Verses from Surah Taha (115-127)

[115] Indeed, We had already taken a promise from Adam earlier, but he forgot.111 We did not find in him a firm resolve.112


111. Mawdudi comments on the repetition of Adam’s story here. He writes: “Although the story of Adam (peace be upon him) was narrated earlier in al-Baqarah, al-A`raf, al-Hijr, Bani Isra’il and al-Kahf, it is resumed once again in this surah. This, in fact, is the seventh occasion that Adam’s story is narrated in the Qur’an. On each occasion, the story has a different context; accordingly, the details of each story have been set out in a different fashion. We find, in certain instances, that details incidental to the story but which are directly related to the theme of the Surah are described in one place but omitted at another. Likewise, the style varies from place to place. For a full understanding of the story and its meaning, one should recall the entire narrative as documented in different places throughout the Qur’an.”

112. The verse draws the following comment from Muhammad Asad: “… the faculty of conceptual thinking is man’s outstanding endowment, his ‘forgetting’ God’s commandments – resulting from a lack of ‘firmness of purpose’ in the domain of ethics – is an evidence of the moral weakness characteristic of the human race (cf. 4: 28 – ‘man has been created weak’): and this, in turn, explains man’s dependence on unceasing divine guidance, as pointed out in verse 113 above.”

The verse implies that some weaknesses are no sign of imperfection. They are but natural. A further implication is that the perfect man too can sometimes commit errors (Thanwi).

[116] When We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate yourselves to Adam.’ They fell prostrate except for Iblis: he refused.

[117] So We said, ‘O Adam! Surely this is an enemy to you and to your wife. So let him not drive the two of you out of Paradise, lest you suffer.113


113. Allah said, “So let him not remove you both from Paradise.” In contrast, He did not say, “Lest you both suffer,” but rather, “Lest you suffer,” i.e., in singular dropping out the reference to Hawwa.’ This implies that the male will have to work harder than the female (Ibn Jarir, Thanwi). According to Sa`id, immediately upon reaching the earth, Adam (asws) was given an oxen to till the land. But it is possible, adds Ibn Jarir, that Hawwa’s mention was left out because her inclusion is understood.

Nevertheless, adds Qurtubi, the implication is there, that a woman’s livelihood is the husband’s responsibility. And that the responsibility covers four items mentioned here: food, drinks, clothes and shelter (Ma`arif).

Although the root word is same, the “shaqawah” of this verse, is not that “shaqawah” which implies being wretched, or away from the mercy of our Lord, either in this world or the next. But rather, according to Farra’, “shaqawah” of this occurrence is to be made to earn one’s living at the expense of one’s best energies (Qurtubi, Ma`arif).

[118] It is for you that you should not be hungry therein nor go unclothed.

[119] And that you should not be thirsty therein nor face the sun’s heat.’

[120] But Shaytan whispered to him saying, ‘O Adam! Shall I lead you to the Tree of Eternity,114 and a kingdom that will never decay?’ 


114. Obviously, Satan deceived them. The tree was not the Tree of Eternity. But the question remains, what tree “Shajaratu ‘l Khuld” is? Hadith literature is silent about it. There is just one hadith in Ahmad as well as in Abu Da’ud Tayalisi’s collection which says, “Paradise has a tree under whose shade a rider can ride for a hundred years but will not be able to overtake it. It is the Khuld Tree.” But this report is of unknown status (Ibn Kathir). Bukhari has a similar report but without the addition of the words, “It is the Khuld Tree.”

In any case, it is interesting to note that throughout history, mankind’s single obsession and the ultimate goal of developmental efforts has been to attain eternal life, and a kingdom which will not decay. And, by implication, the Biblical explanation of the tree as “the tree of life” or, “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2: 9) is entirely inadequate. It does not convey the eternal human quest (Au.).

