SK15 – What Is The Garden Of Eden Really About?

What is the Garden of Eden? Well, to start with, we need to understand that there is a defining moment in the history of humanity.

This is what happened in the Garden of Eden. Oh, yes. The Garden of Eden. I was reflecting on that in the past few days, that we have generally a sense of commonality between Judaism, Christianism and Islam, on the events that unfolded there determined our presence on Earth.

And since we all believe that there was Adam and Eve in what is the Garden of Eden, we come from a place of agreement. Absolutely. However if you read the 3 sources of this story, this is where we have different accounts and outcomes.

Transmission from Damascus

So I want to try to transmit what I received in my teaching in Damascus, knowing that some of the tafasirs that are very common would take some information and derive some conclusions from what is stated in the Bible, Torah or in the Jewish or Christian tradition. And we see it get muddled up when it comes to the truth.

How interesting. We are fortunate to have the Quran, which is the word of Allah. It has not been tampered with. It’s devoid of human ideas or considerations. It’s just pure revelation, sent by God. And that proposition can be tested. We know that it hasn’t been tampered with by certain measures that we can take to test the Quran and its authenticity. The measures will always conclude its perfection.

So if man had tampered with it, there would be some things that wouldn’t be be present in the Quran. Like the perfection of its poetic flow, something that many have been challenged to replicate but can’t. And its structure. And during the revelation we received verses where Allah assures us that He is preserving this text. Previous texts and revelations do not contain such statements.

So we know that the Quran is a true revelation. What’s the point of a revelation? It’s to give information that humans cannot derive from thinking, even very intelligently. We need a point of view that is not human, on life, and our history, even on what happened.

What is the Garden of Eden from other perspectives?

What is the garden of Eden - Expulsion from the garden of eden

So our common idea around Adam and Eve in a beautiful garden, which is Paradise. And they fall into a trap. In the Jewish and Christian faith, they follow mostly the vector of the fall. What they believe led to the fall is Eve. Because she was likely interpreted as weaker than Adam.

So the devil being jealous of humans, would want to draw them outside of the garden, right? To lead them astray. And is it belief of all the monotheistic religions that Eve is at fault for the downfall? Well, as far as the Bible is concerned, yes, it’s clear in the text. Yet in the Quran, we do not have that at all. So what’s the difference in the Quran?

In the Quran we are told there is a plot. In the Bible you see that God created Adam and Eve and promised them an eternal life there. And suddenly there is a problem with that plan. Because the devil would interfere with God’s plan and make it go in another direction by suggesting to them otherwise., He didn’t force them, just suggested. It was a trickery. But in the Bible, once they have followed the devil, when clearly the prohibition was not to eat from the tree.

This was from a specific tree. And that was the only deal that God had with them. It was that you are not to eat from this tree. It was God’s command. Yet the devil managed to entice them to eat from it. He uses Eve, who in turn entices Adam. This is the Bible’s version.

In the Quran we don’t have that at all. In the Bible you have the forbidden fruit. And you have an imperative not to eat from the specific tree. The word for the tree is “shajara” in Arabic. The root meaning is “something that branches out”. So it is commonly translated as a tree.

In the Bible it is stated that God didn’t know what was going to happen. So His plan all along was just to create Adam and Eve in the garden. And they would live there forever. Suddenly there is an accident. This is where you find this unsettling scene in the Bible where after the act of eating what was forbidden, Adam and Eve, are ashamed.

The story in the Bible goes that they hear the footsteps of God entering paradise so then they hide behind a tree. And God is calling “Adam Adam”. So it’s a little bit unsettling that God would firstly need to walk and make sounds with his footsteps, right? And He wouldn’t need to call Adam. God knows everything at all times. Absolutely.

So this version is a little bit of like a child who’s been caught and the teacher is coming. The Bible, is very clear that once they have eaten what’s forbidden, their sexual organs are the problem. Because suddenly they become aware of their nudity. So we are clear it’s their nudity. The Bible says they’re made aware of their organs. They are made aware that they are naked. And this is when they felt the need to cover.

In the Quran however, we don’t have this. The Quran states that after they ate, they became aware of their “shameful” organs. Now it’s very commonly interpreted as the sexual organs, right? That’s what most people think. That they were made aware of their sexual organs. Except the sexualization of these organs is not present in the Quran. It’s the “shameful” organs.

It wasn’t their sex organs

So to see it as sexual organs is overstepping the interpretation. What I was transmitted by my teacher is that what appeared in fact is excretion organs. They’re waste organs. So once you eat something, you make an inappropriate matter into the body and it creates the need for a process of cleansing. Hence removal of waste from such organs.

