Allah created the first human being, Adam, from turaab – translated as dust or soil. He then blew into him through the Spirit, and commanded the angels to prostrate to Adam, which they did. However, one of the jinn known as Iblis (Satan), present among the angels, refused to do so, and Allah expelled him from the kingdom of heaven for his impertinence. Iblis then asked Allah to grant him respite till the Day of Judgement, so he could try and lead the descendants of Adam astray, to which Allah agreed, revealing that His true servants will not be misled.

Meanwhile, Adam dwelled in the garden of Paradise where Allah created his mate, Hawwa (Eve), the first woman, so the two of them could enjoy the blessings of Paradise together. Allah commanded them not to eat from a particular tree, but Iblis caused them to disobey Allah, leading to their expulsion from Paradise and descent on earth. Adam and Hawwa repented to Allah; He pardoned them, chose Adam as a prophet, and promised Paradise in the hereafter for whoever among humanity lived righteously.

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Let’s examine the lessons learned from this account and analyze its various aspects in detail.

Human intellect is a great blessing

Why did Allah command the angels to prostrate to Adam? What made Adam superior to such a noble creation as the angels? It was his superior intellect: his intelligence, and higher faculties of thinking, perceiving, learning, and memorizing. That is why when the angels remarked that the human would cause bloodshed and corruption on earth, Allah commanded Adam to replicate to the angels all the names Allah had taught him, thus proving his higher intellect.

We should, therefore, engage our minds for the purpose of gaining knowledge, researching, reflecting on the universe, and making scientific advancements. Allah repeatedly commands us in the Quran to use our cognitive abilities, frequently asking the rhetorical question, “Then will you not use reason?” (37:138)

Arrogance brings about one’s downfall

When Allah commanded Iblis to prostrate to Adam, he objected, saying, “I am better than him! You created me from fire and created him from clay.” (7:12) Iblis’s view that he had been created from a superior substance led him to disobey Allah; his arrogance thus changed his status from that of a devoted servant of Allah to becoming an outcast, destined for Hell. Arrogance is an enormous sin that deprives us of Allah’s favour, and distances us from Him. Prophet Muhammad said, “He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of arrogance shall not enter Paradise.” (Muslim)

Love and mercy are basic ingredients of marriage

What was Allah’s wisdom in creating the first pair of human beings a male and a female? We learn from the Quran that this was not just so they would procreate, but because they should find comfort in each other’s company: “And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates [i.e. spouses] that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy.” (30:21) This ayah further asserts that Allah has placed love and mercy between spouses as a gift from Him. The husband and wife should thus sincerely love each other, and adopt mercy by overlooking each other’s faults and shortcomings.

Be content with what you have

After Allah had forbidden Adam and Hawwa to eat from a particular tree, Iblis approached them and said, “O Adam, shall I direct you to the tree of eternity and possession that will not deteriorate?” (20:120) Iblis tried to tempt them with promises of eternal life and kingdom, and succeeded. It is intrinsic in human nature to continuously desire more and not feel satisfied for long. Even though Adam and Hawwa enjoyed the great blessings of Paradise, Iblis used trickery to arouse their curiosity, promising them even greater rewards. We should try to be content with what we possess – be it little or much – and not be greedy for worldly possessions and luxuries. Prophet Muhammad said, “Wealth is not in having many possessions; rather, true wealth is the richness of the soul.” (Bukhari)

Allah accepts true repentance

After Adam and Hawwa had erred, they became remorseful, and prayed to Allah, “Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers.” (7:23) Because they sincerely repented, Allah turned to them in mercy, and forgave them. Indeed, He loves to forgive, and pardons all sorts of sins, of all magnitudes. As Prophet Muhammad said, “Verily, Allah is more delighted with the repentance of His slave than is a person who finds his lost camel in a desert.” (Bukhari) We should thus repent to Allah frequently and fervently.

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Always be on guard against Iblis

Iblis approaches us while concealing his enmity towards us – just as he deceived our forefathers, Adam and Hawwa, by claiming to be their well-wisher: “And he swore to them, ‘Indeed, I am to you from among the sincere advisors.’” (7:21) Hence, we must always be on our guard against the treacherous whispers of Iblis, and strive against him with all our faith, conscience, and will power, while beseeching Allah for aid against his deceptive ploys. Allah has informed us that Iblis’s traps are ineffective when countered with firm resolve: “Indeed, there is for him [Iblis] no authority over those who have believed and rely upon their Lord.” (16:99)

Do not grieve over your mistakes

It is not wise to keep grieving over a costly mistake. We must accept that Allah’s will always prevails, and sometimes, a regrettable situation could not have been avoided. For example, apparently, Adam and Hawwa got humanity expelled from Paradise, but in reality, Allah had predetermined the earth to be our abode in this world, as He had earlier revealed to the angels:  “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” (2:30)

Hence, the whole episode of the expulsion from Paradise was merely to demonstrate why human beings are not worthy of Paradise without undergoing a trial period on earth. So, just as there is no point in grieving over the expulsion of our ancestral parents from Paradise, we must try to see Allah’s wisdom and purpose in seemingly regrettable situations we encounter, instead of bemoaning them.

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