In the Beginning Man and Women were Equal

‘Surely We created humankind in the best stature’ Qur’an (95:4)

How does the Qur’an describe the creation of woman? Do the Qur’anic accounts of the process of the creation of humankind distinguish woman from man in such a way as to confine her potential to a single biologically determined role? Does it imply created inferiority? Despite the distinctions between the treatment of men and the treatment of women when the Qur’an discusses creation of humankind, I propose that there is no essential difference in the value attributed to women and men. There are no indications, therefore, that women have more or fewer limitations than men.

The Qur’an does not consider woman a type of man in the presentation of its major themes. Man and woman are two categories of the human species given the same or equal consideration and endowed with the same or equal potential. Neither is excluded in the principal purpose of the Book, which is to guide humankind towards recognition of and belief in certain truths. The Qur’an encourages all believers, male and female, to follow their belief with actions and for this it promises them a great reward. Thus, the Qur’an does not make a distinction between men and women in this creation, in the purpose of the Book, or in the reward it promises.

Creation and the Language of the Unseen

As With other matters of the Unseen the full details of creation are beyond human language and comprehension As Kenneth Burke suggests ‘Language is intrinsically unfitted to discuss the supernatural literally’. Words about God and the Unseen must be used analogically because these matters ‘transcend all symbol-systems’. {1} Yet, all we have with which to discuss these matters is the words of human language – the same words we use to discuss empirical matters.

The Qur’an says, ‘He it is Who has revealed unto you (Muhammad) the Scripture wherein are clear revelations. They are the substance of the Book – and others (which are) allegorical’ (3:7). The complete meaning of allegorical verses cannot be empirically determined. Every discussion of the Unseen involves the ineffable. Eventually it ends upon itself: a discussion about the words used to discuss that which is unattainable in language. Therefore, my discussion of the creation of woman and man in the Qur’an is primarily a discussion of language.

Creation of the First Parents

All the Qur’anic accounts of the creation of humankind begin with the original parents: ‘Oh children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you as he caused your first parents to go forth from the Garden.’ (7:27). We assume that our ‘first parents’ were like us. Indeed this assumption is well founded in all but the major consideration of this chapter: their creation. All human beings after these two were created ‘in the wombs of their mothers’. Serious implications have been drawn from the discussions, myths, and ideas about the creation of the first parents which have had lasting effects on attitudes concerning men and women. {2}

The Creation of Humankind

According to Maududi, {3} the entire process of human creation was in three steps:

1. The initiation of creation;
2. The formation or perfection; and
3. The bringing to life. He bases his analysis on verses like the following:

‘Just recall the time when your Lord said to the angels, ‘I am going to create a human of clay: when I perfect it in every way, and blow into it of my ruh,{4} all of you should bow down before it.’ (38:71-72). {5}

The Qur’an often uses some form of the word khalaqa {6} to refer to the first step in the creative process, the initiation of creation. However, khalaqa has also been used for the second step, for the creation of each and every human, and also for the creation of everything. {7} Each human is created. Everything is created.

The word sawwara – to ‘form’, ‘shape’, ‘design’ or ‘perfect’ – in this ‘case, to give human specifications, describes the second step in the creative process. ‘Perfection’ means that Allah formed humankind exactly as He wanted it to be. ‘Surely We created humankind in the best stature’ (95:4), ‘Allah it is Who … fashioned you, and perfected your shapes’ (40:64).

Allah demonstrates in the Qur’an that the form given to humankind is that form best suited to fulfil its vicegerency on earth. In addition, one characteristic of human creation is the two distinct but compatible genders. The two constitute a part of that which ‘perfects’ the human created form. Thus, the creation of the human form was a conscious decision by Allah – ‘Who gave everything He created the best form’ (32:7).

The third and final step in the creation of humankind is that step which elevates them above the rest of creation: the breathing of the Spirit of Allah (nafkhat al-ruh) into each human-male or female’s.

The Origins of Humankind

Wa min ayatihi an khalaqa-kum min nafsin wahidatin wa khalaqa min-ha zawj aha wa baththa minhuma rijalan kathiran wa nisa’an (4: 1).

And min His ayat (is this:) that He created You (humankind) min a single nafs, and created min (that nafs) its zawj , and from these two He spread (through the earth) countless men and women. (4:1).

The above verse {9} presents the basic elements in the Qur’anic version of the story of the origins of humankind, that story commonly understood as the creation of Adam and Eve. To aid our understanding, we will look at these four key terms: ayat, min, nafs and zawj . {10}


An ayah (pl. ayat) is ‘a sign’ which indicates something beyond itself.

