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Metaphors and Allegories in
«Scenario of Adam Descending from Heaven (The Garden)»

Translation from Farsi by Muhammad Rashad

Story of Adam and its spouse is revealed / brought down in humans level of understanding for every era, with very different cultures in three chapter(The cow 30 to 39, Heights of knowledge 11 to 27 and Taha 116 to 126).
Most will take the conventional and known meanings from the terms and expressions mentioned in this story, however the everyday words that people use have taken shape in centuries and are produced for everyday needs, for explaining scientific and metaphysical and that which deals with spiritual world, there's no other way except to use these everyday terms and the language of the people.
For this very reason metaphors, allegories, examples, and the likes of it have been used a lot in poetry and mysticism.

A) Metaphorical meaning of “Shajara”

Shajara which is mentioned 27 times in the Quran is always translated as "Tree". Of course the real meaning is Tree and in majority cases in the book it's used as it's real meaning, however half of the time which this word is used it has been used as its metaphorical meaning. Tree is a known example of "Shajar" in nature it consist of roots, body, branches, and leaves and fruits and crops. However, Shajara has more comprehensive meanings then just a particular one (a tree).
Shajara, also contain in its meaning anything that's working like a network be it from material stuff or immaterial. From these in the Quran, it's verses talks about Shajara Taiba(good tree), Shajara Khabeesa(bad tree), Tree(Shajara) of Zaqum, Blessed tree (Shajara Mubarakan) and Shajara Meluna (cursed tree) which none of it is a plant.

Take a look at these examples:

1-«MuShajara», an example for getting closer to meaning of «Shajara»!
MuShajara (quarrel) between two or more people has «a root» in selfishness, «a body» and a real cause, «some branches» and leaves from borders of differences, and «fruits» and product when it's over.
Take a look at this verse,
4:65: By your Sustainer, they (hypocrites) do not really believe unless they make you (O Messenger) a judge in all their disagreements (Shajar), then find no hesitation in their hearts in accepting your judgment, and submit with full submission.

2- «Shajarat Al Melouna» (The cursed tree)!
It's obvious that trees don't have will to be termed as blessed or «cursed»! Cursed (ones) must have choice and be responsible.
«LaNat (Curse/ Withdrawal): in Arabic it means deprivation from God's mercy. A person, who by his wrong doings has distanced himself from other people or angels, is deprived of God's mercy and is under the curse of God.»
Those who are cursed are mentioned many times in the Quran which they all belong to «the evil network of Shirk» and Iblees is their leader, many times they are mentioned to be cursed for long terms (Chapter 4 verse 118, valley of rocks 35, and Saad 87).
Shirk grows it's «roots» in about everything that got to do with (excessive) love of 'wealth' (that they don't regard the rights of God and other people) and following one's vain and low desires and lust, builds a «body» from playing god / being tyrant and commit excess(cross the limits and claim to be self-sufficient), take «branches and leaves» with those who are affected of tyranny, and begs «fruits and crops» with acts of a tyrannical polytheistic organizations.
God has shown its prophet in a vision, the future 'trial' of (his) nation which will come true (shortly) after his death. Interpreters say this «cursed tree» is that dynasty of Bani Omayad which ruled 83 years over prophet's nation.
However, that's only a particular example in a specific time and space, and the matter addressed in the verse is much wider.
Take a look, chapter the night journey verse 60 -«And lo! We said unto thee, [O Prophet:] "Behold, thy Sustainer encompasses all mankind: and the vision which We have shown thee as also the(introduction of) tree cursed in this Qur´an - shall be but a trial for men . NowWe convey a warning to them: but [if they are bent on denying the truth,] this [warning] only increases their gross, overweening arrogance." »

3- «Memnoa» (The banned tree)!
Much has been related and said about the «forbidden tree» which adam and its spouse ate from. Some said it was apple and others have said it to be wheat; our father sold the heaven for few wheats, I would not be a man(of my father) if I don't sell it for barley!
It appears that the tree which Adam and its spouse were banned from getting near was that «network of Shirk» and disobedience of God with deception of Satan which is source of every deviation.
In six verses of the Quran (2:35, 7:19-22, Taha 120) it has been addressed. Below is the most detailed of them all.
The heights of knowledge, from verse 19 till 23: «"O Adam! Dwell, you and your spouse, in the Garden and eat from whatever you may wish; but do not approach this one TREE (network), lest you become wrongdoers." Then Satan deceived them in order to reveal their imperfections and fallibility that was hidden from them. He said, "Your Sustainer forbade this TREE lest you become angels or become immortals." And he swore to both, Adam and its spouse, "I am a sincere advisor to you." So by deceit he brought about their (first) downfall. They tasted of the TREE. Soon their imperfections became obvious to them and they tried to conceal them with «LEAVES» from the garden. Then came a reminder from their Sustainer, "Did I not forbid you that tree and tell you that Satan is your open enemy?" They said, "Our Sustainer! We have wronged ourselves. Unless You forgive us and have mercy on us, we will certainly be lost." »

