The Islamic “House of Wisdom,” And The Christians Who Ran It

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Caliph al-Ma’mun

In the ninth century, translation from Greek into Arabic developed rapidly. Since possibly the middle of the eighth century, there had been periodic translations, but the ninth century saw the establishment of a systematic, organized effort. The Caliph (Islamic leader) al-Ma’mun, son of Harun al-Rashid, founded a translation bureau called the “Dar al-Hikma” (“House of Wisdom”), which was presided over by a Nestorian Christian named Hunayn ibn Ishaq (Isaq is Arabic for Isaac). The Islamic Caliph al-Ma’mun made a Christian the leader of the great House of Wisdom. Islamophobes will never accept that Muslims, Christians and Jews did all once work together at the greatest Islamic universities. Hunayn’s son (also a Christian) eventually succeeded him in the leadership of the Islamic institution. The Nestorians worked very well alongside the Caliph because they had a foot in, and a knowledge of both Western and Eastern cultures. At the time of the Islamic Golden Age, the Nestorians native language was Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic. This made it very easy for them to understand Arabic, as the languages are extremely similar. The Nestorians were also oriented towards the West, the original homeland of their Doctrine, and their scriptures (Holy Bible) were written in Greek. Nestorian intellectuals, therefore, had typically mastered Greek, Syriac, and Arabic, and were perfectly equipped to serve as Human bridges over whom the culture of the ancient classical world could enter into the new Arab empire.

However, it was not only Nestorian Christians who worked in the House of Wisdom. The bureau of translation was truly ecumenical, and was staffed by Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Contrary to ignorant beliefs the true Muslims worked alongside Christians and Jews, and employed them to write and lecture at their universities. Such collaboration between the various religious groups continued in during the Islamic Golden Age, and was in fact of the greatest importance to the Arab empire. Thus, for instance, the foremost student of al-Farabi (d. 950 A.D.), one of the greatest of the Muslim Philosophers, was a Christian. And Moses Maimonides (Arabic, Musa ibn Maymum d. 1204), the greatest Rabbi and Jewish philosopher of the Middle Ages, served as a Sharia court physician in Cairo, Egypt, where he read and pondered the works of earlier Muslim thinkers and wrote his philosophical books in Hebrew and in Arabic. During this time, Islamic Shaykhs, and Jewish Rabbi’s co-authored many spiritual books together for both Muslims and Jews.

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Angels in Islam

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(A 16th Century Persian Miniature of an Angel)

Belief in angels is a tenet of the Islamic faith. The Arabic word malak (mala’ik) means ‘messenger’ and the Qur’an uses the term, and variants of it, 99 times. The most prominent angel in Islam is Jibril (Gabriel). In Islamic beliefs angels are made of light and, unlike human beings, do not have free will. But they are essential to the Qur’anic themes of creation, revelation, prophecy, and eschatology.

Belief in angels is a necessary aspect of faith (iman) in Islam. the Qur’an says, “Whoever is an enemy to God (seeks to destroy faith on earth, and persecutes God’s followers and prophets) and his angels and his messengers and Jibril and Mikail (Michael), then indeed God will turn away His blessings from the unbelievers” (-Qur’an 2:97). There is also a famous Hadith in which Jibril asks the Prophet about the different stages of belief. The first stage is Islam, which is to testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except God. This stage also requires observence to the five pillars of Islam (the Shahada, which is the declaration of faith, Prayer, Charity, Fasting, Hajj). The second stage is Iman, which is to ‘believe in God and his angels and his books (the Bible and the Qur’an) and his messengers and in the Last Day, and believe and accept that God will test the worthy with trials and tribulations’ (much like Latter-day Saint belief).

Angels are described as “messengers with wings” but they cannot be seen because they’re heavenly beings. They can, however, take on different forms, including the human. An example of this occurs during the annunciation of Mary when Jibril is sent to Mary in the form of a man: “and she took, in seclusion from them, a screen. Then we sent to her our angel, and he represented himself to her as a perfect man” (-Qur’an 19:17). While the word ruh means spirit, it is often translated as angel in this context, thus engendering a close relationship between spirit, angel, and Jibril.

