Islam provides us with the astonishing details of the
creation of Adam.
Both Christian and Jewish traditions are remarkably similar yet importantly
different to the Quran. The Book of Genesis describes Adam as being made from “the
dust of the earth,” and in the Talmud, Adam is described as being kneaded from
And God said to the angels:
“‘Verily, I am going to place mankind generations after
generations on earth.’ They said: ‘Will You place therein those who will make
mischief therein and shed blood, while we glorify You with praises and thanks
and sanctify You.’ God said: ‘I know that which you do not know.’” (Quran
So begins the story of Adam, the first man, the first human
being. God created Adam from a handful of soil containing portions from all its
varieties on Earth. Angels were sent to earth to collect the soil that was to
become Adam. It was red, white, brown, and black; it was soft and malleable,
hard and gritty; it came from the mountains and the valleys; from infertile
deserts and lush fertile plains and all the natural varieties in between. The
descendants of Adam were destined to be as diverse as the handful of soil from
which their ancestor was created; all have different appearances, attributes and
Soil or Clay?
Throughout the Quran, the soil used to create Adam is
referred to by many names, and from this we are able to understand some of the
methodology of his creation. Each name for soil is used at a different stage
of Adam’s creation. Soil, taken from the earth, is referred to as soil; God
also refers to it as clay. When it is mixed with water it becomes mud, when it
is left to stand the water content reduces and it becomes sticky clay (or mud).
If it is again left for some time it begins to smell, and the colour becomes
darker – black, smooth clay. It was from this substance that God moulded the
form of Adam. His soulless body was left to dry, and it became what is known
in the Quran as sounding clay. Adam was moulded from something akin to potter’s
clay. When it is rapped it produces a ringing sound.
The First Man is Honoured
And God said, to the Angels:
“And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels: ‘I am going
to create a human (Adam) from sounding clay of altered black smooth mud. So
when I have fashioned him and breathed into him (his) soul created by Me, then
you fall down prostrate to him.” (Quran 38:71-72)
God honoured the first humman, Adam, in countless ways. Allah
blew his soul into him, He fashioned him with His own hands and He ordered the Angels
to bow down before him. And God said to the Angels:
“....Prostrate to Adam and they prostrated except Iblees
(Satan)....” (Quran 7:11)
While worship is reserved for God Alone this prostration
by the Angels to Adam was a sign of respect and honour. It is said that, as Adam’s
body trembled into life, he sneezed and immediately said ‘All praise and thanks
is due to God;’ so God responded by bestowing His Mercy upon Adam. Although
this account is not mentioned in either the Quran or the authentic narrations of
the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, it is mentioned
in some commentaries of the Quran. Thus, in his first seconds of life, the
first man is recognized as an honoured creature, covered with the infinite
Mercy of God.
It was also said by the Prophet Muhammad that God
created Adam in His image.
This does not mean that Adam was created to look similar to God, as God is
unique in all His aspects, we are unable to comprehend or form an image of Him.
It does mean, however, that Adam was given some qualities which also God has,
although incomparable. He was given qualities of mercy, love, free will, and
The First Greeting
Adam was instructed to approach a group of Angels
sitting near to him and greet them with the words Assalamu alaikum (May
God’s peace be upon you), they answered ‘and also upon you be God’s peace,
mercy and blessings’. From that day forward these words became the greeting of
those submitted to God. From the moment of Adam’s creation, we his descendents
were instructed to spread peace.
Adam, the Caretaker
God told mankind that He did not create them except that
they should worship Him. Everything in this world was created for Adam and his
descendants, in order to aid us in our ability to worship and know God. Due to
God’s infinite Wisdom, Adam and his descendants were to be the caretakers on
earth, so God taught Adam what he needed to know to perform this duty. God
“He taught Adam all the names of everything.” (Quran
God gave Adam the ability to identify and designate
names to everything; He taught him language, speech and the ability to
communicate. God imbued Adam with an insatiable need for and love of
knowledge. After Adam had learned the names and uses for all things God said
to the Angels...
“‘tell me the names of these if you are truthful.’ They
answered ‘Glory be to You, we have no knowledge except what You have taught us.
Verily it is You the All Knower, the All Wise.’” (Quran 2:31-32)
God turned to Adam and 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
unseen in the heavens and the earth, and I know what you reveal and what you
have been hiding?” (Quran 2:33)
Adam tried to speak with the Angels, but they were
occupied worshipping God. The Angels were given no specific knowledge or
freedom of will, their sole purpose being to worship and praise God. Adam, on
the other hand, was given the ability to reason, make choices and identify
objects and their purpose. This helped to prepare Adam for his coming role on
earth. So Adam knew the names of everything, but he was alone in Heaven. One
morning Adam awoke to find a woman gazing at him.