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Islam: A Scientific View of God's Message to Humanity

By Hassan Ali El-Najjar

Table of Contents  

I. Introduction: Basic Information   

1. Islam: A Brief Introduction    

2. Three Levels of Faith: Islam, Iman, and Ihsan    

3. The Scientific Evidence That God Exists and the Holy Qur'an Is His Message to Humanity    

4. Creation and Evolution in the Holy Qur'an   

5. Humans, As God's Caliphs on Earth   

6. Adam's Contest With the Angels, and Getting Out of Paradise  

7. Worshippers By Choice Or Forced Slaves?    

8. The Relationship Between the Spiritual and the Physical Aspects of Islamic Teachings   

9. Spirit, Soul, Mind, Self, and Happiness, from an Islamic Perspective

10. Heart-Mind Relationship in the Holy Qur'an    

II. Islam: The Five Pillars of the Faith Structure  

11. Islamic Proclamation of Faith  

12. Performing Islamic Prayers  

13. Giving Zakat, Charity, The Third Islamic Duty  

14. Fasting and Ramadhan, Great Gifts from Allah to Muslims  

15. Haj, Pilgrimage, the Fifth Pillar of Islam  

III. Iman: Allah, His Angels, Messengers, Messages, Latter Day, and Qadar  

16. Allah, As He Described Himself in the Holy Quran    

17. Angels  

18. Noo'h, Noah, in the Holy Quran     

19. Ibrahim, Abraham, in the Holy Quran

20. Moussa, Moses, in the Holy Quran  

21. 'Eissa, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Quran    

22. Muhammed in the Holy Quran   

23. Prophet Muhammed's Night Journey and Ascent to Heavens, Al-Issra Wal Mi'raj  

24. The Last Day: The Hour, Resurrection, Reckoning, and Judgment

25. God's Precise Measurement and His Just Decree, Al-Qadar Wal Qadha

IV. I'hsan: Watching Allah in What We Say and What We Do  

1. Introduction to Islamic Law, Shari'a, Part I, Prohibition, Don't Do, and Do Commands in the Holy Quran

2. The La (No) Commands  

3. The Imperative Commands  

***

Articles with Islamic Perspective:

Health Care Crisis in the US: An Islamic Perspective

"Terrorism" & "Islamo-Fascism" Propaganda Campaigns: An Interactive Lecture

Six Questions About Islam, Muslims and Jews

Five Islamic Issues: Predestination and choice, position toward other religions, angels, and the End of Days

Food Islamic Rules and Teachings
 

Are Muslim women second-class citizens  

The French Ban on Islamic Headscarf, an Interview with

Links to Islamic Topics 2007-2010

Links to Islamic Topics 2007

Links to Islamic topics 2006

Links to Islamic topics 2005

Links to Islamic topics 2004

Links to Islamic topics, 2003

2002 Links to Islamic topics

 

Islam:

A Scientific View of God's Message to Humanity

5

Humans, As God's Caliphs on Earth

By Hassan Ali El-Najjar

Updated on the 15th Day of Shawwal 1441 - June 7th, 2020

***

***

ۡ ٱ ٱٰۡ ٱ

 

I seek refuge with God from the stoned Shaytan (Satan)

In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

 

*** 

Introduction

A necessary background for this Chapter can be found in Chapter 4, "Creation and Evolution in the Holy Quran," which tells the Quran story of how Allah (God), praise to Him, created life on Earth, let it evolve, and intervened to improve His creation. 

This Chapter is a continuation of the topic of creation and evolution but with focus on human beings, as they represent the climax of the five stages of creation: starting life, fashioning in the right proportions, walking upright on two, imaging them in the best of images, and blowing of Gods Spirit in them. When Allah, praise to Him, felt that He taught humans enough, He decided to make them His deputies (caliphs) on Earth. When the angels expressed their surprise, Allah chose Adam to represent humanity in a contest with them, to show them that human beings are worthy of His decision of trusting them to rule the Earth. That story is the subject of Chapter 6, "Adam's Contest with the Angels, and Getting Out of Paradise." 

