The next section is called: Adam and angels are taught
Allah says in Baqarah:31 وَعَلَّمَ ءَادَمَ ٱلۡأَسۡمَآءَ كُلَّهَا And He taught Adam all the names (of everything). Allah taught Adam all manner of names, leaving nothing at all out. The word ٱلۡأَسۡمَآءَ can be translated as ‘names’, but it can also means ‘qualities’. That’s why we say the Names of Allah is الْاَسْمَاۤءُ الْحُسْنٰى. It’s not just names, but the qualities of Allah, right?
So Adam was taught the name of things and the qualities of things. It means that Adam was being taught the languages. Because all languages boil down to nouns. A child, when it learns things, will try to understand its name first. And names are nouns, right? So nouns are the basis of not only one language, but all languages that exist in this world. The first creature that was taught this massive vocabulary is Adam.
And we his children are taught some languages and it’s actually the child of the languages that Adam already taught. And it was taught by Allah Himself. So this means that all languages are taught by Allah via revelation. Not a language that exists on earth that is not from Him, because all language goes back to parents, which goes back to further parent and eventually you end up with Adam a.s. and Adam is taught languages by Allah. And this also teaches us that all languages are supposed to be honoured because it was taught by Allah. You shouldn’t make fun of any language and dialect.
The other implication is about terminology. All sciences have their own terminology, right? In other words, what was given to Adam is the basis of all human intellectual development. All of it was handed to this man so that he could pass it down to his children. This is how science improved over time. Our forefathers jotted something down and gave it a term. And people after them improved it further, based on that term that was written down.
It means that humans cannot move upwards without the basis put down by the previous generations that defined the things. The development of human knowledge in every field is part of the plan of Allah that began with Adam a.s.
So when you study physics, biology, medicines, finances or whatever else, you actually continue to study what was initially given to Adam a.s. So you can’t say that learning deen is the only knowledge that has to do with Allah, whereas all sciences have to do with Allah! You yourself come up with that division, not Allah.
The book of Allah actually wants us to dive into the knowledge of this world and learn about everything. Allah says in Hud:61 هُوَ أَنشَأَكُم مِنَ الأَرضِ وَاستَعمَرَكُم فيها He has produced you from the earth and settled you in it. In modern Arabic the word استعمر actually means to colonise. But in old Arabic, it means Allah put you on earth and He wants you to develop and enhance the world. How are you going to enhance the earth if you don’t study sciences?
For example, agriculture happens because humans learn how to irrigate water. From there cities are developed. None of these would develop without science. Where do you think that the islamic civilizations come from? Unfortunately we have developed this secular thinking that divides religion and sciences apart, thinking that secular knowledge is not important. Whereas in this story we learn that Allah gave Adam secular knowledge first. Allah didn’t mention about worship yet to Adam, did He?
Unfortunately the ummah has reached an intellectual stagnation that we divided the knowledge of religion and knowledge of science. Or we can say between the ‘knowledge of revelation’ and the ‘knowledge of creation’. Here we learn that Adam has been given the honour to learn the knowledge of creation. That’s the knowledge of all kinds of things. Allah even didn’t limit to the knowledge of creation only because Allah says وَعَلَّمَ ءَادَمَ ٱلۡأَسۡمَآءَ كُلَّهَا where the كُلَّهَا means everything, even abstracts ideas and concepts.
It’s remarkable what Adam has been given. And even some amongst us were given some special knowledge. Some of us are very poetic, some very artistic, and have a real knack for history, some with languages, some in sciences and others in medicine.
So whatever that you are good at, that’s actually a fraction of the knowledge that has been granted to Adam. The knowledge has been given to Adam and he has passed it down to us. So don’t feel bad for knowing the knowledge of dunya. When you’re good at it, it’s a gift from Allah. Remember that it has been passed down to you.
