One Adam or Two?
At first glance, this seems like a strange title, since the Qur’an narrates one Adam only. But the Bible speaks of two Adams, one Adam of dust and another Adam from heaven. So which of the two views is correct? This article reviews what the Qur’an says and what the Bible says in this respect, in order to come to a satisfying answer.
Adam in the Qur’an
The Qur’an narrates many features of Adam’s character, including his creation, which is mentioned in many verses. These verses describe how he was created, and the substance God used for this purpose. The Qur’an tells that God created Adam out of clay: “‘When thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to create mortal out of mire, and when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit, then fall down before him prostrate.’ The angels fell down prostrate, every one, saving Iblis; he was scornful and became one of the disbelievers.” (38:71-74; see 2:6) According to other verses, God created Adam out of dust (3:59), or out of black mud altered (15:26, 27).
As regarding the manner in which Adam was created, there are three verses of the Qur’an describing that: first,God has created him with his own hands. “He said: ‘O Iblis! What hindereth thee from falling prostrate before that which I have created with both My hands? Art thou too proud or art thou of the high exalted?’” (38:75); secondly, by his word: “Lo! the likeness of Jesus with Allah is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, then He said unto him: Be! and he is.” (3:59); thirdly, with a blow of his spirit: “And when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit, then fall down before him prostrate.” (38:72)
The first passage (38:71-74) points to two events which accompanied Adam’s creation. The first event was the obedience of the angels, and the second was the disobedience of Satan (Iblis).
First, the obedience of the angels. Before creating Adam, God summoned the angels and told them about his intention to create man, and commanded them to fall prostrate before him: “And when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit, then fall down before him prostrate.” (38:72) The angels obeyed God’s command: “The angels fell down prostrate, every one.” (38:73) Other verses referring to the same event are: (2:34; 7:11; 15:28-29; 17:61; 18:50; 20:116). The angels are worthy of praise for their obedience, but what is the meaning of falling prostrate before Adam? Is not prostration a part of worship that should be offered only to God to whom be ascribed all perfection and majesty?
Secondly, the disobedience of Satan [Iblis]: unlike the angels, Iblis refused to fall prostrate before Adam: “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) This refusal is referred to by other verses, “And (remember) when We said unto the angels: Fall prostrate before Adam, and they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. He was of the jinn, so he rebelled against his Lord's command.” (18:50) Since [Satan] was, according to this verse, one of the Jinn, was he expected to obey God’s command to the angels?
However, God denounced Satan’s attitude, and asked him why he did not obey God’s command: “He said: ‘What hindered thee that thou didst not fall prostrate when I bade thee?’ (Iblis) said: ‘I am better than he. Thou createst me of fire while him Thou didst create of mud.’” (7:12) So God asked him again: “He said: ‘O Iblis! What hindereth thee from falling prostrate before that which I have created with both My hands? Art thou too proud or art thou of the high exalted?’ He said: ‘I am better than he. Thou createst me of fire, whilst him Thou didst create of clay.’” (38:75-76)
Satan argues with God: Satan went further in his argumentation with God. “And when We said unto the angels: ‘Fall down prostrate before Adam’, and they fell prostrate all save Iblis, he said: ‘Shall I fall prostrate before that which Thou hast created of clay? He said: Seest Thou this (creature) whom Thou hast honoured above me, if Thou give me grace until the Day of Resurrection I verily will seize his seed, save but a few.’” (17:61-62)
Thus Satan gave two reasons for his refusal to fall prostrate before Adam. First, he noted his superior origin, i.e. he was created of fire (7:12), while Adam was created of mud. Secondly, Satan claimed that he would seize Adam’s seed and lead them astray if God would allow him to live till the day of resurrection. This allegation implied that he was stronger than Adam. Therefore his sarcastic question regarding honoring Adam obviously implied that he considered himself more worthy of honor than Adam. At this point God put an end to this argumentation and expelled Satan from the Garden, “He said: ‘Then go down hence! It is not for thee to show pride here, so go forth! Lo! thou art of those degraded.’” (7:13)
What is meant by prostration: We turn now to discuss the issue of angels prostrating themselves before Adam. To many readers, this may seem strange. How could God command his angels to fall prostrate before a creature, while prostration is a part of worship due to the Creator? The Qur’an clearly prohibits offering worship to a creature whoever he or it may be: “And of His portents are the night and the day and the sun and the moon. Do not prostrate to the sun or the moon; but prostrate to Allah Who created them, if it is in truth Him Whom ye worship.” (41:37) Notice here that falling prostrate is inherently connected to worship. Now the essential question is: did God really command the angels to fall prostrate before Adam?
