Name of Chapter Al-Baqarah , 35 verses Number 35

وَقُلْنَا يَا آدَمُ اسْكُنْ أَنتَ وَزَوْجُكَ الْجَنَّةَ وَكُلاَ مِنْهَا رَغَداً حَيْثُ شِئْتُمَا وَلاَ تَقْرَبَا هَذِهِ الشَّجَرَةَ فَتَكُونَا مِنَ الْظَّالِمِينَ

Translate:

Translation (Tahereh Saffarzadeh): We stated: "O, Adam! Dwell you and your wife in the Garden and either of you eat of the bountiful things from it as much as you may desire, but do not approach this Tree, in which case, you two will be of those who do injustice to themselves."

Interpretation:

Source: Tafsir Al-MIZAN (Volume: 1, Page: 178-186, Chapter: 2- Surah Baqarah, Verse: 35)

Interpreter: al-Allamah as-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn at-Tabatabai

Translator: Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi

Publication Place: World Organization for Islamic Services (WOFIS)

 

QUR’AN:  And We said: "O Adam! Dwell you and your wife . . . ":

Although the story of the angels' prostration before Adam has been repeated several times in the Qur'ân, that of his placement in the Garden has been given in three places only:

First: The verses given above, from Chapter 2 (the Cow).

Second: In Chapter 7 (the Elevated Places): And (We said): "O Adam! Dwell you and your wife in the Garden; so eat from where you desire, but do not go near this tree, for then you will be of the unjust" (19). But the Satan whispered an evil suggestion to them that he might make manifest to them what was hidden from them of their nakedness, and he said: "Your Lord has not forbidden you from this tree except that you may not both become two angels or that you may (not) become of the immortals" (20). And he swore to them both: "Most surely I am a sincere adviser to you" (21). Then he caused them to fall by deceit; so when they tasted of the tree, their nakedness became manifest to them, and they both began to cover themselves with the leaves of the Garden; and their Lord called out to them: "Did I not forbid you both from that tree and say to you that the Satan is your open enemy?" (22). They said: "Our Lord! We have been unjust to ourselves, and if Thou forgive us not, and have (not) mercy on us, we shall certainly be of the losers" (23). He said: "Get down, some of you being the enemies of others, and there is for you in the earth an abode and a provision for a time" (24). He (also) said: "Therein shall you live, and therein shall you die, and from it shall you be raised" (25).

Third: In Chapter 20 (Tâ-Hâ): And certainly We had covenanted unto Adam before, but he forgot; and We did not find in him any determination (115). And when We said to the angels: "Prostrate before Adam", they did prostrate, but Iblis (did it not); he refused (116). So we said: "0 Adam! Surely this is an enemy to you and to your wife; therefore let him not drive you both forth from the Garden so that you should be put to toil (117); Surely it is (ordained) for you that you shall not be hungry therein nor bare of clothing (118); and that you shall not be thirsty therein nor shall you feel the heat of the sun" (119). But the Satan whispered an evil suggestion to him; he said: "0 Adam! Shall I guide you to the tree of immortality and a kingdom which decays not?" (120). Then they both ate of it, so their nakedness appeared unto them, and they both began to cover themselves with leaves of the Garden, and Adam disobeyed his Lord, so he got astray (121). Then his Lord chose him, so He turned to him and guided (him) (122). He said: "Get down you two there from, all (of you), one of you (is) enemy to another. So if there comes to you guidance from Me, then whoever follows My guidance, he shall not go astray nor be unhappy (123). And whoever turns away from My remembrance, his shall surely be a straitened life, and We will raise him, on the Day of Resurrection, blind- (124). He shall say: "My Lord! why hast Thou raised me blind, and I was a seeing one indeed?" (125) He will say: "Even so: Our signs came to you, but you forgot them; even thus shall you be forsaken this day" (126). And thus do We recompense him who is extravagant and does not believe in the signs of his Lord; and certainly the chastisement of the hereafter is severer and more lasting" (127).