The verses related to the topics of Chapters 3, 4, and 5, like the rest of the verses of the Holy Quran, are very concise and each word contained in them has a specific meaning within a certain context but it may have other meanings in other contexts. That is why the translation from Arabic is not enough. It has to be explained further with facts from the sciences, particularly from Anthropology and Biology in this case, as well as with interpretations of the early prominent Islamic scholars, such as Al-Tabari, Al-Qurtubi, and Ibn Katheer.  [1]

 

Meaning of Human Caliphate on Earth

The starting point in this Chapter is the word khalifa (۬ۖ), or caliph, which is mentioned in Verse 30 of Surat Al-Baqara (Chapter 2) of the Holy Quran. The root of the word is the Arabic verb khalafa, which means came after or succeeded.

ۡ ٰۡٓٮٕ ۬ ٱۡۡ ۬ۖ ٓ ۡ ۡ ۡ ٱٓ ۡ ۡ ۖ ٓ ۡ ۡ ( 2: 30).

And when your Lord said to the angels: I am making a caliph on the Earth. They said: Are You making therein one who corrupts in it and sheds blood, while we hymn Your praise and sanctify You? He said: Surely I know that which you do not know  (Al-Baqara, 2: 30).

The caliph (Al-Khalifa) is the ruler who comes after, or succeeds a former ruler. The main meaning is that Allah, praise to Him, has chosen humans to be His successors, or caliphs, on Earth, ruling it according to His Law (Sharia), and on His behalf.

Muslims used the word to describe the second head of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, referring to him as the Caliph of the Prophet, or his successor, as the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was the first head of the Islamic State. Then, Muslims continued describing their rulers as such until the end of World War I, at the beginning of the twentieth century, when the Ottoman Caliphate was defeated by Western empires and was replaced by the Turkish and Arab secular states.

Another related meaning to the word Khalifa or caliph is that Allah, praise to Him, has willed that humans shall succeed each other in ruling the Earth, century after century, until He inherits this planet and all that is on it

In explaining the meaning of this verse, Al-Siyouti mentioned that Allah decided to make Adam as His caliph, successor, on Earth, to succeed Him in implementing His rules.

Al-Tabari used the same explanation, mentioning a narration by the Companions Ibn Massaud and Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them (mAbpwt). However, he added, as Ibn Katheer did, saying that the meaning of caliphate is the succession of a century of people by another.

Al-Qurtubi was clear in that the caliphate, or succession, is that of Adam succeeding God, praise to Him, on Earth. He cited Ibn Massaud and Ibn Abbas in saying that Adam, peace be to him, was Gods Caliph in implementing His rules and commands, because he was a Messenger of God, as the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him, told the Companion Abu Dher, mAbpwh.

 

Honor, But Responsibility 

Gods will, or mandate, to make humans His successors (caliphs) on Earth, is a great honor to them. This honor was mentioned in several verses of the Holy Quran, such as in 2:30 (above) , 17: 70, and  17: 62.

ٰ   ( 17: 70).

And We have certainly honored the children of Adam, carried them on the land and sea, provided for them of the good things, and preferred them over much of what We have created, with (definite) preference (Al-Issra, 17: 70).

ۡ ٰ ٱ ڪۡ ٮٕۡ ۡ ٰ ۡ ٱٰۡ ۡ  ۥۤ ۬ (ٕ  17: 62).

He said: Do You see this whom You have honored above me, if You reprieve me until the Day of Rising (Resurrection), I will seize his offspring, except a few (Al-'Issra, 17: 62).

Despite that the mandate has been a great honor to humans, it has been associated with a grave responsibility at the same time. It is true that they lived up to Gods expectations in many centuries and stages of their history. However, they failed in many other occasions and times. They did injustice to themselves and to the planet they have been entrusted to rule over and care about.

The very characteristics of success that humans possess could be used in bad ways, as a result of following Satan and his wicked ways, which took many humans away from the right path of God. 

