Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

On Jesus’ Similitude with Adam

Uncovering Another Quranic Dilemma Pt. 1

By Sam Shamoun

In this series we will be revisiting the Quran’s assertion that Jesus is similar to Adam in the sight of the Muslim deity:

Verily, in the sight of God, the nature of Jesus is as the nature of Adam, whom He created out of dust and then said unto him, "Be" - and he is. S. 3:59 Muhammad Muhammad Asad

We will see how this comparison ends up proving way too much, and once again shows that Muhammad could not have been a true prophet sent by the true God.

We Have Contradictions Galore!

But before we do so we will begin by showing how the Quran actually contradicts itself at this point, since Jesus and Adam are quite unlike each other.

A. Allah did not create Adam by his word.

The first problem with the Quranic assertion is that both the Quran and ahadith deny that Adam was made by Allah’s creative word “Be.”

According to these Islamic sources Adam was actually created by Allah‘s very own hands, and then had Allah’s spirit breathed into him for the obvious purpose of making him a living, animated creature:

Your Lord said to the angels: 'I am creating man from clay. When I have fashioned him and breathed My spirit into him, kneel-down and prostrate yourselves before him.' The angels all prostrated themselves except Satan, who was too proud, for he was an unbeliever. 'Satan,' said He, 'why do you not bow to him whom MY OWN HANDS have made? Are you too proud, or do you deem yourself superior?' S. 38:71-75 N. J. Dawood

“Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger as saying: There was an argument between Adam and Moses in the presence of their Lord. Adam came the better of Moses. Moses said: Are you that Adam whom Allah created with HIS HAND and breathed into him HIS SPIRIT, and commanded angels to fall in prostration before him and He made you live in Paradise with comfort and ease…” (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6411)

In fact, the allegedly sound narrations proclaim that Adam happens to be only one of four things, which Allah made directly with his own hand. The rest of creation was made by the command “Be”:

On the authority of al Haarith ibn Nawfal:

“Allaah created three things with His Hand:

1.     He created Adam with His Hand
2.     He wrote the Tawraah with His Hand and
3.     He planted Firdaus with His Hand.”

[Collected by ad Daylami. It was collected by ad Daraqutni in ‘As Sifaat’ P. 26 #28 and Abu Ash Shailkh in ‘Al ‘Udhmah’: 5/1555]

In another Hadeeth narrated by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr:

“Indeed Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – created three things with His Hand; He created Adam with His Hand, He wrote the Torah with His Hand and He planted Firdaws with His Hand.”

[Collected by ad Daraqutni in ‘As Sifaat’ P.45 and al Bayhaqi in ‘Al Asma was Sifat’: P. 403 on the authority of al Harith ibn Nawfal.]

It was authentically reported that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar said:

“Allaah created four things with His Hand:

1.     The Throne
2.     The Pen
3.     Aadam and
4.     The paradise of ‘Adn.

He then said to the rest of the creation ‘Kun’ [Be] and it was.”

Adh Dhahabi stated in ‘l ‘Uluw’: ‘It’s chain is good.’

Al Albaani stated in ‘Mukhtasar al ‘Uluw’ P.105: ‘The chain is authentic according to the conditions of Muslim.’ (“The Four Things Allah Created with His Hand”; bold emphasis ours)

We, therefore, have a clear-cut contradiction since Adam WAS NOT created by Allah’s creative word.

B. Jesus was not created like Adam.

The problem is far worse when we consider that the Quran itself denies that Jesus was brought into existence through the word “Be.” Rather, the Muslim scripture testifies that Allah actually sent his very own spirit in the likeness of a man in order to cause Mary to conceive miraculously without any male intervention:

And you shall recount in the Book the story of Mary: how she left her people and betook herself to a solitary place to the east. We sent to her Our spirit in the semblance of a full-grown man. And when she saw him she said: 'May the Merciful defend me from you! If you fear the Lord, [leave me and go your way].' 'I am but your Lord's emissary,' he replied, 'and have come TO GIVE YOU a holy son.' 'How shall I bear a child,' she answered, 'when I have neither been touched by any man nor ever been unchaste?' 'Thus did your Lord speak,' he replied. "'That is easy enough for Me. He shall be a sign to mankind and a blessing from Ourself. Our decree shall come to pass."' S. 19:16-21 Dawood

Therefore, Jesus was neither created from dust nor by the command “Be.”