In another passage, it is angels who deliver the news of Jesus to Mary: ‘And when the angels said, “Mary, God has chosen you, and purified you; he has chosen you above all the women of the world” (-Qur’an 3:42). The connection between spirit, soul, angels, and divine command also appear in several Qur’anic passages. Such as ‘They will question you concerning the spirit. Say “The spirit comes from the command on my Lord.” You have very little knowledge compared to the mysteries of God” (-Qur’an 17:85). This command is associated with the “Preserved Tablet” the source all books (The Torah, The Gospel, and other holy books that were given to all the Prophets), from which the spirit is brought by the angels to the hearts of all the Prophets.

There are various stories in the Qur’an in which angels feature as agents either preparing or helping the Muhammad in his mission. This includes traditions surrounding the Prophets night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and then his assent into the heavens. Another famous incident is related to about the Prophet in which, as a young man, while he was tending sheep, two men dressed in white came upon him with a golden basin of snow. They opened his breast, took out his heart and stirred their hands inside. Muhammad explained that that these men were angels who had extracted a black speck from his heart and then washed his heart with the snow to cleanse it thoroughly. In other words, Muhammad had been chosen and prepared to receive revelation from an early age.

Other than the prominent role of Jibril, and Michael, perhaps the most famous story relating to angels is in the story of human creation. The Qur’an says:

“Behold, when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.”

“And He taught Adam the names – all of them. Then He showed them to the angels and said, “Inform Me of the names of these, if you are truthful.”

“They said, “Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You who is the Knowing, the Wise.”

“He said, “O Adam, inform them of their names.” And when he had informed them of their names, He said, “Did I not tell you that I know the unseen [aspects] of the heavens and the earth? And I know what you reveal and what you have concealed.”

And [mention] when We said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam”; so they prostrated, except for Iblees (Lucifer). He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers” (Qur’an 2:30-34).

It is this story that seals humankind at the top of creation’s hierarchy and reveals the moment at which the angels understand their nature, purpose, and limitations. They know their singular purpose is to glorify God, but that Adam’s knowledge means that Adam has been created for a different purpose in life, which only God knows.

When looking to see how angels and their responsibilities are described in Islam, there are resonances with the Judeo-Christian tradition. Nevertheless, a fairly distinct analogy appears in the way the Qur’an and the Hadith literature mention specific angels by name.

Angels feature quite largely in Islamic eschatology, the cataclysmic end of the created order. Among the most notable are Israfil, the angel who will blow the trumpet and signal the second coming of Jesus Christ. Michael is the angel who provides nourishment as well as being responsible for bringing rain and thunder to earth. Finally Izra’il is the angel of death on the Last Day.

It is also important to note that in the 4th Century A.D. the Church Fathers agreed on the many different forms of Angels.

Angels and Sufi Muslims:

In hagiographical literature, we find that angels often serve as instruments of God’s care and protection for the young Sufi destined very early on in his life to follow a particular mystical path. The mystic may be frightened in his ignorance but is always learning the truth from this powerful presence. One of the most powerful saints and scholars of Islam, Abdul Qadir-al-Jilani wrote:

“When I was a small child, every day I was visited by an angel in the shape of a young man. He would walk with me from our house to school and make the children in the class give me and place in the front row. He would stay with me the whole day and then bring me back home. I would learn in a single day more than the other students learned in a week. I did not know who he was. One day I asked him and he said, ‘I am one of Allah’s angels. He sent me to you and asked me to be with you as long as you study.’

Every time I felt a desire to go and play with the other children I would hear a voice saying, ‘come to me instead, O blessed one, come to me.’ In terror I would go and seek the comfort of my mother’s arms. Now even in my most intense devotions and long seclusions, I cannot hear that voice clearly.” (-Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, The Secret of Secrets, xiv)

In 610 A.D. Muhammad received his very first revelation from the angel Jibril (Gabriel).

In 621 A.D. Jibril brings Buraq (the white horse in which Muhammad traveled to Jerusalem on from Mecca in a single night) to Muhammad, and then Muhammad’s ascension to heaven from Jerusalem.

In the 8th Century A.D. Islamic scholar Abu Hanifa wrote a creed to the Islamic world stating that the belief in angels is a huge part of Islam.

I love this poem from the great German poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) on angels:

“Then the man read and when he did, the angel bowed. It was as if he had always been reading and now was able to obey and bring to pass.” (-Rainer Maria Rilke)

On the same night as Muhammad’s first revelation in 610 A.D. on his journey home, from Mount Hira, to Mecca (about three miles), Muhammad was again visited by the angel Jibril (Gabriel). This visitation was just as important as his first in Islamic theology, as this cemented Muhammad’s testimony of what he had just experienced, and he accepted his calling. He described everything to his wife Khadijah when he returned home. Here are the details of Jibril’s second visit to Muhammad.

