When there was no time or place there was Allah. Only he existed and nothing else. His existence has no beginning, and nothing came before him. He is the One, the Eternal, the Most Powerful. His power and greatness are without limit and without end.
Say, "He is Allah, [who is] One,
Allah, the Eternal Refuge.
He neither begets nor is born,
Nor is there to Him any equivalent." Quran (112:1-4)
“He is the First and the Last, the Explicit and the Implicit, and he is Omniscient of everything” Quran (57:3)
Allah wanted to create beings so that they could experience his compassion, generosity and benevolence.
“I was a hidden treasure, and then I liked to be known, so I created the creation and acquainted them with me, so that they knew Me through Me” (Hadith Qudsi)
And so, Allah the most Powerful decided to create:
The Originator is He of the heavens and the earth: and when He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it, "Be" -and it is. Quran (2:117)
So with the word “Be”, Allah created the universe, the angels, the jinn and the souls. In this primordial world all of creation existed in a spirit form. Life as we know it now came later. All of creation adored and served Him alone. They did nothing of their own will for they had no free will. They only lived to serve him; they only existed to serve him. They were his infatuated slaves, and he was their benevolent master.
Then one day Allah gathered the whole of creation and He offered them the Ammanah (the power of choice or free will) the ability and responsibility of serving him of their own free will. Allah made it clear that those who accept the Ammanah and succeed in serving him by doing good deeds, they will be rewarded with Jannah but those that fail to serve him, they will be punished in Jahannam. The power of choice is a great trust. The mountains feared the power of choice they preferred to continue serving Allah as they were. The Earth refused the power of choice it too would rather continue to serve Allah as it was. Even the angels refused, they preferred to continue serving Allah as they had always been doing, but the jinn and the souls accepted the responsibility. They wished to serve Allah with the power of choice, to believe in him voluntarily, to perform good deeds of their own volition without any compulsion. Was man unjust to himself in accepting the Ammanah and in pledging himself to his Creator? Was man ignorant of what the trust entailed? No. Man understood the risk he was undertaking either he would raise his status higher than the rank of angels through his actions or he would reduce his status lower than that of a dung beetle.
We have offered the trust to the Heavens and the Mountains and the Earth, but they refused to carry it and were afraid of it and Man carried it, lo he is arrogant very ignorant. (Quran 33:72)
After the souls accepted the Ammanah, Allah showed them their destinations (heaven and hell) and began sorting them accordingly. Some souls would be entering Jannah and others would be entering Jahannam. Those who were destined for Jahannam objected, and they begged Allah to give them a chance so that they could prove themselves to be his obedient servants.
So, Allah, the Most Just the Most Fair, agreed to give them an opportunity to prove themselves. He would delay the sorting until the Day of Judgment and give the souls the opportunity to be tested on the Earth.
Then Allah created Adam’s body from clay and put into it a soul and ordered the angels to prostrate themselves before him. Iblis was one of the Jinn; he refused to bow down (indicating Iblis had free will and that his test had already begun). He vowed that he would lead Adam and his descendants astray and asked for a reprieve until the Day of Judgement as well.
[So, mention] when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I am going to create a human being from clay. So, when I have proportioned him and breathed into him of My [created] soul, then fall down to him in prostration.” (Qur’an 38:71-72)
Then We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam”; so, they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was not of those who prostrated. (Qur’an 7:11)
He appealed, “Then delay my end until the Day of their resurrection.”
Allah said, “You are delayed until the appointed Day.”
He said, “For leaving me to stray I will lie in ambush for them on Your Straight Path. I will approach them from their front, their back, their right, their left, and then You will find most of them ungrateful.”
Allah said, “Get out of Paradise! You are disgraced and rejected! I will certainly fill up Hell with you and your followers all together.” (Quran 7:14-18)
Allah allowed Adam to live in the garden and created Hawwa for him as a companion. They both served Allah in the garden. Allah told Adam and Hawwa to not eat the fruit from one tree, but Iblis misled them. Adam and Hawwa ate the fruit from the forbidden tree, and Allah cast them out of the garden and onto the world.
“He (Iblis) said, “Your Lord did not forbid you this tree except that you become angels or become of the immortal.” And he swore [by Allah] to them, “Indeed, I am to you from among the sincere advisers.” (Qur’an 7:20-21)
So, he made them fall, through deception. And when they tasted of the tree, their private parts became apparent to them, and they began to fasten together over themselves from the leaves of Paradise. And their Lord called to them, "Did I not forbid you from that tree and tell you that Satan is to you a clear enemy?" (Quran 7:22)
Descend, being to one another enemies. And for you on the earth is a place of settlement and enjoyment for a time. He said, “Therein you will live, and therein you will die, and from it you will be brought forth.” (Qur’an 7:24-25)
So, mankind was sent to the world, one by one, as descendants of Adam so that they could be tested. Allah has given each soul a fixed amount of time on this world to be tested. The test does not begin at birth but at puberty, giving each soul sufficient time to orientate itself. Each person is sent with the power of choice. Each person can choose whether to serve Allah or not. Allah has given each soul an innate awareness of His existence.
