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Surah Al Baqra Verses 31-40

31 And He taught Adam the nature of all things; then He placed them before the angels and said: "Tell Me the nature of these if ye are right." 48

32 They said: "Glory to Thee of knowledge we have none save that Thou hast taught us: in truth it is Thou who art perfect in knowledge and wisdom."

33 He said: "O Adam! tell them their natures." 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?"

34 And behold We said to the angels: "Bow down to Adam"; and they bowed down not so Iblis he refused and was haughty he was of those who reject Faith. 49

35 We said: "O Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the garden and eat of the bountiful things therein as (where and when) ye will but approach not this tree or ye run into harm and transgression." 50 51

36 Then did Satan make them slip from the (garden) and get them out of the state (of felicity) in which they had been. We said: "Get ye down all (ye people) with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling place and your means of livelihood for a time." 52 53 54

37 Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration and his Lord turned toward him; for He is Oft-Returning Most Merciful. 55

38 We said: "Get ye down all from here; and if as is sure there comes to you guidance from Me" whosoever follows My guidance on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve. 56

39 "But those who reject Faith and belie Our Signs they shall be Companions of the Fire; they shall abide therein." 57

40 O children of Israel! call to mind the (special) favor which I bestowed upon you and fulfil your covenant with Me as I fulfil My covenant with you and fear none but Me. 58


48 The literal words in Arabic throughout this passage are: "The names of things" which commentators take to mean the inner nature and qualities of things, and things here would include feelings. The whole passage is charged with mystic meaning. The particular qualities or feelings which were outside the nature of angels were put by God into the nature of man. Man was thus able to love and understand love, and thus plan and initiate, as becomes the office of vicegerent. The angels acknowledged this. These things they could only know from the outside, but they had faith, or belief in the Unseen. And they knew that God saw all - what others see, what others do not see, what others may even wish to conceal. Man has many qualities which are latent or which he may wish to suppress or conceal, to his own detriment. (2.31)

49 The Arabic may also be translated: "They bowed down, except Iblis." In that case Iblis (Satan) would be one of the angels. But the theory of fallen angels is not usually accepted in Muslim theology. In xviii, 50 Iblis is spoken of as a Jinn. We shall discuss later the meaning of this word. (2.34)

50 Was the Garden of Eden a place on this earth? Obviously not. For, in verse 36 below, it was after the Fall that the sentence was pronounced: "On earth will be your dwelling." Before the Fall, we must suppose Man to be on another plane altogether - of felicity, innocence, trust, a spiritual existence, with the negation of enmity, want of faith, and all evil. Perhaps Time and Space also did not exist, and the Garden is allegorical as well as the tree. The forbidden tree was not the tree of knowledge for man was given in that perfect state fuller knowledge than he has now (ii. 31); it was the tree of Evil, which he was forbidden not only to eat of, but even to approach. (2.35)

51 "Zulm" in Arabic implies harm, wrong, injustice, or transgression, and may have reference to oneself; when the wrong is done to others it implies tyranny and oppression; the idea of wrong naturally connects itself with darkness, which is another shade of meaning carried with the root word. (2.35)

52 "Iblis" in ii. 34 is apparently the Power of Evil, with the root idea of desperateness of rebillion. "Satan" in this verse is the Power of Evil, with the root idea of perversity or enmity. Note the appropriateness of the term on each occasion. Also, "slipping" from the Garden denotes the idea of Evil gradually tempting man from a higher to a lower state. (2.36)

53 God's decree is the result of man's action. Note the transition in Arabic from the singular number in ii. 33, to the dual in ii. 35, and the plural here, which I have indicated in English by "All ye people." Evidently Adam is the type of all mankind, and the sexes go together in all spiritual matters. Moreover, the expulsion applied to Adam, Eve, and Satan, and the Arabic plural is appropriate for any number greater than two. (2.36)

54 Man's sojourn in this lower state, where he is partly an animal of this earth, is for a time. But he must fulfil his lower duties also, for they too are a part of his spiritual training. (2.36)

55 As "names" in verse 31 above is used for the "nature of things", so "words" here mean "inspiration" "spiritual knowledge". The Arabic word used for "learn" here implies some effort on his part to which God's Grace responded. (2.37)

56 Note the transition from the plural "We" at the beginning of the verse to the singular "Me" later in the same verse God speaks of Himself usually in the first person plural "We" it is the plural of respect and honour and is used in human language in Royal proclamations and decrees. But where a special personal relationship is expressed the singular, "I" or "Me" is used Cf. xxvi. 52, etc. (2.38)

57 But if the soul, in spite of the Oft-Returning Mercy of God, rejects the higher light and goes on sinning against that light, the inevitable consequence must be the spiritual Fire. It is not merely a fortuitous incident. As his rejection was deliberate and definite, so the consequences must be of an abiding character. (2.39)

58 The appeal is made to Israel subjectively in terms of their own tradition. You claim to be a favoured nation; have you forgotten My favours? You claim a special Covenant with Me: I have fulfilled My part of the Covenant by bringing you out of the land of bondage and giving you Canaan, the land "flowing with milk and honey" how have you fulfilled your part of the Covenent? Do you fear for your national existence? If you fear Me, nothing else will matter. (2.40)

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