Adam in Islam

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Adem (Adam)1.png
The name Adam written in Islamic calligraphy followed by Peace be upon him.
Known forFirst human being
SpouseHawā (حواء)
ChildrenHābēl Qābēl Shēth
(هابيل ,قابيل, شِيث)

Adam (Arabic: آدم, romanizedʾĀdam) is believed to have been the first human being on Earth and the first prophet (Arabic: نبي, nabī) of Islam.[1] Adam's role as the father of the human race is looked upon by Muslims with reverence. Muslims also refer to his wife, Hawā (Arabic: حواء, Eve), as the "mother of mankind".[2] Muslims see Adam as the first Muslim, as the Quran states that all the Prophets preached the same faith of Islam (Arabic: إسلام, Submission to God).[3]

An overview of creation[edit]

Adam honoured by angels - Persian miniature (c. 1560)

The Quran and Hadith give the same account of the creation of Adam. Synthesizing the Quran with Sunni Hadith can produce the following account. According to the Quran, when God informed the angels that He was going to put a successor on Earth, they questioned whether the human would cause blood shed and damage, but He told them that He knew what they did not.[4] He created Adam from mud or clay and breathed life into him. Hadith add that he was named Adam after the clay he was made out of, or the skin (adim) of the earth.

According to the Quran, God commands the angels to prostrate before Adam wherein all amongst them obeyed except for Iblis, who claimed, "I am better than him. You created me of fire while him you created of mud."[5]

Traditionally, Sunni scholars say that while Adam was sleeping, God took a rib from him and from it He created Eve. However, this is also considered "of the Israelites". While the creation of Adam and Eve is referred to in the Quran, the exact method of creation is not specified.[6] The Quran then says that God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from one tree in the garden, but Satan was able to convince them to taste it. They then began to cover themselves because they now knew that they were naked.[7] For this, God banished Adam and Eve to earth; non-canonical Sunni hadith say that fruits were turned to thorns and pregnancy became dangerous. Non-canonical Sunni hadith also say that Adam and Eve were cast down far apart, so that they had to search for each other and eventually met each other at Mount Arafat.[6]

In Islamic theology, it is not believed that Adam's sin is carried by all of his children.[8] Hadith say that once Adam was on earth, God taught him how to plant seeds and bake bread. This was to become the way of all of Adam's children.[9] Adam proceeded to live for about 1000 years, though this has been a topic of debate.[9]

Islamic scholar Sayyid Mumtaz Ali, while commenting on whether Adam was first or Eve, says that "the fact that Adam was created first is nothing but childish. To begin with, we are tempted to assert that this is so because it was not acceptable to God that a woman is left without a companion for even a second. Therefore, it is for her sake that He created Adam first. But as a matter of fact, the belief that Adam was created first and then came Eve is part of the Christian and Jewish faith. This is not at all part of the Islamic creed. There is no mention in the Quran about who was created first, Adam or Eve."[10]

Significance of Adam[edit]

According to disputed hadith, humankind has learned everything from Adam. He was the first to learn to plant, harvest, and bake as well as the first to be told how to repent and how to properly bury someone.[6] It is also said by some scholars that God also revealed the various food restrictions and the alphabet to Adam.[9] He was made the first prophet and it is said that he was taught 21 scrolls and was able to write them himself.[9]

Adam was also created from earth. It is well known that earth produces crops, supports animals, and provides shelter, among many other things. Earth is very important to humankind, so being created from it makes them very distinct.[7] According to some hadith, the various races of people are even due to the different colors of soil used in creating Adam. The soil also contributed to the idea that there are good people and bad people and everything in between in the world.[11] Adam is an important figure in many other religions besides Islam, particularly in the Abrahamic Religions.[12] The story of Adam varies slightly across religions, but manages to maintain a general theme and structure.[12]

