20 - Ta-Ha

3 Tafsir(s) related to verse 20.116

Al-Jalalayn

And, mention, when We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate before Adam’; so they prostrated, except Iblīs, who was the father of the jinn — he used to keep company with the angels and worship God alongside them: he refused, to prostrate before Adam, he said: ‘I am better than him’ [Q. 7:12].

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

From here begins a new discourse, which probably was sent down some time after the preceding discourse (see E.N. 90), and it was incorporated in this Surah by the command of Allah because both deal with the same theme. The following are the similarities between the two:

(1) Both the discourses remind mankind of the "forgotten lesson", the Admonition, which Allah had taught man on the occasion of his creation.

(2) Both teach that it is Satan who seduces man to forget that lesson. He succeeded in this by causing his first parents to forget it; since then he has been forgetting it over and over again and, therefore, has been cautioned against this.

(3) Both warn man that his ultimate success or failure depends upon his attitude towards this "Admonition."

This means that he disobeyed the Command because he lacked the firmness of purpose and not because of intentional rebellion. He did not say, "I don't care for Allah. If it is His Command, let it be. I will do whatever I like. Who is Allah to intervene in my private affairs?"

Both knew that Satan was their enemy, for Adam himself had witnessed the demonstration of his enmity, when he had refused to bow down before him and declared in plain words, "I am better than he; Thou didst create me of tire and him of clay". (VII: 12, XXXVIII: 76, see also XV: 33). "Should I bow before the one whom Thou hast created out of clay?" And then added, "Just consider was he worthy of this that Thou hast exalted him over me?" (XVII: 61-b2). Then Satan did not rest content with this bragging of superiority but evinced his jealousy by giving an open challenge that he would prove it by seducing Adam. (VII: 16, 17; XV: 36-42; XVII: 62-6b; XXXVIII: 82-83).

This was to forewarn both of them of the consequences of disobedience of the Command.

This is the explanation of the "distress" which they had to undergo immediately after their expulsion from the Garden. Here instead of mentioning the high and perfect blessings of the Garden, only four basic necessities of life have been stated, namely, food, drink, dress, and shelter, as if to say, "In the Garden you are being supplied with all these necessities without any labor from you. But if you succumb to the temptations and seduction of Satan, you will be totally deprived not only of these facilities but also of the higher blessings of the Garden. In that case, you will have to work so hard for these necessities that very little energy and time and leisure will be left with you to strive for higher aims of life."

According to this verse. it was Adam whom Satan primarily wanted to seduce and not Eve. Though according to VII: 20, he tempted both of them and both were seduced, but Satan's efforts were mainly directed to Adam. On the contrary, according to the Bible, the serpent first tempted the woman "to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree and then she seduced her husband". (Genesis, 3).

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

(And when We said unto the angels) Who were on the earth: (Fall prostrate before Adam) a prostration of greeting, (they fell prostrate (all) save Iblis) their chief; (he refused) he felt too proud to prostrate before Adam.