Advanced search
Last Updated: 2009/09/23
Summary of question
Why were we brought to a world in which sinning is possible just because of Prophet Adam’s mistake?
Why were we forced to come to earth and be punished for our sins, even though Prophet Adam made the mistake?
Concise answer

All prophets of Allah (swt) are infallible and invulnerable to sin, and what Prophet Adam (pbuh) did was that he simply didn’t take heed in Allah's (swt) advice, which is not considered true disobedience.  The truth of the matter is that Prophet Adam (pbuh) and all people coming to this world was something predetermined by divine decree and Allah's (swt) will.  At the same time, this world is only a place for us to be evaluated, not a means of punishment.

What Allah (swt) intended by sending Prophet Adam (pbuh) and his children down to the earth, was to send them to a place where good and bad actions were both possible (unlike heaven that is only a place of good deeds) and test them. If they were successful in following his commands while at the same time being capable of disobeying Him, He would reward them and even grant some of them like his prophets higher ranks than His close angels. Hence, we must first become earthly to be able to become heavenly.

Detailed Answer

The story of creation is an interesting and enlightening one that can be found in books of every religion.  From the perspective of Islam and hadiths, the story the Torah and Gospel narrate has several problems.  On the other hand, the real story has been mentioned in the Quran in the most beautiful and precise way.

There are some significant points here that can be useful in answering your question:

1. Prophet Adam (pbuh) was one of Allah’s (swt) great prophets, thus being infallible from sin, therefore whatever he ever did surely wasn’t a sin (even if it may seem so in some cases).  Someone asked Imam Ridha (as): "Are prophets infallible?" He replied: "Yes." “Then why does God say that Prophet Adam sinned?” He asked again.[1] The imam answered: “Fear Allah (swt) and don’t impute corrupt acts to prophets.  Allah (swt) did not create Prophet Adam (pbuh) to stay in heaven but to be his vicegerent in this world and his disobedience was in heaven, not in this world…” .

Regarding this hadith Allamah Tabatabai has said: “The Imam said that he disobeyed God in heaven, indicating that not eating from that specific tree was an irshadi ruling and not a mowlawi[2] one because no divine rulings had been legislated in heaven and it was after Prophet Adam (pbuh) came to this world, which was inevitable due to Allah's will, that Allah's (swt) decrees were legislated.  So he disobeyed an irshadi command instead of a mowlawi one[3], meaning that Allah (swt) wanted to inform him of how harmful following Shaytan was, and he eventually learned the hard way; he suffered the consequences; exactly like when a father advices his son not to walk barefoot because a nail might hurt his foot.  Prophet Adam (pbuh) and his spouse did themselves an injustice and were banned from heaven but didn’t sin against Allah (swt) by disobeying him.  Besides that, if he had really sinned he should have been sent back to heaven after sincerely repenting to God for true repentance erases all effects and traces that a sin can have, but that wasn’t the case for him and he didn’t return.  This proves that the forbiddance was not mowlawi, which as a result would make him a sinner, but simply advice by Allah (swt) out of His benevolence.[4]

Of course, not only is this materialistic world a place where desires collide, making sinning possible, but the nature of man himself entails the possibility of sinning for him, because he is a combination of intellect and bodily desire.[5]   

2. Prophet Adam’s (pbuh) descending from heaven was not optional but rather a matter of divine decree and destiny, therefore even if he hadn’t eaten from the forbidden fruit, he still would have descended.  This is something Imam Ridha (as) directly points to in a hadith.[6]

Allamah Tabatabai says: “Based on the style of expression and context, the verses in the Quran relating to this story imply that man was meant to live and die in this world, therefore, putting him in heaven (not the eternal heaven) was only temporary to test him.”[7]

In a narration from Imam Baqir (as), the imam says: "By Allah (swt) Prophet Adam was created for this world."[8]

3. What must be taken into consideration is that coming to this world isn't punishment and that by coming to this world one gets the opportunity to practice and eventually improve and perfect himself and finally reach the climax in which the holy and spiritual stand at.  Allah (swt) has created us higher and greater than his angels and has made us his vicegerents in this world. When the angels complained against man, Allah (swt) defended him and told them: “I know what you know not” (انی اعلم ما لا تعلمون).[9]

All of this is only because man consists of intellect and desire while angels purely intellect.  If such a creature abides by his lord's rulings he is certainly far more superior to a creature that unconsciously does so and this excellence can only be accomplished by being in a situation where one needs to choose between intellect and ignorance; this world is such a place.  Thus we should be thankful of Allah (swt) for the blessing of coming to this world as we can become heavenly through this becoming earthly.

