This is the shortest of the Creation of Adam narratives, consisting of only two ayat, whose central section is taken from the second half of the first aya 18:50. The center in bluegreen above is essentially a question addressed to us as Adam’s descendants. It is intended for the here and now, regardless to what era in time or what place on earth we are in. The words are crystal clear and stark: Satan, who represents evildoing and destruction, is an obvious enemy, an imminent threat to our very souls/ selves as humans — shall we then take him and his descendants as guardians or protectors? Instead of the Almighty All-Merciful who alone can protect us and guide us?
Because if we do, we become ourselves part of Satan’s “army” or forces for evil and against Allah. And if we go so far on that path we become violators, those who harm others for personal benefit, who deny all that God has given us in arrogance and say “I earned this myself and God has nothing to do with it.” Then we begin to say “why should I give to the poor, let them work for it like I did!” Then we begin to hoard, become hard-hearted, even to our own children, or our own parents. We call them “freeloaders.” There are those who also make their living by lying and cheating and call it “work,” politicians who speak of all the good they are doing for people, while in reality they are working for kickbacks from wealthy corporations.
When it comes to faith in Allah/ God, they see God as distant, uninvolved in this world, or something humans made up, or in any case they refuse arrogantly to see beyond their immediate benefit, so their attitude is screw the world. And this is happening, something like it, around the world. These have taken satans as guardians, who promise worldly power and wealth, and don’t worry about the consequences. But such promises are all delusion and deception.
Those who follow the satanic way become violators like Satan, and their end will be like his, who was created of fire and will end up in the worst possible fire.
Guardians of the Light
On the other hand, those who take Allah/ God as a Protector and Guide will live fulfilled and purposefully in this life, and in the utter bliss of Allah’s Presence in the next. And what is that purpose? One could say as guardians of justice, compassion, earth and its immeasurable resources and ecosystems, goodwill and ethical behavior, tolerance and love as well as intellect. Guardians of the sacred, and the higher aspirations of humanity, not the power and wealth of the rich and powerful, but the basic rights and future of those who have been deprived or are in danger. Not perfect guardians, but ones who learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others, people who appreciate what Allah has given them, those who are blessed with a grateful heart and who strive to better themselves and are generous and considerate of others.
What’s New/Different in this Creation of Adam Story
The first part of aya 18:50 retells the story of the angels prostrating to Adam while Iblees refused, telling us here directly for the first time that Satan is a jinn. The most we have heard thus far is that he said Allah created him from fire in 7:12 and that Allah mentioned in 15:27 that He created the jinn from fire, which Satan deemed superior to mud (as we see reflected in certain human presumptions about the lowliness of human bodies as well as fire-worship among certain cultures) whereas in the Quran, Hell is a fire and Janna or Paradise is a garden, and gardens must grow in mud/ soil, giving us a hint about which is superior.
Also new in the first yellow section, Satan’s expulsion is described as rebelling against “the command of his Lord.” This is more specific in that it mentions the command, emphasizing that Allah does not give Satan directives or guidance, because he rebelled against Allah’s command.
“Rebelled” is also a more specific word for this narrative, fasaqa, indicating deliberate action against Allah the Exalted Himself. This has stronger implications than “departed” as sometimes translated, or even “expelled”, which was previously expressed in creation narratives with words derived from kharaja, to leave or depart, strengthened by the context of Allah’s saying it to Satan as a command, including a curse.
Implied here is that those people who follow Satan are, by doing so deliberately, also rebelling against the Almighty, although usually not thinking of it as “following Satan” but acting as described above, in arrogance and denial, for what counts is what they do, not how they describe it.
As for Satan, his whole purpose for existing became consumed with destroying humans as a dedicated enemy. It also has a military sense to it. For example, angels are described as Allah’s “soldiers” or jund Allah, and Satan thus was cast out of that realm and left to form his own “army,” making those humans he “conscripts” in a sense his soldiers fighting against their own humanity.
Dictators are a good example of this: they most often form loyal “security forces” whose mission is to suppress dissent against the dictator or his rule. In other words, they end up waging war on their own people, often in covert but also sometimes theatrically overt ways.
Chiasmus (Ring Composition): The Frame is Knowing Truth from Falsehood
From this understanding, we can see the correlation between the first half of 18:50 which shows Satan’s enmity to humans and refusal to serve Adam and the last section in yellow, aya 18:51, where we are told first that Allah did not make them (the jinn) witnesses to creation in any sense. This debunks the idea, often presented by proponents of evil, of secret greater knowledge for a select few, often as “esoteric” or “occult” knowledge that sounds miraculous and appeals to human arrogance, which they can then use against people to gain wealth or power, or to undermine and deter those righteous people who would stand in their way of committing evil and oppression. Thus we find that Satan and his followers are deprived of true knowledge and so claim to have false ”secret” knowledge and powers to lure others to their path.
True knowledge can be gained by “witness,” i.e. observation. Without such observation — also basically the way scientific knowledge is gained — these claims of “occult” or secret knowledge, especially when used for harm, are false and we should not be deceived by them.
As for example, Satan telling Adam false claims about immortality in the “garden” in order to cause him to be expelled from it. Or in modern life, the example of cults where “initiates” give up their family ties and normal lives to be members of secretive groups, such as Scientology, often seeking occult/ hidden knowledge and powers which their leaders deceptively claim to possess. Hitler is an example of a leader whose obsession with the occult and his connecting that to more ancient Germanic history helped incite his followers to commit atrocities.
