The Quran

Commentaries for 2.30

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.30 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Then Allah, Exalted is He, mentioned the story of the angels who were commanded to prostrate to Adam, saying: (And when your Lord said unto the angels) who were already on the earth: (Lo! I am about to place a vicegerent in the earth), I am creating a vicegerent from the earth, (they said: Wilt Thou place therein), will you create therein (one who will do harm therein) by committing sin (and will shed blood) through transgression, (while we, we hymn Thy praise), pray following Your command (and sanctify Thee) and mention you in a state of purity? (He said: Surely I know that) which shall ensue from this vicegerent (which you know not).
2.30 Asrar - Kashf Al-Asrar
And when thy Lord said to the angels, “Surely I am setting in the earth a vicegerent,” they said, “What, wilt Thou set therein one who will work corruption there, and shed blood, while we glorify Thy praise and call Thee holy?” He said, “Surely I know what you do not know.”
There was a world at ease. No heart burned with passion and no breast was deluded by mad fervor. Then the ocean of mercy began to boil. The treasuries of obedient deeds were full, and no dust of
lassitude had settled on the foreheads of the obedient in their obedience. The banner of their boastful claim, “We glorify Thy praise,” was raised to Capella.
All those in the cosmos who had any subtle substance began craving for their own selves. The majestic Throne was looking at its own tremendousness and saying, “Perhaps the script of these words is written for me.” The Footstool was looking at its own amplitude-“Perhaps this sermon is being read in my name.” The eight paradises gazed on their own beauty-“Maybe this rulership will be given to us.” None wanted anything to do with dust. Each fell into delusion, each caught by mad fervor.
Suddenly, from the Presence of Exaltation and Majesty, this report was given to the world of the angels: “Surely I am setting in the earth a vicegerent.” It was not that He was consulting with the angels. Rather, He was laying the foundation of Adam's exaltation and tremendousness. He was not asking for help, but spreading the carpet of Adam's dignity. He was saying, “The ruling property of My severity has acted. I have commanded the pen of generosity to write out an inscription from the beginning of the world's ledger to its end. This resolution is written for the inhabitants of both worlds, from the top of the Throne to the bottom of the Carpet: 'The dust-dwelling Adam is granted chieftainship over all the empires. His exalted breast will be bright with the light of recognition. In him the subtleties of My generosity and the artifacts of My bounteousness will become apparent.'”
This exalted declaration caused the hearts of the proximate angels to quake with awe. They said, “What is this all about? He has not yet been created.”
The exalted Qur'an was beating the drum of his vicegerency at the threshold of his beauty even though he had not yet entered into the bonds of creation.
The majesty of predetermination was reporting on the basis of the hidden affairs of the Unseen: “You must not come around the field of Adam's good fortune, for you do not recognize the secret of his innate disposition. No falcon of anyone's mind has sat upon the branch of Adam's good fortune! No eye of anyone's insight has grasped the beauty of Adam's limpid sun!”
Where did this eminence come from? From whence did this good fortune arise? It came from the fact that Adam was the oyster shell of the mysteries of lordhood and the treasury of the jewels of the empire. How many precious pearls and royal sparklers were placed in that oyster shell! Along with every pearl He arranged a black bead on the string. Along with the pearl of every prophet He placed a black bead as its counterpart: With a pearl like Adam the chosen was a bead like Satan the wretched; with a pearl like Abraham the bosom friend was a bead like Nimrod the rebellious; with a pearl like Moses of ʿImrān was a bead like Pharaoh the unaided; with a pearl like Jesus son of Mary was a bead like the tribe full of misguidance and transgression; with a pearl like MuṣṬafā the Arab was a bead like Abū Jahl full of ignorance.
When the angels heard this terrifying declaration, settledness and repose fled from them and they lost the composure of their intellects and their patience. They all spoke up with questions and said, “What, wilt Thou set therein one who will work corruption there, and shed blood? O Lord! O King! O Magnanimous! O Creator! This dust-dwelling Adam will stain the embroidered robe of proximity with disobedience. He will pull his head out from the collar of obedience. You have created us from holiness and declaring holy! You have adorned our breasts with reciting the formula of tawḤīd and glorifying! You have made all these our means!”