Verse 72 of Surat Al-A'hzab (Chapter 33) of the Holy Quran tells us that the Heavens, the Earth, and the Mountains (as solid and strong as they are) could not carry Gods mandate and the responsibility associated with it. However, humans were happy to carry it, or accept it, out of ignorance about the burdens of the responsibility associated with Gods mandate for them to become His successors on Earth.


ۖ  ( 33:  72).

We offered the trust (of succession, caliphate) to the heavens and the Earth and the mountains, but they refused to undertake it, and were afraid of it. But the human (being) undertook it (because) he was unjust (to himself) and ignorant (of the consequences of his undertaking)  (Al-A'hzab, 33: 72).  

Thus, Gods trust in His human creation to be His caliphs on Earth was based on His knowledge of them as capable of receiving His mandate of ruling Earth, and living up to the responsibilities associated with that mandate. In particular, Allah, praise to Him, tells us about some of the characteristics that made humans trustworthy of His mandate. These are represented by their ability to learn, to build, and to choose.

 

Human Ability to Learn

Allah, praise to Him, made humans His caliphs on Earth, after they proved to Him their ability to learn, to accumulate knowledge, to process that knowledge, to make rules and laws on the basis of their knowledge, and to make use of what they have learned.

Allah, praise to Him, facilitated for humans to learn by making Earth abundant in food and resources and protected it from harmful cosmic effects. He surrounded it with several layers of atmospheres as protection and made its distance from the Sun ideal for life to flourish and progress. Thus, humans have enjoyed  peaceful and comfortable conditions in most regions of Earth, which freed them to learn.

Allah, the Compassionate, praise to Him, never left His creation completely alone or lonely to despair. He would intervene to improve His creation with fashioning in the right proportions and best imaging. He also instructed them to learn, use their knowledge for their benefit, and guided them to how they can achieve that.

Gods first word and command to humans, delivered through the Senior Angel, Jibril (Gabriel), peace be to him, to the Messenger of Allah, Muhammed, peace and blessings be upon him (pbbuh) was "Read" ().  He actually repeated it three times to confirm its importance to humanity, as stated in the first five verses of Surat Al-Alaq (Chapter 96) of the Holy Quran.

﴿١﴾ ﴿٢﴾ ﴿٣﴾ ﴿٤﴾ ﴿٥﴾  ( 96: 1-5).  

Read! In the name of your Lord, Who created, (1)

Created the human (being), out of an 'alaq (leech-like embryos), (2)

Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, (3)

He Who taught with the pen, (4)

(He) taught the human (being) that which he did not know (Al-Alaq, 96: 1-5).

There are many verses in the Holy Quran, which deal with learning, knowledge, and science. [2]  When we look at some of them, we find that Allah, praise to Him, states that He and His senior angel, Jibril, peace to him, are involved in teaching humans, as mentioned in verses 55: 1-5, 2: 239, and 53: 45. The teaching happens directly, as in the case of Jibril teaching the Messengers of Allah, and indirectly by facilitating learning to the average person, as in the case of the scribe mentioned in Verse 2: 282.

ٰ ﴿١﴾ ﴿٢﴾ ﴿٣﴾ ﴿٤﴾ (ٰ 55: 1-4). 

 ( 2: 239).

ٰ ﴿٤﴾ ٰ ﴿٥﴾ ( 53: 4-5). 

  ( 2: 282).

The Beneficent, (1) has taught the Quran, (2) created the human (being), (3) taught him speech  (Al-Rahman, 55: 1-4).

Remember Allah, as He has taught you that which you did not know  (Al-Baqara, 2: 239).

It is an inspiration, being inspired (to him) (4), taught by the one mighty in power (5) (Jibril)  (Al-Najm, 53: 4-5).

A scribe should not refuse to write as Allah has taught him  (Al-Baqara, 2: 282).

