Tuesday, July 05, 2016
The Advent of Adam
And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth, they said: wilt Thou place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Thy praise and sanctify Thee? He said: Surely I know that which ye don’t know.
On reading the above verse one thing immediately becomes clear: mankind was created with the explicit purpose of populating the earth and the notion that the human race is a continuation of the punishment given to Adam and Eve for being disobedient is not correct. Man and woman came into being on earth as God’s viceroys or deputies with the task of continuing God’s work and the dignity of all men and women must be respected in spite of differences. As to the scope of God’s work to be carried out by men and women there can be infinite speculation – but everyone would agree that it must include the protection, nurturing, development and facilitation of the existence of all living beings and life forms. The Creator would certainly like his viceroys to be creative in some way or the other.
The second point that stands out is that almighty God worked with complete transparency, taking His angels into confidence about His intentions and granted His angels the right to question His decisions. Apparently God had a sort of a parliament. When the angels objected that mankind would quarrel and cause bloodshed on earth, The Almighty did not punish them, nor imprisoned them, nor destroyed and replaced them with more obliging ones. Instead, God chose to convince them of the wisdom of his decision by a practical demonstration. Convincing, rather than punishing opposition is God’s way of doing things and obviously His favorite way of doing things for man.
The narration is continued in the same style in verses 2:31 to 2:33 translated as follows:
2:31 And He taught Adam all the names, then showed them to angels, saying: Inform me the names of these if ye are truthful.
2:32 They said: Be glorified! We have no knowledge saving that which thou hast taught us. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Knower, the Wise.
2:33 He said: 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 secrets of the heavens and the earth And I know what ye disclose and which ye hide.
To the naïve reader it would appear that God tricked the angels by conniving with Adam who was his favorite and teaching him the names of objects that the angels were not familiar with. But for the keen seeker of the truth, this was not Divine politics. It was the revelation of the human faculty of giving names that would make human beings superior to all other creatures. The ability to give names to objects, actions, feelings and ideas has enabled mankind to develop languages, arts, sciences, laws and civilization as a whole. Animals created before man had limited power of speech. Parrots could repeat what they heard, but could not give names to what they saw and so remained unable to talk to each other. But a human child, as soon as it can control its voice starts giving names to things it sees. In many families the infants introduce new names for objects and people that become adopted. If the speech processing part is removed from the human brain, what remains is pretty much the same as an ape’s brain.
The story of Adam’s creation is continued in chapter 15 (Al-Hijr) verses 26 to 43 translated as follows:
15:26 And certainly We created man of clay that gives forth sound, of black mud fashioned in shape.
15:27 And the jinn We created before, of intensely hot fire.
15:28 And when your Lord said to the angels: Surely I am going to create a mortal of the essence of black mud fashioned in shape.
15:29 So when I have made him complete and breathed into him of My spirit, fall down making obeisance to him.
15:30 So the angels made obeisance, all of them together,
15:31 But Iblis (did it not); he refused to be with those who made obeisance.
15:32 He said: O Iblis! what excuse have you that you are not with those who make obeisance?
15:33 He said: I am not such that I should make obeisance to a mortal whom Thou hast created of the essence of black mud fashioned in shape.
15:34 He said: Then get out of it, for surely you are driven away:
15:35 And surely on you is curse until the day of judgment.
15:36 He said: My Lord! then respite me till the time when they are raised.
15:37 He said: So surely you are of the respited ones
15:38 Till the period of the time made known.
15:39 He said: My Lord! because Thou hast made life evil to me, I will certainly make (evil) fairseeming to them on earth, and I will certainly cause them all to deviate
15:40 Except Thy servants from among them, the devoted ones.
15.: He said: This is a right way with Me:
15:42 Surely. as regards My servants, you have no authority ,over them except those who follow you of the deviators.
15:43 And surely Hell is the promised place of them all:
Here is another classic example of God’s tolerance of dissent. Iblis (the devil) flatly refused to obey a direct order from the Almighty God. The expression, “What aileth thee…” shows that God’s initial reaction was concern for the well-being of his dissenting creature rather than anger at the dissent.
Verse 15:27 could mean that Iblis (Satan) a jinn is an intelligent life form which came into existence while the Earth was still a cloud of very hot gases; probably as a consequence of the imaginary components of the complex equation of life. Even in terms of established modern physics it does not seem impossible that out of a large mass of plasma there could emerge stable configurations of fundamental subatomic particles containing logic circuits and sensing and transmission capabilities of magnitude sufficient to create enough excitation of a few cells of the human brain to initiate an idea. In a healthy and sound brain, the old devil or jinn seems unlikely to produce any more disturbances than a temporary distraction. Moreover, in nearly five billion years since the separation of the Earth from the Sun, it is likely that most of them have become extinct; and one should not expect continuous production of Jinns from a considerably cooled down Sun although there might be some coming from distant stars in all directions.
The question as to whether or not there exists an intelligent and resourceful enemy bent on destroying mankind can be answered by studying the history of medicine. Just as in a war situation, the combatants try to develop countermeasures and disrupt the defense supplies of the enemy; when mankind developed vaccines utilizing the immune system and it seemed that all epidemics had been brought under control, AIDS surfaced which attacks and immobilizes the immune system itself. Anyway, we find that at that juncture in prehistory there was an agreement between God and Iblis (Satan) that whereas man was created to follow the righteous path, the Satan would be free to divert him and lead him astray. God would not interfere in this process and it is up to man alone to recognize if he is being led astray and to fight the evil thoughts and stay on course. This makes sense because if man is superior to Satan then there is no reason why he should get any help when he is losing his struggle against an inferior adversary. One should expect that God would be quite chagrined if man, the best of His creatures betrayed His trust by losing the battle against Satan by allowing himself to be led to counterproductive thoughts, thus causing an insult to God. As to what happens to those who accept Satan's leadership there is a clear statement in chapter 16 verse 63:
"By God, we sent apostles to many a people before you, but Satan made their acts seem attractive to them, and he is their friend this day, and a painful torment is their destiny."
It may be worthwhile, here, dwelling a little upon the intent of angels and the Satan being asked to bow down before the first man. Obviously, God would not have wished to make man the object of worship for other forms of life, as He has reserved this privilege for Himself alone. He would also not have wanted to make them subservient to human will for the same reason. The only valid explanation that remains is that God wanted the angels and the Satan to accept man's sovereignty over the physical universe, the role of other agencies being relegated to one of assisting him in the execution of the assigned objectives for which man was created. This thought is further strengthened by the statement in chapter 2, verse 30 which says that man is God's viceroy on earth.
The question now is, “How does man exercise his sovereignty on the universe or at least earth?”
The examples of man’s benevolent authority on earth can be seen in the domestication of animals, dams that change the courses or control the flow of rivers, artificial rains by cloud seeding, harnessing of wind and solar energy for power generation, mining of solid and liquid resources such as metal and oil, space travel etc. It seems that most peaceful engineering endeavors amount to the execution of God’s will and achieving the object of our creation.
(Extract from “What and why I Believe by Mohammad Nasim alias Naseem Mahnavi.)