Answered by Ustadh Faraz A. Khan
Question: On the creation of Adam and Eve, where in the Qur’an or hadith is it stated that she was created from Adam’s rib?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this reaches you in the best of health and faith.
The Qur’an does not mention anything explicit with regards to our mother Hawa’ (Eve) being created from the rib of our father Adam (peace be upon them both). Rather, it states for example, “And from amongst His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, so that you may dwell in tranquility with them” [30:21]. Many exegetes did interpret the phrase “from among yourselves” to mean that Hawa’ was created from the rib of Adam (peace be upon them both), yet Imam Qurtubi and others interpreted “from among yourselves” as meaning “from the same species,” that is, human mates. [al-Jami` li Ahkam al-Qur’an]
According to Imam Razi, this is a sounder interpretation than the oft-cited “from the rib of Adam” opinion. It is similar to the expression “There has indeed come to you a messenger from among yourselves” [9:128], i.e., a messenger from the same people as to whom he is sent.
This interpretation is also proven by the next phrase in the verse “so that you may dwell in tranquility with them.” That is, the primary reason according to the verse for creating mates “from among yourselves” is so that spouses may be drawn to each other and find tranquility together. This supports the interpretation of “from among yourselves” meaning “from the same species,” since if the mates given to man were from a different species, neither spouse would find repose and comfort with the other. [Mafatih al-Ghayb]
The same two possible interpretations would apply to similar verses, such as “O humanity, fear your Lord Who created you from one soul, and created from it its mate…” [4:1]. Again, many scholars and exegetes understood this to mean that Allah Most High first created Adam (upon whom be peace), and then from him, i.e., from his rib, our mother Hawa’ (upon whom be peace).
Yet Imam Razi and others mention that the other interpretation is also possible, namely, that the meaning is “Who created you from one soul” i.e., “starting from one soul” since “from” in Arabic could indicate the starting point of something [ibtida’ al-ghaya], and then “created from it its mate” i.e., “created from that same species, its mate.” [Mafatih al-Ghayb]
The Narrations of the Prophet (Allah bless him) on the Issue
As for sayings of our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), there is no sound narration that mentions her being created specifically from the rib of Adam, but rather “from a rib.” [Bukhari]. There were many interpretations classically as to what that means exactly. Many scholars did hold the opinion that the meaning is “from the rib of Adam,” yet again there is no explicit evidence of this from the Qur’an or sound hadith literature.
In his masterful commentary of Sahih Bukhari, ‘Allama Anwar Shah Kashmiri mentions that it was popular opinion that she was created from “a left rib,” and that this phrase could in fact be a metaphor, as the story of her creation is that Adam once woke up from sleep and – lo and behold – found her sitting on his left side. Hence, “created from a rib” was used in the hadith to mean that Adam saw her created [i.e., immediately after having been created by Allah] in the direction of his left side (peace be upon them both). [Fayd al-Bari]
And Allah alone gives success.
Faraz A. Khan
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani