23 June 2010

Surah 2: 25-34 -- Believers get pure companions in heaven, Adam learns the animals' names, and Iblis becomes a disbeliever

Yep, all that in just ten verses.

Here's a summary.

If you believe and do good works, you will have pure companions in heaven.

And give glad tidings (O Muhammad) unto those who believe and do good works ... for them are pure companions. 2:25

Allah created seven heavens. (I think there was a TV show about that.)

He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth. Then turned He to the heaven, and fashioned it as seven heavens. And He is knower of all things. 2:29

Allah will shed human blood while angels praise him in heaven. (The angels question why Allah has to kill people; Allah says they'd understand if they knew everything like he does.)

And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth, they said: Wilt thou place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Thy praise and sanctify Thee ? He said: Surely I know that which ye know not. 2:30

Allah taught Adam all the names (of the animals, I guess).

And He taught Adam all the names. 2:31a

Then Allah showed all the animals to the angels, challenging them to guess their names (if they are truthful).

Then [he] showed them to the angels, saying: Inform Me of the names of these, if ye are truthful. 2:31b

But the angels weren't truthful enough to guess correctly.

They said: Be glorified! We have no knowledge saving that which Thou hast taught us. Lo! 2:32

Then Allah tells Adam to tell the angels the animals' names. So Adam tells them and says, "I know something you guys don't! Neener-Neener-Neener!"

He said: O Adam! Inform them of their names, and when he had informed them of their names, He said: Did I not tell you that I know the secret of the heavens and the earth? And I know that which ye disclose and which ye hide. 2:33

Finally, just to rub it in, Allah tells the angels to worship Adam. And they all did except for Iblis, who became the first disbeliever.

And when We said unto the angels: Prostrate yourselves before Adam, they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. He demurred through pride, and so became a disbeliever. 2:34

And the only reasonable person (so far, anyway) in the Quran.


Bogging the Quran
Surah 2: 35-74 -- Allah turns Jews into apes and solves a murder mystery with a dead yellow cow

19 comments:

Gordon Napier said...

The story of Lucifer refusing to worship Adam was found in the apocryphal Life of Adam and Eve. It seems Muhammad had access to non-canonical Jewish and Christian traditions. Allah does seem to delight in winding up the angels. It's a wonder more of them didn't get sick of it!

kat said...

In Christianity Lucifer is an Angel---I think?
Iblis is not.

Note---sometimes one can miss the nuance in translations---the word that equals the Christian concept of heaven is Paradise in the Quran,and heaven=outer space. The word "seven" in Arabic also has the conotation of many/several.

Steve Wells said...

Kat,
So Pickthall mistranslated/misinterpreted 2:34 then?

kat said...

Verse 30 (question from the angels) refers to man's nature, Not God

kat said...

No he did not---sometimes the nuance of the arabic is difficult to express in translation

Steve Wells said...

Well then I don't get it, Kat. Here's how Pickthall translated 2:34: "And when We said unto the angels: Prostrate yourselves before Adam, they fell prostrate, all save Iblis."

Doesn't "all save Iblis" mean that Iblis was an angel, since Allah was talking to angels here?

kat said...

I thought I already posted the reply---But I may have missed---so reposting----Steve, Pls delete if its a double.

"all save Iblis"---the arabic word translated as "all save"(Pickthall) can have the connotation of "exception"/not belonging to group (from comentary (tafsir) of Yusuf Ali---who translates it as "not so Iblis")
In Islamic thought---Angels do not have free-will, but obviously Iblis has free-will because he is able to refuse God's request.
The story of the fall of Iblis will unfold in stages----and by the way, Neither Islam nor Judaism has the concept of original sin---so keep this in mind when we encounter these stories again.

twillight said...

I find it AMUZING, that it ALWAYS "turns out", a common believer is always a "better" TRANSLATOR of dead languages than ANY professional translator. :roll eyes:

Matthew Blanchette said...

This actually comes from the early Christian belief that there were seven heavens; at one point, Paul stated that he was caught up as far as "the third heaven". This heavenly sphere of existence is where he believed Christ had offered himself up to "the rulers of the age", and not on the lowly plains of the Earth, as is so frequently taught in this day and age.

Funny, how nobody mentions this anymore, isn't it? ;-)

Luftritter said...