So the first meaning of ٱلۡأَسۡمَآءَ is the name of things. The second meaning can be taken from this hadith:
حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ بْنُ حُمَيْدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو نُعَيْمٍ، حَدَّثَنَا هِشَامُ بْنُ سَعْدٍ، عَنْ زَيْدِ بْنِ أَسْلَمَ، عَنْ أَبِي صَالِحٍ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ لَمَّا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ آدَمَ مَسَحَ ظَهْرَهُ فَسَقَطَ مِنْ ظَهْرِهِ كُلُّ نَسَمَةٍ هُوَ خَالِقُهَا مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِهِ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَ عَيْنَىْ كُلِّ إِنْسَانٍ مِنْهُمْ وَبِيصًا مِنْ نُورٍ ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى آدَمَ فَقَالَ أَىْ رَبِّ مَنْ هَؤُلاَءِ قَالَ هَؤُلاَءِ ذُرِّيَّتُكَ فَرَأَى رَجُلاً مِنْهُمْ فَأَعْجَبَهُ وَبِيصُ مَا بَيْنَ عَيْنَيْهِ فَقَالَ أَىْ رَبِّ مَنْ هَذَا فَقَالَ هَذَا رَجُلٌ مِنْ آخِرِ الأُمَمِ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِكَ يُقَالُ لَهُ دَاوُدُ . فَقَالَ رَبِّ كَمْ جَعَلْتَ عُمْرَهُ قَالَ سِتِّينَ سَنَةً قَالَ أَىْ رَبِّ زِدْهُ مِنْ عُمْرِي أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً . فَلَمَّا انْقَضَى عُمْرُ آدَمَ جَاءَهُ مَلَكُ الْمَوْتِ فَقَالَ أَوَلَمْ يَبْقَ مِنْ عُمْرِي أَرْبَعُونَ سَنَةً قَالَ أَوَلَمْ تُعْطِهَا ابْنَكَ دَاوُدَ قَالَ فَجَحَدَ آدَمُ فَجَحَدَتْ ذُرِّيَّتُهُ وَنَسِيَ آدَمُ فَنَسِيَتْ ذُرِّيَّتُهُ وَخَطِئَ آدَمُ فَخَطِئَتْ ذُرِّيَّتُهُ ” . قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ . وَقَدْ رُوِيَ مِنْ غَيْرِ وَجْهٍ عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم .
Narrated Abu Hurairah:
that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “When Allah created Adam He wiped his back and every person that He created among his offspring until the Day of Resurrection fell out of his back. He placed a ray of light between the eyes of every person. Then He showed them to Adam and he said: ‘O Lord! Who are these people?’ He said: ‘These are your offspring.’ He saw one of them whose ray between his eyes amazed him, so he said: ‘O Lord! Who is this?’ He said: ‘This is a man from the latter nations of your offspring called Dawud.’ He said: ‘Lord! How long did You make his lifespan?’ He said: ‘Sixty years.’ He said: ‘O Lord! Add forty years from my life to his.’ So at the end of Adam’s life, the Angel of Death came to him, and he said: ‘Do I not have forty years remaining?’ He said: ‘Did you not give them to your son Dawud?'” He said: “Adam denied, so his offspring denied, and Adam forgot and his offspring forgot, and Adam sinned, so his offspring sinned.” Jami` at-Tirmidhi 3076. Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)
Everyone of us was there and shown to Adam. Previously we have said that Adam has been told our names, right? Adam has also been told our qualities as well. Like a good father should know about his children, right? So here we can see that the meaning of ٱلۡأَسۡمَآءَ could also means our names. The student of Arabic can appreciate this because Allah continues the verse with ثُمَّ عَرَضَہُمۡ عَلَى ٱلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ then He showed them to the angels. The dhomir (pronoun) هم is not used for things, but used for humans. It is because Adam was taught the name of human beings and later the humans were shown to the angels.
Then Allah asked them: فَقَالَ أَنۢبِـُٔونِى بِأَسۡمَآءِ هَـٰٓؤُلَآءِ and He said, “Tell Me the names of these. Can you name all these people and tell me their qualities? The angels cannot answer Him. Allah asked them this question because they asked Him the question first, asking why He’s putting a new khalifah on earth. So now Allah is telling them what kind of khalifah that this human is going to be. Do you even know their names, do you even know their qualities, o angels? No, they said that they don’t know.
