The Wisdom Behind The Angels Questioning Allah

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What are the wisdom of angels questioning allah?

  1. The angels were simply curious about the purpose as to why man would be created. Otherwise, it was not a question asked in protest or because they were jealous of Adam (as). Both the Qur’an and Sunnah tell us that angels lack the power and ability to rebel against Allah, be envious of or hold grudges against others.
  2. The angels may have found out that man would eventually end up causing turmoil on earth and shed blood. Many scholars say that the angels can see and read the Preserved Tablet (lawh-i mahfuz), on which all events, past and future, are registered.[1]
  3. They may have asked because Allah may have already told them about the evils human beings would get up to.
  4. Another view suggests that the angels felt apprehensive about man because they knew that the jinn, who created long before them, wound up causing great trouble.

It is narrated that when He wished to create man, Allah whispered to the earth, “I will make myself a caliph from your soil. Among them, there will be those who obey Me and others who rebel. I will place those who obey me in paradise and send the rebels to hell!”

He then sent the four archangels, Jibril, Mikail, Israfil and Azrail bring back a handful of soil from various places on earth. However, the earth resisted, pleading “I cannot give any part of me that may end up being thrown into the flames of hell!”[2]

So, Jibril, Mikail and Israfil returned empty-handed, and told Allah, “The earth sought refuge in You and asked to be pardoned because it did not wish to give away any part of itself doomed for punishment. We did not feel it was right to force it to submit”.

However, Azrail feared the thought of returning to Allah without fulfilling the command he was ordered and went ahead. He collected different types of soil, red, white and brown from all over the world; mixed them all up and presented it to God. For his tenacity, Allah gave him the role of also taking man’s life.[3]

Man is made from earth and he carries its characteristics. There are times when earth becomes dry, parched under the sun and longs for water. A time comes when it has to endure the brunt of winter, and it then comes back alive with the rains of spring. It becomes painted with a captivating beauty of colors and fragrances, as if to put on show the magnificence of the divine brush.

Man shares a fate similar to that of earth. He quivers in the whirlwind of worldly ambitions, like sand dunes in a desert storm. He lets the tyranny of his ego knock him around and lay waste to himself. Only when he overcomes that does he find peace. It is then that he becomes a focal point of divine mercy and inspiration. Like a parched soil covered and concealed by a flood of rain, he becomes selfless.  And like spring, he then offers the beauty he has to the benefit of others.

Man’s mortal body is made from earth. It is fed from the earth and in the end returns to it. It heads back to what it came from. Every single element found in earth is also more or less found in the human body. In a sense, the body is the earth that appears in a different form. According to one etymology, ‘Adam’ means ‘soil’; and the first man was given that name to point to his origin.[4] The Qur’an says:

“He created Him from dust; then He said to him, ‘be,’ and he was.” (Al Imran, 3: 59)

Just as soil comes with different colors ranging from red and yellow to brown, so do human beings. Soil can also have a soft or hard feel, which similarly reflects on different temperaments:

“Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby fruits of varying colors? And in the mountains are tracts, white and red of varying shades and some extremely black. And among people and moving creatures and grazing livestock are various colors similarly. Only those who have knowledge from among His servants, fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Forgiving.” (Fatir, 35: 27-28)

The Prophet (saw) says:

Allah (jj) created Adam from a handful of soil collected from all parts of the earth. Some of Adam’s children are therefore red, some are white, others black and then there are those who are combination of these colors. Some of them are born mild and others harsh.” (Abu Dawud, 16)

It is narrated that, “Allah kneaded the soil with which He created Adam for forty days”. (Al-Tabari, Tafsir, III, 306). Each of these days represent a phase whose length or nature is unknown.

It is also narrated that the mud used to create Adam (as) was set to rest for forty years. It was then baked in a mold and received a rain of sorrow for thirty-nine years, and a rain of joy for one. Hence, man’s sorrow is greater than his happiness. Saints have said:

“Such is life. If it makes you smile for a day, it makes you cry for days on end.”

The rain spoken of there is not physical but spiritual. The word rain is only a metaphor.

