What is the original homeland of Hz. Adam? If it is Paradise, does Allah say, "I will create a vicegerent on earth"?

Details of the Question
What is the original homeland of Hz. Adam? If it is Paradise, does Allah say, "I will create a vicegerent on earth"?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Hz. Adam was created in the world. The following verse proves it:

"Behold thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." They said "Wilt thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? Whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?" He said: "I know what ye know not." (al-Baqara, 2/30)

Then, he was sent to Paradise.

"We said: "O Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden."(al-Baqara, 2/35)

The verse above and the one below show it clearly:

"(Allah) said: 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” (al-A'raf, 7/19)

There are some interpreters (tafsir scholars) who say, “This garden is a garden in the world because Adam was created in the world.” However, according to the majority of the interpreters what is meant by garden is the eternal Paradise.

Was the garden Hz. Adam (pbuh) was created in one of the gardens in the world? There are some people who think so. They said, "It was a garden in Palestine or between Faris and Kirman. His descent was his transfer to India." However, the sentences above were uttered due to the following inference: It is unanimously agreed that Adam was created in the world. It is not stated in his story that he was ascended to the sky. If he had been ascended, it would have been mentioned. And if it was an eternal garden (Paradise), he would not have been sent out and Satan could not have entered it. However, this view is not reasonable and natural.

Adam's descent onto the world and his appearance in the world are more reasonable and in accordance with resources. There is a difference between entering the eternal garden in order to settle there permanently and entering it as a guest. Then, "Paradise" is the house of rewards that believers will enter in the hereafter; it exists now but it is hidden. This is what is understood in the Quran when "Paradise" is mentioned. Adam's staying in Paradise is something happening for the first time like the formation of the hereafter. In our opinion, this state is a reasonable realm. There is no need to imagine the distance between the world and Paradise. It is in the same space. (Elmalılı Tefsiri, the interpretation of the relevant verse)

Hz. Adam (pbuh) was sent out of Paradise when Satan deceived him and he was settled on the earth again. Hz. Adam was created in the world but the real place that he settled in was Paradise. He went to the world not to make it his real homeland but to fulfill the duty of being a vicegerent on the earth and then to return to Paradise, his real homeland. Paradise is a place where believers in Allah will reside permanently; so, it can be said that it is their real homeland that they will return to. However, these terms can be used differently based on the places where they are used. For instance, it can be said that "the real homeland of Hz Adam is the earth" because it is the first place where he was created. In the future, Hz. Adam (pbuh) will definitely go to Paradise as a prophet. It is better to say Paradise is his real homeland in this sense.

To put it with the terms of fiqh scholars, the world is "watan as-sukna", a temporary shelter for all human beings; it is certain that Paradise is "watan al-iqama" and"watan al-asli" since it is eternal.

Does the sentence expressed in verse 30 of the chapter of al-Baqara "I will create a vicegerent on earth" show that Adam was created in the world? That is, was the body of Adam shaped in the world?

- First of all, we should state that there is disagreement among scholars whether what is meant by the word “caliph (vicegerent)” in the verse is Adam or humanity. According to the majority of the scholars, what is meant by the word “caliph” here is Adam. However, some interpreters hold the view that what is meant by that word is humanity. (see Ibn Kathir, the interpretation of the relevant verse)

As a matter of fact, in the following verses, which the whole humanity is addressed, the caliphate of all humanity is mentioned:“It is He who hath made you (His) agents, inheritors of the earth.”(al-Anam, 6/165),“Or, who listens to the (soul) distressed when it calls on Him, and who relieves its suffering, and makes you (mankind) inheritors of the earth?”(an-Naml, 27/62)

- We should also state that the word “jailun/JAALA” mentioned in the verse means to create but also to do or to make. (see Mawardi, Baydawi, Shawkani, the interpretation of the relevant verse). Tabari, Zamakhshari, Razi and Alusi preferred this second meaning. (see ibid, the interpretation of the relevant verse). If the second meaning is used to interpret the verse, the meaning of the verse will be“I will make a vicegerent on earth.” Then, it does not show that Hz. Adam (pbuh) was created on the earth.

- There are some scholars who say that Hz. Adam (pbuh) was created in the skies (Ibnu’l-Jawzi, Zadu’l-Masir, the interpretation of the relevant verse) but according the great majority of the scholars, Hz. Adam (pbuh) was created in the world first and was settled in Paradise later. The clear expression of the following verse supports this view: "I will create a vicegerent on earth."

