وَ لَقَدۡ خَلَقۡنٰکُمۡ ثُمَّ صَوَّرۡنٰکُمۡ ثُمَّ قُلۡنَا لِلۡمَلٰٓئِکَۃِ اسۡجُدُوۡا لِاٰدَمَ ٭ۖ فَسَجَدُوۡۤا اِلَّاۤ اِبۡلِیۡسَ ؕ لَمۡ یَکُنۡ مِّنَ السّٰجِدِیۡنَ ﴿۱۲﴾
وَلَقَدۡ خَلَقۡنَٰكُمۡ ثُمَّ صَوَّرۡنَٰكُمۡ ثُمَّ قُلۡنَا لِلۡمَلَـٰٓئِكَةِ ٱسۡجُدُواْ لِأٓدَمَ فَسَجَدُوٓاْ إِلَّآ إِبۡلِيسَ لَمۡ يَكُن مِّنَ ٱلسَّـٰجِدِينَ
b. 23:15; 39:7; 40:65. (close)
949. Man can mould his moral being into various shapes, as clay can be moulded. (close)
c. 2:35; 15:30-31; 17:62; 18:51; 20:117; 38:73-75. (close)
950. Whereas the command to submit to Adam was addressed to the angels, it applied to all creation, as angels are Divine agents to give effect to God’s commands. (close)
951. Iblis was not an angel (18:51). He is the chief of the evil spirits as Gabriel is the chief of angels. The incident mentioned here is in no way connected with the first progenitor of the human race, who may be called the first Adam. It is only with the latter Adam (who dwelt in this earth about six thousand years ago and from whom Noah and Abraham and their posterity were directly descended) that the present account deals. (close)
c. 23:15; 39:7; 40:65. (close)
d. 2:35; 15:30-31; 17:62; 18:51; 20:117; 38:73-75. (close)
The story of Adam has already been partly related in 2:3-40. Another part of the same story with some additional details is given here with a different purpose. In the former Surah, the narration was meant to show that God had been sending down revelation from the beginning of the world and so the revelation sent to the Holy Prophet of Islam was not an innovation. Here it is given to show that there have always been enemies of the Prophets of God and so the hostility of the people towards the Holy Prophet was, in fact, a sign of his truth. The story of Adam is incapable of being fully understood without our first being acquainted with the scene of its occurrence. Was Adam first placed in Paradise and was it in Paradise that the scene described in this and the following few verses was enacted? All doubts on this score are set at rest by the plain words of the Quran, I am about to place a vicegerent in the earth (2:31). It was indeed in this very earth that the creation of Adam and all that followed it took place. The Bible as well as Zoroastrian and Hindu religious writings also lend support to this view. The Holy Prophet is reported to have described the Nile and the Euphrates as the two rivers of جنة (the garden); referring to the place where Adam lived (Muslim, ch. on Jannat); and the Hadith, too, places Adam in Mesopotamia which is watered by the waters of the Tigris and the Euphrates. It was, therefore, here that the garden of Adam was situated and all the different incidents mentioned about him in the Quran also took place here; and if there be any incident which cannot be proved to have literally occurred on this earth, then that incident will have to be taken in a figurative sense.
Another fact worth remembering is that 2:31, according to which Adam was created on this earth, also tells us that he was not the first man to live on this planet, and that other men lived even before he was brought into existence. In 2:31 Adam has been called Khalifah which word, meaning a successor, shows that he had predecessors whom he succeeded. The verse under comment also clearly points to the same conclusion. Addressing the people, it says, And We did create you and then We gave you shape; then said We to the angles, Submit to Adam. The plural pronoun "you" in the clause, We did create you, having preceded the words containing the command to angels to submit to Adam, which is preceded by the conjunction "then" shows that it was after the creation of men, and not only Adam, that God ordered angels to submit to Adam and that, therefore, human beings were already living on this earth when angels received this command. It is, thus, wrong to conclude that the human race began with Adam, that its whole life is only a little more than 6,000 years and that the different races now living on this earth are all necessarily descended from Adam.
