20 - Ta-Ha

4 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].

Ibn Al Kathir

The Story of Adam and Iblis

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "Verily, man was named Insan only because he was given a covenant, but he forgot it (Nasiya).'' `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported the same from Ibn `Abbas. Mujahid and Al-Hasan said that he forgot means, "He abandoned it.'' Concerning Allah's statement,

وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَـئِكَةِ اسْجُدُواْ لاًّدَمَ

(And when We said to the angels: "Prostrate yourselves to Adam.'') He, Allah mentions how Adam was honored and what respect was given to him. He mentions how He favored him over many of those whom He created. A discussion of this story has already preceded in Surat Al-Baqarah, Surat Al-A`raf, Surat Al-Hijr and Surat Al-Kahf. It will also be mentioned again at the end of Surah Sad. In this story, Allah mentions the creation of Adam and that He commanded the angels to prostrate to Adam as a sign of honor and respect. He also explains the enmity of Iblis for the Children of Adam and for their father, Adam, before them. Due to this Allah says,

فَسَجَدُواْ إِلاَّ إِبْلِيسَ أَبَى

(They prostrated themselves (all) except Iblis; he refused.) This means that he refrained from prostrating and became arrogant.

فَقُلْنَا يـَادَمُ إِنَّ هَـذَا عَدُوٌّ لَّكَ وَلِزَوْجِكَ

(Then We said: "O Adam! Verily, this is an enemy to you and to your wife...'') here wife refers to Hawwa'.

فَلاَ يُخْرِجَنَّكُمَا مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ فَتَشْقَى

(So let him not get you both out of Paradise, so that you will be distressed.) meaning, `Do not be hasty in doing something that will get you expelled from Paradise, or else you will be fatigued, discomforted and worried, seeking your sustenance. But here, in Paradise, you live a life of ease with no burdens and no difficulties.'

إِنَّ لَكَ أَلاَّ تَجُوعَ فِيهَا وَلاَ تَعْرَى

(Verily, you will never be hungry therein nor naked.) The reason that Allah combined hunger and nakedness is because hunger is internal humiliation, while nakedness is external humiliation.

وَأَنَّكَ لاَ تَظْمَؤُا فِيهَا وَلاَ تَضْحَى

(And you (will) suffer not from thirst therein nor from the sun's heat.) These two characteristics are also opposites. Thirst is the internal heat and being parched from lack of water, while the suns heat is the external heat.

فَوَسْوَسَ إِلَيْهِ الشَّيْطَـنُ قَالَ يـَادَمُ هَلْ أَدُلُّكَ عَلَى شَجَرَةِ الْخُلْدِ وَمُلْكٍ لاَّ يَبْلَى

(Then Shaytan whispered to him, saying: "O Adam! Shall I lead you to the Tree of Eternity and to a kingdom that will never waste away'') It has already been mentioned that he caused them to fall through deception.

وَقَاسَمَهُمَآ إِنِّي لَكُمَا لَمِنَ النَّـصِحِينَ

(And he swore by Allah to them both: "Verily, I am one of the sincere well-wishers for you both.'') 7:21It has already preceded in our discussion that Allah took a promise from Adam and his wife that although they could eat from every fruit, they could not come near a specific tree in Paradise. However, Iblis did not cease prodding them until they both had eaten from it. It was the Tree of Eternity (Shajarat Al-Khuld). This meant that anyone who ate from it would live forever and always remain. A Hadith has been narrated which mentions this Tree of Eternity. Abu Dawud At-Tayalisi reported from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said,

«إِنَّ فِي الْجَنَّةِ شَجَرَةً يَسِيرُ الرَّاكِبُ فِي ظِلِّهَا مِائَةَ عَامٍ مَا يَقْطَعُهَا، وَهِيَ شَجَرَةُ الْخُلْد»

(Verily, in Paradise there is a tree which a rider can travel under its shade for one hundred years and still not have passed it. It is the Tree of Eternity.) Imam Ahmad also recorded this narration. Concerning Allah's statement,

فَأَكَلاَ مِنْهَا فَبَدَتْ لَهُمَا سَوْءَتُهُمَا

(Then they both ate of the tree, and so their private parts became manifest to them,) Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ubayy bin Ka`b said that the Messenger of Allah said,

