- Up till here was discussed the call to submit to Allah-SWT , and the importance of worship as means of showing gratitude to Him-SWT , as well as His-SWT right of worship upon mankind, He-SWT being the Provider. Then the rewards of obeying Him-SWT and the consequences of defiance have been highlighted. Now another argument to invite people o Allah-SWT is being presented Man is being asked to ponder over his beginning, how Allah-SWT gave him superiority by virtue of his creation, and in the process, Satan became his enemy. So now if he does not obey Allah-SWT , he will certainly be following Satan, to whom the other path belongs, and this choice does not befit a human being under any circumstances.
Man is Allah-SWT ’s Deputy on Earth
And when your Rabb addressed ... and was of those who deny the truth.
Before the creation of Prophet Aadam-AS Allaah-SWT informed the angels that He-SWT was going to create a deputy on earth, who would make His-SWT rule prevail and inhabit the earth according to a given plan. Although in terms of size and volume, earth is far too insignificant as compared to other planets, but its status is the highest in terms of importance and for that reason, it is the centre of attention of all the planets. Whether it is the sun or the moon, the clouds or the winds, or those living in the heavens, all are busy in its administration. It is the centre of attention of all planets and stars and fully benefits from them. While the volcanoes spew lava at one place, snow clad peaks stand at another, sand blows in the deserts, while flowers bloom in the gardens. When one place is engulfed in darkness, the other is illuminated with broad daylight. Not only are there droughts and autumns but also monsoons and beautiful springs. Treasures of gold and silver as well as jewels lie buried in it. It has the capability to nurse any sown seed and yields variety of fruits. It caters for the livelihood of a tiny worm as well as gigantic animals. Wild beasts and flocks of deer are simultaneously amongst its throngs. In short, earth is the centre of attraction of all the celestial bodies. So the Almighty Allah-SWT planned to create a being, who would rightfully act as His-SWT deputy, and would run this planet according to the system approved by Him-SWT .
The words Fil Ardh (in the earth) indicate that man can according to his capacity exercise his right to explore, consume and exploit the resources of the earth, but not on other planets. For instance, he can utilise and benefit from the rays of the sun reaching the earth, but cannot alter the behavioural pattern of the sun. Similarly he can utilise the moonlight, but cannot modify the moon cycle, for he is only a deputy on earth. Same principle applies to other planets, if he had been given sway over them, who knows what havoc he would have played there. He holds authority even on the earth within given limits and cannot interfere in matters he is not authorised to, for instance, he is not empowered to alter the rotation of the earth. This is because a deputy does not wield any authority by himself, but only exercises the powers delegated to him within the framework of his responsibilities. So his first honour is of being Allah-SWT ’s deputy on a planet, which is the centre of attraction of all the heavenly bodies. The privilege to exercise given authority on all other creations on this planet is not an ordinary honour indeed. The angels had pleaded, “O Allaah-SWT ! You-SWT are the Sustainer, free from any want. Why do you plan of a creation, with the capability to select and reject? When their choice will conflict with one another, they would resort to violence and would. try to impose their views on one another through war, bloodshed and mischief.” Probably their apprehension was based on their previous experiences with the Jinn, who inhabited the earth long before the creation of man. They too were granted the power to exercise their choice to a certain extent, and frequently became disobedient, and were a cause of mischief and wickedness on earth. Allaah-SWT sent down angels to destroy the disobedient, sparing only the pious. But soon trouble would start again.
Satan was one of the Jinn and was such a devout worshipper that he often resided with angels in the heavens. So the angels expressed their apprehension about this new creation and submitted that they were always at His-SWT service, hymning His-SWT praises and obeying Him-SWT , and thus acting as a blessing for the other creations. When there already existed, a creation never defying any Divine Command, what was the secret behind the creation of yet another?
Allah-SWT said that only He-SWT knew best, and that the knowledge of the angels was limited. In fact all the creation is bound by a predetermined programme, within a given sphere of activity, which it cannot exceed. It only obeys Allah-SWT, but can neither attain His-SWT cognition, nor love Him-SWT , nor is free to make changes in its scope of action. The proposed creation would be free in its sphere of action, with the ability to make decisions. It would have the beauty of the universe spread in front of it and blessed with the faculty of appreciation. It would then be blessed with the power to appreciate the Divine Splendour, and recognising His-SWT Greatness, would seek His-SWT nearness to the extent of sacrificing its desires willingly over His-SWT Commands. And it would not obey only as a matter of duty, but as an act of total devotion to Him-SWT .