The goal of this article is not to enter into the details of Islamic Fiqh regarding the concept of prostration. The goal is rather to briefly review the main Muslim view of interpreting the prostration of angels before Adam, to question and refute their arguments and, then, to demonstrate the truth. God indeed commanded angels to fall prostrate before him who is worthy of worship.
Muslim commentators: Most Muslim commentators say that the prostration offered to Adam is not considered as a matter of worship but rather as a matter of exaltation and respect.
Some also bring up the case of the prostration to Joseph in the Quran as being similar, and both cases are then explained in the manner that here prostration is not worship but an issue of honoring and respect. However, the story of Joseph simply adds another instance of the same problem instead of solving the first problem. A detailed discussion of the story of Joseph as it relates to the issue of prostration and worship is available in this article.
Is prostration for the purpose of honoring? Some people make a link between Satan’s sarcastic question to God, “He said: Seest Thou this (creature) whom Thou hast honoured above me?” (17:62) and God’s question to Satan, “He said: O Iblis! What hindereth thee from falling prostrate before that which I have created with both My hands? (38:75); they conclude that God’s command to angels to prostrate before Adam was his means to honor Adam.
The issue of honoring Adam raises a question: Since God is he who created Adam, what credit did Adam have in this act? And which is more logical, to give credit to the creature, or to the Creator who made him? In any case, the explanation given for God’s command to the angels to prostrate before Adam seems unsatisfying.
What about Eve? There is another important question: Was Adam the only human that God created by his own hands? What about Eve? Was she created by God’s word like other living creatures i.e. animals and plants? What does the Qur’an say about creating Eve?
It is very strange that the Qur’an does not tell how Eve was created and does not even mention her by name, but just tells that God created her:
“He it is Who did create you from a single soul, and therefrom did make his mate that he might take rest in her. And when he covered her she bore a light burden, and she passed (unnoticed) with it, but when it became heavy they cried unto Allah, their Lord, saying: If thou givest unto us aright we shall be of the thankful.” (7:189)
“And Allah hath given you wives of your own kind, and hath given you, from your wives, sons and grandsons, and hath made provision of good things for you. Is it then in vanity that they believe and in the grace of Allah that they disbelieve?” (16:72)
“And of His signs is this: He created for you helpmeets from yourselves that ye might find rest in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo! herein indeed are portents for folk who reflect.” (30:21)
“He created you from one being, then from that (being) He made its mate;” (39:6)
“O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom ye claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you). Lo! Allah hath been a watcher over you.” (4:1)
Tabari’s comment reads: “From it created its mate” God says: 6703 narrated Mussa ben Haroun, narrated Amru ben Hammad, narrated Asbat, narrated Sudiy said: God made Adam dwell in the garden, he was going around lonely, since he did not have a spouse to rest in her; he slept then woke up. Behold a woman was sitting close to him. God had created her out of his rib, so he asked her, what are you? She said I am a woman. He said why were you created? She said: I was created for you to rest in me.”
The cause of creating Eve, as indicated by her response to Adam (to rest in me) is similar to what we read in the Torah: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” (Genesis 2:18)
As regarding the fashion in which Eve was created, Tabari’s commentary says:
“6704 narrated Ben Humayd, narrated Salama, narrated Ibn Ishaaq said: God made Adam (SAWS) fall asleep, as we were told by the people of the Book, that is the people of Torah and others of the people of knowledge, as narrated by Abdullah Ben Al-Abbas and others, then he took a rib from his left side, while Adam remained asleep and did not wake up. Meanwhile God (who is blessed and exalted) created out of the rib his spouse Eve, so he made her a woman in order that he may rest in her. When he woke up, he saw her beside him. He said, as they claim, and God is the best knower: my flesh, my blood, and my spouse. So he rested in her.”
This last interpretation is almost quoted from Eve’s creation story as narrated in the Torah:
“So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man.’” (Genesis 2:21-23)
It is obvious from the Torah and Tabari’s commentary that Eve was created, like Adam, by God’s own hands. If angels were commanded to prostrate before Adam because God had created him with his own hands, why were they not commanded to prostrate before Eve as well?
And what about Christ? He had characteristics that put him in a position far above Adam: “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him.” (4:171)
In his glad tidings to Virgin Mary, Gabriel mentioned that her son will have a unique standing: “Behold! the angels said: ‘O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah.’” (3:45 Yusuf Ali) “Held in honor’, according to Baidawi’s commentary, means prophecy in this life, and intercession in the hereafter.”
Christ was not of dust like Adam, but he was of God’s Spirit. “And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples.” (21:91 Yusuf Ali) Truly Christ was a sign for all peoples: In his birth, in his holy life, in his teaching, in his miracles, and in the way he left this world and returned to heaven where he was in the beginning before his incarnation – these subjects will be mentioned later in detail. Considering all these facts, one sees that Jesus is more worthy of honor than Adam. Why, then, did not the Qur’an mention that God commanded the angels to prostrate before Jesus Christ?