I have always found amusing when believers start whining about context and translations when confronted with nonbelievers.
They simply do not see the elephant in the room: why a god ("The God") would even bother to reveal his history, purposes, commandments and plans for the salvation of mankind through something as unreliable as writing?
He could have done something better, stuff that do not require the ability to read ancient dead languages or knowledge of textual criticism or for that matter the ability to read which was (and in some places still is) the privilege of a tiny minority.
I would be more impressed if the Almighty had chosen for example imprinting the memories of whatever he thought important in the minds of every human being regardless of race. If everyone had a memory of Jebus with his cross or Muhammed chatting with Gabriel, that would be difficult to explain. Otherwise I'm completely unimpressed.

kat said...

luftritter---an interesting point.
So why did God not make us all the same? 2 reasons according to Quran---1)We can understand compassion and tolerance by encountering the "different", the "other" and making the effort to transend the difference/strangeness.
2)Free-will means that we must make our own decisions...and be responsible for our choices. We have been given the intelligence to figure things out for ourselves

By the way---In both Judaism and Islam, Human beings have been created with an inherent goodness....that means we have within all of us, the ability to recognize goodness...it is only a matter of us choosing to or not.

Srinivasan said...

Kat,

You've raised an important point about free will, as stated in your point 2. But unfortunately, Allah has sealed the hearts of some unbelievers, blinded their sights and deafened their hearing, effectively removing free will from them.

So if I were one of those, I have to ignore the wonderful revelations in the Qur'an, not by choice but by design. But Allah will still punish me for having the temerity to be created that way. And Allah knows best.

Luftritter said...

Thank you---kat.
Well no, I think I was misunderstood. I did not said why did God not make us all the same, what I meant is why he choose such a poor method for comunication as writing. For example we don't even have the originals of all those scriptures, they did not survive the passing of time and the vicissitudes of history. Writing is that unreliable.
What I think is that given the fact that God is presumably omnipotent he could have used more effective techniques.
For example we puny human beings with our current technology can send sounds directly to the brain (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/295/5557/1025) and in the future we will send pictures (http://www.springerlink.com/content/7564702l5qq23863/).
He (God)could have done the same to all human beings since birth or send messages to each of us like on the phone or TV. I can think in that and I'm not near omnisapience.
Instead God choose to reveal his eternal laws by means of doing a lot of party tricks in front of several gullible uneducated peasants in the middle east. Besides that the tales of those encounters in all cases were written years after the events by third parties with their own conflicting political and religious bias. You see, all this are things that confuse me...
Regarding this "We can understand compassion and tolerance by encountering the "different", the "other" and making the effort to transend the difference/strangeness" It's very nice, I agree and that's all I'll say.
In this point: "Free-will means that we must make our own decisions...and be responsible for our choices. We have been given the intelligence to figure things out for ourselves", what I need to ask you is: do you really want to use free will arguments?

Because free will makes no sense.

For example according to christian and muslim escathology in the future the purpose of God is create an state for humanity different than our current situation. You can call that heaven or paradise. That's the bliss for the believer: they do the always the right thing for their own volition without being forced. If free will is very important for God, all humans in heaven must have free will. Then the question is why this situation happens just at the end of history and not in any other point?
If God is omnipotent he could have created heaven at any point in time and for all human beings. There is no need for the current state of affairs, God do not need to punish anyone in order to enforce free will. That's what being all powerfull means. Believers always underestimate omnipotence. By the way, I must add that a non omnipotent being is not God: is just a very powerful being, more strong than humans but not God. A sufficiently advanced alien would be very powerful, more than we, but I don't see humanity falling on their faces in front of him.
Free will is not a very respectable idea, has lots of contradictions and is no very moral, another case in point is the relation between free will and the problem of evil. The existance of dead and diseases unrelated with human choice, the fact that the free will of one human being limits the free will of others (murderers for example destroy the posibility of free will in their victims). Some human beings do not have free will at all (mentally handicaped people since birth or by wounds in accidents or diseases, babies spontaneusly aborted live and die without the chance of free will, etc). The idea of God allowing suffering in this world just for free will's sake, doesn't makes him look very good.
The free will argument is not very compelling indeed...

kat said...

@Srinivasan

As both you and luftritter have pointed out--there are many problems with the conventional understanding of free-will vs predeterminiation. This means, we might have to have to think "out of the box" on this one.

As verse 6 pointed out---the initial choice was ours to make---after which the consequences of our choice was that God closes our hearts...etc. However, (as the Quran will explain) we are free to change our minds-and we have the intelligence to do so. God is Compassionate and Merciful---and if we realize error, God is forgiving and will give us opportunities to understand Guidance. Islam may not be the right fit for you....we all travel on our spiritual journeys in our own ways....
God is not only Compassionate and Merciful, but also Just. God will hold us accountable for those choices that we have decided of our own free-will. Not everyone has equal free-will---for example if someone lives under oppression or threat, they have less free-will than someone living in a free society. Justice requires degree of responsibility for our choices be equal to the degree of our free-will.....
These are challenging questions....I hope we can discuss these issues further as we continue reading the Quran.

kat said...