While Muhammad had been walking, he had heard a voice booming down from the sky. He looked up and surely enough, the archangel Jibril who had previously visited him in the Cave of Hira was there, but this time he was not in the form of a man. Muhammad stumbled back, as he was stunned at the immense sight of the angel filling the entire horizon. It sat on a magnificent, mighty chair between the heavens and earth. It’s beautiful and breathtaking wings stretched out across the sky and numbered no less than 600. With his eyes filled with tears, Muhammad knelt to the ground.

“Oh Muhammad!” called the angel, now standing plainly before his very eyes. “You are indeed Allah’s Messenger in truth!” Muhammad felt peace and tranquility descend upon him, more than he had ever felt before, as he crept back up the mountain side. The ambiance was as soft as a spring breeze.

Serenity had filled Muhammad’s heart when he heard those words. He had not been abandoned (after receiving his first revelation not long before) after all. Allah was with him and would take care of him, and his friend people. Notice how much Muhammad already missed being in the presence of the angel?

As Muhammad sat with his wife Khadijah, recalling what had happened, Khadijah noticed that something quite bizarre was happening to Muhammad. Pearls of sweat cascaded from his brow, and he began smiling, and he fell almost unconscious as he suddenly became exhausted. Khadijah had never seen Muhammad in this way before (Muhammad would frequently go up Mount Hira to the cave to meditate), Muhammad had never returned so peaceful, and radiant she thought. Then within moments, as Muhammad was gazing into Khadijah’s eyes he could see another revelation:

“O you enveloped in blankets. Arise and warn your people. And your Lord, magnify. And your garments, purify. And from the Idols (Muhammad’s people were pagans), keep away, and warn your people of them” (-Qur’an 74:1-5).

Khadijah was amazed, and emotional as she heard Muhammad repeating out loud, the revelation that had just been sent down to him. The wondrous words were a clear message to Muhammad and Khadijah, telling them to worship the one true God, in these verses of the Qur’an, God informed Muhammad that the time had come to tell people about his message: to worship God alone and to stay away from the worship of idols.

From that day onwards, the angel Jibril regularly visited Muhammad, teaching him Gods words, and the scriptures (the Torah and the Gospel) and the message he now had to convey. The time had now come for Muhammad to visit his nearest and dearest, and preach Islam.

Notice how tired Muhammad got after his first revelation? This is more evidence to support Muhammad had indeed felt the Holy Ghost, just as our Latter-day Prophets have stated.

Who are the angels mentioned by name in the Qur’an? There are seven angels mentioned by name in the Qur’an, and many more mentioned but not by name. The seven angels mentioned are:

Jibril (The same Gabriel of the Bible)

Michael (the same Michael of the Bible)

Israfeel (The Qur’an states that Israfeel is the angel who will blow the trumpet to signal the second coming of Jesus Christ)

Azrael (The same Azrael of the Bible, who is also known as the angel of death)

Kiram al Katibin (Who are a group of angels who record all our earthly deeds)

Hamalat al-‘Arsh (They are a group of angels who carry Gods heavenly throne)

Hafaza (These are a group of angels who are guarding the earth)

Muslims revere angels, and believing in them is a huge part of the faith. Muhammad received much of the Qur’an from Jibril.

 

The Virtue Of Honour In Arabian Culture

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A picture depicting Imru-al Qays 

My forthcoming book talks about this in way more detail, so I’ll just post very briefly on the subject of honour in Arabian culture. If any of my readers here have Muslim friends, and you have visited their homes or mosques, you’d most probably have noticed just how amazingly hospitable they are. I remember the first Mosque I ever visited, when I was a student of Arabic and Islamic studies, and upon meeting the congregation, a few of them rushed to the kitchen area and bought out a pile of food and soft drinks. They would not even let me peel the skin from my orange, they had to do it for me. It was a very humbling experience. I was a guest in their Holy building, and because I was a guest I was treated with the uppermost importance (I was actually rather embarrassed to be honest). Now Muslims are commanded in the Qur’an to treat their guests with the greatest of importance, but this virtue originally comes from the Bedouin Arabic culture that Muhammad came from. Not a lot of people in the West actually know much about Arabic culture, apart from maybe some of their literature like the “One Thousand and One Nights” for example, but Arabic culture is absolutely fascinating.