«إِنَّ اللهَ خَلَقَ آدَمَ رَجُلًا طُوَالًا كَثِيرَ شَعْرِ الرَّأْسِ، كَأَنَّهُ نَخْلَةُ سَحُوقٍ،فَلَمَّا ذَاقَ الشَّجَرَةَ سَقَطَ عَنْهُ لِبَاسُهُ، فَأَوَّلُ مَا بَدَا مِنْهُ عَوْرَتُهُ، فَلَمَّا نَظَرَ إِلَى عَوْرَتِهِ جَعَلَ يَشْتَدُّ فِي الْجَنَّةِ، فَأَخَذَتْ شَعْرَهُ شَجَرَةٌ فَنَازَعَهَا، فَنَادَاهُ الرَّحْمَنُ: يَا آدَمُ مِنِّي تَفِرُّ، فَلَمَّا سَمِعَ كَلَامَ الرَّحْمَنِ قَالَ: يَا رَبِّ لَا، وَلَكِنِ اسْتِحْيَاءً، أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ تُبْتُ وَرَجَعْتُ أَعَائِدِي إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ؟ قَالَ: نَعَم»

(Verily, Allah created Adam as a tall man with an abundance of hair on his head. He looked like a clothed palm tree. Then, when he tasted (the fruit of) the tree, his clothes fell off of him. The first thing that became exposed was his private parts. So when he noticed his nakedness, he tried to run back into Paradise. However, in the process a tree caught hold of his hair (i.e. his hair was tangled in a tree), so he ripped his hair out. Then, the Most Beneficent called out to him saying, "O Adam, are you fleeing from me'' When he heard the Words of the Most Beneficent, he said, "No my Lord, but I am ashamed. If I repent and recant would You let me return to Paradise'' Allah replied, "Yes.'') This is the meaning of Allah's statement,

فَتَلَقَّى ءَادَمُ مِن رَّبِّهِ كَلِمَاتٍ فَتَابَ عَلَيْهِ

a(Then Adam received from his Lord Words. And his Lord pardoned him.) 2:37However, this narration has a break in the chain of transmission between Al-Hasan and Ubayy bin Ka`b. Al-Hasan did not hear this Hadith from Ubayy. It is questionable as to whether this narration can be correctly attributed to the Prophet. Allah said,

وَطَفِقَا يَخْصِفَانِ عَلَيْهِمَا مِن وَرَقِ الْجَنَّةِ

(And they began to cover themselves with the leaves of the Paradise for their covering. ) Mujahid said, "They patched the leaves on themselves in the form of a garment.'' Qatadah and As-Suddi both said the same. Concerning Allah's statement,

فَأَكَلاَ مِنْهَا فَبَدَتْ لَهُمَا سَوْءَتُهُمَا وَطَفِقَا يَخْصِفَانِ عَلَيْهِمَا مِن وَرَقِ الْجَنَّةِ وَعَصَى ءَادَمُ رَبَّهُ فَغَوَى - ثُمَّ اجْتَبَـهُ رَبُّهُ فَتَابَ عَلَيْهِ وَهَدَى

(Thus Adam disobeyed his Lord, so he went astray. Then his Lord chose him, and turned to him with forgiveness, and gave him guidance.) Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said,

«حَاجَّ مُوسَى آدَمَ، فَقَالَ لَهُ: أَنْتَ الَّذِي أَخْرَجْتَ النَّاسَ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ بِذَنْبِكَ وَأَشْقَيْتَهُمْ؟ قَالَ آدَمُ: يَا مُوسَى، أَنْتَ الَّذِي اصْطَفَاكَ اللهُ بِرِسَالَاتِهِ وَبِكَلَامِهِ، أَتَلُومُنِي عَلَى أَمْرٍ كَتَبَهُ اللهُ عَلَيَّ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَخْلُقَنِي أَوْ قَدَّرَهُ اللهُ عَلَيَّ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَخْلُقَنِي؟ قال رسول اللهصلى الله عليه وسلّم: فَحَجَّ آدَمُ مُوسَى»

(Musa argued with Adam and he said to him, "Are you the one who got mankind expelled from Paradise because of your sin and you caused them grief!'' Adam replied, "Are you the one whom Allah chose for His Divine Messages and His direct Speech Are you blaming me for a matter that Allah wrote upon me before He created me'') Then, the Messenger of Allah said, (Thus, Adam defeated Musa.) This Hadith has various routes of transmission in the Two Sahihs as well as the Musnad collections.

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.