Excretion would not happen with food that comes from paradise. And so therein a cycle of energy has surfaced. Now these inhabitants of Paradise are no longer suitable to stay in this place. Hence the removal and what in Judaism and Christianity is called the fall.

There’s also a big difference, because this fall, in Judaism and Christianity, is a hiccup in God’s plan according to the Bible. In the Quran we know that God knew because he says, I’m going to create a khalifa, a representant, “fil urd” which means on Earth. So it was already known to God, of course, that there would first be this passage in Eden and then this presence for a short term for each of us on Earth.

So the Garden of Eden was a way to show the fallibility of man to man. It’s not that God didn’t know that we were fallible, that Adam and Eve were fallible. It was that we had to be made aware. We were taught through this, that we are indeed not perfect and that we can fall.

And when we fall…

woman tripping in front of building
What is the Garden of Eden – when we fall

And when we fall, we are taught that then there are consequences. Which is why they were expelled from the Garden of Eden to live a normal life on Earth. You know, when Allah (God) created humans or the human soul, it was very clear. He says it clearly that this human nature, was unjust towards itself.

This trust that has been placed on man, according to Islam, was proposed to the mountains. Then to the earth and to the sky. Yet they all refused in awe, saying that it was too much of a responsibility. And only humans accepted the test. So everything that happens as a result is just for humans to understand who they are.

So everything in this life reveals the human nature. Okay, so they’re in the Garden of Eden. They’re told not to eat from a tree, according to the Quran, also according to the Bible. They’re told not to eat a certain fruit. That’s what the Christians and Jews believe anyway. According to Islam, they’re told not to eat from a tree. They get lured into the temptation by Satan. who convinces them that they should eat from it. They do.

And once they do, they are then expelled out of Eden. Before that, they are made aware of their waste organs according to Islam, not their sexual organs. So I wonder if one of the lessons we’re to learn from this is that this is about diet? Because suddenly we’re made aware of our waste organs.

Could it be about our diet?

Let’s just say that that’s the plausible scenario, that it’s not the sexual organs. So then we are made aware of what eating certain ways or certain types of food can do to our bodies. Could that be? Is that a bit of a stretch? I don’t think so.

It’s very intriguing that the fault for being expelled from Eden would be eating something. Yeah. For such a major event, I would have expected something like, I don’t know, killing someone. But eating? In that respect, eating is a major event in our life. What we put into our body determines the the destiny of our body. It really does. I’m convinced of it. I’ve seen how I’ve eaten in the past and how it’s made me either lethargic or lazy. Or tired. Not at all mentally clear.

And by just simply changing the way I eat, it changes the whole function of my body for the better. So eating is a very critical part of our choice process in our every given day. And it’s absolutely true. I mean, look at someone eating. Their daily habit of it can tell you a lot.

I mean, it’s absolutely strange to see someone eating. And why do we eat? Allah in the Quran tells us that Mariam (AS), Mary, the mother of Jesus, Isa (AS), were eating beings. And it’s a way to say they were not gods. Right. They were only human. Therefore they had needs. And therefore they had to fill their needs with food. Yes.

Then we know also in paradise, once this experience on earth is done, there is judgment. We know there are two places: hell and paradise. In paradise you eat. We are told you eat and there are meats and fruits. But the Quran says they are not the same fruits as the ones we knew on earth.

Of course the fruits aren’t the same as the ones we know. And are we told that about the meats? We’re not specifically told that about the meats. We’re just told that the fruits are not the same as what we know on this earth.

And so it’s very interesting that we continue eating but without needs because we know that in paradise you don’t have needs. So we essentially come back to the state of the Garden of Eden. Having gone through this circle of energy, if you will, and it’s like a restoration of a primal state. But a part of humanity will still need to go through a correction. Which is what will happen in hell. There you correct, through fire.

And some unfortunately will remain there forever. But many of the people in hell will stay a time and it’s not the same time as what we know. We know from a reliable hadith, that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) will take as many as he can get out of hell. By the will of Allah, of course.

What is the tree anyway?

What is the garden of Eden? no trespassing sign
What is the Garden of Eden – was there a forbidden tree?

So another difference in the interpretation of this tree, is something that never made sense to me. It is that in the Christian and Jewish tradition, it is called by two names. The tree of life and the tree of knowledge. Meaning the knowledge of good and evil. This is in the Christian tradition.

What does the Islamic faith say? It’s a tree. There are interpretations, where they use the Bible’s interpretation. So when the biblical ideas come into your commentaries it becomes confusing, in my opinion. However this is done in attempts to further explain. But I much prefer when we stick to only what is written for sure.

So, in the Islamic tradition, we get everything from the Quran and even the Hadith. So we know that we don’t have this idea of it being the tree of life or the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The reason that never made sense to me, is because if it is the tree of life, it means that you would not be alive before you eat from this tree.