4- «Shajarat Mobarakeh» The blessed tree of oneness (of God)!
In the face of the tree or network of Shirk, stands the tree of oneness which called Moses from the blessed right (auspicious) side of highs and drew him near to itself.
In the following it's more likely that most of these words have been used metaphorically:
Chapter histories (28), verse 30- «But when he came close to it, he was called from the right side of the valley in the blessed field, from the tree, "O Moses! Certainly, I am God, the Sustainer of the Worlds."»
It's more interesting that in chapter The Light (Al-Noor) in describing the example of God as being the light of the all the universe, a blessed tree has been mentioned which indicates nothing but metaphorical description of the oneness network :
24:35: «God is the Light of the heavens and earth. The example of His Light is that of a lamp that is placed inside a niche enclosed in glass that shines like a radiant star. This lamp is kindled from a BLESSED TREE (from network of oneness)- olive - neither of the East nor of the West. Its light issues forth in all directions. The oil glows by itself even though no fire has touched it. Light upon Light. God guides to His Light anyone who seeks guidance. And God sets forth allegories for mankind. God is Knower of all things.»

5- «Zaqom» The bitter tree!
In three verse «the bitter tree» has been mentioned, which is the opposite of what «people of right(hand)» and «the sincere and purified servants of God» will be enjoying from; it's for those Satan like people which eat orphan's money unjustly (4:10) and for those lazy clerics who gain from religion and eating people's money and selling them religious stories - spiritual frauds (2:174), in way of example, they feed their their bellies and their very cells fire which will become intense in future ! Although they think eating people's money effortlessly is sweet, yet in reality they are making their own personality fat from the bitter tree (Shajarat al Zaqoom) which indeed is like taking bitter bites with hardship and above it boiling water !
Worthy of this ending from the these verse are: unjust and wayward deniers and those who take their desire as their lord and selfish and fanatics (Aseem-أثيم) which is clear from the humiliating address «Taste! You considered yourself so mighty, so noble.» that they are lords of worldly might and staff of honor, in example they are the triangle of «Money and power and fraud or capitalism and despotism and priesthood».
Moreover, the word «Betun-bellies» which has been repeated three times in the intended verses is worth considering and looking into. «Baten- inside» is always comes opposite of what's «apparent - Zaher», therefore Betun in addition to meaning bellies, it also refers to other metaphorical Betun(bellies) in humans psyche which is getting stuffed from the tree of Zaqum(bitter) and burns in its essence .
The word «R'as - head» which is repeated two times in below verses «رُءُوسُ الشَّيَاطِينِ - فَوْقَ رَأْسِهِ مِنْ عَذَابِ الْحَمِيمِ» - «over his head the anguish of burning despair! - heads of Satans» shows the point and that it refers to despot heads / unjust leaders of society which metaphorically retribution is pouring above their head!
Springing of the bitter tree in the very bottom / heart of blazing fire 37:64(for, behold, it is a tree that grows in the very heart of the blazing fire) also contains subtle sign, interpreters understand «Asle Jaheem - اصل جهيم» as bottom of hell, however «Asl- اصل» is the real/main body/trunk of «the tree» (Ibrahim : 24) which is a symbol of the body of oneness and good word or Shirk and bad word of tyrants in societies. Now take a look at the three pieces regarding the bitter tree and the issues related to it:
56:51-53 «Then you, O You that go wrong and deny the truth! You will eat from the tree of bitter. Then you will fill your bellies with it.»
37:62-67«Is this better as a welcome, or the tree of bitter? We have appointed it as a torment/trial for the oppressors. It is a tree that springs in the body of the Blazing Fire. Its growth is like Satan heads. From it they must eat, and fill their bellies with it. Above all this they have a drink of boiling water (of despair).»
44:43-46 «The tree of bitter. It (will be) the food of one who hampered progress of the 'self'. Like molten brass will it boil in the belly. As the boiling of hot water, burning despair.»

6- Galaxies network
First seven verses of chapter «Al-Rahman», seven topics have been mentioned [Rahman(merciful over all - general mercy of God i.e sustaining the world), joining (of elements of the universe), Humans, mode of expression, programming (computation), prostration (total submission to laws), balance)], in the midst of this grouping beside prostration of the sun and the moon and stars and spreading of heavens and balance in between these it talks about prostration of «The tree - Shajar». Taking in consideration the harmony of these subjects it looks like tree here in this verse, points to network of stars galaxies I.e «galaxy» (God knows best).