 

Human Tendency and Capability of Construction

Gods trust in His creation of human beings to be His caliphs on Earth was further based on His knowledge of their tendency and capability of construction. He expected humans to be creative, in continuously improving their conditions on Earth, reaching the stage of civilization, as Ibn Khaldoun described it, using the Quran term of Amarah, which means construction or civilization. [3]

Verse 30: 9 is an invitation for humans to excavate the previous civilizations, to learn lessons from them. While this is a command for humans to study historical and pre-historical sites to learn about previous human civilizations, it's also a direct reference to the human tendency and capability of construction.

ۚ ( 30: 9).

Have they not travelled on the Earth to see, what was the end of those, who were before them? They were much stronger than them, and they plowed the land and constructed upon it more than these have constructed (Al-Room, 30: 9).

There is no doubt that construction benefited from the other two human characteristics of learning and choice. The three qualities interacted with each other producing this wonderful human phenomenon, which has pleased Allah, Who did bet on them to do so, and to be thus, in front of His angels.

Verses 11: 61 and 9: 18 include references to the human construction, as follows:

ٰ ۚ ٰ ۖ ( 11: 61). 

( 9: 18).

And to the (people of) Thamud, (We sent) their brother Sali'h. He said: O (my) people! Worship Allah, you have no other god than Him. He made you from the earth and (enabled) you to construct therein (Hood, 11: 61).

The mosques of Allah are constructed, visited, and maintained by whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, and by whoever observes the prayer and pays charity (zakat), and fears none except Allah (Al-Tawba, 9: 18 ).

 

Human Freedom of Choice

Gods trust in His human creation to be His caliphs on Earth was also based on His knowledge of them as being capable to choose, unlike angels who are obedient to their Creator by creation and design, as we learn from Verse 66: 6. 

( 66: 6).

(The angels) do not disobey Allah in what He commands them, and (they) do what they are commanded  (Al-Ta'hreem, 66: 6).

Humans have been created to be capable to choose between right and wrong as well as between obedience and disobedience to their Creator, as we learn from Verses 76: 3, 89: 8-10, and 91: 7-10.  

( 76: 3). 

﴿٨﴾ ﴿٩﴾ ﴿١٠﴾ (  89: 8-10). 

﴿٧﴾ ﴿٨﴾ ﴿٩﴾ ﴿١٠﴾ ( 91: 7-10).

We guided him (the human being) to the path (of choice, to see if he chooses to be) grateful or disbelieving  (Al-Insan, 76: 3).

Have We not made for him two eyes? (8) And a tongue and two lips (to speak with)? (9) And guided him to the two paths (to choose from)?  (Al-Balad, 89: 8-10).

By the (human) self, and how He fashioned it, (7) by inspiring it to (to know the paths of) disobedience and piety. (8) Truly, whoever keeps it pure will succeed, (9) And whoever corrupts it will fail (10)  (Al-Shams, 91: 7-10). [4]

Allah, praise to Him, wanted to enjoy seeing his human creation obey Him and observe His commands by choice. Thus, when He told His angels that He would make humans His caliphs on Earth, they were surprised because of their knowledge of human corruption and violence (blood-shedding). But Allah, praise to Him, answered them saying that He knew that which they did not know, as stated in verse 2:30, mentioned above. He knew that as some humans may choose to corrupt and shed blood, others will choose to obey His commands and do good deeds to themselves, to others, and to their Planet..  

Thus, the above verses tell us that humans are born with the ability to identify whats right and whats wrong as well as the ability to choose which of the two paths they are going to follow. These innate capabilities were blown into humans from Gods Spirit, part of fifth stage of creation, as discussed in Chapter 4, and as mentioned in verse 15: 29.  

( 15: 29). 

And when I have proportioned him and blew into him of My Spirit, then fall down to him in prostration (Al-Hijr, 15: 29). 

 

Responsibilities of God's Caliphs on Earth

As mentioned in many verses in the Holy Quran, the human caliphate of God on Earth is associated with heavy responsibilities, which humans are capable of doing. If they live up to the undertakings of these responsibilities, they will receive great rewards in this life and in the hereafter. Otherwise, they may be replaced by others in this life, and punished in the hereafter.

