Adam and his wife Eve are unique in that they were directly created by Allah and they lived in the Paradise of Eden. ‘Adam’ means ‘dirt’ in the original Hebrew language, to signify that he was created from the elements of the ground, or the dust. From Adam and Eve all the rest of humanity has descended. Because they are the ‘heads’ of the human race they have an important sign for us to learn. I look at two parallel passages in the Qur’an that talk about Adam, and the one in the book of Genesis which is in the Taurat of Moses (Musa). (Click Here to open these passages in another window).
When I read these passages from the Holy Books the first observation I made was the similarity of these accounts. In both accounts the characters are identical (Adam, Eve, Shaytan (Iblis), Allah); the place is the same in both accounts (the Garden); in both accounts Shaytan (Iblis) lies and tricks Adam and Eve; in both accounts Adam & Eve put on leaves to hide the shame of their nakedness; in both accounts Allah then comes and speaks to the others and pronounces judgment; in both of the accounts Allah then shows them mercy by providing raiments (i.e. clothing) to cover ‘the shame’ of their nakedness. The Qur’an prefaces this by saying to the ‘Children of Adam’ (which would be us!) that this is ‘among the signs of Allah’. In other words this is not just a history lesson about sacred events in the past. It should make us take note because it explicitly says this account is for us – and we should then be asking and discovering in what way this is a sign for us.
Adam’s Warning to us
One observation we should really take very seriously – in both accounts (i.e. in Qur’an and the Taurat) Adam & Eve only commit one transgression of disobedience before Allah judges. They do not have, for example, ten sins of disobedience with Allah giving nine warnings and then Allah finally judging. Allah judged them from only one act of disobedience. Most people in the West who believe in God believe that He will only judge them after they have committed many sins. And they reason that if they have ‘less sins’ than most others, or if their good deeds outnumber their disobedient actions then (perhaps) God will not judge. Adam & Eve’s experience is a warning to us that this is not the case. Allah will judge even one sin of disobedience.
This makes sense if we compare disobedience to Allah with breaking the law of a nation. In Canada where I live, if I broke just one law (such as if I cheated on my taxes) the country has enough reason to judge me. And I cannot plead that I have only broken one law and have not broken laws for murder, robbery and kidnapping. I only need to break one law to face Canada’s judgment. It is the same with Allah.
So there is a sign for us here in Adam & Eve’s disobedience. And in their next actions we see that they experience the shame of their nakedness and they try to put on leafs to cover their nakedness. Likewise, when I do acts of disobedience I feel shame and I try to cover up and hide it in some way – to hide it from others. Adam & Eve did the same but their efforts were futile. Allah could see their failure and He then both Acted and Spoke. Let us see what He both Did and Said.
The Actions of Allah in Judgment and in Mercy
If we study carefully what Allah Does (again in both accounts) we see that He Does three things:
- Allah makes them mortal – they will now die.
- Allah expels them from the Garden. They must now live in a much more difficult place on Earth.
- Allah gives them clothes of skins.
What is fascinating about these three things is that all of us even to this day still share in them. Everyone dies; no one – prophet or otherwise – has ever returned to the Garden; and everyone continues to wear clothes. In fact these three things are so ‘normal’ for everyone that we almost miss noticing this fact that what Allah did to Adam & Eve is still being felt by us to this very day, thousands of years later. It is as if the consequences of what happened that day are still affecting us today in these ways at least.
Another thing to note here are that the raiments (clothes) from Allah was a Mercy from Him. Yes He judged them, but he also provided mercy. Allah did not have to give this to them. And Adam & Eve did not earn the raiments through righteous behaviour that earned ‘merit’ against their disobedient act (in fact their behaviour throughout in both Taurat and Qur’an is far from righteous). Adam & Eve could only receive Allah’s provision without meriting or deserving it. But someone did pay for it. The Taurat more specifically tells us that the raiment from Allah were ‘skins’. Thus they came from an animal. Up until this point there was no death, but now some animal (perhaps a sheep or goat, in any case an animal whose skin was suitable for making a covering of clothes) did pay – with its life. An animal died so that Adam & Eve could receive Mercy from Allah.
The Qur’an then tells us further that this raiment did cover their shame, but the raiment that they really needed was ‘righteousness’, and that in some way the raiment that they did have (the skins) is a sign of this righteousness, and this is a sign for us. I quote this in detail so you can follow what I am observing from the passage.
“O you Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness – that is the best. Such are among the signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition” [Surat 7:26 (The Heights)]
Perhaps a good question for us to keep in mind from this is: how do we get this ‘raiment of righteousness’? Later prophets will show the answer to this very important question.
