Muslim Beliefs on How the World Was Created
29 SEP 2017
Creation stories belong to both cultures and religions. Islam shares common roots with Judaism and Christianity so it is unsurprising that elements of the story as told in Genesis form part of Islam's version in the Quran. Deviations from the mainstream may be found in the stories told by Muslims in regions where they have assimilated elements from the oral and mythological traditions of cultures ranging from Africa to Asia.
1 Origins of the Muslim Creation Story
The creation story presented in the Quran is not told as one continuous story as it is in the Bible's book of Genesis. Although, the Quran draws on the Genesis account, the references to the creation of the world and to the first people, as well as the fall from grace, are scattered throughout the holy book. Muhammad's Hadith, which are his personal teachings collected by Muslim scholars are another source. From the 8th century, Islamic scholars started drawing these references together and combining them with biblical materials and Jewish rabbinical lore to form a continuous narrative. These scholars published their accounts in books about the prophets preceding Muhammad and histories of the world.
2 Creation of the World
Heaven and Earth were one indivisible unit until God's act of creation split them in two. These separated parts are described as having a smoke-like form. From this formless matter, creation took six long spans of time, according to the Quran, instead of the six days stated in Genesis. Some Muslim scholars see parallels between the Quran's version of events and the scientific Big Bang theory due to the suggestion that creation was an evolutionary process over a long period of time. During these spans of time God made everything in the heavens and earth, from animals to angels and the earth's vegetation that included the grape, the olive and the palm tree. The Quran emphasizes the idea that God's creation is for the material and spiritual welfare of human beings, and that God created humans to be his deputies on earth.
3 Creation of Humans
In chapter 32:7 of the Quran its states that God began the creation of humans out of clay. He molded the likeness of Adam and breathed life and power into him in 15: 39. God took Adam to Paradise and made a wife for him from his side. The Quran does not give more details of her creation. She is sometimes referred to as Hawa in commentaries, but in the Quran she has no name. Additionally, some Muslim commentaries on the Quran use the biblical suggestion that she was made from Adam's rib. He taught Adam the names of everything in creation and instructed the angels to bow down to Adam. However, one called Iblis --another name for Satan in the Quran -- dissented. He was a Jinn, which is a Quranic entity similar to an angel, and he represents the first refusal to obey God's will. Meanwhile, in Paradise, Adam and his wife can eat anything except fruit from a forbidden tree.
4 No Fall from Paradise
Chapter 20 of the Quran tells the story of Adam's temptation by Satan to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. Here the story is similar to that in Genesis, although the woman is not labelled as the one who gives in to temptation. The differences between the Quran and Genesis, then become more critical in terms of differences between Muslim and Judeo-Christian belief and doctrine. In the Quran, Adam and his wife are thrown out of Paradise, and banished to earth. They ask God for forgiveness and tell him; "We have sinned against our own souls" (Quran 7:23). In the Quran, Adam and his wife don't "fall" from grace, neither do their actions mean that all mankind needs redemption from sin.