This brings us to the other problem with this comparison.

C. The Spirit of God Incarnate

Whereas the Quran states that Allah breathed his spirit into Adam, and mankind in general,

Then He fashioned him and breathed into him of His Spirit; and appointed for you hearing and sight and hearts. Small thanks give ye! S. 32:9 Pickthall

Jesus, on the other hand, is said to be Allah’s very own Word and a Spirit sent forth from him into Mary:

People of the Book, go not beyond the bounds in your religion, and say not as to God but the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God, and His Word that He committed to Mary, and a Spirit from Him. So believe in God and His Messengers, and say not, ‘Three.’ Refrain; better is it for you. God is only One God. Glory be to Him – That He should have a son! To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth; God suffices for a guardian. S. 4:171 Arberry

This explains why Jesus is identified as the Word and Spirit of Allah all throughout the Islamic literature, phrases which are never ascribed to Adam:

4435. It is related that Abu Hurayra said, "The Messenger of Allah was given some meat and was offered the leg, which he liked, and ate some of it. Then he said, 'I will be the master of people on the Day of Rising. Do you know what that will entail? Allah will gather people, the first and the last on the same plain so that an observer will be able to see them and a speaker make them hear. The sun will be brought near to them and people will experience such sorrow and distress that they will not be able to bear or endure it. The people will say, 'Do you not see what has come to you? Why do you not look for someone to intercede with your Lord on your behalf?' People will say to one another, 'You must have Adam!' They will come to Adam, peace be upon him, and say, 'You are the father of mankind. Allah created you with His hand and breathed some of His spirit into you and He ordered the angels to prostrate to you. He made you dwell in the Garden. Will you not intercede with your Lord on our behalf? Do you not see what we are suffering?' Adam will say, 'My Lord is angry today with such anger as has never existed before nor will again. He forbade me the Tree and I disobeyed. O my soul! My soul! My soul! Go to someone else. Go to Nuh.'… They will go to 'Isa and say, 'O 'Isa! You are the Messenger of Allah and HIS WORD which He cast to Maryam and a spirit from Him. You spoke to people while in the cradle. Intercede with your Lord on our behalf. Do you not see what we are suffering?' 'Isa will say, 'My Lord is angry today with such anger as has never existed before nor will again,' and he did not mention a sin. 'O my soul! My soul! My soul! Go to someone else. Go to Muhammad.' (Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 68. Book of Tafsir)

Anas b Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah said: Allah would gather people on the Day of Resurrection and they would be concerned about it, and Ibn Ubaid said. They would get a Divine inspiration about it, and would say: If we could seek intercession with our Lord, we may be relieved from this predicament of ours. He (the Holy Prophet) said: They would come to Adam and say, Thou art Adam, the father of mankind. Allah created thee with His own hand and breathed unto thee of His Spirit and commanded the angels and they prostrated before thee. So intercede for us with thy Lord, that He may relieve us from this position of ours. He would say: I am not in a position to do this, and would recall his error, and would feel shy of his Lord on account of that… You better go to Jesus, THE SPIRIT OF ALLAH and His word… (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0373)

Jami` at-Tirmidhi

Chapters on Virtues

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:
that a group of people from the Companions of the Messenger of Allah sat waiting for him. He said: "Then he came out, such that when he came close to them, he heard them talking, and he heard what they were saying. So some of them said: 'It's amazing that Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, has taken a Khalil (close friend) from His creation. He took Ibrahim as a Khalil.' And some of them said: 'That is not more amazing than speaking to Musa, He spoke to him with real speech.' And some said: 'And 'Eisa is the word of Allah and HIS SPIRIT.' And some said: 'Adam was chosen by Allah.' So he came out upon them and said his Salam, and said: 'I have heard your words, and your amazement that Ibrahim is the Khalil of Allah, and he is such, and that Musa is the one spoken to by Allah, and he is such, and that 'Eisa is THE SPIRIT OF ALLAH and His Word, and he is such, and that Adam was chosen by Allah, and he is such…

