Author Topic: A Passage from "God and the State" by Bakunin, and the concept of Original Sin  (Read 5252 times)

ths

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Salaam everyone,

I'm just reading "God and the State", written by Mikhail Bakunin, one of the foremost political thinkers in the world. He was a contemporary of Karl Marx, but was his biggest enemy at the time, because the Marxists called for a "dictatorship of the proletariat", ie. a state run by the workers, and Bakunin believed that no state would ever be fair and just. He famously declared that the "red bureaucracy" of State Socialism was "the most vile and terrible lie that our century has created."

Anyway the introduction of his book is wonderful in its logic and lucidity of language, and it pertains to us on free-minds, because it talks of religion, or specifically, the faults in the accepted religious dogma that Bakunin perceived at the time. Allow me to copy a passage here, and highlight in bold his most important arguments:

 
Quote
Jehovah, who of all the good gods adored by men was certainly the most jealous, the most vain, the most ferocious, the most unjust, the most bloodthirsty, the most despotic, and the most hostile to human dignity and liberty - Jehovah had just created Adam and Eve, to satisfy we know not what caprice; no doubt to while away his time, which must weigh heavy on his hands in his eternal egoistic solitude, or that he might have some new slaves. He generously placed at their disposal the whole earth, with all its fruits and animals, and set but a single limit to this complete enjoyment. He expressly forbade them from touching the fruit of the tree of knowledge. He wished, therefore, that man, destitute of all understanding of himself, should remain an eternal beast, ever on all-fours before the eternal God, his creator and his master. But here steps in Satan, the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds. He makes man ashamed of his bestial ignorance and obedience; he emancipates him, stamps upon his brow the seal of liberty and humanity, in urging him to disobey and eat of the fruit of knowledge.

We know what followed. The good God, whose foresight, which is one of the divine faculties, should have warned him of what would happen, flew into a terrible and ridiculous rage; he cursed Satan, man, and the world created by himself, striking himself so to speak in his own creation, as children do when they get angry; and, not content with smiting our ancestors themselves, he cursed them in all the generations to come, innocent of the crime committed by their forefathers.

...Then, remembering that he was not only a God of vengeance and wrath, but also a God of love, after having tormented the existence of a few milliards of poor human beings and condemned them to an eternal hell, he took pity on the rest, and, to save them and reconcile his eternal and divine love with his eternal and divine anger, always greedy for victims and blood, he sent into the world, as an expiatory victim, his only son, that he might be killed by men....Still, if the divine Savior had saved the human world! But no; in the paradise promised by Christ, as we know, such being the formal announcement, the elect will number very few. The rest, the immense majority of the generations present and to come, will burn eternally in hell. In the meantime to console us, God, ever just, ever good, hands over the earth to the government of the Napoleon Thirds, of the William Firsts, of the Ferdinands of Austria, and of the Alexanders of all the Russias.

Such are the absurd tales that are told and the monstrous doctrines that are taught, in the full light of the nineteenth century, in all the public schools of Europe...


What an amazing paragraph! Full of humour and colourful prose.

So let me highlight the questions raised by this passage, ignoring the arguments that stem solely from Christian teaching, and start a discussion on these questions and how they are answered based on our knowledge of the Quran.


QUESTIONS

1. Why did God create Adam and Eve, and by proxy, the rest of humanity? Was it out of boredom or to have more slaves, as Bakunin suggests?
2. Why set a limit to their enjoyment and freedom with the tree?
3. God has perfect foresight, so why did he not see their sin coming? Why would he create them and give them sanctuary if he knew they would sin and have to be cast down from heaven?
4. Why would God then become angry and enraged, if he knew it would happen all along?
5. If Adam and Eve were human beings who sinned, then why punish all the rest of humanity? Why do we suffer for their sins?
6. "The elect will number very few". Why create human beings if the vast majority will sin, and then face an eternal punishment?


DISCUSSION


First I'd like to point to a conversation here on free-minds that first enlightened me to the fact that the Quran provides stark evidence to show us that Adam and Eve were not singular human beings. Samia's responses were very enlightening, and starting from this one, I encourage you all to read the short thread in its entirety.


