The stories and lessons in today’s column are according to Muslim tradition. This column is also very close to the beliefs of Jewish traditions. The gospel about Jesus (peace be upon him) reminds us of his Jewish heritage and his profession of Jewish law (Matthew 5:17).
In my last column, I talked about the creation of our first ancestor, Adam (PBUH). When Adam was created, he was alone; one soul in heaven. Then God created out of Adam his mate, Eve.
God says, “O’ Mankind, be good to your Lord, who created you from a single person and from him was created his wife. And, from this pair many men and women were created.”
A saying of the Prophet Muhammad (a Hadith) tells us that Eve was created from a rib of Adam. The prophet also said, “Take good care of women, because the woman was created from a rib and the most bent part of the rib is at the top of it. If you try to straighten it, you will break it. If you leave it, it will remain bent.”
This Hadith could be explained to mean to be kind to women because it will be better for you.
Adam and Eve were admitted to paradise where they lived the dream of mankind. God permitted them to enjoy everything except one tree. The Quran does not tell us what kind of tree it was. That knowledge is not that important for our lessons. It might have been an apple tree, or the tree of pain, or the tree of knowledge.
God said to Adam, “Dwell here with your wife in this paradise; eat and enjoy the bounties as you wish; but, do not approach this tree, or you will run into harm and transgression.”
Adam and Eve were human beings. Man tends to forget that the heart changes and the will weakens. The envious Satan started to whisper to Adam day after day, “Should I guide you to the Tree of Infinite Life and Eternal Kingdom?”
Adam dreamed of living forever in the paradise.
Years went by. Then, one day, when they had forgotten about the forbidden tree and that Satan wastheir sworn enemy, Adam reached out for the fruit of the tree. He shared the fruit with his mate, Eve. They both ate from the forbidden tree.
They were hardly finished when they realized their hearts were sinking with sadness and shame. They discovered their nakedness and they started to cut tree leaves to cover themselves.
How could such a beloved first human and great future prophet willingly commit an error like this? This was an experience, a preparation for a later life. God teaches lessons to prophets so they could improve. Knowledge is important, but experience teaches a lesson.
God said to Adam and Eve, “Get down all of you from the paradise to Earth. The earth will be your dwelling place to enjoy for you and your children for a time.”
Adam was sad, and Eve cried. Then, Adam and Eve received words of forgiveness from their Lord. God forgave them both and accepted their repentance because it was sincere.
These words of repentance are the prayer of the sinners. And we are strongly urged to memorize the following prayer:
“Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves. If you do not forgive us, and do not bestow your mercy on us, we certainly be among the losers.”
God told them that the earth would be their abode, where they would live and die, and that they would return on the Day of Judgment.
Eve is not blamed for the mistake in Islamic tradition. Both Adam and Eve sinned and both repented. And, both were forgiven. Every soul is responsible for his or her deeds, good or bad. By the same token, a child is born pure and innocent.
Lessons from the stories of Adam and Eve are to be continued in my next column.
• Riaz Hasan is a former director of outreach for the Tracy Islamic Center. He is now active in Islamic Outreach in the greater Bay Area and San Joaquin County. For more information, call 830-6286 or visit Islam.Outreach@yahoo.com.