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Book Excerpt: Tales from The Quran and Hadith by Rana Safvi

Book cover of Tales from The Quran and Hadith by Rana Safvi.

Book cover of Tales from The Quran and Hadith by Rana Safvi.

How man came into being.

Author Rana Safvi has culminated 10 popular stories from the Quran in Tales from The Quran and Hadith. In one of the chapters, the author writes about the creation of man as explained in Quran.

Celebrate Eid-ul-Adha know how the grater man created the mortal beings, told by the holy book Quran.

Chapter: Creation of Man

Kun Fayakun:

Be and it was.

The angels saw God working with clay; he seemed to be fashioning something unknown out of it.

Angels are tall and beautiful and made of light. They have no physical desires, nor do they sin or disobey God.Some of them spend an age bowing to God, while others spend their entire life prostrating to Him. Their life is built on devotion to Him.

Thus they displayed no curiosity at this unusual turn of affairs. God in His wisdom would tell them when He was ready. Till then they carried out His command, bringing clay, mud and water from all over the world to be used to create this creature.

Of the many angels, Gabriel, also known as the Rooh or spirit, is one of the most important. His great white wings stretched from horizon to horizon. He would be tasked with carrying God’s message to the Prophet sand revealing the Quran to Mohammad.

Israfil has the task of blowing the trumpet to signal the Day of Judgement and a second time to announce Resurrection.

Mikail, angel of mercy, delivers sustenance to bodies and souls. He sends rain and wind to earth and orders natural events such as the ebb and flow of tides and changing seasons.

Then there is Azrael,the angel of death, who seizes the soul from the body.

But there was one among the angels who was quite unlike them. He was Azazil, a djinn whose piety, obedience and virtues had placed him on a par with them. He was always to be found with the angels, engrossedin worshipping God.

But he was not of them. Unlike the angels, who were created from light and had no physical desires,djinns,the second intelligent species of the universe,were created from smokeless fire. Djinns, like humans, have physical desires – they eat, drink, marry, have children and die. They can do good or evil and in doing so can take on any form they like. They are also curious. And as Azazil watched the busy hum around him, as God created His finest creature, he could not help asking himself jealous questions that the angels didn’t.

The earth that the angels brought was of infinite variety – there was malleable clay, barren soil and wet mud; they came from valleys and mountains, fertile plains and infertile deserts. Four kinds of water was used to knead the clay – sweet water was for Man’s throat, salty water for his eyes, sour water for the ears and dirty water for his nose. God wanted Man to be as diverse as possible, for the creation to be as rich as it could be.

Allah had created angels from light and djinns from fire – so why did He use the humble mud for Adam? Perhaps because he knew that mud has the qualities of forbearance, patience and assurance, that mud allows things to grow and flourish in it. Man was after all no ordinary creation but his best, the ashraf-ul-makhluqat.

Once the figure of Man was ready,God took forty years to breathe life into him and give him a soul.

When the spirit first passed into his eyes and then his nose, Man sneezed in response. The angels said: ‘Say all praise belongs to Allah.’ And Adam repeated dutifully: ‘All praise belongs to Allah.’Even today when we sneeze or hear someone sneeze we say, Alhamdulillah or praise be to Allah.

Once God breathed His spirit into Adam He commanded the angels to bow down before this first Man. The beautiful creatures of light prostrated before this splendid new creature.

But among the sea of prostrating angels there was one who remained standing.

It was Azazil, the djinn. Thousands of years of being in the company of angels had not changed his djinn genes. Unlike angels, he had the capacity for disobeying, doing good or evil. To someone of a fiery temperament, whose piety and devotion had earned him a place next to the angels, bowing to a mud-made man seemed unthinkable.

‘Should I prostrate to one You created from clay?’he asked, burning with jealousy when God asked him why he hadn’t prostrated before Adam.

The angels could not disobey the Lord but he could and he would. A creature of fire bow down to a creature of mud! Unthinkable. Until this moment Azazil was God’s favoured creature, full of wisdom and beauty, recipient of God’s bounty and mercy in the Garden of Eden.

