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Monday, February 24, 2014
Prophet Adam, Angels and Iblees - Some clarifications
Prophet Adam (peace be upon him), Angels and Iblees- clarifications of some doubts
By: Khurshid Imam
Quran talks about creation of
universe and creation of human beings at so many places. Prophet Adam (Peace be
upon him) is the first member of mankind, the first human being and the first
Prophet. He has been referred as swaym-bhu-manu (‘Manu’ who became
himself without any parent) in Indian traditions. There are many events related
to him for example Quran 2:30-34 talks about:
a)Almighty God tells angels that he
is going to create a Khalifa on earth.
b)Angels pose question. God responds.
c)Adam (Peace be upon him) – the
first man is created.
d)Allah asks angels and Jinn to
prostrate to Adam (Peace be upon him). Except Iblees – a Jinn – everyone obeyed.
Some people get some doubts about
these events. For example:
A.Is human being representative or
vice-regent of Allah?
B.What doubts angels had?
C.Allah did not answer what angels
had asked. Why was another answer given?
D.Why were angels and Jinn asked to
E.Was Iblees also asked to
F.What is this prostration or sajda?
Refer to the following Ayah for
understanding the whole context:
Lord said to the angels: "I will make a Khalifa on earth."
They said: "Will you place therein one who will make mischief therein
and shed blood?- while we do celebrate your praises and glorify you?" He said:
"I know what you know not."Quran 2:30
He said: "O Adam (Peace be upon him)!
Tell them their names." When he had told them, Allah said: "Did I
not tell you that I know the secrets of heaven and earth, and I know what ye
reveal and what ye conceal?"Quran 2:33
And behold, We said to the angels: "Bow
down to Adam (Peace be upon him)" and they bowed down. Not so Iblis:
he refused and was haughty: He was of those who reject Faith. Quran 2:34
?B. How is mankind Khalifa
When ALLAH said that HE is going to placeKHALIFAH
on the earth; does it meansthat man is representative of Allah? It is wrong
to assume that word Khalifah means representative or vice-regent.
To say that mankind is representative of
Almighty God is nothing short of demeaning the status of God. I will use the
word representative for Mr. X when someone is not present or he is not
available and Mr. X will represent him. When APJ Abdul Kalam has to participate
in a conference and due to some reason he is not available, then he will send
someone as his representative. How come God is not present anywhere – by
his knowledge? Everything is within his perception. He can NOT use anyone as
his representative. His knowledge, awareness is everywhere throughout the Universe
so we cannot use this word vice-regent of Allah for anyone. In fact dua
of Prophet Muhammad teaches the contrary. In dua we ask Allah to be Khalifa
when we go away from home; when we are away then let Allah take care of our
possession. So, here Allah is Khalifa of us; i.e. he is successor when
we are away from our homes. He is there to take care of our belongings and dear
ones. C. Does Quran explain meaning of Khalifa?
The triliteral root khā lām fā (خ ل ف)
occurs 127 times in the Quran. It is used in Quran in various forms in the
meaning of ‘Successor’, ‘leave behind’, ‘differ’, ‘contradiction’ etc. Word
Khalifa actually means SUCCESSOR.
Please note: Word khalifa is used in:
·Quran 43:60 in
context of ANGELS being khalifa on earth AND;
·Quran 6:165 in
context of human being Khalifa on earth
At both places khalifa is usually translated
as SUCCESSOR which is correct.
However when the same word is used in:
·Quran 2:30 in
context of Adam (Peace be upon him) being Khalifa on earth AND
context of Prophet David (Peace be upon him) as Khalifa on earth
Then some publications MISTRANSLATEkhalifa as
Analyzing all Ayah of Quran dealing with the
word “khalifa one gets the idea that it has been used for: “One or
more human being becoming successors”.
So, when ALLAH says that HE will make human
being as khalifah on earth then it means that human beings will
come as successor to other creation AND they will come into succession of each
other. It clearly means that:
There were some other creations before
mankind on the earth. We will discuss this later in the article.
Adam (Peace be upon him) - the first
person of Mankind will be a khalifa i.e. successor.
Mankind will be such that it will come
into succession; generation after generation.
D. Question of the Angels – which they asked
Angels said - "Will you create someone who
will do fassad (= disturb the peace of land) on earth and will indulge
Why angels questioned thus? How did they guess
that man will indulge in bloodshed and fasaad?
One argument is that before mankind jinn used
to live on earth. They indulged in bloodshed and fought amongst each other. So,
angels were afraid that the new creation will do more bloodshed. This
explanation does not have any proof from Quran and it fails on several accounts. ·There is no
proof of disobedience of jinn prior to this event. ·Angels said
that new creation will indulge in bloodshed. Jinn are distinct creatures and
there is absolutely no proof that blood applies to them. In the next
explanation importance and relevance of blood in context of human beings and
preceding generation will be explored.