Here are the main points that we can gather from those posts before we try to answer the questions above:

I) The accepted beliefs regarding Adam and Eve are false, and most likely copied and influenced from Christian teachings.

II) The command "Ahbituu" given by God to Adam and Eve in 2:36 and 2:38 is generally accepted as meaning "go down from here" or "descend", and is accepted as meaning God sent Adam and Eve down from heaven. But it is also given to the Israelites when they complain of the food in the desert in 2:61, where God tells them to '"ahbituu" back to Egypt then, if that's what they want'. It is also said by God to Satan, as well as to Noah to descend from the mountain with God's blessing. Therefore it does not mean "go down" strictly, but to go from a higher place (spiritually or physically) on earth to a lower one.

III) Adam is a representation of humanity, and not a single person. The creation story, however, alternates from plural to singular. Samia in this post, argues that this shift in form is a very high linguistic quality, where the singular represents humanity, and the dual represents both genders.

In 7:11, it states: And We created you (plural), then fashioned you (plural), then told the angels: Fall ye prostrate before Adam! And they fell prostrate, all save Iblis, who was not of those who make prostration.



One interesting thing to note is 4:1, where it states:

O Mankind! Fear your Lord, who created you (plural) of a single soul (nafs), and from her (feminine: minhaa) created her mate [zawjahaa], and from the pair of them scattered abroad many men and women;

People often argue that this verse corroborates the story of Eve being created from Adam's rib. However the Arabic is not talking about physical bodies, but of souls, or beings, and they are feminine.




ANSWERS


I can answer a few of the questions posed by the text already:


1.

?We did not create heaven and earth and what is between them for sport. Had we wanted to adopt a pastime, we could have found it in ourself,? 21:16-17, 44:38
So God did not create the universe out of boredom, as Bakunin suggests. Instead, the universe was created for man (3:190-191) and was done ?in truth? ( 6:73; 29:44; 39:5; 44:39; 45:22)

?We did not create heaven and earth and what is between them for nothing. That is the thinking of those who disbelieve? (38:27).

The Encyclopedia of the Quran Volume 1 has this to say about the creation of the Universe:

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What was God?s intention in creating the physical cosmos? On this point, the Qur'ān is unabashedly anthropocentric. God?s purpose in the creation of the universe was focused on humanity. This is manifest, for example, in the fact that the universe is admirably designed to provide for human needs and wants (q 2:22, 29; 10:67; 14:32-4; 16:5-8, 10-8, 80-1; 17:12; 20:54-5; 22:65; 23:17-22; 67:15; 78:6-13; 79:32-3).
   -- That argument for an intelligent designer is known in philosophy as the Anthropic Principle

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God did not, however, create the universe merely for the comfort and enjoyment of the human race. It is also arranged as a proving ground for them. ?He it is who created the heavens and the earth in six days... in order to test you, which of you is best in conduct? (q 11:7; cf. q 18:7; 67:2;

So why did God create mankind?

?I have created the jinn and humankind only for My worship.? (51:56)
 I cannot find any other reason than this mentioned in the Quran.

So it seems, whether we like it or not, we were created to worship God alone. However, God states that he does not need our worship.

This leads me to ask, why did God create us to worship him if he does not need our worship?


2.

Perhaps to show them their sinful ways? To prove to them that they indeed need to pass the "test of life" (29:2-3, 2:214) before being allowed in heaven?
Adam and Eve were "cast down" from some holy place on earth, it seems, and they had to understand why; it wasn't sufficient for God to first punish them with the argument that they would have sinned anyway. Rosalind Gwynne's book "Logic, Rhetoric, and Legal Reasoning in the Quran" discusses the author's view that God always provides a reason "why" rules are the way they are, and that it is a natural intrinsic human emotion.


3.

It seems from the Quran that God knew beforehand that humans would err and cause corruption on earth:

 ?And when your lord said to the angels, ?I am about to place a vice-regent on earth,? they said, ?Will you place thereon one who will work corruption there and shed blood, while we proclaim your praise and call you holy?? He said, ?I know what you do not know.? ? 2:30

So God knew Adam and Eve (humans would sin), and the reason he created the universe, as we saw in question 1, is for humans to subside and marvel at, and the reason he created the earth is for humans to prove themselves and prove that they are worthy of heaven.
 

