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(2:38) – Regaining the Lost Paradise

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We said: “Get ye down all from here; and if, as is sure, there comes to you Guidance from me, whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

El Najjar writes,

“Al-Tabari interpreted the verb “descend” (ٱهۡبِطُواْ), in verse 2: 36, by using the same verb in Verse 2: 61, mentioning that it means coming to a valley, land, or a place to live in it. Al-Qurtubi was more specific in that it means coming down, from a higher place to a lower one.

In his interpretation of the same verb used in the above Verses, Ibn Katheer summarized two interpretations from his two predecessors and other scholars before him. He mentioned that the first meaning was descending from Heavens to Earth, and the other was descending from the Earthen Paradise to other parts of the Earth. However, Ibn Katheer was more supportive of the latter interpretation. He added that Paradise could not be in heavens because Iblis (Satan) was already banished from heaven when he disobeyed God (7: 13). So, he could not enter it again.” (Islam, A Scientific View of God’s Message to Humanity, in English with Arabic Texts, p. 124)

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)

Descension of Adam was not a punishment
That is why the command for Adam (AS) to go down to the earth
was not withdrawn even when he had been pardoned: only the mode
was now altered. Earlier the command had been given in the mode of
authority, and the sending down to the earth intended as a
punishment: hence the reference to the enmity among men. Now, it
was in the mode of wisdom, and the sending down to the earth, an
honour – the honour of viceregency. Hence the reference to things – viceregency involves. In commanding Adam and Hawwaa (AS) and
their progeny to live on the earth, Allah told them that He would be
sending down to men His guidance – that is, the injunctions of the
Shari’ah – through revelation, and that those who follow it faithfully
shall be free from sorrow and anxiety – in other words, they shall not
have to grieve about any loss in the past, nor to worry about some
misfortune in the future. (Maariful Quran, Vol 1, pg. 182)

See also in this context, the following post:

The obedient are freed of worries – Islamic Web Library

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)

Yahiya Emerick writes,

“When Adam and Eve were commanded to ‘go down’ (ahbitu) and inhabit the expanse of the world, it could mean that they were driven down from a highland area into the lower elevations surrounding that primeval place. (Verse 7:24 even implies that the regular terrain of earth outside of the garden was to be their new home.)”

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”

See also in this connection:

Allah will forgive every sin upon Repentance – Islamic Web Library

13:18 For those who respond to their Lord, are (all) good things – Islamic Web Library

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

“Allah has promised those of you who believe and do good
deeds that he will make them inherit the land, as He had
inherited those who were before them.” Surah Al-Nur (24:55)

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.


Daud Abdul-Fattah Batchelor (2017) Adam and Eve’s Origin: A Theory Harmonising Scientific Evidence with the Qur’anic Text, Theology and Science, 15:4, 490-508, DOI: 10.1080/14746700.2017.1369762

El-Najjar, Hassan. Islam, A Scientific View of God’s Message to Humanity, in English with Arabic Texts (p. 124). Kindle Edition.

Emerick, Yahiya. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an in Today’s English (p. 829). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

Hassan, Riffatt. Woman and Man’s Fall. pg. 112-113.

Mahmoud, Mostafa (2000). The Quran: An Attempt at a Modern Reading. (p. 76).

NOORUDDÎN ,ALLÂMAH. (2015). Exegesis of The Holy Qur’ân Commentary and Reflections. (p. 342, 349, 352, 354, 355).

Nasr, Hossein (2015). Study Quran.

Pervez, Ahmad. Iblees O Adam pg. 35-36, 43.

Shafi, Muhammad (2008). Maariful Quran. (Vol .1 pg. 182)

Yusuf Ali, Abdullah. Translation and Commentary of the Quran. (p. 21, 24 25, 514).

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