I wish to commend Professor Rifaat Hassan for her meticulous research on the subject of 'creation of man - woman' according to the Qur'anic text versus established hadith literature. Her technical research as presented, based on Arabic grammar and linguistics, leads to a radical and awesome conclusion: that is, the traditional Islamic view of the 'first man and woman' was and currently is "backwards," in other words, the "first man Adam" was really the "the first woman" (we will call her 'Adama'); and the alleged "first mate -- Hawwa/Eve" (female in traditional thinking) was really "a male," (we will call the first mate "Adam").
According to Islamic tradition, the first 'mate' (woman) was brought forth from the "rib of Adam." The new view presented herein by Dr. Hassan is that 'Adam' came from the “Eve’s rib” by force of logic. Obviously this is an astounding conclusion, which will certainly give the traditional `ulama heartache and indigestion, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
The professor also consumed a great deal of ink and paper (unnecessary in my view) in connecting the canonical hadith text with the old Testament’s view of man - woman creation; that is, Islams's traditional view of "Adam and Eve" came essentially from Genesis, which is correct, but such a view is nothing strange or new, since it is a well-known fact that traditional hadith literature is fully populated with Judeo-Christian traditions (isra`iliyyat). In fact, there are other such "outside" traditions in the hadith texts, including "the second coming of Jesus" and the traditions on eschatology -- Gog and Magog and end of time scenarios, all fully accepted within the Sunnite orthodoxy as gospel.
Throughout the paper, the professor repeatedly lamented the lay and scholarly Muslim acceptance of Genesis’s formulation of "man - woman creation," a charge that is essentially unfair to all lay people in my view, since these hadith texts have been compiled and granted credence over a thousand years ago. Additionally, her suggestion that any view that contradicts the Qur'anic text should be rejected, while fully correct, is simply inapplicable and inoperable since textual materials (however polluted) and fully embedded in the hadith texts, cannot be cured by simple rejection as cultural beliefs and practices inevitably play a role in religion.
The professor also heaped much blame on recognized Muslim and non-Muslim translators for failing to correctly translate the term "Adam" as it appeared in the Qur'an ("Hawwa" which did not appear in Qur'an, is also of Hebrew origin). In this context, the professor accused these men-translators of being "scared," a charge I completely endorse. These scholars essentially translated the Adam/Eve story to comport with the stories listed in the hadith, rather than on the basis of grammar and language.
But I also fault the professor for promulgating the "creationist" view of human evolution, rather than in accordance with the latest 21st century scientific knowledge of human evolutionary development, which has been fully documented and verified by modern science. Obviously not presenting the most updated version of human creation raises a question of scholastic integrity.
Moreover, this question of 'correctness' is important to everyone (not only Muslims), for the simple reason that Allah and the Qur'an represent nothing but Truth as truth and error do not go together. Merely correcting mistranslations in standard texts is not enough.
The Professor, being a pioneer on this subject and also an advocate of female natural rights (rights denied women by a patriarchal society from time immemorial), must stand up for Truth. This means that she has an incumbent burden and obligation to report the truth on this subject of human creation; thus, she will have to revisit this topic and revise her analysis of 'man - woman creation' according to the latest scientific truths, which are essentially Islamic truths, as decreed by the omniscient Creator in all matters from the heavenly to the temporal.
In doing so, the professor will note that the chemical composition of the human body mirrors that of the existing solar system; that means, humanity (man - woman) and the planets share many common elements, a fact that can no longer be hidden or overlooked by "scared" Muslim scholars, theologians, and scientists. Other facts will show that various parts of the human body were developed during different time periods, some millions of years apart. This fact by itself suggests that "man - woman" could not have been created in a single act, but developed over a very long period of time. This clearly suggests that Muslim scholars have again failed to correctly explain the Qur'anic concept of 'kun fayakun' -- Be and it is!
This is my view, which I admit may not be in consonance with others. But what is the measure of man if he cannot attempt to narrate what he believes is the Truth, even though he could be wrong or wholly mistaken! After all, only Allah knows the Absolute Truth!
Mohamad K. Yusuff
Posted October 11, 2009