Honour is an important Arabic virtue. It’s also an extremely important Islamic virtue. (Bedouin) Arabs still to this day relate the story of a Jewish Arab, who lived in the 6th Century AD., named al-Samawal, who owned a castle north of the agricultural oasis of Yathrib (modern day Medina). According to this story, the great poet Imru al-Qays took refuge with al-samawal while fleeing towards Syria from some of his many enemies. When he continued on his journey, he left five coats of mail, heirlooms of his family, with his host for safekeeping, intending to pick them up again on his return. But he never came back, for he died on the way home from an audience with the Emperor in Constantinople. In the meantime the enemies of Imru al-Qays besieged al-Samawal in his fortified dwelling, demanding that he surrender the costs of mail he had promised to preserve for the poet. This he would not do. And when the besiegers captured his son, who had gone out of the castle to hunt, and threatened to kill him if his father did not yield up the armour, al-Samawal responded that they must do as they saw fit, for he could not in honour renege his obligation to his guest, Imru al-Qays. At that, the enemies outside slew the boy. They gave up the siege after that, as al-Samawal would still not give up Imru al-Qays possessions.

Arabs are some of the most hospitable peoples on the earth, and they still hold stories like this, from their history as sacred. I have loved every minute of getting to know many. These are some of the virtues of true Islam.

The Deseret Alphabet

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The Deseret Alphabet

What is the Deseret Alphabet?  

Origin 

The Deseret alphabet was devised as an alternative to the Latin alphabet for writing the English language, to help foreigners learn how to read English easier. It was developed during the 1850s at the University of Deseret, now the University of Utah, and was promoted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, under Church President Brigham Young (1801-1877).

The name Deseret is taken from a word in the Book of Mormon and means “honeybee”. It reflects the Latter-day Saint use of the beehive as a symbol of co-operative industry.

Brigham Young’s secretary, George D. Watt, was among the designers of the Deseret alphabet and is thought to have used the Pitman English Phonotypic Alphabet of 1847 as the model.

The LDS Church commissioned two typefaces and published four books using the Deseret alphabet. The Church-owned Deseret News also published passages of scripture using the alphabet on occasion. In addition, some historical records, diaries, and other materials were hand-written using this script, and it had limited use on coins and signs. There is also one tombstone in Cedar City, Utah, written in the Deseret alphabet. However, the alphabet failed to gain wide acceptance and was not actively promoted after 1869.

Today, the Deseret alphabet remains of interest primarily to historians and hobbyists. It is also the official alphabet of the fictional (but actual) Republic of Molossia (which is a claimed micronation in the United States, founded by Kevin Baugh and is located near Nevada).

Please visit this website to see Brigham Young’s Deseret Alphabet:

http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/deseretalphabet.htm

 

A brief history of Simon Bar Kokhba and his Jewish revolt against Rome

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Simon Bar Kokhba on the Knesset Menorah

Simon Bar Kokhba is synonymous with tragedy. His surname “Bar Kokhba” means “son of a star,” and refers to the passage in Numbers 24 which speaks of a “star shooting out of Jacob.” Rabbi Akiva, a contemporary of Bar Kokhba, gave him this name, which has Messianic undertones. Indeed, following the destruction of the Temple, the stripping of Jewish autonomy, and the exile of Jews from Jerusalem, the hope that Bar Kokhba raised with his brief success and leadership led many to believe that the Messianic age had begun.

Christians, who believed that Jesus was the Messiah, rejected Bar Kokhba. This led to further schisms between Jews and early Christians, helping mold the Christian identity as one separate from Judaism.

After the devastation and destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, and the crushing of the earlier Jewish revolts, Jewish life in Israel was decimated, and Jewish sovereignty over. The Emperor Hadrian visited Jerusalem, and pledged to rebuild the city and the Temple. However, his motivation was to make a new Roman city and a temple dedicated to pagan gods. When the Romans began to plough up the foundations of the Temple, tensions grew, and when he outlawed religious practices that were fundamental to the Jewish faith, such as circumcision (which the Hellenists viewed as mutilation), the Jews rebelled, the third such rebellion (or: Jewish-Roman Wars) since the destruction of the Temple. And the last.

The revolution, inspired in part by the Hasmonean Dynasty, was initially successful. Practicing guerilla warfare, the Jewish forces recaptured many towns and villages, including Jerusalem. The Romans were taken by surprise, and attempts to suppress the rebellion failed. Coins were minted with the phrase “The Freedom of Israel.” Animal sacrifices were resumed, though not at the Temple; Rabbi Akiva led the Sanhedrin (Jewish Supreme Court), and Bar Kokhba established himself as Nasi (prince.)

