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Prophet (saww) The First Creation? Misinterpretation of Surah An’aam 6:163

Prophet (saww) The First Creation? Misinterpretation of Surah An’aam 6:163

(This can be downloaded as pdf from the PDF Download Files section)

Introduction:

It is a well-known belief among the Shi’a (and many Sunnis) that the Prophet (saww) was the First Creation (Awwal al Makhlooqaat). This belief is based on some weak and fabricated narrations which we shall analyze in a separate post InshaAllah.

Some people try to back up this belief with the verse 6:163 of the Quran. Therefore in this post, we shall analyze their claim and try to find out what this verse means.

 Surah An’aam 6:162-163:

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ {162}

[6:162] Say (O Prophet). Surely my prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are (all) for Allah, the Lord of the worlds;

لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ ۖ وَبِذَٰلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ {163}

[6:163] He has no partners; and this am I commanded, and I am the first of those who submit (Wa Ana Awwal al Muslimeen).

 

Based on the above verse, they claim, that since Allah (swt) asks the Prophet (saww) to declare that he (saww) is the first of the Muslims, it means that the Prophet (saww) would have become Muslim even before Prophet Adam (as), which clearly means that our Prophet (saww) was created before Adam (as).

 

Logical Error:

Before analyzing this claim on the basis of the Quran, let us first analyze it logically. Let us assume that when the Prophet (saww) says that he (saww) is “awwal al Muslimeen” (First of the Muslims), it means that he was the first Muslims “chronologically” (Though we shall demolish this assumption shortly).

Now, is being the “first Muslim” equal to being the “first creation”? That is a huge speculative leap to take. It is logically quite possible that even though the Prophet (saww) was the first “Muslim”, yet there were creations of Allah (swt) before him (saww) who were not “Muslim”. In this case being the “first muslim” is not equal to being the “first creation”.

Therefore, first of all, there is a logical flaw in this claim, because it is not true that being the “first muslims” chronologically is same as being the “first creation”.

 

Does “Awwal” (First) means chronologically First?:

Now let us analyze this claim based on the Quran. What does “Awwal” mean in this verse (6:163)? Does it mean the Prophet (saww) was chronologically the first muslims?

It is well known that “first” is not always used “chronologically”. For example a person might say “If there is a charity project in my city, I would be the first to participate”, or “If they open a university here, I would be the first to join” etc. In these cases “first” is not literal, in the sense that the person would chronologically be the first to participate in the charity project, or would be the first to enroll in the university, rather “first” here is figurative, and it points to “readiness”, “eagerness” to do something without any hesitation.

We shall demonstrate this fact using some verses of the Quran.

 

Verse 1: Surah Zumar 39:12

وَأُمِرْتُ لِأَنْ أَكُونَ أَوَّلَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ {12}

[39:12] And I am commanded that I shall be the first of those who submit (or “be the first of Muslims, “Awwal al Muslimeen”).

 

The Prophet (saww) says “I have been commanded to be “Awwal al Muslimeen” (first of the Muslims)”. This “awwal al Muslimeen” is same as the one in the verse 6:163.

Now if we assume that the Prophet (saww) was the first creation and the first Muslim chronologically, then why would Allah (swt) command the Prophet (saww) to be “Awwal al Muslimeen”? And if we assume that the Prophet (saww) is not already the “first Muslims”, then this command is void, since the Prophet (saww) cannot go back in time and become the “first Muslim”.

The fact is that this verse (39:12) has nothing to do with being the “first Muslim” chronologically. It is a verse to command and motivate the Prophet (saww) to be the foremost, most eager and most enthusiastic to submit to the command of Allah (swt), and when we read this verse, the same command applies to us.

 

Verse 2: Surah A’araaf 7:143

وَلَمَّا جَاءَ مُوسَىٰ لِمِيقَاتِنَا وَكَلَّمَهُ رَبُّهُ قَالَ رَبِّ أَرِنِي أَنْظُرْ إِلَيْكَ ۚ قَالَ لَنْ تَرَانِي وَلَٰكِنِ انْظُرْ إِلَى الْجَبَلِ فَإِنِ اسْتَقَرَّ مَكَانَهُ فَسَوْفَ تَرَانِي ۚ فَلَمَّا تَجَلَّىٰ رَبُّهُ لِلْجَبَلِ جَعَلَهُ دَكًّا وَخَرَّ مُوسَىٰ صَعِقًا ۚ فَلَمَّا أَفَاقَ قَالَ سُبْحَانَكَ تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ {143}

[7:143] And when Musa came at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he (Musa) said: My Lord! show me (Yourself), so that I may look upon You. He (God) said: You cannot see Me but look at the mountain, if it remains firm in its place, then will you see Me; but when his Lord manifested His glory to the mountain He made it crumble and Musa fell down in a swoon; then when he recovered, he (Musa) said: Glory be to Thee, I turn to Thee, and I am the first of the believers (Awwal al Mumineen).

 

Let us ponder on some points.

  1. Prophet Musa (as) says “Ana Awwal al Mumineen” (I am the first of Mumineen [belivers]). Now can we conclude from this that Prophet Musa (as) was the first Mumin chronologically, and hence he was the first creation? If that is the case then doesn’t this contradict the fact that Prophet Muhammad (saww) was the first creation?

 

  1. If “Awwal” (First) here is taken as the chronological “first”, then the Jews can easily claim that the Quran says that Prophet Musa (as) is higher in status than Prophet Muhammad (saww), because Prophet Muhammad (saww) is only the first “Muslim”, whicle Prophet Musa (as) is the first “Mumin”, and we know from the Quran (49:14) that “Imaan” (from which is Mumin) is greater in status than “Islam” (from which is Muslim).

 

Verse 3: Surah Baqara 2:41

وَآمِنُوا بِمَا أَنْزَلْتُ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا مَعَكُمْ وَلَا تَكُونُوا أَوَّلَ كَافِرٍ بِهِ ۖ وَلَا تَشْتَرُوا بِآيَاتِي ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا وَإِيَّايَ فَاتَّقُونِ {41}

[2:41] And believe in what I have revealed, verifying that which is with you, and be not the first to deny it (Awwala Kaafirin Bihi), neither take a mean price in exchange for My communications; and Me, Me alone should you fear.

 

Addressing the Jews of Madina, Allah (swt) says “do not be the first (Awwal) to reject it (Quran)..”.

 

Now if we take the meaning of “Awwal” (First) to be chronologically first, then this verse of the Quran would be incorrect and void. We say this because this verse was revealed in Madina, after the Hijrah of Prophet (saww); and we know very well that in Mecca many people had already rejected and denied the Quran. So even if the Jews of Madina reject the Quran, they cannot be chronologically the “first” to reject it, since many Meccans had already rejected the Quran.

 

So why would Allah (swt) warn the Jews of Madina not to be “Awwal” (First) in rejecting the Quran?

 

The answer to that is simple. It is so because “Awwal” (First) here does not mean “chronologically” first, rather it is figurative, exactly like the previous examples. So Allah (swt) is asking the Jews not to be eager, ready and hasty in rejecting the Quran, rather Allah (swt) wants them to take a look, ponder over it, realize the similarity between the Quran and what the Jews already have (Torah), and then take a decision, rather than straight away rejecting the Quran.

 

Now it is clear that “Awwal” (First) does not always mean chronologically first, rather it has a figurative meaning too, and by analyzing similar verses of the Quran we know that the “Awwal” (First) used in 6:163 is figurative. Hence this verse does not, in anyway, prove that the Prophet (saww) was the first creation, or first Muslim chronologically.

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