Reason for the revelation of Satan and Our father Adam and mother Eve to the ground
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
And We have given you (mankind) power in the earth, and appointed for you therein livelihood. Little give ye thanks! (10) And We created you, then fashioned you, then told the angels: Fall ye prostrate before Adam! And they fell prostrate, all save Iblis, who was not of those who make prostration. (11) He said: What hindered thee that thou didst not fall prostrate when I bade thee? (Iblis) said: I am better than him. Thou createdst me of fire while him Thou didst create of mud. (12) He said: Then go down hence! It is not for thee to show pride here, so go forth! Lo! thou art of those degraded. (13) He said: Reprieve me till the day when they are raised (from the dead). (14) He said: Lo! thou art of those reprieved. (15) He said: Now, because Thou hast sent me astray, verily I shall lurk in ambush for them on Thy Right Path. (16) Then I shall come upon them from before them and from behind them and from their right hands and from their left hands, and Thou wilt not find most of them beholden (unto Thee). (17) He said: Go forth from hence, degraded, banished. As for such of them as follow thee, surely I will fill hell with all of you. (18) And (unto man): O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden and eat from whence ye will, but come not nigh this tree lest ye become wrong-doers. (19) Then Satan whispered to them that he might manifest unto them that which was hidden from them of their shame, and he said: Your Lord forbade you from this tree only lest ye should become angels or become of the immortals. (20) And he swore unto them (saying): Lo! I am a sincere adviser unto you. (21) Thus did he lead them on with guile. And when they tasted of the tree their shame was manifest to them and they began to hide (by heaping) on themselves some of the leaves of the Garden. And their Lord called them, (saying): Did I not forbid you from that tree and tell you: Lo! Satan is an open enemy to you? (22) They said: Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If thou forgive us not and have not mercy on us, surely we are of the lost! (23) He said: Go down (from hence), one of you a foe unto the other. There will be for you on earth a habitation and provision for a while. (24) He said: There shall ye live, and there shall ye die, and thence shall ye be brought forth. (25) O Children of Adam! We have revealed unto you raiment to conceal your shame, and splendid vesture, but the raiment of restraint from evil, that is best. This is of the revelations of Allah, that they may remember. (26) O Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you as he caused your (first) parents to go forth from the Garden and tore off from them their robe (of innocence) that he might manifest their shame to them. Lo! he seeth you, he and his tribe, from whence ye see him not. Lo! We have made the devils protecting friends for those who believe not. (27) And when they do some lewdness they say: We found our fathers doing it and Allah hath enjoined it on us. Say: Allah, verily, enjoineth not lewdness. Tell ye concerning Allah that which ye know not? (28)
وَلَقَدْ مَكَّنَّاكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَجَعَلْنَا لَكُمْ فِيهَا مَعَايِشَ قَلِيلًا مَا تَشْكُرُونَ ﴿7:10﴾
(7:10) We assuredly established you in the earth and arranged for your livelihood in it. Little do you give thanks.
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَاكُمْ ثُمَّ صَوَّرْنَاكُمْ ثُمَّ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآَدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ لَمْ يَكُنْ مِنَ السَّاجِدِينَ ﴿7:11﴾
(7:11) We initiated your creation, then We gave you each a shape, and then We said to the angels: ‘Prostrate before Adam.’) *10They all prostrated except Iblis: he was not one of those who fell Prostrate.
*10. These verses should he read in conjunction with al-Baqarah 2: 30-9. The words in which the command to prostrate before Adam is mentioned may give rise to the misapprehension that it was Adam as such who is the object of prostration. This misapprehension should be removed by what has been said here. The text makes it very clear that prostration before Adam was in his capacity, as the representative of all mankind and not in his personal capacity.
