Moving on, in our journey to discovering the goal of humanity’s existence on this Earth and, for those who have been fortunate and capable enough, to explore the ways to knowing and paths to perfection (it is not in everyone’s destiny to have ‘Tawfeeq min-Allah (swt)’ to travel on this divine path), I would like to cover a most important event (actual or hypothetical, is not a matter of significance at this point in time) in the story of the creation of Adam (again, the subject in question could be Adam the prophet (pbuh) or Man in general). This event, and the realities stemming from it, answered a lot of the questions that I had prior to beginning this research, and God willing it will encourage further deeper investigation on my part and anybody else interested in Islamic doctrines.
The event in question is describes in the following verse from the Holy Qur’an:
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلاَئِكَةِ اسْجُدُواْ لآدَمَ فَسَجَدُواْ إِلاَّ إِبْلِيسَ أَبَى وَاسْتَكْبَرَ وَكَانَ مِنَ الْكَافِرِينَ
And when We said to the angels: “Prostrate before Adam”, then all prostrated except Iblis. He refused and he showed arrogance and he was one of the unbelievers.[Al-Baqarah:34]
General comment on this verse taken from Tafsir Al-Mizan:
‘It has been explained earlier that the preceding words, “and what you were hiding”, show that there was a hidden thing that had, meanwhile, come into open. The last sentence of this verse too leads to the same conclusion. Instead of saying, “He refused and he showed arrogance, and he disbelieved it says, “… he was one of the unbelievers.” It was not that he became an unbeliever at that moment; he was an unbeliever long since, but had kept it a secret, and this event brought it into open.
This is the first instance that disobedience was shown externally for all to witness. All of creation up to this point has been on the same level of worship and servitude.
Also, it was mentioned that the event of the prostration of the angels must have happened between the divine words, “Surely I know what you do not know”, and the words, “… I know what you manifest and what you were hiding.” It may be asked: Why then has Allah put this verse after those words? Probably it has been done just to create a link between the stories of creation of Adam and his being placed in the Paradise. The twelve verses (28 – 39) were revealed to describe how and when man was made vicegerent of Allah, how was he sent down to the earth, and what is to happen to him in this life – the happenings that will have a bearing on his lasting happiness or unhappiness. For this theme, the event of prostration has not much importance except as a connecting link. That is why it has been mentioned here only briefly without going into details. Perhaps, it is because of the same reason that the Qur’an has changed the pronouns referring to Allah from the third person (your Lord said) to the first (And when We said).
The angels had not hidden anything from Allah; it was Iblis who had done so. Then why did Allah ascribe this deed to all of them (you were hiding)?Allah in this talk used the same method which even the human beings have adopted for their own speeches; we ascribe the work of an individual to the whole group, if the doer is not properly identified or if he tries to remain anonymous. Also, there may be another explanation for it. Apparently the first announcement, “I am going to make in the earth a vicegerent”, had shown that the said vicegerent would have authority over the angels too. It may be inferred from the command obliging them to prostrate before Adam. Probably on hearing that first announcement some disturbing thought had come into their minds, as it had never occurred to them that any earthly creature could be given authority over everything including themselves. Some traditions too point to it. In this context the words, “what you were hiding”, could easily be addressed to the angels.’
So those who were hiding their contempt yet externally showing degrees of worship which were at the same level as the Angels, have now been exposed. Now, by that order to prostrate before Adam, it is evident to all who wicked with evil intentions, and who the true believers are, ‘In order that Allah may separate the impure from the pure [Al-Anfaal:37]. I consider this a lesson to us all, to warn those of the pride and hypocrisy that sooner or later they will be exposed, no matter how well or how long they are able to hide their true intentions. Our own pride is the only thing preventing us from reaching our goals. This is the main means that Iblis and his followers employ to deviate those of weak will power from the right path.