Grade: Da'if (Darussalam)

English reference: Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3616

Arabic reference: Book 49, Hadith 3976 (; capital, italic and underline emphasis ours)

In fact, besides the title Kalimatullah (“the Word of Allah”) Jesus is also given the name Ruhullah (“Spirit of Allah”), as in the following examples:

“Jesus continued his mission, aided by divine miracles. Some Qur’anic commentators said that Jesus brought four people back from the dead: a friend of his named Al-‘Azam, an old woman’s son, and a woman’s only daughter. These three had died during his lifetime. When the Jews saw this they said: ‘You only resurrect those who have died recently; perhaps they only fainted.’ They asked him to bring back to life Sam the [sic] Ibn Noah.

“When he asked them to show him his grave, the people accompanied him there. Jesus invoked Allah the Exalted to bring him back to life and behold, Sam the [sic] Ibn Noah came out from the grave gray-haired. Jesus asked: ‘How did you get gray hair, when there was no aging in your time?’ He answered: ‘O, Spirit of Allah, I thought that the Day of Resurrection had come; from the fear of that day my hair turned gray.’” (Ibn Kathir, Stories of the Prophets, pp. 347-348; bold and underline emphasis ours)

“Jesus suddenly prostrated and his disciples with him. They sensed a fragrance which they had never smelled before. Jesus said: ‘The one who is the most devout and most righteous may uncover the table, that we might eat of it to thank Allah for it.’ They said: ‘O Spirit of Allah you are the most deserving.’

“Jesus stood up, then performed ablution and prayed before uncovering the table, and behold, there was a roasted fish. The disciples said: ‘O Spirit of Allah, is that the food of this world or of Paradise? Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Did not Allah forbid you to ask questions?’ It is the divine power of Allah the Almighty Who said: “Be,” and it was. It is a sign from Almighty Allah warning of great punishment for unbelieving mortals of the world. This is the kernel of the matter.’

“It is said that thousands of people partook of it, and yet they never exhausted it. A further miracle was that the blind and lepers were cured.

The Day of the Table became one of the holy days for the disciples and followers of Jesus. Later on, the disciples and followers forgot the real essence of the miracles, and so they worshiped Jesus as a god.” (Ibid., p. 351; bold and underline emphasis ours)

“While they were on their way, suddenly they came to a huge lion in the middle of the road; and they were alarmed. But Jesus said to them, ‘Put me before him.’ When they sat him in front of the lion, he took hold of the lion’s ear and said, ‘What made you sit here?’

“The lion said, ‘O Spirit of God, I am waiting for an ox to come to me so that I can eat it.’

“‘The ox might belong to poor people,’ said Jesus. ‘’Go to such-and-such place, where you will find a camel. Eat it and leave the ox to its owners.’ So the lion went off in the direction of the mountain.” (Muhammad ibn ‘abd Allah al-Kisa’i, Tales of the Prophets (Qisas al-anbiya’), translated by Wheeler M. Thackson Jr. [Great Books of the Islamic World, Inc., 1997], 86. Jesus son of Mary, p. 330; bold and underline emphasis ours)

It is obvious that Jesus is called the Spirit of Allah precisely because of the Quran’s teaching that Christ already existed as a Spirit alongside Allah when he was then sent forth from Allah’s own presence into Mary in order to become a man.

This is further brought out by the following verse:

And in Mary, 'Imran's daughter, who preserved her chastity and into whose womb We breathed Our spirit; who put her trust in the words of her Lord and His scriptures, and was truly devout. S. 66:12 Dawood – cf. Q. 21:91

In light of Q. 4:171, where Jesus is said to be the Word and Spirit that Allah cast down into Mary,

“… The Messiah, ´Isa son of Maryam, was only the Messenger of Allah and His Word, which He cast INTO Maryam, and a Spirit from Him…” Aisha Bewley

It seems plausible that the Spirit of Allah that was breathed into Mary was actually Jesus himself.