Just as a waymark must not cause a traveller to rivet his eyes on itself, but direct him towards a certain place which is the real destination of his travel, so every phenomenon, instead of absorbing our attention as a natural phenomenon, and transfixing it immoveably to itself, should act always in such a way that our attention be directed towards something beyond it. {11}

A tree, in common understanding, is only a tree. In true understanding, a tree is an ayah which reflects the presence of Allah. A tree, and other phenomena of nature, are implicit ayat: empirical signs which can be perceived by humankind. The known world – the Qur’anic (‘alam al-shahadah) ‘Seen’ world-is made of implicit or non-linguistic ayat (2:164, 3:190), including our own creation (51:49).

Explicit ayat are linguistic: verbal symbols or words. In addition to reiterating the significance of the implicit, non-verbal or conceptual ayat of the known world, words of revelation testify to specific information about the realm of the Unseen world (‘alam al-ghayb). Explicit ayat which give information about the Unseen cannot be discovered or fully perceived by ordinary human faculties. {12} They are only known through revelation. The explicit or linguistic ayat of revelation are irrevocably linked with creation. {13} In the Qur’an, both linguistic and non-linguistic ayat are considered Divine {l4} and both are intended to help complete the purpose of the Book, i.e. to provide guidance.


Min primarily has two functions, in Arabic. It can be used for the English preposition ‘from’ to imply the extraction of a thing from other thing(s). It can also be used to imply ‘of the same nature as’. Each usage of min in the above verse (4:1) has been interpreted with one or both of these two meanings which yield varying results.

For example, in al-Zamakhshari’s commentary, the verse means that humankind was created in/of the same type as a single nafs, and that the zawj of that nafs was taken from that nafs. He uses the Biblical version to substantiate his opinion that the zawj was extracted from the nafs. In addition, other verses on this subject (7:189, 39:6) state that Allah ja’ala from the nafs its zawj. Ja’ala, which means ‘to create something from another thing’, gives min the meaning ‘from’, i.e. extraction. This meaning of min gives rise to the idea that the first created being (taken to be a male person) was complete, perfect and superior. The second created being (a woman) was not his equal, because she was taken out of the whole, and therefore, derivative and less than it.

When min is taken to mean ‘in/of the same type’ for both of its occurrences in this verse, it is often because of the verses in the Qur’an which use the same formula with the plurals of nafs (anfus) and zawj  (azwaj), for example, 16:82 and 42:11: ‘and Allah made ja’ala (azwaj)  for you from (min) your anfus’; 30:21: ‘and among His ayat is this: that He created azwaj  for you from your anfus, to live with tranquilly.’ These are then interpreted to mean ‘your mates are the same type or kind as you are’.

Finally, English translations choose the word ‘from’ for each of the above occurrences of min, thus suggesting another possibility. However, these interpretations of min do not clarify the meaning of the verse’s most significant terms, nafs and zawj .


The term nafs has both a common and a technical usage. Although the common usage of nafs translates as ‘self’, and its plural, anfus, as ‘selves’, it is never used in the Qur’an with reference to any created self other than humankind. As for the technical usage in the Qur’an, nafs refers to the common origin of all humankind. Despite the accidental consequence of spreading throughout the earth and forming a variety of nations, tribes and peoples with various languages and of various colours, we all have the same single origin. {15}

Grammatically, nafs is feminine, taking the corresponding feminine adjectival and verbal antecedents. Conceptually, nafs is neither masculine nor feminine, forming, as it does, an essential part of each being, male or female. For this reason it can (and does) also have masculine antecedents.

The term nafs, which later in Islamic philosophy and Sufism came to mean soul as a substance separate from the body, in the Qur’an means mostly ‘himself’ or ‘herself’ and, in the plural, ‘themselves’, while in some contexts it means ‘person’ or the ‘inner person’, Le. the living reality of man-but not separate from or exclusive of the body. In fact, it is body with a certain life-and-intelligence center that constitutes the inner identity or personality of man. {16}

In the Qur’anic account of creation, Allah never planned to begin the creation of humankind with a male person; nor does it ever refer to the origins of the human race with Adam. {17} It does not even state that Allah began the creation of humankind with the nafs of Adam, the man. This omission is noteworthy because the Qur’anic version of the creation of humankind is not expressed in gender terms.