The Words of Allah in Judgment and in Mercy
But continuing on with this sign – Allah not only does these three things for Adam & Eve and us (their children), but he also speaks His Word. In both accounts Allah speaks of ‘enmity’ between them but in the Taurat it says more specifically that this ‘enmity’ will be between the woman (Eve) and the serpent (Shaytan). This particular Word from Allah I repeat here. I have just inserted with () the persons referred to. Allah speaks saying:
“And I (Allah) will put enmity
between you (Shaytan) and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he (offspring of woman) will crush your (Shaytan) head,
and you (Shaytan) will strike his (offspring of woman) heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
This is a riddle – but it is understandable. Reading carefully you will see that there are five different characters mentioned AND that this is prophetic in that it is looking forward-in-time (seen by the repeated use of ‘will’ as in future tense). The characters are:
- God (or Allah)
- Shaytan (or Iblis)
- The woman
- The offspring of the woman
- The offspring of Shaytan
And the riddle maps out how these characters will relate to each other in the future. This is shown below.
It does not say who the woman is. You will notice that Allah speaks of an ‘offspring’ of Shaytan (Satan) and an ‘offspring’ of the woman. Though this is mysterious we know one thing about this offspring of the woman. Because the ‘offspring’ is referred to as a ‘he’ and a ‘him’ we know that it is a single male human. With that knowledge we can drop some possible meanings. As a ‘he’ the offspring is not a ‘she’ and thus cannot be a woman – but he comes from a woman. As a ‘he’ the offspring is not a ‘they’ (i.e. it is not plural). Thus the offspring referred to is NOT a group of people whether that refers to a national identity or a group of a certain religion. As a ‘he’ the offspring is not an ‘it’ (the offspring is a person). Though this may seem obvious it eliminates the possibility that the offspring is a particular philosophy or teaching or religion. So the offspring is NOT (for example) Christianity or Islam because then it would be referred to as an ‘it’, nor is it a group of people as in the Jews or the Christians or the Muslims because then it would be referred to as a ‘they’. So even though there remains mystery about what the ‘offspring’ is we have eliminated many possibilities that might naturally come to our mind.
We see from the forward-looking Word from Allah (it is all in future tense with ‘will’ repeated throughout) that a plan with a purposed outcome is in the Mind of Allah. This ‘offspring’ will crush the head of Shaytan (i.e. destroy him) while at the same time Shaytan will ‘strike his heel’. The mystery of what this means is not clarified further at this point. But we know that there is a Divine plan that is going to unfold.
Another interesting observation comes from what Allah does NOT say to the man (Adam). He does not promise the man a specific offspring like he promises the woman. This is quite extraordinary especially given the emphasis of sons coming through fathers through the Taurat, Zabur & Injil. In fact, in Canada one of the criticisms of these Holy Books by modern people is that they ignore the blood lines that go through women. If you look at the genealogies given in the Taurat (Genesis 5), Zabur (1 Chronicles 1-5) and Injil (Matthew 1 and Luke 3) you will see that they almost exclusively talk of the sons that come from the fathers. But in this case in what He promises to Adam, Eve and the Serpent it is different – there is no promise of an offspring (a ‘he’) coming from a man. The Taurat says only that there will be an offspring coming from woman – without mentioning a man.
Out of all the humans that have ever existed, only two have never had a human father. The first was Adam, created directly by God. The second was Jesus (Isa – PBUH) who was born of a virgin – thus no human father. This fits with the observation that the offspring is a ‘he’, not a ‘she’, ‘they’ or ‘it’. With that perspective, if you read the riddle it all falls into place. Isa (PBUH) is the offspring from a woman. But who is his protagonist, the ‘offspring’ of Shaytan? Though we do not have space here to trace it out in detail, the Books speak of a ‘Son of Destruction’, ‘Son of Satan’ and other titles that depict a coming human ruler who will oppose ‘the Christ’ (Masih). He is also known as Dajjal. The later Books speak of a coming clash between this ‘Anti-Christ’ and the Christ (or Masih). But it is first mentioned in embryo-like form here, at the very beginning of history.
So the climax of history, the conclusion of a contest between Shaytan and Allah, started long ago in the Garden is foreseen at that same beginning – in the earliest Book. And starting from here, at the beginning, and working our way through the successive Messengers that have come through history will forewarn us so we will be better understand the times we are in. With these observations of the sign of Adam & Eve we have learned a lot. Both the Qur’an and the Taurat have given us many clues. Yet many questions remain and more have been raised. But now we can continue in the line of the prophets to see what more they can teach us. We thus continue with their sons Qabil and Habil.