First, Allah, praise to Him, mentions in the Holy Quran that the caliphate or succession of humans on Earth is a test for them, as He wants to see whether they are thankful or ungrateful for the blessings He bestowed on them, as mentioned in Verses 6: 165, 10: 14, and 7: 129. 

Second, in return for successorship on Earth, humans need to believe in Allah and in His Messenger, to spend for His sake, and do good deeds, as stated in verses 57: 7, 24: 55, 57: 7,

Third, humans need to acknowledge Gods favors to them, which should prompt them to thank Him for the good body He fashioned for them and for making them His Caliphs on Earth, as stated in Verse 7: 96.

Fourth, Allah, praise to Him, also mentions that disbelievers, merciless, and miserly people may be replaced by others, who are better than them, as we read in Verses 6: 133 and 11: 57.

Fifth, in addition to  believing in Allah, mentioning His blessings, doing good deeds, the human caliphate of God on Earth is conditioned on many responsibilities, such as not corrupting the Earth, ruling people with justice and according to Gods commands, patience, and piety, as mentioned in verses 10: 73, 7: 74, 38: 26, 35: 39, 27: 62, and 7: 128. [5]

 

Conclusion 

By reaching the fifth stage of creation, humans demonstrated their ability to learn, construct, and choose freely. As a result, their Creator willed that they were trustworthy of ruling the Earth, as His successors (caliphs). That honor came with heavy responsibilities, which are mentioned in many verses of the Holy Quran. Allah, praise to Him, promised humans to allow them the continuation of their caliphate of Earth, as long as they follow His commands. Otherwise, they will be replaced by others in this life and punished in the hereafter.

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Notes

[1] This author consulted with several translations of the Holy Quran verses, particularly those of Saheeh International and Yusuf Ali, published at www.tanzil.net. However, the translation of meaning of verses in this Chapter, as well as in the book as a whole, is his sole responsibility.  

The complete works of these three great Islamic scholars, who interpreted the Holy Quran in different centuries, are published on paper, as well as online, such as on http://quran.ksu.edu.sa/tafseer/ and on http://waqfeya.com/book.php?bid=1696. Their major works are referenced in Endnote # 7 of Chapter 1.   

[2] The Holy Quran Index in Arabic by Muhammed Fuad Abdul Baqi. Cairo: Dar Al-Fikr. 1406 (1986). The Arabic Title of the index is: Al-Muajam Al-Mufahras Li Alfadh Al-Quran Al-Kareem, Pages 469-480. In particular, there are about 26 verses, on pages 474-475, which are directly related to human learning and Gods influence in that process. 

The Holy Quran search, at www.tanzil.net, yields 17 verses, which include the Arabic root verb "to teach" () and its derivatives, to refer to Gods teaching of humans. These are 2: 31, 2: 239, 2: 251, 2: 282, 5: 4, 5: 5, 5: 110, 12: 37, 12: 68, 12: 101, 21: 80, 36: 69, 53: 5, 55: 2, 55: 4, 96: 4, and 96: 5. 

[3] Abdul Rahman Bin Khaldoun was an Arab sociologist who lived in Andalusia, North Africa, and Egypt. He was born in Tunis, in 732 H (1332 AD) and died in Cairo in 808 H (1406 AD). He wrote his famous Introduction to Sociology, about five centuries before Auguste Compte started modern sociology in France, in the 19th century.

 

Ibn Khaldoun was not alone in equating construction with civilization. Modern anthropologists have also acknowledged that fact, associating human civilization with intensive agriculture, which was also associated with construction of temples, palaces, theaters, dams, canals, roads, and huge monuments and statues. That construction was not possible without writing languages and developing various sciences, hence leading to civilization.

 

[4] For a discussion about the human self, see Chapter 9, "Mind, Self, Soul, Spirit, and Happiness, from an Islamic Perspective." 

 

[5] The verses, which were mentioned about the heavy responsibilities of humans, as caliphs of God on Earth, are as follows:

ۗ  ( 6: 165).

