From Adam until Muhammad in Islamo-Biblical and Babi-Baha'i Sources

Virgin Mary with Jesus (cf. Q. 19:22).

Neyshaburi. Persian ms. BnF, supplément persan 1313, f. 174.

From Adam until Muhammad in Islamo-Biblical and Babi-Baha'i Sources : Qisas al-Anbiya', the `Twenty-Eight', and other Pre-Islamic Prophets and their Books.

Stephen N. Lambden 1980s, 2015, 2020. Adapted and revised from Lambden PhD thesis.

In progress

Last revised and updated 14-08-2020.

The sections and paragraphs below will set down some aspects of prophetological history and Qisas al-Anbiya' (Tales of the Prophets) legends and motifs found or rooted within Abrahamic religious literatures including  the Bible, the Qur'an and related rewritten and exegetical literatures. This data will be supplemented with some details of the place and interpretations of such materials within 19th-20th century Babi-Baha'i sacred writings   deriving from Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri (b. Tehran 1817-d. Acre, Palestine, 1892), his son `Abd al-Baha' `Abbas (1844-1921) and his great-grandson Shoghi Effendi Rabbani (c.1896-1957),

Historical, prophetological and qisas al‑anbiyā’ motifs, stories and associated materials exist within a very large corpus of Islamic literary sources including the many categories listed on this website - the Islamo-Biblica webpage. They are encapsulated within a variety of literary forms and were written, translated and transformed in many ancient languages. They underwent diverse hermeneutical transformations making them meaningful and instructive to ongoing generations of religious leaders, devotees and intellectuals.

Primordial, Antediluvian figures

01.  آدَم ; Adam = Arabic- Persian Ādam from Hebrew,  אָדָם  `ādām,   Translation "humankind’.

Ādam, Rasul+Nabi+Mursal (= Heb. `ādām = "humankind’). Adam was the first man in biblical and Islamic tradition who was believed to have lived and flourished soon after the creation (Q x 25 in 9 suras). Several of the genesis motifs and narratives about Adam / the first couple have qur’ānic parallels (Q. 7:20; 20:120ff, etc).1 Created from clay he was fit to be the primoridial father of humanity, a       khalīfa (`viceregent’, `substitute’) and a prophet-Messenger on earth who was taught the names of all things (Q. 2:28f ).

Ḥawwā (Heb.   , Havvah = Eve the wife of Adam is not named in the Qur;an. but is twice referred
to as his "spouse" (7:18f; 20:120f). Also unnamed are their sons Cain (Qābīl), Abel (Hābīl) and Seth
(Shīth, see 02). The story of the first couple is related in the probably late Medinan fifth Sūra (al-Mā’idah, Q. 5:27[30]f).

As in Genesis Adam married Ḥawā (Eve) who was created from one of the "ribs" (     ) of Adam (Q. 4:1b cf. Gen. 2:22), the first couple being caused to slip by Satan. They were ultimately expelled from paradise (Q. 2:36). On earth God forgave Adam guided him and made a covenant with him (Q. 2:36f; 20:115..etc). Influenced by Jewish, Gnostic, Christian and other traditions, post-qur’anic Islam greatly elevated the first  man. While his pre-existence is implied in early Sunnī ḥadīth numerous Shī`ī sources additionally reckon Adam a major manifestation of the Logos-like nūr al-Muhammadiyya ("Muhammadan Light"). It was preeminently through his "loins" that this pre-existent "Light" which is the essence of the Prophet and the Imams was transmitted (Biḥār2, 15:1ff; Rubin, 1975).

The Babi-Baha'i 6,000 year Adamic Cycle.

For the Bāb Adam appeared 12, 210 years before 1260 AH/1844 CE., an essentially composite (millennial + centennial + decadal) symbolic dating (11x1,000 + 12 X 100+ 10 [adjustment] = 12, 210) which cannot be fully unravelled here (Lambden, 1985). Though there were `awālim qabl- i ādam ("worlds prior to Adam") (P-Bayan IV:14; BA* L. Qabl- i ādam) he was the first maẓhar-i ilāhī (divine Manifestation), emanated from the mashiyyat (Divine Will), the Dhikr-i awwal [azal] ("Primal Remembrance") in a "prophetic cycle" which to some degree terminated with the advent of the prophet Muhammad (P-Dal., 2-3).



Divine revelations in the Book or books of Adam.
Adam brought a "book" and founded an "embryonic religion" such that all subsequent maẓhar-i ilāhī (divine theophanies) stood in need of him and were his "spiritual" return (P. Bayan III:13, VI:11, P.Dal. 3).