It is said that a fire appeared from the hidden affairs of the Unseen and incinerated a tribe of the angels. This declaration was made with the attribute of exaltedness: “Surely I know what you do not know.”
“You who are gazers, just keep on gazing! What do you have to do with the secret treasuries of the divinity? How can you intervene in the hidden affairs of Our unseen lordhood? It is We who know the preparations of Our divinity and the hidden affairs of the mysteries of Our lordhood.
How can insignificant minds, the sciences and intellects of anyone other than Us, defective understandings and newly arrived insights, find a way to the mysteries of Our divinity? With Him are the keys to the Unseen-none knows them but He [6:59].
“In the beginningless We decreed that We would light the lamp of the realities of recognition in the breast of the dust-dweller Adam, turn over to him the edict of rulership, and plant the flag of
the earthly empires in his soldierly heart.
“You who are the proximate angels of the Empire, be serving-boys, spread the carpet in front of the throne of Adam's good fortune, and prostrate yourselves before him!
“You who circumambulate Our Throne, ask forgiveness for the not-yet-committed sins of Adam's progeny, who have not yet come into existence! Ask for safety in their going forth, and say, 'Peace be upon them, peace be upon them,' so that when they come into existence, their feet will not slacken on the carpet of servanthood.
“You who are in charge of the veils, weep for the folk of heedlessness among Adam's progeny so that We may conceal their disobedience with Our forgiveness because of your weeping!
“You who are the folk of the cushions, take up this pure water whose waves are lapping around Our Throne with water-bags of light and, when they lift up their heads thirsty from the earth on the Day of Resurrection, provide water for them!
“You who are the sinless of the Lote Tree of the Final End, wait until the Greatest Fright appears at the resurrection, when awe and punishment's holding and grasping, taking and seizing, all come forth, and then give the faithful among them security from that Fright and convey to them Our greeting of Peace!
“We have commanded all this so that you angels may come to know the eminence of these dust-dwellers and make no protest at Our decree.”
There is a sound report that the Supreme Plenum and the proximate angels of the Exalted Threshold said, “O Lord, You have given the dust-dwellers the low world. Give us the high world, for we are the birds of the Presence and the peacocks of the Exalted Threshold.”
The answer came to them, “I will not make the wholesome progeny of him whom I created with My own two hands like those to whom I said, 'Be!', so they came to be.
“I am the intimate of passion, and you're just passing by unaware of the tale and state of the passionate.
Why do you grieve for the ugliness of My beloved?
Come into My eyes and gaze upon him.”
2.30 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And, mention, O Muhammad (s), when your Lord said to the angels, ‘I am appointing on earth a vicegerent’, who shall act as My deputy, by implementing My rulings therein — and this [vicegerent] was Adam; They said, ‘What, will You appoint therein one who will do corruption therein, through disobedience, and shed blood, spilling it through killing, just as the progeny of the jinn did, for they used to inhabit it, but when they became corrupted God sent down the angels against them and they were driven away to islands and into the mountains; while we glorify, continuously, You with praise, that is, “We say Glory and Praise be to You”, and sanctify You?’, that is, ‘We exalt You as transcendent above what does not befit You?; the lām [of laka, ‘You’] is extra, and the sentence [wa-nuqaddisu laka, ‘We sanctify You’] is a circumstantial qualifier, the import being, ‘thus, we are more entitled to be Your vicegerents’); He, exalted be He, said, ‘Assuredly, I know what you know not’, of the benefits of making Adam a vicegerent and of the fact that among his progeny will be the obedient and the transgressor, and justice will prevail between them. They said, ‘God will never create anything more noble in His eyes than us nor more knowledgeable, since we have been created before it and have seen what it has not seen. God then created Adam from the surface of the earth (adīm al-ard [adīm literally means ‘skin’]), taking a handful of all its colours and mixing it with different waters, then made him upright and breathed into him the Spirit and he thus became a living being with senses, after having been inanimate.
