وَعَلَّمَ ءَادَمَ الأَسْمَآءَ كُلَّهَا ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى الْمَلَـئِكَةِ فَقَالَ أَنبِئُونِى بِأَسْمَآءِ هَـؤُلاَءِ إِن كُنتُمْ صَـدِقِينَ – قَالُواْ سُبْحَـنَكَ لاَ عِلْمَ لَنَآ إِلاَّ مَا عَلَّمْتَنَآ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ – قَالَ يَـاءَادَمُ أَنبِئْهُم بِأَسْمَآئِهِمْ فَلَمَّآ أَنبَأَهُم بِأَسْمَآئِهِم قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُل لَّكُمْ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ غَيْبَ السَّمَـوَاتِ وَالاٌّرْضِ وَأَعْلَمُ مَا تُبْدُونَ وَمَا كُنتُمْ تَكْتُمُونَ
2:31 And He taught Adam all the names (of everything), then He showed them to the angels and said, “Tell Me the names of these if you are truthful.” 2:32 They (angels) said: “Glory is to You, we have no knowledge except what you have taught us. Verily, You are the Knower, the Wise.” 2:33 He said, “O Adam, inform them of their names.” And when he had informed them of their names, He said, “Did I not tell you that I know the unseen [aspects] of the heavens and the earth? And I know what you reveal and what you have concealed.”
When Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala shared with the angels His decision to create another creation, the angels presented their doubts about this new being. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala silenced them by saying that He knew that which they did not know. This new creation was supposed to be different from any other creation of Allah. Therefore, when Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala created Adam ‘alayhi salaam He gave him knowledge. This knowledge was something that the angels lacked. But being a humble creation the angels did not argue. They acknowledged their shortcoming and prostrated before Adam ‘alayhi sallam as instructed by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
In ayah 32, the angels are praising Allah’s holiness, and perfection above every kind of deficiency, affirming that no creature could ever acquire any part of Allah’s knowledge, except by His permission, nor could anyone know anything except what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala teaches them.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,
وَعَلَّمَ آدَمَ الأَسْمَاء كُلَّهَا …
“And He taught Adam alaiyhi as salam all the names (of everything).”
In Sahih, Al-Bukhari, explained this Ayah in the Book of Tafsir with a report from Anas bin Malik who said that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
“The believers will gather on the Day of Resurrection and will say, ‘We should seek a means of intercession with our Lord.’ They will go to Adam and say, ‘O Adam! You are the father of all mankind; Allah created you with His Own Hand, ordered the angels to prostrate for you and taught you the names of everything. Will you not intercede for us with your Lord, so that he relieve us from this gathering place?’”
This part of the Hadith testifies to the fact that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala taught Adam the names of all creatures.
This is why Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,
“Then He showed them to the angels,” it means, the objects or creations.
When Adam’s virtue over the angels became apparent, as he mentioned the names that Allah taught him, Allah said to the angels,
… أَلَمْ أَقُل لَّكُمْ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ غَيْبَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَأَعْلَمُ مَا تُبْدُونَ وَمَا كُنتُمْ تَكْتُمُونَ
“Did I not tell you that I know the Ghayb (unseen) in the heavens and the earth, and I know what you reveal and what you have been concealing?”
This means, “Did I not state that I know the seen and unseen matters.”
It is reported that Ibn Abbas said that it means, “I know the secrets, just as I know the apparent things, such as, what Iblees concealed in his heart of arrogance and pride.”
Similarly, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said in Surah Naml,
“[And] so they do not prostrate to Allah, who brings forth what is hidden within the heavens and the earth and knows what you conceal and what you declare. Allah – there is no deity except Him, Lord of the Great Throne.” (27:25-26)
Points to Ponder:
– We see that man has been taught names and has vast potential for a huge amount of knowledge.
– Whenever knowledge and its teaching is mentioned, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us that He is the One who has taught it. He attributes ALL knowledge to Himself. So, when people praise human inventions, they should praise Allah that He gave us minds and knowledge of objects (which He taught Adam alaiyhi as salam) to create amazing things.
– The angels are created to always obey Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, so they accepted their limitation, and as they were innocent. But Iblees was amongst them, and he was hiding in his heart the honor of mankind over all creation.