However, in the year 135, the Romans were finally able to succeed in breaking the rebellion, and they did so brutally. They laid siege to the cities until the Jewish forces were weakened by lack of food, and then began the attack in earnest. The Jews fled to their stronghold, in Betar, but were attacked there as well, the final blow occurring on Tisha b’Av, the national day of Jewish mourning. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed, and Hadrian attempted to wipe out any indication that a Jewish presence ever existed in the land. Scholars, including Rabbi Akiva, were persecuted and killed; texts were burned. Hadrian erected statues in the Temple, and replaced the name “Judea” on maps with the name “Syria Palaestina,” from which the modern name “Palestine” is derived. He also reinstituted the name “Aelia Capitolina” as the capital of the new Roman city. Jews were banned from even entering the holy city.

Later, Constantine I allowed the Jews to enter Jerusalem once a year, on Tisha B’Av, in order to mourn. The revolt had significant impact on Judaism. Jewish “Messianism” became a study in the abstract only and the center of Jewish learning moved to the Diaspora. However, a Jewish presence remained in the Holy Land. The Jews mostly migrated to the north to Safed and Tiberias. Safed became known as an important Torah center, especially for the study of Kabbalah. Important Jewish texts were completed in Israel, including the Mishnah and the Jerusalem Talmud. In modern Israeli history, the Bar Kokhba revolt became a symbol of national resistance. The Jewish youth group “Betar” took its name from Bar Kokhba’s final stronghold, and Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, adopted the name of one of Bar Kokhba’s generals.

An introduction to Islam for Latter-day Saints

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Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (The Prophets Mosque) located in Medina, Saudi Arabia

This latest blog is written for a Latter-day Saint audience, who want to better understand the Abrahamic religion of Islam. I have written it in an easy to read question and answer format.

Which God do Muslims worship? 

Muslims believe that the Holy Bible is true, but they believe that some verses have had things added, and taken away. Muslims believe the same thing about the Bible as Latter-day Saints do. Muslims as well as Latter-day Saints worship Allah (Elohim in Hebrew), as being the one and only true God of Abraham. Some Muslims also refer to Allah as Father, or Heavenly Father.

Did Muslims change the story of Abraham willing to sacrificing his son Isaac, to it actually being Ishamael instead?

The answer is no. The Qur’an actually never names the son that Abraham placed  on the alter and was willing to sacrifice for God. Although some Muslims believe, and teach as doctrine that it was Ishmael that Abraham was going to sacrifice, but that’s only their opinion as no where in Islamic scripture does it state it was Ishmael. In the Qur’an Isaac is regarded as one of the holiest men to ever live on the earth, so he could also have very well been the son that Abraham was willing to sacrifice in the Qur’anic version.

What does the word Islam mean? 

The Arabic word islam means “submission.” It derives from the same Semitic root (s-l-m) that gives us the words for “peace” in Hebrew (shalom) and in Arabic (salaam). The model of islam is the prophet Abraham, and Muslims claim that Abraham submitted his will perfectly to the will of Gods.

What does the word Muslim mean? 

The word Muslim is used for the people who follow the religion of Islam. The word Muslim bears the same relation to Islam that Christian bears to Christianity, or Mormon to Mormonism. The first part of the word Muslim is a term for the believer; the second part refers to the doctrine or movement itself (s-l-m).

How do you pronounce the words Islam and Muslim correctly? 

The Arabic word Islam is Pronounced with the hissing s of this rather than with the z sound of these, and with the emphasis on the second syllable: Iss-LAAM.

The Arabic word Muslim is pronounced something like MUSS-lim. With the s pronounced the same as the s in Iss-LAAM.

What are the Jinn that are found in Islamic doctrine? Are they the Islamic version of Satan and those who rebelled who were kicked out of heaven, to the earth with no bodies? 

According to Islamic doctrine, the Jinn (which means “unseen” in Arabic) are beings that were created by God out of a smokeless fire. The Jinn are actually just below the Angels, and cannot be seen by mortal eyes. They are living on earth with us, and they can be good or evil. Some Jinn are Christians, some are Hindu, some are Muslim etc. some Jinns however follow Satan and his fallen angels, so Muslims are commanded not to try and make contact with the Jinn by any means. God favours human beings over all other creatures according to Islamic doctrine, that’s why he sends his angels to look over and protect humans.