2.30 Kashani - Kashani
And when your Lord said to the angels: idh ('when') refers to an endless duration that is from pre-eternity to sempiternity; the 'saying' is the casting of the meaning of the connectedness of God's will to the existentiation of Adam onto the holy essences of the realm of divine power, namely the angels brought near and the disengaged spirits and those [spirits] of the angelic realm constituting the heavenly souls. For everything that occurs in the world of engendered things has a form before becoming engendered in the world of the spirit which is the world of the pre-decree, followed by the world of the heart which is the heart of the world known as the Preserved Tablet, followed by the world of the soul, namely, the soul of the world that is the Tablet of 'effacement and fixing' [cf. Q. 13:39] expressed as the heaven of this world (samāÌ al-dunyā) in the revelation, as God says: And there is not a thing but that the stores thereof are with Us, and We do not send it down except in a known measure [Q. 15:21]. That then is His saying to the angels: 'I am appointing on earth a vicegerent': consider in yourself your state, for all that manifests itself upon your limbs, which constitute your engendered world and the world of your witnessing, in the way of words and deeds exists within your spirit which is hidden beyond your unseen and in the unseen of your unseen then in your soul which is the closest unseen to you and your heaven of this world before it becomes manifest upon your limbs; 'to appoint' is more general than origination and engenderment. He did not say 'I am creating' because man is a composite of both worlds. A viceregent that will assume My character traits and My descriptions and execute My command and rule My creatures and manage their affair, keeping their laws in check, summoning them to obedience of Me. The disapproval of the angels when they said: 'What, will You appoint therein one who will do corruption therein and shed blood, and their intimation of the priority that they enjoy by saying: while we glorify You with praise and sanctify Youḍ', is their being veiled from the manifestation of the inner meaning of divinity and the lordly descriptions in him [sc.
Adam], which are among the specific qualities of the social condition and the composition that subsumes both worlds and restricts what is in both engendered things, and it is their knowledge of the fact that there will ensue bestial acts, such as the working of corruption in the earth, and [acts of] predation expressed in the 'shedding of blood', both of which are specific qualities of the power of passion and anger whose existence is necessary given the attachment of the spirit to the body; and [their knowledge] that the purity of their essences and the sanctity of their souls [makes them] above such [acts]. For every class of the holy angels has an insight into what [class] is below them and into their souls, but no insight into what [class] is above them. They are aware that since the upper luminous spirit is attached to the lower dark body there must be an intermediary that corresponds to the spirit on the one hand and to the body on the other, and that is the soul, the refuge for all evil and the source of all corruption; but they are not aware of the fact that the all-comprehensiveness of humankind attracts the divine light, itself a mystery. [He said,] 'Assuredly, I know what you know not'. The difference between glorification (tasbīḥ) and sanctification (taqdīs) is that to glorify is to exalt [God] above the association of partner and incapacity and deficiency, while to sanctify is to exalt [God] above any attachment to locus or submission to receptivity or the blemishes of possibility as well as multiplicity of His Essence and attributes, or that any of His perfections should be [merely] potential [as opposed to actual]. Thus sanctification is more specific [than glorification], for every thing that is sanctified is [necessarily] glorified, but not every glorified thing is [necessarily] sanctified. For the angels brought near who are the disengaged spirits by their very disengagement [from substrata] and their not being veiled from the light of their Lord and their overpowering of those below them by their effusion of light upon them and their effect upon others and because all of their perfections are actual, they are the sanctifiers. The other heavenly and earthly angels are glorifiers on account of the simplicity of their essences and the specific qualities of their acts and their perfections.
2.30 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Adam and His Children inhabited the Earth, Generation after Generation
Allah reiterated His favor on the Children of Adam when He stated that He mentioned them in the highest of heights before He created them. Allah said,
وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَـئِكَةِ
(And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels.)
This Ayah means, "O Muhammad ! Mention to your people what Allah said to the angels,
إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِى الأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً
(Verily, I am going to place a Khalifah on earth).
Meaning people reproducing generation after generation, century after century, just as Allah said,
وَهُوَ الَّذِى جَعَلَكُمْ خَلَـئِفَ الاٌّرْضِ
(And it is He Who has made you (Khala'if) generations coming after generations, replacing each other on the earth) (6:165),
وَيَجْعَلُكُمْ حُلَفَآءَ الاٌّرْضِ
(And makes you (Khulafa') inheritors of the earth) (27:62),
وَلَوْ نَشَآءُ لَجَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ مَّلَـئِكَةً فِى الاٌّرْضِ يَخْلُفُونَ
(And if it were Our will, We would have (destroyed you (mankind all, and) made angels to replace you (Yakhlufun) on the earth.) (43: 60) and,
فَخَلَفَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ
(Then after them succeeded an (evil) generation (Khalf)) (7:169). It appears that Allah was not refering to Adam specifically as Khalifah, otherwise he would not have allowed the angels' statement,
أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَآءَ
(Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood).
