Man and the Holy Qur'an
- :Shahid Murtada Mutahhari
Man and the Holy Qur'an
Shahid Murtada Mutahhari
According to Islamic conception man has a wonderful story. The man of Islam is not merely a 'biped homo erectus', who speaks and has wide nails. From the viewpoint of the Holy Qur'an, this being is too profound and too mysterious to be defined in such a simple way. The Holy Qur'an has at one and the same time lauded and disparaged him.
It has praised him very highly, but it has also slighted him in the most disparaging terms. It has described him as superior to the heavens, the earth and the angels, but at the same time has also declared that he is inferior even to the Devil and the beasts.
The Holy Qur'an is of the opinion that man is a being who has enough power to control the entire world and put the angels to his own service, but he often falls to the lowest ebb. It is man who takes decision about himself and determines his final destiny. We begin with the merits of man as mentioned in the Holy Qur'an.
Merits of Man
(i) Man is the vicegerent of Allah on the earth:
The day Allah wanted to create man, He intimated the angels of His intention. "They said: 'Will You put on the earth one who will make their mischief and will shed blood?. He said. 'I know what you do not know." (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:30)
"It is He who has appointed You vicegerent on the earth and exalted some of you in rank above others, so that He may test you by means of what he has given you." (Surah al-An'am, 6:165)
(ii) Of the entire creation man has the highest capacity to acquire knowledge:
"He taught Adam all the names (all the realities of things). Then He presented those things to the angels and said- 'Tell Me the names of those if what you say is true'. They said: 'Glory be to You! We have no knowledge except that which You have given us. (We can learn nothing, except that which You have taught us direct). Then Allah said to Adam: 'Tell them their names' ' and when he had told them their names, He said: 'Did I not tell you that I. know the secrets of the heavens and the earth? (I know what you do not know at all). And I know what you disclose and what you hide'." (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:31 - 33)
(iii) Man's nature is such that he intuitively knows that there is one Allah. Any disbelief or doubt is an abnormality and a deviation from real human nature.
"When the children of Adam were still in the loins of their fathers, Allah creatively made them testify His existence." (Surah al-A'raf, 7:172) "So set your face resolutely for religion. That is the nature framed by Allah in which He has created all men." (Surah ar-Rum, 30:30)
(iv) Besides the material elements existing in the inorganic matter, plants and animals, there in the nature of man exists a Divine and angelic element also. Man is a mixture of what is natural and what is extra-natural, of what is material and what is not material, of body and soul:
"Who made all things good. And He began the creation of man from clay. Then He made his seed from a draught of despised fluid. Then He fashioned him and breathed into him of His spirit." (Surah as-Sajdah, 32:7 - 9)
(v) The creation of man is well-calculated and not accidental. Man is a chosen being:
"Then his Lord chose Adam, relented towards him and guided him." (Surah Ta Ha 20:122)
Man has an independent and free personality. He is a trustee appointed by Allah and has a mission and a responsibility. He is required to rehabilitate the earth with his effort and initiative, and to choose between prosperity and misery:
"We offered the trust to the heavens, the earth and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. On the other hand man assumed it. Surely he has proved a tyrant and a fool." (Surah al-Ahzab, 33:72)
"We created man from a drop of thickened fluid to test him. Therefore We made him hearing, knowing. Surely We have shown him the way to be either grateful or disbelieving. (He is free to go either the straight way that We have shown him, and prosper, or be ungrateful and deviate from it)." (Surah ad-Dahr, 76:2 - 3)
(vii) Man enjoys a dignity and nobility. Allah has made him superior to many of His creations. Man feels his real self only when he realizes his dignity and nobility and regards himself above every kind of meanness, bondage and lewdness:
"Surely We have honoured the children of Adam. We have put the land and the sea under their control, given them sustenance and have exalted them above many of those whom We have created" (Surah Bani Israil, 17:70)
(viii) Man has been endowed with a sense of moral insight. He knows what is good and what is evil by means of a natural inspiration:
"By the soul of man and Him who perfected it and inspired it with the knowledge of vice and virtue." (Surah ash-Shams, 91:7 - 8) (ix) Man does not feel satisfied with anything except the remembrance of Allah. His desires have no end. He soon gets fed up with anything that he gets or achieves. It is only his attachment to Allah that can satisfy him:
"Surely in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest!"
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