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Published by: api-25980564 on Oct 18, 2008
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Most people are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve
and \u201cThe Tree.\u201d In the Judeo-Christian story, Adam and
Eve ate fruit from the forbidden tree; and this sin would be
the \u2018fall of mankind\u2019 for all of humanity. This story,
however, produces a number of questions and

objections. For example,

Why did God create the tree in the first place? Why didn\u2019t
God simply place the tree far away from them so they
couldn\u2019t reach it? If God is so Merciful and so Loving, why
did He create Adam with the ability to be tempted; create
the devil to tempt him with; allow Adam and Eve to eat
from the tree, and then punish them and their
descendants for their unforgivable sin?

In Islam, the story of Adam and Eve throughout the
Qur\u2019an is seen in a very different light
\u201cAnd remember when your Lord said to the angels:
\u201cVerily, I am going to place a khalifa (deputy) on
earth.....\u201d (Qur\u2019an 2:30)

The first point that should be made clear is that earth
and whatever creatures were on it was already in
existence before the creation of Adam. Second, that from
the Islamic viewpoint we understand God intended for
Adam and his descendants to be placed on earth, as a
deputy, from the very beginning; before Adam committed
any sins.

\u201c....They (angels) said: \u201c Will you place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood-while we glorify You with praises and thanks and sanctify You.\u201d He (Allah) said: \u201cI know that which you do not know.\u201d (Qur\u2019an 2:30)

We see here an angelic question inquiring about the
wisdom behind why God wanted to create the humans
and give him authority on earth; which, they noted, would
cause mischief in the land and shed blood. This question
is similar to that which many people are asking: Why did
God create us with the ability to do evil? The Qur\u2019an
presents this very same question to the reader and then
begins to present the answers as you read through its\u2019

\u201cAnd He taught Adam all the names of all things, then
He showed them to the angels and said, \u201ctell Me the
names of these things if you are truthful\u201d
\u201cThey (angels) said: \u201cGlory be to You, we have no
knowledge except that which you have taught us.
Verily, it is You, the All-Knower, the All-Wise.\u201d

(Qur\u2019an 2:31- 32)

Here we learn about the capacity of Adam\u2019s intellect.
His learning is comprehensive, and he has the ability to
grow in knowledge. Theses verses illustrate that the
angels recognized that Adam has the ability to learn and
grow in knowledge; and in this case, Adam knew

something which they did not. Specifically, that Adam has
the ability to name things; be it a physical object or even
an emotion; at a relatively higher level compared to the
majority of creatures around him. Through this example
we also see God is nurturing and developing Adam\u2019s
intellect. Following this, God tells the angels to bow
down to Adam, and they do, except for Ibis.

This introduces us to Iblis, or the devil. The Islamic
understanding of Iblis, referred to as Shaytaan (Satan), is
not that he is from amongst the angels, because as we
understood earlier they only can learn whatever
knowledge was bestowed on them. The concept of free
choice is not part of the nature of angels, they do exactly
as they are commanded. Iblis, as the Qur\u2019an tells us
later, is a creation made from fire, called the jinn. They
are a creation similar to the human with free choice and
will have accountability for their actions. Iblis was
honored above the other jinn and was allowed into
heaven with the angels. He does not bow to Adam due
to his own arrogance. He thought himself, made from
fire, superior to Adam who is made from clay, a lowly
material. God then tells Satan to leave the heaven and
from this event, Iblis swears enmity towards the humans:

\u201cMy Lord! Give me respite till the Day the (dead) are
resurrected\u201d (38:79)
\u201cBy Your Might I will surely mislead them all\u201d
\u201cExcept Your sincere slaves amongst the believers\u201d

It is also worth clarifying that Shaytaan here is asking
God to allow him to tempt man to drift from the Straight
Path, making his own destructive choice of
disobedience. Since Shaytaan has the choice, God
leaves him to do as he wishes. Therefore we understand
that Shaytaan in the Islamic picture is not a rampaging,
uncontrollable being whom God can\u2019t control. This
increases our understanding of his role in the next stage
of the story: The Tree.

\u201cAnd We said: \u201cO Adam! Dwell you and your wife in
the Paradise and eat both of you freely with pleasure
and delight, of things therein as wherever you will,
but come not near this tree or you both will be of the
wrongdoers.\u201d (2:35)

Now Eve is also joining in the picture, being the wife
of Adam, and the next stage of preparation for human life
on earth has begun: the ability to have a free choice.

\u201cBut Satan caused them to slip and expelled them
from the state in which they were. And We said: \u201cGo
you all down; some of you being the enemies of
others, and on earth will be your dwelling place and
provision for a time \u201d (2:36)

The \u201cantagonist\u201d in this event is the Shaytaan; who lies to them and tells them that the only reason God forbade them the tree was because otherwise they would gain incredible knowledge or become angels. Neither of

these two things he tempts them with are bad things, and
consequently, they fall for his ploy.

Now the second stage has passed: and the choice was
made freely. They ate from the tree. It is worth noting that
there is no emphasis anywhere in the entire Qur\u2019an that Eve
is to blame for \u2018the fall of mankind.\u2019 Adam and Eve share
equally in their mistake. Also, there is a different tone
regarding this mistake in the Islamic light. Unlike other
traditions, this slip, or sin, was not so grave that it angered
God to such an extent that all of mankind on earth would
suffer in punishment In fact, the outcome is the opposite:

\u201cThen Adam received words from his Lord, and He
turned to him (mercifully). Truly He is Oft-returning, the
Most Merciful.\u201d
\u201cWe said: Go down from this state all of you together;
and ruly there will come to you guidance from Me and
whoever follows My Guidance, no fear shall come upon
them, nor shall they grieve\u201d (2:37-38)

We see here that God forgave them for their mistake with
full compassion and mercy. Now, they were prepared for life
on earth; equipped with the capacity to grow in intellect and
learn from mistakes, with the understanding of repentance
and their relation with their Lord. It was the first test that the
rest of humanity could look back on and learn from. They
were also further told that on earth, Guidance would come to
them and that they were not going to be left alone. The
overall tone is not one of an angry harsh God, but rather one
full of understanding and compassion for His creation.

Our life here, likewise, is a test, and following this will be
a transition into our eternal life. You still might be asking :

\u201cWhy didn\u2019t God create us perfect to begin with and place us
directly into Heaven? Couldn\u2019t we have been programmed
with this knowledge from the beginning?\u201d

If we were created perfect and programmed from the
beginning we would be angels. Yet we are a different
creation, the human, whom has the capability to be higher
than angels because we have a choice. To grow in virtue
we need to have freewill, intellect, and to face some

\u201cTo grow in compassion, for example, is inconceivable
without suffering. It also requires choice, the ability to
choose to reach out to someone in need or ignore him.
Intellect is necessary so that one can estimate how much of
oneself will be invested in showing compassion to the
sufferer. Similarly, to be truthful involves a choice not to lie
and is heightened when telling the truth may lead to
personal loss or suffering..\u201d
\u201cThe idea that growth in virtue leads to inner peace and
well-being, and that it contributes an abiding beauty to life, is
easy to admit. The notion that it also allows us to receive
and experience God\u2019s infinite attributes to ever greater
degrees is sensible\u201d
(From \u201cEven Angels Ask\u201d by Dr. Jeffrey Lang)

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