In conclusion: Neither the Qur’an nor the Muslim commentators give a satisfactory explanation for the angels’ prostration before Adam. Therefore we need to learn what the Bible says about the two Adams, the Adam of dust and the Adam from heaven.
The First Adam and the Last Adam
In the 15th chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians which Paul wrote c. 55 AD, he advocated the reality of the resurrection of Christ from the dead. And in order to support his position he spoke about the first man, Adam, and the Last Adam:
The first Adam became a living being, the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.
So there are, according to the Bible, two different Adams; they are different in their origin, life, and status.
The First Adam...
Paul describes the origin of the first Adam as “of dust of the earth” (1 Corinthians 15:47); thus referring the readers back to the beginning. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…and God said, let there be…and there was” (Genesis 1:3, 6-7). God brought all things into being, by his word, (Psalms 33:6, 9; 145:5; Hebrews 11:3). But for Adam it is explicitly stated to be different. God created Adam in a different manner. “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). That was a special favor that God exclusively conferred to Adam, but not to the rest of creatures. He did not come to existence by the simple command of God, but rather by receiving the breath of God, that gave him life.
God also granted to Adam another great privilege, “So God created man in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). The “image” includes characteristics like righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24) and knowledge (Colossians 1:14). Then he put him in the Garden of Eden “to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). So he appointed Adam as his steward. God commanded Adam to eat from any tree in the garden, except one:
And the Lord commanded man, ‘you are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’
(Genesis 2:16, 17)
Adam had to obey God’s command. But if he disobeyed God, the consequence would be death, i.e., he would be deprived of the spiritual relationship with God, which is the source of true life. Thus he dies spiritually, and eventually would die physically as well. So he will return to the ground from which he was taken, “for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19).
The serpent (who is the devil or Satan, see Revelation 20:2) came to Eve, in an attempt to deceive her, indirectly suggesting to her that truth is different from what God had told Adam, “You will not surely die…for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5). How far from truth was Satan’s proposal when he claimed that they would be like God! Eve was deceived by Satan, and she believed his lie. She looked at the tree and desired its fruit. “So she took some from it and ate it. She also gave some to her husband…and he ate it”(Genesis 3:6). Then their eyes were opened, as Satan had told them, but just to see the reality about themselves.
They realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Before that they had lived happily in the garden in the presence of God and without fear. They were in a condition of innocence in a way that though they were naked they “felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25). But after disobeying God they were afraid to face God. Therefore when they heard the voice of the Lord they ran away. “They hid from the Lord God among the trees of the Garden” (Genesis 3:8).
But God, who can see all things saw them, and called, to the man, “where are you?” He answered “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Genesis 3:9, 10). When God asked Adam whether he had eaten from the forbidden tree, he evaded his responsibility, and put the blame on his wife (Genesis 3:12). So he disturbed the marital relationship between himself and his wife. Similarly, Eve instead of admitting her guilt put the blame on the serpent.
God pronounced the consequences of their actions upon the serpent, and upon Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:9-19). He also dismissed them from the garden. “So the Lord banished him from the garden of Eden” (Genesis 3:23).
To attempt to minimize the assessment of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, in eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, is in fact to miss out on the significance of their act. Adam’s action was not just a matter of inattention or forgetting the command of God. It is improbable that Adam would forget the only Command God had given him and the consequence of disobeying it. Moreover if God had considered their action in that way he would not have expelled them from the garden.
But Adam deliberately disobeyed God, preferring to follow Eve’s suggestion. Eve in her turn preferred to believe the devil’s claims, and aspired to become like God, and to have knowledge like God.
Although Adam went along with Eve, in her eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he also displayed an evil desire deep in his heart. Adam wanted to go beyond the freedom that God had granted him into absolute freedom. This was in God’s view a disobedience to God’s command and revolt against his authority. Therefore God asked him, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Genesis 3:11). It is obvious, then, that Adam refused to remain in the state of innocence, and to walk in God’s path; instead he walked in the path of wickedness.
In fact Adam’s disobedience began, in the moment Eve had listened to Satan (Adam walked along with her); she suspected the credibility of God’s word and believed a lie. She preferred to follow the devil’s counsel rather than to listen to God. Thus Adam and Eve are joined in the path of Satan's disobedient revolt, and its consequences.
The result of Adam’s disobedience was not restricted to Adam himself. It entailed curse upon the earth in which Adam will work and toil all his life, as God said to him: "cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you,” (Genesis 3:17-18). The position of disobedience was transferred to Adam’s seed. This is obvious in Cain’s envy of his brother Abel, because God accepted his brother’s offering, but not his. Therefore his heart was full of resentment. Although God had warned Cain against the sin that awaited him, he proceeded to kill his brother (Genesis 4:3-10).
