The Virtue of Adam over the Angels
Allah stated the virtue of Adam above the angels, because He taught Adam, rather than them, the names of everything. This occurred after they prostrated to him. This discussion precedes that event here, only to show the importance of his position, and the absence of the angels' knowledge about creating the Khalifah when they asked about it. So Allah informed the angels that He knows what they do not know, and then He mentioned this to show them Adam's superiority over them in knowledge. Allah said,
[وَعَلَّمَ ءَادَمَ الأَسْمَآءَ كُلَّهَا]
(And He taught Adam all the names (of everything)).
Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas commented on the Ayah;
[وَعَلَّمَ ءَادَمَ الأَسْمَآءَ كُلَّهَا]
(And He taught Adam all the names (of everything)) "Meaning, the names that people use, such as human, animal, sky, earth, land, sea, horse, donkey, and so forth, including the names of the other species.'' Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Jarir reported that `Asim bin Kulayb narrated from Sa`id bin Ma`bad that Ibn `Abbas was questioned,
[وَعَلَّمَ ءَادَمَ الأَسْمَآءَ كُلَّهَا]
(And He taught Adam all the names (of everything)) "Did Allah teach him the names of the plate and the pot'' He said, "Yes, and even the terms for breaking wind!''
Allah taught Adam the names of everything, their proper names, the names of their characteristics, and what they do, just as Ibn `Abbas stated about the terms for passing gas.
In his Sahih, Al-Bukhari explained this Ayah in the Book of Tafsir with a report from Anas bin Malik who said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«يَجْتَمِعُ الْمُؤمِنُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَيَقُولُونَ: لَوِ اسْتَشْفَعْنَا إِلَى رَبِّنَا فَيَأْتُونَ آدَمَ فَيَقُولُونَ: أَنْتَ أَبُو النَّاسِ خَلَقَكَ اللهُ بِيَدِهِ وَأَسْجَدَ لَكَ مَلَائِكَتَهُ وَعَلَّمَكَ أَسْمَاءَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ، فَاشْفَعْ لَنَا عِنْدَ رَبِّكَ حَتَّى يُريحَنَا مِنْ مَكَانِنَا هَذا، فَيَقُولُ: لَسْتُ هُنَاكُمْ وَيَذْكُرُ ذَنْبَهُ فَيَسْتَحْيِي ائْتُوا نُوحًا فإِنَّهُ أَوَّلُ رَسُولٍ بَعَثَهُ اللهُ إِلَى أَهْلِ الْأَرْضِ، فَيَأْتُونَه، فَيَقُولُ: لَسْتُ هُناكُمْ وَيَذْكُر سُؤَالَه رَبَّه مَا لَيْسَ لَهُ بِه عِلْم فَيَسْتَحْيِي فَيَقُولُ: ائْتُوا خَلِيلَ الرَّحْمن فَيَأْتُونَهُ فَيقُولُ: لَسْتُ هُنَاكُمْ فَيَقُولُ: ائْتُوا مُوسَى عَبْدًا كَلَّمَهُ اللهُ وَأعْطَاهُ التَّوْرَاةَ، فَيقُولُ: لَسْتُ هُنَاكُم فَيَذْكُرُ قَتْلَ النَّفْسِ بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ فَيَسْتَحْيِي مِنْ رَبِّهِ فَيَقُولُ: ائْتُوا عِيسى عَبْدَاللهِ وَرَسُولَهُ وَكَلِمَةَ اللهِ ورُوحَهُ، فَيَأْتُونَهُ فَيَقُولُ: لَسْتُ هُنَاكُمْ ائْتُوا مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّم مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ، فَيَأْتُونِّي فأَنْطَلِقُ حَتَّى أَسْتأذِنَ عَلَى رَبِّي فيَأْذَنُ لِي، فإِذَا رأَيْتُ رَبِّي وَقَعْتُ سَاجِدًا فَيَدَعُنِي مَا شَاءَ اللهُ ثُمَّ يُقَالُ: ارْفَعْ رَأْسَكَ وَسَلْ تُعْطَهْ وَقُلْ يُسْمَعْ وَاشْفَعْ تُشَفَّعْ، فأَرْفَعُ رَأْسِي فأَحْمَدُهُ بِتَحْمِيدٍ يُعَلِّمُنِيهِ ثُمَّ أَشْفَعُ فَيُحَدُّ لِي حَدًّا فأُدْخِلُهُمُ الْجَنَّةَ ثُمَّ أَعُودُ إلَيْهِ فَإذَا رَأَيْتُ رَبِّي مِثْلَهُ ثُمَّ أَشْفَعُ فَيُحَدُّ لِي حدًّا فأُدْخِلُهُمُ الْجَنَّةَ ثُمَّ أَعُودُ الثَّالِثَةَ ثُمَّ أعُودُ الرَّابِعَةَ فَأَقُولُ:مَا بَقِيَ فِي النَّار إلَّا مَنْ حَبَسَهُ الْقُرْآنُ وَوَجَبَ عَلَيْهِ الْخُلُود»
(The believers will gather on the Day of Resurrection and will say, `We should seek a means of intercession with our Lord' They will go to Adam and say, `O Adam! You are the father of all mankind, Allah created you with His Own Hand, ordered the angels to prostrate for you and taught you the names of everything. Will you not intercede for us with your Lord, so that he relieve us from this gathering place' On that Adam will reply, `I cannot do what you have asked'. He will have remembered his error and will be embarrassed, saying, `Go to Nuh, for he is the first of Allah's Messengers whom Allah sent to the people of the earth.' They will go to Nuh and ask him. He will say, `I cannot do what you have asked.' He will recall asking Allah what he was not to know, and will also be embarrassed. He will