The creation of humankind

In Bible and Qur’an, the first human being was created from mud or dust and was therefore named after the Hebrew word for earth: Adam = Men. God breathing His spirit into man to make him come alive is also found in both books. The Qur’an relates how God gave man beautiful forms. According to Genesis, God blessed humankind and saw that what He had created was good.

In the Bible, both men and women are said to have been created in God’s image.

The concept of God in the Qur’an is more abstract. Nobody can be equal to or like God, although humans are destined to return to God after death.

In both books, man is appointed God’s caretaker on earth. He is to rule wisely over creation. He has, regarding the rest of creation, both exceptional power and an exceptional responsibility.
In the Qur’an, God explains to the angels his plan to create man. They are shocked. They warn God that men will use their powers to shed blood. But God went ahead with his plan. He even ordered the angels to bow down to Adam, which they did obediently. But one called ‘Iblis’, or Devil, who was created from fire, refused. Because of his disobedience to God, he was called ‘the unbeliever’ and driven from paradise. But he was temporarily given the power to seduce man to evil, a role he was eager to accept. A comparable story about angels and the devil does not appear in Genesis. Elsewhere in the Bible, there is mention of a Satan who fell from Heaven, a Satan who seduced human beings to stray from God’s path.

A typical human trait that plays a role right from the start is his power of speech. In Genesis, it was the (first) man who gave names to all things. In the Qur’an, it was God who taught man the names of everything. Angels lack this power of language, as became clear when God put them to the test. So angels must bow down before man.
In the Qur’an, the diversity in languages and colors of peoples is a Divine gift, a stimulus to become acquainted with one other. But the colorful variety in languages can also lead to confusion and discord, as shown by the story of the Tower of Babel further on in Genesis.
The story about the creation of humankind has implications for the relation between the sexes. Well-known from the Bible is the story of the woman, Eve, (mother of life) created from the rib of Adam, (man from earth), to be his helper. There is a second story of the creation in Genesis, related both before and after the rib version, in which men and women were created simultaneously and as equals, both in the image of God. In Genesis 5 both men and women were named Adam (KJV), or Mankind (NKJV).

The Qur’an emphatically denies that man resembles God. Nobody can be like Him for He is the creator of everything.
The story about the rib does not appear in the Qur’an. Man and woman were created as equals, from a single soul; as couples with kindred spirits. The Arabic verses in question are difficult to translate accurately. An example is verse 39 The Crowds, 6, in Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation:

He created you (all) from a single person: then created, of like nature, his mate;

This issue centers on two Arabic words:

nafs = soul, female, at least grammatically;

and zawj = partner, male, at least grammatically.

Thus an alternative translation given by Dawood is:

“He created you from a single soul, then from that soul He created its spouse.”

Likewise, Abdel Halleem translates as follows:

He created you all from a single being from which He made its mate.

This implies that men and women were created simultaneously and as equals. To both God grants soul mates, of whatever gender.

Behind this difference in translation lies a difference in interpretation. Some Qur’an exegetes hold that, in spite of its grammatical feminine nature, nafs refers to Adam (the man) and zawj (partner) refers to his wife, even though it is grammatically masculine. They base their interpretation on Genesis 2, to show that the woman was created from Adam’s left rib. Other Qur’an exegetes point to Genesis 1 to show that God created men and women simultaneously and as equals.
The Qur’an differs from the Genesis story of the creation of humankind in its emphasis on continuity. The Divine creation of humans continues after the original creation from earth and spirit, but in a different way. Men and women are created from a drop of water – sperm; but first and foremost from a lump of blood. The child grows in the mother’s womb. The continuous creation of people after the first creation is considered a sign that God will also re-create man after his death on the Last Day.


Creation from Dust and Breath
…the LORD God made the earth and the heavens…and there was no man to till the ground;

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:4-5, 7

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. Genesis 1: 31

Man in God’s Image

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth …

So God created man in His own image…male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill (replenish KJV) the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:26-28

Satan Falling
In the Bible the story of Satan’s fall and his role as a tempter of humankind is not associated with the creation of humankind. It does appear in other stories, notably the story of Job.

