Islamic Web Library

An Islamic Resource Center

Category: Anthropology (Page 1 of 2)

Pre-Darwinian Muslim Scholars and Evolution

Download Link

The Garden of Eden

Quran 2:35:

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.

The ‘Names’

Quran 2:31:

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 Muhammad Asad (author of The ‘The Message of the Quran’),

“the names” refers to: Lit., “all the names”. The term ism (“name”) implies, according to all philologists, an expression “conveying the knowledge [of a thing] … applied to denote a substance or an accident or an attribute, for the purpose of distinction” (Lane IV, 1435): in philosophical terminology, a “concept”. From this it may legitimately be inferred that the “knowledge of all the names” denotes here man’s faculty of logical definition and, thus, of conceptual thinking. That by “Adam” the whole human race is meant here becomes obvious from the preceding reference, by the angels, to “such as will spread corruption on earth and will shed blood”, as well as from 7:11

The Muqaddimah – Ibn Khaldun

Vol. 1

Vol. 2

Vol. 3

Mates

Quran 30:21:

And among His signs is that He created mates for you from among yourselves, that you might find rest in them, and He established affection and mercy between you. Truly in that are signs for a people who reflect.

The following excerpt is taken from “The Study Quran” under the commentary of the above verse:

That God made for human beings mates from among yourselves (or “from your souls”; cf. 16:72; 35:11; 42:11; 78:8) is also understood to mean “from yourselves” when seen as an allusion to the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib (IK, Ṭ), though some commentators are skeptical of this association, feeling it relies too heavily on the Biblical tradition (see Genesis 2:21–23). A direct account of Eve’s creation is not found in the Quran, only in the Ḥadīth literature; see 4:1c. Although many understand the present verse as an address to men, telling them of the benefits to be found in their wives (Aj, IK, R), viewed in a broader Quranic context, especially in relation to those verses that state that God created human beings from a single soul (4:1; 6:98, 7:189, 31:28, 39:6) and its mate from that same soul (see 7:189c and 39:6), it is most likely an address to both men and women, telling of the manner in which God has extended His own Love and Mercy to them through the love and mercy that they manifest toward one another. In this sense, the purpose of marriage is not limited to producing children; it also represents a spiritual good in and of itself and a means by which men and women can encounter God’s Love and Mercy in each other. In this vein, the Prophet is reported to have said, “The believer whose faith is most complete is the one whose character is the best; and the best among you are those who are best to their wives.”

As well:

Quran 2:35:

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.”

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.”

Furthermore, 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.”

In general terms, however, this term (Paradise) refers to the Earth and its blessings.

According to “Lamp of Islam”:

Adam and his/her spouse symbolize mankind’s male and female equals

At this point (2:35) – when man and woman are asked to dwell in the garden and to ‘eat’ therefrom – we notice the sudden change of address from single form (Adam) to the dual (ADAM AND HIS/HER SPOUSE), apparently to signify the whole humanity represented by its male and female equals.

Here we cannot ignore that this reference to the two human counterparts – men and women – clearly follows a context that insures gardens for virtuous people to be fed therefrom and to dwell with their SPOUSES therein (2:25).

Furthermore, according to Muhammad Asad regarding “the tree”:

“This symbolic tree is designated in the Bible as “the tree of life” and “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis ii, 9), while in the above Qur’anic account Satan speaks of it as “the tree of life eternal (al-khuld)”. Seeing that Adam and Eve did not achieve immortality despite their tasting the forbidden fruit, it is obvious that Satan’s suggestion was, as it always is, deceptive. On the other hand, the Qur’an tells us nothing about the real nature of that “tree” beyond pointing out that it was Satan who described it – falsely – as “the tree of immortality”: and so we may assume that the forbidden tree is simply an allegory of the limits which the Creator has set to man’s desires and actions: limits beyond which he may not go without offending against his own, God-willed nature” (The Message of the Quran pg. 619-620)

In other words, the tree here simply refers to the limits which God has placed on Mankind, limits that each human being is aware of and knows that if he/she crosses, will harm him/herself.

With this commentary we can properly understand the verse 2:35 above:

Dwell O Adam (man/woman), you and your mate in Paradise (the Earth) and eat therefrom from wherever you wish (Do whatever you like i.e. seek every blessing) but do not approach this tree (signifying the limits placed on humanity as a whole and individuals).