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.
The Last Adam...
Briefly, Adam was in good relation with God; but because of his disobedience he lost that relationship.
On the other hand, the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, was sent by God from heaven. And he fully obeyed God; therefore he was able to restore man to a good relation with God.
Jesus came from heaven. The apostle John narrates the witness of John the Baptist about Jesus, “The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.” (John 3:31) Jesus also said to the Jews: “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day” (John 6:38-39; see also 41, 50, 51, and John 3:13).
Therefore Jesus Christ was unique in all aspects, since the beginning of his life on earth, till his return to the Father in heaven, where he was prior to his incarnation.
He was unique in his pre-birth existence. In his debate with the Jews, Jesus hinted at His eternal existence: “Truly, truly, before Abraham was I am” (John 8:58). John wrote about him, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him.” (John 1:1-3). And in his prayer for the disciples, Jesus pointed out his special relationship with God: “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17: 4-5)
He was unique in his birth. He was born of a virgin who knew no man. The angel Gabriel came and announced to Mary that she would be with child and give birth to a son, and she is to give him the name Jesus, and he will be great (Luke 1:26, 31-32). When she was astonished and asked the angel, how is that going to happen? The angel answered: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
He was unique in his life. He was born like men, and he grew up like them as a child then as a man. He worked as a carpenter. He lived like all men; he ate and drank, felt hungry and tired, he felt sad and wept, yet he was unique in all aspects.
Jesus was unique in his words. He didn’t attend a law school like other law teachers, but he knew law better than they. He was able to discuss law issues, “The Jews were amazed and asked, ‘How did this man get such learning without having studied?’ Jesus answered, ‘my teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me’” (John 7:15-16). Once the Pharisees and teachers of the Law sent Temple guards to arrest him, but they came back without arresting him, and told the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, “No one ever spoke the way this man does.” (John 7:46).
While teachers of the law taught people, they referred to those teachers of the law who were considered authorities. As for Jesus, he spoke by his own authority. One day as he taught in the synagogue at Capernaum, people were astonished, “because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law” (Mark 1:22). Furthermore while clarifying certain issues of the law he boldly said: “You have heard that it was said…but I tell you…” (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 38, 43). On one occasion, he told his disciples that he is “the bread that comes from heaven” (John 6:50), and the means to receive eternal life (John 6:54-55); many among his disciples grumbled about his words, but Jesus emphatically said to them: “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).
He had a unique authority over diseases. He healed Peter’s mother-in-law who got fever (Mark 1:29-31), a man who was blind from his birth (John 9:1-7 cf. Matthew 9:27-29), and a paralytic (Mark 2:1-12). He also healed a woman who was bleeding for 12 years, and a leper (Matthew 8:2-4 cf. Luke 17:11-19). Many sick people were brought to him, not only in Palestine but also from all over Syria (Matthew 4:24).
Jesus had a unique authority over evil spirits. In the synagogue of Capernaum where Jesus taught people, there was a man possessed by an evil spirit. The evil spirit recognized Jesus and cried: “Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (Luke 4:34). At Jesus command he left the man, without injuring him (v. 35). All the people were astonished and said to each other: “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!” (v. 36) (cf. Mark 3:11; 5:1-13: 7:25; 9:25).
Certain prophets performed some of Jesus’ miracles, e.g., Elisha (2 Kings 4:1-7; 4:17-35; 4:42-43). Yet Jesus not only healed sick people, drove out demons, and raised the dead, but he also granted his disciples similar authority (Matthew 10:1, 8; Mark 16:17, 18). The disciples practiced this authority (Luke 10:17; Acts 5:16; 8:7).
Jesus had a unique authority over the dead. Jesus said that he gives life. “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give” (John 5:21). At the town of Nain he raised from the dead a young man who was his mother’s only son (Luke 7:12-15). At Capernaum he responded to a plea by one of the synagogue rulers to heal his dying daughter. By the time he arrived at the house the girl was dead. Jesus encouraged the synagogue ruler. Then he entered the house and raised the girl from death (Mark 5:35-42). At Bethany he raised Lazarus from the dead four days after his burial (John 11:38-42).
Moreover, he claimed something no one had ever claimed. He said that he gives eternal life. Referring to those who believed in him, he said: “my sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish” (John 10:27, 28).
Jesus had a unique authority over nature. Jesus twice fed a large crowd from a tiny amount of food. In the first instance the disciples had only seven loaves of bread and few fish. Jesus blessed them, and “the people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. About four thousand men were present.” (Mark 8:8-9) In the second instance Jesus fed and satisfied five thousands with five loaves and two fish (Mark 6:34-44; Luke 9:11-17; John 6:5-13).