And it is He Who has made you successors (caliphs) of the Earth and raised some of you above others in ranks, so that He tests you of what He has given you. Surely your Lord is quick in punishment, and surely He is Forgiving, (and)  Merciful  (Al-Ana'am, 6: 165).        

 ( 10: 14).

Then We made you successors (caliphs) on the Earth, after them, to see how you would act  (Younus, 10: 14).

ۚ ٰ  ( 7: 129).

They said: We had been hurt before and after you came to us. He said: May your Lord destroy your enemy and make you successors (caliphs) on the Earth. So, He sees how you act  (Al-Araf, 7: 129).   

 ( 57: 7).

Believe in Allah and His Messenger, and spend of that which He has given you (as His) successors (Al-Hadeed, 57: 7).

 ( 24: 55).

Allah has promised those who believe among you to make them successors on Earth, as He made successors of those before them  (Al-Noor, 24: 55).

   ۖ  ( 57: 7).

Believe in Allah and His Messenger and spend out of that in which He has made you successors. For those who have believed among you and spent, there will be a great reward (Al-'Hadeed, 57: 7). 

ۖ ( 7: 69). 

And reflect (think about) that He made you successors (caliphs) after the people of Noah, and made you exceeding them in stature. Then, remember the favors of Allah, so that you may prosper  (Al-Araf, 7: 96).

ۚ  ( 6: 133).

Your Lord is Self-Sufficient, (the Lord) of Mercy. If He will, He can remove you and make successors (caliphs) after you whom He wills, as He made you from offspring of other people  (Al-Anaam, 6: 13).

ۚ  ( 11: 57).

(Prophet Hood said): If they turn away (from what you told them, tell them) I have conveyed the Message with which I was sent to you, and my Lord will make another people to succeed you, and you will not harm Him anything  (Hood, 11: 57).

( 10: 73).

They rejected him, so We saved him and those with him in the ship, and made them successors (caliphs), and We drowned those who rejected Our revelations  (Younus, 10: 73).     .

ۖ ( 7: 74).

Reflect (think about) that He made you successors (caliphs) after (the people of) 'Ad, and settled you on the Earth so that you could construct on its plains palaces, and carve dwellings out of mountains. So remember the favors of Allah, and do not act on the Earth as corruptors  (Al-'Araf, 7: 74).

ٰ  ( 38: 26). 

O Dawood (David)! We have made you as a successor (caliph) on earth, so judge among people rightly, and do not follow desire, (which may) misguide away from the path of Allah  (Saad, 38: 26).

ۚ ۖ  ( 35: 39).

He is Who has made you successors (caliphs) on the Earth. So he who disbelieves, his disbelief will be on him (He will bear the consequences) (Fater, 35: 39). 

ۗ ٰ ۚ  ( 27: 62).

Or, Who listens to the distressed when he calls on Him, and Who relieves the suffering, and makes you successors (caliphs) on the Earth? (Are you still taking) another god with Allah? It is little that you reflect on  (Al-Naml, 27: 62).      

ٰ ۖ ۖ  ( 7: 128).

Moussa (Moses) said to his people: Seek help from Allah and endure. The Earth is Allah's. He gives it as inheritance to whom He wills of his worshippers, and the sequel is for the pious  (Al-Araf, 7: 128).

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About the Author and the Book:

* The author of this book has a Ph.D. in Sociology and a Masters degree in Cultural Anthropology. He was born in Gaza, Palestine, in 1369 Hijriya (1950), but he has been living in the United States since 1986.
 
The authentic Quran Arabic text is used as a reference for the translation of the meanings of the Quran verses, particularly from www.tanzil.net
.

The works of the three renowned Islamic scholars Al-Tabari, Al-Qurtubi, and Ibn Katheer, have been used throughout the chapters of this book, as these are the most credited interpretations of the Holy Quran, for their use of 'Hadith, companions' interpretations, and their thorough knowledge of the Arabic language.
 

  ( 61: 8).  

They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it (Al-Saff, 61: 8). 

 

Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.

editor@aljazeerah.info