The aborigines of Australia or the Red Indians of America or the Negroes of Africa may not be the descendants of the Adam about whom the Quran speaks in the verse under comment. See also 2:31.
As already pointed out, events which cannot be literally shown to have occurred on this earth must be regarded as having taken place in a figurative sense. That figurative language has actually been used in this narrative is clear from the following facts:
1. The angels were bidden to perform سجدة (falling prostrate before Adam) which is not permissible for any being other than God. So God could not command the angels to fall prostrate before Adam in the literal sense of the words. These words must, therefore, be taken only in the figurative sense, i.e. that of submitting and rendering every kind of help. This is why the Arabic expression اسجدوا has here been translated as "submit to", which is a perfectly correct rendering according to the figurative idiom of the Arabic language.
2. The command to fall prostrate before Adam was given to the angels only; but Iblis who is not an angel, is also apparently included in it; which proves this inclusion also to be a figurative one.
3. Iblis is represented in the Quran as having been created from fire (7:13), and he is also described as being one of the جن (jinn), which signifies an invisible creation (18:51). So he must have been invisible to Adam who was in all respects like other human beings. But he is here represented as having appeared to Adam in a visible form and having talked to him face to face. This shows that the word شیطان (Satan) has been used in the following verses in a figurative sense, and that it does not refer to the Evil One which tempts men.
4. It is said that when Adam and his wife tasted of the forbidden tree, their nakedness became manifest to them. But we know of no tree on this earth the tasting of which has the property of making a person realize his nakedness. So we will have to take 'the tree' and 'the nakedness' also in a figurative sense.
5. We are told in 20:119 that when God placed Adam in the garden, He told him that he would not become naked therein. But in 7:23 we are told that he did, in fact, become naked. So one of the two statements will have to be taken figuratively.
The straight and simple meaning of the verse is only this: the angels are bidden to submit to Adam and to help him in his work. This commandment was given to the angels when Adam was made a Prophet. As one of the functions of the angels is to exhort men to do virtuous deeds, they were commanded to help Adam by instilling good ideas into the minds of men and exhorting them to accept Adam as a Messenger of God. The chief angel is Gabriel. Similarly, there are evil spirits whose chief is Iblis. The evil spirits make evil suggestions to men and incite them to disobey God. So, while the angels in obedience to God’s command submitted to Adam, Iblis, chief of the evil spirits, refused to submit to him and to help him in his work.
It should be remembered that the incident mentioned here is in no way connected with the first progenitor of the human race, who may be called the first Adam. It is only with the later Adam (who lived on this earth about 6,000 years ago and from whom Noah and Abraham and their posterity were directly descended) that the present story is connected. See also notes on 2:31 & 2:35. (close)
قَالَ مَا مَنَعَکَ اَلَّا تَسۡجُدَ اِذۡ اَمَرۡتُکَ ؕ قَالَ اَنَا خَیۡرٌ مِّنۡہُ ۚ خَلَقۡتَنِیۡ مِنۡ نَّارٍ وَّ خَلَقۡتَہٗ مِنۡ طِیۡنٍ ﴿۱۳﴾
قَالَ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسۡجُدَ إِذۡ أَمَرۡتُكَۖ قَالَ أَنَا۠ خَيۡرٞ مِّنۡهُ خَلَقۡتَنِي مِن نَّارٖ وَخَلَقۡتَهُۥ مِن طِينٖ
d. 15:33-34; 38:76-77. (close)
952. What is represented in the present verse as a dialogue between God and Iblis does not necessarily mean that an exchange of words did actually take place. The words may only depict a state of things, a picture of the conditions that came into existence as a result of the refusal of Iblis to submit to Adam. See also 61. (close)
953. For an explanation of the word "clay" see 420A. (close)
a. 15:33-34; 38:76-77. (close)
What is represented in the present verse as a dialogue between God and Iblis does not necessarily show that an exchange of words actually took place between the two. The words may only depict a state of things, a picture of the conditions that came into existence as a result of the refusal of Iblis to submit to Adam. The verb قال (said) as shown under 2:31 and 2:34 does not always signify the actual uttering of words, being sometimes used to represent only a state of affairs.
