As the father of mankind, Adam is known in Islamic sources as abu al-bashar, and since he is among the people whom Allah deemed elite, he is identified as safiyullah.
Muslim linguists have debated over the language from which the word Adam stemmed and the root from which it was derived (1) Most of the linguists argue that this word is of Arabic origin and is derived from the root al-udma meaning swarthiness or from the root al-adama meaning “type, sample”. An alternative view claims that it comes from the word al-adima meaning “outer layer of something” (rather used asadimatu’l-arz, “earth”). According to a widely believed account, Allah created Adam with the combination of soil samples taken from all around Earth. It is due to this diversity of soil that the descendants of Adam possess different characteristics. It has also been suggested that the word Adam is derived from al-udm or al-udma meaning “harmony, habit”.
The creation of Adam is depicted in the Torah and the Holy Quran. Its pattern and timing is conveyed in the Torah in different ways in the light of two stories. According to the first story called the “clergical text”, man was created on the sixth day of creation as male and female in an image similar to that of God following the creation of the rest. In the second story called the “Yahvist text”, it is reported that the first creation was that of man followed by the woman being created from his rib. The first man (Adam) was formed from the soil of earth (adamah) by God Who then breathed life into his nostrils for Adam to become alive. In tafsirs(commentaries) of the Torah and in books considered apocryphal, it is stated that this soil was extracted from the sacred location (Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem) and from the red, black and white soils from all over the world.
The fact that the creation of Adam was unlike the rest of humanity is clearly established in the Holy Quran. In this context, the Quran signifies the supernatural creation of two prophets as in the following, “The creation of Jesus for Allah is like the creation of Adam. He created him of dust, then He said unto him: Be! and he is” (Surat Al-i Imran/59)
The conclusions that can be reached from the information in the Quran, genuine hadiths (sayings of the Prophet) and other reliable Islamic sources suggest that Adam has been created from soil. They also follow that there was a certain path of development and a certain span of time related to this creation although the accurate duration is unidentifiable. Yet this path of development did not operate as a natural occasion without the intervention of divine will and power. On the contrary, all related verses point to the influence of divine will and power in the creation of Adam. The Quran leaves no suspicion in explaining that Adam did not evolve from another being, but was created from soil as the father of a completely novel living species who would be held liable and responsible contrary to all other animate and inanimate beings and in the process, he was equipped with the necessary spiritual, moral, mental and psychological capabilities. For this reason, it is impossible to reconcile the Islamic beliefs with theories which completely reject this special aspect of man’s creation and degrade him to the level of ordinary beings.
There is no information in the Torah regarding creation other than the fact that Adam was created from the soil of earth on the sixth day. It is described in apocryphal books that Adam was created in Jerusalem on a Friday on the sixth day of creation. Again the Jews believe that Adam was created in B.C 3761-3760. While the Holy Quran does not specify the day when Adam was created, the hadiths inform us that he was created on a Friday, placed in Heaven that same day, expelled from Heaven again on a Friday, that his repentance was accepted on the same day and that he passed away on a Friday.
In the Holy Quran this issue is generally examined from three points in the related verses. First of all, it is mentioned that Adam went through several phases starting from soil being an extremely unimportant material and continued to acquire physical and spiritual characteristics which led him to become a complete and perfect human being. This statement also serves to emphasize the power of Allah. Secondly, it is pointed out that the status of Adam among the living species is extremely elevated. Adam and his descendants are celebrated in these verses as the caliphs of earth who use the mental, intellectual, moral abilities granted by Allah to fulfill His commands. In this way, he is portrayed as both a worshipper of Allah and a person who can utilize other living entities for his own service. Various verses inform that the angels prostrated before Adam with the order of Allah. This act signifies that the level of Adam was so superior to the angels that it merited their respect. Not limited to Adam himself, such honor encompasses the entire humankind. The Quran relates to this quality of humankind also through other verses (Al-Isra 17/70: Al-Tin 95/4).
The third concern of the Holy Quran with Adam addresses his prophethood. Even though there is no accurate verse stating that he was a prophet, the Quran explains; “Adam received from his Lord words of (revelation)” (Al-Baqarah 2/37). Allah addressed him and announced his liabilities and responsibilities (Al-Baqarah 2/33, 35; Al-Araf 7/19; Al-Ta-ha 20/117). Another verse declares that Allah preferred Adam, Noah, the Family of Abraham and the Family of 'Imran above all His creatures (Al-Imran 3/33) which indirectly implies his status as a prophet. Finally, Ahmad ibn Hanbal reports a hadith in his Musnad (V, 178, 179, 265) in which Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) identified the name of the first prophet as “Adam”.