Secondly, in 18:51 the Almighty tells us in the first person “I would not have taken the misguiders as assistants.” This directly correlates to Satan the accursed acting against not for Allah the Exalted. This aya clarifies that Allah does not empower or use Satan against Adam for some reason as a punishment, but rather empowers believers who strive against the accursed satan.
One often finds such questions as “why did Allah create Satan?” or “why did He leave Satan to mislead people?” in various forums. The first question is easier to answer: the Creator did not create Satan, rather He created Iblees, who rebelled against Allah and thus became Satan the accursed.
Adam proved himself in the “garden” to be easily deceived and lacking mindfulness. Thus he had to learn and needed a strong motivation to strengthen his potential for good. Through the struggles against evil, Adam’s descendants gained the ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood.
Because Adam did not intentionally disobey out of arrogance like Iblees, and instead was deceived and acted out of ignorance, Allah forgave him and allowed Adam’s descendants to become “chosen servants” to be guided (if they accept guidance) and strengthened to struggle against evil and oppression (if they are willing to do so), thus becoming, for the willing, Allah’s “soldiers/ warriors” or “assistants” in the sense of working for His cause of compassion, charity, ethical behavior, and opposition to oppression, and because they had a choice, they are in such a case given a higher status than even the angels.
Chiasmus: Our Choice is Central
Thus we are given a choice in the middle as a warning as to which choice is worse – to take Satan as a “guardian” and thus become like him, deceivers first of ourselves, and second, of others, from which point we become violators of our own humanity — or to follow Allah’s guidance, and become guardians of what is true, compassionate, and just in gratefulness to our Creator, in whose very Being is the essence of Truth and Justice, and of Light, Life, and Love.
Additional Examination of the Numbers
The total ayat (verses) in this narrative are 2, #50 and 51, whose sum is 101, a prime number and a palindrome (its digits form a chiastic “mirror” structure that can be read as the same number left to right or right to left) the sum of whose digits is 2, which is also the number of verses.
It’s interesting because the number 101 is like these two verses, with a “zero” in the center, no central verse. So we “borrowed” the warning from Aya 50 to make it the center. And the number 5 symbolically represents “hands” (with 5 “digits” or fingers each). Here the Aya number is 10×5 — but the Quran uses numbers symbolically, so in this case 50 could be interpreted as “two hands” of 5 fingers (10 showing 2×5, and the 5 the subject of this number ten being “hand”) each outstretched, symbolizing “between your hands,” the Quranic expression that means “in your control/ choice.” The question at the heart or center of this narrative is saying this is between your hands, it’s up to you, asking why do you people choose what only harms you and those around you instead of Allah whose mercy is empowered by His authority and might?
The Surah number is 18. Adding that number to the first verse number: 18+50=68, 68=17×4, or 2×34. Interestingly, if you remove the zero from 50 and add 18+5, the result is 23, a factor in the next sum. Adding the surah number to the 2nd verse number: 18+51=69, 69=3×23.
The two larger factors of these 2 factorizations are symbolically significant numbers: 34 contains the numbers 3,4 which refer to Allah’s name having 3 unique letters and 4 total letters, which appears to be a foundational Quranic formulation. For example, the extremely significant Bismalah contains the 3 great names of Allah in an aya/ statement that has 4 words. We can add 3+4=7, 7 being a highly significant Quranic number, also the number of letters in bsm or bism, the first word of the Bismalah meaning “in the name of”; or multiply them 3×4=12, 12 being another highly significant Quranic number, also the total number of letters in the two great names in the Bismalah — Al-Rahman, AlRaheem — which each have 6 letters in Arabic; and if we add these two significant numbers 7+12=19, we get the total number of letters in the Bismalah. And 19 is also significant in the Quran, mentioned in the Quran once in 74:30 as the number of angels guarding Hell (whose gates are 7), and mentioned above as the number of letters in the Bismallah, and a factor of the number of Surahs in the Quran (114=6×19), as a factor of the number of mentions in the Quran of the name Al-Rahman (57 or 3×19), as a factor of the number of mentions of the word “raheem” when used in reference to Allah as the name Al-Raheem or using the adjective “raheem” which is equal to the number of surahs or 114.
The 3,4 pairing also appears in the number of times the name Al-Raheem, the final word (3rd name, 4th position) in the Bismalah, appears in the Quran, 34 times, and the number of times the adjective raheem appears in the Quran, 81 times which can be expressed in prime numbers as 3 to the 4th power or 3^4.
Back to these two factors we derived from the two Ayat of this narrative, if we add them we get: 34+23=57, the number of mentions of Al-Rahman in the entire Quran, and a multiple of 19 as 3•19 – the remaining factors of which are 2 and 3, which add to 5, representing “hands” – for us, relating to deeds, free will, choice, ability to “create” and invent things.
So our DNA (origins, symbolized by 23, the number of human chromosomes) + ruh (breathed from Allah at our creation, symbolized by 34, the number of unique letters 3 and total letters 4 in Allah’s name) = choice and creative ability with free will, the central section being a warning not to use our God-given abilities and traits for evil and against God’s purpose of being guardians of the sanctity of life and justice whereas Satan wants to “prove” to Allah that we are actually violators of the sanctity of life and violators of justice, in other words, oppressors and criminals.
And Allah has knowledge of all things.