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Salamun Alaikum (Peace be upon you)

 

 

ADAM (pbuh) AND JANNAH - AN EARTHLY ABODE OR PARADISE?

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Copyright 2009 Joseph A Islam: Article last modified 7th May 2014


 

There has been much debate throughout history and within Islamic literature as to whether the Jannah referred to in the following verse was an earthly abode or a reference to another heavenly location synonymous with the paradise of the afterlife.

002.035 
"And We said: "O Adam! dwell you and your wife in the Garden (Arabic: Janata) and eat of the bountiful things therein as (where and when) you (both) will; but do not (you two) approach this tree, or you (both) will be of the wrongdoers"

 

AN ANALYSIS OF THE TERM JANNAH

 

The Arabic word 'Jannah' is formed from the root word 'Jiim-Nun-Nun' which means to veil, cover, hide or conceal. It forms words such as 'Jinn' as these are entities concealed to one's senses.

 

'Jannah' literally means a 'garden' irrespective of whether it is an abode in the afterlife or elsewhere. It takes its meaning from the dense trees which conceal the ground.

 

 

 

 

  Source: Edward Lanes Lexicon    [1]

 

 

ADAM (pbuh) WAS MADE FOR THE EARTH

 

The following verse makes it absolutely clear that Adam (pbuh) was created to be placed on Earth as vicegerent. There is no mention of an intermediary abode, or a place in the heavens, but rather, as the verse clearly states, a purpose to be fulfilled on Earth.

002.030 
"Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "Indeed, I am going to place a vicegerent on the earth." They said: "Will You place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Your praises and glorify You?" He said: "Indeed, I know what you know not." 

Furthermore, we continue to read the mention of a garden (Jannah) only a few verses later. There is no disconnect in the theme of the Quranic narrative and therefore there is no reason to assume that the location has changed.

002.035 
"And We said: "O Adam! dwell you and your wife in the Garden (Arabic: Janata) and eat of the bountiful things therein as (where and when) you (both) will; but do not (you two) approach this tree, or you (both) will be of the wrongdoers"

 

 

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF RECREATING THE UNIVERSE IF A HEAVEN ALREADY EXISTS?

 

In the following verse, it is clear that the Universe will be recreated on the Day of Judgment for the abode of the righteous (Jannah).

021.104 
"The Day that We roll up the heavens like a scroll rolled up for books (completed) - even as We produced the first creation, so shall We produce a new one: a promise We have undertaken: truly shall We fulfil it" 

 

021.105 
"Before this We wrote in the Psalms, after the Message (given to Moses): My servants the righteous, shall inherit the earth"

 

014:048

"(On the) day when the Earth will be changed to other than the Earth, and the heavens (also will be changed) and they will come forth to God, the One, the Almighty" 

 

The Quran also claims this abode to be as wide as the previous Universe.

003:133

"Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous"

 

057:021

"Race one with another for forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden where the breadth is as the breadth of the heavens and the earth, prepared for those who believe in God and His messengers. Such is the bounty of God, which He bestows upon whom He will, and God is of Infinite Bounty"

 

 

HOW COULD ADAM (pbuh) HAVE KNOWN OF THE SUN OR ITS HEAT IF HE WAS IN ANOTHER HEAVENLY LOCATION?

 

There is strong suggestion in the following verses that the Garden (Jannat) was in fact in a location where the sun's heat was present. This is not such a far fetched proposition given that plant life would require the energy from the sun to sustain and flourish.

 

However, it is also clear that the state that both Adam (pbuh) and his spouse found themselves did not require them to feel the heat of the sun. If Adam (pbuh) was in a separate location and not aware at that time of an Earthly abode (as he had not yet sinned), then the mention of the heat of the sun would be somewhat meaningless.

020.117
"Then We said: "O Adam! indeed, this is an enemy to you and your wife: so let him not get you both from the Garden (Jannate), so that you would suffer".
 

 

020.118
"Surely it is (ordained) for you that you shall not be hungry therein nor to go naked"

 

020.119
"
And that you shall not suffer from thirst nor shall you feel the heat of the sun"

It is a difficult proposition to accept that despite Adam (pbuh) being created for the Earth, he was instead introduced into another location, especially when there is no direct evidence in the Quran for such an assertion. Furthermore, it is difficult to accept that he was then given volition to sin to carry it out so that he could be banished to the Earth, the intended location of his abode in the first place.  

It wouldn't be much of a choice if God had actually created him for the Earth and then waited so that Adam (pbuh) could sin before He could accomplish His plan.

A more plausible explanation given the text and the context of the narratives is that Adam (pbuh) was only placed on Earth, the intended location and therein given volition to make choices.  Indeed, the state Adam (pbuh) was introduced into was one where he would neither have to toil to gather necessary provisions for sustenance, felt the heat or thirst, nor would he have felt ashamed of his nakedness (much like the animal kingdom). For all intent and purposes, this was a state of felicity irrespective of being an Earthly abode.

 

It was this state that he was removed from after he had sinned.

002:036

Then did Satan make them slip from it (garden), and get them out of the state (of felicity) in which they had been. We said: "Get down, (all of you), with enmity between yourselves and for you in the earth will (is) a dwelling-place and your means of livelihood for a time." 

 

'GO DOWN'

007:024

"(God) said "Go down (Arabic: ih'bitu) (from hence) with enmity between yourselves. And on earth will be your dwelling place and livelihood for a time""

The expression 'ih'bitu' is often understood to mean a movement from paradise to planet Earth as a shift between two very different locations. From a Quran's perspective, there is no warrant for such a restrictive interpretation.

 

We note the same expression used for the Children of Israel who were not in any other location but planet Earth.

002:061 (part)

"...Go down (ih'bitu) to Egypt..."

 

The verb 'habata' (ih'bit) simply means a change of state from one (arguably better) to another, to descend from a better state of being to a lower one, a lower rank, state of dignity or a change in condition, to become degraded, or to go forth (as seen in verse 11:48).

 

 

 

 Source: Edward Lanes Lexicon    [2]

 

 

Therefore, the expression in verse 7:24 can simply imply a change of state from one better and not necessarily a move from paradise to planet Earth as two very different locations.

 

 


 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

Given the discussions above it appears that both Adam (pbuh) and his spouse were created for the purposes to reside on Earth as vicegerents. What changed was the state of felicity that they initially acquired and after sinning, were subsequently banished from it till a term appointed.

 

 

Related Articles:

(1)   Theory of Evolution and the Quran

(2)   Heaven(s) and Paradise - The Difference

(3)   Are There Seven Heavens or Several Heavens?

 

 

REFERENCES

 

[1] LANE. E.W, Edward Lanes Lexicon, Williams and Norgate 1863; Librairie du Liban Beirut-Lebanon 1968, Volume 2, Page 463

Highlights marked in red on the lexicon excerpt are my own insertions. They have no bearing on the original text other than they emphasise relevance to the topic at hand. These are merely illustrations and have solely been utilised for educational and explanatory purposes.

[2] Ibid., Volume 8, Page 2874

Highlights marked in red on the lexicon excerpt are my own insertions. They have no bearing on the original text other than they emphasise relevance to the topic at hand. These are merely illustrations and have solely been utilised for educational and explanatory purposes.

 

 

Joseph Islam

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