The context, and particularly the opening words of the story, "Verily 1 am going to make in the earth a vicegerent", clearly show that it was for the earth that Adam was created; it was the original plan that he should live and die in the earth. Allâh had temporarily placed the couple in the Garden to test them in order that their nakedness might be uncovered to them. Also the context in all three places shows that the order to the angels to prostrate before Adam, and then to Adam to stay in the Garden is a single, continuous, story. It all shows that Adam (a.s.) was created specifically for the earth, and the way to send him down was through the Garden as mentioned in the Qur'ân: It was shown that he was superior to the angels and, therefore, more qualified for the vicegerency of Allàh; then they were told to prostrate before him, in acknowledgement of his superiority; then he was placed in the Garden but forbidden to go near a particular tree; so that on eating from it they should become aware of their nakedness and then be sent down to the earth. It means that the last link in this chain was their becoming aware of their private parts - it was this factor, which irrevocably showed that they were fit for this earth, ready for this life. “As-Saw'ah”, (السواه ,literally means shame, disgrace, private part of the body. In this story it has been used in the last meaning, as may be seen from the words, “and they both began to cover themselves with leaves of the Garden”. That is why we have translated it as “nakedness”.) However, their awareness of their pudenda proved that in addition to their spiritual qualities, they had also animal instincts and desires ingrained in them. It naturally made them dependent on nutrition and growth. Iblis wanted them to become aware of their nakedness. Adam and his wife were given earthly, human existence and were at once placed in the Garden without any delay; they were not given time to perceive and understand their nakedness or its concomitants; they had not yet comprehended the life of this earth and its necessities. When they were sent to the Garden their connection with the spiritual world, including the angels, was strong; their link with it was not weakened. It should be noted that Allàh has said, “what was hidden from them”; He has not said, “what had been hidden from them”; it may be inferred from the expression used that their nakedness could not remain hidden for ever in this life; it was hidden for only a short period when they were placed in the Garden. The uncovering of their nakedness with all its concomitants was a predetermined fact and it depended upon their eating from that tree. That is why Allàh had told them: “therefore let him not drive you both forth from the Garden so that you should be put to toil”; thereafter, the Satan “drove them out of what they were in”.

It should not be overlooked that even when Allàh pardoned them after their repentance, He did not return them to the Garden - they were sent down to the earth to live therein. If their eating of the tree, the uncovering of their private parts and the life of this world were not a confirmed divine plan, an irrevocable predetermined decree, they would have been returned to their place in the Garden as soon as they were forgiven their mistake. In short, it was the divine plan that they should spend sometime in the Garden to get them prepared for the life in this world; and their removal from the Garden, according to the causal relation decreed by Allàh, depended on their eating from the tree and becoming aware of their nakedness, and it happened because they listened to the whispering of the Satan.

Allàh says: “And certainly We had covenanted unto Adam before, but he forgot”. Which covenant does this verse allude to? Does it refer to the admonition, “and do not approach (you two) this tree, for then you (two) will be of the unjust”? Or to the warning, “surely this (i.e., the Satan) is an enemy to you and to your wife”? Or does it refer to the general covenant made with all human beings in general and with the prophets in particular?

The first possibility is out of question altogether. Allàh says: “But the Satan whispered an evil suggestion to them . . . and he said: ‘Your Lord has not forbidden you from this tree except that you may not become two angels or that you may (not) become of the immortals . . . ’” Obviously, when Adam and his wife committed the error and tasted of the tree they were aware of the prohibition - even the evil suggestion of the Satan had begun with a reference to it. And Allàh says in this verse that “We had covenanted unto Adam before, but he forgot; and We did not find in him any determination. ”It, therefore, could not refer to that prohibition, because Adam had not forgotten it at all.

The second suggestion - that the covenant might refer to the warning against the Satan - is not so wide of mark; still it is not supported by apparent meaning of the verses. The said warning was given to both Adam and his wife, while this verse refers to a covenant made especially with Adam.

It leaves us with the last alternative that the covenant means the general covenant, which was made with the whole mankind and more particularly with the prophets. This verse (about the covenant with Adam and his forgetting it) occurs at the beginning of the story in the chapter of Tà-Hà; and the story concludes with the words, “So if there comes to you guidance from Me, then whoever follows My guidance, he shall not go astray nor be unhappy. And whoever turns away from My remembrance, his shall surely be a straitened life, and We will raise him, on the Day of Resurrection, blind. He shall say: ‘My Lord! why hast Thou raised me blind, and I was a seeing one indeed?’ He will say: ‘Even so: Our signs came to you, but you forgot them; even thus shall you be forsaken (literally: forgotten) today.’”