And remember when your Lord brought forth from the loins of the children of Adam their descendants and had them testify regarding themselves. ˹Allah asked, ˺ “Am I not your Lord?” They replied, “Yes, you are! We testify.” ˹He cautioned, ˺ “Now you have no right to say on Judgment Day, ‘We were not aware of this. Nor say, ‘It was our forefathers who had associated others with Allah in worship and we, as their descendants, followed in their footsteps. Will you then destroy us for the falsehood they invented?’” Quran (7/172-173).
Every soul is appointed two angels (also known as the honourable writers) situated at each shoulder, recording its deeds, from puberty till death. At the time of death, Allah sends the Angel of Death to collect the soul; he takes it from the body, and the book of deeds is sealed. There is no going back; there are no changes that can be made to the book of deeds. What is done is done.
“Until when death overtakes one of them, he says: Send me back, my Lord, send me back; haply I may do good in that which I have left. By no means! It is a (mere) word that he speaks; and before them is a barrier until the day they are raised.” (Surah 23:99-100)
After the test on the Earth has come to an end, the soul shall enter the grave along with its body. Two angels, Munkar and Nakir, shall enter the grave and ask three questions. The soul shall then endure an easy or difficult time in the grave depending on how well or badly it answered the questions. How long will the soul spend in the grave? This depends upon the time the soul entered the grave and when the first horn is blown.
Al-Tirmidhi narrated Abu Hurayrah said:
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “When the deceased – or one of you – is buried, there come to him two black and blue angels, one of whom is called al-Munkar and the other al-Nakeer. They say: ‘What did you say about this man?’ and he says what he used to say: ‘He is the slave of Allah and His Messenger. I bear witness that there is no god, but Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.’ They say: ‘We knew that you would say that.’ Then his grave is made spacious for him, seventy cubits by seventy, and it is illuminated for him. Then it is said to him: ‘Sleep,’ and he says: ‘May I go back to my family and tell them?’ They say: ‘Sleep like the bridegroom who will be woken by none but the dearest of his family to him,’ until Allah raises him from that resting-place of his.”
But if he is a hypocrite he says: ‘I heard the people saying something, so I said something like what they said. I do not know.’ They say: ‘We knew that you would say that.’ Then it is said to the earth: ‘Squeeze him.’ So, it squeezes him until his ribs interlock, and he will continue to be tormented therein until Allah raises him from that resting-place of his.”
“And the trumpet shall be blown, so all those that are in the heavens and all those that are in the earth shall swoon, except him whom Allah wills; then it shall be blown again, then they shall stand up awaiting.” Quran (39:68)
On the second sounding of the horn, all of creation shall be resurrected for the Day of Judgement has begun. On this day, all the souls will be gathered, and they will receive their scrolls in their right hands or behind their backs. On this day there will be no excuses. Iblis had begged for a reprieve till this day and so had the souls. The reprieve was short; the test was short; its consequences eternal. Allah will judge each person, and they will go to heaven if they passed the test on the world, or they would go to hell if they failed. So, if they served Allah on the world they would be in Jannah and if they refused to serve Allah on the world then they would be in Jahannam.
Once all the sorting is done and the people have entered their final and last abode then Allah will make their reward or their punishment eternal, they will live in Jannah forever or they will live Jahannam forever.
Indeed, they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the worst of creatures.
Indeed, they who have believed and done righteous deeds - those are the best of creatures.
Their reward with their Lord will be gardens of perpetual residence beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever, Allah being pleased with them and they with Him. That is for whoever has feared his Lord. Quran (98:6-8)
Although we are born to find ourselves on this world, we had an existence prior to it. In this primordial existence, we made an important decision that changed the course of our existence and our status amongst creation. We undertook a huge risk when we accepted the Ammanah because although the reward is great but so is the price to be exacted from us for failure.
The life of this world in context of our existence is insignificant in terms of longevity but vitally important in terms of impact. Our beliefs and actions on this world will affect every stage of our lives from the point of death onwards. For example, our good deeds come to us in the shape of a beautiful companion to keep us company in the grave whereas bad deeds come in the form of an ugly companion. Furthermore, our true life begins after death. The life of this world is no more than a brief interlude and our true abode awaits us in the hereafter. When we will be brought to account. Did we fulfil the pledge made to Allah in the primordial life or did we satisfy our own desires? Allah will judge and it will be Eternal bliss in Heaven or eternal punishment in Hell.
Mohammad Amin Sheikho - The Origin of Creation from the Pre-Material World to Adam and Eve and Beyond
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