The successive stages of man’s creation mentioned in the present verse (‘We initiated your creation, then We gave you each a shape’), means that God first planned the creation of man, made ready the necessary materials for it, and then gave those materials a human form. Then, when man had assumed the status of a living being, God asked the angels to prostrate before him. The Qur’an says: And recall when your Lord said to the angels: ‘I am about to create man from clay. When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit then fall You down in prostration before him’ (Sad 38: 71-2).
Mention has been made in these verses, though in a difterent way, of the same three stages of creation: man’s creation from clay; giving him a proportionate human shape; and bringing Adam into existence by breathing into him God’s spirit. The following verses also have the same import:
And recall when your Lord said to the angels: ‘I am about to create man, from sounding clay moulded into shape from black mud. When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall you all down in prostration before him'(al-Hijr 15: 28-9).
It is quite difficult for one to appreciate fully the details of the origin of man’s creation. We cannot fully grasp how man was created out of the elements drawn from the earth; how he was given a form and a well-proportioned one at that and how God’s Spirit was breathed into him. It is quite obvious, though, that the Qur’anic version of man’s creation is sharply at odds with the theory, of creation propounded by Darwin and his followers in our time. Darwinism explains man’s creation in terms of his evolution from a variety of non-human and sub-human stages culminating in homo sapiens. It draws no clear demarcation line that would mark the end of the non-human stage of evolution and the beginning of the species called ‘man’. Opposed to this is the Qur’anic version of man’s creation where man starts his career from the very beginning as an independent species, having in his entire history no essential relationship at all with any non-human species. Also, man is conceived as having been invested by God with full consciousness and enlightenment from the very start of his life.
These are two different doctrines regarding the past of the human species. Both these doctrines give rise to two variant conceptions about man. If one were to adopt the Darwinian doctrine, man is conceived as essentially a species of the animal genre. Acceptance of this doctrine leads man to derive the guiding principles of his life, including moral principles, from the laws governing animal life. Given the basic premises of such a doctrine, animal-like behaviour is to be considered quite natural for man. The only, difference between man and animal lies in the fact that animals act without the help of the tools and instruments used by humans, and their behaviour is devoid of culture.
Were one to accept the other doctrine, man would be conceived as a totally, distinct category. Man is no longer viewed simply as a talking or gregarious animal. He is rather seen as God’s Vicegerent on earth. What distinguishes man from other animals, according to this doctrine, is not his capacity to speak or his gregariousness but the moral responsibility and trust with which he has been invested. Thus, one’s whole perspective with regard to man and everything relating to him is changed. Rather than looking downwards to species of being lower than the human, man will turn his gaze upwards. It is claimed by some that however dignified the Qur’anic doctrine might be from a moral and psychological point of view, Darwinism should still be preferred on the basis of its being scientifically established. However, the very claim that Darwinism has been scientificaly established is itself questionable. Only those who have a very superficial acquaintance with modern science can entertain the misconception that the Darwinian theory of evolution has been scientifically, established. Those who know better are fully, aware that despite the vast paraphernalia of evidence in its support, it remains merely a hypothesis. The arguments marshalled in support of this theory at best succeed in establishing it as a possibility, but certainly not as an incontrovertible fact. Hence at the most what can he said is that the evolution of the species is as much a possibility as its direct creation.
قَالَ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ إِذْ أَمَرْتُكَ قَالَ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِي مِنْ نَارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ طِينٍ ﴿7:12﴾
(7:12) Allah said: ‘What prevented you from prostrating, when I commanded you to do so?’ He said: ‘I am better than he. You created me from fire, and him You created from clay.’
قَالَ فَاهْبِطْ مِنْهَا فَمَا يَكُونُ لَكَ أَنْ تَتَكَبَّرَ فِيهَا فَاخْرُجْ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الصَّاغِرِينَ ﴿7:13﴾
(7:13) Allah said: ‘Then get you down from here. It does not behove you to be arrogant here. So be gone. You will be among the humiliated.’ *11
*11. Implicit in the Qur’anic [removed]sagharin) is the idea of contentment with one’s disgrace and indignity, for saghir is he who invites disgrace and indignity, upon himself. Now, Satan was a victim of vanity and pride, and for that very reason defied God’s command to prostrate himself before Adam. Satan was therefore, guilty of self-inflicted degradation. False pride, baseless notions of glory, ill-founded illusions of greatness failed to confer any greatness upon him. They could only bring upon him disgrace and indignity. Satan could blame none but himself for this sordid end.