Below are some fragments from the New Testament showing Jesus referring to the fall of Satan and tempted by the devil.

And He (Jesus ed.) said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Luke 10:18

Then Jesus being filled with the Holy Spirit returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil.

And the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”

Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”

And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan!”Luke 4: 1-8

Adam gives names
Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air;

and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called every living creature, that was its name.

So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. Genesis 2:19-20

The Tower of Babel – Confusion

Now the whole earth had one language, and one speech.

And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower, whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built.

And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one, and they all have one language; and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose (have imagined KJV) to do will be withheld from them.

Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth;Genesis 11:1, 4-9

Creation of Men and Women
In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.

He created them male and female, and blessed them, and called them Mankind… (Adam, KJV) in the day when they were created. Genesis 5:1-2
And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Genesis 2:18

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man, He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

And Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2: 21-24


Man Moulded from Mud and Spirit
Behold! Your Lord said to the angels:

“I am about to create man, from sounding clay from mud moulded into shape;

When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, you fall down in obeisance unto him.15 The Rocky Tract, 28-29

We have indeed created man in the best of moulds…95 The Fig, 4

Man as Vice-Regent
Say: He is Allah, the One…

And there is none like unto Him. 112 Purity (of faith), 1-4
Behold, your Lord said to the angels: “I will create a viceregent on earth.”

They said: “Will You place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- while we do celebrate Your praises and glorify Your holy (name)?”

He said: “I know what you do not know.” 2 The Heifer,30

We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth…but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it…33 The Confederates, 72

Haughty Iblis (Devil)
And behold, We said to the angels:

“Bow down to Adam” and they bowed down:

not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: he was of those who reject Faith. 2 The Heifer, 34

(Allah) said: “What prevented you from bowing down when I commanded you?”

He said: “I am better than he: you created me from fire, and him from clay.”

(Allah) said: “… it is not for you to be arrogant here: get out, for you are of the meanest (of creatures).”

He said: “Give me respite till the day they are raised up.”

(Allah) said: “Be you among those who have respite.”

He said: “Because you have thrown me out of the Way, lo! I will lie in wait for them on Your Straight Way. Then will I assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left: nor will You find gratitude in most of them (for your mercies).”

(Allah) said: “Get out from this, disgraced and expelled. If any of them follow you – I will fill Hell with you all.” 7 The Heights,12-18

The Gift of Language
And He taught Adam the nature of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said: “Tell me the nature of these if you are right.”

They said: “Glory to You, of knowledge We have none, save what You have taught us: in truth it is You Who are perfect in knowledge and wisdom.”

He said: “O Adam! Tell them their natures.” When he had told them their names, Allah said: “Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of heaven and earth…”

And behold, We said to the angels:

‘Bow down to Adam:’ 2 The Heifer,31-34

Diverse Languages and Colors

And among His Signs is the creation… of the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that are Signs for those who know. 30 The Roman Empire, 22

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. (Not that you may despise each other).

Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you…

49 The Inner Apartments, 13

If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His Plan is) to test you in what He has given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. 5 The Table Spread, 48

Creation of Pairs
O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, Who created you from a single Person, created, and of like nature, his (its, her ed.) mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women… 4 The Women, 1
He created you (all) from a single Person: then created, of like nature, his (its ed.) mate…39 The Crowds, 6

He has made for you pairs from among yourselves…by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him… 42 Consultation, 11
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female… that you may know each other. (not that you may despise each other). Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is he (he {she ed.} who is) the most righteous of you…49 The Inner Apartments, 13
And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts). 30 The Roman Empire, 21

Continuous Creation
Read! (or Proclaim!) In the name of your Lord and Cherisher, Who created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood. 96 Read!, 1-2
Then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest, firmly fixed;

Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then we made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature. He Who created all things in the best way, and He began the creation of man with clay, And made his progeny from a quintessence of the nature of despised fluid:

23 The Believers; 13-14 32 Adoration ,8
He makes you, in the wombs of your mothers, in stages, one after another, in three veils of darkness.

39 The Crowds, 6
He knows you well when He brings you out of the earth, and when you are hidden in your mothers’ wombs. 53 The Star, 32