The angels meant that this type of creature usually commits the atrocities they mentioned. The angels knew of this fact, according to their understanding of human nature, for Allah stated that He would create man from clay. Or, the angels understood this fact from the word Khalifah, which also means the person who judges disputes that occur between people, forbidding them from injustice and sin, as Al-Qurtubi said.
The statement the angels uttered was not a form of disputing with Allah's, nor out of envy for the Children of Adam, as some mistakenly thought. Allah has described them as those who do not precede Him in speaking, meaning that they do not ask Allah anything without His permission. When Allah informed them that He was going to create a creation on the earth, and they had knowledge that this creation would commit mischief on it, as Qatadah mentioned, they said,
أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَآءَ
(Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood)
This is only a question for the sake of learning about the wisdom of that, as if they said, Our Lord! What is the wisdom of creating such creatures since they will cause trouble in the earth and spill blood "If the wisdom behind this action is that You be worshipped, we praise and glorify You (meaning we pray to You) we never indulge in mischief, so why create other creatures''
Allah said to the angels in answer to their inquiry,
إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ
(I know that which you do not know.) meaning, "I know that the benefit of creating this type of creature outweighs the harm that you mentioned, that which you have no knowledge of. I will create among them Prophets and send Messengers. I will also create among them truthful, martyrs, righteous believers, worshippers, the modest, the pious, the scholars who implement their knowledge, humble people and those who love Allah and follow His Messengers.''
The Sahih recorded that when the angels ascend to Allah with the records of the servant's deeds, Allah asks them, while having better knowledge, "How did you leave My servants'' They will say, "We came to them while they were praying and left them while they were praying.'' This is because the angels work in shifts with mankind, and they change shifts during the Fajr and `Asr prayers. The angels who descended will remain with us, while the angels who have remained with us ascend with our deeds. The Messenger of Allah said,
«يُرْفَعُ إِلَيْهِ عَمَلُ اللَّيْلِ قَبْلَ النَّهَارِ وَعَمَلُ النَّهَارِ قَبْلَ اللَّيْل»
(The deeds of the night are elevated to Allah before the morning, and the deeds of the morning before the night falls. )
Hence, the angels' statement, "We came to them while they were praying and left them while they were praying,'' explains Allah's statement,
إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ
(I know that which you do not know.)
It was said that the meaning of Allah's statement,
إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ
(I know that which you do not know.) is, "I have a specific wisdom in creating them, which you do not have knowledge of.'' It was also said that it is in answer to,
وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ
(While we glorify You with praises and thanks and sanctify You) after which Allah said,
إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ
(I know that which you do not know). Meaning, "I know that Iblis is not as you are, although he is among you.'' Others said,
أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَآءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ
"(Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood, ـ while we glorify you with praises and thanks and sanctify You.) is their request that they should be allowed to inhabit the earth, instead of the Children of Adam. So Allah said to them,
إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ
(I know that which you do not know) if your inhabiting the heavens is better, or worse for you.'' Ar-Razi as well as others said this. Allah knows best.
The Obligation of appointing a Khalifah and some related Issues
Al-Qurtubi, as well as other scholars, said that this Ayah (2:30) proves the obligation of appointing a Khalifah to pass judgements on matters of dispute between people, to aid the oppressed against the oppressor, to implement the Islamic penal code and to forbid evil. There are many other tasks that can only be fulfilled by appointing the Imam, and what is necessary in performing an obligation, is an obligation itself. We should state here that Imamah occurs by either naming a successor, as a group among Ahl As-Sunnah scholars said occurred - by the Prophet - in the case of Abu Bakr, or hinting to a successor. Or, the current Khalifah names a certain person as Khalifah after him, as Abu Bakr did with `Umar. Or, the Khalifah might leave the matter in the hands of the Muslim consultative council, or a group of righteous men, just as `Umar did. Or, the people of authority could gather around a certain person to whom they give the pledge of allegiance, or they could select one among them to choose the candidate, according to the majority of the scholars.
