Qur’anic and Biblical Depictions of Adam and Eve.

Introduction

There is a strange twist in life. Most people, if not all, believe in the existence of a supernatural being that is in charge of all the activities of humankind. Yet the supernatural being is perceived to act differently according to the doctrine of each religion. Muslims, Christians, Hindu, and Buddhists, to name but a few, have their own versions about the supremacy of the supernatural being. The Bible and the Qur’an as the books used by Christians and Muslims respectively have their own versions of stories, some of which tend to be so similar yet others have meanings so far apart.

The similarities would leave a reader believing in the dictum that they were “written by men inspired by God,” yet the discrepancies in the stories would leave one appreciating the diversity of thoughts. One interesting aspect of the two revered books is the story of Adam and Eve. It is astounding that the story features prominently in both books.

Analysis

Both Christianity and Islam consider Adam and Eve as the first people of God’s creation. While the narratives may vary, creation stories in both the Bible and the Qur’an provide some common ground for the two religions. Both stories have a common thread and theme, yet they contrast in certain areas. It is thus important to know where they converge while similarly analyzing where the two different stories are in divergence.

There are certain similarities between the two narratives. For one, in both narratives, Adam was forbidden from eating a fruit from a certain tree. The Qur’an (Q 2: 35) says that God commanded Adam to live with his wife (Eve) in Paradise and eat generously anything that existed there except the fruit of one tree. The point was that if Adam ate the fruit of this particular tree he could be exposed to sin. The same command was given in Q (7: 19) where Adam was commanded to dwell with his wife in Paradise and eat any fruit of his choice except that of the tree of wisdom.

Moreover, he was warned further that he would fall into sin if he ate the fruit of this tree. Likewise, the Bible in Genesis 2: 16- 17 states that God instructed Adam to eat freely from any tree of the garden but not from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as he would definitely die if he happened to eat of that tree. Therefore, from the above scriptures, it is evident that in both narratives, Adam was explicitly forbidden from eating the fruit of a certain tree.

Another similarity between the two narratives concerns the story of Adam’s two sons- Abel and Cain. In Q (5:27- 28), the story of how one of Adam’s sons was killed by another is given. According to this portion of the scripture, the two sons made an offering but God accepted one son’s offering and not the other’s. Thereafter, the son of Adam whose offering was rejected by God threatened to kill his brother. In response, his brother replied that God only accepts sacrifices from the righteous and that he would not extend his hand to kill him since he revered God, the Lord of the universe.

This portion of the scripture, though not specifying the names of Adam’s sons, explains how one of Adam’s sons killed the other. In the Bible in Genesis 4: 8, a similar story is told whereby, after Adam’s two sons, Cain and Abel had finished a discussion, Cain rose against Abel and killed him in the field where they were. Thus, the Biblical story is congruent to that of the Qur’an except the fact that the Qur’an does not mention the specific names of the sons of Adam.

In addition, the narratives are similar in that in the Bible and the Quran, Satan deceived Adam and Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, and they realized that they were naked. Prior to that, they had been oblivious of this fact. In Q (7:22), it is reported that Satan duped Adam and Eve into disobeying God and as soon as they had savored the fruit, their bodies suddenly became visible to them forcing them to try to cover themselves with the leaves of trees of Paradise. Thereafter, the Lord rebuked them, reminding them of the warning He had given them in relation to the eating of the forbidden fruit.

In addition, he reiterated the fact that the devil was Adam and Eve’s most notorious enemy. Genesis 3: 7, 13 gives a similar story. Here, the Bible explains that the eyes of both Adam and Eve were opened and immediately, they realized for the first time that they were naked. It is then that they gathered fig leaves and sewed them into aprons. The Lord God then appeared and asked Eve to give the reason behind her disobedience and why she had chosen to eat the forbidden fruit. Eve in response blamed the serpent (Satan) claiming that the devil had beguiled her into eating the fruit. In this regard, both versions of the story in the Bible and the Qur’an have similarity.

Conclusion

In spite of the similarities, certain differences exist between the two stories in the holy books. For instance, the Bible states that the devil fell from grace because he did not want to worship God but had wanted (he) himself to be worshipped by the others (Genesis). In the Quran (Q 2: 34), however, the reason behind the devil’s fall from grace is that he refused to bow down to Adam (not to God). Another difference is the manner in which Adam and Eve were created.

According to Genesis 2: 7, God molded Adam from the dust of the earth then breathed life into his nostrils and man consequently became a living soul. Eve was later formed from one of Adam’s ribs. However, the Qur’an differs in that it states that Adam was formed from aged clay. In Q (15:28), the Lord told the angels that he was creating a human being from aged mud much like that of the potter’s clay. This points to a very divergent belief between Christianity and Islam concerning how God created the human being.

Both the similarities and differences are significant. The similarities are significant in that they lend credence to the creation story about Adam and Eve. If two different religions make reference to the same story, it proves that there is some truth in the narrative of Adam and Eve. The differences are also significant in that they give an insight as to why the two religions are constantly in disagreement. To jell, they need to share the same fundamental beliefs. With some of these stark differences at the core of the creation narrative, it is very difficult for both religions to see eye to eye even on other issues.

The starkest difference for me is that the Bible gives an account of how Eve advised Adam to eat the forbidden fruit- the devil deceived her first. Yet in the Quran, the blame is not on Eve; in fact, between the man and the woman, Adam was the first to be deceived. Q 20: 120- 121 expounds on this, detailing that the devil approached Adam, asking him to give him the opportunity to show him the tree of eternity and unending kingship.

Furthermore, it reveals that Adam fell for the trap then both their bodies (Adam and Eve’s) became visible to them and hence they tried to cover themselves with the leaves of Paradise. Adam thus disobeyed his Lord, and fell. Here, Adam is fervently blamed for disobeying God; while in the Bible, Eve is accused of causing Adam to eat the forbidden fruit. This is a remarkable difference between the two religions.

Whether similarities between the Bible and the Qur’an regarding the story of Adam supersede the differences, one thing is as clear as ice- that there is a relationship between the Bible and the Qur’an. The two faiths still need to discuss on this. It is clear that the similarities and discrepancies will continue to prevail as long as Christians and Muslims continue to interpret the verses in their own conceptual faiths. For the common person though, the differences and similarities just exist in the text, for both Muslims and Christians believe in the existence of one God irrespective of the religious name given to him.

Works Cited

The Holy Bible (King James Version). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Ali, A. Y. The Holy Quran. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Edition, 2000.