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7:11 The Creation of Human Beings

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It is We Who created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels prostrate to Adam, and they prostrate; not so Iblis; He refused to be of those who prostrate.

Creation of the First Man

Ibn Masud and other companions of the Prophet (PBUH) said that Allah the Almighty sent
Gabriel onto the earth to said that Allah the Almighty sent Gabriel onto the earth to get Him clay
therefrom. The earth said: “I seek refuge in Allah from your decreasing my quantity or disfiguring
me.” So Gabriel returned and did not take anything. He said: “My Lord, the land sought refuge in
You and it granted.”
So Allah sent Michael for the same purpose, and the land sought refuge with Allah and it was
granted. So he went back and said to Allah what Gabriel has said before him. Then Allah sent the
Angel of Death, and the land sought refuge in Allah, the angel said: “I also seek refuge with Allah
from returning without carrying out His command.” So he took clay from the face of the earth
and mixed it. He did not take from one particular place, but rather he took white, red, and black
clay from different places.
The Angel of Death ascended with it, Allah soaked the clay till it became sticky. Then Allah said
to the angels:


“Truly, I am going to create man from clay. So when I have fashioned him and breathed into him
(his) soul created by Me, then you fall down prostrate to him.” (Chapter 38:71-72 Quran).


So Allah shaped Adam into a human being, but he remained a figure of clay for fourty years. The
angels went past him. They were seized with fear by what they saw, and Iblis felt fear most. He
used to pass by the figure of Adam, buffeting it, which would make a sound like pottery. Allah
told us:


“He created man (Adam) from sounding clay like the clay of pottery.” (Chapter 55:Quran).


When the time drew near to breathe the spirit into Adam, as Allah decreed, He commanded the
angels: “When I breathe My spirit into him prostrate before him.” Allah breathed His spirit into
Adam and when it reached his head Adam sneezed. The angels said: “Say all praise belongs to
Allah.” Adam repeated: “All praise belongs to Allah.” Allah said to him: “Your Lord has granted
you mercy.” When the spirit reached his eyes, Adam looked at the fruits of Paradise. When it
reached his abdomen Adam felt an appetite for food. He jumped hurriedly before the spirit could
reach his legs, so that he could eat from the fruits of Paradise. Allah, therefore, said:


“Man is created of haste.” (Chapter 21:37 Quran).


And then:


“The angels prostrated themselves all of them together. Except Iblis, he refused to be among the
prostrators. (Ch 15:31-32 Quran).


Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Allah created Adam from dust
after He mixed the clay and left him for some time until it became sticky mud, after which Allah
shaped him. After that Allah left him till it became like potter’s clay. Iblis used to go past him
saying ‘You have been created for a great purpose.’ After that Allah breathed His spirit into him.
The first thing into which the spirit passed was his eye and then his nose. He sneezed. Allah said:
“May your Lord have mercy upon you, O Adam! Go to those angels and see what they would
say.’ So Adam went and greeted them. they replied saying: “Peace be upon you and the mercy and
blessings of Allah.” Allah said: “O Adam! This is your greeting and that of your offspring.” (Sahih
al Bukhari). (Stories of the Prophets, pg. 6)

Ibn Kathir writes:

Therefore, the Ayah (7:11) refers to Adam, although Allah used the plural in this case, because Adam is the father of all mankind. Similarly, Allah said to the Children of Israel who lived during the time of the Prophet.

And We shaded you with clouds and sent down on you manna and the quail, (2:57)

This refers to their forefathers who lived during the time of Moses. But, since that was a favor given to the forefathers, and they are their very source, then the offspring have also been favored by it. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, surah 7 verse 11)

Eve’s Creation
Muhammad Ibn Ishaaq and Ibn Abbas related that Eve was created from the shortest left rib of
Adam while he was sleeping and after awhile she was clothed with flesh. That is why Allah the
Exalted said:
“O Mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam) and from
Him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women.
(Ch 4:1)
Allah also said:
“It is he Who has created you from a single person (Adam) and then He created from him his
wife (Eve), in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her.”(Ch 7:189).

(Stories of the Prophets, Ibn Kathir pg. 11)

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.

Regarding the concept of the First Man in the Quran, the authors of the Study Quran comment (Surah 7 verse 19):

Cf. 2:35 and commentary. Adam is here commanded to dwell . . . in the
Garden along with his wife; that is, Eve, or Ḥawwāʾ in Arabic, whose name
does not appear in the Quran, although it is commonly used in the Islamic
tradition. Until this point, the narrative has focused solely on Adam and Iblīs, but
at this point Eve enters the account without any explicit mention of her own
origin. Although it is clear in the Quran that Adam also represents all of
humanity—male and female—in the account of his original creation, his
vicegerency, his Divinely granted knowledge, and the prostration of the angels
before him (cf. 2:30–34), the Quran does not explicitly discuss the process by
which this primordial Adam is differentiated into the first male and female who
“dwell in the Garden” after Iblīs’s expulsion from it. The Biblical story of Eve’s
creation from Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:21–22), however, is referenced in the
Ḥadīth, and many commentators have considered 4:1: O mankind! Reverence
your Lord, Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate, and
from the two has spread abroad a multitude of men and women, an oblique
reference to the creation of Eve from Adam (see 4:1c). In this case, however,
Eve can be said to have been created not from Adam as male, but rather from the
original androgynic Adam who is the prototype of all humanity, both male and
female. (Study Quran, surah 7 verse 19)


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.

References:

Asad, Muhammad (1980). (pg. 254). The Message of the Quran. http://www.islamicweblibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/55877864-54484011-Message-of-Quran-Muhammad-Asad-Islam-Translation.pdf

Kathir, Ibn. Tafsir Ibn Kathir. (Surah 7 verse 11). https://ia803208.us.archive.org/22/items/TafseerIbnKathirenglish114SurahsComplete/002BaqarahI.pdf

Kathir, Ibn. Stories of the Prophets. (pg. 6 & 11). Stories of the Prophets – Islamic Web Library

Nasr, Hossein (2015). Study Quran. http://www.islamicweblibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/TheStudyQuran.pdf

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