4.

God does not become angry or enraged at Adam and Eve according to the Quran. I could not find verses showing this. 7:20-22 shows God's reaction in very emotionless speech.


5.

The answer to this is that that is not really possible. The Quran states that we cannot pay for the sins of others, so it is not possible that we are punished with our presence on this earth because our ancestor Adam sinned.

Therefore the best answer is that the story of Adam and Eve is a parable. They represent us.
They were created, and given free will.
They were tempted by Satan to eat from a tree in the Garden (jannah), and they could not hold themselves away from this temptation.
Thus they sinned by giving in to the temptation, and were cast down to earth, where they and their progeny had to prove that they were worthy of heaven oncemore.

If we take Adam and Eve as a representation of human beings, then this story makes sense and does not contradict the other teachings of the Quran.

We humans are not capable of controlling our desires and temptations, and must thus face a period of trial and burdens (29:2, 2:214), before being accepted into heaven.



This leaves us with 3 questions:

1. Why did God create us to worship him if he does not need our worship?
2. Why create human beings if the vast majority will sin, and then face an eternal punishment? Is punishment eternal?
3. Can it be proved Quranically, and without doubt, that Adam and his partner are not proper names in the Quran but representations of humanity?




Disclaimer:

I apologize for the length of this post. I originally only intended to post the passage from the book and the questions, and then let the discussion ensue. But I got into researching myself, and had to continue writing. I decided to just leave the passage there as an introduction. Besides, Bakunin's refutation of Original Sin was wonderfully written
فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ ۚ
So strive as in a race in all virtues!
5:48

Wakas

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peace,

http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Quran-Themes-Styles-Studies/dp/1860646506

It has a chapter specifically discussing the parable of adam, showing it is non-literal. I have the book, it's good.
All information in my posts is correct to the best of my knowledge only and thus should not be taken as a fact. One should seek knowledge and verify: 17:36, 20:114, 35:28, 49:6, 58:11. My articles

www.studyQuran.org

kgwithnob

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Dear ths,

Perhaps it'll be a little more helpful to go back and start with the process of creation as a whole in order to come up with better answers to your questions.

http://free-minds.org/forum/index.php?topic=9600440.msg247806#msg247806

Peace,
Khalil

ths

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Salaam Wakas, thanks for the link. The book is a bit pricey, so I'd appreciate it if you could share some of its insights with us! I could only see the beginning in Amazon's intro, and not the whole chapter.

My problem is that there are some verses that seem to mention Adam as an actual person. For example:

3:33

Lo! God preferred Adam and Noah and the Family of Abraham and the Family of 'Imran above (all His) creatures.

Isn't Adam redundant in this verse if it actually means humanity?

7:19

O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden and eat from whence ye will, but come not nigh this tree lest ye become wrong-doers.

20:115

And verily We made a covenant of old with Adam, but he forgot, and We found no constancy in him.


These verses all mention Adam as a singular male. Whilst my logic earlier tells me that the story of Adam is a parable, it is hard to see what message these verses are trying to convey if that is so. They make perfect sense if we take Adam to be an actual person.

Also, what is your opinion of these 2 questions:

1. Why did God create us to worship him if he does not need our worship?
2. Why create human beings if the vast majority will sin, and then face an eternal punishment? Is punishment eternal?

After thinking more about these, the only answer I can come up with for question 1 is because of His benevolence. He is giving us life, and the chance to abide forever in heaven, and He has no reason to do so whatsoever besides His goodness. But do you have any other opinions on this, or is there any evidence in the Quran otherwise?

As for question 2, it is ruining my answer for question 1. For if God has created us all out of His goodness, then what about the majority of the people who will spend eternity in Hell, whatever it may be? Surely it is better not to have been created at all!
But is there evidence in the Quran that sinner are to reside in Hell permanently?