say, `Go to Khalil Ar-Rahman.' They will go to Ibrahim and he will also say, `I cannot do what you have asked.' He will say, `Go to Musa, a servant to whom Allah spoke directly and gave the Tawrah.' Musa will say, `I cannot do what you have asked.' He will remember that he killed a person without justification and will be embarrassed before his Lord. He will say, `Go to `Isa, Allah's servant and Messenger and His Word and a spirit of His.' They will go to `Isa and he will say, `I will not do what you asked. Go to Muhammad, a servant whose previous and latter errors were forgiven.' They will come to me, and I will go to Allah and seek His permission and He will give me His permission. When I gaze at my Lord, I will prostrate myself and Allah will allow me to remain like that as much as He will. Then I will be addressed, `O Muhammad! Raise your head; ask, for you will be given what you ask, and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.' I will raise my head and thank and praise Allah with such praise as He will inspire me. I will intercede and He will grant me a quantity of people that He will admit into Paradise. I will go back to Him, and when I see my Lord, I will intercede and He will allow me a quantity that He will admit into Paradise. I will do that for a third and then a fourth time. I will say, `There are no more people left in Hell except those whom the Qur'an has incarcerated and have thus acquired eternity in Hell.') This Hadith was collected by Muslim, An-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah. fThe reason why we mentioned this Hadith here is the Prophet's statement,
«فَيَأْتُونَ آدَمَ فَيَقُولُون: أنْتَ أَبُو النَّاسِ خَلَقَكَ اللهُ بِيَدِهِ وَأَسْجَدَ لَكَ مَلَائِكَتَهُ وَعَلَّمَكَ أَسْمَاءَ كُلِّ شَيْء»
(They will go to Adam and say, `O Adam! You are the father of all mankind, and Allah created you with His Own Hand, ordered the angels to prostrate for you, and taught you the names of everything). This part of the Hadith testifies to the fact that Allah taught Adam the names of all creatures.
This is why Allah said,
[ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى الْمَلَـئِكَةِ]
(Then He showed them to the angels) meaning, the objects or creations. `Abdur-Razzaq narrated that Ma`mar said that Qatadah said, "Allah paraded the objects before the angels,
[فَقَالَ أَنبِئُونِى بِأَسْمَآءِ هَـؤُلاَءِ إِن كُنتُمْ صَـدِقِينَ]
(And said, "Tell Me the names of these if you are truthful'').''
Allah's statement means, "Tell Me the names of what I paraded before you, O angels who said,
[أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَآءَ]
(Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood).
You asked, `Are You appointing a Khalifah from us or from other creations We praise and glorify You.
Therefore, Allah said, "If you say the truth, that if I appoint a non-angel Khalifah on the earth, he and his offspring will disobey Me, commit mischief and shed blood, but if I designate you the Khalifahs you will obey Me, follow My command and honor and glorify Me. However, since you do not know the names of the objects I paraded before you, then you have even less knowledge of what will occur on the earth that does not exist yet.''
[قَالُواْ سُبْحَـنَكَ لاَ عِلْمَ لَنَآ إِلاَّ مَا عَلَّمْتَنَآ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ ]
(They (angels) said: "Glory is to You, we have no knowledge except what you have taught us. Verily, it is You, the Knower, the Wise.'').
Here the angels are praising Allah's holiness, and perfection above every kind of deficiency, affirming that no creature could ever acquire any part of Allah's knowledge, except by His permission, nor could anyone know anything except what Allah teaches them. This is why they said,
[سُبْحَـنَكَ لاَ عِلْمَ لَنَآ إِلاَّ مَا عَلَّمْتَنَآ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ]
("Glory is to You, we have no knowledge except what you have taught us. Verily You are the Knower, the Wise) meaning, Allah is knowledgeable of everything, Most Wise about His creation, and He makes the wisest decisions, and He teaches and deprives whom He wills from knowledge. Verily, Allah's wisdom and justice in all matters is perfect.