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The Story of Adam in the Quran: Regaining the Lost Paradise (Surah 7: 11-27)

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And We have certainly created you, [O Mankind], and given you [human] form. Then We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam”; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was not of those who prostrated.

According to the hadith literature, Allah sent an angel to the earth to get clay and bring it to the heaven
where Allah slowly shaped, evolved and sculpted this clay into the first man (Adam). The hadith
literature also attests that the first woman was created from Adam’s ribs and these two primordial
ancestors of man were sent to the Earth where they populated the Earth. This is the esoteric meaning of
the verse, or the revealed version which was revealed to the Prophet. It is binding on every Muslim and
not subject to change regardless of empirical progress.

As for the empirical version, it has been described as follows by modern scholars:

The following excerpt is taken from ‘What is the Origin of Man, Maurice Bucaille pg. 175:

The Transformations of Man Over the Ages
In contrast to the above, the commentary suggested by the verses of the Quran which I shall quote below bears mainly on material notions. We are indeed in the presence here of genuine morphological transformations which take place in a harmonious and balanced fashion due to an organization that is strictly planned, for the phenomena occur in successive phases. Thus the will of God, who rules eternally over the fate of human communities, is made manifest in all its power and splendour through these events. The Quran first speaks of a ‘creation’, but it goes on to describe a second stage in which God gave form to man. There can be no doubt that the creation and morphological organization of man are seen as
successive events. “We created you and thereupon We gave you form; thereupon, We told the angels: Bow down to

Hence it is possible to discern three successive events, the first two of which are important to our study :
God created man and thereupon gave him a form (Sawwara in Arabic)

(What is the Origin of Man, Maurice Bucaille, pg. 175)

In the same book (pg. 179), Maurice Bucaille argues:
“It is futile to seek discrepancies between the Quran and the data of paleontology, or with the information allowing us to conceive of a creative evolution, for there are none.”


“Having said this however, we cannot rule out the possibility that, in one or several related but independent lineages of hominids, fully developed human groups may have appeared owing to certain genetic modifications arising from God’s creative genius. A creation of this kind cannot be proven, but it is perfectly logical and does not provoke any objections from the point of view of either paleontology or the natural sciences. The above hypothesis causes those who are aware of the latest discoveries in celluar functions -such as the control of those functions by the genetic code- to weigh the matter very seriously. The scientific point raised here is suggested by our knowledge of the role of genetic inheritance in living beings over the course of time, and by our discovery of the fantastic organizational complexity of the tiniest living forms, ranging from the most rudimentary to the most complex organisms.

Creative evolution may thus be said to have caused the appearance of a human lineage which was subsequently to undergo its own specific transformations. The latter took place within an organizational pattern that manifested itself at various levels over the course of time. The growing complexity of structures, as mentioned above, came from the gradual accumulation of new information concerning the development of anatomical formation and functions, above all regarding the brain.” (What is the origin of man pg. 200)

He further comments:

“We now possess incontrovertible evidence indicating that present day man is not quite the same as the human forms that lived long ago, whose remains we have recently discovered; the existence of transformations within the human species over the course of time is therefore undeniable, and is as obvious as the fact that the earth is round.” (What is the Origin of Man, pg. 205)

“Studies of mutations which may perhaps grant certain very minor advantages to particular human groups indicate that man does not at present display any tendency toward a new type of organization: For man, evolution has come to a halt.” (What is the Origin of Man, pg. 94)

In the Message of the Quran, Asad writes:
“The sequence of these two statements – “We have created you [i.e., “brought you into being as living organisms”] and then formed you” [or “given you your shape”, i.e., as human beings] is meant to bring out the fact of man’s gradual development, in the individual sense, from the embryonic stage to fullfledged existence, as well as of the evolution of the human race as such. As regards God’s allegorical command to the angels to “prostrate themselves” before Adam, see 2:30- 34, and the corresponding notes. The reference to all mankind which precedes the story of Adam in
this surah makes it clear that his name symbolizes, in this context, the whole human race”.

And Allah knows best.

Surah 7 Verse 12:
[Allah] said, “What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you?” [Satan] said, “I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay.”

