Quran is the key religious text of the Islamic faith. It consists of more than fifty references and events, which most can be found in the bible (Nasr, 30: 31-32). It is observable that stories highlighted in each book are generally similar, although notable differences emerge as well. As results of these differences, I will discuss the difference between how Adam was taught words between Genesis and Quran.
According to the Genesis stories of creation narratives, God created Adam first from the dust and breathed into his nostrils (Genesis, 1: 7-8). After that, God created Eve from Adam’s ribs and placed them in the Garden of Eden. God instructed them to eat all the fruits, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis, 8-9). Therefore, from the creation events, it can be said that Adam learnt the language from God since He was the first to speak with Adam as He was instructing him on what he should do in the garden. For instance, God warned them not to eat the forbidden fruit, lest they would die instantly. Therefore, according to Genesis, Adam learnt the language through warning and getting instructions from God (Dyck 15).
Additionally, Adam later increased his language knowledge from the Serpent who communicated with him as he tried to tempt Adam and Eve to against God. Adam was tempted by the serpent (Satan) and ate the forbidden fruit, telling them that they would look like God. Therefore, after communicating with the serpent and eating the forbidden fruit, Adam leant more. Immediately, they discovered they were naked and looked for leaves to cover their nakedness (Genesis, 3: 1-8). In this context, God set enmity between human beings and Satan and forced them to leave the garden. Thus, Genesis shows man learning the language through punishment from God. Furthermore, after creating Adam God told him to name all animals and inspired him to speak different languages (Genesis, 2: 19-20).
According to the Quran, God created Adam from clay by articulating the simple word “Be.” Therefore, from this creation narrative, language was taught through instructions; furthermore, God told the angels about His essential plan to create a vicegerent on earth (Nasr, 30: 2-5). According to the Quran, man learnt the language from both the Angels and God which is indicated by an instance such as when God commanded all angels to present them before Him, respect the new God’s creation and to portray a high level of obedience to God (Nasr, 30: 16-25). The angels accepted to do as per the instructions except for Iblis (Satan) who was arrogant and declined to conform because he belittled Adam who was made from clay, while Iblis was created from fire. Shaitan planned to misdirect man from the straight path of God, and immediately God expelled them away from the garden due to disobedience and arrogance. It can thus be implied that punishment is the other means by which Adam learnt the language. Moreover, after the creation, God taught Adam the names of all the things including the angels. Quran reports that Adam was taught language by being instructed to repeated names continuously after the Angels declined to conform when God told them to use their knowledge and wisdom.
According to the Quran, Adam was referred to as the caretaker of everything on earth and had to communicate with every other creation. God told humankind that He created human beings to worship Him exclusively. He also created everything for Adam and his descendants to have full control over and to know God; basically, this was only possible after learning the language from God Himself. Therefore, God had a lot of wisdom because He made Adam and his descendants’ special caretakers and gave Adam the necessary information on how to perform specific duties effectively. In this context, God provided Adam with the capability to identify and design different names of different creatures (Nasr, 30: 47-51). He offered knowledge about communicating with other beings, through speech. God inspired Adam to possess a limitless need and interest in philosophy through learning. After learning all the names and giving the creatures their specific names, God asked the angels to provide him with the names of these creatures if they knew the truth. The angels answered that “glory be to God because we don’t have the knowledge and wisdom except what you have already taught us.” In this perspective, the angels referred to God as omniscient (Nasr, 30: 52-56). Thus, God turned to Adam and informed him to give all the creatures their names. Therefore, this reveals that God knows everything both the seen and unseen in the heaven and on earth. Later, Adam attempted to communicate with the angels, but they were busy worshipping God. From that incident, it is evident that the angels had inadequate knowledge and freedom about handling human events, they were only subjected to worshipping and praising God.
In contrast, Adam had more knowledge and freedom and was not limited to only worshiping God. God had given him the power of choice where he could make personal decisions and even interact with other creations. It is perceivable that the power bestowed upon man was significantly more than that upon the angels.
According to the Genesis, God gave Adam complete powers to name all the creatures as a way of learning the language. However, God did not teach Adam how to give names to His creation (Genesis, 19-20). So, Adam taught himself how to categorize things and understand their importance (Chapman & Marvin 49). Additionally, Adam gradually practiced language skills on how to think independently, use of appropriate knowledge to solve several problems and make strategic plans and wise decisions to attain smart goals and objectives. The descendants of Adam inherited the language skills to survive in the world and appropriately praise God. Adam discovered that language exists because of simple principles which include words and grammar. After that, he learnt how to make realistic sounds by the use of phonology rule.
Further, Adam revealed how to group phonemes to form meaningful sounds and words through the use of morphology system. On the same note, Adam learned how to syndicate words to form reasonable sentences and phrases through the use of syntax. In this context, Adam discovered how to derive the meaning of words and phrases as depicted in several settings or sentences.
In comparison, stories in the Quran focus more on moral and spiritual guidance while biblical stories are diverse in the matters they address, and this can be attributed to different authors. The notable differences between how the language was taught can primarily be categorized as either, self-taught, or through instructions. Drawing conclusions from the Quran methods, taking instructions from God seem to be the most prevalent style of learning. As already discussed, Adam was instructed to repeat names continuously, and that is how he learned. On the other hand, Genesis does not describe an instance where Adam was instructed to repeat names but rather the duty to name was solely left to him. It can therefore be concluded that Adam was mainly self-taught.
I’m very interested in this question, and so I had a good time reading your paper! It was a great choice of topic, very ambitious, and you’ve done well to look very closely at the differences between the Quranic and Biblical accounts. The big problem with the paper is that you’ve fallen into a common trap for comparison papers: you’ve told me about the Quran, and about Genesis, but I’m left wondering… so what? What does this comparison tell us about anything else—what language is like, or how important language is to these two books (for instance, the fact that Adam is made by speech in the Quran suggests that speech and language are more important there than they are in the Genesis Adam story). Be sure to make this next step when you write comparison papers in future! Also, be sure that you’re as clear as you can be. Generally, this is pretty easy to read, but sometimes I’m left wondering what you’re getting at (see the highlighted paragraphs for examples). Make sure your reader knows why you’re saying what you’re saying! But a solid start to the semester, well done. Again, if you’re interested, I highly recommend “The Tongue of Adam” by Abdelfattah Kilito—a fun read, and very short!
Chapman, Stephen B., and Marvin A. Sweeney, eds. The Cambridge Companion to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Cambridge University Press, 2016.
Dyck, Andrew W. “The Jewish Study Bible.” Anglican Theological Review 97.4 (2015): 685.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, et al. “The Study Quran.” A new Translation and Commentary. New York (2015).