Rahman 1-7: Ar-Rahman, the Beneficent, the Instant Source of all mercy and Kindness. He is the One Who has made known (guided) and taught Quran - the joining(of elements(1)] (Then) He has created the human being (and taken care of his mental and physical needs). He has distinguished him with the ability to clearly express his feelings and thoughts.
The sun and the moon run by a mathematical design. The stars and the trees all adore Him (and follow His laws). The sky (atmosphere) He has raised high, and He has kept perfect balance in the Universe.»

B) Tasting and Eating from the Tree!

What God advised Adam and its spouse, was that not getting near to the tree (لا تَقْرَبَا هَٰذِهِ الشَّجَرَةَ), however they not only approached it but they tasted (Zaqu) and ate from it (Akela menha). «Tasting» (Zaeaqa- ذائقه) in the Quran very few times has been used as its normal meaning and 63 usage of this word in the Quran most of the times has been metaphorical, like: tasting retribution/mercy/outcome of one's doings / death/ bad / smite / clothes of hunger and fear / what you've done and...

C) Approaching the Tree!

God has used in the Quran the Commad of "don't get near" for other matters as well which we can deduct more then just getting closer in space like in getting near to shameful deeds, wealth of orphan, adultery, intoxication, limits set by God and ....
The cattle 151 and 152 - don't come near immodest or indecent deeds .... don't come near orphan's wealth; Isra 32 - and don't come near adultery; Nesa 43 - don't come near Salat while intoxicated; 2:187-theses are bounds set by God so don't come near them , and ...
Akel (eating) also many times has been used as its metaphorical meaning, like : eating orphan's money, people's wealth, usury, inheritance, bribe and the likes of which has the meaning of consuming and spending.
Eating orphan's (those who have no one) wealth in the Quran has been described as filling one's belly with fire which become intense soon: 4:10 - Those who unjustly consume the wealth of orphans, are filling their bellies with fire and will be exposed to burning Flame.
Also clerics and self proclaimed authorities of religion who sell religious teachings for a trivial gain and eating people's money are described as eating fire in their bellies : 2:174 - Those who conceal the Book of God, and barter it away for a trifling gain, they eat into their bellies nothing but fire. God will not even address them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He make their own 'self' grow. Theirs will be an awful suffering. [Those who conceal the Book = The ones who start making their own lists of the lawful and unlawful, and thus, usurp the Divine Right of law-making. ]
Those who eat orphans and other people's wealth think of it to be sweet and easy, but actually they fill their very being with something which in the language of the Quran from its intensity of bitterness is called «Zaqum-زقوم»:
«Is this better as a welcome, or the tree of bitter? We have appointed it as a torment/trial for the oppressors. It is a tree that springs in the body of the Blazing Fire. Its growth is like Satan heads. From it they must eat, and fill their bellies with it. Above all this they have a drink of boiling water (of despair). »
Then you, O You that go wrong and deny the truth! You will eat from the tree of bitter. Then you will fill your bellies with it.
With the above details and descriptions can we not take tasting and eating from the tree of garden to mean disobedience of God and doing bad things?

D) Becoming Conscious of Nakedness!

It's related in stories that as Adam and its spouse are from the tree, they became aware of their nakedness and tried to cover it with the leaves from the tree of the garden.
Yes, at first look it appears to be implying like the above story when you scan the verses a quick scan, but with a full skimming of its metaphorical meaning of the words, a deeper understanding from this incident comes to surface. First of all, when they were settled in the garden God has told them that you'll never get hungry nor get naked(unsheltered) in there (20:118 - "Indeed, you are living the life of Paradise - where you are guaranteed never to go hungry, nor go naked."
Secondly, children of Adam have been warned lest they don't get deceived by satan as he droves their forefathers from the garden and removed their clothes in order to reveal their imperfections for them:
O Children of Adam! Let not your selfish desires/Satan deceive you as it deceived your ancestors, caused them to lose their Paradise, and exposed their imperfections. A host of selfish and rebellious desires lurk within you. You can't even see them but these Satans see you and befriend those who do not believe (in higher values).
On the other hand, right in the previous verse of the above verse children of Adam have been addressed that «The clothes of Self-control / showing restraint / inner police is the best (of all clothes):
«O Children of Adam! We have provided you with garments to cover your bodies as well as to adorn you. The best garment for you to wear, in addition, is good conduct / self - control. (Your character decorates you inside out.) These are the verses of God that they must take to heart.»
Can't we now conclude after the above specification, that when Adam and its spouse become conscious of their nakedness after eating from the forbidden tree (bad usage of their will and committing injustice), to mean awareness of that their clothes of Taqwa(self -control) has been plucked / teared apart and sense of shame before their lord?