These concluding verses perfectly fit that opening one. To turn away from the remembrance of Allàh is not different from forgetting the covenant of Allàh. Add to it the use of the same verb (you forgot them) in the next verse. All these references arc perfectly compatible with the covenant made with the souls of the human beings about the Mastership of Allàh and their own servitude. That covenant obliged the man that lie should never forget that Allàh is his Lord, the Ruler and Master of his affairs; nor should he lose sight of the fact that he is a wholly owned slave of Allàh; that he has no authority whatsoever over his benefit or harm; nor does he has any control over his life, death or resurrection; in short he owns neither his person, his characteristics nor his actions.

The error that stands opposite to this remembrance is forgetfulness - man forgets his Lord and His All-encompassing Mastership; he becomes engrossed in his own self, getting bogged down more and more in the mire of this world’s attractions.

Look at this world’s life, with all its diversity; and see how it spreads its tentacles in all directions. Note how it is shared by the believer and the unbeliever both. And then find out how the two groups respond to its joy and sorrow. How different is their respective attitude towards this life’s success and failure, happiness and unhappiness, content and discontent, relief and suffering. These factors affect the two groups - the believers and the unbelievers - in entirely different ways. The believer has the knowledge of Allàh and the unbeliever lacks this knowledge. And it causes all the differences in their respective behavior. Every man looks at this world; a world that is submerged in all types of misfortunes and disasters: a life followed by death, a health ruined by disease, a prosperity eaten away by poverty, a comfort destroyed by discomfort, a gain nullified by loss - this is, in a nutshell, the life of this world. The believer knows that everything and every affair belongs to Allàh; nothing is independent of God, the Lord. Every thing and every affair emanates from Him; and all that originates from Him is good and beautiful; nothing but beauty and splendor, goodness and excellence, can come from Him. And because all things and all affairs issue forth from his Lord and Master, he thinks that all is elegant and fine; he dislikes nothing and fears nothing; everything in his eyes is likeable, except that which his Master tells him to dislike. He subjugates his likes and dislikes to those of his Master. In short, all his attention is fixed to the pleasure of his Master. He knows that everything is the sole property of God; none else has any share in anything. That being the case, why should he worry how the Master manages His own property? He does not think that he is competent to meddle in the affairs of his Lord. This submission to Allàh creates a perfect tranquility, a truly happy life, untarnished by unhappiness; a light without darkness, a joy without sorrow, a benefit without harm, and a riches without want. It all happens because he believes in Allàh and in His mastership.

On the other hand is the unbeliever who does not know Allàh. By cutting himself off from the one and only Master, he has to bow his head before every creature. He believes that everything is independent in its actions - that it has a power of its own to benefit or to harm, to do good or evil. Consequently, he remains in constant fear of everything; he is ever apprehensive of every real or imagined danger. He is always grieving for want has befallen him, longing for the opportunities he has missed. He feels nostalgia for the prestige or wealth that is gone; breaks his heart for the children, relatives or friends who have left him. He is inextricably trapped by the attractions of the world; he relies on them and has trust in them; and when any thing goes wrong, he sinks into despair. Then as soon as he makes a virtue of necessity and is resigned to that misfortunate, a new calamity overwhelms him. In this way, He always driven from pillar to post, with a heavy heart and a gloomy countenance; “thus does Allàh lay uncleanliness on those who do not believe”.

It can be seen, in the light of the above discourse, that forgetting the covenant and unhappiness of this world’s life, both are interrelated - the later springs from the former. This tact becomes clearer if we compare the wordings of the verse 20:123-124 with those used in the verse under discussion. The former says: So if there comes to you guidance from Me, then whoever follows My guidance, he shall not go astray nor be unhappy. And whoever turns away from My remembrance, his shah surely be a straitened life, and We will raise him, on the Day of Resurrection, blind. And the same idea has been expressed in this verse in the following words: . . . then whoever follows My guidance, no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve.

It may be inferred from these verses that the forbidden tree was of such a nature that if one ate from it he would certainly be entangled in the troubles and misfortunes of this life - he would spend his life in this world, heedless of his own place, forgetting his Lord. Probably Adam (a.s.) wanted to combine the fruit of that tree with the covenant that he had entered into with his Lord. But he could not succeed; the fruit had its effect, he forgot the covenant and fell into the troubles and toils of this world. Then he was saved when he repented before Allàh and Allàh turned to him with mercy.