The Khalifah must be a responsible adult Muslim male, able to perform Ijtihad (independent legal judgments), bodily able, righteous, with knowledge of warfare, politics. He also must be from the tribe of Quraysh, according to the correct view, but it is not necessary that he be from the tribe of Bani Hashim, or that he be immune from error, as the Rafidah (Shiites) falsely claim.
When the Khalifah becomes an immoral person (Fasiq), should he be impeached There is disagreement over this matter, but the correct view is that he is not to be removed, because the Messenger of Allah said,
«إِلَّا أَنْ تَرَوْا كُفْرًا بَوَاحًا عِنْدَكُمْ مِنَ اللهِ فِيهِ بُرْهَان»
(Unless you witness a clear Kufr regarding which you have clear proof from Allah. )
Does the Khalifah have the right to resign from his post There is a difference on this issue. It is a fact that Al-Hasan bin `Ali removed himself from the position of Khalifah and surrendered it to Mu`awiyah. However, this occurred because of a necessity, and Al-Hasan was praised for this action.
It is not permissible to appoint two Imams for the world or more at the same time. This is not allowed because the Messenger of Allah said,
«مَنْ جَاءَكُمْ وَأَمْرُكُمْ جَمِيعٌ يُرِيدُ أَنْ يُفَرِّقَ بَيْنَكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوهُ كَائِنًا مَنْ كَان»
(Whoever came to you while you are united and tried to divide you, then execute him, no matter who he is.)
This is the view of the majority of scholars. Imam Al-Haramayn stated that Abu Ishaq allowed the appointment of two or more Imams when the various provinces are far away from each other. However, Imam Al-Haramayn himself was indecisive about this view.
2.30-33 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
In the foregoing verses, Man has been asked to submit to Allah because He is his Creator and Sustainer and has power over his life and death, and because He is the Master and Ruler of the Universe in which he lives. In these verses, he has been exhorted to submit to Him because he is His vicegerent on the earth. As such, he is not only bound to serve Him but also to obey and act according to the Guidance sent down by Him. For if he did not do so and yielded to the temptations of Satan, his eternal enemy, he would be guilty of the worst crime of rebellion against Allah and meet with evil consequences. In the foregoing verses, Man has been asked to submit to Allah because He is his Creator and Sustainer and has power over his life and death, and because He is the Master and Ruler of the Universe in which he lives. In these verses, he has been exhorted to submit to Him because he is His vicegerent on the earth. As such, he is not only bound to serve Him but also to obey and act according to the Guidance sent down by Him. For if he did not do so and yielded to the temptations of Satan, his eternal enemy, he would be guilty of the worst crime of rebellion against Allah and meet with evil consequences. Incidentally, the Qur'an here throws light on the truth about man and his correct position in the Universe and presents the chapter of human history, which man could not have ascertained in any other way. The important results that this chapter yields, are far more precious than the results which man tries to obtain by excavating miscellaneous bones from the earth and joining them together by speculation and conjecture.
"Malak'' literally means a "messenger", which is translated farishta (angel). Angels are not mere abstract powers without personality; they are beings with personalities and are so to speak the agents of Allah, Who employs them for the administration of His Kingdom. Ignorant people mistook them for associates in Godhead; others thought they were related to God and started to worship them as deities.
Khalifah: one who exercises the delegated powers on behalf o: another as his vicegerent. Khalifah thus is not the master, but deputy of the Master; his powers are not his own but delegated to him by the real Master. He has, therefore. no right to have his own will but he is there to fulfil the will of the delegating Authority. It would be dishonesty and treason, if he assumed sovereign powers, or used them according to his own whim, or if he acknowledged another as his sovereign and submitted to his will.
This was not an objection but a query raised by the angels, for the angels dare not object to any scheme of Allah. From the word Khalifah they had understood that the one, who was about to be created, was going to be entrusted with some powers, but they could not understand how an autonomous creature could fit in this totalitarian system of the universe. They also could not understand how that part of the universe, in which someone was entrusted with autonomy, could be free from disorder.