At the evening of that day the disciples sailed on a fishing boat in the Sea of Galilee and Jesus was not with them. The wind got strong and the waves became high. “Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars…he went out to them, walking on the lake… When they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out…immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed” (Mark 6:49-51).
On another occasion Jesus was with disciples in the boat, and he was sleeping. A furious squall came up… the boat nearly swamped. “When the disciples woke him up…He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm…they were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"” (Mark 4:38-41)
Jesus knew the unseen things. Although knowing the unseen things is one of God’s attributes, the New Testament tells us that Jesus showed, on many occasions, that he knew the unseen things. When Nathaniel met Jesus for the first time Jesus said to him, “I saw you while you were still under the fig-tree before Philip called you” (John 1:48). When Jesus said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5), the teachers of the law thought to themselves that he was blaspheming, because he had claimed to himself one of God’s attributes i.e. forgiveness of sins. Although they didn’t say this openly, “Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts” (Mark 2:8; cf., John 2:24-25; Luke 24:38).
He also, particularly, demonstrated his ability to know the unseen things when he predicted his death and resurrection, “from that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22). In fact, eventually all that he had predicted happened to him (Matthew 26:67-68; 27:35; see also Matthew 28:5-6).
Jesus was unique in being sinless. Jesus did not sin through all his life. He said that he always did God’s will (John 8:29). This was attested by the Father’s testimony about him when John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:17); and when Jesus was with his disciples on the Mount of transfiguration God said: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:1-5: cf., 2 Peter 1:16-18).
Jesus also challenged his opponents of the Jews, “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” (John 8:46). No one among them dared to respond to the challenge.
Even during Jesus’ trial before Pilate, the Roman Governor, and the Jewish assembly, all the accusations raised by the chief priests and the crowd proved to be false, thus Pilate declared, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” (Luke 23:4).
Jesus had a unique authority to forgive sin. When a paralytic was brought to Jesus to heal him. Jesus said to him: “your sins are forgiven.” The religious leaders present thought Jesus was blaspheming, because he was claiming God’s authority, i.e. to forgive sin. But Jesus insisted that he had that authority. Then he healed the man. The healing of the paralytic proved that Jesus’ claim was authentic (Mark 2:1-12).
Jesus is unique as the judge appointed by the Father. Since Jesus was the only person on this planet who lived a sinless life, God gave him a unique authority that belonged to God i.e., that is the authority to judge. Jesus said: “…the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son…and he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man (John 5:22,27).
Jesus was unique in defeating Satan. After his baptism Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit during a time of temptations. Satan tempted him for forty days. Only three temptations are narrated in detail. The purpose of Satan through those temptations was similar to his purpose when he tempted Eve, and Adam i.e., to sow doubt in Jesus’ mind about his identity and about God’s will, in order to divert him from God’s path (Luke 4:3, 6-7; 9-10). But Jesus was aware of Satan’s schemes. He refused Satan’s luring suggestions and used the word of God as his weapon to defeat Satan (Luke 4:4, 8, 12).
Jesus was unique in being worthy of worship. The book of Daniel was written in the sixth century BC. It tells about a vision which the prophet Daniel had. In that vision, which was also a prophecy, he saw that the Son of Man, i.e. Christ, was worshipped, not only by his people or his followers, but by all nations,
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14)
At his birth, wise men from the east came and worshiped him, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying ‘where is he who has been born king of the Jews; we have seen his star when he rose and have come to worship him’…Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared, and sent them to Bethlehem saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him’…When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.” (Matthew 2:1-2, 7-8, 10-11).
Jesus’ disciples also worshiped him. After rescuing Peter from drowning in the lake, Jesus and Peter climbed into the boat, “and when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” (Matthew 14:32-33; see also Matthew 9:18; Mark 5:6; Luke 5:8,12; John 9:35-38)
After his resurrection from the dead, and before his ascension to heaven, his disciples worshiped him also. Matthew narrates how Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. When they came to the tomb they saw in the tomb an angel who told them about the resurrection of Jesus, “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.” (Matthew 28:9) The eleven disciples had the same experience, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:16-17)
In all these incidents Jesus did not object to worship offered to him, while Peter, who was merely a man, though one of Jesus’ disciples, absolutely refused the worship offered to him by Cornelius. “When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, ‘Stand up; I too am a man.’” (Acts 10:25-26)
The end of Jesus’ life on earth was unique. Jesus had authority over his life (John 10:17-18). When the Jews wanted to make him king by force, “he just withdrew again to a mountain by himself” (John 6:15). On another occasion the people at the synagogue of Nazareth did not like his teaching, so they took him out in order to throw him down the cliff. “But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way” (Luke 4:29-30).
By contrast, when soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees came to arrest him, as he had told his disciples before (cf. Matthew 16:21), he acted differently:
Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men [the disciples] go.”
