At the outset, it would be appropriate to
understand the nature and context of the whole episode of creation as
narrated by the Qur’ān in Sūrah Baqarah.
The sūrah is addressed to the People of the Book and the purpose of the
verses dealing with the creation of Adam and Eve is to depict the attitude
the Jews had adopted towards Muhammad (sws). The Jews bitterly opposed the
new message because of their arrogance and haughtiness. Some other groups
hesitated in the beginning but once their doubts were cleared they accepted
faith. The Qur’ān says that these two attitudes are analogous to those
adopted by Satan and the Angels at the time of creation of man. When Allah
decided to create man, He informed the angels of His plan. They were not
clear about the matter and expressed their concern. Their reservations were
caused by their unawareness to the whole scheme. As soon as they became
aware of the scheme, they accepted and praised God’s wisdom and knowledge.
On the contrary, Satan opposed the scheme and refused to obey God only
because of his pride and conceit. He thought that he was superior to man
since he was made of fire, and that why should he bow before Adam who was
made of clay. This role of Satan was similar to the one adopted by the Jews
with regard to the Prophet (sws).
As far as the ‘names’ referred to in 2:30 are concerned, there are three
viewpoints regarding the nature of these names. Some scholars maintain that
these were the names of each and everything found in this world; others
opine that these were the name of the angels and yet another group says that
they were the names of the progeny of Adam.
The first two viewpoints are hardly tenable. The third one seems to be the
most plausible on the following grounds:
1. The use of alif lām on the word ‘اسماء’ (asmā:
names) leads to the conclusion.
2. The pronoun used for these ‘names’ ‘هم’ (hum:
they) is mostly used beings who possess the faculty of reasoning like humans
and the jinn etc.
3. The context shows that Allah is responding to the argument taken by the
angels. The angels had objected to creating such beings as were granted the
freedom to exercise their will. They thought that such a creation would
create bloodshed and other evils on the earth. In order to satisfy the
Angels, the Almighty presented the names of people from among the progeny of
Adam who would turn out to be pious and godly.
From the attributes of the angels given in the Holy Qur’ān, it can be safely
concluded that the angels possess the faculty of reasoning and have the
freedom to exercise their will. Had they not had any freedom of choice, they
would not have been tested on occasions like prostrating before Adam. The
difference between angels and men is that the Angels live in the presence of
God and help in implementing His will whenever they are ordered to while
human beings are neither exposed to the Almighty in such a manner and
neither act as the implementers of His will in the manner the Angels are.
The world Jannah in the referred to verses does not imply Paradise, which is
the abode of the righteous in the Hereafter. In fact the portrait the Qur’ān
draws of Jannah tells us that it is something to be created at some time in
the future. The word Jannah is used here in the literal sense and means ‘a
garden’. It is obvious from the Qur’ānic verse ‘I have ordained to create a
person vicegerent on Earth’ that the Almighty had decided to create man and
send him on earth regardless of other details.