@luftritter
"poor method for comunication as writing." (I agree)---there is a question in the Quran that goes something like---why didn't God send an angel to everyone (instead of just to Prophet Muhammed(pbuh)) that way, everyone would be sure....I think this may be something similar to what you may be asking?
1)In Islam, everyone is born a Muslim (one who submits--to God)---what this means is that as babies, we are born in unity with our inherent goodness. As we grow, we develop "ego"/identity/self. Along with our identity(me/mine)---The development of ego/self is somewhat necessary for our survival---desires such as hunger,shelter,companionship ...etchelp us live on this earth. But ego also leads us to temptations such as greed, pride, hate...etc and this creates divisions.....
That is why the Quran refers to itself as a "reminder"---goodness is something we already know.
2)free-will gives us a choice between our inherent goodness and the temptations of our ego. Therefore, if God chose to send you a revelation/guidance into your brain for example...if you chose to ignore it, you could claim it was from the "devil"--the result would be the same in that with free-will ---no matter how a message is sent, it can still be ignored. The other scenario is that we (human beings) have no free-will---in which case, will we be human beings?
3)The word Quran means recitation/reading and it is a text that is meant to be memorized.(I am referring to the arabic Quran)

Free-will and escatology---In the Quran, this is a complicated subject---I hope that we can explore it together...I appreciate your questions as they bring out many aspects that I havn't thought about before.---for example, do we have free-will in heaven?--I haven't thought of this one before and we may have to explore the answer together---as I do not know....As to why "Judgement" is at the end of an appointed time (not after death----but at some predetermined time in the future)----We are here on this earth for a purpose---we have free-will, and the intelligence to use this free-will rightly or wrongly. Our stay on earth is the opportunity to do this. We will be held accountable for our intentions and actions on earth. That is why Judgement has to come at the end---because it (Judgement) depends on what we do on earth.---Justice means that those who cause sufferring to others must be held accountable for their actions, just as those who use good for the benefit of all of God's creations must also be held accountable.

my apologies if I have misunderstood anything again...Your questions are very interesting....there is the problem of evil that you also mentioned----I would like to think on this....it will be an interesting subject to explore.
Thankyou for an intelligent, thought-provoking post.

Luftritter said...

kat:
My pleasure, I wish all believers were so nice.
Personally I agree in that all debate must bring at least a bit of Enlightenment at the end, more so if we disagree. At the end we are nothing but human beings looking for our own path through light and darkness.

Srinivasan said...

Kat,

Thanks for the response. It kind of makes sense.

A Muslim friend of mine once told me Allah imparts Qur'anic knowledge to the developing foetus in the womb, but after we are born, we forget this, or rather, we relegate it to the recesses of our memories.

Your comment makes sense in this context. Some of us choose to ignore this ante-natal knowledge and thus our hearts are sealed?

The only problem I see with this is that Allah already knows since the beginning of time, which of his children will submit to him and which will not, the same way that he knew Iblis will rebel and fall out of favour. So I could argue that the fall of Syaitan was Allah's intention all along, to create evil in order that his goodness will be valued.

kat said...

Just wanted to clarify---"Muslim" (in Quranic terms) is one who submits (to God)---it is used to refer to a state of being--not the label of a religious movement. The concept that all babies are born in "Tawheed" (Unity) with God is called "Fitra" in Islam.

"So I could argue that the fall of Shaitan was Allah's intention all along, to create evil in order that his goodness will be valued."
It is an interesting point---and one that Muslim scholars have also debated over.....
take another look at verses 30 to 39.
In v 30---the angels ask God why he is creating a reperesentative who will "make mischief and shed blood", when he already has them (angels) who worship him.....the reference to Iblis does not come until verse 34. Therefore---though I agree with you that God would have known all along about Iblis and that he became a useful tool, (IMO)it was not essential to the overall plan to have Iblis.---let me explain---"We"/self inhabit the body and for it to survive on earth---we need to have desires---for example, without the desire for hunger or thirst, our body would starve and die. But, these desires can become excessive (toxic) and can lead to harm....I hope this is something we can explore further.....I would like to know your thoughts on this issue as we come across this theme again.....

In both Judaism and Islam---Satan is not a very powerful figure---it only has as much power as we (humans) give it of our own free-choice. (all these themes will unfold as the story of the fall of Iblis continues)
A Jewish person gave me this definition of Satan that I like---"it is a force of fragmentation/division." this seems juxtaposed with the idea of Tawheed(Islam), (Shema=Judaism) which is about "Unity"/Oneness (of God) It might be interesting to understand the Quranic concept of Satan with this in mind?

Uss said...

Ummm.... The Angels aren't wondering why Allah would shed blood on earth; they are asking why he would put someone on earth (Humans) that would shed blood (among one another, Humans Killing Humans)