قَالَ أَنْظِرْنِي إِلَى يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ ﴿7:14﴾
(7:14) Satan replied: ‘Give me respite till the Day they shall be raised.’
قَالَ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الْمُنْظَرِينَ ﴿7:15﴾
(7:15) Allah said: ‘You are granted respite.’
قَالَ فَبِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ ﴿7:16﴾
(7:16) Satan said: ‘Since You have led me astray, I shall surely sit in ambush for them on Your Straight Path.
ثُمَّ لَآَتِيَنَّهُمْ مِنْ بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَنْ شَمَائِلِهِمْ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ ﴿7:17﴾
(7:17) Then I will come upon them from the front and from the rear, and from their right and from their left. And You will not find most of them thankful.’ *12
*12. This was the challenge thrown down by Satan to God. What it meant is that Satan would make use of the respite granted to him until the Last Day, and he would do so in order to prove that nian did not deserve a position superior to his and this had after all been bestowed upon him by God. So doing, he would expose how ungrateful, thankless and disloyal a creature man is.
The respite asked for by Satan and granted to him by God includes not only the time but also the opportunity to mislead Man and to prove his point by appealing to man’s weaknesses. The Qur’an makes a pointed statement about this in Banu Isra’il 17: 61-5. These verses make it clear that God had granted Satan the opportunity to try to mislead Adam and his offspring At the same time it has also been made quite clear that Satan was not granted the power to lead men into error against their will. ‘As for my servants’, says the Qur’an, ‘you shall have no power over them’ (Banu Isra’il 17: 65). Thus all that Satan can do is to cause misunderstanding, to make people cherish false illusions, to make evil and error seem atractive, and to invite people to evil ways by holding out to them the promise of immense pleasure and material benefits. He would have no power, however, to forcibly pull them to the Satanic way and to prevent them from following the Right Way. Accordingly, the Qur’an makes it quite plain elsewhere that on the Day of Judgement, Satan would address the men who had followed him in the following words: ‘I had no power over you except to call you; but you listened to me: then reproach me not, but reproach your own selves’ (Ibrahim 14: 22).
As for Satan’s allegation that God Himself caused him to fall into error (see verse 16) it is an attempt on the part of Satan to transfer the blame which fails squarely on him to God. Satan’s grivance seems to be that God was responsible for his deviation insofar as He hurt Satan’s pride by asking him to prostrate before Adam, and that it was this which led him to disobey God. It is thus clear that Satan wanted to continue enjoying his vain arrogance and that he was incensed that his weakness – arrogance – was seen through and brought to full light. The underlying stupidity of the statement is too patently obvious to call for any refutation, and hence God took no notice of it.
قَالَ اخْرُجْ مِنْهَا مَذْءُومًا مَدْحُورًا لَمَنْ تَبِعَكَ مِنْهُمْ لَأَمْلَأَنَّ جَهَنَّمَ مِنْكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ ﴿7:18﴾
(7:18) Allah said: ‘Go away from here – disgraced and expelled. I shall fill the Hell with all those that follow you.
وَيَا آَدَمُ اسْكُنْ أَنْتَ وَزَوْجُكَ الْجَنَّةَ فَكُلَا مِنْ حَيْثُ شِئْتُمَا وَلَا تَقْرَبَا هَذِهِ الشَّجَرَةَ فَتَكُونَا مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ ﴿7:19﴾
(7:19) 0 Adam! Live you and your spouse in the Garden and both of you eat from it wherever you will, but never approach the tree or you shall become wrongdoers.’
