and breathed His spirit into him and raised him, then He taught him the names and prepared him for the vicegerency.”
Then, since [the Most High] had chosen [Adam] over and above the angels and distinguished him [by conferring on him] knowledge of the names, [and had made clear] in this question of his superiority his worthiness of the vicegerency, the context being one of challenge, He presented the things to [the angels] seeking their objections. So perceiving their impotence, they affirmed the Most High’s wisdom and were assured. For this reason the Qur’an says: “Then He presented them to the angels and said: ‘Declare unto Me the names of these [things], if what you say is true.’”
“They said (Qālū):” that is, they declared themselves innocent of what in his egotism Iblis had insinuated into their questioning, saying: “Limitless are You in Your glory! No knowledge have we save that which You have taught us. Verily, You alone are all-knowing, truly wise.”
Then, once their impotence, arising from their lack of comprehensive abilities, had become clear, the context necessitated a statement of Adam’s competence, in order to complete the challenge. So it says: “O Adam, convey unto them the names of these [things].’”
Then, when the underlying reason and wisdom had become exemplified and apparent in Adam, the context (al-maqām) necessitated the former concise reply, making it a sort of consequence of the detailed explanation here. So [the Qur’an] says: “Did I not say unto you: Verily, I alone know the hidden reality of the heavens and the earth, and know all that you bring into the open and all that you would conceal?”
This use of conversation divulges and intimates that Iblis’ egotism had spread among the angels, and that the objections of one group [of devils] intervened in their questioning.
The positioning of the parts of the phrases:
The phrase “And He taught Adam the names of all things (Wa ‘allama Ādam al-asmā’ kullahā):” that is, [the Most High] fashioned [Adam] with a nature in which were contained the fundamental principles of all types of attainment and perfection, and He created him with a disposition in which were planted the seeds of all elevated qualities, and He decked him out with ten senses, and a conscience that would hold the similitudes of all beings. He prepared him [by giving him] these three faculties that He might teach him the realities of things in all their variety. Then He taught him all the names.