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Quran, Adam and Original Sin

by Belal Khalid

Evolution and History of Mankind from Quran

The Holy Quran says that God desired to bring into existence a universe which should serve as a manifestation of His Majesty and His Light and that this was the cause of the creation of universe. It says that God created the heavens and the earth in six periods. Before that God ruled over water. God`s object in creating the heavens and the earth out of water was to bring into existence a being endowed with the will to choose between good and evil. These beings would pass through various trials and would seek to outstrip one another in doing good and thus show which of them had attained to perfection (11:8). This verse shows that before matter assumed its present form it existed in liquid shape. With regard to the prematerial stage the Quran says:

“Do not the disbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were a closed up mass, then We opened them out? And We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?” (21:31)

The verse purports to say that the heavens and the earth were at first an amorphous mass and God then split them and formed them into a solar system and form the beginning He has always created life out of water.

Stages of the Universe

According to the Quran the universe passed from stage to stage till the earth assumed a shape and developed properties which could sustain human life.

The Quran, contrary to the accounts given in the Old and the New Testaments, teaches that man was created through a gradual process. There is another verse in the Quran which shows that the creation of man was the culmination of a gradual process and that it is not correct to say that God formed man out of clay and breathed His spirit into him. The Quran says:

And He has created you in different stages and different forms (71:15)

Hazrat Adam(as) Not the First Man on Earth (Truth About Jinns)

In the same way man’s intellectual development also proceeded gradually. The Quran shows that human beings were in existence before Hazrat Adam(as) but that they were not yet able to bear the responsibility of revealed Law. They lived in caves and in mountain fastnesses. It is for this reason that the Quran has called them by the name of JINN, which means literally those that dwell out of sight. Some people have applied this word to the genii of tales and fables, but the Quran does not support this interpretation.

Hazrat Adam(as) was not in Paradise

It expressly states that when Hazrat Adam(as) and his people went out of the garden (which again, according to the Quran was a region of the earth and is not to be confused with Paradise). God warned them against Iblis “who was one of the JINN” and told them to be careful of him and his people as they would all have to live together upon the earth wherein they would spend their spans of existence and wherein they would die (7:26, 28).

Again, addressing Hazrat Adam(as) and his people and Iblis and his people God admonishes all of them to accept His Prophets when they will appear from time to time (2:39). All this shows that the Jinn of the time of Hazrat Adam(as) and their leader Iblis were of the human race.

The genii of the fables do not live in company with men nor are they in any other way connected with men. The Quran does not lend any support to the idea of the JINN of the fables. Those whom the Quran describes as JINN in connection with Hazrat Adam(as) were human beings who dwelt upon the earth but whose mental faculties were not yet fully developed.

Hazrat Adam(as) Most Perfect Man of His Generation

When the stage of the full development of the mental faculties of man was reached, God sent His revelation to the most perfect man of that generation, namely, Hazrat Adam(as). This revelation was confined to a few social rules relating to the formation of a society and the provision of food and other means of maintenance for it. For the future God decreed that Prophets would continue to appear and those who believed in them would identify themselves with Hazrat Adam(as) and his people and those who rejected them would identify themselves with the JINN who had opposed Hazrat Adam(as). Each Prophet is raised to help forward the intellectual and spiritual evolution of man. Those, who are opposed to the next stage of evolution and are not willing to submit to the limitations and regulations which God seeks to impose through His Prophet to help forward the process of evolution, reject the Prophet.

Physical and Mental Evolution

In short, the Quran teaches that man’s physical creation and development are the result of a process of evolution and in the same way his intellectual development is also the result of a process of evolution. Hazrat Adam(as) was not the first human being but was the first human being whose intellect was capable of accepting and bearing the responsibility of revelation. The Quran nowhere states that God desired to create man and therefore created Hazrat Adam(as). The Quran expressly states that God decided to appoint a “vicegerent upon earth” and appointed Hazrat Adam(as). This shows that at the time of appointment of Hazrat Adam(as) as Gods Vicegerent on earth there were human beings dwelling upon the earth but none of them had become recipient of divine revelation since their mental faculties were not yet fully developed.

Human Beings Before Hazrat Adam(as)

At another place the Quran says: “And We did create you and then We gave you shape: then said We to the angels, ‘Submit to Adam” (7:12). The verse means that God created man and then gave shape to his faculties and then commanded the angels to bow down to Hazrat Adam(as). This verse also clearly shows that man had been in existence prior to the time of Hazrat Adam(as). The developments of man’s intellectual faculties indicates that before the appearance of Hazrat Adam(as) man had already passed through several stages of evolution. The verse indicates that after man was created his faculties developed from stage to stage and assumed different shapes and he began to be distinguished from the other animal creations around him and when his intellect was developed to a certain degree, Hazrat Adam(as) was created and God sent His revelation to him.

The above explanation from Quran helps us to have a very clear picture about the standing of Quran on the theory of evolution. All of this is also supported by the present research on the evolution of human beings. Thus we find that the Quran which was revealed fourteen hundred years ago in fact supports all the modern scientifically proved theories about evolution.

The Original Sin

As Hazrat Adam(as) was not in paradise, so the phenomenon of the original sin is resolved very peacefully and amicably. Before Hazrat Adam(as) there was no Law on this earth from God and hence no one was supposed to pass through any trial and test. When Hazrat Adam(as) was given the law, only after that it was possible to test him and human beings. When Quran refers to the eating of a fruit of a forbidden tree by Hazrat Adam(as), it means that Hazrat Adam(as) disobeyed one of the orders of the God. So after that God warned human beings that now they were on earth meaning that now they would be subjected to test and trial. All their deeds would be recorded and they would be held accountable for them. So no one inherited any sin from Hazrat Adam(as), but the people after that time were held accountable for their deeds. This was the very cause of the creation of mankind as mentioned in the earlier text, and the Hazrat Adam’s disobeying was the turning point as it was after the fact that a Law had been enforced on this earth.

Although its been a very long article, but I think it answers many important questions that Christians raise against Islam and about the original sin. That’s the reason I could not cut it short any further in spite of my best efforts.

Most of the above given explanation was taken from Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran by AHMAD, BASHIR-UD-DIN. It is available in most of the libraries.

In the end all praise to God, who is the creator of this universe and who is very benificient and kind to his human beings. May God give us the knowledge and wisdom to understand Quran.