In other words, Christ was the very Spirit which Allah breathed, i.e., sent forth, into Mary so that he could become a human being.

This interpretation becomes even more likely in light of the following texts, which depict Jesus as creating a bird from clay and breathing life into it:

As a messenger to the Children of Israel: "I have come to you with a sign from your Lord; that I CREATE for you FROM CLAY the form of a bird, then I BLOW INTO IT and it becomes a bird by God 's leave, and I heal the blind and the lepers, and give life to the dead by God 's leave, and I can tell you what you have eaten, and what you have stored in your homes. In that is a sign for you if you have acknowledged." S. 3:49 Quran: A Reformist Translation (QRT)

God said, "O Jesus son of Mary, recall My blessings upon you and your mother that I supported you with the Holy Spirit; you spoke to the people in the cradle and in old age; and I taught you the book and the wisdom, and the Torah, and the Injeel; and YOU WOULD CREATE FROM CLAY the shape of a bird, then BLOW INTO IT and it becomes a bird by My leave; and you heal the blind and the leper by My leave; and you brought out the dead by My leave. I have restrained the Children of Israel from you, that you came to them with proofs; but those who rejected amongst them said, "This is an obvious magic!" S. 5:110 QRT

Astonishingly, Christ creates in the exact same way that Allah created and animated Adam!

WE CREATED man FROM DRY CLAY, from black moulded loam, and before him Satan from smokeless fire. Your Lord said to the angels: 'I am creating man from dry clay, from black moulded loam. When I have fashioned him and breathed of My spirit into him, kneel down and prostrate yourselves before him.' The angels, one and all, prostrated themselves, except Satan. He refused to prostrate himself as the others did. 'Satan,' said God, 'why do you not prostrate yourself?' He replied: 'I will not bow to a mortal whom YOU CEATED OF DRY CLAY, of black moulded loam.' 'Get you hence,' said God, 'you are accursed. The curse shall be on you till Judgement-day.' S. 15:27-35 Dawood

This passage indicates that Jesus must have breathed the life-animating Spirit into the clay bird, much like Allah did for Adam. And the reason why Christ could do so is because he happens to be the very Spirit of Allah, and therefore has the power to give life. In the words of the blessed Apostle Paul:

“So it is written, ‘The first man Adam was made a living soul.’ The last Adam was made a life-giving spirit.” 1 Corinthians 15:45 Modern English Version (MEV)

Hence, whatever it means for Christ to be like Adam it obviously cannot refer to the manner of their creation since, unlike the first man, Jesus did not come into being in his mother’s womb. Rather, Christ was already alive with Allah long before his blessed mother conceived his physical body and human nature.

Nor is the creation of Adam actually unique, since there have been many things that were created in a similar fashion. As the following scholar of Islam explains:

“In reality, this verse contains two ideas: one, the affirmation of a likeness between Christ and Adam (mathala ‘Isa ‘indallah; yet of what this likeness consists the Qur’an does not say); and two, a report concerning Adam, that God created him from dust and his word.

“One can assume nevertheless that the likeness between the two, according to the Qur’an, is that like Jesus Adam was created without a father. This point is rather frequently mentioned in Muslim tradition until the present day. Muslim apologists of the Middle Ages, as those of the modern era (e.g. Shaykh Rashid Rida in his commentary on the Qur’an) emphasize even that Adam was superior to Jesus because he was born without a mother. Christian theologians (notably Elijah of Nisibis [d. 1056]) respond that in this Adam is not different than the first donkey or bull, since he is the first of his jins. But Jesus was born without a father when there were an infinity of possible fathers. According to them the eminence of Christ above Adam is thereby demonstrated.” (Samir Khalil Samir, “6. The Theological Christian Influence on the Qur'an – A Reflection,” The Qur'an in its Historical Context, edited by Gabriel Said Reynolds [Routledge Studies in the Qur’an, 2008], p. 147; bold emphasis ours)

Therefore, we must look elsewhere if we are going to discover what makes Adam and Jesus so similar.

This is what we intend to do in the next part of our discussion.