There is another argument which sounds logical.
We know as per scientific facts that millions of years before human beings came
into existence animals and plants lived on the face of earth. First, there was
plant kingdom and laterafter millions of years animals started inheriting earth
as successor of plant kingdom.
With new creation came more freedom of action,
more choice, more free-will, improved instinct and BLOODSHED & FASAAD. How?
Imagine the scenario millions of years ago:
animals like dinosaurs eating other animals;
- killing their prey;
hitting/goring each other;
eating smaller fishes.
There was “anarchy” like situation if one
compares with the situation when only plants existed.
Possible beginning era of various species is:
million years, land plants;
400 million years, insects and seeds;
million years, amphibians;
million years, reptiles;
million years, mammals;
million years, dinosaurs
Also, it is to be noted that
several huge and deadly animals that existed on earth became extinct as they
could not survive the extreme competitive environment.
Angels were aware of the fact that
new race on earth was bringing more choice, more free-will, more freedom, more
bloodshed, more anarchy, more disturbance of peace (fasaad) hence they
thought that another new race will indulge in bloodshed and fasaad. They
thought that the new khalifa will display more ruthless use of its
capabilities. E. Question of the angels – which they did not ask.
Now, there arises one more question
which is important to consider and that is when the angels questioned about the
reasonto create someone who will do fasaad and bloodshed then Allah did
not reply “human beings will NOT do fasaad and bloodshed” OR “YES, I
know that he will do fasaad and bloodshed”. Instead of these; reply was
“I KNOW WHAT YOU DO NOT KNOW”.Reflecting on this reply of Allah, it seems that
the angels were concealing the real question.Were angels concealing their real
question? The answer is -YES.
1. What was the concealed question
of the angels?
Angels are creation of Allah that
do not have free will to the extent of human beings and Jinns. They are
programmed creatures unlike to human beings and jinns. They are submissive to
ALLAH all the time, engaged in obedience and worship for Allah. Refer 16:49-50; 21:19-20; 66:6
They thought that when they were
already there to worship Allah then why Allah wanted to create a new creation? If
the new creation is for the purpose of worship then why so; when we are already
doing that? It was a sort of positive jealousy. But they did NOT ask this
question; they concealed it.
“…They (Angels) said: "Will you place therein one who will make
mischief therein and shed blood?-while we do celebrate your praises and
glorify you……" Quran 2:30
They are programmed to do this
only. They don’t have the capacity to disobey Allah.
2. How Allah responded to the
To show the difference between
angels and human beings Allah taught names OR gave knowledge of everything to Adam
(Peace be upon him). Angels were also present there. Then Allah asked angels to
tell the names of everything that He had taught to Adam (Peace be upon him).
He taught Adam (Peace be upon him) the names of all things; then He placed them before the
angels, and said: "Tell me the names of these if you are right."
Angels expressed their inability to
do so because they were NOT made / programmed for this purpose. Angels admitted
that they had knowledge of only those things which was already instilled in
them by Allah.
"Glory to you, of knowledge; We have none, save what you Had taught us:
In truth it is you Who are perfect in knowledge and wisdom."Quran 2:32
In other words angels admitted that
that they are programmed to do only pre-determined things; they are programmed
with limited knowledge; nothing can add to it.
3. Concealed question of angels
He said: "O Adam
(Peace be upon him)! Tell them their names." When he had told them, Allah
said: "Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of heaven and earth, and
I know what you reveal and what you CONCEAL?"Quran 2:33
When Allah asked Adam (Peace be upon
him) to tell the names then he told them name correctly. This isthe difference
between angles and Adam (Peace be upon him). Angels are programmed creatures
with almost no free will, whereas, human beings are NOT programmed creatures.
There is no limit to knowledge and capabilities of human beings. The angels
were unaware of these capabilities of the human beings – that’s why Allahsaid
in the first place itself,“..I know what you do not know” (Quran 2:30) –
to convey to the angles that human beings would be different from angels.
In the last, Allah makes clear that
He knew the question which the angels had concealed and had NOT asked. The question was – “When we angels are already there to worship
Allah then why Allah wants to create a new creation?”
Allah gave the answer to their
concealed question in the form of practically showing the difference between
human beings and angels. This event of telling names of everything proved to the
angels that they did not know about capabilities & qualities of the new
F. What was Prostration to Adam (Peace be upon him) all
question that requires to be addressed is that why Allah asked angel and jinn to
prostrate before his another creation? This question arises because of our restricted
understanding of the meaning of the word sajda. By Arabic word sajda
we usually mean ‘to put down head on ground like we do in namaz’. In Salah
or Namaz we do sajda. Of course, this is sajda but surely
this is not the only form of sajda.
