April 19, 2021

Islamic Web Library

An Islamic Resource Center

Adam and Eve: The Spiritual, not Biological Parents of Humankind

5 min read

The following excerpt is taken from “Islamic Theory of Evolution” by T.O. Shanavas pg.154-156:

“Contrary to commonly held view of Adam and Eve being the primeval parents of human species, the literal reading of the verse in association with other verses guides us to a alternate conclusion that Adam and Eve are really not the biological parents but spiritual parents of human species.

In order to determine the role by Adam and Eve in the history of the human species, we need to have an understanding of the human soul-body relationship based on the Quran. (p.154)

A complex metaphor can be confused easily with reality. When we use pronouns such as “I” or “you,” we recognize the person based upon the physical features of his or her material body. By doing so, we in fact are denying our own existence and accountability on the Day of Judgment. According to the Quran, the human soul is the spiritual center of the real human while the material body of flesh, blood and brain serves only as a visible metaphor and a product of evolution. The material body is only the robotic arm of a soul. (p. 154)

“Many Muslims use the Quranic verses 4:1 to discredit the theory of evolution as well.

“O mankind,venerate your Lord, who created you from a single soul, from it created its mate, and from the pair of them has spread abroad countless men and women.” (4:1)

“The creation of the human from a “single soul” and “from it… its mate (duality)” refers to the creation of the primordial human soul and its progression into a dyad in the generation of the male and female human souls, not yet clothed in the garment of biological flesh. Out of these two souls, God created all other human souls. What the verse refers to here is not the creation of visible metaphorical humans in flesh and blood but the creation of real humans manifested as spirits.” (pg.155-156)

( This concept is similar to what the Quran says in another verse about Jesus Christ (pbuh):

And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], ‘Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah.And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of Allah. And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers. (Quran 3:49)

Under the commentary of this verse, Yahiya Emerick writes:

“There are two interpretations for the clay bird.  Some commentators say that Jesus performed a standard miracle by bringing a clay bird to life in order to astonish his listeners, while others say this is a metaphor for the Jewish nation which was like a lifeless bird.  The reformation of Jesus would breath new life into the community’s spiritual practices.” )

“Next we will discuss the creation of the Prophet Adam. There are four steps in the creation of Adam, the prophet:

  1. The creation of the soul of Adam.
  2. The creation of Adam’s outer garment, the physical body (Homo Sapiens Sapiens),
  3. The infusion of Adam’s soul, and
  4. The elevation of Adam as the first prophet through revelations of divine messages to him.

These steps are described in the verse 15:29 and verse 2:31: “So, when I shaped him and breathed into him my Spirit, fall down prostrating yourselves to him.” (15:29) “Then He gave Adam the knowledge of the nature and reality of all things and everything…” (2:31). These verses describe the creation of Adam’s physical body and infusion of his soul into it.” (pg. 156)

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.” (2:31). (pg. 156)

“Adam being the first prophet of God preaching Islam, he and his mate became the original spiritual parents of all humans. ” (pg. 157)

“Adam was the first prophet, he must have had a human community to whom to preach the divine message.” (pg. 157)


The following excerpt is taken from “The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali pg. 178 note 504:

Quran 4:1

O mankind! reverence Your Guardian Lord, Who created you From a single person (note 504 below), Created. of like nature, His mate, and from them twain Scattered (like seeds) Countless men and women;- Reverence God, through Whom Ye demand your mutual (rights), And (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for God Ever watches over you.

Note 504:

Nafs may mean: (1) soul, (2) self (3) person, living person; (4) will, good pleasure as in iv. 4 below. Minha: I follow the construction followed by Imam Razi. The particle min would then suggest here not a portion or a source of something else, but a species, a nature, a similarity. The pronoun ha refers of course to Nafs. The Biblical story of the creation of Eve from a rib of Adam may be allegorical, but we may not assume it in Quranic teaching.

References:

Shanavas, T.O. (2005). Islamic Theory of Evolution: The Missing Link between Darwin and the Origin of Species. (p. 154-157).

Emerick, Yahiya. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an in Today’s English (p. 827). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

Yusuf Ali, Abdullah. Translation and Commentary of the Quran. (Surah 4 verse 1). Microsoft Word – 004 Nisa’.doc (quran4u.com)