For an explanation of the words "fire" and "clay" see 2:81 and 3:50. (close)
قَالَ فَاہۡبِطۡ مِنۡہَا فَمَا یَکُوۡنُ لَکَ اَنۡ تَتَکَبَّرَ فِیۡہَا فَاخۡرُجۡ اِنَّکَ مِنَ الصّٰغِرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۴﴾
قَالَ فَٱهۡبِطۡ مِنۡهَا فَمَا يَكُونُ لَكَ أَن تَتَكَبَّرَ فِيهَا فَٱخۡرُجۡ إِنَّكَ مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰغِرِينَ
a. 15:35; 38:78. (close)
954. There being no noun mentioned in the verse to which the pronoun ha (it) implied in the expression Minha (hence) refers, it may be taken to denote the condition or state in which Iblis was, before he refused to submit to Adam. (close)
b. 15:35; 38:78. (close)
There being no noun mentioned in the verse to which the pronoun ھا (it) implied in the expression منھا (hence) refers, it may be taken to denote the condition or state or position in which Iblis was before he refused to submit to Adam. Thus the expression, go down hence, signifies, "be thou degraded from thy present position". (close)
قَالَ اَنۡظِرۡنِیۡۤ اِلٰی یَوۡمِ یُبۡعَثُوۡنَ ﴿۱۵﴾
قَالَ أَنظِرۡنِيٓ إِلَىٰ يَوۡمِ يُبۡعَثُونَ
b. 15:37; 38:80. (close)
954A. The resurrection referred to in this verse is not the great Resurrection of mankind decreed for the Hereafter, but the spiritual resurrection of man, or the state when his spiritual consciousness becomes fully developed. Iblis can lead him astray only so long as he is not spiritually resurrected. But once he attains that high spiritual stage which is known by the term Baqa’ (rebirth), Iblis can do him no harm (17:66). (close)
c. 15:37; 38:80. (close)
The resurrection to which the words, when they will be raised up, refer is not the general resurrection of mankind decreed for the Hereafter but the spiritual resurrection of man that comes into being whenever a Prophet is raised. Iblis can lead man astray only so long as he is not spiritually resurrected. But once a man attains the spiritual stage which is designated by the term بقا (rebirth), Iblis can do him no harm. It is indeed a similar spiritual stage which is mentioned in the words, As to My servants, thou (Satan) shalt certainly have no power over them (17:66). (close)
قَالَ اِنَّکَ مِنَ الۡمُنۡظَرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۶﴾
قَالَ إِنَّكَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُنظَرِينَ
قَالَ فَبِمَاۤ اَغۡوَیۡتَنِیۡ لَاَقۡعُدَنَّ لَہُمۡ صِرَاطَکَ الۡمُسۡتَقِیۡمَ ﴿ۙ۱۷﴾
قَالَ فَبِمَآ أَغۡوَيۡتَنِي لَأَقۡعُدَنَّ لَهُمۡ صِرَٰطَكَ ٱلۡمُسۡتَقِيمَ
c. 15:40; 38:83. (close)
a. 15:40; 38:83. (close)
920. Important Words:
اغویتنی (Thou hast adjudged me as lost). اغویت is derived from اغوی which again is derived from غوی which means, he erred; he deviated from the right way; he acted ignorantly; he failed in his object and was disappointed; he was lost; he perished; his life became unpleasant. اغواہ means, he caused him to err; or he caused him to deviate from the right course; he caused him to be disappointed, or to fail in attaining his desire; he seduced him, or misled him; or he caused him to be lost or to perish; he declared or adjudged him to be lost; he destroyed him; or he punished him for erring; or he called upon him to do a thing as a result of which he deviated from the right course and was lost (Lane, Lisan, Aqrab & Mufradat).