فَوَسْوَسَ لَهُمَا الشَّيْطَانُ لِيُبْدِيَ لَهُمَا مَا وُورِيَ عَنْهُمَا مِنْ سَوْآَتِهِمَا وَقَالَ مَا نَهَاكُمَا رَبُّكُمَا عَنْ هَذِهِ الشَّجَرَةِ إِلَّا أَنْ تَكُونَا مَلَكَيْنِ أَوْ تَكُونَا مِنَ الْخَالِدِينَ ﴿7:20﴾
(7:20) But Satan made an evil suggestion to both of them that he might reveal to them their shame that had remained hidden from them. He said: ‘Your Lord has forbidden you to approach this tree only to prevent you from becoming angels or immortals.’
وَقَاسَمَهُمَا إِنِّي لَكُمَا لَمِنَ النَّاصِحِينَ ﴿7:21﴾
(7:21) And he swore to them both: ‘Surely I am your sincere adviser.’
فَدَلَّاهُمَا بِغُرُورٍ فَلَمَّا ذَاقَا الشَّجَرَةَ بَدَتْ لَهُمَا سَوْآَتُهُمَا وَطَفِقَا يَخْصِفَانِ عَلَيْهِمَا مِنْ وَرَقِ الْجَنَّةِ وَنَادَاهُمَا رَبُّهُمَا أَلَمْ أَنْهَكُمَا عَنْ تِلْكُمَا الشَّجَرَةِ وَأَقُلْ لَكُمَا إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لَكُمَا عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ ﴿7:22﴾
(7:22) Thus Satan brought about their fall by deceit. And when they tasted of the tree, their shame became vislible to them, and both began to cover themselves with leaves from the Garden. Then their Lord called out to them: ‘Did I not forbid you from that tree, and did I not warn you that Satan ‘is your declared enemy?’
قَالَا رَبَّنَا ظَلَمْنَا أَنْفُسَنَا وَإِنْ لَمْ تَغْفِرْ لَنَا وَتَرْحَمْنَا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ ﴿7:23﴾
(7:23) Both cried out: ‘Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If You do not forgive us and do not have mercy on us, we shall surely be among the losers.’ *13
*13. The narrative sheds light on the following significant points:
(i) Modesty and bashfulness are inherent in human nature. The primary manifestation of this instinct is seen in the sense of shame that one feels when one is required to expose the private parts of one’s body in the presence of others. According to the Qur’an, this bashfulness is not artificial, nor an outcome of advancement in human culture and civilization. Nor is it something acquired as some misguided thinkers contend. On the contrary, modesty has been an integral part of human nature from the very beginning.
(ii) The very first stratagem adopted by Satan in his bid to lead man astray from the Right Path consisted of undermining man’s sense of modesty, to direct him towards lewdness and make him sexually deviant. In other words, the sexual instincts of man were taken by Satan as the most vulnerable aspect of human nature. Accordingly, he sought to weaken man’s natural instincts of modesty and bashfulness. This devilish stratagem is still followed by the disciples of Satan in our time. For them, progress is inconceivable without exposing woman to the gaze of all and making her strip before others in one form or another.
(iii) Such is human nature that man scarcely responds to an unambiguous invitation to evil. Those who seek to propagate evil are, therefore, forced to present themselves as sincere well-wishers of humanity.
(iv) Man is naturally, drawn towards lofty ideals such as the attainment of superhuman positions and the securing of immortality. Satan achieved his first victory in his bid to mislead man by appealing to the latter’s inherent desire to attain immortality. Satan’s most effective weapon is to promise man a more elevated position than his present one, and then set him on a course that leads instead to his degradation.
(v) Here the Qur’an refutes the fairly popular view that Satan first misled Eve and later used her as an instrument to mislead Adam. (See Ibn Kathir’s comments on verses 22-3 – Ed.) The Qur’anic version of the story is that Satan attempted to mislead both Adam and Eve, and in fact both fell prey to his guile. At first sight, this might seem of trivial significance. However, all those who are acquainted with the impact of this version of Adam’s fall on the moral, legal and social degradation of women will appreciate the significance of this Qur’anic statement.