Peter drew his sword and “struck the high priest’s servant, cutting his ear” (John 18:10). But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place,” (Matthew 26:52). And “he touched the man’s ear and healed it” (Luke 22:51). Then he added, ”Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:53-54).
Jesus’ death was unique in being a fulfillment of prophesies. One of the books that Jesus had in mind was the book of the prophet Isaiah, which was written around 600 BC. Chapter 53 of that book speaks about the relevance and importance of Jesus’ death.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
(Isaiah 53:6, 11)
Similarly the apostle Peter wrote about Jesus, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). Jesus the righteous, because of his surpassing love, deliberately took the place of sinners on the cross bearing their punishment in order to save them, as the prophet Isaiah said:
He poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
The centurion and those with him, after hearing Jesus’ words on the cross and watching darkness covering the earth [at midday] and the earthquake, “they were terrified and said: ‘Surely he [Jesus] was the Son of God ’” (Matthew 27:54).
Jesus’ glorious victory was unique. The end of men’s life on this earth is death and the tomb. But Jesus did not remain in the tomb, because he rose again. In fact, the same prophecy that predicted Christ’s death, alluded to his resurrection as well:
Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
It is noteworthy that Jesus Christ whose life was made a guilt offering WILL SEE HIS OFFSPRING AND PROLONGED DAYS. What does this mean other than his resurrection, his being alive forevermore (Revelation 1:18), and the eternal life of those who will believe in him (John 17:24)?
When Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb, they saw the angel who had rolled the stone from the tomb and sat upon it. He said to them: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay” (Matthew 28:5-6; cf. 16:21).
A comparison between the first Adam and the Last Adam
After this review of the characteristics of the first Adam, and those of the last Adam, Jesus Christ, a brief comparison between them would demonstrate who deserves to receive prostration from angels.
The first Adam was of dust of the ground. The Last Adam is the Lord from heaven.
The first Adam’s life had a beginning and an end. The Last Adam was from eternity; “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1-3). And now he is alive forever.
“but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
The first Adam was deceived by Satan and followed his counsel. The Last Adam recognized Satan’s schemes and didn’t follow his tempting suggestions.
The Adam of dust disobeyed God’s command and was cut off from fellowship with God. The Last Adam, Christ Jesus, lived in full harmony with, and obedience to, God’s will, and God was with him (John 8:28-29; cf. Matthew 3:17; 17:5).
The First Adam was formed of dust of the ground; he sinned, died and returned unto dust. The Last Adam, Christ Jesus, came from heaven, lived on earth in a sinless human body, and died; but he rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven. He is now with God.
Through one man, the Adam of dust, sin entered into the world. With sin came death. Through the Last Adam, the holy and righteous one, we can be saved from sin.
For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
For just as through the disobedience of the one man [first Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Last Adam] the many will be made righteous.
(Romans 5:15, 19)
The First Adam, of the ground, wanted to become like God, and to liberate himself from God’s authority. But the Last Adam, the man from heaven, who by very nature was God, as he is the eternal Son of God, made himself nothing, took the form of a servant, and submitted completely to God.
Supremacy of the Last Adam
Christ’s obedience was perfect in every aspect and every time. But it culminated when he accepted to die on the cross, not because of any sin he committed, but because of men’s sins. Thus Jesus accomplished the redemption that God had planned since eternity. He saved man from sin’s punishment, and dominion. He also saved man from Satan’s dominion. The apostle Paul demonstrated the importance of Jesus’ obedience in God’s view, in his letter to the church at Philippi:
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped;
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
In the Bible a name of a person means what he is and what he can do. So when God gave Jesus a name above all names, it means that God set him above every name in heaven and on earth and under the earth. Therefore he is worthy that every knee should bow before him, not out of respect and exaltation, but rather in the sense of worship due to God himself. In fact, from eternity, he was equal with God.
The first chapter of Hebrews speaks about the same theme. It shows the position of Christ who is the Word of God, and the Son of God. He offered himself as a sacrifice to God to cleanse us from our sins. He rose from the dead, and appeared to his disciples over a period of forty days (Acts 1:3). Then he ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9-11), and sat at the right hand of God:
God…in these last days…has spoken to us by his Son…After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
This passage demonstrates that the name that Jesus inherited, or God gave to him, because of his obedience unto death on a cross, is a name superior to the name of angels. Therefore he is worthy of angels’ prostration, even of their worship. Here we get a clue to the inconsistency that we faced in the beginning. And we are able to understand God’s saying about the Son:
When God brings his firstborn [the Last Adam] into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”
Thus, angels were commanded to worship Christ – the Last Adam. And as mentioned before, all men are decreed to worship him as well,
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
Dear reader, you have two options:
Either you are satisfied only with what the Qur’an says about the first Adam, or you believe what the Bible says about the two Adams.
