Idris (a)

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Idris (a)
Looking at the hell after his ascend to the heavens
Looking at the hell after his ascend to the heavens
Name in
the Qur'an:
Name in
the Bible:
Place of Birth:Memphis
Place(s) of
Babil and Egypt
Name of People:Descendants of Qabil
Before:Noah (a)
After:Shayth (a)
Book:Sahifa Idris
Religion:Shari'a of Adam (a)
Age:300 years
Era:Five generations after Adam (a)
Repeat in
the Qur'an:
Two times
Ascend to the heavens

In Islam, ʾIdris (a) is one of the prophets (a) of God. The Qur'an considered him one of the greatest prophets (a) who reached a high position. Some exegetes of the Qur'an and Muslim historians considered him to be Enoch (the great-grandfather of Noah (a) in the Bible). According to Islamic narrations, Idris (a) was the first person who made clothes and used the pen for writing and studied astronomy and mathematics. His occupation was tailoring and al-Sahla Mosque was his house. There is a disagreement among exegetes and Islamic scholars about him being dead or alive.

Cause of Naming

About the cause of naming Idris, there are different opinions, including that he (a) was busy with teaching and scientific activities.[1] According to Tafsir of 'Ali b. Ibrahim al-Qummi, Imam al-Sadiq (a) says: "He was named Idris for he read and taught books a lot".[2][3]

Some considered his name adopted from Hermes who was the medium between gods and humans in the ancient Greece.[4]

According to one opinion, he (a) was Enoch in the Bible and his father was Jared b. Mahalalel[5] and since the name "Idris" is taken by Arabs from the Torah and the pronunciations in Arabic are different from Hebrew, his name has become different.[6] Accordingly, some considered his name Enoch which is mentioned in the Torah. Whether Enoch and Idris have been two persons or one, all Muslims have respected Enoch as one of the Prophets (s).


About the life of Idris and the end of his life, there are different opinions and available documents are not very reliable, many of which are among Isra'iliyyat.[7]


In some Islamic sources, Idris is mentioned in the lineage of the Prophet (s), while some sources have not accepted it and believe that because Idris (a) called the Prophet Muhammad (s) "al-Akh al-Salih" [the righteous brother] in the night of Mi'raj [Ascent],[8] then he (a) cannot be among the ancestors of the Prophet (s).[9]

Other sources have mentioned him among the ancestors of prophet Nuh (a). In Majma' al-bayan, al-Tabrisi said, "he [Idris] is the forefather of Nuh (a), his name in the Torah is Enoch and there are many hadiths about his ascent to heavens."[10]

In the Bible, chapter Genesis, part 5, about the fathers of Nuh (a), it is said, "When Jared had lived one hundred sixty-two years, he became the father of Enoch.… he became the father of Methuselah… he became the father of Lamech… he became the father of a son; he named him Noah"[11] This supports Majma' al-bayan which says that Idris was the great-grandfather of Noah.


Some considered Memphis in Egypt the birthplace of Idris[12] and some others said that he (a) was born in Babylon and became the prophet (a) two hundred years after Prophet Adam (a) and prior to his prophethood, he studied before Shayth (a).[13]


It is said that Idris (a) was sent to guide descendants of Qabil (Cain) who committed wrong deeds, drank wine, were polytheist and idol-worshippers.[14] He (a) invited people to the Truth and Unity of God and asked them to follow the religion of Adam (a) and Shayth (a), to be fair toward each other, to help the weak, to be ready for jihad against enemies of religion, to pay zakat to help the poor and do not forget fasting in certain days.[15] But, when they did not accept his call, they were afflicted by God's wrath and were perished.


According to some hadiths, Idris (a) chose a hundred people from the best of his followers and from them, chose 70 people and from them, chose 10 and from them he (a) chose 7 with whom he (a) began praying to God.

God sent Idris (a) revelations and called him and his companions to worship and they continued to worship God with Idris (a) until God raised the soul of Idris toward Himself.[16]

About his destiny, some said that, when he (a) saw the sins of descendants of Qabil, he (a) asked God to take him to Himself and God accepted and now he (a) lives in the sky 4th or 5th.[17] Some said that he (a) ascent to sky 4th and there, he (a) passed away[18] and some said that he (a) entered the paradise alive and never exited there.[19]

Scientific Characteristics

According to historical reports in Islamic books, Idris was the first person who did tailoring and put on clothes and until then, people put on skins of animals. He (s) was the first person who used the pen for writing and studied astronomy and mathematics;[20] so, Idris (a) is considered the first teacher of the human being and they attribute the principles of every science to him. Thus, human beings are indebted to him in astronomy, geometry, philosophy, mathematics, and logic.[21]

In the Qur'an

The glorious Qur'an has mentioned his name twice in Quran 19 and Quran 21 and considers him a truthful, patient and righteous prophet at a high position and mentions that he (a) entered the divine mercy.