According to the “Study Quran”, under the commentary of the above verse,
“Iblīs explains his refusal to prostrate before Adam by asserting his superiority over Adam on the basis of the argument that he was created from fire, which he perceives as a more powerful and nobler substance than clay, from which Adam was created. This argument also appears explicitly in 38:76 and is implicit in Iblīs’s dismissive remarks about Adam being made of clay in 15:33. Iblīs’s claim to have been created from fire lends some support to the view that Iblīs was a jinn, since God created jinn from smokeless fire (55:15). Iblīs’s argument, however, is self-serving and partial, in both senses of the term. Although fire may be luminous, subtle, and characterized by levity and lightness (Q,R, Ṭ), it is also associated with fickleness, recklessness, restlessness, and destructiveness—with grandeur, but also haughtiness, qualities consistent with the arrogance (see v. 13) that ultimately leads to Iblīs’s perdition (Q, Ṭ). By contrast, clay or earth is base, heavy, dark, and lowlying (R), but also has the properties of gravity, forbearance, humility, and stability. It is these latter qualities in Adam that
lead him to seek and receive God’s forgiveness after his disobedience (Q, Ṭ; see v. 23). Clay or earth can also serve as a place of prayer. Moreover, in the Islamic context it is the constituent elements of clay—
namely, water and earth—that serve as a means of ritual purification (see 4:43; 5:6), not fire (unlike in Zoroastrianism, for example); and it is fire rather than clay that is a means of Divine punishment in
the Hereafter (Q).”

Surah 7 Verse 13
[Allah] said, “Descend from Paradise, for it is not for you to be arrogant therein. So get out; indeed, you are of the debased.

Surah 7 Verse 14
[Satan] said, “Reprieve me until the Day they are resurrected.”

Surah 7 Verse 15
[Allah] said, “Indeed, you are of those reprieved.”

Surah 7 Verse 16
[Satan] said, “Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path.

Surah 7 Verse 17
Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left,
and You will not find most of them grateful [to You].”

Surah 7 Verse 18
[Allah] said, “Get out of Paradise, reproached and expelled. Whoever follows you among them – I will
surely fill Hell with you, all together.”

Surah 7 Verse 19
And “O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat from wherever you will but do not approach
this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.”

Surah 7 Verse 20
But Satan whispered to them to make apparent to them that which was concealed from them of their private parts. He said, “Your Lord did not forbid you this tree except that you become angels or become of
the immortal.”

“so as to make manifest to them that of their nakedness which [hitherto] had been imperceptible to them”: an allegory of the state of innocence in which man lived before his fall from grace – that is, before his consciousness made him aware of himself and of the possibility of choosing between alternative courses of action, with all the attending temptations towards evil and the misery which must follow a wrong choice (The Message of the Quran, pg. 256)

Surah 7 Verse 21
And he swore [by Allah] to them, “Indeed, I am to you from among the sincere advisors.”

Surah 7 Verse 22
So he made them fall, through deception. And when they tasted of the tree, their private parts became apparent to them, and they began to fasten together over themselves from the leaves of Paradise. And their Lord called to them, “Did I not forbid you from that tree and tell you that Satan is to you a clear enemy?”

Surah 7 Verse 23
They said, “Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers.”

Surah 7 Verse 24
[Allah] said, “Descend, being to one another enemies. And for you on the earth is a place of settlement and enjoyment for a time.”

Surah 7 Verse 25
He said, “Therein you will live, and therein you will die, and from it you will be brought forth.”

Surah 7 Verse 26
O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness – that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember.

Surah 7 Verse 27
O children of Adam, let not Satan tempt you as he removed your parents from Paradise, stripping them of their clothing to show them their private parts. Indeed, he sees you, he and his tribe, from where you do not see them. Indeed, We have made the devils allies to those who do not believe.


  1. Asad, Muhammad (1980). (pg. 254). The Message of the Quran.

2. Asad, Muhammad (1980). (pg. 256). The Message of the Quran.

3. Bucaille, Maurice (1983). What is the Origin of Man? The Answers of Science and the Holy Scriptures. p. 175).

4. Bucaille, Maurice (1983). What is the Origin of Man? The Answers of Science and the Holy Scriptures. p. 179).

5.  Nasr, Hossein (2015). Study Quran.

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