How did the Prophet Idris go to Babylon and Egypt?

The Details of the Question

- It is said the Prophet Idris was an ancient prophet who lived immediately after Adam. It is also said that he lived in the city of Babylon and then went to Egypt. - Both Babylonian and Egyptian civilizations existed a long time after Idris lived. How did he go to or stay in those cities?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The information in the question may have arisen from the fact that the name Hermes belongs to more than one person. Probably, Hermes of Babylon and Hermes of Egypt were confused with the Prophet Idris.

The Prophet Idris is mentioned directly in only two places in the Quran. The following is stated in one of them: “Also mention in the Book the case of Idris: He was a man of truth (and sincerity), (and) a prophet: And We raised him to a lofty station” (1) The other is as follows: “And (remember) Isma'il, Idris, and Zul-kifl, all (men) of constancy and patience; We admitted them to Our mercy: for they were of the righteous ones.” (2)

In the Quran, the following characteristics are mentioned about the Prophet Idris: “falling down in prostrate adoration and in tears, being guided to the truth, being distinguished” (3); “having supreme and exalted glory and place” (4); “being patient” (5); “being veracious and a prophet” (6). (7)

In the hadiths, the Prophet Idris is mentioned only related to the Miraj (ascension) incident. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) met him on the second floor according to some narrations and on the fourth floor according to the majority of hadiths. (8)

Thirty pages containing divine information were sent down to Idris. He carried the pages of Shit (Seth) and Adam over his heart. Idris invented professions and arts such as the science of raml (sand), astronomy, astrology, calculation, medicine, secrets of plants, strange arts, writing, sewing and using scales. There was information about the heavenly secrets, the methods of governing the spiritual, and the properties of beings on his pages. Idris, who had many students, discovered iron for the first time in the world, made tools from it, developed agriculture, and sewed clothes from leather and fabrics. (9)

Since he was the first person to deal with the stars and the science of calculation, the Greek sages called him “Hermes al-Hakim (the Wise)” (Hermesul-Heramise). (10)

One of the most interesting aspects of the identity of Idris is his relationship with Hermes, a semi-legendary figure.

Three ‘Hermes’es are mentioned in Islamic sources and each has different characteristics.

They are Hermes (Hermesul-Heramise), Babylonian Hermes and Egyptian Hermes.

The narrations about the first Hermes are similar to what is narrated about the Prophet Idris, and he is accepted to be the same person as Uhnuh (Enoch) and Idris by some people. This Hermes is the first person to have knowledge of the heavens and to teach people about medicine. It is also believed that he was the inventor of letters and writing, and that he taught people to dress; he built houses to worship Allah for the first time and informed people about the Deluge of Noah (Nuh). (11)

Accordingly, the Information that Idris went to Babylon and Egypt may be due to confusion or misunderstanding of the name Hermes.

References:

1) Maryam 19/56-57.
2) al-Anbiya 21/85-86.
3) Maryam 19/58.
4) Maryam 19/57.
5) al-Anbiya 21/85.
6) Maryam 19/56.
7) Firuzabadi, Basair, Beirut, nd., 6/51.
8) Bukhari, Salah, 1; Muslim, Iman, 259, 263, 264.
9) Ibnul-Athir, Kamil, 1/54; Nişancızade, Mirat-ı kainat, 1/124-128.
10) Ibnul-Athir, 1/54-55, 59-60; Ibn Kathir, Bidaya, I, 99-100.
11) Seyyed Hossein Nasr, İslâm’da Düşünce ve Hayat, pp. 151-152; Mahmut Erol Kılıç, İslam Kaynakları Işığında Hermes ve Hermetik Düşünce (yüksek lisans tezi, 1989), MÜ Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü, pp. 25-33, 36-50.

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