By this, the angels did not mean to say that they should be entrusted with the vicegerency because they deserved it. They simply meant to say, "We are carrying out orders obediently, faithfully and earnestly and are keeping the whole universe clean and in order, and sing hymns of Your praise and sanctify You as Your humble servants. Therefore, we are unable to understand what need then is there for a vicegerent." The word tasbih has a double meaning: it means "to sanctify" as well as "to work earnestly and do one's utmost." Similarly taqdis also means both to sanctify and to purify.
This was the reply to the second doubt of the angels: "You can not understand the need and wisdom of the appointment of a vicegerent as I do. Your services do not suffice for the purpose that I have in view. I want something more than the services you have mentioned. That is why I am going to create a being on the Earth and endow him with some powers."
Nomenclature is the means by which human mind grasps the knowledge of things. Hence, the whole information of man, in fact, consists of assigning names. for things. Thus, teaching Adam the names of all things was meant to impart their knowledge to him.
It appears that the knowledge of each angel and of each species of angels is confined only to his or its own special sphere. For example, the angels who deal with the air, know everything about the air but nothing about water. The same is true about the angels who are responsible for other spheres. In contrast to them, man has been granted comprehensive knowledge. He may not know as much about these things as the angels in charge of a special sphere do but the comprehensiveness of knowledge that man has been granted has not been granted to the angels.
This demonstration was the answer to the first doubt of the angels. Thus, Allah, so to say, informed them: "I am not giving Adam only authority but also knowledge. The chaos that you apprehended from his appointment is only one aspect of the matter. It has its good aspect also, which is more weighty and valuable than the evil aspect, and a wise man does not give up a greater good because of a lesser evil."
2.30 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
And when your Lord said to the angels “I am appointing on earth a viceregent” they said “What will You appoint therein one who will do corruption therein and shed blood while we glorify You with praise and sanctify Youḍ”; He said “Assuredly I know what you know not.” This is the beginning of the disclosure of His secret regarding Adam and his progeny. He commanded that clay be extracted from every patch of ground and then commanded that it be left to ferment for forty mornings. Every one of the angels was full of amazement: “What is the property ḥukm of this clayḍ” When He assembled [Adam's] form they had never seen anything like it in marvelous craftsmanship and astonishing wisdom. So when He said “I am appointing on earth... ” conjectures were thrown about hearts were scattered and accusations were made. It was just as [the poet] said: How often I have seen someone beautiful but among mortals my choice has fallen upon you. It is said that God سبحانه وتعالى created all the things He created but did not say about any of them what He said about Adam when He said “I am appointing on earth a viceregent.” The external sense of these words resembles mutual consultation if it were to be [part of a conversation] among created beings. The Real سبحانه وتعالى created the gardens with what is in them and the throne with what it has in well-ordered parts and perfect forms but He did not say “I am creating a throne or a garden or an angel.” Yet He said of Adam “I am appointing on earth a viceregent” as a way of conferring honor and distinction. The words of the angels “What will You appoint therein one who will do corruption thereinḍ” were not an objection to the divine decree but rather a way of seeking to understand it. To interpret the expression in such a way as to absolve the angels of any blame is more fitting since they are sinless. God most high said [in reference to the angels that they are those] Who do not disobey God in what He commands them [66:6]. Others have said that in this speech the Real سبحانه revealed the hidden haughtiness of [the angels'] obedience and the attention they paid to their own acts in their hearts.
They spoke openly about the hidden affairs oftheir innermost selves in saying “While we glorify You with praise.” Then verily the Real سبحانه informed them that the merit of knowledge is more perfect than the merit of action and that while they have the greater part and superiority in action Adam has the greater and more abundant part of knowledge. Hence his merit and rank were made apparent. It is said that the Real سبحانه did not say “They will not do corruption therein and will not shed blood” but rather “Assuredly I know what you know not regarding my pardon of them.” Its meaning is “You know their disobedience but I know my pardon of them.” It is also said that in [the angels' mention of their] glorification there is the disclosure of their act and the publicizing of their special qualities and merit whereas in His pardoning of the disobedient among the children of Adam there is the disclosure of His سبحانه generosity and mercy. The Real سبحانه does not need the obedient acts of anyone. Indeed if [the angels] are deserving of praise and this is clear because of their glorification [then] God the Real سبحانه [is even more] worthy of praise because of [His] pardoning. It is said “Assuredly I know what you know not of the purity of the beliefs of the faithful among them in their love for Us and the maturity of their innermost hearts in preserving Our covenant even if their outward selves are sullied by disobedience” just as it is said: When the lover has committed a single sin his good qualities produce a thousand intercessors. It is also said “Assuredly I know what you know not of My love for them. You disclose your states while I have hidden My secrets in them from them.” Regarding this [the poets] have recited: Those who defame have not diminished your rank with me nor has the slander hurt you. It is as if by criticizing you they have praised you in my sight but they do not know. It is also said “Assuredly I know what you know not of the breaking of the hearts [of humankind] even though they have done ugly acts and [I know of] the immoderation of your hearts in disclosing your glorification and sanctification.