The story of angels prostrating before Adam gave rise to various debates about whether humans or angels rank higher. Angels bowing down before Adam is mentioned as evidence for human's superiority over the angels. Others hold that the prostration does not imply such a thing, but was merely a command or test for the angels.[13] A position, especially found among Mu'tazilites and some Asharites, holds that angels are superior due to their lack of urges and desires.[14] Maturidism generally does not think any of these creatures is superior to the other, and that angels' and prophets' obedience derive from their virtues and insights to God's action, but not as their original purity.[15]

In the Quranic version of Adam's fall, Satan tempted them with the promise to become immortal angels. Al-Qushayri comments on 7:20, that Adam desired an angelic state of no passion and avoiding the fate of death.[16]

Descendants of Adam[edit]

Though it is up for debate, it has been said that Eve went through 120 pregnancies with Adam and each of these consisted of a set of twins: a boy and a girl.[9] In some other traditions, their first child was a girl, born alone, called ʿAnāq.[17] According to several sources, God took all of Adam's progeny from his back while they were still in heaven. He asked each of them "am I not your lord?" as read in verse 7:172 and they all replied yes.[9] For this reason, it is believed that all humans are born with an innate knowledge of God. The most famous of Adam's children are Cain and Abel. Both the brothers were asked to offer up individual sacrifices to God. God accepted Abel's sacrifice because of Abel's righteousness and Cain, out of jealousy, threw a rock at Abel, leading to the first murder in human history: the murder of Abel by Cain.[9] As Adam grieved his son, he would preach to his other children about God and faith in Him.[11] When Adam's death grew near, he appointed his son Seth as his successor.[11]

Adam in the Quran[edit]

The story of Adam and creation is pieced throughout the Quran. There are references in chapters: 2, 4, 5, 20, 21, 38 and others. In the Quran narrative, God created humankind out of clay (Q3:59),[18] shaped it to a form and then commanded the angels to bow (submit) to Adam. Iblis refused out of pride (Q15:26-32)[19] and was banished from Jannah (Paradise).

According to the Quran, God had already decided before the creation of Adam that mankind (Adam and his progeny) would be placed on earth. Islam does not ascribe mankind's life on earth as a punishment, rather as part of God's plan.

"'Verily, I am going to place mankind generations after generations on earth.' They (the angels) said: 'Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood, while we (the angels) glorify You with praises and thanks and sanctify You?' God said: 'I know that which you do not know.'"

God then teaches Adam the names of all things and assembles the angels in front of Adam so as to show them that there is more to Adam than they know, particularly the high intellectual capacity of Adam:

"And He taught Adam the names - all of them. Then He showed them to the angels and said, "Inform Me of the names of these, if you are truthful." They said: "Glory to Thee (said the angels), of knowledge We have none, save what Thou Hast taught us: In truth it is Thou Who art perfect in knowledge and wisdom." He said: "O Adam! Tell them their names." When he had told them, God said (to the angels): "Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of heaven and earth, and I know what ye reveal and what ye conceal?"

God commands the angels to bow down to Adam. All obey, except for Iblis, who feels that he being made from fire, should not be bowing to Adam who was made from earth. His disobedience of God's command followed by his pride caused him to fall out of God's favor:

"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 (those who are disobedient)." (2:34)

God later places Adam and Eve in the garden and tells them that they are free to enjoy of its fruits except not to come near a certain tree: (2:35)

"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."

Satan then deceives Adam and Eve into eating of the fruits of the tree: (2:36)

"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 some of you having enmity towards others. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood - for a time."

Adam and Eve feel a lot of remorse for their actions, but God turns to Adam in mercy and consoles him: (2:37)

"Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration, and his Lord Turned towards him; for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful."

God then informs Adam that God will send his guidance to Adam and his progeny: (2:38)

"We said: "Get down all of you from this place (the garden), then whenever there comes to you Guidance from Me, and whoever follows My Guidance, there shall be no fear on them, nor shall they grieve."

