Prophet Muhammad SAW stated that he was the last brick in the House of Prophethood. If we imagine each brick represents one prophet, then about 124 thousand bricks were used to make this house.
Furthermore, if we imagine a house of bricks, then we can see that some bricks may be bigger, more prominent and more shining than the others. But all bricks are important. The absence of any of those 124 thousand bricks would make the house incomplete. Likewise with the prophets. Some prophets are more shining and more prominent while others are more obscure.
Of those 124 thousand prophets, 25 of them are very special as they are specifically mentioned by names in the Quran. And of all the prophets, five are made most prominent. These are the prophets that Allah singled them out as the Most Resolute Prophets (ulul azmi).
Some prophets are more prominent than others in their own way. Prophet Noah (Nabi Nuh) is special for being noted as the Father of Nations. Prophet Abraham as the Father of Prophets. Prophet Moses (Nabi Musa) as the Founder of Judaism. Prophet Solomon (Nabi Sulaiman) as the prophet who can communicate with animals and can command the genies (jinn).
In this episode, let’s briefly focus on Prophet Adam AS. Prophet Adam is special because he was the first prophet and also the first man. He was the father of mankind. All other prophets, and in fact all human beings, come from him. He was the first brick in the House of Prophethood. All other bricks are actually made, fashioned or designed after him.
Unlike all other human beings, he was not born but created. So those who claim that Jesus Christ is the Son of God because he was born without the father, do not seem to understand that, if such is the criteria to be the Son of God, then Prophet Adam is more qualified.
Prophet Adam is more qualified not only because he did not have father or mother, but he was specially created by Allah. Jesus Christ at least had a mother. And he was born, not created.
When was he created? Scholars say around 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. But only God knows best.
In Hebrew (Ibrani), Adam means “human being,” or “man.” This name is fitting since he is the first mankind. Prophet Adam is significant in the bricks of prophethood in at least three aspects.
First, the purpose of human creation itself.
Why was mankind created? Allah says in the Quran to be the khalifah/vicegerent on earth. Khalifah or vicegerent means someone who acts on behalf of other. In short, a representative. So Allah made Adam to be His representative on earth.
But why mankind? Why not angels. Angels are lofty creature. They make no wrong. Why not genies. Genies have bigger appetite. Why not animals. Animals are stronger. Why not mountains. Mountains are bigger.
Because, to fulfill the role as a vicegerent of God, that creature must have some godlike qualities such as free-will, creativity, drive or motivation and the ability to understand and make things. Angels are lofty creatures, but they have no free will on their own, which means that they would not do anything on their own desire. Animals have drives and desires and they are stronger, but they are not bestowed with creativity or ability to understand beyond their limited scope. Genies resemble human beings in terms of intellect and desires, but they are made from fire and do not belong to material world.
Only human beings, therefore, have the required characteristics.
When Allah communicated His intention to make Adam to angels, they asked why Allah wanted to make a creature that will create mischief on earth. Allah replied: I know what you do not know. To illustrate His point, Allah asked angels to name certain things, but the angels replied that they only know what Allah had told them. Allah then called Adam and asked him to do the same, and Adam elaborated on those names one by one.
The significance of this story is that only man is capable of fulfilling the role as Allah’s vicegerent on earth. Man can fulfill this role because he has some godlike qualities as mentioned above. For instance, creating is God’s attribute. Allah creates things. Man also has some of this creative ability. The difference is that Allah creates from nothing, while human beings create something new from what Allah had created.
Throughout history, man has harnessed the nature to create things for the betterment of their lives. For example, man has no wings, but he is able to create a machine that flies; he cannot lift heavy stuff, but he has created tools to move mountains; he cannot run as fast as a leopard, but he has created a machine that run many times faster; he cannot swim like a fish, but he has created a ship and a submarine to swim in the ocean. Man even creates a machine that enables him to communicate long distance simultaneously.
No other creature can do what mankind can. Birds may build nest, but there is no improvement on their nest since the time immemorial. Yet mankind can make a house from as simple as a hut to a skyscraper.
In addition, humans also have intellect and soul that enable them to think and “interact” with God like the angels or the genies. Animals have brain but do not think. They act only on instinct. In short, only humans have God-like qualities that enable them to be the vicegerents on earth.
Secondly, the story of Adam is important because what angels predicted have come true. The angels had prophesied that man is the most destructive creature. The qualities that make man great are also used to create mischief. Man’s destructive nature shows its ugly head very soon in the history of mankind when Adam’s son, Cain (Qabil), killed his brother Abel (Habil), because of jealousy.
No other creature has caused greater bloodshed than man. Animals also cause bloodshed, but animals only kill for food, or for self-defense, or at most for survival. But man kills for many reasons, including for fun, for vengeance and for glory.
Because of this dual nature of man, angelic and satanic, Allah sent His prophets to teach and guide them to the correct way of life. In Arabic, man is called “insan” which also means forgetful. It means that man tends to forget who he is. To make mankind remember again, prophets have to be sent as reminders.
The third and last point about the important of Adam is that, because of their dual nature, good and bad, humans can and will make mistake. Adam and his wife Eve were allowed to do anything they like in the heaven where they first lived, except to eat fruits from one particular tree.
Then the Devil (Iblis) seduced them to eat the fruit of that tree. The Devil said it is the tree of life. The only reason God prohibits them to eat the fruit is so that they will not live forever. At first Adam and Eve resisted the temptation but at last they succumbed to it. So they ate it.
For disobeying God’s command, they were thrown out of heaven and had to live on earth. Having realized they made great error, they repented and were forgiven. What Adam showed here is not that we humans make mistakes, but that when we make mistake, we have to ask for forgiveness, and Allah will forgive.
This behavior is different from the behavior of the Devil or Iblis. When Adam was created, Allah commanded both the angels and the Devil to bow down to Adam. Angels quickly obeyed, but the Devil refused. The Devil refused because he thought he was better than Adam, since he was made of fire and Adam was only made of soil. Because of his refusal to obey Allah’s command and his refusal to admit mistake and repent, the Devil and all their kinds are condemned forever.
Here, the story of Prophet Adam illustrates that we should behave like him. We will make mistake but we must ask for forgiveness. We cannot behave like the Devil. He refused to admit his sin and behaved arrogantly. If we behave arrogantly like the Devil, then we also would be condemned forever.
In conclusion, the important of Prophet Adam’s story, or the story of the first brick, is that we are special because mankind is made in the best of fashion. But we also have bad qualities that can lead us to be the worst of creature. And the best thing we can do is that when we make mistake, we ask for forgiveness.