Basically Allah is saying that the angels cannot accuse the humans are going to make those mistakes because that is premature thinking. You cannot judge humans based on what the previous creature has done. Guess what? That principle does not only apply to angels but it also applies to you and me. If somebody messed up in the past, it doesn’t mean that their children are going to mess up too in the future.
And if Muslims have made mistakes in the past, it doesn’t mean that the latter generation will do the same. Unfortunately we developed a depressed feeling about our future based on our past histories. Whether it is about ourselves or about our ummah. Muslims do this, right? And not only about the Muslims, but about the non-Muslims as well, right? We hear people say, “oh these kuffars, they will always be like that!”. Do you get a guarantee from Allah that they will always be like that?
Look at the Quraish. Yes, in the past there were the lots that attacked Rasulullah. But it’s the same Quraish that gave us Khalid ibn Walid and the other great companions. So don’t judge people from their past. The angels themselves were taught that this is not the correct way of thinking. And so by extension, we are being taught that it’s not the correct way of thinking.
Were the jinns before us were taught the sciences and the technologies? No, it’s only taught to human beings. So when humans become the khalifah on earth, they will do amazing things. Humans will take the raw materials on earth and will invent things, design and create things. You can see that this has been happening, right? See where we have become. The potentials has been shown throughout history.
When Allah asked them, at the end Allah says إِن كُنتُمۡ صَـٰدِقِينَ if you are truthful. This can mean two things. Allah is challenging the angels and saying that their concern is not accurate. And number two, it’s about their tasbeeh and taqdis. And Allah is letting the angels know that amongst these human beings, there will be those that will declare Allah’s perfection and purity in a way that even the angels can’t reach.
Case in point: On the day of judgement, when all are silent, Rasulullah will be given the right to speak. Our Prophet will praise Him in a way that Allah has never taught anyone else. So his tasbeeh, hamd and taqdis will be more and better than even the angels. So Allah is telling the angels not to underestimate this human because in their rank are also prophets.
Look at the hadith above about Dawud. Dawud caught Adam’s eye and he gave 40 years of his life to Dawud, remember? If you study Dawud in the Qur’an, what do you find? What made him special? He was given the ability to be in harmony with nature. He used to sing praises to Allah and the mountains and the birds joined him. He used irons to create armour, meaning he is advanced in knowledge. He was also given governance that was not given before to other prophets.
In other words, he was actually really taking care of the earth. And he’s a special khalifah. And because of that, when Adam sees Dawud, he was so impressed and because of that that he thinks that Dawud should stay on earth longer. Because Adam knows the qualities of his children, remember?
Back to the angels when Allah asked them. They answered قَالُواْ سُبۡحَـٰنَكَ They (angels) said: “Glory be to You. The angels said that Allah is too perfect. But when do you say tasbeeh? When you say something inappropriate. This means that they are backing off understanding that they are way out of line when they question Allah’s decision.
And they continue لَا عِلۡمَ لَنَآ إِلَّا مَا عَلَّمۡتَنَآۖ we have no knowledge except what you have taught us. You only taught us about the jinns. We knew about the jinns but we didn’t know about the humans. We will never question your judgement again. إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلۡعَلِيمُ ٱلۡحَكِيمُ Verily, it is You, the All-Knower, the All-Wise.
Despite being close to Allah, they recognize their limits and maintain their humility. But what about us? You who are a student of knowledge and have taken seminars after seminars, courses after courses and now you are the most knowledgeable among your friends. And unfortunately you are also the most uptight and the most arrogant amongst your friends. And you are the most judgemental amongst them, too.
Actually the more knowledge you have, you should be more down to earth. That is the sign of knowledge and the angels recognize this. So the angels have been taught not to judge prematurely. So when you meet other people and you don’t know anything about them, you should not be rushing to pass judgement.