In the Garden of Eden, Satan (often identified as Iblis) lures Adam and Eve into disobeying God by tasting the fruit from the forbidden tree. God, sends Adam and Eve out into the rest of the earth.[20][21]

The Quran also describes the two sons of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel.[22][23]

Adam in Hadith[edit]

A Hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari narrated by Abu Hurairah states that Adam was created 60 cubits tall (about 30 meters), and that people in Paradise will look like Adam. The height of humans has since decreased.[24]

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Allah created Adam , sixty cubits (about 30 meters) in height. When He created him, He said (to him), "Go and greet that group of angels sitting there, and listen what they will say in reply to you, for that will be your greeting and the greeting of your offspring." Adam (went and) said, 'As-Salamu alaikum (Peace be upon you).' They replied, 'AsSalamu-'Alaika wa Rahmatullah (Peace and Allah's Mercy be on you) So they increased 'Wa Rahmatullah' The Prophet (ﷺ) added 'So whoever will enter Paradise, will be of the shape and picture of Adam Since then the creation of Adam's (offspring) (i.e. stature of human beings is being diminished continuously) to the present time."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lalljee, compiled by Yousuf N. (1981). Know your Islam (3rd ed.). New York: Taknike Tarsile Quran. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-940368-02-6.
  2. ^ Historical Dictionary of Prophets in Islam and Judaism, Wheeler, Adam and Eve
  3. ^ Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, C. Glasse, Aadam = Adam = Man = Mankind = Early humans. His wife = Woman = Allegorically, early women. Udma = Ability to live together as a community. Aadam from Udma thus, indicates humankind. The word 'Eve' or 'Hawa' is not mentioned in the Quran. She is described with dignity as Mer’a-til-Aadam = Wife of Adam = Mrs. Adam.
  4. ^ Qur'an 2:30
  5. ^ [Quran 7:12 (Translated by Pickthall)]
  6. ^ a b c Wheeler, Brannon M. (2001). Introduction to the Quran : stories of the prophets. New York: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-4957-3.
  7. ^ a b Thorp, John (1982). "The Muslim Farmers of Bangladesh and Allah's Creation of the World". Asian Folklore Studies. 41 (2): 202–203. doi:10.2307/1178123. JSTOR 1178123.
  8. ^ Phipps, William (1996). Muhammad and Jesus. New York: The Continuum Publishing Company. pp. 122–3. ISBN 0-8264-0914-8.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g al-Tabari (1989). The History of al-Tabari. New York: State University of New York Press. p. 259. ISBN 0-88706-562-7.
  10. ^ Deobandi, Sayyid Mumtaz Ali. "The Supremacy Myth". Huquq-e-Niswan (in Urdu) (1898 ed.). Lahore: Rifah-e-Aam Press. pp. 21–22. Retrieved 22 August 2020. Adapted from Javed Anand's translation to the piece
  11. ^ a b c Kathir, Al-Imam ibn (2013). Stories of the Prophets. Fortress iPublications. ISBN 978-1-4848-4091-7.
  12. ^ a b Michael E. Stone, ed. (1998). Biblical figures outside the Bible. Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity Press Internat. ISBN 1-56338-247-4.
  13. ^ Chipman, Leigh. "Adam and the Angels: An examination of mythic elements in Islamic sources." Arabica 49.4 (2002): 429-455.
  14. ^ Houtsma, M. Th. (1993). E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913–1936, Band 5. BRILL. p. 191. ISBN 978-9-004-09791-9.
  15. ^ Ulrich Rudolph Al-Māturīdī und Die Sunnitische Theologie in Samarkand BRILL, 1997 ISBN 9789004100237 pp. 54-56
  17. ^ Roberto Tottoli, “ʿAnāq”, in Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, ed. by Kate Fleet and others (first published online 2009), <>.
  18. ^ Quran 3:59
  19. ^ Quran 15:26–32
  20. ^ Quran 7:19–24
  21. ^ Quran 20:115–123
  22. ^ Quran 5:26–31
  23. ^ Knappert, Islamic Legends, 39-40.
  24. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari 6227


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