The other term of significance in verse (4:1) is zawj. As a common term, zawj  is used in the Qur’an to mean ‘mate’, ‘spouse’, or ‘group’, and its plural, azwaj , is used to indicate ‘spouses’, This is the term used in referring to the second part in the creation of humankind, whom we have come to accept as Eve, the female of the original parents. However, grammatically zawj is masculine, taking the corresponding masculine adjectival and verbal antecedents. Conceptually, it also is neither masculine nor feminine, {18} and is used in the Qur’an for plants (55:52) and animals (11:40), in addition to humans.

We know even less about the creation of this zawj than we know about the creation of the original nafs. The Qur’an states only two things about its creation: that it is min the first nafs, and is zawj in relation to that nafs (4:1, 7:189, 39:6). It is perhaps this scarcity of detail that has caused Qur’anic commentators, like al-Zamakhshari, and other Muslim scholars to rely on Biblical accounts which state that Eve was extracted from (min) the rib or side of Adam. {19}

The absence of detail in the Qur’an indicates one or more of the following:

1. The reader already has enough details about a story to understand it and other details unnecessary – even redundant;
2. These details are unimportant to the point which the Qur’an is making at the particular time;
3. The Qur’an is referring to something Unseen, for which human language is already deficient.

Keeping these three reasons in mind, I reiterate that the Qur’an gives very little information about this primal zawj.

The Dualism of the Creation

I am interested in the Qur’anic use of zawj as one in a necessary or contingent ‘pair’ essential to the Qur’anic accounts of creation: {20} everything in creation is paired. ‘And of all things We have create (zawjayn) pairs, perhaps you [will all] reflect [on this fact].’ (51:49). Dualism becomes a necessary characteristic of created things. {21}

In this usage, a pair is made of two co-existing forms of a single reality, with some distinctions in nature, characteristics and functions, but two congruent- parts formed to fit together as whole. ‘Each member of the pair presupposes the other semantically and stands on the very basis of this correlation. {22} A man is only ‘husband’ in reference to a ‘wife’. The existence of one in such pair is contingent upon the other in our known world. These are the Qur’anic pairs. Night flows into day; the male is irrevocably linked with the female {23} as man is compatibly linked with woman.

With regard to creation, ‘everything created in pairs’ means that the counterpart of each created thing is part of the plan of that thing. ‘Glory be to Him Who created all the azwaj, of that which the earth grows, and of their own nafs, and of that which they not.’ (36:36). Each created thing is contingent upon its zawj. In the contingency, the creation of both the original parents is irrevocably and primordially linked; thus, the two are equally essential.

There is ample Qur’anic support for the contention that these, pairs in creation are equally essential: ‘And all things we have created by pairs (zawjayn)’ (51:49). ‘He Who created all the azwaj’ (43:12). ‘Glory be to (Him) Who created all the azwaj: of that which the earth grows, and of their own [human] anfus, and of the which they know not!’ (36:36). The Qur’an first establishes that all created things are paired, then reinforces this mutual necessity b depicting theoretical pairs in the rest of creation. {24}

Although the Qur’an establishes that humankind was intentionally created in the male/female pair – ‘Allah created you from dust, then from a little fluid [the sperm-drop], then He made you pairs’ (35:11), and ‘Verily He has created the (two) spouses (zawjayn) male and female’ (53:45) – and distinguishes between them – ‘the male is not like female’ (3:36) – it does not attribute explicit characteristics to either one or the other, exclusively.

It is obvious that the child-bearing function belongs with the female. ‘Allah created you from dust, then from a little fluid [the sperm-drop], then He made you pairs. No female bears or bring forth except with His knowledge.’ (35:11-12). ‘He It is Who did create you from/of a single nafs, and from of it did make its zawj, so that he might take rest in her. And when he [a man] covered her (a woman), she bore a light burden’ (7:189). {25} ‘Allah knows what every female bears in her womb’ (13:8). Although the Qur’an illustrates explicitly the correlation between the female and bearing children, all other functions connected with child care and rearing, if mentioned at all in the Qur’an, {26} are never described as essential created characteristics of the female. Thus, the Qur’anic reference is restricted to the biological function of the mother-not the psychological and cultural perceptions of ‘mothering’.

Femininity and masculinity are not created characteristics imprinted into the very primordial nature of female and male persons, neither are they concepts the Qur’an discusses or alludes to. They are defined characteristics applied to female and male persons respectively on the basis of culturally determined factors of how each gender should function. They have figured very strongly in interpretation of the Qur’an without explicit Qur’anic substantiation of their implications. {27}

In the Qur’an, the essential contingent male/female pairs in humankind function on a physical, social and moral level. Just as the essential male/female is contingent, so, too, are the physical beings; there is a tranquil link between the human pair, man and woman: ‘Among His signs is this: that He created azwaj for you from your own anfus so that you may find rest in them’ (30:21). Man is intended as a comfort to woman; woman is intended as a comfort to man. This statement does not make it a reality. However, the Qur’an clearly depicts a necessary link between the functional members of each gender, like an echo of the contingency between the essential pairs of all created things. {28}

In conclusion, the following verse depicts the structure of the created social order:

‘O Mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single nafs, and from it created its zawj , and from that pair spread abroad [over the earth] a multitude of men and women.’ (4:1).

It establishes the origin of all humankind as a single nafs, which is part of a contingent-pair system: that nafs and its zawj . In practical terms, this essential pair is man and woman. In this verse, the use of the words ‘men’ and ‘women’ means that the physical manifestations of the essential paired reality are multiplied and ‘spread abroad [over the earth]’. The earth is inhabited by many peoples, nations, and cultures. This verse transcends not only time but space as well.

The Events in the Garden

One other gender consideration with regard to the creation of humankind centres on the revelation about the Garden of Eden. The original parents are the two essential characters in the story of the forbidden tree. The third character, Satan, is significant in his interactions with these two. Through this scenario, the Qur’an demonstrates the following concepts:

1. Fundamental guidance in the Qur’anic scheme;
2. Temptation and deception which hinder humankind’s efforts;
3. Divine forgiveness; and finally,
4. Individual responsibility.

Therefore these events must be reviewed in relation to these concepts.

It is clear from Qur’anic descriptions that the Garden was never intended as the dwelling place of the human species. Part of Allah’s original plan in the creation of humankind was for man to function as a khalifah (trustee) on earth. {29} In the Garden, humankind had no need to struggle for the basic necessities of life: food, clothing, and shelter. ‘It is (vouchsafed) unto you that you hunger not therein, neither are you naked, And you thirst not therein nor are you exposed to the sun’s heat.’ (20:118-19).

However, in the Garden, and on earth, humankind share the same test: the choice between obedience and disobedience. Allah Warns Adam and Eve against approaching one of the trees in the Garden. The Qur’an does not give special attributes to the tree itself: it is merely a symbol of the test.

After the creation of Adam and Eve, Satan shows his true nature by not bowing when ordered to by Allah. He is arrogant and wilfully disobedient. At that time, the original parents-and in effect humankind {30} -are warned against Satan. ‘He is an enemy to you’ (7:22; 20:117; 12:5; and others). Failure to remain cognizant of this fact can cause one to fail at the test of obedience and ultimately can result in following Satan to the chastisement of Hell. When Satan approaches the original parents, ‘he said: “Your Lord forbade you from this tree only lest you should become angels or become of the immortals,” And he swore to them (saying): ‘Lo! I am a sincere advisor to you [both].’ Thus did he lead them on with guile’ (7:21). In the Qur’an, the nature of Satan’s temptation of the original parents remains important: when Satan tempts you, he comes disguised as your true friend and might even suggest to you something for your own good. In fact, the offer he made to Adam and Eve was so great that they failed to remember the warning against him that they had been given. They failed to remember Allah’s admonition and approached the tree.

Upon recognition of the error that they had made, the original parents repented and asked for forgiveness (7:23). Their Lord not only accepted their repentance and forgave them, He demonstrated I a very special feature of Himself mercy and grace. He extended to them, and to humankind at large, the explicit guidance-revelation. This story ends with this moral: any human might disobey through forgetfulness, the general nature of human weakness, and the temptations of Satan, but he who recognizes his error, repents, and asks for forgiveness, can and will be forgiven.

Moreover, guidance is always available to humankind to remind them of their commitment to Allah and the guile of Satan, the enemy. This is a special mercy from their Lord. However, whoever disobeys through arrogance and intentional rebellion has been promised due punishment and eternal damnation. He is like Satan, who disobeyed and persisted in his arrogant, disobedient ways.

The story emphasizes that human beings are susceptible to Satan’s temptation. Under such temptation, they are prone to forget the agreements they have made with the Creator (whether a specific agreement as in this case, to stay away from the tree, or a general agreement, as with all humankind, to remain servants true to the cause of righteousness), and as a consequence of forgetting, to disobey. The story reminds humankind in explicit terms that such forgetting can be forgiven.

It is noteworthy that, with one exception, the Qur’an always uses the Arabic dual form to tell how Satan tempted both Adam and Eve and now they both disobeyed. In maintaining the dual form, the Qur’an overcomes the negative Greco-Roman and Biblical Judaic implications that woman was the cause of evil and damnation. {31} Moreover, it signifies the Qur’anic emphasis on the individual responsibility: ‘… God does not change the situation of a people until they change it themselves (anfus)’ (13:11, 8:53), i.e. unless humans, individually and collectively, take the initiative, there can be no change for better or worse. ‘The Qur’an states repeatedly that every man and woman individually and every people collectively are alone responsible for what they do.’ {32}

The one exception to the Qur’anic use of the dual form to refer to the temptation and disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden singles out Adam:

And verily We made a covenant of old with Adam, but he forgot, and We found no constancy in him. . . . And the devil whispered to him saying: ‘Oh Adam! Shall I show you the tree of immortality and power that does not waste away?’ Then the two of them (Adam and his wife) ate of the fruit (of the forbidden tree)… And Adam disobeyed his Lord, so went astray (20: 115-21).

This passage comes after some verses which refer to the impatience of the Prophet for the Qur’anic revelation. The Prophet used to try to memorize the verses as they were revealed for fear of forgetting. However, the Prophet need not have worried. Here, in the story of Adam, the point of forgetfulness is mentioned. It is Satan who seduces man to forget. Allah forgives Adam, accepts his repentance and gives him guidance. This reveals Allah’s mercy and His guardianship over his servants and over the guidance. Adam is isolated in these verses because of a particular point that is being made. This is an example of the omission of details in the Qur’an. Nevertheless, this much is clear: woman is never singled out as the initiator or temptress of evil.


The Qur’anic account of the creation of humankind relates to other themes in the overall Qur’anic Weltanschauung(world view): tawhid, guidance, individual moral responsibility and equality. For example, the phenomenon of pairs in creation supports the major Qur’anic principle of tawhid: the unicity of Allah. The Qur’an states explicitly that ‘no, thing is like Him’ (42:11). Philosophically, since all created things are paired, He who is not created is not paired: the Creator is One.

The Qur’anic version of human creation establishes a special link between the Creator, Allah, and the created, humankind. That link is the basis for the existence of the Qur’an and for the guidance which is connected to the creation. At the moment Adam came to earth, the basis of the relationship established between the Creator and His created human beings was completed through guidance or revelation. ‘He said, “Go down hence (Satan and humankind), both of you, one of you a foe unto the other. But if there come unto you from Me a guidance, then whoever follows My guidance, he will not go astray nor come to grief” (20:123).

The unique and dynamic relationship between the Creator and His creature is also represented in the ruh of Allah which is blown into each being, male and female. Both the ruh and the guidance aid in the struggle to pass the test on earth, to resist Satan’s temptation and to conclude in an eternal happiness.

Although the male and female are essential contingent characters in the creation of humankind, no specific cultural functions or roles are defined at the moment of creation. At that moment, Allah defines certain traits universal to all humans and not specific to one particular gender nor to any particular people from any particular place or time. The divine ayat, in both their words of revelation and empirical forms in nature, are available to all. The empirical ayat can be perceived by every person anywhere and at any time. The specific ayat which Allah has revealed to a chosen few at particular times under particular circumstances are meant for all.

The Qur’anic version of the story of the Garden signifies individual responsibility. The nafs represents that individuality. Therefore, whatever good is performed is reflected on to that nafs and whatever bad is performed has its consequences on that nafs. {33}

The Qur’anic account of the creation of humankind is important, above all, because it points out that all humans share a single point of origin. That point is represented in the Qur’anic accounts of creation by its use of the term nafs. Just as we have one point of origin, so do we also have one destination: from one to many and back to one again. What remains to be seen then is the Qur’anic treatment of the dynamics involved in the interactions between the many.

Chapter 1 from ‘Qur’an and Woman’ by Amina Wadud


1. Kenneth Burke, The Rhetoric of Religion (Boston: Beacon Press, 1961), p. 14,

2. Most important of which is the assumption that human creation began with a
man: which gives all men a priori superiority over all women.

3. S. Abul A’la Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an, edited by A.A. Kamal and
translated by Ch. Muhammad Akbar, 6th edn., 13 vols. (Lahore, Pakistan: Islamic
publication Ltd., 1983), Vol. 4, p. 11.

4. pl. arwah, loosely translated as ‘spirit’, will be discussed below in greater detail.

5. Translation taken from his tafsir.

6. Khalaqa: to create, to bring something into existence from a state of non

7. Verse25:2- ‘Who created each and everything and then ordained its destiny.’

8. This is the closest that the Qur’anic version of creation comes to the Biblical
version of man in ‘God’s image’.

9. And others like it with similar wording and only a few slight changes. See verses 7:189 and 39:6. See also verse 6:98- ‘ansha’na-kum min nafsin wahidatin: We formed you (all) from a single nafs.’

10. Ayah pl. ayat, nafs pl. anfus and nufus, zawj  pl. azwaj . These words will be
transliterated throughout the text because of their distinctive untranslatable quality.
They will all be discussed in detail in this section.

11. Toshihiko Izutsu, God and Man in the Koran: Semantics of the Koranic
Weltanschauung (Tokyo: The Keio Institute of Culture and Linguistic Studies,
1964), p. 134.

12. This is why early Muslim philosophers distinguished revealed knowledge
from empirical knowledge.

13. See verses 87:3, 20:50, and 7:29-30. More importantly, Adam becomes the
first Prophet, carrier of the explicit ayat. Guidance is promised to humankind and
when it becomes lost, obscured, or corrupted over time, it is revitalized. Hence,
with Adam begins the tradition of prophecy which continues until Muhammad,
who is given the explicit ayat in the form of the Qur’an, which remains intact as
the legacy of revelation for all who come after.

14. There are numerous verses which start ‘And among His ayat …’ and proceed to mention known phenomena of good and bad merit as well as some Unknown phenomena.

15. Verses 4:1 and 49:13.

16. Fazlur Rahman, Major Themes in the Qur’an (Chicago and Minneapolis:
Bibliotheca Islamica, 1980), p. 112.

17. See also Muhammad Ahmad Khalaf-Allah, Al-Fann al-Qasasiji ai-Qur’an al Karim (Cairo: Maktab al-Anjali Masriyyah, 1965), p. 185, where he discusses the Qur’an’s reasons for not using the term ‘Adam’ to discuss the origins of humanity.

18. See verses 4:20 and 2:102, where zawj is used to indicate females, and 2:230
and 58:1, where it is used to indicate males.

19. Not to be overlooked, however, is a similar story in ahadith of which have a single link in their isnad, thus diminishing their strength. See Riffat Hassan, ‘Made from Adam’s Rib: The Woman’s Creation Question’, Al-Mushir Theological Journal of the Christian Study Centre, Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Autumn 1985, pp. 124-56 for a detailed analysis of these.

20. It is also important to the Qur’anic account of the Hereafter and will be discussed in Chapter 3.

21. See Qutb, Vol. 2, p. 648.

22. Izutsu, God and Man, p. 85.

23. ‘And that He created the two spouses (zawjayn), the male and the female.'(53:45).

24. For example, ‘Glory be to Him Who created all the sexual pairs, of that which
the earth grows, and of themselves, and of that which they know not!’ (36:36).

25. See also verses 13:8, 31:14, and 41:47 for other references to females and

26. This is discussed at greater length below.

27. See discussions below on how the actions of particular individuals have been interpreted as feminine, and therefore exclusively for females, especially when I discuss the Queen of Sheba and the two women of Madyan.

28. Qutb, Vol. 2, pp. 618-19, discusses the necessary functional link between
man and woman.

29. See verses 2:30 and 38:26, where Allah speaks to the angels and informs them
that He plans to create a khalifah (trustee) on the earth.

30. The significance of Adam as a metaphorical representative of humankind stems from verses 38:71-2. The creation of the first nafs establishes the existence of the entire human race. Each being after Adam must have a nafs. Thus Adam was created as the basic human. Much of what we must understand about human qualities the Qur’an demonstrates in a rudimentary- form with Adam: creation, trusteeship, test of this world, the role of Satan, guidance, obedience to Allah.

31. For an excellent review of this dilemma, see Alvin J. Schmidt, Veiled and Silenced, Chapter 3: Woman as ‘Evil’, pp. 39-68.

32. Rahman, Major Themes in the Qur’an, p. 19.

33. As is continually repeated in the Qur’an, for example: verses 10:108,27:40, 29:6,31:12,35:18,41:47, and 48:10, among others. When I discuss the equity of recompense in Chapter 3, I will also review this in greater detail.