And now Allah turns to Adam. قَالَ يَـٰٓـَٔادَمُ أَنۢبِئۡهُم بِأَسۡمَآٮِٕہِمۡۖ He said: “O Adam! Inform them of their names. Allah told Adam to tell the angels about the names of humans, which are us. So not only Adam knows our names but the angels know too. And consequently, Allah send guardians to us based on our particular problems. Because they are taking care of us. And for that they need to know about our qualities and our problems.
And after Adam told the angels of the names, Allah says قَالَ أَلَمۡ أَقُل لَّكُمۡ إِنِّىٓ أَعۡلَمُ غَيۡبَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ He said: “Did I not tell you that I know the Ghaib (unseen) in the heavens and the earth. Allah mentioned the earth because the questions from angels are about the earth, right? And this verse is beautiful when Allah says about the skies and earth because Adam is made in two parts: his physical body is from the earth and his roh comes from the sky.
So some of his qualities not only from dirt but from the roh, something so incredible. So don’t underestimate humans because they are not animals, instead they are very special. Animals only procreate and eat but humans have so many potentials. We have the ability to create, to love, to show gratitude, justice, beauty, think beyond greed, develop brotherhood and all that.
But unfortunately we can see in the entertainment industry there’s a celebration to turn you into not more than an animal. Just look at the songs that have vulgar contents. Who thinks like this? Dogs and other animals. This is so sad because Allah has shown how great we are, but some of us are changing this into something bad. We’re living in times when the animal side is being celebrated. It’s the side without the roh involved. This is the tragedy of the time, because of the destruction of the human souls.
And look at the arts nowadays. It has become so inhuman. Remember the islamic arts in the past? It’s about symmetry because it is inspired by the verses of Allah that says that He created everything in order. So the Islamic artists in the past tried to emulate this by using the concept of symmetry in their paintings. But the arts these days are full of vulgars. It is disturbing when we look at it.
So Allah has said that He knows the unseen of the skies and the earth. And regarding humans, it’s about the potential that He put in us. It’s beautiful because human beings do have goodness inside all of us.
And Allah continues وَأَعۡلَمُ مَا تُبۡدُونَ وَمَا كُنتُمۡ تَكۡتُمُونَ and I know what you reveal and what you have been concealing. The angels must have been confused because they didn’t hide anything from Allah. Why is Allah saying this? They didn’t know that amongst them is the jinn that has been promoted that has been hiding his feelings all along. Allah called him out. It hasn’t happened yet but Allah is already hinting about it. His refusal to do sajdah hasn’t happened yet but Allah already knows what he will do.
Iblees had hesitation about Adam but he kept it inside his head. He is already jealous. There are some people in life that are jealous of you even before they know you. Why? Because they feel threatened by your existence. Just because you exist and somehow you take away their position or their grandeur.
Unfortunately the ugliest thing is when even the Islamic speakers are jealous of each other. Those that are supposed to elevate the ummah but they are the ones that fell into the trap of syaitan. This is when your group is from another masjid, another a rival Islamic school. They bicker amongst each other. They think that because they are doing Allah’s work, then they are right and they are the best.
When this happens, they are no better than Iblees. Remember, Iblees himself has done Allah’s work. His pride is to get the recognition for his services to Allah. So if you are doing Allah’s work but you fell into this pride thing, then you have what Iblees had all along.
Why do you think in the Qur’an Allah highlighted the bad things that the scholars of Israelites did? Because they also had their status and because of that, they became arrogant. And we have to watch out so that we don’t become the same thing. If you think that the only way your work is to be appreciated is by putting down the work of others, then you have some serious problem in your hand. If you do, then you are no different than Iblees.
Unfortunately in the Muslim community there’s a lot of people who likes to put other people down. Do you think that you are doing something for the ummah? This must change. Nonsense should be ignored. And the person that likes to spread nonsense and make people waste time by it is Syaitan. So don’t follow the footsteps of syaitan.
