Man was not the first creation God made in His image. The devil, I think, came first. We, in Islam, believe that he was not an angel. He was a djinn, old, borne of smokeless fire, and he worshiped God more than the devoutest pilgrim at Mecca, he did God’s bidding as an enchanted maiden would do her lover’s, but correction to your thought if it goes that way, Iblis lacked love, although his actions suggested otherwise. Iblis did not love God, even though he had worshiped God on every spot in the entire universe. Every spot he had prostrated and prayed to the magnificence and Omniscience of Allah.
I like to believe that Iblis, though not a lover but maybe a friend of God, wanted to keep Him all to himself.
I like to believe that God had seen the tenacities of the devil, good and evil; He had seen Iblis in his pilgrimage and prayer as He had seen Iblis in his pride and power. So, the next thing that God made was humans, and not out of fire (the pride is fierce in a fire that grows unhindered as it envelops everything–wood, cankered wood, polished wood) but out of mud (that what is humble and down to earth, literally speaking, in comparison to fire). And the mud man, the sculpture of Adam, despite the protests of the angels (“Why make something that will cause trouble and toil?” to which He said “I know that which you all do not”) and the devil’s blatant disgust.
When the sculpture of the first man, Adam, was left by God to dry and settle, Iblis, intrigued, inquisitive, came and analyzed this new creation–God’s new plaything, he might’ve thunk–by entering through the sculpture’s gaping mouth hole and coming out of its anus.
“This is a hollow thing, this creation! There’s nothing substantial inside! Easy corruptible, fallible to indoctrinations, effortlessly swayable like a leaf in the wind! I wonder what God thought when making this thing,” Iblis said in disgust and contempt and hate. He was special, you see. The angels were just angels; they had no will of their own, all that they did was God’s biding and God’s praise and prayer, and nothing more; all that they did was all that they were told to do. Pre-programmed, you can say. Hardwired, that’s another word for what they were. Iblis had that feeling of specialty, of being an executive, of having God all for himself. And soon he’d have another thing to compete with, this man that God had made, this thing of dirt and mud and grime and slime and all the sludge that belonged to the sourest part of Earth.
Time went by and the sculpture, Adam, became alive when God blew His own soul into the lifeless statue, making it lifeless no more but alive and speaking and listening and hearing.
Adam. Derived from Hebrew אדם (‘adam) meaning “to be red” as in the redness of dirt.
Adam. Derived from Akkadian adamu meaning “to make” as in the making of the first man.
The making of man from the dirt that is red.
Adam. My version: Aa, in Urdu meaning To Come, and Dam, also in Urdu, meaning Life, Energy.
The making of man from the dirt that is red by the breathing of Life by God. Sorry for the passive voice, but its crucial to use it here so that you can see how the three meanings connect.
God, with much love, taught man the name of things. And what is modern science if not an effort to discover and name and classify and study that which is unknown? God taught the first man everything. Everything you know, everything you learnt and read in books, it can trace its lineage back to Adam, the first disciple, the first caliph, the first prophet, the second–or maybe the third–sinner. Reminds me of this song, “Oh sinnerman, where you goan run to?”
Okay. I spent 20 minutes right now trying to search up this obscure version of the song where its sung by black men in Jamaican. Could not find it.
Where was I with the tale? Ah, yes. So, God taught Adam everything and held this ‘contest’ of sorts. He asked the names of things from angels, and while some of them knew some names, no one angel knew all the names of all the things, and when they collectively failed , He asked the names from Adam, and Adam could name them all.
This here is where our tale takes a pause, and I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again. Or if you see me again, that is. I must abscond, and at once. There are other worlds waiting for me. Those that unravel when the eyes in your head are closed and the eye in your mind is awake.
To be continued.
(Disclaimer: Other than the two or three sentences that begin with ‘I like to believe’, all the source material is taken from the Quran, the Hadith, and the accounts of the scholars who have studied the Quran, the Bible, the Old Testament and the scriptures other than these, and the interpretations by the scholars and sheiks. I mean no disrespect to any religion, to God, to man, to other believers, or to the devil)
About the picture: The Bewitched Man (also known as The Devil’s Lamp) is a painting completed c. 1798 by Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes. It is an oil painting on canvas and depicts a scene from a play by Antonio de Zamora called ‘The man bewitched by force’ (Spanish: El Hechizado Por Fuerza). The painting shows the protagonist, Don Claudio, who believes he is bewitched and that his life depends on keeping a lamp alight.