Today we come to the seventh surah entitled “The Heights” or “The Elevations.”  Abdel Haleem, the translator of my copy of the Qur’an says this surah gets its name from “the heights of the barrier which will divide the righteous from the damned on the Day of Judgment.”  Intriguing!  That will be some interesting topography! 

This is a Meccan surah again, so we should expect paganism to be the main opposition and Muhammad to still be somewhat tentative.  That, in fact, is what we see again in only the first few ayahs:

This Book has been sent down to you [Prophet] — let there be no anxiety in your heart because of it. (7:2)

The accounting of deeds mentioned yesterday is made even clearer today:

On that Day the weighing of deeds will be true and just: those whose good deeds are heavy on the scales will be the ones to prosper, and those whose good deeds are light will be the ones who have lost their souls through their wrongful rejection of Our messages. (7:8-9)

Next, we are re-introduced to Iblis.  Christians know him as Lucifer or simply Satan, a name that is used in this passage as well.  We have come today to the Qur’an’s near-identical account of what Christians typically call the “Fall,” though the Bible doesn’t actually use this term.

Adam and Eve from a copy of the Falnama, Iran, c.1550

In the Qur’an, the events in the Garden are actually preceded by a divine showdown of power.  God creates Adam from clay and commands the angels to bow before him.  Most do, but not Iblis and those with him.  Having been created from fire, Iblis claims simply, “I am better than him.”  God banishes the arrogant angel from the pure Garden, but before he goes Iblis whispers lies into Adam and Eve’s ears suggesting God is only preventing them from eating of “this tree” (it would seem the Tree of Life, though it is not called that here) because He wants to keep them subjugated and deprived of the immortality that could be their’s. 

Iblis

Today’s section ends with all three cast from the Garden and made to roam the earth.  Animosity will mark human interactions with Iblis, and the latter swears to take down as many of God’s cherished humans as possible.  God promises to fill Hell with Iblis and those who chose to follow him.

Again, we see immense overlap between the Bible and the Qur’an (though I know some question whether the Bible ever claims that Satan was once an angel).  By now this should come as no surprise.  Islam was not declaring itself to be a new religion; it was a continuation or, even better, a purification or “restoration” (as Glenn called it several weeks back in some comment) of the original story of God.

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