(vi) There is hardly any basis to assume that the forbidden tree had certain inherent qualities which could result in the exposure of Adam and Eve’s private parts as soon as they had tasted its fruit. Instead of the forbidden tree possessing any extraordinary qualities, it was rather man’s disobedience to God which led to his fall from his original state. Initially, Adam and Eve’s private parts had remained hidden on account of special arrangements made by God. Once they disobeyed, they were deprived of that special Divine arrangement, and were left to themselves to cover their nakedness if they so wished.
(vii) This was a way, of conveying to mankind for all time that whenever he disobeys God, he will sooner or later be exposed; that man will enjoy God’s support and protection only so long as he remains obedient to Him. Once man transgresses the bounds of his obedience, he will be deprived of God’s care and protection and left to his own self. This idea is also embodied in many traditions from the Prophet (peace be on him). According to a tradition, the Prophet (peace be on him) prayed:
‘O God! I seek Your Mercy. Do not leave me to my own care even for the wink of an eye!’ (Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 5, P. 421 – Ed.)
(vii) Satan wanted to prove that man did not deserve, not even for a moment, the superior status which had been granted to him by God. However, Satan failed in the very first round of his efforts to discredit man. Granted, man did not fully succeed in obeying God’s command; rather, he fell prey to the machinations of his arch-enemy, Satan, and deviated from the path of obedience. Nevertheless, it is evident even in the course of this first encounter that man is a morally superior being. This is clear from many a thing. First, whereas Satan laid claim to superiority, man made no such claim rather a superior status was bestowed upon him by God. Second, Satan disobeyed God out of sheer pride and arrogance. But far from openly revolting against God out of his own prompting, man was disobedient under Satan’s evil influence. Third, when man disobeyed God, he did so unwittingly, not realizing that he was committing a sin. ‘Man was beguiled into disobedience by Satan ,who appeared in the garb of man’s well-wisher. It was Satan who persuaded him to believe that in the fruit of the forbidden tree lay his good, that his action would lead him to the heights of goodness, not to the depths of evil. Fourth, when Satan was warned, rather than confessing his mistake and repenting, he clung even more adamantly to disobedience. But when man was told that he had sinned, he did not resort to continued transgression as Satan did. As soon as man realized his mistake, he confessed his fault, returned to the course of obedience and sought refuge in God’s mercy.
This story draws a clear line between the way of Satan and the way that befits man. Satan’s way is characterized by rebellion against God, by arrogantly persisting in that rebellion even after having been warned, and by trying to mislead the righteously disposed towards sin and disobedience. As opposed to this, the way that befits man is to resist the evil promptings of Satan and to be constantly vigilant against Satanic machinations. But, if in spite of all these precautions, a man does swerve from the course of obedience, he should turn, as soon as he realizes his fault, to God in penitence and remorse and make amends.
This is the lesson that God conveys to man through this anecdote. The Qur’an seeks to impress upon the opponents of the Prophet (peace be on him) that the way, they are following is the way of Satan. To become indifferent to God’s Guidance, to take satans among men and jinn as their protectors and to persist in disobedience despite repeated warnings, amounts to adopting a Satanic attitude. It demonstrates that they have fallen prey to the snares of the arch-enemy and have been totally overpowered by him. This attitude will lead to their total undoing just as it led to Satan’s undoing. Anyone who has even an iota of understanding should heed and emulate the example of his foreparents – Adam and Eve – who repented and made amends after their disobedience.
قَالَ اهْبِطُوا بَعْضُكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ وَلَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مُسْتَقَرٌّ وَمَتَاعٌ إِلَى حِينٍ ﴿7:24﴾
(7:24) Allah said: ‘Go down; *14you are enemies one of the other. For you there is dwelling and provision on the earth for a while.’