The expression of the following verse expresses this view too: “Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I am about to create man from clay."(Sad, 38/71)

Taking this verse into consideration, Abu’s-Suud said it was possible to understand verse 30 of the chapter of al-Baqara as follows: “I will create a man and make him vicegerent on earth.”

Besides, as Ibn Abbas states, the word “Adam” means a being kneaded from the elements of the earth. That is, the name of Hz. Adam (pbuh) is like his identity showing where he came from.

As a matter of fact, the number 46, which is the sum of abjad calculation of this name - including mad (the sign of lengthening) - shows us that the number of the chromosomes that form his basic structure is (23+23) 46.

- It is understood from the explanations above that it is not wrong to understand the verse as “I will create a vicegerent on earth" as it is stated in the translations of the verse.

Man: Vicegerent on Earth

Caliphate means “to represent someone, to use his authority”.

The following is stated by Allah in the Quran: “I created for you (human beings) all things that are on earth." (al-Baqara, 2/29). Since man is Allah's vicegerent on earth, he has to use these bounties in compliance with His consent.  Hz. Adam experienced this meaning and became the vicegerent on earth, fulfilling this duty properly. However, caliphate is not peculiar to him only; it is related to the whole humanity. However, those who act contrarily to the consent of Allah on earth are not regarded as “vicegerent” but as “disobedient” people.

As it is stated by the verse “I have only created jinn and men, that they may serve Me”, those who fulfill their duty of belief, worship and knowing Allah will lead a life in compliance with the purpose of their creation. Those who do the opposite will act contrarily to the purpose of their creation; caliphate is like that too. Those people will be deprived of this honor by acting contrarily to caliphate.  

More than one million species of plants and animals had been created on earth before man. There had already been angels that represented the peculiar glorification of these beings. However, there was not a being that would lead and control those plants and animals and that would use them on behalf of Allah.  

Angels fulfilled their duty of “hamd (praising), tasbih (glorifying) and takbir (exalting)” of Allah fully; however, it was not enough for them to be vicegerent on earth and to use and control the living beings in the world. To represent the glorification of living beings was one thing and to control those beings was another thing. The angels could not have done it. There was no other living being to be able to do it among the living beings that were created before man.   

Thus, God Almighty wished to create this being and informed His angels about it.

This event is narrated as follows in the Quran:

"Behold thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth."

They said "Wilt thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? Whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?" He said: "I know what ye know not."(al-Baqara, 2/30)

There are many reasons why caliphate was given to man but not to angels. We can list some of them as follows:

- Every angel works in the field where he is appointed. He represents the glorification of the being or beings he is appointed for. Man can fulfill all kinds of worship and glorification; he can also meditate on the whole realm of beings.

- Man is honored by "all names". With this aspect, he surpasses angels. The names that Jibril (Gabriel) and Azrael are honored by are different; and their duties are different. However, man enters the field of Gabriel when he conveys the truths of belief and the beauties of Islam to other people; he also imitates the duty of Azrael when he kills others. 

- Man, who is the fruit of the universe, is in need of the whole realm; thus, he is also in need of the names that are manifest in them. When he needs sustenance, the name "ar-Razzaq (the Sustainer)" becomes manifest in him; similarly, when he needs healing, he becomes a mirror for the name "ash-Shafi (the Healer)". Angels do not eat or drink; they do not become ill, either. Therefore, neither the name ar-Razzaq nor the name ash-Shafi become manifest in them. 

We can give more examples.

- Moreover, man is superior to angels because he has been given partial free will. The will of angels operate for goodness; they cannot wish evil. "To wish evil" is a bad quality but the fact that man has the authority to wish both goodness and evil makes man superior to angels.   

- On the other hand, to do good deeds though one has the ability to do evil is more important than angels' doing good deeds. Angels worship without having any obstacles but man worships despite his soul, Satan and many movements that function like Satan and many bad people that are affected by them; thus, he becomes superior to angels.

Apart from this logical and in a sense theoretical aspect of the issue, the practices and events in the past show clearly that man is superior to angels in nature. The prophets, the Companions, and the saints of Allah, who are envied by angels, are all living witnesses of this issue.

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