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Prostrations Before Adam

Worshiping anyone but God is clearly forbidden in both the Bible and the Koran. However, there is a curious account in the Koran about angels being told by God to prostrate themselves before Adam. This may initially appear to some as being a divinely granted license to practice idolatry, but I do not believe that that is the case. Actually, I think that this story, which occurs more than once in the Koran, is a theological statement.

First, let us look at a few passages in the Bible. In the Decalogue, it says:

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. (Exodus 20:2,3, KJV)

Having any other god in addition to God is clearly forbidden. There is only one God.

Yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live. (I Corinthians 8:6, NKJV)

St. John the Theologian was Jesus’ beloved disciple and the author of the Fourth Gospel. He said:

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. (I John 5:21, NKJV)

The holy angels who serve God refuse to be worshiped. In the Book of Judges, the angel told Manoah:

And if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the Lord. (Judges 13:16, KJV)

In the Book of Revelation, an angel  twice forbids St. John to worship him.

Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:9,10, NKJV)

Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (Revelation 20:8,9, NKJV)

In the Gospels, Jesus refuses to worship Satan, who is a fallen angel.

And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Matthew 4:9,10, NKJV. See also Luke 4:7,8.)

However, in the Koran, it says in seven places that God told the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam.

And when We [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] said unto the angels: Prostrate yourselves before Adam, they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. He demurred through pride, and so became a disbeliever. (Koran 2:34, Pickthall)

And We [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] 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. (Koran 7:11, Pickthall)

When I [God the Father] have shaped him, and breathed My spirit in him, fall you down, bowing before him! (Koran 15:29, Arberry)

And when We [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] said unto the angels: Fall down prostrate before Adam and they fell prostrate all save Iblis, he said: Shall I fall prostrate before that which Thou hast created of clay? (Koran 17:61, Pickthall)

And (remember) when We [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] said unto the angels: Fall prostrate before Adam, and they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. He was of the jinn, so he rebelled against his Lord’s command. Will ye choose him and his seed for your protecting friends instead of Me, when they are an enemy unto you? Calamitous is the exchange for evil-doers. (Koran 18:51, Pickthall)

And when We [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] said unto the angels: Fall prostrate before Adam, they fell prostrate (all) save Iblis; he refused. (Koran 20:116, Pickthall)

Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I [God the Father] am about to create man from clay: when I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto him.” So the angels prostrated themselves, all of them together: not so Iblis: he was haughty, and became one of those who reject Faith. (Koran 38:71-74, Yusuf Ali)

Elsewhere in the Koran it says that the angels prostrate themselves before Allah and are not proud.

And unto Allah maketh prostration whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth of living creatures, and the angels (also) and they are not proud. (Koran 16:49, Pickthall)

It also says in the Koran:

Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden paradise. (Koran 5:72, Pickthall)

Was God ascribing Adam as a partner unto Himself? Of course not. He was making a theological statement.

In the Koran it says:

The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His Word which He conveyed [literally, cast] unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. (Koran 4:171, Pickthall)

These words from the Koran say two things about Jesus. They say that He is human. He “was only a messenger of Allah.” They also say that He is divine. He is His Word, that is, the Word of Allah.

In the Koran, it says that Muhammad accepted the Scriptures of the Jews and the Orthodox Christians.

O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His messenger and the Scripture which He hath revealed unto His messenger [the Koran], and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime [the Bible]. Whoso disbelieveth in Allah and His angels and His Scriptures and His messengers and the Last Day, he verily hath wandered far astray. (Koran 4:136, Pickthall)

And argue not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us [the Koran] and revealed unto you [the Bible]; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender. (Koran 29:46, Pickthall)

Therefore call thou, and go straight as thou hast been commanded; do not follow their caprices. And say: ‘I believe in whatever Book God has sent down; I have been commanded to be just between you. God is our Lord and your Lord. We have our deeds, and you have your deeds; there is no argument between us and you; God shall bring us together, and unto Him is the homecoming.’ (Koran 42:15, Arberry)

Therefore, these words from St. John’s Gospel were accepted by Muhammad.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was madeAnd the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-3,14, NKJV)

In St. Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, it says:

Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. (Hebrews 7:9,10, NKJV)

Levi was Abraham’s grandson. God commanded through Moses that the Israelites should pay tithes to the Levites — the men who were descendants of Levi. (Numbers 18:21-24) Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. (Genesis 14:18-20) So, since Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek.

Now, apply this principle to those passages in the Koran which speak about God commanding the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam. Jesus’ humanity was already in the loins of Adam from the day that he was created.

Jesus is Allah’s Word which He cast to Mary. (Koran 4:171) The Word of Allah cannot be a partner with Allah, because Allah has no partners. Therefore, the Word of Allah is Allah. (John 1:1-3)

The incarnation of Allah the Word is prophesied in the Old Testament.

This is our God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him. He hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant, and to Israel His beloved. Afterward did He shew Himself upon earth, and conversed with men. (Baruch 3:35-37, KJV)

The incarnation took place when Allah cast His Word to Mary. When the angels prostrated themselves to Adam, they were making a theological statement. They were indicating that God the Word will assume His humanity from one of Adam’s descendants.

It says in the Book of Deuteronomy in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament:

And let all the angels of God worship Him. (Deuteronomy 32:43, LXX)

These words were quoted by St. Paul in Hebrews 1:6.

But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.” But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. (Hebrews 1:6-8, NKJV)

Notice in the above cited passage that God calls the Son God. Since each Person of the Trinity is God in His entirety, it is appropriate for one Person of the Trinity to call another Person God.

If one were to divide the divine essence (that is, the substance of which God consists) into infinitesimally small particles, each particle would belong to all three Persons of the Trinity. One essence, one God. The same essence, the same God.

The incarnate God, according to His assumed humanity, is a descendant of Adam and in the loins of Adam. Therefore, the angels, according to those seven passages in the Koran, prostrated themselves before Adam. The divine nature of the incarnate God came from God the Father. Jesus said that He proceeded forth and came from God. (John 8:42) The procession of the Son from the Father is called “being begotten.” This is theological language. It should not be interpreted literally. God never had sex with anyone. Jesus’ divine nature had an origin, but no beginning. His human nature has both an origin and a beginning. The two natures were joined together inseparably without division, mixture, or change into one Person. Therefore, Jesus could say to the Jews:

“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:56-58, NKJV)

The Koran truly confirms whatever Scripture was before it. (Koran 5:48) The angels prostrating themselves before Adam is a theological statement that God would one day assume a human nature from one of Adam’s descendants. This already happened nine months before the birth of Jesus in about 5 B.C. (His birth was in 4 B.C.)




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