Remember that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). Jesus Christ, the Last Adam, died on the cross to save sinners. Whoever believes in him shall be saved and shall not suffer eternal punishment (John 3:16).
Therefore if you believe what the Bible says about the Last Adam, who came from heaven and fully obeyed God, and died for your sins, you will be saved, and have eternal life. Moreover you will have also fellowship with him now and forever.
Wail Taghlibi welcomes your feedback and further questions to his article.
Appendix: Can we trust what the Bible says about Adam?
Some Muslim readers might object to an explanation or correction of the Qur'an by Biblical information because they have heard the claim that the Bible is corrupt, and cannot be accepted as a credible source to clarify this problem.
I will first give a short summarized answer to this objection, and then follow this up by a detailed argument that provides quotations and references.
A. The Quran testifies to the credibility of the Bible. As a matter of fact, the Quran teaches that God revealed the Bible, approved its contents, commissioned the Quran to guard it, and even wrote in it. The Quran also exhorts Muslims to believe in the Torah and in the Injil. This proves that even from a Quranic perspective the Bible that was common in the time of Muhammad was authentic. Moreover, the Quran declares that God would guard it against any alteration.
B. History also testifies to the same truth. All manuscripts from the 4th century AD contain the same texts that exist in the Bible today and all over the world.
Conclusion: Since the Quran testifies to the veracity of the Bible, and the manuscripts also testify to its continuity without alteration, Muslims can confidently study and believe what the Bible says about the two Adams: the Adam from dust and the Adam from heaven.
The following presents the evidence for the above given statements.
A. The first fact, the veracity of the Bible
1. Quranic verses testify to the veracity of the Bible
The Quran contains many verses that testify to the veracity of the Bible, "This Qur'an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah; on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book - wherein there is no doubt - from the Lord of the worlds." (10:37 Yusuf Ali)
Tabaris commentary on this verse says: "God, who is exalted, says: "but it is revealed by God ratifying what was before it, viz. the books that preceded it and were revealed to Gods prophets like the Torah, the Injil, and the rest of the books that God revealed through his prophets." Notice also the other verses that point to the same truth: (2:40-41, 89, 91, 97; 6:92; 35:31).
2. God revealed the Torah and Injil
There is also a verse in Sura 3 that states that God himself revealed the Torah and the Injil as he revealed the Quran, "He hath revealed unto thee (Muhammad) the Scripture with truth, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, even as He revealed the Torah and the Gospel." (3:3)
3. The Quran is a guardian for the Bible
God even decreed that the Qurans task is to ratify and to guard the books that preceded it, "To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety" (5:48 Yusuf Ali). Commenting on "guarding it in safety" Tabari says: we revealed the book to you, O Muhammad, ratifying the books that preceded it and witnessing that they are truth from God, and faithfully guarding them.
4. The Quran values the content of Torah
God says in Surah 5 that he revealed the Torah, "Lo! We did reveal the Torah, wherein is guidance and a light, by which the prophets who surrendered (unto Allah) judged the Jews, and the rabbis and the priests (judged) by such of Allah's Scripture as they were bidden to observe " (5:44). Tabaris commentary 9387, says: "When people consulted Muhammad about the punishment they should impose on an adulterous Jewish couple, he said: "I judge according to what is written in the Torah".
5. The Quran values the content of the Injil
"And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that which was (revealed) before him in the Torah, and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which was (revealed) before it in the Torah - a guidance and an admonition unto those who ward off (evil). (5:46)
6. God wrote in the Torah and Psalms.
The strongest Quranic evidence, that the Bible is true, comes in Sura 21: "Before this We wrote in the Psalms, after the Message [Thikr] (given to Moses): My servants the righteous, shall inherit the earth." (21:105 Yusuf Ali). This verse states that God had written two books: the Psalms, and the Torah. According to Tabaris commentary 18806, in this verse, Zabour means Davids Psalms; and Thikr means the Torah of Moses (Notice also 7:145; 21:7).
It is important to notice that the phrase, "My servants the righteous, shall inherit the earth" is similar to a phrase in the Psalms, "those who wait on the Lord shall inherit the Land" (Psalm 37:9).
7. God even commanded Muslims to declare that they believe in the Torah and in
"Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered." (2:136)
According to Tabaris commentary, "That which Moses and Jesus received" is referring to the Torah that God gave to Moses and the Injil that God gave to Isa (Jesus).
The Bible that was in the time of Muhammad was authentic
All those verses prove that the Bible that was known in the time of Muhammad was true according to the Qurans testimony. God not only revealed it, he even wrote it.
But is the Bible that was in the time of Muhammad the same Bible that we have today? In order to know the answer we refer to two evidences: The Quranic testimony, and the Manuscripts testimony.
