Idris (prophet)

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Saint Idris the Prophet

An imagining of Idris visiting Heaven and Hell from an illuminated manuscript version of Stories of the Prophets
Prophet, Mystic, Prophet of the Philosophers
Honored inIslam
ControversyIdris is often identified with Enoch, but other Muslims see the two figures as two different prophets
InfluencedCountless Muslim mystics, philosophers and scientists including Ibn Arabi and Suhrawardi
 
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Saint Idris the Prophet

An imagining of Idris visiting Heaven and Hell from an illuminated manuscript version of Stories of the Prophets
Prophet, Mystic, Prophet of the Philosophers
Honored inIslam
ControversyIdris is often identified with Enoch, but other Muslims see the two figures as two different prophets
InfluencedCountless Muslim mystics, philosophers and scientists including Ibn Arabi and Suhrawardi

Idris‘ (Arabic: إدريس‎) is an Islamic prophet mentioned in the Qur'an whom the Qur'an says was exalted by God to a high station in life.[1] Although Idris is, at times, identified with the Biblical Enoch, the true Biblical identity of Idris remains uncertain. According to hadith, narrated by Malik ibn Anas and found in Sahih Muslim, it is said that on Muhammad's Night Journey, he encountered Idris in the fourth heaven.[2] The traditions that have developed around the figure of Idris have given him the scope of a prophet as well as a philosopher and mystic.[3]

Contents

In the Qur'an

Idris is mentioned twice in the Qur'an, where he is described as a wise and great man. In sura 19 of the Qur'an, God says:

Also mention in the Book the case of Idris: He was a man of truth (and sincerity), (and) a prophet:
And We raised him to a lofty station.
—Qur'an, sura 19 (Maryam), ayat 56-57[1]

The mention here of "raised him to a lofty station" is why some scholars believe Idris to be the patriarch Enoch, who according to the Book of Genesis, was raised by God to heaven.

Later, in sura 21, God again praises Idris, saying:

And (remember) Isma'il, Idris, and Dhul-Kifl,[4] all (men) of constancy and patience;
We admitted them to Our mercy: for they were of the righteous ones.
—Qur'an, sura 21 (Al-Anbiya), ayat 85-86[5]

In Muslim literature

Islamic literature narrates that Idris was made prophet at around 40, which parallels the age when Muhammad began to prophesy, and lived during a time when people had begun to worship fire.[6] Exegesis embellishes upon the lifetime of Idris, and states that the prophet divided his time into two. For three days of the week, Idris would preach to his people and four days he would devote solely to the worship of God.[6] Many early commentators, such as Tabari,[7] credited Idris with possessing great wisdom and knowledge. Exegesis narrates that Idris was among the first men to use the pen as well as being one of the first men to observe the movement of the stars and set out scientific weights and measures.[6] These attributes remain consistent with the identification of Enoch with Idris, as these attributes make it clear that Idris would have most probably lived during the Generations of Adam,[6] the same era during which Enoch lived. Ibn Arabi described Idris as the "prophet of the philosophers" and a number of works were attributed to him.[8] Some scholars wrote commentaries on these supposed works,[9] all while Idris was also credited with plenty of inventions and the art of making garments.[8]

Identification with the Biblical Enoch

Classical commentators used to popularly identify Idris with Enoch, the patriarch who lived in the Generations of Adam. An example is İsmail Hakkı Bursevî's commentary on Fusus al-hikam by Muhyiddin ibn ʻArabi.[10] Modern scholars, however, do not concur with this identification because they argue that it lacks definitive proof. As Qur'anic translator Abdullah Yusuf Ali says in note 2508 of his translation:

Idris is mentioned twice in the Quran, viz., here and in Chapter 21, verse 85, where he is mentioned as among those who patiently persevered. His identification with the Biblical Enoch, may or may not be correct. Nor are we justified in interpreting verse 57 here as meaning the same thing as in Genesis, v.24 ("God took him"), that he was taken up without passing through the portals of death. All we are told is he was a man of truth and sincerity, and a prophet, and that he had a high position among his people.

Hermes

Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Bahá'í Faith, wrote in one of his tablets:

The first person who devoted himself to philosophy was Idris. Thus was he named. Some called him also Hermes. In every tongue he hath a special name. He it is who hath set forth in every branch of philosophy thorough and convincing statements. After him Balínús derived his knowledge and sciences from the Hermetic Tablets and most of the philosophers who followed him made their philosophical and scientific discoveries from his words and statements...

See also

Bibliography

References

  1. ^ a b Quran 19:56–57
  2. ^ Sahih Muslim, 1:309, 1:314
  3. ^ Wheeler, Historical Dictionary of the Prophets in Islam and Judaism, Idris, pg. 148
  4. ^ See Ezekiel
  5. ^ Quran 21:85–86
  6. ^ a b c d Lives of the Prophets, Leila Azzam
  7. ^ History of the Prophets and Kings, Tabari, Volume I: Prophets and Patriarchs
  8. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Islam, G. Vajda, Idris
  9. ^ Ibn Sabi'n is said to have written on one of Idris's works cf. Hajiji Khalifa, iii, 599, no. 7010
  10. ^ Zaid H. Assfy Islam and Christianity: connections and contrasts, together with the stories of the prophets and imams Sessions, 1977 p122
  11. ^ Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary C2508. Idris is mentioned twice in the Quran, viz.; here and in 21:85, where he is mentioned among those who patiently persevered. His identification with the Biblical Enoch, who "'walked with God' (Gen. 5:21-24), may or may not be correct. Nor are we justified in interpreting verse 57 here as meaning the same thing as in Gen. 5:24 ("God took him"), that he was taken up without passing through the portals of death. All we are told is that he was a man of truth and sincerity, and a prophet, and that he had a high position among his people. It is this point which brings him in the series of men just mentioned; he kept himself in touch with his people, and was honoured among them. Spiritual progress need not cut us off from our people, for we have to help and guide them. He kept to truth and piety in the highest station.

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