What we must understand is that Allah has bestowed a great honour on humanity by saying ‘you and your mate’. This unique reference is for the pure purpose of honoring both spouses, also by calling this world by the name of the eternal Garden (Jannah), it is an even greater honour as it establishes that this world in which we live in is also “a” Jannah (Paradise), a place of goodness and blessing.

The Story of Adam adds a further blessing to all this by stating that if we make a mistake that harms us, we may seek forgiveness from God and we will be instantly forgiven and regranted Paradise. The whole purpose of the Story of Adam is this: life, liberty, redemption and thus, freedom.

The Fall of Adam (Part 3: Conclusion)

In the prior two posts of this topic respectively, I commented on the story of Adam in two parts. I described that these two parts were:

  1. Before the creation of the Universe
  2. After the creation of the Universe

As I mentioned in post #2, there is no place in the whole of the Quran and Hadith which describe the nature of Adam’s descent from Paradise to Earth. Thus, this is an area of comment and differentiation. The reason why I chose to interpret the story of Adam this way is that it does not contradict the text of the Quran and Hadith. The problem I faced as a student of knowledge was reconciling the hadith literature with the theory of Evolution (not Darwinian evolution by the way). The problem I faced was, since biology and paleontology has established that some sort of Evolution has undeniably occurred, including human beings, then how do I understand the hadith talking about the literal creation of Adam and various other issues such as Adam’s 60 cubit tall height, the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib, and other issues? One way to solve the problem is simply that these statements are allegorical versions of the real event; that is, they are relaying a hidden truth, and thus these narrations are not literal. This is one possibility. The other alternative suggested by me in post 1 and 2 of this topic is another possibility. However I found that this second possibility is more broad. With it I can reconcile all of the hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) while at the same time accept modern scientific discoveries such as the Big Bang and the Evolution of life. Interpreting the story this way does not contradict the facts, as well as the narrations of the prophet (pbuh).

The Fall of Adam (part 2: After Creation)

As established in the previous post (The Fall of Adam: part 1 [Before Creation]), the story of Adam can be told in 2 parts:

  1. Before Creation
  2. After Creation

After Creation:

The purpose of the prior post was to establish that Mankind had existed in a prior plane before creation, was tried in that plane, and was ultimately removed from it due to his own mistake. Mankind in this case was represented by the prophet Adam (peace be upon him), who was defined as the first man (in this sense). When God banished Adam to the Earth he was removed from this spiritual plane and sent to the physical plane of the Earth.

Now, what is unique is that at no place in the whole of the Quran nor the Hadith of the prophet (peace be upon him) does it describe the nature in which Adam descended to the Earth. Thus, it could have been that Adam was not created in the physical Paradise, but in a separate and sacred temporal realm existing sometime prior to the creation of the Universe. When Adam was ‘banished’ from Paradise, it could mean that his essence was transferred from this temporal realm to the physical realm in the proper order of Creation. Thus, the things which scientists have observed as natural phenomena, as the Big Bang and Concept of Evolution can be all valid understandings; however, every creature’s destiny has been pre-determined. The Story of Adam is talking about humankind’s destiny. In the previous realm, man existed in a state of innocence, sinned against this innocence, and was thus removed from it but redeemed. However, this redemption had a condition, he must now earn his way back to the eternal realm i.e. the Paradise (Firdaus). And so, he was born in this world with the current conditions and must strive and attain the stature willed to him by God. The natural consequence of this destiny is fault, and thus God being the All-Merciful, Most-Kind, has also created the guidance to help this creature succeed in his mission. Thus, the Prophets are raised, the devout are firmly established, the signs are known; all that point towards the truth of Allah are known, so that man has no excuse whatsoever on the Day of Resurrection.

Finally, the events of the story of Adam are re-created in this Earthly realm in order to establish man’s rightful inheritance of this world. All human beings, from the time of Adam all the way to the Day of Resurrection have a physical body with an immaterial soul; the same soul which testified of knowing Allah as explained in part 1 of this topic. This soul (Adam) is told:

“Dwell O Adam, you and your mate (the whole of the human race) in Paradise (the Earth) and eat of its fruits from wherever you will, but do not approach this tree (signifying the limits placed on mankind, limits if they were to cross, would harm them), lest you be wrong doers.” (Quran 2:35)

Thus, the trial is active; those who follow the guidance of God, given to the prophets, are successful and have fulfilled their purpose and will God willing attain the best of both worlds; while those who stray only harm themselves here and earn punishment in the hereafter.