Quran uses the word sajda in context of stars
and plants (Quran 55:6). It says that stars and trees do sajda to
Allah. Do they really bow down like we human beings do? NO. Do stars and
trees fall down on their faces on the ground? NO.
Quran says in 13:15; 16:49; 22:18– “whoever is within the
heavens and the earth – they do sajda to Allah”. How they do sajda?
Certainly not the way how we human beings do.
Similarly in Surah Yusuf the event is described (Quran
12:4) wherein Prophet Yusuf saw dream in which stars, sun and moon were doing
sajda to him. Here again, sajda doesn’t mean what human
beings do in namaz.
It is evident from the above
referred Ayaah that the meaning of Sajda
is to acknowledge the greatness or accept the superiority of the one to whom sajda
is being made. Like, stars, trees and whole of the creation acknowledges and
accepts the superiority of Allah and remains subservient to Allah. When Allah
asked the Angels and Iblees to do sajda
to Adam (peace be upon him), it was in order to make them acknowledge the
greatness/supremacy of human beings on account of their intellectual capacity
as Allah taught the names of the things to Adam (peace be upon him) i.e. Allah
gave Adam (peace be upon him) knowledge or intellectual capacity. This new
creation, human being was created who will be the successor on earth. The one who
would evolve, progress, grow using his intellectual capacity and the resources
available around him on the earth. Angels are assigned the task of various
departments of nature e.g. rains, mountains, sky. Angels should not become a
hindrance in the progress and growth of mankind. This is what it means by doing
sajda to human being. Through Sajda Allah instructed jinns and
angels that they shouldn’t become hindrance in the evolution of human beings. Not
for any instance we should assume that this sajda was in any way
connected to the worship of Adam (Peace be upon him) by angels and jinns.
G. Was Iblees also commanded to do sajda?
the command of ALLAH to do sajda to Adam (Peace be upon him) only for
angels or for both angels and Iblees? It is to be noted that Iblees
was the representative of jinns. Jinns were creations who were created prior to
human beings. Iblees, a jinn was present during this event.
makes clear in 2:34 and 7:11 that Iblees disobeyed Allah by not doing sajda
to Adam (Peace be upon him). Still, some people have doubts regarding whether iblees
was commanded to do so. This objection gets cleared when we refer to the
“(Allah) said: "What prevented you (Oiblis) that you did not prostrate yourself, when I
commanded you?"Ibleessaid: "I am better than him (Adam (Peace be
upon him), You created me from fire, and him You created from clay." Quran 7:12
When Allah asked Iblees why he did not do sajda
to Adam (Peace be upon him) then Iblees did not say that he was not commanded
to do so; rather he said that he was better than Adam (Peace be upon him). So, here Iblees accepts that he was
commanded by Allah but he refused to do sajda. He refused to acknowledge the greatness of Adam (peace be upon
him) over himself. He also gave his reason. He said that he was better than Adam
(Peace be upon him) because Adam (Peace be upon him) was made from clay while
he was made from fire, thereby considering himself superior to Adam (peace be
upon him) and not ready to give way to the overall development and spiritual growth
of human beings to which they were capable of. So, this Ayah clears all
possible misunderstanding regarding the question “Was Iblees also
commanded to do sajda to Adam (Peace be upon him)?”
In 18:50 also Quran clears that iblees departed from the command of God. In 38:73 Quran says that ALL angels prostrated and in next ayah 74 - Quran clears that iblees did not prostrate.
Ibless refused to acknowledge the superiority of Adam
(peace be upon him) or human beings over himself and therefore causes hindrance
to the development of human beings by challenging their intellectual capacity
in order that they may not grow closer to Allah i.e. if human beings are
superior due to their knowledge they should be able to distinguish right from
wrong, truth from falsehood, good from evil. Therefore, he keeps throwing
hindrances in the form of temptations in the path of human beings to mislead
them from the straight path. He mislead Adam (peace be upon him) by temptation
into disobeying Allah. And since then Iblees
has been causing hindrance to the growth of human beings. H. Conclusion
1. Allah has made Prophet Adam (Peace be upon him) as beginning of a new race
on earth. This new race - human being - is Khalifa. Khalifa
means successor. Man is NOT vice-regent or representativeof Allah.
2. Angels are programmed creatures. They are always involved in worship and
obedience of Allah. They do not disobey because they are not made to do so.
3. Allah has asked Angels and Jinn to acknowledge greatness of human beings;
not to become hindrance in the way of human beings.
4. Representative of the Jinns, Iblees
refused to do sajda because he thought that human being was made from clay
hence inferior to him. Iblees did takabbaur (rejecting truth and to
boast over it).
Note: * If you don't agree with the article
then instead of giving fatwa of deviation / kufr / shirk / biddat - have faith
in Allah and leave it to him to judge.
* For any criticism / feedback / suggestion feel free to mail –