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Most people are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve and “The Tree.

” In the Judeo-Christian story, Adam and Eve ate fruit from the forbidden tree; and this sin would be the ‘fall of mankind’ 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’t God simply place the tree far away from them so they couldn’t 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’an is seen in a very different light “And remember when your Lord said to the angels: “Verily, I am going to place a khalifa (deputy) on earth.....” (Qur’an 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. “....They (angels) said: “ Will you place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood-while we glorify You with praises and thanks and sanctify You.” He (Allah) said: “I know that which you do not know.” (Qur’an 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’an presents this very same question to the reader and then begins to present the answers as you read through its’ verses. “And He taught Adam all the names of all things, then He showed them to the angels and said, “tell Me the names of these things if you are truthful” “They (angels) said: “Glory be to You, we have no knowledge except that which you have taught us. Verily, it is You, the All-Knower, the All-Wise.” (Qur’an 2:31- 32) Here we learn about the capacity of Adam’s 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’s 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’an 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: “My Lord! Give me respite till the Day the (dead) are resurrected” (38:79) “By Your Might I will surely mislead them all” “Except Your sincere slaves amongst the believers” (38:82-83) 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’t control. This increases our understanding of his role in the next stage of the story: The Tree. “And We said: “O 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.” (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. “But Satan caused them to slip and expelled them from the state in which they were. And We said: “Go you all down; some of you being the enemies of others, and on earth will be your dwelling place and provision for a time ” (2:36) The “antagonist” 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’an that Eve is to blame for ‘the fall of mankind.’ 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: “Then Adam received words from his Lord, and He turned to him (mercifully). Truly He is Oft-returning, the Most Merciful.” “We 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” (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 : “Why didn’t God create us perfect to begin with and place us directly into Heaven? Couldn’t we have been programmed with this knowledge from the beginning?” 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 hardships. “To 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..” “The 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’s infinite attributes to ever greater degrees is sensible” (From “Even Angels Ask” by Dr. Jeffrey Lang)

Throughout the Qur’an, we are introduced to 99 of the revealed infinite attributes of Allah. The most basic examples being, “The Most Merciful” and “The AlllForgiving.” Many of these attributes are qualities we should seek to cultivate in our own selves. By us developing and nurturing these qualities we are, in fact, growing closer to knowing God and understanding how great is His Divine Love and Compassion towards us. This growth, however, cannot occur unless we are willing to experience these emotions, and be tested in situations where the outcome will be a positive effect on our moral character. Imagine a robot that is created to save people in house fires. When the flames are bursting out of the house, the robot enters and locates a trapped person, and safely rescues them to the outside. Now imagine the same house on fire, and a civilian runs into the burning flames risking his life to save the trapped person inside. When he emerges, possibly being burned or harmed, we will look to him with respect and remark at what an honorable and virtuous, selfless task he had undertaken. The robot has no ability to perceive fear, love, or bravery. It does not relate to us therefore we can’t say what a brave and selfless robot! However, the human chose to risk his life and overcome his fear, and act out of love. Both the rescuer and the rescued will have a deeper relation to love, selflessness, compassion, and an increased capacity to understand virtue and morality. “It seems that God, in accordance with His attributes, intends to make a creature that can experience His Being in an intensely personal way and at a level higher than the other beings known to mankind...The more a believer grows in the attributes that originate in God, the closer and more intense is his/her bond with Him and the greater his/her capacity to receive and experience His infinite beauty and power both in this life, and incomparably more so in the next life....” (Dr. J. Lang) In Islam, we are told that this life is not a battlefield like the evolutionists thinks; nor a place of entertainment and play as the materialists think; nor is it a punishment as others think. Rather this worldly life is a Test, and Life continues much more beyond this short, finite worldly stage. It is this vision of life that enables the believer to be patient in adversity, and continue to be grateful in times of ease. “Most assuredly We will try you with something of danger, and hunger, and the loss of worldly goods, of lives and the fruits of your labor. But give glad tidings to those who are patient in adversity-who when calamity befalls them, say,’Truly unto God do we belong and truly, unto him we shall return’”(2:155)

But if this life is a test, then why are some people starving to death while others are basking in wealth? Throughout the Qur’an it is explained to us that both are tests; for one to be patient, and the other grateful and humble. In many cases, the test of ease is greater, but with it comes more accountability. “Every soul must taste of death. And we try you with calamity and prosperity, [both] as a means of trial. And to Us you are returned.”(21:35) So through all these examples, one finds that the Islamic perspective of “The Tree” has a purpose in preparing mankind for their pre-destined life on earth. It also illustrates that in Islam there is no concept of ‘original sin’; instead, Adam and Eve were forgiven their sin, as it was part of God’s plan to test them from the beginning knowing they would fail. Therefore, instead of being ‘born in sin’ each person is born pure and sinless, with responsibility for the actions they freely choose. “That no burdened person (with sins) shall bear the burden (sins) of another. And that man can have nothing but what he does (good o bad). And that his deeds will be seen. Then he will be recompensed with a full and the best recompense..And that to your Lord is the End (return).” (53: 38-42) Islam is not a new religion, but began with Prophet Adam and revived 1,423 years ago with Prophet Muhammad. Islam is an Arabic word which means “to submit, surrender, and obey with sincerity and in peace to The Creator.” It is the fastest growing religion in the world, especially North America, with over 1 billion followers. The Qur’an is the final revealed text by God to humanity; and within its’ verses God promised it would remain intact and unchanged in its original Arabic form. It is a book that openly challenges humanity that if it were from other than God either you would find mistakes in it, or that a person could reproduce just one chapter like it in Arabic. With such an open challenge to all of mankind, isn’t it time to research Islam?

Why the Tree?
The story of Adam and Eve in Islam

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Earth existed long before Adam! No original Sin! Eve is not to blame! Earthly life is not a