The Fall of Adam (part 1: Before Creation)

I have borrowed the following ideas from the book:

Sadiq, Ali Abubakar. Science and Scriptures: Friends or Foes?: Marrying science and religion in the quest for meaning . Kindle Edition.


The story of Adam can be told in two main parts:

  1. Before Creation
  2. After Creation

Before Creation:

According to “Science and Scriptures: Friends or Foes?”,

‘Prior to the physical conception of life on this planet, God created every individual soul and existing in a different plane (The immaterial plane) As God says Q7:172 “When thy lord drew forth from the children of Adam from their lions-their descendants and made them testify concerning themselves (Saying) “Am I not your lord (who cherish and sustains you? They said “yea! We do testify” So every individual soul had collectively testified to the sovereignty of God in their former plane.’

Moreover,

‘If we look into the narratives of both the Old Testament and the Qur’an we will realize the creation story is being told in two versions, before the fall (spiritual/immaterial) and after the fall (physical/material).

Prior to fall, the two forces of good and evil were in rivalry, as God said in the Qur’an 38:69 “Also say: “I have no knowledge of that time when the exalted chiefs disputed among themselves”

The crisis only reached climax when Man was created. God (representing good) warned the spiritual side of man to be wary of Satan (The king of evil). Q20:117-9 “Then we said” O Adam! Verily this Satan is an enemy to thee and thy wife. So let him not get you both out of the garden, so that you are landed in misery. There is therein (enough provision) for thee not to go hungry, nor naked, nor suffer from thirst, nor from the suns heat”

Man was given a limited free will, to choose from the two and Satan began to campaign: Q20:120 “But Satan whispered evil to him he said “0 Adam shall I lead you to the tree of eternity and to a kingdom that never decays” (40) And in the Bible it was like this: Genesis 3:4-5 “And the serpent (Satan) said unto the woman, ye surely shall not die: for God know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and you shall be as gods knowing good and evil” (41) God has forbidden the collective soul from approaching the evil tree, but cunningly Satan is here telling the collective souls the aroma of eternal life. Seduced, man became the victim of the power play between God (The absolute creator) and Satan (the challenger). God decided to expel them both from the garden down to earth to see if Satan can uphold his claim as being able to be God himself. The ability to do good means nothing without the freedom to do evil. The Earth becomes the battle field between God, Satan and Man, but God made it a level playing field by bestowing us (Human’s) through the evolutionary process consciousness to be able to distinguish between right and wrong and choose freely. On the other hand Satan became the architect of evil as he, at every turn commands our souls to do and act evil in defiance of God.’

The Plane

God says Q20:117-9 “Then we said” O Adam! Verily this Satan is an enemy to thee and thy wife. So let him not get you both out of the garden, so that you are landed in misery. There is therein (enough provision) for thee not to go hungry, nor naked, nor suffer from thirst, nor from the suns heat”

Here the Lord is addressing Adam in the former plane before his expulsion and condemnation to the lower plane. The former plane is immaterial thus it is not governed by all the physical laws. In that plane Adam need not eat for there is no hunger, had no physical body to suffer nakedness, will not get thirsty and being not existing in physical plane the sun’s heat is out of the question. The provisions in the Garden provides for perpetual spiritual contentment and endless bliss. In that plane, man existed in his pure state with pristine qualities devoid of any evil tendencies. God warns him to keep on like that and be not prone to any evil or it may cause his fall into the lower plane (the physical plane). The advice was unheeded and man succumbs to Evil forces (Satan), which led to his expulsions to the lower plane, where if he purges the evils by restraints it will earn him re-admittance into the original station. Contrary to popular belief by some Jewish, Christian and Muslim the Garden of Eden was not a physical sensuous garden somewhere in the Middle East. It is a spiritual state beyond the temporal. Q47: 15 “Here is a parable of the garden which the righteous are promised. In it are rivers of water incorruptible; Rivers of milk of which the taste never changes. Rivers of wine joy to those who drink and rivers of honey pure and clear. In it are for them all kinds of fruits”

It is part of our nature to visualize things that we don’t know or cannot understand to those that we know (Imagine yourself trying to explain to a young boy who is blind all his life, the brightly colored pattern of a peacock).What God is trying to tell us is, the collective soul of all human beings was created and living in a spiritual garden. Adam is not a man but rather is the symbol of all men,

Adam represents the fountain of our dual existence viz spiritual and physical. That is why God told us in Q7:11 “It is we who created you and gave you shape; then we bade the angels Bow down to Adam, and they bowed down” In this verse God, interchangeably, used the pronoun “you” in the plural meaning all beings and the word “Adam” representing them. It is after the spiritual creation of all soul that God calls the collective souls as Adam. These collective souls were living in an immaterial plane, not the sensuous paradise as depicted by religious scholars.