The Qurans testimony, God has guarded the Bible
1. No one can alter Gods words
According to many verses in the Quran, no one can change Gods words: "Rejected were the messengers before thee: with patience and constancy they bore their rejection and their wrongs, until Our aid did reach them: there is none that can alter the words (and decrees) of Allah. Already hast thou received some account of those messengers" (6:34 Yusuf Ali); "And recite that which hath been revealed unto thee of the Scripture of thy Lord. There is none who can change His words, and thou wilt find no refuge beside Him." (18:27) "Perfected is the Word of thy Lord in truth and justice. There is naught that can change His words. He is the Hearer, the Knower." (6:115) The interpretation of this verse, according to Tabari 10735: no one can change what God, in his books, proclaimed would happen in due time defined by God.
2. God is the guardian of his Thikr
There is a verse in Sura 21 which is especially important: "We have, without doubt, sent down the Message [Thikr]; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption). (15:9 Yusuf Ali). The word [Thikr] does not exclusively mean the Quran (16:44), but includes also the Torah and the Injil, as is clear from S. 21:7 "And We sent not (as Our messengers) before thee other than men, whom We inspired. Ask the followers of the Reminder (Thikr) if ye know not?" According to Tabari 18471, "the people of the Thikr are the people of the Torah and the people of the Injil."
3. Furthermore, the people of the Thikr (Torah and Injil) are trustworthy.
Believers are exhorted to ask the people of the Thikr, (the people of the Torah and the Injil, according to Al-Tabaris commentary 16313) "And We sent not (as Our messengers) before thee other than men whom We inspired Ask [plural, isalou] the followers of the Remembrance (Thikr=Torah and Injil) if ye know not!" (16:43). If the Book (Torah and Injil) had been changed in the time of Muhammad, the Quran would not have commanded believers to ask the people of the Book.
4. No alteration occurred in the Bible
The Quran did not refer to any alteration in the Bible. Otherwise it would not have exhorted the people of the book to adhere to their Book. "Say: O People of the Book! ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law (Tawrat), the Gospel (Injil), and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord" (S. 5:68 Yusuf Ali). Al-Tabaris commentary says: "Say to the Jews, if you claim that you are standing on the ground of what Moses revealed to you, without acting accordingly, you stand on nothing. And say to Christians: If you claim that you stand on what Issa revealed to you, without acting accordingly, you stand on nothing."
The Quran has exhorted Muslims also to believe in the Torah and in the Injil. "Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered" (2:136). According to Tabaris commentary, "what Moses received and what Jesus received" is referring to "the Torah and the Injil". This clearly indicates that neither book was altered.
(For further discussion of this topic, please consult the detailed articles listed on this page: www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Bible/.)
B. The manuscripts prove the veracity of the Bible
History and content of Manuscripts
There are many manuscripts of the Bible. They were preserved as Codex. This term means a bound book either of single leaves or quires. It appears to have been used for Christian Scriptures even in Egypt by the middle of the 3rd century. Some codices contain parts of the Bible, but there are some that contain the whole Bible or most of it. We mention only three codices.
1. Codex Alexandrinus a manuscript of the whole Bible in Greek, dated probably in
the 5th Century, now in the British Museum. It is on the whole well preserved,
but there are lacunae in some of the books of the Bible. It is an important witness to the
text both of the LXX and of the New Testament.
2. Codex Sinaiticus A manuscript of the whole bible formerly at Sinai, then at St. Petersburg, was bought for the British nation in 1934. It may be dated in the 4th century.
3. Codex Vaticanus a manuscript of the whole bible, already in the Vatican library by 1475. It may be dated in the 4th century. (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia, V. 1. pp. 899-903)
"The material evidence for the corruption or authenticity of the scriptures lies with the manuscripts. The study of these manuscripts confirms the integrity of the Bible. Far from being a handicap, as mentioned earlier, the very existence of many manuscripts has enabled scholars to establish that the text of the Bible has been amazingly well transmitted.
Writing in the fourteenth century, Ibn Taymiyya thought that for authenticity of the Scriptures to be proven, every manuscript needed to be checked. This was not feasible at the time since they were scattered all over the world. Today, however, the situation is very different. Scholars have unprecedented means and opportunities for communicating and comparing their findings. The manuscript experts, regardless of their religious convictions, agree that the Bible has been handed down with exceptional accuracy. The textual variations in no way call into question the integrity of the biblical text.
The codices we mentioned above pre-date the birth of Islam. When compared with later manuscripts, these manuscripts show that the text of the Bible has not been changed as a result of Jews and Christians failing to accept Muhammad as Gods Prophet." (Chawcat Moucarry, The Prophet and the Messiah, pp.73-74)
Articles by Wail Taghlibi
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