E) Manifestation of Evil!

Most people tend to picture that when Adam and its spouse ate from the tree their private parts came under light and most interpreters also used the word «awarat» regarding this matter, whereas the Quran used the word «Sawa'at» which points to something that when it appears is considered shameful and private parts is only one of the cases and the metaphorical usage / cases includes all those bad and shameful things. Take a look :
The heights of discernment / knowledge verses 20-27
«Then Satan deceived them in order to reveal their imperfections and fallibility(Sawa'at) to them... they tasted of the tree soon their imperfections (Sawa'at) became obvious to them and they tried to conceal them with leaves of the garden ...O CHILDREN of Adam! Indeed, We have bestowed upon you garments to cover your bodies(Sawa'at), and as a thing of beauty: but the garment of God-consciousness / self control is the best of all. ... O Children of Adam! Let not Satan / your selfish desires deceive you as it deceived your ancestors, caused them to lose their Paradise and exposed their imperfections(sawa'at) by removing their clothes(of self-control) ....»
They both ate of the Tree. This exposed the flaws [Sawa'at (in their character). They tried to hide them with the leaves of the garden. Thus did Adam-mankind disobeyed their Sustainer, and fell into error. [Sauaatuhuma = The vices in both, men and women = Erroneously translated as 'nakedness'. 2:34-39, 2:213, 7:11, 7:19-26 15:28-29, 17:61, 18:50, 38:72-73]

And in story of children of them
God then sent a raven scratching up the soil, to show him that he might have concealed and ignored the imperfections(Sawa'at) of his brother / show him how to hide his brother body(Sawa'at) . He said, "Oh, I failed even to be like this raven to conceal my brother's imperfections (sawa'at), (and hide his body under the ground)!" Then he became full of regrets. [Sauaat = Imperfections, faults. Uwaari Sawa'at = Conceal others' faults = Cover a naked body. 7:20-22]

It's very interesting as to why the Quran uses Sawa'at (fault/error/bad) referring to the dead body, when you think that his brother body was without life / energy and seeing it people would be ashamed and would be a proof against him and also it's smell would make people disgusted, therefore, it really is a fault(the dead body), then, what would happen if God's energy 'depart' from people by doing bad things for a while ? Would that not make them prone to become disgusting and make them ashamed of themselves? Can you now understand what Sawa'at means regarding the story of Adam?

F) Leave of the Garden!

Among the other metaphorical words in this story, is «leave of the garden - Waraq Al Janna» which is usually translated and imagined as leaves of the tree from the garden, but «Waraqa» to mean leave is only used one time in the Quran (The cattle 59) and it's metaphorical meaning is money or a price you must pay for making something.
The cave 19 ... Let one of you go with these «Waraq / money» to the town, and look for the best available food, and bring you some provisions. But let him exercise caution, and by no means make anyone aware of you."
Adam and its wife violate God's directions, now they just wanted to pay the price and to redeem their faults with doing some heavenly work. How? Through receiving and finding some some truths from their sustainer (lord): The Cow 37 -
Then Adam received Words of guidance from his Sustainer and He accepted his repentance. Certainly, He is the Acceptor of repentance, the Most Merciful.

G) Going Down from the Garden!

Usually it's imagined and understood that the fall of Adam from the garden, was a movement from paradise to the planet earth, although, this is the real meaning of falling down, but one can see the same word used four times in chapter The Cow the people of Moses who were not in paradise or any other place other then the planet earth. It talks about their desire to go to Egypt(city) from the desert and eat from every kinds, and the Quran calls this as Hubut; downgrade, coming lower in rank, change in condition(from better to hard one):

Chapter The Cow 61:
(At one stage you demanded Moses to provide you with a great variety of edibles, although you were living in the Sinai desert.) You said, "O Moses! We are weary of the same kind of food, so ask your Sustainer on our behalf to bring forth for us plant food such as herbs, cucumbers, garlic, lentils and onions." He said, "Would you exchange something superior (good) for something inferior? (Return to slavery for petty desires instead of achieving higher goals?) Go back / go down (Arabic: IHBiTu) in shame to Egypt and you will get what you demand." So, humiliation and misery were stamped upon them and they had to face God's requital. That was because they kept rejecting God's messages. And they persisted in opposing and even killing some Prophets against all right. They did all this, because they chose to rebel and went on transgressing.

God Knows Best!