Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:35)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie
Adam and Eve in the Garden
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
وَقُلْنَا يَا آدَمُ اسْكُنْ أَنتَ وَزَوْجُكَ الْجَنَّةَ وَكُلَا مِنْهَا رَغَدًا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمَا وَلَا تَقْرَبَا هَـٰذِهِ الشَّجَرَةَ فَتَكُونَا مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ ﴿٣٥﴾ فَأَزَلَّهُمَا الشَّيْطَانُ عَنْهَا فَأَخْرَجَهُمَا مِمَّا كَانَا فِيهِ ۖ وَقُلْنَا اهْبِطُوا بَعْضُكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ ۖ وَلَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مُسْتَقَرٌّ وَمَتَاعٌ إِلَىٰ حِينٍ ﴿٣٦﴾
Translation: We said, ‘O Adam, dwell with your spouse (Eve) in the garden, and eat thereof freely whensoever (from whatever place or source) you wish, but do not approach (eat from fruits of) this tree or you should be among the wrongdoers.’
Then Shaytan caused them to err (with that tree), and he dislodged them from the state (the garden) they were in; and We said, ‘Get down (all of you – Adam, Eve and Iblis from the garden to earth), with enmity between yourselves (Iblis against Adam, Eve and their descendants)! On the earth shall be your abode and sustenance for an appointed time1.’
Commentary: The Quran affirms (verse 2:30) that Allah (SWT) created Adam and Eve with the intention to be His vicegerents (deputy) on Earth2. However, in the beginning, they were placed temporarily in an immaculate garden so that they may perhaps become acquainted with the challenges of life on Earth.
Adam and Eve were free to enjoy the pristine landscape of the garden and eat from its immense delightful foods such as fruits, except fruits of a specific tree. Eating from that tree would cause their expulsion from the garden and plunge them into misery.
Amongst the angels worshipping Allah (SWT) was a Jinn by the name of Iblis, who opposed Adam’s vicegerency. He thought he was better suited than Adam for this noble position. Nevertheless, he concealed his opposition until Allah (SWT) ordered the angels, including Iblis, to prostrate before Adam.
Iblis defied the divine command and was expelled3 from amongst the angels (or from the heaven as it is a place of honor) 4. Since then, Iblis was resolute to take his vengeance from Adam and Eve and their descendants5. Hence, Allah (SWT) advised Adam and Eve beforehand and said:
“O Adam, this (Iblis) is an enemy to you and your wife. Let him not expel you both from the garden so that you plunge into misery. In the garden you will experience no hunger, nakedness, thirst, nor exposure to the heat of Sun6.”
Iblis’ Deception: Iblis disguised his enmity under a cloak of friendship and began to instill doubt in Adam and Eve’s minds regarding the divine advice of avoiding the fruits of the forbidden tree. Iblis approached them and said:
“Your Lord had only forbidden you from this tree lest you became either angels or live eternal life in the garden7.”
Adam naturally remembered the command of his lord: “Do not approach this tree8” and the divine advice of how “this (Iblis) is an enemy to you and your wife. Let him not expel you both from the garden so that you plunge into misery6.”
But, Iblis did not give up; he persistently questioned them as to what harm the forbidden fruits could possibly cause. Eating the fruit would make them either angels or grant them an imperishable kingdom. Finally, to make them believe his false claim, he swore that he was their benevolent friend and advisor9.
Adam and Eve’s pure and innocent souls could not perceive that one would swear falsely to deceive others. They finally fell into Iblis’s deceptive trap; they approached the tree and tasted from its fruits. Right after that, Allah addressed all of them, Adam, Eve and Iblis10:
“Get down (all of you – Adam, Eve and Iblis from the garden to earth), with enmity between yourselves [Iblis against Adam, Eve and their descendants]! On the earth shall be your abode and sustenance for an appointed time11.”
Note that the second person pronouns used in the above verse, “get you down” [Arabic: اهْبِطُوا], is plural (not dual), which denotes at least three people. Hence, the divine commands addressed Adam, Eve and Iblis10.
The Garden of Adam and Eve: The Quran does not explicitly declare the location of the garden of Adam and Eve. However, commentaries stated that the garden was not Heaven (Paradise), which is promised to righteous people in the hereafter. According to the Quran, Heaven is an eternal abode and no one would be expelled from there, whereas Adam and Eve were in the garden for a short period of time.
Secondly, the above verses clearly imply that Iblis was conversing in the garden with Adam and Eve13. The Quran asserts that Heaven is a place of peace and tranquility [دَارُ السَّلَامِ]14 with no room for the presence of Iblis and his vile and sinful speeches15. Therefore, for the above two reasons, Adam and Eve’s garden was not Heaven.
Note that, Adam and Eve’s admission to the garden happened after Iblis refused to bow down before Adam and consequently was expelled3 from amongst the angels4.
Lesson Learned: Clearly Adam and Eve were predestined to live on Earth. However, before they began their vicegerency mission on Earth, perhaps Allah’s (SWT) decree was to expose them to Shaytan’s deceptive nature, the forbidden tree, and consequences of exercising free will. They never had such prior experiences.
On Earth, human beings continuously exercise their free will and bear responsibility for every single decision. The intellect commands them to follow the divine guidance, whereas Iblis and Iblis-like beings would persuade mankind to error and misery with the “forbidden tree.” This tree has a variety of fruits on Earth: the fruits of wealth, power, lust, desire, arrogance, selfishness, anger, jealousy, etc. Iblis misleads some with the temptation of power, and others with forbidden fruits of their liking.
Those who follow the divine guidance and fulfill their obligations will have an imperishable eternal prosperity, whereas failure to follow the divine guidance is doomed to hardship and affliction.
- In the translation, the pronoun [عَنْهَا] was referred to the tree. Alternatively, one may consider the pronoun [عَنْهَا] was in reference to the garden. Then, the translation becomes “Satan makes them slip from the (garden), and he dislodged them from the state (of felicity) they were in.”
- “I am appointing on Earth a deputy,” The Quran, Al-Baqara, 2:30
- The Quran, Al-Araf 7:13
- Al-Mizan, Vol.1, P.203, L.1
- The Quran, Al-Araf 7:14-18
- The Quran, Ta-Ha 20:117-119
- The Quran, Al-Araf 7:20
- The Quran, Al-Baqara 2:35
- The Quran, Al-Araf 7:21
- Al-Mizan, Vol.1, P. 203,L. 2
- The Quran, Al-Baqara 2:36
- Al-Mizan, Vol.1, 203, L. 2
- The conversation between Iblis and Adam was face-to-face so that Adam knew Iblis ,Al-Mizan, Vol. 1, P. 202
- The Quran, Al-An’am 6:127
- The Quran, At-Tur 52:23