Original Research

‘Adam’s Istifā’ in Qur’an and human evolution

Farzaneh R. Mashhadi
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 1 | a5795 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i1.5795 | © 2020 Farzaneh Rohanimashhadi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 August 2019 | Published: 18 June 2020

About the author(s)

Farzaneh R. Mashhadi, Qur’an Research Institute, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran


Qur’an states about ‘Adam’s Istifā’ or selection of Adam over all the people of the world, along with Noah, Āl-e-Imrān and Āl-e-Ibrāhim. The commentators have interpreted the ‘Istifā’ as ‘God’s selection’. If Adam is the first human to step into the world, what does God mean from ‘his selection over all the people of the world’? The followers of the evolutionary reading of the text of the Qur’an use this verse and determine that ‘Adam’ is the chosen person amongst human beings in his time, but some commentators have criticised this to accept the other verses that say ‘Adam is the father of all human beings’, and they believe that Adam was created without parents. This study reviewed the collection of verses of human creation, based on three principles: the consistency of the Qur’an, near synonymy and the Qur’anic truth. The conclusions are: The Qur’anic concept of the ‘Adam’s Istifā’ leads to his creation without the affiliation of the previous generations. Such interpretation is confirmed by the system of Qur’anic verses. Based on Qur’anic concepts of the Bashar, Insān and Rūh, Adam is an advanced Bashar which is named Insān, who is gifted the Rūh, and modern humans are all from his generation.


Adam; Istifā; Nafs [soul]; Rūḥ [spirit]; creation; theory of evolution; scientific interpretation of the Qur’an


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