In the Beginning – the creation of Man
"First of all there was nothing but Allah, and (then He created His Throne). His Throne was over the water, and He wrote everything in the Book (in the Heaven) and created the Heavens and the Earth." (excerpt from Bukhari)
When it comes to the matters of the Unseen, it is beyond man’s kin to question and go into detail. All conditions are set by Allah, and our knowledge and ability to comprehend or visualise matters is limited. We have knowledge based on benchmarks with which we are familiar, for example, we measure time by the rotation of the earth. The Universe of Allah is multi dimensional, and is not restricted by such physical laws or other limited means of measurement and calculation employed by man.
Some of the accounts below may be stranger than fiction, but all these events occured. Many of these are beyond our human faculties to perceive.
For example, Man was not the first living creation of Allah. Long before that, Allah had already created angels and jinn.
Narrated Aisha RA: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "Angels were created from light, jinns were created from a smokeless flame of fire, and Adam was created from that which you have been told (i.e. sounding clay like clay from pottery)." (Muslim)
By most accounts Iblis (or Satan), who was of the jinn, had a high level of piety and was elevated to be in the company of angels to worship Allah in Paradise. We also know from authentic sources that the earth was created before mankind. These traditions report that the jinn used to occupy the earth but wreaked such havoc and bloodshed on it that angels were sent out to cast most of them out and destroy them. A few remnants of them escaped to deserted areas such as the sea, the caves and the desert.
The creation of Adam AS began as follows. Angel Jibril AS was one day commanded by Allah to gather various types of soil (or dust) from all corners of the earth, which was then combined into clay akin to pottery clay.
From this substance, Allah moulded the statue of a man by His own Hands. This was the form of our father, Adam AS, in other words, origin of mankind. It is said that because the soil collected was of different colours, substances and qualities, so too are human beings varied in terms of their personalities, physical features and other characteristics depending on the type of soil that was included in his original composition, for example, hard, soft, dark and light.
Allah announced to His angels that He was "going to appoint a vicegerent (khalifah) on the Earth" (Al Qur'an 2:30) The angels humbly enquired – not in an insolent manner that questioned or challenged Allah's authority, but rather to satisfy their curiosity: "Are you going to appoint such a one as will cause disorder and shed blood on the earth?" (Al Qur'an 2:30) Some interpret this as a reference to the jinn who had lived on the earth previously. Allah replied that He knew what the angels did not know, i.e. that Allah had the knowledge of the unseen.
Allah continued: "So, when I have fashioned him completely and breathed into him (Adam) the soul which I created for him, then fall (you) down prostrating yourselves unto him." (Al Qur'an 15:29)
The lifeless clay form of Adam AS was left to dry for forty days, or by some accounts, forty years. The exact duration is unknown although whether he remained in that condition for days or years, these measurements of time are not in units of twenty four hour days, for a day in Paradise is not of the same duration as that of an earthly day and cannot be comprehended by us.
Over time, the statue dried and became hollow. During this process, Iblis used to touch the statue of Adam AS in envy, aware that Allah had destined this clay being for a noble purpose. He started pondering about his own creation, recognising that while the statue was created by Allah's Hands, Iblis was not. These comparisons made Iblis feel fearful, inferior and discontented. He started feeling jealous of this inanimate clay structure and the status that Allah had already favoured it with. The more Iblis compared, the greater the envy and jealousy that consumed him.
Then the time came that Allah breathed His soul into Adam AS, and giving him life and consciousness. Our father, Adam AS, was created by Allah in Paradise. Mankind did not originate from some other species as advocated by evolutionary theorists, rather, as per the word of God Himself, we are all the descendants of Adam AS. Adam AS was the first man to have been created, and was eventually the father of mankind. All of us, without exception, carry within our genetic structures, the seed of Adam AS. All of us are his progeny and brothers in humanity. Adam AS, created by the Hands of Allah, is our common ancestor, and was created as a fully formed man.
It is authentically reported that the first action that Adam AS did was to sneeze, immediately upon which Allah inspired him to say "Alhamdulillah." When so said, Allah replied "yarhamkallah ya Adam". From here we strive to implement the first message to mankind, which is to thank and show gratitude to Allah.
According to authentic Hadith, Allah then said to Adam AS: "Go and greet that company of angels who are sitting there – and then listen to what they are going to say in reply to your greetings because that will be your greeting and your offsprings'." Adam AS greeted the angels with the greeting of "Assalamualaikum" (peace be upon you) to which they replied "Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullah." (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you).The wonderful Islamic greeting which echoes in Islamic interaction today, originated from Paradise.
The Qur'an relates that Adam AS was taught his name and the name of other things, as he was predisposed of having a thirst for knowledge. Adam AS was also shown his progeny from the kingdom of souls. After Adam AS had learnt the names of all things, including their properties, Allah presented them to the angels and said: "Tell me the names of these if you are truthful." (Al Qur'an 2:31) The angels admitted that they were unable to do so, upon which Allah said to Adam AS: "Tell them (the angels) the names of these things." (Al Qur'an 2:33)
When Adam AS did so accurately, Allah addressed the angels, "Did I not tell you that I know the truths about the heavens and the earth that I hid from you?" (Al Qur'an 2:33)
Thus the angels realized that Allah had not only granted Adam AS with authority, but endowed him with certain knowledge superior to theirs, settling with finality the previous questions that the angels had humbly expressed to Allah.
Vicegerents on Earth – Mankind's Mission in this World
When Allah created Adam AS he was brought to the kingdom of souls.
Narrated by Imam Ahmad from Ibn Abbas, who said that the Prophet SAW said:
"Allah took the covenant from the back of Adam AS on the day of 'Arafah. He took out from his back all his progeny He created, and scattered them in front of Him and spoke to them, saying: 'Am I not your Lord?' They said: 'Yes indeed, we bear witness,' lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection: 'Surely we were unaware of this.' Or lest you say: 'Our fathers before us ascribed partners to Allah, and we were only descendants after them.'
Who are we? We are descendants of the one who created our father by His Hands. When we came to life on this earth, we came in submission to the only One. However, we then were deceived by our upbringing and environments. Do we have a valid argument against Allah for not worshipping Him? Allah gave us the intellect and ability to distinguish the right and wrong, the instinctive recognition that the Creator is One, and the ability to see the signs which lead to Him. If we are truly honest, with ourselves, we just have to open our hearts and eyes and find the message. We need to do some homework for the sake of saving our souls.
Imagine the One who created you with His own Hands says that He loves you and He chooses you. The first gift of Allah upon us is to make us the son of Adam AS. Instead of creating us as animals, we were created as the representatives of Allah on earth. What an elevation! However, many of us do not appreciate the elevation granted to us, and we disgrace our mission.
As this series continues, we will see how the various Messengers and Prophets held fast to their goal, and we will learn of their inspiring accomplishments and trials in establishing the message of Allah on this earth.