Iblis here declares that as God had adjudged him as lost, he would now tempt and waylay men and cause them to be lost even as he himself was lost. This work becomes his life’s function. See also 2:35.
The particle با (since) in the clause فبما اغویتنی may also be taken in the sense of "swearing", in which case the clause would mean, "I swear by Thy having adjudged me as lost." (close)
ثُمَّ لَاٰتِیَنَّہُمۡ مِّنۡۢ بَیۡنِ اَیۡدِیۡہِمۡ وَ مِنۡ خَلۡفِہِمۡ وَ عَنۡ اَیۡمَانِہِمۡ وَ عَنۡ شَمَآئِلِہِمۡ ؕ وَ لَا تَجِدُ اَکۡثَرَہُمۡ شٰکِرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۸﴾
ثُمَّ لَأٓتِيَنَّهُم مِّنۢ بَيۡنِ أَيۡدِيهِمۡ وَمِنۡ خَلۡفِهِمۡ وَعَنۡ أَيۡمَٰنِهِمۡ وَعَن شَمَآئِلِهِمۡۖ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكۡثَرَهُمۡ شَٰكِرِينَ
955. Note the network of seductions threatened by Satan. (close)
Note the network of seductions created by Satan. But the great truth still stands and shalt ever stand: As to My servants, thou (Satan) shalt certainly have no power over them (17:66). The refuge certainly lies in God only, the Lord of man and the Lord of Satan and indeed the Lord of the worlds. (close)
قَالَ اخۡرُجۡ مِنۡہَا مَذۡءُوۡمًا مَّدۡحُوۡرًا ؕ لَمَنۡ تَبِعَکَ مِنۡہُمۡ لَاَمۡلَـَٔنَّ جَہَنَّمَ مِنۡکُمۡ اَجۡمَعِیۡنَ ﴿۱۹﴾
قَالَ ٱخۡرُجۡ مِنۡهَا مَذۡءُومٗا مَّدۡحُورٗاۖ لَّمَن تَبِعَكَ مِنۡهُمۡ لَأَمۡلَأَنَّ جَهَنَّمَ مِنكُمۡ أَجۡمَعِينَ
a. 11:20; 15:43-44; 32:14; 38:86. (close)
a. 11:120; 15:43-44; 32:14; 38:86. (close)
The verse makes it clear that Iblis will not be allowed to waylay those chosen servants of God who would have attained to the exalted stage of spiritual rebirth. He will not also be able to force men to disobey God; for, as the verse clearly points out, only those will come under his influence who themselves choose to 'follow' him. (close)
وَ یٰۤاٰدَمُ اسۡکُنۡ اَنۡتَ وَ زَوۡجُکَ الۡجَنَّۃَ فَکُلَا مِنۡ حَیۡثُ شِئۡتُمَا وَ لَا تَقۡرَبَا ہٰذِہِ الشَّجَرَۃَ فَتَکُوۡنَا مِنَ الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۲۰﴾
وَيَـٰٓـَٔادَمُ ٱسۡكُنۡ أَنتَ وَزَوۡجُكَ ٱلۡجَنَّةَ فَكُلَا مِنۡ حَيۡثُ شِئۡتُمَا وَلَا تَقۡرَبَا هَٰذِهِ ٱلشَّجَرَةَ فَتَكُونَا مِنَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
b. 2:38; 20:118. (close)
955A. See 68. (close)
956. This shows that every thing is lawful, except what may be forbidden as being harmful physically or spiritually. (close)
957. "Forbidden tree" may also signify commandments whereby certain things were forbidden to Adam and his wife. "Good word" has been likened to "good tree" in the Qur’an (14:25) and evil word to "evil tree" (14:27). (close)
b. 2:38; 20:118. (close)
See 2:36. (close)
فَوَسۡوَسَ لَہُمَا الشَّیۡطٰنُ لِیُبۡدِیَ لَہُمَا مَا وٗرِیَ عَنۡہُمَا مِنۡ سَوۡاٰتِہِمَا وَ قَالَ مَا نَہٰکُمَا رَبُّکُمَا عَنۡ ہٰذِہِ الشَّجَرَۃِ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ تَکُوۡنَا مَلَکَیۡنِ اَوۡ تَکُوۡنَا مِنَ الۡخٰلِدِیۡنَ ﴿۲۱﴾
فَوَسۡوَسَ لَهُمَا ٱلشَّيۡطَٰنُ لِيُبۡدِيَ لَهُمَا مَا وُۥرِيَ عَنۡهُمَا مِن سَوۡءَٰتِهِمَا وَقَالَ مَا نَهَىٰكُمَا رَبُّكُمَا عَنۡ هَٰذِهِ ٱلشَّجَرَةِ إِلَّآ أَن تَكُونَا مَلَكَيۡنِ أَوۡ تَكُونَا مِنَ ٱلۡخَٰلِدِينَ
c. 2:37; 20:121. (close)
957A. While evil thoughts ultimately lead a person to his ruin, they also make manifest to him his weaknesses.