However, sorrow is always followed by joy. Great rewards come in the wake of patience in the face of pain; just as the Prophet’s (saw) Night Journey took place after a painful visit to Taif and the happier days of Medina came after troublesome years in Mecca.

The Qur’an declares:

“For indeed, with hardship [will be]ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be]ease.” (Al-Inshirah, 94: 5-6)[5]

When chapter al-Inshirah was revealed, it made the Prophet (saw) very happy to find out that a single hardship came with two sets of ease, and he told the companions:

“One hardship can never defeat two eases…for with every difficulty, there certainly is not just one ease but two”.

An old Arabic poem draws inspiration from al-Inshirah to point to a way out of trouble:

Reflect on Inshirah when trouble strikes,

For it is ambushed by ease on both sides

Without a doubt, the world is a place of trial filled with troubles of all sorts. The Qur’an tells us that:

“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient…who, when disaster strikes them, say, ‘We belong to Allah, and to Him we will return’. Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the guided.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 155-157)

Even plants grow to their full potential after a long, patient wait. Spring follows only after the earth has endured the blizzards of winter. Man becomes mature only through ordeal and patience.

The Qur’an lists the stages of Adam’s (as) creation as follows:

  1. The Soil Stage

“He created Him from dust; then He said to him, ‘be’, and he was.” (Al Imran, 3: 59)

As mentioned before, human beings are made of soil and carry its traits. Soil is walked on and clawed through to sow crops or build things. However, it does not react in the slightest. This is where human traits such as patience and modesty come from. However, in some people, the stillness of the earth can also transpire in laziness.

  1. The Mud Stage

“He who perfected everything which He created and began the creation of man from mud.” (Al-Sajdah, 32: 7)

At this stage, water comes into the equation. Water cleanses and it represents purification. It finds expression in man’s chastity and tendency to keep himself clean, both physically and spiritually.

  1. The Sticky Mud Stage

“Indeed, We created men from sticky mud.” (Al-Saffat, 37: 11)

Mud sticks; and represents man’s loyalty and resilience in sticking to a task. Nevertheless, this can also reflect in stubbornness and holding onto prejudices.

  1. The Dried Mud Stage

“And We did certainly create man out of clay from an altered black mud” (Al-Hijr, 15: 26)

Here, air enters the scene, as it is the force that dries up mud. Air is also what makes mud move; and the same force that has animated man into action. However, at the same time, like the wind, man can tend to be fickle and waver.

  1. The Shaped Mud Stage

“And when your Lord said to the angels, ‘I will create a human being out of clay from an altered black mud’”. (Al-Hijr, 15: 28)

This refers to the ability of man to shape and be shaped, as well as to train and educate. He can put this ability to either good use or bad. He just needs to be pointed to the right direction.

  1. The Baked Clay Stage

“He created man from baked clay like pottery” (Al-Rahman, 55: 14)

Here, fire enters the scene. It is from this fire that pride, conceit, deceit, jealousy and rebellion to Allah’s commands originate from.

This is man in his original creation. Elsewhere, the Qur’an also offers a summary of how the children of Adam (as) will come into the world:

And certainly We did create man from an extract of clay. Then We placed him as a sperm-drop in a firm lodging. Then We made the sperm-drop into a clinging clot, and We made the clot into a lump of flesh,[6] and We made from the lump, bones, and We covered the bones with flesh; then We developed him into another creation. So blessed is Allah , the most beautiful of creators[7].” (Al-Mu’minun, 23: 12-14)

It is only in our century that the science of medicine has been able to discover what Allah revealed in the Qur’an some 1400 years ago about the stages of the embryo’s development in the womb.

In the above verses, Allah speaks of the remarkable phases of man’s creation. The first man was made from soil or dust, which are not worth much and have nothing special about them. The same goes for his descendants born into the world from the mother’s womb. The baby is first a drop of sperm, then a cold clot of blood and afterward small lump of flesh. Not only is their sight not appealing, they can even make many people queasy. But then, with a strike of God’s divine brush, they together form the elegant and spectacular masterpiece that is the human being. She then comes into the world spirited, full of energy and vigor only for the clock to be turned back on her with old age, until she finally returns to where she came from: to dust. She is left in the grave to rot and disappear. However, like a drop of mercury, a tiny particle of bone called the ajbu’z-zanab defies the whole course of decay. From that bone, she springs back to life and is resurrected, just like a plant that grows from one tiny seed, but where the entire process is fast forwarded.