*14. God’s command that Adam and Eve ‘go down’ should not be misunderstood to mean that their departure from Paradise was by way of punishment. The Qur’an has made it clear many a time that God accepted Adam and Eve’s repentance and pardoned them. Thus the order does not imply punishment. It rather signifies the fulfilment of the purpose for which man was created. (For elaboration see Towards Understanding the Qur’an, vol. 1, al-Baqarh 2: nn. 48 and 53, pp. 63-4 and 66 – Ed.)
قَالَ فِيهَا تَحْيَوْنَ وَفِيهَا تَمُوتُونَ وَمِنْهَا تُخْرَجُونَ ﴿7:25﴾
(7:25) He continued: ‘You shall live there, and there shall you die, and from it you shall be raised to life.’
يَا بَنِي آَدَمَ قَدْ أَنْزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَارِي سَوْآَتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا وَلِبَاسُ التَّقْوَى ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ ذَلِكَ مِنْ آَيَاتِ اللَّهِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ ﴿7:26﴾
(7:26) 0 Children of Adam! *15 Indeed We have sent down to you a garment which covers your shame and provides protection and adornment. But the finest of all is the garment of piety. That is one of the signs of Allah so that they may take heed.
*15. By referring to an important aspect of Adam and Eve’s story, the attention of the people of Arabia of those days was drawn to the evil influence of Satan upon their lives. Under Satan’s influence they had begun to see dress merely as a shield of protection against the inclemencies of the weather and as a means of adornment. The basic purpose of dress to cover the private parts of the body – had receded into the background. People had no inhibition about the immodest exposure of the private parts of their body in public. To publicly take a bath absolutely naked, to attend to the call of nature on thoroughfares, were the order of the day. To crown it all, in the course of Pilgrimage they used to circumambulate around the Ka’bah in stark nakedness. Women even surpassed men in immodesty. In their view, the performance of religious rites in complete nudity was an act of religious merit.
Immodesty, however, was not an exclusive characteristic of the people of Arabia. Many nations indulged in it in the past, and many nations continue to indulge in it even now. Hence the message embodied in these verses is not directed just to the people of Arabia. It is rather directed to all men. Mankind, which is the progeny of Adam, is warned against this particular aspect of Satanic influence on their lives. When men show indifference to God’s Guidance and turn away from the Message of the Prophets, they virtually place themselves at the mercy of Satan. For it is Satan who makes them abandon way’s that are consistent with true human nature and who leads them to immodesty in the same way he did with Adam and Eve. Were man to reflect on this, it would become quite evident that when he is deprived of the guidance of the Prophets, he cannot even appreciate, let alone fulfil, the primary requirements of his true nature.
يَا بَنِي آَدَمَ لَا يَفْتِنَنَّكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ كَمَا أَخْرَجَ أَبَوَيْكُمْ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ يَنْزِعُ عَنْهُمَا لِبَاسَهُمَا لِيُرِيَهُمَا سَوْآَتِهِمَا إِنَّهُ يَرَاكُمْ هُوَ وَقَبِيلُهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا تَرَوْنَهُمْ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا الشَّيَاطِينَ أَوْلِيَاءَ لِلَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ ﴿7:27﴾
(7:27) Children of Adam! Let not Satan deceive you in the manner he deceived your parents out of Paradise, pulling off from them their clothing to reveal to them their shame. He and his host surely see you from whence you do not see them. We have made satans the guardians of those who do not believe. *16
*16. These verses bring into focus several important points.
First, that the need to cover oneself is not an artificial urge in man; rather it is an important dictate of human nature. Unlike animals, God did not provide man with the protective covering that He provided to animals. God rather endowed man with the natural instincts of modesty and bashfulness. Moreover, the private parts of the body are not only, related to sex, but also constitute ‘sawat’ that is, something the exposure of which is felt to be shameful. Also, God did not provide man with a natural covering in response to man’s modesty and bashfulness, but has inspired in him (see verse 26) the urge to cover himself. This is in order that man might use his reason to understand the requirements of his nature, use the resources made available by God, and provide himself a dress.