Thus the first human being, Prophet Aadam-AS was created. He-AS was blessed with the aforementioned powers, and was given the necessary knowledge to master the universe. All the knowledge required to fulfil his needs for existence, as well as for the attainment of excellence, whether physical or spiritual, was conferred upon him-AS. Knowledge, in fact, is nothing more than a collection of names. Every word is a name for a thing, a person, a place or an action. In short, whatever amount of knowledge was required to live in the universe and to exploit its resources or to attain nearness to Allah-SWT, was gifted to Prophet Aadam-AS In other words, the dictionary too, was handed down by the Creator.
Now Allaah-SWT commanded the angels to talk over worldly skills and names, and explain the functions of various things. But how could they possibly have done it as the knowledge given to them pertained only to their assignments? The one entrusted with the administration of the clouds, would have no knowledge about the mountains; and the one assigned with the distribution of provisions would not know anything else. How could they comment on anything beyond their scope? For instance they can have no idea of the pangs of hunger or the joy of satiation, or the effects of heat and cold. Therefore, they respectfully submitted; “O Allaah-SWT Praise and Glory to You, only Your Knowledge is perfect and unlimited. We can only tell what we have been taught by You.”. Prophet Aadam-AS was now commanded to tell the names of the things presented and to explain their function and utility. When he did that, Allaah-SWT declared: Did I-SWT not tell you that I--SWT know the secrets of the heaven and the earth. My-SWT Knowledge does not depend on anyone and I-SWT know the extrinsic as well as the intrinsic aspects of human life! See what a masterpiece I-SWT have created; having a comprehensive knowledge of the secrets of the earth and the heavens, of acquiring physical and spiritual excellence, and a knowledge of all things created. This is the creation that has the capacity to know Me-SWT . Just as the earth is the centre of attraction for all the heavenly bodies; so is the human being the essence and the centre of attraction for the other creations and rightfully qualifies to be My-SWT deputy on earth.
The angels were ordered to do Sajdah, in respect, before Prophet Adam-AS. In the terminology of Shari’ah, Sajdah denotes a definite, formal state of a Muslim in ablution, facing the K’abah, his hands, his toes, knees, nose and fore head touching the ground. This Sajdah cannot be done before anyone except Allah-SWT, and is only His-SWT right over mankind. He-SWT Alone is worthy of being worshipped in this manner. Literally, it means the gesture denotes submission or humility for a monarch or master. Before the advent of Islam it was customary to call the rulers or masters. as Rabb, and do Sajdah before them. Islamic Shari’ah eliminated all such practices that could indicate polytheism.
Now to unify all the forces scattered in the universe, and to put them to work could not have been achieved by man alone. He needed the assistance of angels already appointed on these affairs. In fact, man himself is dependent on the assistance of the angels assigned to maintain the operations of his various body organs. Maulana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanvi while explaining the Ayah 4:86 states that a number of angels are assigned to every human being. The processes of chewing food, swallowing, digesting and its transformation into blood, flesh and bones, excretion of waste products and functions of the heart, brain and the sensory organs are all attended by different angels. The human body is a complex machine with delicate components, employing many technicians. Whenever the technicians, in compliance with Divine Command, cease to perform their duties in the areas assigned, there is the onset of some disease. Just as the assistance of angels is necessary for a man in the maintenance of his physical self, it is equally necessary for the universe around him. Natural resources such as air, gas, minerals, celestial objects and their effects, clouds and rain need the co-operation of the angels appointed on them. Allaah-SWT cautioned the angels that man was His-SWT deputy and was free to act on His-SWT earth, as he desired. Therefore, they must not impede his activity. Even if he kills another man, the angels must not object to it, but simply seize the spirit of the slain.
The Meaning of Sajdah
Thus in the literary sense we can say that the angels were told to bow their heads before Prophet Adam-AS and the Sajdah did take place. After all up till now the Muslims do Sajdah before the K’abah, which is but a structure of stone and mortar. The point to understand is that it is not to the K’abah that they bow down, but to the One Who-SWT has appointed it as the Qiblah for the mankind for His-SWT worship. Had the Sajdah been for the building, it would mean that if the masonry is removed elsewhere and re-erected, it would also enjoy the status of K’abah. Will any Muslim ever do Sajdah before it? Certainly not, for it is not the masonry he worships but Allah-SWT, Who-SWT has made the K’abah a point of descent of His-SWT Personal Lights. Similarly, the angels in reality, did Sajdah before Allah-SWT, with Prophet Adam-AS as the Qiblah and a source of access to Allah-SWT, for he was crowned with Prophethood, the only way leading to Him-SWT . But this by no means forms a pretext for doing Sajdah for respect. Those who draw inference from this Ayah in favour of such a Sajdah or also from the incident of Prophet Y’aqub-AS and his sons doing Sajdah before Prophet Yüsuf-AS must remember that, firstly we are obliged to follow Prophet Muhammad-SW and not other Prophets. Secondly Prophet Y’aqub’s-AS Sajdah was the typical homage traditionally paid to kings, and he did it to demonstrate his extreme happiness. Otherwise it does not appeal to the heart that a Prophet-AS of Allaah-SWT would demand his exalted, elderly and loving father, who is also a Prophet-AS, to do Sajdah before him. According to Ibn-e Kathir, Sajdah for respect remained valid till Prophet Isa-AS and was banned by Islam. Allaah-SWT knows the best.