Allah uses numerous occasions in the Qur’an to invite man to contemplate his journey in this world of multiplicity.

“And whoever We grant a long life to, We reverse in creation. Will they not understand?” (Ya Sin, 36: 68)

“Allah is the one who created you from weakness, then gave you strength after weakness, and then gave you weakness after strength and white hair. He creates what He wills, and He is the Knowing, the Competent.” (Al-Rum, 30: 54)

“From the earth We created you, and into it We will return you, and from it We will extract you another time.” (Ta Ha, 20: 55)

This goes to show that the human body, which goes through all the stages of life on earth, is destined for mortality. What is eternal is the human spirit. It is through the spirit that man will embark on a journey to either heaven or hell; to either joy or doom. Rumi says:

Feed your body only little of the sweet and fatty stuff; for feeding the flesh starves the spirit. Feed your spirit, so that it can travel to eternal life full of strength”.

[1]. See, Razi, Tafsir, XXXI, 114.[2].      This shows that beings, which we take to be lifeless and still, are conscious enough to feel the weight of responsibility. In fact, the Prophet (saw) had one day ascended Mount Uhud alongside companions Abu Bakr, Umar and Ali (r.anhum), when the mount began to tremble, upon which the Prophet (saw) said, “Stay calm, Uhud…you have no other weight than that of a prophet, a trustworthy and two martyrs”. (al-Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 18/3703)

All natural beings, including plants and animals, in fact give thanks to and remember the Lord in their own tongues. The Quran says, “The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing that does not praise Allah but you do not understand their way. Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving.” (Al-Isra, 17: 44) Other examples that come to mind are the date trunk that moaned with a longing for the Prophet (saw) (Al-Bukhari, Manaqib, 25) and how Red Sea distinguished Moses (as) from the Pharaoh (Al-Baqara, 2: 50).

In recent years, Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto conducted remarkable research into frozen water crystals. He discovered that the crystals are made up perfect hexagons, and can be found in their most spellbinding and beautiful form in natural spring waters untouched by man. So, he did an experiment, where he put some of this water in two separate containers. He whispered words of love, compassion, prayer and gratitude into one, and insults, including the word ‘Satan’, into the other. The crystals in the first container retained their natural splendor; yet crumbled and lost all their visual beauty in the second. In the same experiment, he also found that the crystals react differently to beautiful music and ugly, distorted rhythms. Emoto then went on to do a similar experiment on two jars of rice – one marked with the words ‘thank you’ and the other with the word ‘stupid’. And each day for a month, he whispered the words into each jar. The first batch of rice retained its freshness and sparkle, while the second darkened and started emitting a foul odor.  (M. Akif Deniz, Ilk Adim, February, 2003)

[3].  See, al-Tabari, Tarikh, I, 89-90.[4]. See, Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, I, 26.[5]. The verses repeat the words difficulty (usr) and ease (yusr) twice. But on both occasions, difficulty or usr comes with the Arabic prefix –al, which functions like the English ‘the’, rendering it a definite noun. On the other hand, the prefix –al does not precede ease, or yusr, on either occasion, making them indefinite nouns. What this means according to the rules of Arabic grammar (which is the same in the English language) is that the two difficulties are of the same kind and therefore really one and the same, whereas the two eases are not one and the same, but double. Thus, there is always twice as more ease than difficulty. (See, al-Bukhari, Tafsir, 94).[6].The term used for a lump of flesh is mudghah and it literally means a piece of chewed meat. This is one of Quran’s many miracles that science has stumbled upon only this century. It comprises the third phase of a baby’s development in the womb, where the embryo looks much like a piece of chewed meat that carries teeth marks. [7]. See, footnote 19.

Source: The History of Prophets in Light of The Qur’an, THE CHAIN OF PROPHETS, Osman Nuri TOPBAŞ, Erkam Publications

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