Babi-Baha'i Interpretations of the story of Adam and Eve
As a primordial Bābī- Bahā’ī messenger, many narratives and details respecting Adam in Abrahamic and Islamic scriptural sources are given symbolic interpretations in the writings of the Bāb and Baha'-Allah. The details of Gen.1ff are non-literally interpreted, including the creation in six days and the biblical-qur’ānic story of the fall of the first couple from an Edenic paradise (Gen. 3ff + qur’ānic parallels). Under gnostic and esoteric (`irfānī) Islamic and Shaykhī influences a multiplicity of exalted Adams are mentioned in Bābī- Bahā’ī scripture (T. Kawthar, 15b, 21b T. Qadr., 69:19; cf. K.Panj.S 100).





Select Bibliography : Biblical Background and Qur'anic Studies materials.

Abdel-Haleem,  "Adam and Eve in the Qur'an and the Bible." IQ 41 (1997): 255-269 ; Barrett, C.K. From First Adam to Last: A Study in Pauline Theology. New York: Scribner's, 1962.;  Callender, JR., Dexter E. Adam in Myth and History: Ancient Israelite Perspectives on the Primal Human.  Harvard Semitic Museum Publications, Harvard Semitic Studies, no. 48. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2000.  xviii + 244 pp. Drower, E. S. The Secret Adam. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960. Faris, N.A. "Khalifa or Khaliqa: A Variant Reading of Surah 2:28." MW 24 (1934): 183-186. Hermansen, M. K.  "Pattern and Meaning in the Qur'anic Adam Narratives." Studies in Religion 17 (1988): 41-52. Hirtenstein, S. "Lunar view, air-glow blue: Ibn 'Arabi's conversations with the Prophet Adam." Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society 16 (1994): 51-68. Khaja, K. "A Leaf from Sheyk-i-Akbar. The Bezel of Adam (Fas-i-Adamiyyah)." IC 1 (1927): 238-244. Kister, M. J. "Adam: A Study of Some Legends in Tafsir and Hadith literature." IOS 13 (1993): 113-174. Kister, M. J. 1972  `Haddithu 'an israila we‑la haraja: a Study of an Early Tradition,` IOS 2: 215‑39. * 1974 `On the Papyrus of Wahb b. Munabbih,’  BSOAS 37:  545‑71.* "Legends in Tafsir and Hadith Literature: The Creation of Adam and Related Stories. In Approaches to the History of the Interpretation of the Qur'an. Ed. A. Rippin, 82-114. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.* Levison, J. R. Potraits of Adam in Early Judaism from Sirach to 2 Baruch. JSP Supplement Series 1. Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1988. Matar, N. I. "Adam and the Serpent. Notes on the Theology of Mikhail Naimy." Journal of Arabic Literature 11 (1980): 56-61. Mir, M. "The Qur'anic Adam: The First Man and the First Prophet." In Encyclopaedic Survey of Islamic Culture: Studies in Quran. Ed. M.Taher, 76-85. Delhi, 1997. Nettler, R. L. "Ibn `Arabi as a Qur'anic Thinker: Reflections on Adam in the Fusus al-Hikam." Scottish Journal of Religious Studies 13 (1992): 91-102. Niditch, S. "The Cosmic Adam: Man as Mediator in Rabbinic Literature." JJS 34 (1983): 137-146. Nolin, K. E.  "The Story of Adam. Translation with Introduction and Notes of Dr. Muhammad Kamil Husayn's 'Qissat Adam' from his Collection of Essays Entitled: MutanawwiÕat, pub. 1961, 38-42." MW 54 (1964): 4-13. Orsatti, P. "La storia di Adamo in un commento corainico persiano." In Yad-nama in Memoria de Alessandro Bausani. Ed. B. S. Amoretti and L. Rostagno, 1:343-362. Universita di Roma La Sapienza Studi Orientali 10. Rome, 1991. Parpola, S. "The Assyrian Tree of Life: Tracing the Origins of Jewish Monotheism and Greek Philosophy." JNES 52 (1993): 161-208. Paret, R. "Der Koran und die PrŠdestination." OLZ 58 (1963): 117-121. Rook, J. "The Names of the Wives from Adam to Abraham in the Book of Jubilees." JSP 7 (1990): 105-117.  Scroggs, R. The Last Adam: A Study in Pauline Anthropology. Oxford: Blackwell, 1966. Sharpe, J. L. "Second Adam in the Apocalypse of Moses." CBQ 35 (1973): 35-46. "The Second Adam in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians." CBQ 35 (1973): 35-46. Watt, W. M. "Created in His Image: A Study in Islamic Theology." TGUOS 18 (1959-1960).  Zwemer, S. M. "The Worship of Adam by Angels." MW 27 (1937): 115-127.


02. Seth (= Heb.     , šēt), = Arabic-Persian, Shīth, traditionally a Nabi or prophet.

Seth was the unnamed (Q.x 0) third son of Adam and Eve (Gen. 4:25ff.). He is often considered an important post-Adam prophet in extra-qur’ānic sources as one of the recipients of waḥy ("divine revelation").In Shī `ī and other sources his progeny in particular, as opposed to that of his brothers Cain and Abel (Ar. Ḥābīl and Qābīl, unnamed, cf. Q. 5:27) are seen to constitute the truly "righteous"
primogenitors (Quinn, 1962; Klijn, 1977; Huart [Bosworth] EI2 IX:489-90).