[121] So the two ate of it and consequently, their shameful parts became visible to them; and the two began to fasten upon themselves leaves of Paradise. Thus Adam disobeyed his Lord and fell into error.115


115. According to Qushayri, “ghawa” has two meanings. One, to commit an error. Two, to run into problems that render life unpleasant. It is the second of the two meanings that is applicable here. A question arises: What kind of sin was it that Adam committed: major or minor? The answer is, it was minor from our point of view, but, because of his high status in the sight of Allah, a major one for him. Junayd has said,

“Good deeds of the righteous are evil deeds for those who are closer” (Qurtubi, Ma`arif).

Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi and others write: A hadith in Bukhari says, “Musa argued with Adam. He told him, ‘Are you the one who got mankind expelled from Paradise because of your sin, bringing wretchedness upon them?’ Adam replied, ‘Musa! Are you the one Allah chose for His Messages and (direct) talk? Do you blame me for something that Allah had decreed for me even before He had created me?’ Thus Adam overcame Musa in argument.”

According to other reports, added Ibn Hajr in Fat-h, “Adam asked Musa, ‘What was the period before my creation that you found written in the Torah as when I would do what I did?’ Musa replied, ‘Forty years.’ Adam asked, ‘Do you blame me for what was written I’ll be doing forty years before my creation?’”

Hence, Qadi Abu Bakr Hanafiyy has written in his Ahkam al-Qur’an that it is not allowed for any of us to say, e.g., “Adam sinned,” or “Adam committed an error,” unless by way of quoting the Qur’an or a hadith in which case he might quote the original words without attributing the words to himself. In fact, it is not allowed to speak ill of ordinary dead Muslims. How then, when the person involved is a Prophet and our progenitor? (Qurtubi, Shafi`).

[122] Yet his Lord chose him, turned to him (in mercy) and guided him.

[123] He said, ‘Go down, the two of you from here, all together, some of you enemies to one another.116
Then, when there comes to you guidance from Me, then, whosoever followed My guidance, shall not go astray, nor shall he be wretched.117


116. That is, some of the progeny of Adam will be enemy unto one another. 

117. That is, if you followed the guidance, you will neither be misguided in this world, nor be wretched in the next (Ibn Jarir).

[124] In contrast, whosoever turned away from My admonition, he shall, indeed, have a constricted existence,118 and on the Day of Judgment We shall raise him blind.’119


118. According to the earliest scholars “ma`ishatan danka” is every earning that is earned in the disobedience of Allah, is accompanied by hardships and which does not bring to the earner, its true benefits viz., peace and comfort, but rather leaves him miserable. Some authorities however, such as Ibn Mas`ud, Abu Sa`id al-Khudri, Suddi and others have thought that the allusion is to the torture in the grave which will narrow down on the man to squeeze him until his ribs pass through one another (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).

The opinion of Ibn Mas`ud is supported by a hadith in Bazzar – of fairly good chain of narrators (Hasan according to S. Ibrahim) – reported by Abu Hurayrah, which says that “danka” alludes to punishment in the grave (Ibn Kathir).

119. There will be several situations on the Judgment Day. In certain situations, the unbeliever will be raised blind, though seeing on other occasions (Thanwi and others).

 [125] He will say, ‘My Lord! Why have You raised me blind when I was seeing (in past life)?’

[126] He will say, ‘That is how Our revelations came to you, but you forgot (all about) them.120 And that is how you will be forgotten today.’121

[127] Thus do We requite him who crosses the limits and believes not in the revelations of his Lord. And the chastisement of the Hereafter is more terrible and more enduring.


120. Although here the direct reference is to those unbelievers who forgot “all about the message sent to them,” Ibn Kathir reminds us that memorizing the Qur’an and then forgetting any part of it is no small a sin either. The Prophet said in more than one hadith recorded by Ahmad, “No one read the Qur’an and then forgot it, but will meet Allah the Day he meets Him as a leper.” But Albani and others have declared the hadith weak (Au.).

121. That is, he will be forgotten in the Fire (Mujahid: Ibn Jarir).

About YMD

Past Issues