Second, man instinctively knows that the moral purpose behind the use of dress takes precedence over the physical purpose. Hence the idea that man should resort to dress in order to cover his private parts precedes the mention of dress as a means of providing protection and adornment to the human body. In this connection man is altogether different from animals, With regard to the latter, the natural covering that has been granted serves to protect them from the inclemencies of weather and also to beautify their bodies. However, that natural covering is altogether unrelated to the purpose of concealing their sexual organs. The exposure of those organs is not a matter of shame for them and hence their nature is altogether devoid of the urge to cover them. However, as men fell prey to Satanic influences, they developed a false and unhealthy notion about the function of dress. They were led to believe that the function of dress for human beings is no different from that for animals, viz., to protect them from the inclemencies of weather and to make them look attractive. As for concealing the private parts of the body, the importance of that function has been belittled. For men have been misled into believing that their private parts are, in fact, like other organs of their body. As in the case of animals, there is little need for human beings to conceal their sex organs.
Third, the Qur’an emphasizes that it is not enough for the dress to cover the private parts and to provide protection and adornment to the human body. Man’s dress ought to be the dress of piety. This means that a man’s dress ought to conceal his private parts. It should also render a man reasonably presentable – the dress being neither too shabby and cheap nor overly expensive and extravagant relative to his financial standing. Nor should dress smack of pride or hauteur, or reflect that pathological mental state in which men prefer characteristically feminine dresses and vice versa: or that the people belonging to one nation mimic people of other nations so as to resemble them, thereby becoming a living emblem of collective humiliation and abasement. The Qur’anic ideal can only be achieved by those who truly believe in the Prophets and sincerely try to follow God’s Guidance. For as soon as man decides to reject God’s Guidance, Satan assumes his patronage and by one means or another manages to lead him into error after error.
Fourth, the question of dress constitutes one of the numerous signs of God which is visible virtually throughout the world. When the facts mentioned above are carefully considered it will be quite clear as to why dress is an important sign of God.
وَإِذَا فَعَلُوا فَاحِشَةً قَالُوا وَجَدْنَا عَلَيْهَا آَبَاءَنَا وَاللَّهُ أَمَرَنَا بِهَا قُلْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَأْمُرُ بِالْفَحْشَاءِ أَتَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿7:28﴾
(7:28) And when such people commit an indecent act they say: ‘We found our fathers doing that, and Allah has enjoined it on us. *17 Say: ‘Surely Allah never enjoins any indecency. *18 Do you say things regarding Allah that you do not know?’
*17. This refers to the pre-islamic Arabian practice of circumambulating around the Ka’bah in stark nakedness. The people of those day’s thought that nakedness during circumambulation had been enjoined by God.
*18. The simple and succinct Qur’anic statement that ‘Allah never enjoins any, indecency’ (verse 29) stands as the overwhelming argument against many false beliefs that were entertained by the people of Arabia. For a fuller appreciation of this argument the following points should be kept in mind:
First, that the people of Arabia totally stripped themselves while performing certain religious rites under the mistaken notion that it had been so enjoined. But on the other hand they were agreed that nudity was a shameful thing so that no Arab of any standing could ever approve of appearing naked in any respectable assembly or market-place.
Second, notwithstanding their reservation about nudity, they strippeel themselves totally while performing certain religious rites on the ground that religion was from God. Hence there was nothing objectionable about performing a religious act in a state of nakedness for God had so enjoined them regarding the performance of that rite. Here the Qur’an confronts them with a clear question: How can they believe that God could order them to do something which involves nakedness and which they know to be inherently shameful? What is implied is that God could not command them to commit indecency, and if their religion contained elements of indecency then this is positive proof of its not being from God.