Creation, as told in the Qur’an and Genesis


The first Sura in the Qur’an, by order of revelation, begins with the creation of man.  Let’s compare that to what’s in Genesis, from the Jewish Torah / Christian Bible.

In the translation that I’m using, this verse is called The Embryo. In others, it is called “The Clot”.  
The Arabic word used can be translated in various ways, including “clump of mud”.
In any case, it’s meant to show that the creation of man was a wondrous event.

 

 

To get some background on how Islam, Christianity and Judaism all claim Abraham as the “father” of their religion, please see this post on What religion was Abraham?”. 


 Sura 96 – The Embryo

Order of Revelation – 1
Traditional order in Qur’an – 96

The Qur’an is not presented by order of revelation to Muhammad.  Rather, it is arranged by the length of each Sura (or chapter) in the original Arabic language.  Therefore, I will give both the order of both the revelation to Muhammad and the printed Qur’an.

This first Sura is actually two parts.

The first part is verses 1-5, which is about the creation of man. The revelation is believed to have taken place in a cave in Mecca. This post will talk about just the creation topic.

The second part is verses 6 – 19, which were apparently revealed later (although included here) and covered unbelievers and their response to the daily prayers. Part 2 will be covered in the next post.


The creation of man

 In the translation that I’m using, this verse is called The Embryo. In others, it is called “The Clot”.

The Arabic word used can be translated in various ways.
In any case, it’s meant to show that the creation of man was a wondrous event.

The first 5 verses are:

[96:0] In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
[96:1] Read, in the name of your Lord, who created.
[96:2] He created man from an embryo.
[96:3] Read, and your Lord, Most Exalted.
[96:4] Teaches by means of the pen.
[96:5] He teaches man what he never knew.

 

Let’s look at these verses in more detail –

[96:2] He created man from an embryo.

As mentioned, the Arabic word translated as “embryo” could have been several other things – such as clot of blood (as in some translations) or clump of mud.

As we saw in the very first article, the Qur’an encourages looking to other sources for validation of what it says. This includes the Bible – especially the Torah (1st 5 books of the Old Testament), the Psalms, and the Injil (The Gospels, especially those of Matthew, Mark and Luke).
While this may be surprising to some, it shouldn’t be.  when he was younger, Muhammad had considerable exposure to both Jewish and Christian people.  In fact, he was concerned about his people (the Arabs) having hundreds of “gods” while the Jews and Christians had only one.  The theme of monotheism (one God) was very important to Muhammad, and is prominent throughout the Qur’an.

The clump of mud is very much like the Biblical translation that we read in Genesis 2:4-7 –

Ge 2:4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens— 5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground— 7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

In chapter 1, we continually read “God said” – as He is in the process of creating the universe and everything in it.
God speaks – and things happen – things get created.

But here –
for the first time (out of two occurrences) –
God actually gets physically involved in what He’s doing.

Ge 7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

God actually formed Adam Himself –
not just speaking it and it happens.

All of creation is a wondrous thing, to be sure.

But for God – the creator of everything –
to get physically involved in creating man –
this indicates a much more personal involvement in this act.

And then God goes further –
breathing into Adam’s nostrils –
giving Adam life –
again not by just speaking him to life –
but by breathing God’s own breath of life to to give life to Adam.

Again – a much more personal involvement that with any other of God’s creations.

One more thing –

In Chapter One, as each day of creation comes to a close –
we can read

And God saw that it was good.

But –
at the conclusion of the sixth day we read –

Ge 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

And what happened on that sixth day –
what made things go from “good” to “very good”?

This –

Ge 1:27 So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

He made Adam and Eve.

He made people –
and they were very good!

He made us –
and he was very pleased!

Earlier I mentioned that there were two times that God got physically involved in the creation process – as opposed to just speaking things into existence.

Here’s the other – from Genesis 2:18-24 –

Ge 2:18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Ge 2:19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Ge 2:23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

Ge 2:24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

And so we see –
God’s two special creations were man and woman –

And they (we) were to become one.

And so we see from the Torah –
something not so evident from the Qur’an –

just how special all people are to God – our Creator –
both men and women by themselves –
but also the married couple – as “one”.


 

God teaches man

Now – let’s look at a couple more verses –

[96:4] Teaches by means of the pen.

At the very beginning, there were no pens, so this verse must be relevant to the time of revelation to Muhammad – not to the original creation of man.

[96:5] He teaches man what he never knew.

Yes – this is obviously true.
There are so many times when God gave – and still gives – knowledge that we never had before.
This is a recurrent theme in the Bible –
when God wants to have something done by His special creation (people) –
He will provide a means for them to know the things required to complete the task.

However –
there is another side to this relationship between God and His special creation.

We saw that in Genesis 2:19-20 –
but I want to cover it in more detail here.

Ge 2:19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

Notice –
The Creator didn’t tell the created what to name the animals.

No –
Adam named the animals –
on God’s request –
and whatever Adam called them –
that’s what there names would be.

If the creation of “us” wasn’t already wondrous and miraculous –
just the fact of our existence –
how does this make you feel?

The God who created all of us asks us for input as to naming His creations.

To me –
that’s pretty awesome.

It seems like such a little thing now maybe –
but think about this –
you’re the first person to exist –
one little person in the middle of all the amazing things that God created –
you’ve got to be totally overwhelmed and awed –
probably a bit scared too
and God – the Creator of everything – including you –
asks you to name the things He’s created!

 


Conclusion

There’s a lot more to the relationship between God and man than many (most?  all?) of us realize.  And we need to remember that this relationship is something desired first and foremost by God Himself.  Evidence of the importance of this relationship  to God can be seen from the very beginning.  In fact – in the very planning for the beginning.  There was a difference in the way we (people) were created, as compared to every other living being.  God breathed His life into us.  God asked Adam to name the animals.  God asked Adam to tend the garden.  God walked with Adam in that garden.  God spoke with Adam!

Yes – we can turn away from any relationship with God.  Many people have chosen to do that.  

On the other hand – many people want that relationship with God.  They want it so badly!  But they don’t know how to have it.  They may not even know it’s available, because their religion teaches that it’s not.  Maybe they are told they have to go through an intermediary to talk to God.  Maybe they are told they have to do certain things to be able to earn a relationship with God.  Maybe they’re told no relationship is available until after they die.  But you know what?  That wasn’t the case with Adam.  And while we can’t have the same level of relationship as God and Adam did (while on this earth) – the possibility of a real two-way relationship with the creator of everything is available.  Right now – while we’re alive and breathing on this earth.  If we want it.  

And that’s what we’re going to look at here in this series.  Yes – it’s primarily for Muslims who want what they feel Islam is maybe telling them they can’t have.  But there are lessons in here for everyone – including Jews and Christians.  Again, for the Muslims reading this, you will see that God has been reaching out to you – from the very beginning of establishing His relationship with us – from the descendants of Abraham – including Ishmael.  As a Muslim, you know – promises were made to Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael.  We’ll look at those promises – and where they may be leading to today.

No matter who you are – if you haven’t really paid much attention to creation – I encourage you to really think about what you just read.  
If you’re into the evolution theory – we’re just a random act of chance.  I’d like to think you and I are more than that.  
If you’re a Muslim – you know that you were created by God.  But – did you realize just how special you are?
Even if you’re a Jew or a Christian – have you ever noticed the difference between the creation of Adam and Eve – compared to everything else that God created?

We are special.  
You are special.
And there’s an invitation to know the One God who made us special.

I mean really –

How’s that for the beginnings of a very personal relationship?

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