As the place where Adam was made to reside has been metaphorically described in the Qur’an as a "Garden", therefore in the description that follows the metaphor is continued and Adam is represented as having been forbidden to approach a certain 'tree' which was not a tree in its literal and physical sense, but a certain family or tribe from which he was bidden to keep aloof, because the members of that family were his enemies and they would have spared no pains to do him harm. (close)
923. Important Words:
وسوس (whispered evil suggestions) literally means, he spoke in a low voice; he whispered. They say وسوس له الشیطان i.e. Satan spoke to him something evil in which there is no good. وسوس الرجل means, the man’s reason was affected and he spoke in a disorderly manner. وسواس (wiswas) means, the act of whispering; evil suggestion. وسواس (waswas) with different vowel point means melancholia; Satan (Aqrab).
سوآتھما (their shame). سوآت is the plural of سوءة which is derived from ساء which means, it was or became evil, foul or abominable. سوءة means, any evil, foul, unseemly or abominable saying or action or habit or practice; any saying or action of which one is ashamed when it appears, and which one would like to hide; any disgracing action or thing; the external portion of the organs of generation of a man or of a woman; the anus; corpse or dead body; nakedness (Lane & Aqrab). The word is also sometimes figuratively applied to such weaknesses of a man as lie concealed within him.
As the place where Adam was made to reside has been metaphorically described in the Quran as a garden, therefore in the description that follows the metaphor is continued and Adam is represented as forbidden to approach a certain 'tree', which was not a tree in its literal sense but a certain family or tribe from which he was bidden to keep aloof, because the members of that family were his enemies and they would have spared no pains to do him harm. For the meaning of the word شجرة (tree) see 2:36.
Another reading of the word ملکین (malakain), i.e. two angels, is (malikain) ملکین i.e. two kings or rulers. This reading is corroborated by 20:121, i.e. Shall I lead thee to the tree of eternity, and to a kingdom which shall never become decayed.
The wicked man who is here represented as Satan worked his mischievous plan as follows: He came to Adam and said that the reason why God had forbidden him to have anything to do with the family referred to was none other than this that its members were inimically disposed to him and that they would have conspired to bring about his downfall, if he had then contracted intimate relations with them. But as the family had subsequently become friendly towards him, the danger no longer existed; nay, the family would now even prove a source of strength for him, God’s prohibition, he pleaded, was not meant for all time, and the condition attached to it having come to an end, the prohibition also ceased to operate. In this way, this Satan succeeded in deceiving Adam and he assured him on oath that he was his well-wisher (7:22). Adam wavered and was led into thinking that as the reasons for the prohibition had indeed ceased to exist, the prohibition itself was no longer operative. That was an error of judgement on Adam’s part. He did not wilfully disobey God’s commandment. Elsewhere the Quran says, He (Adam) forgot to observe Our commandment and We found in him no determination to do evil (20:116). (close)