You [angels] are in the rank of harmony wifāq with the sinlessness of your acts and the adornment of your glorification while they [humankind] are disavowed by their own witnesses and are lowly in their hearts. Truly because of the breaking of the hearts of servants there is a powerful protective pact dhimām with Us.” It is said “What significance is there to your glorification if not for My graceḍ” And “What harm is there in their sins when there is My pardonḍ” It is also said “I clothed you with your obedience and clothed them with My mercy so you are in the vest of your obedience and the garb of your sanctification and glorification while they are enveloped in My pardon and veiled in My mercy. I have clothed them with the robe of My generosity and wrapped them in the cloak of My pardon.” It is said “My protection from sin has made you felicitious yet they have received My mercy. My protection to you from sin is connected to your existence while the relationship of My mercy to them is eternal.” It is said “While your virtuous one muḥsin may take precedence in sinlessness their sinner mujram is drowned in mercy.” It is said. “Their reliance on Me purifies their states. It causes them to seek protection in the acknowledgment of ignorance so [the servants] declare themselves free of different types of knowledge except to the degree granted them by the Real.” They said “Glory be to you! We know not except what You have taught us” [2:32].
2.30 Tustari - Al-Tustari
…I am appointing on earth a vicegerent…He answered:God, Exalted is He, before he created Adam said to the angels I am appointing on earth a vicegerent, and He created Adam from the clay of might consisting of the light of Muḥammad, and He informed him that his self which incites evil (al-nafs al-ammāra bi’l-sūʾ) would be his worst enemy, and that He had created it so that he conduct it [on the path] to Him, accordingto his knowledge of it, regarding notions (khawāṭir) and impulses (himam) [which arise in it], and that he [Adam] conduct it in such a way as to remain utterly dependent on Him, seeking refuge in Him. If He shows it an act of obedience, it should respond by saying, ‘O help me!’, and if it is moved to an act of disobedience, it should cry out, ‘O protect me!’ If it is moved to a blessing, it should say, ‘Grant me a share of it!’ If He says to it, ‘Be patient in the face of tribulation’, it should respond saying, ‘O, grant me patience!’ His [man’s] heart should not entertain the slightest whispering (waswasa) of the self without abandoning it and returningto its Lord. God, Exalted is He, made the natural propensity (ṭabʿ) of the self such that it is passive when faced with commandments and active when faced with prohibitions. However, He commanded it to respond with passivity when inclined to activity, and to be active when inclined to passivity, with the words, ‘There is neither power nor strength except in God’, that is, there is no power to resist disobeying Him except through His protection, and no strength to obey Him except with His aid.Then He ordered him [Adam] to enter the Garden and eat from it at ease wherever he wished, after which He decreed to him that he may not eat from the Tree. When he entered the Garden and saw what he saw there, he said, ‘If only we could stay here forever; yet, indeed, we have an appointed time that extends to a known limit.
