was neither sound nor verifiable. In Ibn-Khaldun’s view, their interpretations were accepted because they were “people of rank in [their] religion and religious community.”

In the light of the testimony of Ibn-Khaldun, one of Islam’s greatest historiographers and a devout Muslim, we can see that Muslims incorporated the story of the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib not through the authority of the Qur’an, but through information they acquired from Jewish and Christian converts. There is no Qur’anic, historical, or scientific basis to accept the contemporary Muslim belief that Adam and Eve were created ex nihilo.

The Qur’an tells us that all races, tribes, and nations are the children of Adam and Eve. God addresses us as such: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. (Qur’an: 49:13) 20 He also tells us: “Mankind was one single nation.” (Qur’an: 2:213)

Modern scientific research has come to the same conclusion. (Creation And/Or Evolution chapter 8)

Usaama al-Azami writes:
“My own suggestion to Muslims grappling with such an issue is to recognize that when it comes to what we believe, science and religion address two kinds of truth: empirical and revealed. Empirical (observation-based) truth is the stuff of science. It’s contingent on our sense perception, and humanity’s current state of knowledge. It’s truth with a lower-case t. It’s relative to what the human senses can access at a given point in time,
and makes no claims to being absolute. This is not to belittle it, as most empirical truths are what we consider facts, like the fact that the spherical earth goes around the sun.
Revealed truth, by contrast, is based upon revelation which, if you believe it, is Truth with a capital T. For the believer, it is absolute, not relative. Our knowledge of empirical truth can and has improved over time; just as the once held ‘fact’ that the sun goes around the earth has been corrected with the passage of time. No reasonable person believes this ‘fact’ today; though the ancients may have been justified in thinking it was genuinely scientific. Revealed truth, on the other hand, claims to be constant, absolute,
and unchangeable. Problems of this kind are nothing new for Muslim theologians. An example is the statement of the Prophet that: after the sun sets, it goes to the Throne of God and prostrates, before rising again from the East. This statement is recorded in multiple collections of Prophetic statements including the respected Sunni collections of Bukhari and Muslim. Muslims additionally believe that such statements from the Prophet constitute revealed truth. The reality is that virtually no Muslim theologian has ever taken such revealed truths to be statements of empirical truth. In such an instance, a Muslim will believe in the revealed truth, but not think this means that the empirical truth is wrong. Rather, the two kinds of truth address different domains, the moral and the empirical (what is observable through the senses). The first addresses what Muslims should believe as a matter of faith, and how they should behave; and the other is whatever a reasonable person believes about the observable world based on the current state of human knowledge.”

Asad writes:

In any case, this story of Adam is obviously one of the allegories referred to in 3:7

For a ruling on allegories in the Quran, see the following post:

The Allegorical verses of the Quran – Islamic Web Library

‘Another possibility (suggested by Ali Abubakar Sadiq)is that both events are literal truths but exist on two different planes (Before Fall/ After Fall). Before the fall Adam existed in the eternal plane (Paradise Firdaus) and thus all the events described in Hadith literature actually happened; however, after the fall, Adam (or Mankind) were sent to the earthly plane. The nature of this descent is not described and so we may assume that on Earth Allah evolved life until it reached the form Adam (Homo Sapien); then, each human being’s spirit was carefully differentiated into their earthly bodies in the womb of their mothers. Thus, human beings born on earth strive to reach their highest potential through which they also earn their proper place in Paradise Firdaus (Eternal Heaven).’

It seems to me that this is also the opinion of the great commentator Abdullah Yusuf Ali. Under the commentary of 2:35, he writes,

“Was the Garden of Eden a place on this earth? Obviously not. For, in verse 36 below, it was after the Fall that the sentence was pronounced: “On earth will be your dwelling.” Before the Fall, we must suppose Man to be on another plane altogether – of felicity, innocence, trust, a spiritual
existence, with the negation of enmity, want of faith, and all evil. (R). Perhaps Time and Space also did not exist.”

For details of this concept see the post:

The Story of Adam: Reconciling the Literalist Creation story with Empirical Knowledge

And Allah knows best.

Surah 2 Verse 37
Then Adam received from his Lord [some] words, and He accepted his repentance. Indeed, it is He who is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.