Salaam kgwithnob,

I'm familiar with the creation story and the things you mention in  your post. And they don't really seem to be answering my questions at all. I have no problem believing that the process of evolution is compatible with the Quran.



EDIT: I found a pdf copy of the book!

A forum linked to it here, and I've downloaded it and am poring over the chapter as we speak. I will respond once I have time to give it a proper read.

EDIT 2:

So I've read the chapter, and enjoyed it a lot. It gives me much more confidence in believing that the story of Adam is allegorical.
However, it still makes me wonder how we are to understand some of these verses, such as 3:33 for example.
Reading 'Adam' as humanity makes it redundant in 3:33, and reading all of the Prophets mentioned in the verse as allegorical makes the verse nonsensical.
فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ ۚ
So strive as in a race in all virtues!
5:48

OPF

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People dwell in hell for "as long as the universe endures except as Allah pleases". If you think it's unjust to plop someone in hell for longer than 3 seconds then that is your judgement and chances are that ALLAH would agree but surely some trust must be placed in the one that created us not to plop us in hell unjustly?

As for the Adam and Eve story, I think of it this way - ALLAH is the one who shapes the dice and numbers them but ALLAH lets the dice choose what numbers they want to land on. So ALLAH creates things and lets them be, then reshapes the dice so they choose better numbers the next time round - hence, evolution.

We are here to prove that the shape of humans is fitting for dwellers in an eternal heaven where anyone can play with anything and this is merely our go at beta testing it on Earth - if we fail, we are gone from this planet and a new smarter & kinder species would probably be designed to replace us and carry out whatever is entailed of "the trust".

ALLAH created man to serve him, not worship him. Worship is useless - having no power to profit or harm, but servitude is eternally gracious to ALLAH. You serve ALLAH by serving your fellow man.

According to the quran, man occupies some kind of special position within the universe (our own little pocket of existence, anyway!). We are the entities that chose to uphold the "divine trust" (33:72). Also, 2:30 shows man was created as a successor in form to the angels, because they can only "sing praises" to ALLAH (I interpret this as that they go with the ebb and flow of things perfectly so) while man can choose whether to smoothly sail or create some turbulence.

Man also has the power of naming things, something the angels never knew or heard. I presume there is something supremely powerful about a creature knowing about names - reality is a structure of information not unlike a computer simulation. I imagine that ALLAH is trying to lucid dream while wide awake.

Punishment is evidently not eternal and if it is, it is evidently for reasons that we cannot grasp and presumably if we had the full details it would be the only just thing to do.

Wakas

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peace ths,

PDF copy of what book? I assume it is the book I referred to, as the link does not work for me so I could not identify it. You may wish to upload it for others.

I discussed the parable of 'adam' in other posts, e.g.

From:
http://free-minds.org/forum/index.php?topic=9597379.msg185295#msg185295

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Everything in the universe, willingly or unwillingly, is in islam/surrender to God. The only difference is whether one chooses to actively acknowledge this and thus follow through with this acknowledgement, e.g. accountability, servitude etc. "satan" acknowledges the existence of God, this can clearly be seen in The Quran, but does not follow through and act in harmony with this. It is like when a part of you knows doing XYZ is wrong, but you do it anyway. When "satan" like the other controlling forces / malaika was asked to "sujud" to adam/mankind, "satan" refused, thus mankind will struggle being in conrol of "satan", and "satan" is that part of ourselves which acknowledges but refuses to "sujud" within us. It is an eternal struggle, that is why mankind and "satan" are described as enemies of one another. I like chapter 114 on this, here is my rendering:


Chapter 114
Say: I seek refuge with the Lord/Sustainer/Provider of people.
The Ruler/Owner/King of people,
The God of people,
From the harm/evil of the withdrawing whisperer/tempter,
Who whispers/ places temptations into the hearts of people,
From within and (from) the people.


Note: the first 3 verses discuss the protector, and last 3 verses discuss protection from what. The Quran ends on this balance, and in my view, showing us the two ways, then leaves the greatest battle to us: the battle within.

