Friday, July 9, 2010

Adam and Eve in Islamic tradition

Image: Painting (1294/99) from Manafi al-Hayawan (The Useful Animals), depicting Adam and Eve, from Maragh in Mongolian Iran by Abu Said Ubaud Allah Ibn Bakhitshu.

According to the Qur’an, Adam first ate the forbidden fruit, followed by Eve (Hawwa), for which God later forgave them and sent them to earth as God’s representatives. Nevertheless, Adam was a prophet, and according to the Islamic traditions prophets are sinless.

The early Islamic commentator Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari records that to create Adam, God sent Gabriel (Jibril) and Michael (Mika'il) to fetch clay from the earth. But the earth resented that they came to deform it and the angels returned empty-handed. God responded by sending the Angel of Death who took clay from all regions, which provides an explanation for different looks of different races of humans.

A Prophetic Hadith recalls that after leaving Eden, Adam descended in India whereas Eve descended in Jeddah. They searched for each other, and finally found each other at the Plain of Arafat (near Mecca) which means recognition.

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