7:11 Yeah, indeed, We have created you, and then formed you and then We said unto the angels, “Prostrate yourselves before Adam!” – whereupon they [all] prostrated themselves, save Iblis: he was not among those who prostrated themselves.
Or: “allowed me to fall into error”. The term aghwahu denotes both “he caused [or “allowed”] him to err” or “he caused him to be disappointed” or “to fail in attaining his desire” (cf. Lane VI, 2304 f.). Since. in this case, the saying of Iblis refers to the loss of his erstwhile position among the angels, the rendering adopted by me seems to be the most appropriate.
7:12 [And God] said: “What has kept thee from prostrating thyself when I commanded thee?” Answered [Iblis]: “I am better than he: Thou hast created me out of fire, whereas him Thou hast created out of clay.”
Lit., “from between their hands and from behind them”. Regarding this idiomatic expression and my rendering of it, see the similar phrase in 2:255 (“He knows all that lies open before men and all that is hidden from them”). The subsequent phrase “from their right and from their left” signifies “from all directions and by all possible means”.
7:13 [God] said: “Down with thee, then, from this [state] – for it is not meet for thee to show arrogance here! Go forth, then: verily, among the humiliated shalt thou be!”
See 2:35 and 20:120, as well as the corresponding notes.
7:14 Said [Iblis]: “Grant me a respite till the Day when all shall be raised from the dead.”
Lit., “so as to make manifest to them that of their nakedness which [hitherto] had been imperceptible to them”: an allegory of the state of innocence in which man lived before his fall from grace – that is, before his consciousness made him aware of himself and of the possibility of choosing between alternative courses of action, with all the attending temptations towards evil and the misery which must follow a wrong choice.
7:15 [And God] replied: “Verily, thou shalt be among those who are granted a respite.”
Lit., “Or [lest] you become of those who are enduring”: thus instilling in them the desire to live forever and to become in this respect, like God.
7:16 [Whereupon Iblis] said: “Now that Thou hast thwarted me, I shall most certainly lie in ambush for them all along Thy straightway.
Sc., “from this state of blessedness and innocence”. As in the parallel account of this parable of the Fall in 2:35-36, the dual form of address changes at this stage into the plural, thus connecting once again with verse 10 and the beginning of verse 11 of this surah, and making it clear that the story of Adam and Eve is, in reality, an allegory of human destiny. In his earlier state of innocence, man was unaware of the existence of evil and, therefore, of the ever-present necessity of making a choice between the many possibilities of action and behavior: in other words, he lived, like all other animals, in the light of his instincts alone. Inasmuch, however, as this innocence was only a condition of his existence and not a virtue, it gave to his life a static quality and thus precluded him from moral and intellectual development. The growth of his consciousness – symbolized by the wilful act of disobedience to God’s command – changed all this. It transformed him from a purely instinctive being into a full-fledged human entity as we know it – a human being capable of discerning between right and wrong and thus of choosing his way of life. In this deeper sense, the allegory of the Fall does not describe a retrogressive happening but, rather, a new stage of human development: an opening of doors to moral considerations. By forbidding him to “approach this tree”, God made it possible for a man to act wrongly – and, therefore, to act rightly as well: and so man became endowed with that moral free will which distinguishes him from all other sentient beings. – Regarding the role of Satan – or Iblis – as the eternal tempter of man,
7:17 And shall most certainly fall upon them openly as well as in a manner beyond their ken, and from their right and from their left: and most of them Thou wilt find ungrateful.”
Lit., “as plumage” – a metaphorical expression derived from the beauty of birds’ plumage.
7:18 [And God] said: “Go forth from here, disgraced and disowned! [And] as for such of them as follow thee – I will most certainly fill hell with you all!
Lit., “this is [one] of God’s messages so that they.. .”, etc.
7:19 And [as for thee], O Adam, dwell thou and thy wife in this garden, and eat, both of you, whatever you may wish; but do not approach this one tree, lest you become evildoers!”
Lit., “see you from where you do not see them”.
7:20 Thereupon Satan whispered unto the two with a view to making them conscious of their nakedness, of which [hitherto] they had been unaware; and he said: “Your Sustainer has but forbidden you this tree lest you two become [as] angels, or lest you live forever.
The interpolated word “truly” is implied in this phrase in view of the subsequent reference to the erroneous beliefs of such people: for, although their beliefs are wrong, some of them are under the impression that the “shameful deeds” subsequently referred to have been enjoined by God. As for the “satanic forces” (shayatin), it is to be remembered that this designation is applied in the Qur’an to all kinds of wicked impulses or propensities that are “near unto” (i.e., in the hearts of) those who do not truly believe in God: hence, the term shayatin occurring in verse 30 below has been rendered as “evil impulses”.