QUR’AN: and eat (you two) from it (freely) a plenteous (food): “ar-Raghad” (الرغد) literally means happiness, well-being, good life and affluence arghada ’l-qawmu mawàshiyahum  (ارغد القوم مواشيهم)means, “the people left their cattle to graze wherever it liked. “Qawmun raghad”  (قوم رغد)and “nisà’un raghad” (نساء رغد)means people (or women) having a life of plenty and opulence.

QUR’AN: and do not approach (you two) this tree; The context shows that actual prohibition was of eating from it; but they were told not even to approach it; the prohibition was couched in these terms for emphasis. What was really forbidden is seen from the verse: so when they tasted of the tree, their nakedness became manifest to them (7:22), and . . . they both ate of it, so their nakedness appeared unto them (20:121).

QUR’AN: for then you (two) will be of the unjust: "az-Zàlimin"  (الظالمين)is the nomen agentis of az-zulm (الظلم= injustice, to do wrong). It is not from az-zulmah (الظلمه= darkness), as has been suggested by someone. Adam and his wife acknowledged their wrong-doing, and the Qur'an quotes them as saying: “Our Lord! we have been unjust to ourselves, and if you forgive us not, and have (not) mercy on us, we shall certainly be of the losers” (7:23).

This clause has been changed in Chapter 20 to “so that you should be put to toil”; and the toil has further been explained in these words: Surely it is (ordained) for you that you shall not be hungry therein (i.e. in the Garden) nor bare of clothing; and that you shall not be thirsty therein nor shall you feel the heat of the sun (20:118-119). Clearly, the injustice and wrong-doing, mentioned in the verse 2:25, was to bring in its wake the toil of this world - hunger, thirst, nakedness and other discomforts. The injustice or wrong that they had done was against their own selves; it was neither a sin (as this term is used in the shari‘ah) nor an injustice against Allàh. It shows that the prohibition was in the nature of an advice pointing out to them what was good for their own comfort; it did not have the force of an ordained law. Adam and his wife did wrong to themselves, because their disregard to that divine advice caused their removal from the Garden.

When a man commits a sin (i.e. an offence, from the shari’ah point of view), he is given a punishment. Then if he repents and his repentance is accepted, the punishment is completely waived off, and he is returned to his previous position as though he had not committed the sin at all. If Adam and his wife were guilty of such a sin, they should have been returned to their place in the Garden soon after their repentance was accepted. But it was not done. It clearly shows that the prohibition did not have the force of an ordained law; it was only an advice. Even so, neglecting it had its natural effect on both of them and they had to come out of the Garden. But this removal from the Garden was not a punishment for any sin or crime; it was the natural consequence of the wrong they had done against their own selves. (We shall write again on this subject, God willing.)

TRADITIONS

Pages 196-205

al-Qummi ('Ali) narrates, in his at-Tafsir, from his father (Ibrahim ibn Hashim) who narrates, from as-Sadiq (a.s.) (omitting the chain of intervening narrators, although it was fully described by his Shaykh). He said: "as-Sadiq" (a.s.) was asked about the Garden of Adam whether it was a garden of this world or one of the hereafter's. He (a.s.) said: 'It was a garden of this world, wherein the sun and the moon rose. Had it been a Garden of the hereafter, he would not have come out of it.' He (a.s.) further said: 'Allah placed him in the Garden and allowed him its freedom with the exception of the tree. (It was done) because here was a creature of Allah who could not survive without (some) enjoinment and prohibition, nor (could it continue) without food, cloth, shelter and marriage; nor could he know, without divine help, what was beneficial to him from what was harmful. Then came to him Iblis and told him: “if you (two) ate from this tree, which Allàh has forbidden You, You (two) would become two angels and would abide in the Garden for ever, and if you (two) did not eat from it, Allàh would turn you out from the Garden;” and he swore to them that he was a sincere adviser to them; as Allàh quotes his words: Your Lord has not forbidden you from this tree except that you may not both become two angels or that you may (not) become of the immortals. And he swore to them both: “Most surely I am a sincere adviser to you.” Adam believed in his words, and they (i.e. Adam and his wife) ate from the tree; and they became as Allàh says: their nakedness became manifest to them; what Allàh had clothed them with of the (attires of the) Garden dropped away from them, and they both began to cover themselves with the leaves of the Garden; and their Lord called out to them: Did I not forbid you both from that tree and say to you that the Satan is your open enemy? They said, as Allàh quotes them: “Our Lord! We have been unjust to ourselves; and if Thou forgive us not, and have (not) mercy on us, we shall certainly be of the losers.” Thereupon Allàh said to them: “Get down, some of you being the enemies of others; and there is for you in the earth an abode and a provision for a time. He (the Imam) said: “that (time) is the Day of Resurrection”. He further said: “Then Adam descended on the (hill of) as - Safà – and it got this name because Safiyu ’llàhصفي الله = the sincere friend of Allàh, i.e. Adam) came down on it; and Hawwà’ (Eve) descended on the (hill of) al -Marwah - and it was named al -Marwah because al-mar'ah ( المرءة= the woman) descended on it. Then Adam remained in prostration for forty days, weeping for the Garden. So Jibril (Gabriel) came to him and said: ‘Did Allàh not create you with His hand, and (did He not) breath into you from His spirit, and (did He not) made His angels prostrate before you?’ He said: ‘Certainly.’ (Then Jibril said:) ‘and He ordered you not to eat from the tree and you disobeyed Him?’ Adam said: ‘Iblis swore to me falsely.’