However, the angels were made to pledge service to Prophet Aadam-AS For instance when the President appoints a Governor; immediately the entire administration of the Province is at his service, whether his orders are right or wrong is none of their concern. That is between the Governor and the Appointing Authority. But when the President himself orders the arrest of the Governor, the entire administration turns against him and arrests him. Similarly, whatever a person embarks on doing within the framework of his authority, takes place accordingly. Had Allaah-SWT seized the urge of an adulterer at the time of the crime, or of a thief, or numbed the hands of anyone trying to misuse anything in the universe, man could no longer be held accountable. He would rather be a helpless prisoner. Therefore, when a man is involved in an activity, no matter how much to the dislike of the angels, they do not interfere, until they are told by the Supreme Ruler-SWT to do so.
Anyway, all the angels bowed down before Prophet Aadam-AS except Satan, who wasn’t an angel but resided amongst them and refused to bow out of sheer arrogance. According to Quran Satan was a Jinn, but a devoted one, and since the Jinn also possess a subtle body, they by virtue of their creation had access to the heavens which wd denied only after the advent of the Holy Prophet-SW by a Divine Decree. Until then, their excursions were a normal routine. Sometimes they were driven away by the angels, while at others they would pick up some secrets en-route, add something and whisper to their agents on earth; the sorcerers. Before the creation of Prophet Aadam-AS the wicked amongst them were often punished. But Satan proved to be such a devout that he found a place in the ranks of the angels and would often accompany the angels deputed to punish the rebel Jinn. Now when he disobeyed Divine Orders, the Quran says: Wa kãna mm al-Kajirin. Its translation; “and so became a non-believer”, does not seem appropriate because it would mean that Allaah-SWT learnt about his disbelief only after the event. While in actual fact, it had ever been in Allaah-SWT ’s Knowledge that Satan was certainly a disbeliever. He was temporarily inclined towards obedience only for the attainment of authority, and continued to progress until put to trial, after which his disloyalty, hitherto known only by Allah-SWT, was disclosed to everyone. Allaah-SWT too declared that he had always been a non-believer. He nurtured a desire in his heart to establish his own importance and greatness, whereas, the entire creation has no worth vis-à-vis the Almighty-SWT , the Creator, the Sustainer. How can anyone dare to disobey Him-SWT and claim any importance for himself?
It is Allah-SWT, Who-SWT protects the humble creation from disgrace, preserves the self-respect of each and commands them to bow only before Him-SWT and no one else. Respect is something else and must be paid, as the status enjoyed by any one is directly commensurate with his responsibilities. But everyone has his own rights, and in terms of being Allaah-SWT ’s creation, all do Sajdah before Him-SWT only. None is obliged to worship the other, which is a heinous crime and an affront to Allaah-SWT ’s Greatness. (But here obedience to Aadam-AS amounts to Allah-SWT ’s obedience.) The Qurän reiterates, whosoever obeyed the Prophet-SW indeed Obeyed Allah-SWT . It reassures that this obedience does not injure the self-respect of anyone, because it is in essence the obedience to Allah-SWT; and this man is the pride of humanity and its greatest benefactor, as he conveys us the Message of our Rabb-SWT . Anyone who does not accept this fact from the core of his heart cannot become a true believer. Though the outward confession of Islam is sufficient to enjoy all the rights as a Muslim, yet sooner or later the inner disbelief manifests itself either by renouncing Islam, during one’s lifetime, or at the time of death! However as long as a person does not accept the faith from the core of his heart, he remains a non-believer with Allaah-SWT . Satan also acquired a status from his outward devotion, just as some people today manage to be taken as saints by their outward display of devotion and worship. Satan, too, became a quasi saint but was soon exposed just as the pseudo saints will be forced to face the reality at the approach of death. Satan was put to trial by the creation of Prophet Aadam-AS and the true feelings of his heart were verbalised. Hence, whether one is an erudite or a worshipper, a saint or an orator, a general or a ruler, he owes it all to Allah-SWT; it is totally improper to be arrogant before Him-SWT . This is a satanic attitude adopted by the majority of mankind.