According to some verses and hadiths, some believe that God raised him to some higher skies and thus,[22] it is mentioned in the Qur'an, "and We raised him to a station exalted."[23] Some others believe that raising even with to highest locations cannot be a merit; thus, by "a station exalted", one of the stations of closeness to God is meant and from the context of stories mentioned in this chapter and the blessings of prophethood and wilaya are mentioned which are spiritual positions, the mentioned interpretation can be proved.[24]

In Qur'an, 6:58 and Qur'an, 37:123 in which Ilyas (a) is mentioned, some exegetes believe that Ilyas (a) is actually Idris and have mentioned the characteristics and stories about Idris in their comments for these verses for Ilyas.[25] Some have recited "'Peace be to Ilyas!'"[26] (37:130) as "peace be to Idris".

However, it seems that Ilyas is different from Idris because in chapter Quran 6:83-85[27] Ilyas (a) is mentioned among the offsprings of Nuh (a), while Idris was before Nuh (a) and was among his ancestors.[28]

In Hadiths

Narrations suggest that Idris chose from among his followers 7 people to pray and others said Amen. Then, God accepted their prayers and thus chose Idris as His messenger.[29]

It is mentioned in hadiths that, the cause of raising Idris to skies was that an angel gave him the good news of acceptance of his deeds and forgiveness for his slips. He thus wished to live an eternal life. The angel asked him, "why do you wish for an eternal life?" Idris said, "to praise God, because during my life, I prayed that God accepts my deeds and now that I have achieved what I prayed for, I want to thank and praise God for it." That angel opened his wings and embraced him and raised him to skies.[30]

In answer to a question of Abu Dhar about the number of books God revealed to His prophets, the Prophet (s) answered, "104 books, 50 of which were revealed to Shayth (a), 30 to Idris (a), 20 to Ibrahim (a) plus the Torah, the Bible, the Psalms and Furqan."[31] He (s) then added that "the first person who wrote with the pen was Idris (a)."[32]

It is mentioned in narrations that Idris (a) was pious and ascetic and prayed to God a thousand times a day. His house is considered to be Masjid al-Sahla and that he (a) did tailoring. Imam Ali (a) said, "God raised Idris (a) and he (a) enjoys the foods of paradise after he (a) passed away."[33]


  1. Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān al-ʿArab, vol. 4, p. 329. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 6, p. 492.
  2. Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qummī, vol. 2, p. 609.
  3. lesson, learning and teaching in Arabic all are brought from the root d-r-s (درس)
  4. Masʿūdī, Ithbat al-waṣīyya, vol. 1, p. 24; Ṣadr al-Dīn al-Shīrāzī, Tafsīr al-Qurʾān al-karīm, vol. 3, p. 18.
  5. Genesis, 5:19-25; Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 40.
  6. Ibn Khaldūn,Tārikh Ibn Khaldūn, vol. 2, p. 7.
  7. Ṭabāṭabāyī, Tarjuma-yi tafsīr-i al-mīzān, vol. 14, p. 71-73.
  8. Suhaylī, al-Rawḍ al-unuf, vol. 1, p. 1314.
  9. Ḥākim al-Nayshābūrī, al-Mustadrak ʿalā l-ṣaḥīḥayn, vol. 2, p. 549.
  10. Ṭabrisī, Tarjuma-yi tafsīr-i Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 15, p. 181.
  11. Genesis, 5:18-28.
  12. Zamakhsharī, Rabīʿ al-abrār wa nusūs al-akhbār, vol. 1, p. 369-371.
  13. Ṭabāṭabāyī, Tarjuma-yi tafsīr-i al-mīzān, vol. 14, p. 95.
  14. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-Ṭabarī, vol. 1, p. 116.
  15. Ḥasanī al-ʿĀmilī, al-Anbīyāʾ ḥayātuhum wa qiṣaṣuhum, vol. 1, p. 65-66.
  16. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 11, p. 271.
  17. Baḥrānī, al-Burhān, vol. 6, p. 350.
  18. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 6, p. 492; Zamakhsharī, al-Kashshāf, vol. 3, p. 24.
  19. Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam fī tārikh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 1, p. 234.
  20. Shahristānī, al-Milal wa l-niḥal, vol. 2, p. 353; Masʿūdī, Murūj al-dhahab, vol. 1, p. 43.
  21. Ṭabāṭabāyī, Tarjuma-yi tafsīr-i al-mīzān, vol. 14, p. 72.
  22. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 11, p. 270.
  23. Qurʾān, 19:57.
  24. Ibn al-ʿĀshūr, al-Taḥrīr wa l-tanwīr, vol. 16, p. 57.
  25. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 4, p. 510.
  26. Qurʾān, 37:130.
  27. This was Our argument that We gave to Abraham against his people. We raise in rank whomever We wish. Indeed your Lord is all-wise, all-knowing. (83) And We gave him Isaac and Jacob and guided each of them. And Noah We had guided before, and from his offspring, David and Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron —thus do We reward the virtuous— (84) and Zechariah, John, Jesus, and Ilyas, —each of them among the righteous (Qurʾān, 6:83-85)
  28. Ṭabāṭabāyī, Tarjuma-yi tafsīr-i al-mīzān, vol. 2, p. 211; Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 4, p. 510-511.
  29. Ṣadūq, ʿIlal al-sharāyiʿ, vol. 1, p. 28.
  30. Daylamī, Irshād al-qulūb, vol. 1, p. 326.
  31. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 11, p. 32.
  32. Riyshahrī, Ḥikam al-Nabīyy, vol. 2, p. 269.
  33. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 11, p. 274.


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