The author says: There are other traditions too from Ahlu ’l-bayt (a.s.) to the effect that the Garden of Adam was of this world; although some of them are from the same Ibràhim ibn Hàshim.

The phrase, “a garden of this world”, has been used in contrast to the Garden of everlasting abode. It indicates a state between this world and the hereafter. Adam’s garden was not the Garden of everlasting abode, but neither was it a garden like that of ours al-Barzakh (البرزخ) is the state, place and time between one’s death and the Day of Resurrection. The said Garden may be called a Garden of al-Barzakh, and it may well have been situated in this world. The sentences, “Adam descended on the (hill of) as-Safà”, and “Hawwà’ descended on the (hill of) al-Marwah”, indicate that, before it, they were somewhere above this world. The interpretation of “a time” with the “Day of Resurrection” is also revealing. Man remains in al-Barzakh after his death, and at the same time he remains in the earth. Many Qur’ânic verses use these expressions interchangeably.

For example: He will say: “How many years did you tarry in the earth?” They will say: "”We tarried a day or part of a day”, but ask those who keep account. He will say: “You did tarry but a little - had you but known (it)” (23:112-114). And at the time when the Hour shall come, the guilty shall swear (that) they did not tarry but an hour; thus they used to utter lies. And those who are given knowledge and faith will say: “Certainly you tarried according to the decree of Allàh till the Day of Resurrection, but you did not know” (30:55-56).

Apart from that, many traditions of Ahlu ’l-bayt (a.s.) show that the Garden of Adam was in the heaven, and that he and his wife descended from the heaven. For the one who is familiar with the language of traditions, it is not difficult to believe that the said Garden was in the heaven and that they had descended from the heaven to the earth, even if they were created in the earth itself and live therein all along. These expressions are not any different from those which say that the Garden is in the heaven, and yet say that the grave is an orchard from the orchards of the Garden or a pit from the pits of the Fire. Many similar expressions are found in the traditions. Any lingering doubt will be removed when we shall write about the heaven, God willing.

There is no mention in the correct and reliable traditions as to how Iblis found his way to Adam and his wife, or as to what means he adopted for this purpose. Some traditions mention the serpent and peacock as the two helpers of Iblis in his endeavor to mislead Adam and his wife; but they are extremely unreliable. Obviously, such traditions were interpolated under the influence of Judaism. This story has been taken from the Jews, and to make this point clear, we are quoting it from the Bible (King James version). The story is given in the book of Genesis:

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it, which goeth towards the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates. And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helpmeet for him. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a helpmeet for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and be slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God has made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of the life; And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed, it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the Garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” (Genesis, ch. 2: vs. 7 to ch. 3: vs. 24)

Compare the narrative of the Qur’àn with that of the Bible, then ponder on various traditions narrated in the Shi‘ah or Sunni books; you will come to know many revealing differences. But we are not going into it because it is beyond the scope of this book.

Question: How could Iblis enter the Garden and mislead Adam therein? The question arises because:

i) The Garden is a place of cleanliness and purity, wherein there shall be nothing vain nor any sin (52:23);

ii) The garden is in the heaven, and Iblis was already turned out therefrom when he refused to prostrate before Adam. Then get out of it, for surely you are driven away (15:34). Then get down from this, for it does not befit you to behave proudly therein (7:13).