From:
http://free-minds.org/forum/index.php?topic=12703.msg102151#msg102151

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I actually reflected on the story of "adam" recently, and I began to see connections with humans becoming the khalif/successor on earth (i.e. the evolutionary peak, and the transition from our previous ancestor to a human being and all that comes with it: free choice, responsibility, speech, communication, power, weakness, God-awareness, forgiveness, revelation/guidance, beginning of the test and its rules etc). I believe this important transition phase is strongly represented in the story of "adam", or at least, this is my working hypothesis at the present time.

I strongly recommend you/everyone who is pondering over the story of adam, to re-read with the above in mind.

The only thing I would add is that, let's say, there came a point when man developed/evolved enough and was gifted with what made him khalif/successor, well that first human is a single individual as well as the prototype for mankind, so it could be said that conceptually he is both simultaneously: individual and collective. The parable of adam is an introduction to mankind, his test is our test, his experience is our experience, his struggle is our struggle, in other words, it is prototypical. That is how I would explain the switching between singular and plural.

From Project Root List:
Alif-Dal-Miim = seasoned (e.g. food), to mix/associate/unite/mingle together, a means of access, pattern/exemplar, object of imitation, tanned skin/hide, leather, the surface of the earth/ground, Adam, Children of Adam, human beings.


The term 3BD more closely represents "servitude". You can think of our servitude as like the servitude of a grain of sand, bumble bee, leaf, moon, sun, anything of creation etc.
God does not need our 'servitude', on the contrary, it is us who need it.

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ibadah/servitude
If one were to service a machine, by simply doing one small positive act, such as oiling a cog-wheel (i.e a component of the machine), then whilst the act was done on only one part of the machine, it would be true to say that one served the whole of it. This observation holds, no matter how many components the machine has, be it ten or billions. I believe in this, lies the foundation to understanding the concept of serviing (ibadat) The God, as expressed in 'the reading' (al quran), i.e. you get what you put forth, so if you serve something greater than oneself, the whole, you will receive the whole in return, The God.

You can therefore look at human beings as the natural expression/culmination/eventuality of the code set forth. Human beings are the beginning and end, i.e. it has come full circle so to speak. Once things are set in motion, one is bound to its path until its resolution:
http://free-minds.org/forum/index.php?topic=9600952.0

As a side note, these themes are also explored in The Matrix: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQSXNq7b8GQ


Whether "punishment" is eternal or not is split. I have not researched it, but as far I know, The Quran implies either: it is eternal, or it lasts for however long "Hell" lasts. I once read a book, and it said one of the possible reasons why "Hell" may be eternal is that if man were given a thousand lifetimes he would continue as is, hence "Hell" is a simply a reflection of his eternal attitude/disposition.
This life is a self-testimony, and in many places in The Quran it mentions hands testifying against us etc etc. God already knows, but a just judge does not convict/reward without evidence. Each act we do is a written entry upon the test paper, and when our life ends, our answer sheet is handed in for marking, so to speak.

Of course, this does not answer: why create anything in the first place? This question is the most complex and unanswerable I have ever pondered upon. It was discussed on the forum previously, between myself and brother Tay, and both our thinking was it might be something to do with us being part of the whole, but other than that, I have no idea, only an inkling. Why does a free-choice-thinking-being such as man create sculptures/art that have no other purpose than to express something within?


All information in my posts is correct to the best of my knowledge only and thus should not be taken as a fact. One should seek knowledge and verify: 17:36, 20:114, 35:28, 49:6, 58:11. My articles

www.studyQuran.org

Jack

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My problem is that there are some verses that seem to mention Adam as an actual person. For example:

3:33

Lo! God preferred Adam and Noah and the Family of Abraham and the Family of 'Imran above (all His) creatures.

Isn't Adam redundant in this verse if it actually means humanity?

7:19

O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden and eat from whence ye will, but come not nigh this tree lest ye become wrong-doers.

20:115

And verily We made a covenant of old with Adam, but he forgot, and We found no constancy in him.


These verses all mention Adam as a singular male. Whilst my logic earlier tells me that the story of Adam is a parable, it is hard to see what message these verses are trying to convey if that is so. They make perfect sense if we take Adam to be an actual person.