Adam made a mistake despite he was a chosen prophet. He noticed his mistake and asked forgiveness of Allah. Allah accepted his repentance. Hence, in the hailing of Beniadem, such things and beauties are reminded. (Creation of the Universe and Man according to the Quran, pg. 35)

For details see the following post: Dua Kumayl

In the verse 7:23 we read: “Both of them said, Our Lord! We have done injustice to our souls, and if you do not protect us (against the consequences of our faults) and do not have mercy on us, we shall surely be of the losers.” These were words of repentance asking for forgiveness. The words of repentance are for all human beings in similar situations. [Exegesis of the Holy Quran, pg. 354]

God granted him mercy and promised to give guidance to his seed. He established man on earth wherein he would rule by power of will and reason as God’s viceroy (The Quran: An Ateempt at a Modern Reading, pg. 76)


According to Muhammad Amin A. Samad,
‘This statement is the reminiscent of Allah’s promise to Adam and Eve after accepting their repentance for eating the forbidden fruit. He said:
“(For although) We did say, ‘Down with you all from this (state),’ there shall, none the less, most certainly come unto you guidance from Me: and those who follow My guidance need have no fear, and neither shall they grieve; but those who are bent on denying the truth and giving the lie to Our messages ‐ they are destined for the fire, and therein shall they abide.”
(Qur’ān 2: 38‐39, Asad’s translation)


This verse indicates the continuation of Allah’s guidance to mankind through His messengers since the time of Adam till the Last Day. This message reached its culmination in Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) who was the last messenger and was sent to the whole of mankind.
(From ‘A Collection of Islamic Writings’, Muhammad Amin A. Samad, pg. 21-22)


Surah 2 Verse 38
We said, “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.


In the framework of Qur’anic theology, the order to go forth from al janna given to Adam or the Children of Adam cannot be considered a punishment because, as mentioned in Sura 2: Al-Baqara: 30, Adam was always meant to be God’s vice-gerent on earth. As pointed out by Allama Iqbal, the earth is not a place of banishment but is declared by the Qur’an to be humanity’s dwelling place and source of profit to it. This idea is reiterated by Dr. Fathi Osman, who states:


I have a reservation about the expression “Man’s Fall”. According to the Qur’an, Adam was forgiven for eating from the “forbidden tree” (Sara 2: Al-Bagara: 37), and he came to inhabit and develop the earth, not as a punishment, but as a divine plan indicated in “I shall establish on earth a “khalifa” (Sara 2: Al-Bagara: 30). Further, it is stated in Sura 11: Hud: 61, “He brought you into being out of the earth, and brought you to develop it and thrive thereon (istakhlafakum fihii). I understand the “coming down”
(hubfit) of Adam as a change of place according to the Creator’s plan, and not a “fall” or a punishment. (Woman and Man’s Fall, Riffat Hassan, pg. 112-113)


According to Hossein Nasr,
“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.” (Study Quran, commentary of surah 2 verse 35)


According to Mustafa Mahmoud,
‘God promised Adam that He would appoint prophets to guide Adam’s seed :
Yet there shall come to you guidance from Me, and whosoever follows my guidance, no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow.
The Cow, 38
The meaning of ‘following God’s guidance’ is explained by the Quran. Man can be guided to understand his mistake and may, therefore, strive to regain the Paradise lost by his father–the Paradise of obedience and submission to God’s laws. This is the return to God to which the Quran frequently refers. Man should realize that he owns nothing except his ‘inner self’ or conscience (the sanctum or holy of holies which God leaves free) and that he should submit it to God and God’s laws of his own free will. Only thus could he prove better than the world of inanimate objects which submit to God’s laws forcibly–from the pebble on the roadside to the stars in their orbits. Man submits ‘ willingly and out of love for the dear God who made us all. In doing this, however, man should understand that God’s will must be done whether he likes it or not, and that God alone controls everything, that He alone can guide him because of His knowledge and power.’ (The Quran: An Ateempt at a Modern Reading, pg. 78)


