Thought Archive

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ramadan Post 3 Original Sin

Adam is an archetype of humankind, the progenitor, the first Prophet of Humanity, an the viceroy put to rule the Earth. In many Middle Eastern languages, Turkish included, Adam in fact means "man". As a medium therefore he is the very principle of the polar relationship and who knows all the Names of God and was orderered to teach them to angels. Adam is that single soul, that spirtual essense form which humankind has been created, as He says:

O Men, fear your lord Who created you from the single soul and created from its
mate, so that from them both will issue forth many men and women.

Many views (Ibn-Arabi in Fusus-Al-Hikam or Mansur Hallaj) but specifically tasawwuf, will consider Adam not only the first Insan-i-Kamil' the posessor of the spiritual essense, but alsoThe Greateast Prophet - the initiator of silsila tradition that will end in Mohammed (pbuh). Thus, spiritual role of Humanity as an ultimate centre of Universe is affirmed in Adam. Quite apart from the insignificant speckle of dust, Man (e.g Adam) is the greatest gift intoduced by God into Universe. Without Man the Universe has no sense - or in fact it may not exist physically, and God has created it for our own sake.

As for the fall:

Then began Satan to whisper suggestions to them, bringing openly before their
minds all their shame that was hidden from them (before): he said: "Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest ye should become angels or such beings as live for ever. And he swore to them both, that he was their sincere adviser. So by deceit he brought about their fall: when they tasted of the tree, their shame became manifest to them, and they began to sew together the leaves of the garden over their bodies. And their Lord called unto them: "Did I not forbid you that tree, and tell you that Satan was an avowed enemy unto you?" [Qur'an 7:20]
The Qu'ran also mentions that Adam was misled by deception and was in fact pardoned by God after much repentance. Therein lies critical difference in my view between Christian and Islamic concept of Man.

"Then Adam received (reassuring) words from his Lord, so He turned to him mercifully; surely He is Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful." [Qur'an 2:37]
In Islam a human is born sinless creature of God (a Muslim, therefore) and in fact, will be forgiven by God before birth. In Catholic Christianity - if I uderstand its tenets correctly, and I may not - a man's nature is full of sin, because of the Fall. The people however can be saved by turning to Christ, who atoned for the original sin (the fall) by dying on the cross. Islam indicates that because Adam was the first human, his role as the first prophet of humanity is on the ascendance even after the fall. In fact the fall is the blessing in disguise in the Qur'an as the prophethood in fact starts after the fall from "Grace". Humanity is doomed to suffering but at the same time will enjoy happiness in the equal measure.

All other accounts in ahadith are apocryphal and mythical; they are not in he Qur'an and therefore represent tales of human imagination. As an examble of this apocryphal tradition I can cite the following:

Al-Qummi records the opinion that Eden was not on earth but in heaven. After disobeying Allah, Allah sends Adam and Eve to earth, arriving first at mountain peaks outside Mecca; Adam on Safa, and Eve on Marwa. In this account, Adam remained weeping for 40 days, until he repented, at which point Allah rewarded him by sending down the Kaaba, and teaching him the hajj. Other Islamic traditions hold that Adam was moved to Sri Lanka, as the next best thing to Eden, and, viewing Adam as having been a giant, human size having shrunk drastically before the great flood, Adam's Peak is said to contain his giant footprint. (Buddhists say that the footprint mark is the left foot of the Buddha, left behind as he strode away, the right footprint being (depending on legend) in Amphoe Phra Phutthabat, Saraburi Province, located about 150 kilometres northeast of Bangkok, Thailand. This place is called in Thai Phra Bat or Phra Phutthabat)

Also interestingly, The Qur'an also does not describe by name sones of Adam (named Qabil and Habil in Islamic hadith tradition) that correspond to Cain and Abel.


NoolaBeulah said...

Very interesting post. I didn't know about Adam being forgiven. You're right. In Christianity (not just in Catholicism), it is only through Christ that a person can overcome the sin of Adam with which he is born.

Hazar Nesimi said...

My impression whas that in some protestant denominations, where even cross is disemphasized (like Jehovah's Witnesses) role of Christ is secondary to God, if not in matters of doctrine but visually. In Catholic countries, though role of Mary is great, or on par with God.

NoolaBeulah said...

That's right. Protestant belief tends more towards the Old Testament, and is, at the same time, much less visual and 'sensual'.

I remember being frankly shocked by some of the imagery in Naples, which to me looked like SM pornography. They would show saints having their skin ripped off, and yet the body twisted and turned as if in orgasm. There is a popular side to Catholicism that is truly syncretic, and the paganism that preceded it did not so much die as get absorbed and recast.

The figure of Mary in Catholicism is very curious. Of all the Abrahamic religions, only Catholicism elevated the female to such a height. (Well, the female and the infant.) It adds a touch of tenderness to religions that are, for the most part, very quick to condemn. But it is very strange to see elderly, and very intellectual men dissolve into tears before an image of the Virgin.