Then Allah continues, وَإِذۡ قُلۡنَا لِلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَةِ ٱسۡجُدُواْ لِأَدَمَ فَسَجَدُوٓاْ And (remember) when We said to the angels: “Prostrate yourselves before Adam.” And they prostrated. There are two popular meanings for this act. One, it’s as a sign of respect to Adam. It’s allowed in previous syariah.
But there’s another opinion which is not in conflict with syariah. If you study the meaning of sajdah, it happens when something amazing happens. When Allah does something amazing, you turn into sajdah. For example, when the staff of Moosa eat the snake, the magicians fall into sajdah. When the Christians listened to the recitation of the Qur’an, they fell into sajdah. When the Quraish came to debate Rasulullah and they heard the ayat of the Qur’an, even the Mushrikoon of Quraish fell into sajdah.
When the brothers of Yusuff saw their brother that they had put into the well and now became an important person, they were so amazed with the plan of Allah that they fell into sajdah as well. Now when Adam was created and initially the angels had some questions about him, and later when Allah showed him to the angels, they were amazed and they also fell into sajdah. It is when the roh was put into the human body. It was such an incredible miracle of Allah that the angels were so amazed by it.
But Iblees has a problem with that. إِلَّآ إِبۡلِيسَ except Iblîs (Satan). He saw that Adam was made from dirt and he didn’t even acknowledge the roh that Allah has put into Adam. Thus he refused to prostrate to Adam even though Allah has told everyone to do that.
There’s a problem with the English translation of this ayah. Look at this sentence: ‘all the students came except Kareem’. Doesn’t that mean that Kareem is also a student? So if Allah said that all the angels did sajdah except Iblees, doesn’t that also mean that Iblees is also an angel? But wasn’t he a jinn?
This is the beauty of the Arabic language. The word فَسَجَدُوٓاْ means they (the angels) made sajdah. And if Iblees was a part of the angels then the word would be like this فَسَجَدُوٓاْ إِلَّآ إِبۡلِيسُ (ibleesu and not ibleesa) where the dhommah is put on the word Iblees. But if the person does not belong in the same group, then we put nasb on the name and that’s why the word is like this: فَسَجَدُوٓاْ إِلَّآ إِبۡلِيسَ.
Now let’s put this into simple English for easy understanding: all the students came except Ustaz Nouman. Now, does Ustaz Nouman from amongst the students? No, right? Yes he belongs in the class but he’s not bunced into the same group. And you only know the difference because we added the word ‘ustaz’. But in Arabic, you don’t have to do that. You can just change it’s harakah and you’d know that he’s not in the same group. And that’s why for Arabic people, this verse is not a confusion. This is why you need to learn Arabic and know the meaning of rafa’, nasb and jarr.
For some people, learning Arabic is hard and it can be pretty boring. Most would want to get straight to the juicy stuff. But to get there, you need to get there step by step.
And Allah said that Iblees أَبَىٰ وَٱسۡتَكۡبَرَ وَكَانَ مِنَ ٱلۡكَـٰفِرِينَ he refused and was proud and was one of the disbelievers. Now we learn that sometimes people refuse because of arrogance. Sometimes people refuse because of ignorance. Sometimes people refuse because of anger. Sometimes it is because of sadness, or fear. But when you refuse because of arrogance, then there’s no hope for you. You’re done. And that’s why Iblees was a kafir and there’s no hope for him ever. And the word كَانَ مِنَ ٱلۡكَـٰفِرِينَ means that he was always has been amongst the disbelievers.
Now Iblees has refused to do sajdah. And in Surah A’raf Allah explains in detail the reason why. But Allah wants to focus on something else in Baqarah. Allah keeps the attention on Adam here. In A’raf the attention is more on Iblees.
So now Allah turns to Adam وَقُلۡنَا يَـٰٓـَٔادَمُ ٱسۡكُنۡ أَنتَ وَزَوۡجُكَ ٱلۡجَنَّةَ And We said: “O Adam! Dwell you and your wife in the Paradise. The word ٱسۡكُنۡ means live in harmony. You and your wife. And it didn’t say في الجنة (in Jannah) but only ٱلۡجَنَّةَ with no harf here. Usually when you say you live somewhere, you’d say I live ‘in’ Dallas etc. But the word ‘in’ is not here. Why?