But no more.

Instantly he was banished from the Garden.

‘Get out from this (Garden of Eden), disgraced and expelled. If any of them follow thee, Hell will I fill with you all.’

Azazil now became Iblis or one who despairs (of God’s mercy) and Shaitaan, the one who leads men astray.

But Shaitaan wasn’t ready to give up yet. He asked God for time to prove that human beings are prone to weakness. The one who had caused his downfall was not to be left to live in peace. At every turn there would be Shaitaan waiting with temptation in store. God’s favoured species would need to choose the path they would tread every dangerous moment.And he would will them to fail.

Allah agreed not to send him to Hell immediately, giving him respite (let him live) till Qayamat or Judgment Day.

Meanwhile God sent Adam to live in the Garden of Eden where he was surrounded by all things bountiful. There were flowing rivers of milk and honey, gardens with exquisite, fragrant flowers, tall and graceful trees, many laden with fruit, pomegranates, figs, dates and quinces. These were all his to use, to wander in, to pick and eat from. It was a perfect life.

But Adam was lonely. Though the angels talked to him occasionally they were busy worshipping Allah. Adam needed someone to share these beauties and comforts with.

One day when he woke up from his sleep he saw a beautiful creature beside him. It was like him and yet it was not – the creature had two eyes and a nose, lips and ears, long legs and arms like him but it was different from him in shape. Could it be an angel? If so it was not like the other angels. To his amazed eyes, it seemed even more beautiful than those beings of light.

‘I am a woman and I was created from you while you slept,’ she replied to his question.

‘Why were you created?’ he asked in wonder.

‘So that you may find tranquility in me,’ she said.

Adam was overjoyed and when the angels asked, ‘What is her name?’he replied,‘Hawwa (Eve).’ When they asked why he had named her so he said because she had been created from aliving thing.

Pleased that his beloved Adam was no longer unhappy, God blessed the two and told them to enjoy the garden and its riches.

But He left them with a warning:

‘O Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, and enjoy (its good things) as ye wish: but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and transgression.’

Adam agreed, promptly forgetting all about the forbidden tree. With Eve by his side he had so much to do and explore. They were two soulmates in a heavenly garden with no care in the world.

But Iblis was waiting in the wings to avenge himself.

The djinn was a whisperer who planted unsettling ideas and desires into the deepest recesses of the hearts of men and women. He began to throw his lures at the pure-hearted Adam and Eve urging them to eat from the Tree of Immortality, so they could become immortal.

Adam and Eve could not shut out his dangerous whispers:‘Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest ye should become angels who live forever.’

‘Listen to me, I am your sincere friend.’

Human nature being what it is, the first man and woman tried to fight temptation and banish the voices in their hearts, but eventually their curiosity won.So Adam and Eve gave in to temptation.

The fruit had just touched their lips when they saw each other in physical form for the first time. They were no longer looking at each other as souls but as bodies. Guilt now touched their soul, they became self-conscious and they tried to cover themselves.

Angered by their disobedience, Allah commanded two angels to remove Adam from the garden, saying:

‘Did I not forbid you that tree, and tell you that Satan was your avowed enemy?’

Adam and Hawwa could not undo their act but their repentance was swift and sincere: ‘Our Lord! We have wronged our own souls. If You don’t forgive us and bestow Your Mercy on us, we shall certainly be lost.’

Allah pronounced their punishment:‘Go down to earth and live with enmity between you. The earth will be your dwelling place and your means of livelihood.’

The angel Gabriel stripped Adam of the crown on his head, and Mikail took the diadem from his forehead. Utterly distraught, Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden to Earth.They were to live and die there till they were resurrected on the Day of Judgment.

Shaitaan had won. He had asked for respite and he was given that. He remains free to roam the earth and whisper into the hearts of unsuspecting men and women, tempting them away from the path of good. And so began the battle of good and evil that all humans live with each day.

Tales from the Quran and Hadith by Rana Safvi is available exclusively on the Juggernaut app

first published:September 13, 2016, 09:54 IST