The Story of Adam and Eve (Hawwa)

Imam Ibn Kathir Ad-Dimashqi

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Iblis tried in vain to justify his refusal: "Shall I prostrate to one whom You created from clay?" Iblis said: "See? those whom You have honored above me, if You give me respite (keep me alive) to the Day of Resurrection, I will surely seize and mislead his offspring (by sending them astray) all but a few!" [Ch 17:62 Quran]

Adam was following what was happening around him and had feelings of love, awe, and astonishment. Deep love of Allah,Who had created and glorified him and Who had made His angels prostrate before him. Awe of the Creator's wrath when He excluded Iblis from His mercy. Adam was surprised by this creature, Iblis who abhorred hiwithout even knowing him and who imagined himself better than Adam without having proved that he was worthier. What a strange creature Iblis was, and how strange was his excuse for not prostrating!

He imagined that fire is better than clay, but how did he get such an idea? Such knowledge is exclusive to Allah Who fire and clay and Who knows which is the better of the two.

From the dialogue Adam realized that Iblis was a creature characterized by cunning and ingratitude. He then knew that Iblis was his eternal enemy. He was greatly astonished at Iblis's audacity and Allah's tolerance. Immediately after his creation Adam witnessed the large amount of freedom that Allah gives to His commissioned creatures.

Allah knew that Iblis was not going to obey Him in prostrating before Adam. Allah could have totally annihilated him or turned him into a handful of dust or stifled the refusal in his mouth. Yet, Allah gives His commissioned creatures absolute freedom even to the extent that they can refuse Allah the Almighty's commands. He grants them the freedom of denial, disobedience, and even disagreement with Him.

His kingdom will not diminish if the disbelievers do not believe in Him nor will it be extended if many people believe in Him. On the contrary, the disbelievers will lose, and the believers will gain but Allah is above all of that.

There were many traditions about Iblis at the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Ibn Masud, Ibn Abbas and a group of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that Iblis had been the head of the angels in the worldly heavens. Ibn Abbas said in one narration that his name had been Azazil and in another narration he said it had been Al Harith. Ibn Abbas also said that Iblis was a jinn and that they had once been the keepers of Paradise, with Iblis the most honorable and the most learned and the most pious of them. Another tradition says that he had been one of the famous four possessors of wings (angels), before Allah transformed him into the accursed Satan.

Allah Almighty recounts Iblis's disobedience in another surah: Remember when your Lord said to the angels: "Truly I am going to create man from clay. So when I have fashioned him and breathed into him (his) soul created by Me, then you fall down prostrate to him." So the angels prostrated themselves all of them; except Iblis, he was proud and was one of the disbelievers.

Allah said: "The truth is, and the truth I say, that I will fill Hell with you and those of them (mankind) that follow you together." [Ch 38:71-85 Quran]

After this lesson about freedom Adam learned another lesson, one about knowledge. Adam realized that Iblis was the symbol of evil in the universe and that the angels were the symbol of good. However he did not yet know anything about himself. Then Allah made him perceive his true identity and the reason for his creation, and the secret of his glorification.

Allah the Exalted said: He taught Adam all the names of everything. [Ch 2:31 Quran]

Almighty Allah granted Adam the power to know the natures of all things and to summarize them by names; that is a bird, that is a star, that is a tree, etc Allah implanted in Adam an insatiable need for and love of knowledge and a desire to bequeath knowledge to his children. This was the reason for his creation and the secret of his glorification.

After Adam had learned the names of all things, along with their properties and uses, Allah presented them to the angels and said: "Tell Me the names of these if you are truthful." [Ch 2:31 Quran] the angels admitted their inability: "Glory be to You, we have knowledge except what You have taught us. Verily it is You the All Knower, the All Wise." [Ch 2:32]

Allah Almighty then turned to Adam: "O Adam! Inform them of their names," and when he had informed them of their names, He said: "Did I not tell you that I know the unseen in the heavens and the earth, and I know what you reveal and what you have been hiding?" [Ch 2:33]

Allah wanted the angels to know that He knew of their astonishment when He had told them about the creation of Adam and that He also knew of their confusion which they had not revealed, as well as what Iblis had concealed of his disobedience and ingratitude.

The angels realized that Adam was the creature who knew what they did not know and that his capacity to learn was his noblest quality. His knowledge included knowledge of the Creator which we call faith or Islam, as well as the knowledge he would need to inhabit and master the earth. All kinds of worldly knowledge which are included in this.

Adam knew the names of everything. Sometimes he talked to the angels, but they were preoccupied with worshipping Almighty Allah. Therefore Adam, felt lonely. One day he slept and when he awoke he found near his head, a woman gazing at his face with beautiful tender eyes.

The angels asked him her name He replied: "Eve (Hawa)." (means living things). They asked: "Why did you call her Eve?" Adam said: "Because she was created of me and I am a living being."

Ibn Abbas and a group of companions of the Prophet (PBUH) narrated that when Iblis was sent out of Paradise and Adam was accommodated therein, Adam was alone in Paradise and did not have a partner from whom he could get tranquility. He slept for some time and when he woke up, he saw a woman whom Allah had created from his ribs. So he asked her, "Who are you?" She replied, "A woman" He asked: "Why have you been created?" She said :"So that you could find tranquility in me." The angels, trying to find out the extent of his knowledge, asked him: "What is her name O Adam?" He replied, "Eve" They asked "Why was she so named?" He replied, "Because she was created from something living."

Muhammad Ibn Ishaaq and Ibn Abbas related that Eve was created from the shortest left rib of Adam while he was sleeping and after awhile she was clothed with flesh. that is why Allah the Exalted said: O Mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam) and from Him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women. [Ch 4:1] Allah also said: It is he Who has created you from a single person (Adam) and then He created from him his wife (Eve), in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her. [Ch 7:189]

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "O Muslims! I advise you to be gentle with women, for they are created from a rib, and the most crooked portion of the rib is its upper part. If you try to straighten it, it will break and if you leave it, it will remain crooked, so I urge you to take care of the women." [Sahih Bukhari]

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