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The wisdom of Adam

May 10, 2013

ADAM is the archetypal man on earth. He is considered to be the first prophet and deputy (khalifatullah) of the Almighty on earth. The mention of Adam in the Quran is episodic.

The first part is concerned with the balanced organisation of his biological structure by God. The material used for this purpose is referred to as mud, clay or dust (teen in Arabic). According to the Quranic discourse, God applied His own hands to construct the face of Adam.

Once the biological structure was proportionally put in place by God, He then breathed His soul into the tangible physical structure. This brought Adam to life.

The second episode is concerned with the proclamation of Adam’s superiority over the creatures of light and fire (malaika and jinn). These creatures were asked to prostrate (offer sajda) to Adam as a token of recognising his superior knowledge.

The malaika (angels) objected to the Almighty’s choice for Adam’s deputyship on earth but were satisfied when Adam displayed his superior knowledge to them on God’s command. So they all prostrated before Adam in the Divine assembly except one, a jinn described as Shaitan and Iblees in the Quran. He refused to prostrate.

God asked him why he did not prostrate, to which Iblees replied that he was superior to Adam as God had created Adam from mud and himself from fire. Hence Iblees was asked to leave the Divine assembly. But Iblees was cunning. He begged God for an immortal life to mislead and misguide the children of Adam, except those who protect themselves from his devilish allure. Hence Iblees was granted limited immortality to misguide Adam and his progeny.

The third episode took place in the life of Adam after his proclamation of deputyship in the Divine assembly. This was the intrusion of Iblees in heaven, into the blissful life of Adam and Eve, who had been living there in a state of internal peace and harmony. They were closer to the angelic existence and were both still unaware of the biological and sexual desire present in their bodily system. They were also informed not to go close to the ‘forbidden tree’ and save themselves from Divine displeasure.

But Iblees was cunning enough to approach them. He allured them with his sweet rhetoric, telling them they were restrained from tasting the fruit of the forbidden tree so that they may not be able to attain angelic existence or an immortal life. They were tempted by Satan’s narrative and tasted the fruit of the forbidden tree.

Hitherto hidden biological and sexual desires overcame them. They simply disobeyed and lost their pure state of existence in heaven. Iblees was very happy at this great achievement and thought he was successful in failing the Divine choice of Adam as deputy. This episode, however, laid a permanent foundation of a dialectical struggle between the children of Adam and the offspring of Satan on earth.

Adam needs to rediscover his lost purity on earth. Meanwhile, Satan and his progeny continue with their evil ways to stop him from attaining lost immortality. Adam and Eve were sent to earth to restructure their lost purity and immortality by invoking the names of God, the Merciful and Forgiving.

Iblees was, however, unaware of Adam’s superior knowledge and his ingrained ability to seek forgiveness (tawba) for his misdeeds. The act of seeking forgiveness from God purifies the transgressor.

The essential difference between a satanic and human act lies in the fact that man revisits his mistakes and sins and repents. God loves those who repent and forgives them because of His innate and infinite mercy. In this way Adam and his children on earth became symbols of hope and good.

Those who do not revisit and repent their misdeeds are following the path of Satan. They are the symbols of darkness, despair, tyranny and evil. All evil and disorder on earth is perpetrated by these evil, satanic forces.

The touchstone to differentiate the children of Adam and the followers of Satan is very simple. The children of Adam seek forgiveness and amend their mistakes. They seek purity of thought and action. They are those, as mentioned in the hadith, who do not harm other human beings by their hand and tongue. On the other hand, the tribe of Satan thrives on plunder, killing, hatred, disorder and death. They indulge in orgies of destruction every day. They plan day and night to ruin the peace of cities. God and the Prophet (PBUH) have shown their displeasure towards those who perpetrate evil in the peaceful cities.

The satanic forces would invite you day and night to lead an immoral life. They would create fear in you to submit to evil and immoral commands.

In fact one aspect of our civilisation is an abundance of fear. We are driven by fear to blind obedience. For example some of our teachers lash out at us if we question them while our politicians tell us to obey them or else. Hence fear is a weapon.

The writer is a social scientist based at the University of Management and Technology, Lahore.