Is the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) similar to the Latter-Day Saint Temple ordnance’s? 

Muslims and LDS both believe in ritual cleansing, washing and anointing before making sacred covenants with God. The Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca is a primitive version of the temple endowment and the initiatory. Many Scholars believe that th Hajj is the Ishmaelite version of the Israelite or Jewish Temple ordnance/s.

Is it true that both Mormons and Muslims both share the same doctrine on fasting? 

Yes. Muslims and LDS both believe in praying and fasting. Fasting will help you draw closer to God. Muslims are also encouraged to give the money of the meals they missed through fasting to charity.

Who is Jesus Christ to Muslims? 

Muslims and LDS both believe in the Virgin birth and miracles of Jesus. Both Muslims and LDS regard Mary as one of, or if not thee greatest women who ever lived.

Muslims and LDS both believe that Jesus was the greatest of all Prophets. Although Muslims believe that Jesus was taken directly to heaven by Elohim, and not crucified, they still believe that he suffered in Gethsemane and even though he was in agony he still prostrated and gave thanks to Allah. There is actually evidence to support that the Qur’an did once contain the crucifixion story, but it was changed after other copies were burnt in 667 AD, around 30 years after the original was compiled. The original was actually guarded vigorously by Muhammads wife Hafsah, but when she passed away the Islamic/Arabic political leader Uthman burnt it, even though Hafsah always refused to give it up for burning.

Do Muslims believe in God given free agency? 

Muslims and LDS both believe that the greatest gift God has given us is intelligence and free agency. There is no compulsion in religion (Qur’an 2:256).

I will write another blog on Understanding Islam for Latter-day Saints in the next week or so.

 

 

A Latter-day Saint take on the legend of Lilith

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A painting depicting Adam and Eve kneeling at an Altar

I recently received a message from a fellow Latter-day Saint friend, who wanted to know if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a stance on Adams first wife Lilith, and if indeed the legends of her are true. I have answered his question in greater detail in this blog post.

Indeed there has been a legendary figure named Lilith. She first appears in a document called The Alphabet of Ben Sira, that appeared sometime between the 8th and 10th centuries AD. This document is a scurrilous account of some of the biblical characters. Lilith is portrayed as being Adam’s first wife. Hugh Nibley describes the account of Lilith as follows—
“According to the Hebrew tradition, which is very early and very widely testified, he [Adam] had a wife at this time, and she was Lilith. She represents promiscuity. She didn’t like Adam. She did everything she could to keep him from entering into the covenant and marrying in the covenant. Eve wasn’t around then. Her name means “night,” Layla. Way back in the Alphabet of Rabbi Aqiba, a very early writing, we are told about her. She was his mate, but she stands for everything that is promiscuous. She doesn’t want to get married, but she wants to play around; that’s Lilith. Adam was living in an animal state of innocence. He had become as a little child. I guess he would be a pushover for Lilith. But she is a sinister character because she is irresponsible. She is married to him and she has children, but she doesn’t want to be responsible for them, or anything like that. She is regarded as the woman who tries to do everything she can to prevent marriage, to prevent childbirth, and to kill babies in their cribs. That’s Lilith. There are all sorts of early charms from Babylon and elsewhere against Lilith to keep her from her shenanigans. She’s a rather important figure. She represents the sort of sexual license we have in the world today-the anything goes, just have fun” (Hugh Nibley, Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price, edited by Robert Smith and Robert Smythe, p.13).
The word, Lilith, comes from the Hebrew for the word “owl” in Isaiah 34:14. That chapter addresses the time of the Lord’s vengeance, as stated in verse 8—
For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.
In verses 12 through 15, the word “owl” is mentioned three times. Each time it is translated from a different Hebrew term, as follows—
12 They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing.

13 And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls (yanshuwph 1).

14 The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl (liyliyth 2) also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.

15 There shall the great owl (qippowz 3) make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate.
1. yanshuwph– great owl, eared owl, an unclean animal
2. liyliyith– Lilith “?”, name of a female goddess known as a night demon who haunts the desolate places of Edom
3. qippowz– arrow snake, owl
History is full of the legends of mythical figures which have been invented to satisfy apparent need. Greek lore is full of such mythical figures. They mostly represent various deities and other figures that provided rationale for the otherwise unexplained mysteries of life. Such mythical figures have extended into our own day, including such figures as Pan, Cupid, Santa Claus, the Boogy Man, etc. Lilith is just such a figure from Hebrew lore.