وَعَلَّمَ آدَمَ الْأَسْمَاءَ كُلَّهَا
God taught Adam the names, all of them. (Al-Baqarah 2:31)
The teaching of the names is not exclusive to Adam, peace be upon him, rather it includes all human beings. What was taught to Adam were seeds of the whole of knowledge or sciences, which would be taught to humanity in its worldly life, just as every race and blood group was included in Adam’s loins. Later generations have developed these seeds and produced sciences and disciplines.
The teaching of the names to Adam might have happened in the way that God Almighty implanted or sown the seeds of fundamental knowledge of all things in his spirit in the same way the Prophets and God’s Messen-gers were informed of many unknown things through Revelation. It could also be that He enabled Adam to be aware of both the names and the things to be called by the names through the feelings of neediness intrinsic to humanity and the desire and capacity of learning that He ingrained in its very being.
Indeed, much has been said concerning the names taught to Adam. Do they refer to the capacity of speaking or language with which humanity has been made distinct from other species? Is there a reference here to the human ability or distinction to think about or reflect on things and their names in the way to reach the Owner of everything? Do they refer to the physical and metaphysical dimensions of existence or to the names of the angels and the names of all the human beings who would descend from Adam until the Last Day? All of these are particulars of the issue beyond our discussion.