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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 Transformations of Man Over the Ages – The Animal (but non-ape) Ancestry of Man – Islamic Web Library

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.”

fact of this “rebellion”, repeatedly stressed in the Qur’an, has led some of the commentators to
the conclusion that he could not have been one of the angels, since these are incapable
of sinning: “they do not bear themselves with false pride… and they do whatever they
are bidden to do” (16:49-50). As against this, other commentators point to the Qur’anic
phrasing of God’s command to the angels and of Iblis’ refusal to obey, which makes it
absolutely clear that at the time of that command he was indeed one of the heavenly host.
Hence, we must assume that his “rebellion” has a purely symbolic significance and is,
in reality, the outcome of a specific function assigned to him by God.

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.”

I.e., “this is what I have willed” – namely, that Iblis (or Satan) should tempt man, but should
have no power to seduce those who are truly conscious of God. Thus, the Qur’an makes it clear
that despite his ostensible “rebellion” against his Creator. Satan fulfils a definite function in
God’s plan: he is the eternal tempter who enables man to exercise his God-given freedom of
between good and evil and, thus, to become a being endowed with moral free will.

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.”

“from this state of blessedness and innocence”. As in the parallel account of this parable
of the Fall in 2:35-36, the dual form of address changes at this stage into the plural, thus
connecting once again with verse 10 and the beginning of verse 11 of this surah, and making it
clear that the story of Adam and Eve is, in reality, an allegory of human destiny. “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)

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. 21, 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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