According to Ghulam Ahmad Pervez,
“It is the job of the human intellect to provide the means for reaching a conclusion. But, are decisions made by humans really their own? As it is, at times, human instinctive behaviour is mistaken as ‘decisions’. For example, if one is hungry, he finds something to eat. The decision belongs to the person but obviously this is the demand of the instinct which is an animal instinct. My intellect tells me that I can find food in such and such place, or at such and such place I can find money which can buy me food. Now, it
is not the work of the intellect to guide me as to whether the food is permitted or not or whether the money I use to buy it belongs to me or not. The function of my intellect is simply to fulfill the demands of my instinct; therefore, it will repeatedly egg me on to take the money and buy the food. At the same time I am confronted with another demand and that is that I shouldn’t take the money which does not belong to me and eat the food because it is not permitted (halal). But if I do decide to take the money
and buy the food then my decision is affected by stark intellect and my decision is devilish. But if I decide not to take money that does not belong to me and buy food then my decision is according to the wahi (celestial guidance – Revelation) which distinguishes between what is permitted and what is not permitted. After this decision I shall tell my intellect to think up a way to provide me permitted and puritan food; now the workings of the intellect would be according to the dictates of wahi (i.e. following the celestial guidance). If our intellect is allowed to work in an unbridled manner without the guidance of wahi, our struggle in life shall be confined to protecting our lowly interests, or that of our progeny, with no distinction of the permitted or the forbidden. But, if the intellect is operative under the guidance of wahi, it will protect the rights of the entire humanity i.e., mankind at large and along with the nurturing of the human body, the human personality shall also flourish; the former of the two acts serves to oust Adam out of heaven, whereas the latter helps him to regain the lost paradise. That, then, is the lesson that is imparted through the tale of Adam and Eve.”
(Iblees O Adam, pg. 35-36)


“The tale of Adam in the Qur’an points to the fact that the ultimate destination for man is the heavenly life as depicted in the tale of Adam: (and this is the heaven that you have been made heir to as a result of your deeds)” Quran 43:72. (Iblees o Adam, pg. 43)

Ihbitû also means a change in condition
(Râghib, Lisân). This verse, that addresses all human beings, can be
translated as, “Go forth, move from one place to the other, some of
you are the enemies of others, and for you (the human beings) there is
a sojourn on this earth and a provision for some time.” (Exegesis of The Holy Qur’ân Commentary and Reflections, pg. 355)

Elsewhere in the Quran (11:3), the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) is instructed to preach:

“(And to preach thus), ‘Seek ye The forgiveness of your Lord, And turn to Him in repentance; That he may grant you Enjoyment, good (and true), For a term appointed, And bestow His abounding grace On all who abound in merit! (note 1495) But if ye turn away, Then I fear for you The Penalty of a Great Day”

The following is taken from “The Holy Quran: Text, Translation, and Commentary note 1495 pg. 514:

“The enjoyment of all good and true things in life refers, I think, to the present life with its limited term, and the abounding Grace refers to the higher spiritual reward, which begins here but is completed in the life to come”

And verily we have written in the Scripture, after the Reminder: My righteous slaves will inherit the earth (Quran 21:105, Pickthall Translation)

According to Daud Abdul-Fattah,

“God raised Adam and Eve to the Garden to enhance their knowledge and relationship with Him. Ibn Kathir stated that the majority of exegetes favoured the opinion that this was the eternal heavenly Paradise. Due to the instigation from Satan, Adam and Eve disobeyed Allah in “tasting” of the forbidden tree. Consequently, they were expelled to earth. It could be surmised that their entry to Janna was for their own edification to demonstrate they were not yet ready for it since they were incapable of fully obeying God’s commands. They needed to return to earth to first conduct self improvement to develop the state of nafs mutma’ina (contented soul at peace), for whom God declares the reward, “Enter you then among My devotees! Enter you My Heaven!” (al-Fajr 89:27–30).

(Adam and Eve’s Origin: A Theory Harmonising Scientific Evidence with the Qur’anic Text pg. 500)

Abdullah Yusuf Ali writes,

“In the sojourn of this life we must respond to God’s hand in fashioning us, by making full use of all our faculties, and we must get ready for our departure into the Life that will be eternal.” (The Holy Quran, Text, Translation and Commentary pg. 317 note 924

And Allah knows best.

Surah 2 Verse 39
And those who disbelieve and deny Our signs – those will be companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally.”

For a scholarly discussion on whether this punishment will be eternal or not, see the following post:

Will people be punished in Hell forever?

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