I have the following questions regarding the creation of Adam and Eve that is mentioned in Surah al-Baqarah. What does the word 'names' occurring in the 2:30 refer to? God asked both the angels and Adam to name those things whereas He hadn't taught the angels. How could the angels know the 'names' since they were kept in darkness? Testing angels implies that, like human beings, they too have freedom of argument, choice, and action. Then what's the difference between angels and human beings apart from the fact that they are made from different material? Why was Adam first sent to Paradise when he could have been sent directly to earth?
At the outset, it would be appropriate to understand the nature and context of the whole episode of creation as narrated by the Qur'an in Surah al-Baqarah.
The surah is addressed to the People of the Book and the purpose of the verses dealing with the creation of Adam and Eve is to depict the attitude the Jews had adopted towards Muhammad (sws). The Jews bitterly opposed the new message because of their arrogance and haughtiness. Some other groups hesitated in the beginning but once their doubts were cleared they accepted faith. The Qur'an says that these two attitudes are analogous to those adopted by Satan and the Angels at the time of creation of man. When Allah decided to create man, He informed the angels of His plan. They were not clear about the matter and expressed their concern. Their reservations were caused by their unawareness to the whole scheme. As soon as they became aware of the scheme, they accepted and praised God's wisdom and knowledge. On the contrary, Satan opposed the scheme and refused to obey God only because of his pride and conceit. He thought that he was superior to man since he was made of fire, and that why should he bow before Adam who was made of clay. This role of Satan was similar to the one adopted by the Jews with regard to the Prophet (sws).
As far as the 'names' referred to in 2:30 are concerned, there are three viewpoints regarding the nature of these names. Some scholars maintain that these were the names of each and everything found in this world; others opine that these were the name of the angels and yet another group says that they were the names of the progeny of Adam.
The first two viewpoints are hardly tenable. The third one seems to be the most plausible on the following grounds:
1. The use of alif lam on the word 'اسماء' (asma: names) leads to the conclusion.
2. The pronoun used for these 'names' 'هم' (hum: they) is mostly used beings who possess the faculty of reasoning like humans and the jinn etc.
3. The context shows that Allah is responding to the argument taken by the angels. The angels had objected to creating such beings as were granted the freedom to exercise their will. They thought that such a creation would create bloodshed and other evils on the earth. In order to satisfy the Angels, the Almighty presented the names of people from among the progeny of Adam who would turn out to be pious and godly.
From the attributes of the angels given in the Holy Qur'an, it can be safely concluded that the angels possess the faculty of reasoning and have the freedom to exercise their will. Had they not had any freedom of choice, they would not have been tested on occasions like prostrating before Adam. The difference between angels and men is that the Angels live in the presence of God and help in implementing His will whenever they are ordered to while human beings are neither exposed to the Almighty in such a manner and neither act as the implementers of His will in the manner the Angels are.
The world Jannah in the referred to verses does not imply Paradise, which is the abode of the righteous in the Hereafter. In fact the portrait the Qur'an draws of Jannah tells us that it is something to be created at some time in the future. The word Jannah is used here in the literal sense and means 'a garden'. It is obvious from the Qur'anic verse 'I have ordained to create a person vicegerent on Earth' that the Almighty had decided to create man and send him on earth regardless of other details.