Reply:  (i) The Qur’àn disallows vain and sinful acts in the Garden of eternal abode (in which the believers shall be placed after resurrection) and the Garden of al-Barzakh wherein they are placed after death. But it is silent about the Garden of Adam, in which he was placed together with his wife before man was sent to this world and given any authoritative law. Rather, it may be said that it shows not only possibility of disobedience therein, but also its occurrence. Proof: This very disobedience of Adam and his wife.

Moreover, vanity and sin are relative terms; and they do not occur until man comes into this world, and is given some authoritative laws to follow.

ii) The argument may be replied as follows: 

a. It cannot be definitely said that the clauses, "get down of it" and "get down from this" were meant to turn Iblis out of the heaven, because "the heaven" has not been mentioned in preceding sentences. The order, therefore, could mean, 'get out of the ranks of the angels', or 'get down from the honour and dignity given to thee'.

b. May be, the order to get down or to get out meant only that he could not live or stay in the heaven with the angels. If so, then it was not a prohibition against occasionally going or ascending thereto. This interpretation is supported by the verses which describe the Satans' occasional goings upto the heaven to eavesdrop the conversations of the angels.[i] Also, it has been narrated that before the time of 'Isâ (a.s.), the Satans were going up to the seventh heaven; when he was born they were barred from the fourth heaven and above; then after the birth of the Prophet they were barred from all the heavens.

c. There is no mention in the Book of Allâh that Iblis had entered the Garden. Therefore, the question does not arise at all. It has, of course, been narrated in the traditions; but they are not al-mutawâtir; and possibly the narrators have described the story in their own words, and not exactly as the lmâm said.

Utmost that may be put as evidence that Iblis had entered the Garden is the verse: and he (i.e. the Satan) said: "Your Lord has not forbidden you from this tree except that you may not become two angels . . . " (7:19), as he had used the pronoun, "this", ("this tree") which denotes nearness. But if it is taken to mean nearness in place, it would give the same meaning in Allâh's command, . . . do not go near this tree (7:18). Surely it cannot be said that the pronoun indicates that Allâh was in that place near the tree.[ii]

'Abdu 's-Salâm al-Harawi[iii] said: "I said to ar-Ridâ (a.s.): 'O son of the Messenger of Allâh! tell me about the tree from which Adam and Hawwâ' ate, what was it? Because people do have different views about it; some have narrated that it was a wheat-plant, and others have reported that it was the tree of envy.'  He said: 'All this is true.'  I said: 'Then what do these explanations, with their differences, mean?' He said: 'O son of as-Salt! Verily the tree of the Garden bears (fruits of) many kinds; and it was a wheat-plant and (yet) it bore grapes; and it was not like a tree of this world. And when Allâh raised the status of Adam by making the angels prostrate before him and by placing him in the Garden, he said: "Has Allâh created any man superior than me?" And Allâh knew what had come into his mind; so He called out to him: "Raise your head, O Adam! And look at the pillar of the Throne." So, he looked at the pillar of the Throne and found written on it: "There is no god except Allâh; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allâh; 'Ali ibn Abi Tâlib is the Leader of the faithful, and his wife, Fâtimah is the Chief of the women of the worlds, and al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the Chiefs of the youths of the people of the Garden." Adam said: "O my Lord! Who are they?" He, Mighty and Great is He said: "O Adam! They are (from) your offsprings; and they are better than you and all My creation; and if it were not (for) them, I would have not created you, nor the Garden, nor the fire, nor the heaven, nor the earth. So be careful not to look at them with envious eyes; otherwise, I will turn you out of My nearness.” But he looked at them with envious eyes and entertained the hope of (attaining to) their rank. So, the Satan got the better of him, until he ate from the forbidden tree; and got the better of Hawwà’, and she looked at Fàtimah with envious eyes until she too, like Adam, ate from the tree. Thereupon, Allàh turned them out of His Garden, and got them down from His nearness to the earth.’” (‘Uyùnu ’l-akhbàr)

The author says: This matter has been described in many traditions, some more detailed than this; others, more concise. In this tradition, the lmàm has confirmed that the tree was the wheat-plant, and also that it was the tree of envy. The former implies that the tree was not worthy of attention of the people of the Garden; the later indicates that it was too lofty to come within the grasp of Adam and his wife (as a tradition says that it was the tree of the knowledge of Muhammad and his progeny).