Peace,

Adam stands for the human race. Yes, literally it seems to refer to one person. Check out 7:11

And We created you[all], then We shaped you[all], then We said to the Angels: "Submit to Adam;" so they submitted except for Satan, he was not of those who submitted.
You gotta follow the truth even it brings the whole thing crumbling down around you - Sam Tyler, Life on Mars (UK)

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense

ths

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Salaam Wakas, what a thought-provoking response!


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PDF copy of what book? I assume it is the book I referred to, as the link does not work for me

Yes it's Abdel-Haleem's "Understanding the Quran". You have to click on the 'Request download ticket' button at the bottom of the page and the download should then start.
Honestly I wish I could copy that chapter onto free-minds, it was that good. I may instead post the main arguments of it here for everyone else to learn from.


Quote
, thus mankind will struggle being in conrol of "satan", and "satan" is that part of ourselves which acknowledges but refuses to "sujud" within us. It is an eternal struggle, that is why mankind and "satan" are described as enemies of one another. I like chapter 114 on this, here is my rendering:


Chapter 114
Say: I seek refuge with the Lord/Sustainer/Provider of people.
The Ruler/Owner/King of people,
The God of people,
From the harm/evil of the withdrawing whisperer/tempter,
Who whispers/ places temptations into the hearts of people,
From within and (from) the people.


Note: the first 3 verses discuss the protector, and last 3 verses discuss protection from what. The Quran ends on this balance, and in my view, showing us the two ways, then leaves the greatest battle to us: the battle within.


This is really interesting. 2 questions:

1. If you take Satan to be a metaphor for our inner temptations, then do you consider the other angels to also be parts of ourselves?
And if we follow that line of thinking, what does that render the angel Gabriel who is supposed to have visited the Prophet with the Quran?

2. Reading "from the Jinn" as "from within" is a stroke of genius! This is going to get me going through the Quran all over again looking for references to Jinn now!
Have you investigated this Jinn theory thoroughly yet?
If there aren't any threads on this then perhaps we should start one to post results of any investigations.



Quote
You can therefore look at human beings as the natural expression/culmination/eventuality of the code set forth. Human beings are the beginning and end, i.e. it has come full circle so to speak. Once things are set in motion, one is bound to its path until its resolution:

I have also thought of it in this way recently. It reminds me of the Anthropic Principle, which I've thought of for a while now as being the best argument for an intelligent designer if we are to ignore the Quran as evidence. Verses in the Quran also corroborate the anthropic principle. It basically states that humans are "lucky" beyond probability in that so many different coincidences led to the capability of life to flourish on earth. It's as if the system is geared towards this creation.

Another verse of interest is 57:22

No affliction befalls in the earth or in yourselves, but it is in a Book, before We create it; that is easy for God;

This verse also shows that there is a system at hand. Anyone who has studied physics at all will know that the world is supremely measurable. Everything in the universe follows a mathematical formula, and maths is the "language" of the universe. Even human emotions like love and depression can one day be predicted if we discover which hormones in what quantities lead to what emotions.


As far as eternal punishment goes, I think the best answer is that if one believes in a supremely just God, then one has to trust God to punish people exactly how much they deserve. The reason I asked about the eternity aspect is because I remember this being argued at some point, and couldn't remember whether I had learnt it from the Quran, or from hadiths.


Lastly, what about the verses mentioning Adam as a proper name? Such as 3:33?

In "Understanding the Quran", Abdel-Haleem argues that the Quran takes special care to remind the reader of the lessons to be learned from the story of Adam.

Quote
Whereas the Bible leaves the reader to draw moral teachings from the story, which is used only at the beginning of the book, the Qur?an employs it regularly in support of its teachings on beliefs and conduct, making the connections clear.


The lessons that Haleem identifies are the following:
Quote
First, it is used as proof of the power of God, as compared with human beings. It is one of God?s signs that he was able to create human beings from dust and multiply them in this way

Second, the ?creation from dust? is regularly used to demonstrate that He who could create the first person from dust could raise the dead from the dust. This is used at least six times in the Qur?an as an argument for the resurrection

Third, in spite of being created out of dust, Adam in the Qur?an had the spirit of God breathed into him and was taught the names of all things. God ordered the angels to bow down to him, because Adam knew more than them and was thus superior. This confirms the status of knowledge, much stressed in the Qur?an. ?It is those who know that are most aware of God? (35:28), and ?God raises the status of those who know? (58:11).