Because the word في (in) would take away the vastness of Jannah. Adam was not told where he could live in Jannah because he can live anywhere in Jannah. The entire endless horizon of Jannah and he can settle anywhere.
By the way the word سكن means someone is moving and he stops. And he starts moving again. And stop and move again. If you stay somewhere and are not planning to move anywhere, there’s other words for that. So we already know that Adam will not live in Jannah forever and now we know that Adam will explore Jannah all over the place. One castle to the other castle and hang and hang around Jannah. The beauty was captured in the word ٱسۡكُنۡ.
So who’s with Adam? Hawa his wife, right? But Allah did not say أسكنا (both of you stay) but He gave the instruction to Adam only. In other words, Allah only addressed Adam and not the wife. It’s because only the head of household is addressed when the matter of settling down is mentioned. The head of the house is being honoured with that.
The other meaning can be taken from the word ٱسۡكُنۡ as well. In another verse Allah says وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا And among His wonders is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind so that you might incline towards them (Rum:21). So that you can find peace from them. And from Adam, Hawa was created.
This teaches us that the peace of the household is the man’s responsibility. Sometimes the wife will get mad and say something really bad but this is the time that the husband must establish peace. You’re gonna stay calm, hear what the wife wants to say and not take it to heart. You just say: yes. Do not turn around and reply, never-never do that. Let it go. Because when it comes to maintaining peace, it’s the man’s responsibility. You cannot expect that from her.
And sometimes it’s hard. But it’s part of our job. لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا literal translation is, so that you become peaceful towards her. It means that your tranquillity is directed towards your wife.
And the verse transitioned وَكُلَا مِنۡهَا رَغَدًا حَيۡثُ شِئۡتُمَا and eat both of you freely with pleasure and delight, of things therein as wherever you will. Here Allah addressed both of them. When it was about responsibility, Allah handed it to Adam as the head of household. But when it comes to rights and the gift of eating, He gave it to both of them directly.
And when it comes to prohibition Allah says وَلَا تَقۡرَبَا هَـٰذِهِ ٱلشَّجَرَةَ but come not near this tree. Again Allah addressed both of them directly. Because this is a matter between them and Allah and the husband cannot get in the way and the wife cannot get in the way. Because you’re doing it for Allah. There are some husbands that tell their wives not to wear hijab; there are wives that stop their husbands from praying in the masjid. And these are not right. When it’s between you and Allah, no human being can get in the way, no matter what.
And this balance is sometimes hard to maintain. Sometimes when you want to obey Allah, you have to disobey your husband. But between husband and Allah, you have to please Allah more.
By the way, the command was: ‘don’t come near the tree’. It’s not: ‘don’t eat from the tree’. There are certain prohibition in Islam that you’re not supposed to go near them at all. Let alone doing it. Allah didn’t say: don’t go near pigs. Only don’t eat them. But there are evils that Allah says don’t even go near it. Like don’t go near zina; don’t go near the property of the orphans; don’t go near multiple shameless stuff (fawahish).
So there are places that we shouldn’t even go to. Like going to clubs because we already know what’s happening there. Don’t go watch that movie because you already know its rating. Don’t go to the basketball games because there are cheerleaders dancing.
Allah then gave the advise فَتَكُونَا مِنَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ or you both will be of the Zâlimûn (wrong-doers). By the way, in the end, did they go alone to the tree or did they go together? Together, right? Because sometimes husband and wife make mutual decisions and sometimes the mutual decisions are bad ones. For example, both of them decided to enter into questionable business together. Some decided to take questionable student loans for their children. One cannot blame the other, because both of them are responsible.
If they go to the tree, then they will become from those that do wrong. But wait, there’s no one else, is there? So who are those that do wrong? It’s a pretty strange question. Here Allah is telling Adam and Hawa that some of their kids will do wrong and they should not be amongst them.