Prophets of Allah – Prophet Idris: ‘And We exalted him to a lofty station’


“And We did raise among every people a Messenger”

Jalees Ahmad, Al Hakam
Idris as

Idrisas, also known as Enoch in the Bible, was a Prophet of God and known as “a truthful man”, as Allah states:

وَ اذۡكُرۡ فِي الۡكِتٰبِ اِدۡرِيۡسَ ۫ اِنَّهٗ كَانَ صِدِّيۡقًا نَّبِيًّا

“And relate [the story] of Idris [as mentioned] in the Book. He was [a] truthful [man, and] a Prophet.” (Surah Maryam, Ch.19: V.57)

The Holy Quran states that he was exalted to a lofty station (Surah Maryam, Ch.19: V.58). He was also among the prophets whom the Holy Prophetsa saw during the journey of al-mi‘raj [ascension]. (Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Kitab tafsir al-Quran ‘an Rasulillahsa)

Idris’as relation with Adamas

In Tafsir-e-Kabir, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra writes:

“According to Islamic traditions, in the genealogy of Adam[as], the first prophet was Adamas, who was the father. The second prophet was Sethas, who was the son of Adamas. The third was Enochas, who was the fifth great-grandson of Adamas, and the fourth prophet was Noahas, who was the grandson of the fifth great-grandson [of Adamas].” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 5, p. 304)

First to write with the pen

In relation to Prophet Idrisas, Imam al-Qurtubi (d. 671 AH), under the above-quoted verse, said:

إدْرِيسُ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ أوَّلُ مَن خَطَّ بِالقَلَمِ وأوَّلُ مَن خاطَ الثِّيابَ ولَبِسَ المَخِيطَ، وأوَّلُ مَن نَظَرَ فِي عِلْمِ النُّجُومِ والحِسابِ وسَيْرِها.

“Idris, upon whom be peace, was the first to write with the pen, the first to sew and stitch his clothing and the first to study knowledge of the stars, their calculations and their movements.” (Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Surah Maryam, Chapter 19, Verse 57)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra has also alluded to this and said that much Jewish literature has alluded to it. 

Prophet Idris’as name

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, in his commentary, has stated that most commentators of the Holy Quran were in agreement that Idrisas of the Holy Quran was Enoch mentioned in the Bible. Huzoorra said that Idrisas was a prophet who came before Noahas. He added that it was known that the meanings of “Enoch” and “Idris” were similar. Huzoorra stated that חֲנוֹךְ (Hanok), in Hebrew, means dedication or instruction. And إدريس (Idris), in Arabic, means one who reads and teaches.

The ‘lofty status’ of Prophet Idrisas and a point for Christians to explore

Alluding to Idrisas, the Holy Quran states that he was exalted to a lofty station:

وَّرَفَعۡنٰهُ‭ ‬مَكَانًا‭ ‬عَلِيًّا

“And We exalted him to a lofty station.” (Surah Maryam, Ch.19: V.58)

As an Ahmadi Muslim, when I ponder upon this verse, my mind automatically takes me to the accounts of Prophet Jesusas mentioned both in the Holy Quran and Bible, as well as the beliefs Christians hold regarding him. The true accounts of Prophet Jesusas have not only been gravely misunderstood by many Muslims today but also by many Christians as made evident by history. (For a detailed read, see Hazrat Mirza Tahir AhmadrhChristianity: A Journey from Facts to Fiction)

All the main branches of the Christian faith have assigned divine attributes to Jesusas, commonly referred to as the “godhead of Jesus”. A major point stated by these Christians to support this notion is that Jesus was raised and taken to heaven alive. (The Muslim point of view has been extensively mentioned in various articles published in Al Hakam.)

However, if Christians believe in the godhead of Jesusas for this reason, then a point which must be explored is why is it that no similar notion is attributed to Idrisas who was exalted to a high station in heaven? Even the Bible states that Enoch walked with God, “And Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:24)

Commenting on this matter, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:

“[…] if the Messiahas can be called the Son of God because of his ascension to heaven, then the divinity of Idrisas must also be acknowledged by the Christian world, since according to the Bible he was also taken up to heaven.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 5, p. 313)

It is a straightforward matter: Idrisas was a noble prophet of Allah who remained loyal to God’s will till the end. This is what has been referred to by Idrisas walking with God.  Thus, the very being and existence of Prophet Idrisas rejects the notion of the godhead of Jesusas. If the godhead of Jesusas relies on his accession to heaven, then what about Idrisas?

This language used in the Bible is not unique to Idrisas alone. The Bible states that Noahas also walked with God. 

“Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” (Genesis, 6:9)

Alluding to Abrahamas, the Bible states:

“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.” (Genesis, 17:1)

Walking with God does not mean walking physically with Him.

Confusion with Ilyasas

Some commentators have said that Idrisas is actually Elijah, as it is believed that Elijah (Ilyasas of the Holy Quran) was also taken up to heaven. Regarding the advent of the Messiah, it was reported that before his coming, Elijah the prophet would descend from heaven. Some hypothesised that Elijah was meant by Idris due to this one similarity mentioned above. However, Huzoorra explained, such people who hold this notion were very few and even this idea was wrong because the name of Ilyas appeared in the Holy Quran. So, it was unreasonable to mention Ilyas by any other name. Either the Arabs were unable to pronounce Ilyas, then it could be said that Idris means Ilyas in this place, but when the name of Ilyas was already used by the Holy Quran, it’s certainly wrong to take Ilyas to be Idris.

Steadfastness; a common quality found in Prophets

One thing, along with many others, that differentiates normal human beings from noble men is the act of patience. All Prophets of God have in their lives exhibited various good qualities, with patience and being steadfast being a common quality. Allah states in the Holy Quran:

وَاِسۡمٰعِيۡلَ‭ ‬وَاِدۡرِيۡسَ‭ ‬وَذَا‭ ‬الۡكِفۡلِ‭ ‬كُلٌّ‭ ‬مِّنَ‭ ‬الصّٰبِرِيۡنَ

“And [remember] Ishmael, and Idris, and Dhul-Kifl. All were of the steadfast.” (Surah al-Anbiya, Ch.21: V.86)

In the Five Volume Commentary, we read, in light of Prophet Idrisas:

“The Prophet Idris had to face a virulent campaign of denunciation and calumny by his people and he suffered all that abuse with great patience.” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 2114)

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