Fourth, in the Qur?an the fact that Adam, like Jesus, was created without a father is used as an argument against those who used the virgin birth of Jesus to support their belief in his divine status (3:59). If Jesus were allowed divine status, this would compromise the most fundamental belief in Islam, which is the oneness of God.


Fifth, creation of all human beings from one male and one female is used in the Qur?an to support moral teachings, for instance, to stress that human beings are one family, in the context of dissuading them from in- justice to the poor and weak (4:1). It is used to eliminate any sense of superiority, whether of class, tribe or race (49:13).

Sixth, the connection of human beings with the earth is much stressed in the Qur?an. The repetition of the fact that we are created from earth strongly suggests this affinity with earth, and our responsibility towards it and dependence on it.

Seventh, Satan?s refusal to admit Adam?s superiority, and his challenge that he will do everything he can to mislead people, are frequently used to warn the children of Adam that Satan and his invisible hosts will tempt them and cause their ruin...

Eighth, Adam and Eve repent in the Qur?an and their repentance is accepted....This is encourag- ing and optimistic, as the door of repentance is always open to believers, prior to the point of their death. There is a promise from God that He will accept it.


So does this mean that we should focus on the lessons to be learned in the stories in the Quran, instead of the meaning of each specific verse? Because the presence of such confusing verses still bothers me.



One last question.
One of the most important things that Haleem points out is the use of "wa idh" in the Quran to mark historical events. I knew about this, but didn't realize that all stories without the "wa idh" prefix are to be interpreted as allegorical.

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Although Adam and Eve are mentioned in many parts of the Qur?an, in different scenes, the language of the Qur?an makes it clear that these are not given as history in the same way as in the Bible. A scene normally begins with wa idh ? ?(remember) when?, the omitted verb being understood as is a common feature in the Qur?an. This shows that it is mentioned rather for the lessons to be drawn from it and used in the context of the given chap- ters.


So my question is, have you studied the occurrences of "wa idh" in the Quran, and can we really interpret all stories without "wa idh" as being allegorical?



Sorry for the quantity of questions!



EDIT:
Your mentioning of The Matrix reminded me of a paper I once read by a professor of philosophy and future studies at Oxford University. I forget his name but I remember he was Swedish. He argued that we are already living in a 3d simulation of the world, a la The Matrix. His argument was that we can safely say by the rate of computer advancement that 3d worlds will be a reality in the future, and because we know they are a reality in the future, there is a high likelihood that we are already living in one. Don't ask me how he reached that conclusion.

Oh yeah his name was Nick Bostrom.
فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ ۚ
So strive as in a race in all virtues!
5:48

Wakas

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peace,

I have downloaded it now, thanks.

1. If you take Satan to be a metaphor for our inner temptations, then do you consider the other angels to also be parts of ourselves?
And if we follow that line of thinking, what does that render the angel Gabriel who is supposed to have visited the Prophet with the Quran?

No. My understanding is that malaika are simply controlling forces, .e.g F=ma, E=mc2 amongst many many many others (perhaps billions). These controlling forces are involved in every force in our universe, and beyond.

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2. Reading "from the Jinn" as "from within" is a stroke of genius! This is going to get me going through the Quran all over again looking for references to Jinn now!
Have you investigated this Jinn theory thoroughly yet?
If there aren't any threads on this then perhaps we should start one to post results of any investigations.

"jinn" has a core meaning of "hidden", hence my rendering. A subset of malaika/forces is "jinn/hidden", and iblees is of the "jinn/hidden", which matches my understanding of "his" role. I would say ibless is the "father" of destructive/displacing/negative forces within oneself, and perhaps "satan" is a subset of "ibless", which would match with the mention of iblees' progeny [18:50]. I have not studied this in detail however.

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Lastly, what about the verses mentioning Adam as a proper name? Such as 3:33?