If a person forsakes the Sunnah and follows his own customs, he displays the same inner impurity, because he obviously thinks that he knows better than the Holy Prophet-SW. It is important to look for the cure of this ailment through a spiritual master so that the vanity and arrogance are replaced by acknowledgement of Allaah-SWT ’s Greatness. Only a true descendant of the Holy Prophet-SW can affect this cure, because it is from the realm of Prophethood and is extremely rare. The real excellence of Prophethood is the capability of healing the hearts through Divine Lights. And the true heirs of Prophethood are those who have acquired this excellence according to their own capacity. Otherwise it is all a façade, which will sooner or later fall apart.
We-SWT said, “O Adam-AS! ... lest you-AS become wrongdoers “.
Now the training of Prophet Aadam-AS begins, as to how he will live on earth. He-AS is not being told to dwell in Paradise forever but the word Uskun indicates a temporary stay, during which he-AS and his wife may enjoy the food, clothing and begin their family life. Every new born learns the ways of life from his predecessors, but Prophet Aadam-AS being the very first man and also a Prophet-AS receives guidance directly from Allaah-SWT . Both are told to stay in Paradise, but as a pre-training step for their next destination, which is a place of trials and restrictions, they are told to observe a restriction here too. They are allowed to eat whatever they wish but are forbidden to go near a specified tree, lest they become transgressors. However, the description of that tree has not been given anywhere, probably because it was not required. And anything not explained by Allaah-SWT and His-SWT Prophet-SW need not be probed into unnecessarily. This stay in Paradise was not like the one promised in the Akhirah, as the latter is characterised with permanence, while this was only temporary. Thus Prophet Adam-AS started to live in Paradise and began to enjoy Divine hospitality. There was no restriction on his-AS movement besides that single restraint; he-AS was free to eat, drink and go about at will.
Here, it is important to recall a unanimous belief that the Prophets-AS are innocent. If this state of innocence is detached from them even for a moment, the entire religion given by them will be rendered unreliable because of the possibility of an error. But despite this innocence Prophet Aadam-AS erred. The point to ponder is that; is Paradise a place of trial, and are there any restrictions imposed on its residents? Not at all, as they will be of such fine temperaments that they will naturally act piously just as the Prophets-AS do in their worldly existence. And is there a tree in Paradise, poisonous or harmful to the residents? Certainly not! Then why this discrimination with Prophet Aadam-AS It was because he was not going to stay permanently in Paradise as a reward, but was being prepared and trained for deputation to this world. It was his-AS school, and his-AS mentor was Allaah-SWT Himself. He was being trained that in the worldly life there would be restrictions together with the bounties, and an enemy would always be in search of an opportunity to mislead him, to whom he must not listen. He-AS practically experienced it when deceived by Satan.
Then Satan ... stay and livelihood for a while”
The entry of Satan to the heavens had not been prohibited, and it is possible that he may have spoken to Prophet Aadam-AS from there. After all the dialogue between the dwellers of Paradise and Hell is also mentioned in the Quran and they will also be able to see one another. So it is also possible that Satan may have spoken to Prophet Aadam-AS from a far off distance; It also declares that Prophet Aadam-AS forgot. Besides, Satan swore in Allaah-SWT ’s name and Prophet Aadam-AS thought that no one could swear in Allaah-SWT ’s name over falsehood. Amidst these feelings, he-AS ate from the forbidden tree and had to depart from Paradise. He-AS was told that for a certain period ordained by the Almighty-SWT , he would have to live in the world, where all provisions of life are available. And he-AS must not forget that Satan was his-AS avowed enemy. There could never be any truce between them.
He-AS was not sent to earth as a punishment rather he-AS had been created to act as Allah-SWT ’s deputy on earth. But the mistake committed by him-AS made his-AS heart restless. The spouses landed miles apart from each other and had to go through hardship, though what they had violated was not a formal law of Shari’ah, nor was Paradise a place of trial.
Kashf of a Wali is no Authority for Others
This brings out a principle of Suluk that even though the Kashf and intuition of a Wali constitutes no authority for others, yet if he himself does not abide by it, he would suffer in two ways. Firstly, he would experience decline in his spiritual status and secondly suffer worldly setbacks. However, his faith would be preserved. It must, however, be remembered that Kashf and intuition must not be contradictory to any aspect of Shari’ah, whence these ought to be rejected.
Then Adam--AS learnt some words from his Rabb--SWT . . .Ever Relenting, Most Merciful.
When Prophet Aadam-AS found himself in distress, he-AS turned to Allah-SWT, seeking guidance. His-AS prolonged silence became a tacit petition, which was finally answered by Divine Grace and he-AS was taught the redeeming words. This is Providence that He-SWT blesses man with the knowledge necessary for him, just as He-SWT provides him with food and other necessities. But the blessings are bestowed commensurate with one’s needs and capacity. Those content with bare bread are not forced to have butter. Similarly, knowledge is not given without quest, while a seeker is never deprived.
It has also been clarified that the recital of only those words and prayers would be beneficial, which have been prescribed by Allah-SWT, and taught by the Holy Prophet-SW The Barakah of those taught by the Shaikh cannot be denied but these must be in conformity with the Quran and the Sunnah, and not invented by him. A physician can only dispense medicine for a disease, but cannot create new herbs that are within the exclusive domain of the Almighty-SWT . He is, however, given the requisite knowledge about the illness and its cure, which is his distinction. Similarly a Shaikh may prescribe the recital of certain phrases or Ayat from the Quran or Sunnah, according to the circumstances, but he can never invent any thing on his own accord. For example, Hadhrat ‘Abdul Qadir Jilani-RUA devoted his entire life in teaching the Quran and the Sunnah, but his so-called followers concocted Qasidah-e-Ghauthia (a eulogy). Why not read what the accomplished Shaikh had read himself? Did he only recite his own eulogy?
Prophet Aadam-AS was also blessed with the knowledge of certain words of prayer for his deliverance. According to a majority of reports the words are: “O our Rabb-SWT ! We have wronged ourselves. If You-SWT forgive us not and have not mercy on us, we are surely of the lost.” (7:23). If this Ayah is recited eleven times, after each Salat regularly, it will InshaAllah be not only a source of deliverance from any specific distress but also a perfect formula of protection against general turmoil. Thus the repentance of Prophet Aadam-AS was accepted as Allaah-SWT is most Merciful and His-SWT Mercy is boundless. This also highlights the fact that neither reward is mandatory to worship, nor punishment to error. Rewards are entirely His-SWT blessing from which He-SWT does not deprive His-SWT servants. He-SWT also awards punishments; though He-SWT may spare any He-SWT pleases. But He-SWT has made repentance a pre-requisite to forgiveness, without which He-SWT will not pardon anyone, contrary to the misplaced belief of the masses that even if not worshipped, He-SWT is so Generous and Merciful that He-SWT will still for give them. No doubt He-SWT is very Generous and Merciful, but He-SWT is also very Just, Wise and Truthful. He-SWT has given His-SWT verdict that man has to repent for his mistakes. The acceptance depends upon His-SWT Mercy. Without repentance, it is foolish to expect His-SWT Mercy and feel over-confident. Mark His-SWT command:
We--SWT said Get down all of you from here therein they shall abide forever.
Allah-SWT ordered them to leave Paradise for earth and His-SWT guidance will continue to come and he who, from their progeny, abides by that guidance and spends his life accordingly would neither fear nor grieve Fear pertains to the future and grief to the past, but the followers of Divine Guidance would be free from both. For obedience, they would be blessed with bounties in the future, and would be satisfied with their past. But all those who would follow Satan and deny or refute Allaah-SWT ’s guidance, their destination is Hell where they will reside forever and never be admitted to Paradise. Denial and refutation are one and the same thing. Just as one might say, “I don’t believe this”, this is denial, while the other may say, “this is not true” this is refutation. In the Ayah under discussion, refutation has been mentioned along with denial; probably because refutation has two levels one is verbal and the other practical that can be seen everywhere today. For example it is accepted that Salat is a very important worship, but is not offered and that Zakät is a duty, but never paid. Same is the case with other Divine Injunctions. When told to observe Sunnah some say that it will abase them. This is the boundary of disbelief and anyone who says so cannot escape it. They may renew their faith later on, but little do they realise that these words had also invalidated their marriage which was not renewed, and thus they indulge in adultery all their lives. The children thus begotten indulge in evil and crime because of their illegitimacy. This is the state of those who verbally and practically prefer their own customs and rituals to the Sunnah. But there are some who do not dare to speak against the Sunnah and accept it as the best way of doing things but express their inability to follow on one pretext or the other. They too, are guilty of practical refutation, which in itself is enough to condemn them to Fire, although not forever as clarified by Ahadith. The ignorant today have taken every heretic as a saint. Anyway, those who deny or refute Divine Injunctions will not be able to return to their original home i.e. Paradise, but will dwell in the Fire the forever.