But most difficult for me to understand is how you could say that it is the tree of knowledge or understanding, that it was the difference between good and bad. Because if Allah tells you not to eat from the tree, I think it’s a fair assumption that these two people, Adam and Eve, would have a notion of what is good and bad.

Good and bad

What is the Garden of Eden - Ladies and Animals Sideboard -

Because if you have no idea what is good and bad, why would you obey an order? You would know that disobeying would be bad. So you would have already, in your “fitra”, which means your nature, the knowledge of disobeying, your Creator would be bad.

So it’s almost like they were there without really any type of fear with consequences. And any knowledge of what is good and bad. Which, in my opinion, cannot be, because it defeats the whole test. Because what the Devil is, and this according to the bible, is in the form of a snake. But there’s no such mention of this in the Quran.

The devil convinces them it’s a good idea. He convinces them that it’s harmless to eat from this tree. He’s lying to them and trying to sell them a state that they already have. Like if God doesn’t want you to eat, the devil wants them to believe that God doesn’t want them to be immortal.

But they were immortal. So it’s that saying “where they say ”selling snow to the Eskimos”. Absolutely. But in this case, the Eskimos bought the snow. So they bought this lie from Satan. And the way he did that, by addressing Adam by name, was to really solidify his ego.

Deceptive tactics

Throughout the Quran, when Shaitan talks about Adam, he always says “him” or “this one”. Only in that moment of trying to convince him to eat from the tree, we see he addresses him by name, “Adam”.

So at that moment, a lapse of reason occurs, it’s a kind of over focusing on himself. Adam felt special, it was about him. Adam forgot and said yeah, it’s a good idea. He forgot he was already there in a paradise. And so this is very interesting in the Quran, that we know that once this process was triggered, there was no place in Eden for them anymore.

So the final destination mission is realized. Now Adam and Eve go back to God and ask for forgiveness. And we are told that Allah gave them words. What words? We understand these are words for asking for forgiveness which we call making “tawba”. Making “tawba” is returning to God and leaving behind any fault, any sin. And with a firm resolution never to do it again.

So they were given this forgiveness prayer. They prayed and were forgiven. But yet they didn’t return back to Eden. No. They had to stay and spend the rest of their human years in this life. Which was the intention since the beginning.

Can we call it an original sin?

Apple. Original public domain image

Because Allah says I will create a “Khalifa” on earth. And for the sake of clarity, Khalifa is a human representative. This too is different with the Bible, where the fall is understood to be carried on the head of every human being since then.

Our limited nature or mortality, any kind of disease, any kind of suffering, is caused by the original sin, according to the Bible. So that we all carry the fault of Adam. Whereas we are told in the Quran that no soul, no person will carry the fault of any other one. But it is true that we have to life with the consequences of each other’s doings, right?

But we are not guilty, and we need not carry this fault on our own shoulders. So the original sin was disobeying. That was the original sin, absolutely, it was to disobey God. And the story of the Garden of Eden profoundly points out the role that food plays in our lives. Because that too can make us fall. Hence the awareness of the waste organs. Not the sexual organs. It further explains the effect that certain foods that we put into our bodies could have on us. That’s how I see it.

Based on how you’ve explained it, of course, there’s so much more to learn from this story. But as a representative of a human. As a human being, let’s say, not a representative, but a human being in this life, made to live this life until it is decreed to end. We have certain responsibilities and choices to make still. So the test is still not over.

The test of “don’t do this”

That Garden of Eden test of “don’t do this” which in their case was a tree, continues. In this life, there are many things we are not to do and we are to avoid in order to continue staying on a straight path. That’s true.

It unfolds what is inside the human soul. And each of us can realise the potential of this human soul. So we have an individual view of the human drama, if you want, that started with this confrontation between the devil and Adam. Driven by the devil’s jealousy. By the need to be in charge or to be a leader.

But each of us, individually, have possibilities because we have a human soul. We are just unfolding these possibilities as we continue to live here on Earth. We are to live a life that is perfectly tailored for this experience. We are to realize the potential of humanity. Each of us, we have individual potential.

It’s our possibility within all the possibilities of being human. And that should be inspiring. It means we ARE immense potential. And together, of course, we can realize any potential as a united people. But as an individual, we have the power to our own great purpose.

This story of the Garden of Eden can probably continue further than this. I think we should do more on it, maybe in future episodes. But this story really does tell us a lot about ourselves as individuals on this lone journey in this life. Absolutely.

We are facing so many choices that we have no idea where they lead to. And so it is this momentary lapse of judgment by Adam that led him to disobey. It was not a willful need to disobey. It was just losing sight of who Allah was and then falling into an error.

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