Apparently, the two interpretations are totally different from each other, and the tradition seems a problematic one. But if you ponder on the covenant referred to earlier, you will see that both meanings are complementary, and not mutually exclusive. Adam (a.s.) wanted to combine the pleasures of the Garden - a place of nearness to Allàh, where it was necessary to always keep the covenant before one's eyes, and not to let one's attention divert to anyone or anything else - with the forbidden tree - which would bring all the world's troubles in its wake; but he failed in his endeavour, was sent down to the earth because he had been heedless of the said covenant and of its demands, It was reserved for the Prophet to combine these two seemingly apposite factors; it was he who, for the first time, harmonized this world with the next, synchronized the matter with the spirit, and brought into being a whole man.

However, Allàh again guided Adam aright, chose him for His vicegerency, and as a result of his repentance, raised him above the worldly desires and made him remember again the forgotten covenant.

“But he looked at them with envious eyes and entertained the hope of (attaining to) their rank”: The second clause explains the first; Adam wanted that he too should attain to that status; it was not that he was envious (i.e., had any ill will) against them. Envy is a vice, while aspiring to raise one’s status is not.

Now let us look at the following tradition:

ath-Thumàli narrates from Abù Ja’far (a.s.) that he said: “Allàh made a covenant with Adam that he should not go near the tree. But when the time came when, according to the knowledge of Allàh, he was to eat of it, he forgot (the covenant) and ate from it. And that is (the meaning of) the words of Allàh: And certainly We had covenanted unto Adam before, but he forgot; and We did not find in him any determination.” (Kamàlu ’d-din)

 

 



1. For example: And We have guarded it (i.e. the heaven) against every accursed Satan, but he who steals a hearing; so there follows him a visible flame (15:17-18)

2. The first and third replies seem strange, to say the least. The author himself has said (while commenting on the phrase, “the Satan made them both slip from it”) that the order to “get down” or to “get out” may mean, “Get down from the company of the angels; or, get down from the heaven”. But here he rejects the second alternative altogether! The third reply is based on القياس مع الفارق  an unacceptable anology – that which overlooks the important differences between the two sides. If the Satan is governed by time and space how does it imply that Allah too should be governed by them? Moreover, in the same commentary the author has proved on the strength of this same verse that “the Satan had visited them near that tree in the Garden. He entered the Garden . . . (and) Adam, his wife and the Satan all were removed from the Garden together.” This leaves us with the second reply, which is doubtlessly without any flaw and is supported by the Qur’an. (tr.)

3. That is, Abu’s-Salt Abdu’s-Salam ibn Salih al-Harawi.

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Source: Tafsir-e-Nemouneh (Exemplary) in Brief, Volume: 1, Page: 63, Chapter: 2, Surah: Al-Baqarah, Verse: 35

Interpreter: Makarem Shirazi, Naser

Translator: Mansoor Aminy _ Baghbadorani

Publication Place: Amir-Al-Momenin School, Qom - Iran

 

THE TRANSLATION

AND WE SAID: ``O, ADAM! DWELL YOU AND YOUR WIFE IN THE GARDEN, AND EAT OF THE BOUNTIFUL THINGS THEREIN WHEREVER YOU WISH BUT APPROACH NOT THIS TREE, LEST YOU BE OF THE TRANSGRESSORS.''

 

THE COMMENTARY

      After the mentioned events and affairs. ADAM and his wife were ordered to dwell in the GARDEN OF BLISS:

      ``And we said: O, ADAM! Dwell you and your wife, in the Garden, and eat of the bountiful things therein, wherever you wish, but approach not this tree, lest you be of the transgressors.'' (ZÄLEMIN ROOTED IN ZOLM)

      (The Arabic word ZOLM, (TRANSLATED TRANSGRESSION) implies harm, wrong, injustice, or transgression, a symbol of which might be darkness. When wrong is due to others, it implies tyranny and oppression)

      We understand from the verses in QURÄN, that ADAM was created with the purpose of living on earth, but at first, God settled him in a green, fruitful garden, for the Time being. That garden was one, on, this, our earth. ADAM was not acquainted with the KNOW-HOW of the life on the globe, and he had to ADAPT himself some how to meet the new condition of living on earth. He was therefore told to dwell in that said garden on probation for sometimes, to get himself and his wife ready for their new life and residence. Earth would actually be their home.

 

 

 

 

 

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