I have no problem with it. It is correct to me, he is both individual and collective.

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So does this mean that we should focus on the lessons to be learned in the stories in the Quran, instead of the meaning of each specific verse?

Why not both?
For me, the stories represent a compass, whilst the specific rules/guidelines are the tangible structure, the map, if you will. You need both to find your way. From my own studies, I am cautious of taking parables literally or extracting rules from them, but they are definitely integral. If a book is finite in size but meant to govern for all time then it cannot fit every rule and detail for every new situation that will unfold within its pages, thus it must contain framework, limits, guidance, direction, for all situations and thought and personalities, hence the parables.


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So my question is, have you studied the occurrences of "wa idh" in the Quran, and can we really interpret all stories without "wa idh" as being allegorical?

I have not studied that aspect.
All information in my posts is correct to the best of my knowledge only and thus should not be taken as a fact. One should seek knowledge and verify: 17:36, 20:114, 35:28, 49:6, 58:11. My articles

www.studyQuran.org

kgwithnob

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This leaves us with 3 questions:

1. Why did God create us to worship him if he does not need our worship?
2. Why create human beings if the vast majority will sin, and then face an eternal punishment? Is punishment eternal?
3. Can it be proved Quranically, and without doubt, that Adam and his partner are not proper names in the Quran but representations of humanity?

Salaam kgwithnob,

I'm familiar with the creation story and the things you mention in  your post. And they don't really seem to be answering my questions at all. I have no problem believing that the process of evolution is compatible with the Quran.

Dear ths,

The reason I asked you to ponder upon the process of creation regarding your questions, was that the Universal evolution, i.e., the process of creation, is nothing but a non-stop, auto dynamic natural dialectic, between, from the subatomic to the inter galactic, organically bound countless organisms comprising our Universe, since its inception, continuing on to where it suppose to end up evolving, if ever.

In other words, the Universe is nothing but ONE SINGLE LIVING SOUL. See 31:28. No matter what, humans are also the next to nothing comprising parts of this GIGANTIC LIVING CELL too. All the preordained laws governing over the Universe are governing us humans too, nowhere to escape, no discrimination at all either. See 4:40.

We humans through the process, after passage of countless generations and over long periods of time reached the point of acquiring some relatively measurable mental capabilities called the ?FREE WILL.? This relative free will made us capable of making logical decisions between two different possible choices. Instinct was no longer the rule for us humans. That was when the term RESPONSIBILITY started to take shape and became meaningful. It is a logical phenomenon, the more freedom, the more responsibility, and the less freedom, the less responsibility. That is why the coming of the LAST DAY, the RESURRECTION, and the ULTIMATE JUDGMENT comes right into the scene and becomes meaningful as the ultimate ANSWER to our responsibilities during the life of this world.  

In the meantime, GOD Almighty out of HIS infinite mercy and kindness towards us, decided to keep warning us, through his messengers, of the consequences of ABUSING our relative free will, showing us the right path to salvation.

Adam, as our common ancestor was the first one to be warned, but as the Qur?aan says, he, for lack of strong will, failed the test and paid for it too. No discrimination at all!

As for your 1st question above: GOD created both the material as well as the immaterial worlds just to worship him, i.e. to follow his preordained LAWS whether they like it or not. That is HIS SYSTEM. It is for the good of HIS creatures. NO ONE ELSE IS UP TO HIS RANK TO BE WORSHIPPED. HE IS THE ONLY ONE DESERVED TO BE WORSHIPPED. THE ASOLUTE, THE OMNIPOTENT, THE LIVING, THE ETERNAL. HE is purifying, attracting, and absorbing HIS whole creation, so in the long run we will dialectically / naturally become qualified to meet HIM. GOD WILLING.

2nd question: Humans through the process / evolution of their creation got to the point of earning the relative free will. They have the privilege of choosing their life style. In return they deserve facing the consequences too.

3rd question: According to the Qur?aan, Adam is a proper name. He was the father / common ancestor of the last evolved generation of human species. In the Qur?aan the term ?CHILDREN OF ADAM? represents the HUMANITY as a whole.

Peace,
Khalil