’Then Satan approached him, on account of his heart’s accommodating itself (musākana) to the whispering of his lower self, and said, ‘Shall I lead you to the tree of eternity that you long for in this abode, which is the means to attain immortality and everlastingness?’, and he added, Your Lord only prohibited you both from this tree, lest you become angels or immortals [7:20]. His argument was just a form of deception. Thereby God, Mighty and Majestic is He, inflicted on [Adam] the Adversary’s whispering, in accordance with His pre-eternal knowledge concerning him, and in fulfilment of what He had preordained and justly decreed for him. The first instance of forgetfulness (nisyān) that took place in Paradise was the forgetfulness of Adam, and it was a deliberate forgetfulness, not accidental, that is, it signified his abandonment of the Covenant. Sahl said: I was informed in an account of one of the Followers (tābiʿūn) that he [the Prophet] said that forgetfulness in the Book of God, Mighty and Majestic is He, is of two kinds. [One is] abandonment,as for example in Sūrat al-Baqara, Or we cause to be forgotten [2:106], when it means: ‘We abandon it and we do not abrogate it’; and also in His words: Forget not kindness between you [2:237], meaning: ‘Do not abandon kindness between yourselves’; and likewise in Sūrat Ṭā Hā, but he [Moses] forgot [20:88], meaning: ‘He has abandoned the Covenant’. Another example occurs in Sūrat al-Sajda, in the words, Taste [now], for your having forgotten the encounter of this day of yours, and We [too] shall forget you [32:14], meaning: ‘We shall abandon you to your punishment as We lifted Our protection from you when you persisted in committing sin.’He continued:The other meaning of forgetfulness is when someone cannot remember because the informationleaves his memory, exemplified by his [Moses’] words [narrated] in Sūrat al-Kahf, I did indeed forget the fish [18:63], meaning: ‘I couldn’t keep it in my memory’ — this is due to the fact that God, Exalted is He, has made Satan a partner with the natural self (nafs al-jibilla) regarding the desires that it has which have nothing to do with God, Exalted is He. Another example is in Moses’ words to Khiḍr, Do not take me to task on account of that which I forgot [18:73], meaning: ‘That which escaped my memory’. Also He said in Sūra Sabbiḥ [Sūrat al-Aʿlā], We will have you recite [the Qurʾān], so you do not forget.
[87:6] — that is: ‘We shall have you memorise [the Qurʾān], so that you do not forget it’.So this [Adam’s forgetfulness and Satan’s access to him] was because of his preoccupation with his own devising (tadbīr). His thought [for everlasting life] did not involve any considered reflection which might have made it a form of worship, but rather it was a kind of thinking that springs from a disposition (ṭabʿ) in his self (nafs al-jibilla). God, Exalted is He, decreed when He created the heavens and the earth, that if He sees in a person’s heart something in which he is acquiescing other than Himself, that person will be overpowered by Satan, who will whisper in his breast (ṣadr) to his lower self, by [generating] a desire, such that it [the nafs] will invite him to pursue it. Or he may turn back to his Lord seeking refuge in Him and clinging to His protection (iʿtiṣām). However, in his native land, God concealed His remembrance from [Adam] until after he had committed that which was forbidden, so that His prior knowledge concerning that which He had forbidden him could be fulfilled; and Adam’s act [of disobedience]then became a habit among his progeny up until the Day of Resurrection. In reality, God did not mean by this the matter of eating [from the tree], but rather the acquiescence (musākana) of the desire (himma) in something other than Him. Phrased another way, [Godis saying]: ‘He [man] should not concern himself with anything other than Me’. Adam was not protected from the desire (himma) and the act (fiʿl) in Paradise, so what befell him, befell him for that reason. Similarly, he who claims what is not his, while his heart appeases him by entertaining the desire of his lower self, will be afflicted with God’s abandonment (tark), Mighty and Majestic is He, notwithstanding the fact that God naturally disposed his lower self to it, unless He has mercy upon him by protecting him from his own devising (tadbīr), and helps him against his enemy, that is, his self that incites to evil. The people of Paradise, when they are in Paradise, will be protected from the planning (tadbīr) that they were accustomed to in the abode of this world.
Yet Adam, when he was placed in Paradise, was not protected from his heart’s acquiescence in the planning of his lower self for immortality. Do you not see that calamity (balāʾ) befell him because of the reliance (sukūn) of his heart upon what his lower self whispered to him? And so desire (hawā) and lust (shahwa) overwhelmed knowledge (ʿilm), the intellect (ʿaql), lucidity (bayān) and the light of the heart (nūr al-qalb), on account of that which God, Exalted is He, had preordained. Thus the end of the situation was as the Prophet foretold when he said: ‘Truly passion and desire overwhelm knowledge and intellect’.