[1] Taha:121.

[2] A mowlawi command is one who disobeys it deserves to be punished, on the other hand, an irshadi command isn't actually a command that must be followed and is more of a form of advice, thus one who doesn’t heed doesn’t deserve punishment.

[3] Seyyid Mohammad Hosein Tabatabai, Al-Mizan (farsi translation), vol. 1, pg. 219.

[4] Ibid, pg. 201.

[5] Imam Ali (as) says: “Allah (swt) created the angels with intellect and without any desire and animals with desire and without intellect, but He created man with both so that if he listens to his intellect, he goes higher than angels and if he listens to his desires, he will be lower than animals.” Saduq, Ilalul-Sharaye’, pg. 15, chapter 6.

[6] There is a hadith that says: “His disobedience was in heaven, not on earth; and was something that was divine decree.”

[7] Seyyid Mohammad Hosein Tabatabai, Al-Mizan (farsi translation), vol. 1, pg. 196.

[8] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 225.

[9] Baqarah:30.

Question translations in other languages
Number of comments 0
Please enter the value
Example : Yourname@YourDomane.ext
Please enter the value
Please enter the value

Thematic Category

Random questions

  • How is it possible to get rid of obsession with cleanness and uncleanness?
    4663 وسواس
    It is necessary to make a few preliminary points to answer the foregoing question: 1. God, the Exalted, says that He has not laid upon you any hardship in religion. The Holy Prophet (S) has said in a well-known tradition that he was sent to humanity with ...
  • Is Imam Ali capable of reviving the dead?
    5884 Exegesis
    Asserting that someone can independently do so without God’s assistance is in absolute contradiction with tawhid af’ali (oneness in action), for death and life is solely in God’s hand.However, if one were to carry out this act with God’s consent, it would then be considered probable and possible.
  • Please let me how to get rid of masturbation?
    4617 ترک لذت
    Sin is like a foul-smelling swamp full of sewage; the more one sinks into it, the less he senses its smell, because he actually loses his sense of smell and can't tell that he is drowning anymore. At the same time, anytime one makes a strong decision ...
  • Considering the difference of opinion the ulema have on the issue of Wilayat Faqih, can one deny the whole concept?
    3607 System
    This question doesn’t have a brief answer. Please click on the detailed answer. ...
  • What foods did the prophet like?
    7753 تاريخ بزرگان
    The prophet would usually eat from anything that was halal, without restricting himself. Meat was his favorite food. Out of the different cuts of meat, he liked the foreshank the most. Out of condiments, he liked vinegar and olives. He also liked dates and honey very much, ...
  • Who is Dhul-Qarnayn?
    11956 تاريخ بزرگان
    The name “Dhul-Qarnayn” has been mentioned in surah Kahf.As for who exactly Dhul-Qarnayn was in history, there are differences of opinion amongst historians and commentators of the Quran.Yet, taking into consideration the attributes of Dhul-Qarnayn that the Quran has mentioned, one can ...
  • Did religion come to imprison us or to set us free?
    4636 Modern
    Freedom, from the point of view of religion, can be studied under two headings: spiritual freedom and socio-political freedom. From the spiritual perspective, man’s essence or immaterial self is free from corporeality, materiality, and material characteristics. It is nostalgic of its place of origin, the realm of ...
  • Does asking about Islamic rulings require any expertise?
    3226 Practical
    The knowing and learning of Islamic rulings and teachings is classified into different degrees and categories depending on its depth and how substantial it is:1- A simple and minimal understanding and familiarity; like learning Islamic rulings and traditions and its practical, ...
  • What are the conditions of divorce?
    4223 Laws and Jurisprudence
    If you were interested in living with your husband, you should have made every effort to save the marriage. In fact, you could have done something to draw your in-laws' attention and make your husband love you. If you think you made every necessary effort, you should never think that ...
  • How long has the belief in Wilayatul Faqih existed?
    3904 Laws and Jurisprudence
    The concept of Wilayatul Faqih, taken to mean the leadership of a society under an individual who has reached the rank of ‘Ijtihad’ (Jurisprudence) in Fiqh, is according to some, a new concept in terms of Islamic thought and first originated ...