Babi-Baha'i Interpretations of the story of Seth

Seth is very seldom mentioned in Bābī- Bahā’ī sources. Baha'-Allah briefly narrates his story as Adam’s son Seth in his late Iraq period Surat al-Nuṣḥ (Sūra of the Counsel, 244). Therein he is represented as a rejected messenger of God to his contemporaries who failed to orient themselves in the direction of the wajh al-jamāl, "the beauteous Divine countenance".

03. Enoch = (Heb. , ḥānōk)  = (Ar) Idrīs, a Prophet, Nabi (Gen 4:17f; Q.x 2 = 19:57; 21:85).
 Enoch the
biblical son of Jared who "walked with God" (Gen. 5:21-4), an "upright man and a
prophet" (Q.19:57-8; 21:85). Numerous legends are related of Enoch,  Idrīs (Vajda, EI2 III:1030-1;
Fraade, `Enoch’ Enc. Rel.5:116-118)  in Islamic sources. He is "said to have introduced several sciences and arts, practised ascetic piety, received revelation, and entered paradise while still alive" (Fraade, `Enoch’ Enc. Rel. 5:116-118).

Babi-Baha'i Interpretations of the story of Enoch

Enoch is occasionally mentioned in Bābī-Bahā’ī sources as the father of ḥikmat (wisdom-philosophy, etc) and, as in Islamic sources, is equated with the first of the thrice born Hermes’ (Martin, `Hermes’ DDD:771-783; `Hirmis’, EI2 III:463; BA* L.-Ḥikmat, tr.148; Ma’idih 7:143).


04. Noah =  Heb. , nōaḥ) = Ar. / Per = Nūḥ, Rasul (Messenger of God) +Nabi (Prophet)+Mursal (sent Messenger).

Noah (fl. [trad.] fl. 3000 BCE??) the biblical son of Lamech who in both the Bible and the Q. is reckoned to have lived at least 950 years (Gen. 9:29; Q. 29:13-14) and to have survived the flood along with his family (Q. x 43 in 28 suras). As an prototype of Muhammad and one blessed with waḥy (divine inspiration, Q. 11:36) the legend of Noah and the associated story of the all-encompassing "flood" and salvific "ark", is important in the Q., one sura of which is named after Noah himself (Q. 71 [title]). He is mentioned 43 times in 28 suras of the Q. his story being repeated around ten times.
The Noah story is frequently told in Qiṣaṣ al-anbiyā’ and other post-qur’ānic literatures.

Babi-Baha'i Interpretations of the story of Noah and the Ark

Little concrete information about Noah, the maẓhar-i ilāhī is given by the Bāb or Baha'-Allah though motifs deriving from his story are frequent in many primary texts. Much utilized is the Islamicate motif of the "Ark" of salvation providing refuge from the "flood" or "storms" of ungodliness.1

1Baha'-Allah, KI: 5f/ trans. 7-8; Surat al-Aḥsāb; AQA 4:ADD; K. Badī`, 214 (mss.); cf. Buck, 1999: 114f.51

Important rewritten exegetical accounts of the story of Noah are found in the Qayyum al-asma' of the Bāb and in Baha'-Allah’s Surat al-Nuṣḥ (‘ Sūra of the Counsel’, 244-6). Early on the Bāb understood the "Ark" to be the salvific "Ark of the messianic Dhikr" (safīnat al-dhikr), the refuge of the eschatological ahl al-bayt, the truly believing "people of the House" (of Shī`īsm as proto-Bābism, QA 82:333). In the QA and elsewhere the Bāb also used the motif of "the crimson-coloured and ruby arks" (sufunan min yāqūta al-raṭba al-ḥamrā’, QA 57:226) assigned to the "people of bahā’" whom Baha'-Allah subsequently identified as his followers, the Bahā’īs (lit.`characterized with radiance’).
Baha'-Allah also frequently and in a number of different ways glossed the term "Ark"  as, for example, the "Ark of the Spirit" (safīnat al-rūḥ) in his Lawh-i Bahā’ where he also speaks of the "Ark" motif as being his eternal religion:

Say: O people! Embark on the Ark of Eternity (safīnat al-baqā’) which traverseth the crimson sea…" (L. Bahā’, 72 ; cf. L.Ruh, L.Tuqa)

In 1949 SE*’s secretary explained that for Bahā’īs the story of Noah’s "Ark" and the "Flood" are "both symbolical" (LG: 509 No. 1716).

For Shī`īs the issue of the length of Noah’s lifetime went beyond scriptural norms (over 950 years). This in part in connection with their desire to justify going to extreme lengths for the ghayba (occultation) of the hidden, messianic Qā’im. Several symbolic Bahā’ī interpretations of Noah’s longevity also exist especially in view of Baha'-Allah’s mentioning the figure 950 years in his K. īqān (KI:6/7–> 4.2).