Satan and Angels

What does the two terms really signify? Most people visualize Angels and Satan as creatures of fantasy. If one look at the various verses in the Scriptures will easily conclude they represent the two opposing forces of evil and good. As the former verse says all the angels agreed to bow down to us while Satan refused. The obedience of the angels by bowing down to us symbolizes their role in being the agency responsible for our protection and commanding our souls at every turn to do good. Angels are the inherent good nature of all beings, thus they represents the forces of good. That is why God told us in Q82:10-12 “But verily over you are appointed Angels to protect you, kind and honorable writing your deeds, they know and understand all that you do” This is virtually the picture of the roles of angels by being subservient to human spiritual development. On the other hand Satan refused to tow in line with his colleagues instead became the champion of evil deeds. Unlike the angels he is the inherent evil nature of all creatures thus representing the evil forces. God says in Q4:79 “Whatever evil happen to you, is from your own soul” (61) This verse is telling us that the king of evil is part and parcel of our souls. In one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad he said, “Satan runs through every person’s vein, the way blood runs through” After the creation of our collective souls, the two forces struggles to win us over. Man being created from the spirit of God is inherently good but Satan cunning misled him. At every turn the two opposing forces commands our souls to follow them as they are entwined in our own souls.

Man was given a limited free will, to choose from the two and Satan began to campaign Q20:120 “But Satan whispered evil to him he said “O Adam shall I lead you to the tree of eternity and to a kingdom that never decays” (63) And in the Bible it was like this Genesis 3:4-5 “And the serpent (Satan) said unto the woman, ye surely shall not die: for God know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and you shall be as gods knowing good and evil” (64) God has forbidden the collective soul from approaching the evil tree, but cunningly Satan is here telling the collective souls.

God has forbidden the collective soul from approaching the evil tree, but cunningly Satan is here telling the collective souls the aroma of eternal life. Seduced, man became the victim of the power play between God (The absolute creator) and Satan (the challenger). God decided to expel them both from the garden down to earth to see if Satan can uphold his claim as being able to be God.

It is at this juncture that God told the Angels of his plans. Q2:30 Behold thy lord said to the Angels “I will create a vicegerent on earth” they said “will you place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? While we do celebrate your praises and glorify thy holy name?

it is obvious for the Angels that our collective souls, which were hesitant to the absolute authority of God in his presence at the Garden of Eden, what will make them be subservient to God’s will on earth? So God replied them 2:30-31 “He (God) said “I know what you know not” And he taught Adam the nature of all things; then he placed them before the Angels, and said “tell me the nature of these if you are right”.

God showed the Angels the blue print of all the creatures he has destined to emerge from Adam, It became apparent to the Angels that not all creatures will testify to the God-head of Satan, some will rank higher than anything before them. The Angels submit thus Q2:32 “They said “Glory to thee: of knowledge we have none save what you has taught us” (67) The Angels were not only convinced but were marvelled at the process they were shown that will transform this planet. In fact they were astounded.

Sadiq, Ali Abubakar. Science and Scriptures: Friends or Foes?: Marrying science and religion in the quest for meaning . Kindle Edition.

Adam: Our Foremost Father

Islamic Views on Evolution

Orthodox View:

The Garden of Adam and Eve

Alternate Views:

What is the Origin of Man – Maurice Bucaille

And God Said: Let There Be Evolution (pg. 129-166) – T.O. Shanavas

Creation and Evolution in the Quran – Hassan Ali El-Najjar

Quran:

The Story of Adam:

Surah 2 Verses 30:39

Surah 7 Verses 11-27

Surah 15 Verses 28-48

Surah 20 Verses 115-124

Understanding the Allegory of Adam

Mates

Forces

The Names

Science:

Revelation: The Metaphysics of the Future

Creative Evolution

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén