Our Mother Hawwa (as): Women in the Qur’an and the Bible

Bismillahir rahmanir raheem

Our mother Hawwa (as) is a woman of great distinction, she was not only the first woman, she was the first wife, mother and woman to walk upon the Earth subhanAllah. She was the wife of Aadam (as), a man crafted by Allah swt himself with no mother and no father.

In both religious traditions, Hawwa or Eve, was created from he rib of Aadam (as). We also know Hawwa as being expelled from jannah (heaven) along with Aadam (as) but in some ways that’s where the similarities between he traditions end.

So first, let’s look at her story in the Bible.

Eve was created from the rib of Aadam (as) and presented to him as his wife as no other suitable mate was found for him amongst the creatures of heaven.

“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.” – Genesis 1 v23 (New International Version)

God made both Aadam (as) and Eve aware that there was one tree that they should not eat from or they will die. The serpent, Satan, then comes to them in the garden and tempts Eve to eat from the tree by telling her that if she does so, her eyes will be opened and she will become ‘like God’. Aadam (as) just happens to be standing there through the whole exchange and also eats from the fruit of the tree. Then, both of their eyes were ‘opened’ and they realise they’re naked. They immediately rush to cover themselves before God walks by taking a casual stroll through the Garden of Eden. God calls to them and Aadam (as) expresses that both him and Eve hid because they realised they were naked. Aadam (as) then goes on to blame Eve for giving him the fruit to eat from. God then turns to Eve and asks her what she was done, she then blames the serpent for misleading her. God then curses the serpent, Eve and then Aadam (as).

An interesting point I want to pick out here is when God is cursing Eve he makes her childbearing and birth difficult (the original sin), makes her desire for her husband and makes it a condition that he will rule over her. Aadam then names her Eve, God makes them some clothes and banishes them from the Garden of Eden.

Interesting story right?

So what about Islam? The backbone, or rather the rib, is pretty much the same.

“And Allah said: ‘O Mankind!  Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam) and from Him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women.’” Surah An-Nisa: 1

The Prophet (saw) often used the story of Hawwa’s creation to implore them to be gentle with women

“O Muslims!  I advise you to be gentle with women, for they are created from a rib, and the most crooked portion of the rib is its upper part.  If you try to straighten it, it will break, and if you leave it, it will remain crooked; so I urge you to take care of the women.” [Al-Bukhari]

Unlike the Bible, Shaytaan does not come to them in the form of the serpent but he whispers to them. Shaytaan whispered into the hearts of both Aadam (as) and Hawwa and made them preoccupied with their own thoughts rather than with their obedience to Allah swt subhanAllah, something we are guilty of every day and may Allah swt forgive us all.

The story again deviates from that told in the Bible and states

Then they both ate of that tree, and so their private parts appeared to them, and they began to stick on themselves the leaves from Paradise for their covering. Thus did Adam disobey his Lord, so he went astray. Then his Lord chose him, and turned to him with forgiveness and gave him guidance. – Surah Ta-Ha: 121-122 

Both Aadam and Hawwa were forgiven by Allah swt so the idea of the original sin does not exist in Islam. So that’s good news for us girls, we may feel like periods are a curse but they are the means that Allah swt has provided for us to contribute to the Ummah alhamdulillah!

Both Aadam (as) and Eve were responsible for being banished from the Garden as indicated from the above verse: the ‘blame game’ didn’t happen. This is an important message. Whole books have been written by philosophers about the original sin and how the woman is the devil for causing man to be expelled from the Garden. Islam puts that horrible notion to rest.

Although there are similarities between both accounts in the Bible and the Qur’an, the variations make all the difference. The difference between seeing our mother Hawwa as a temptress that helped to curse all men and women and seeing her as the first woman, the first mother, the first wife and an amazing woman of the Qur’an.

May Allah swt return us all back to Jannah and raise our stations, Ameen.

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