Continuing in our discourse on the subject of Human Viceregency, and the verse ‘Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent on earth..’ (Al-Baqarah:30), I concluded the last post by explaining how Adam had a special quality that made him worthy of prostration by the Angels. The Angels, up to this point in the ‘story’ of creation, were God’s closest of beings. Being infallible, they untiringly worshipped and celebrated His praises and glorified His holy (name). Within this verse, we are given the first clue towards understanding the special qualities held by God’s viceroy, viz. ‘..They said: “Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?” He said: “I know what ye know not.” Here, the first attribute and characteristic of the viceregent is stated, which is his capability to cause mischief and shed blood on this Earth (A quality of great importance to preserve and protect the truth of God’s message from external forces determined to destroy it at all cost). As far as the Angels knew, a viceregent of God required certain qualities to earn this status, and for it to be given to one that was capable to cause mischief and shed blood in the world, was certainly an unexpected edict. But it was due to their ignorance of the reality behind the divine will, which caused them to ‘question’ this decision.
The second quality follows directly after the first, which is the untiring and continuous remembrance of Allah, with no drift or diversion under any type of circumstance. Hence, being an Angel is not a sufficient claim to viceregency, and since they are ‘…who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah; but do (precisely) what they are commanded..’, so neither is their infallibility. And the next verse finally closes all doors to any possible ‘dispute’:
وَعَلَّمَ آدَمَ الأَسْمَاء كُلَّهَا ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى الْمَلاَئِكَةِ فَقَالَ أَنبِئُونِي بِأَسْمَاء هَـؤُلاء إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
‘And He taught Adam the names of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said: “Tell me the names of these if ye are right.’ (Al-Baqarah:31)
So, it is the of knowledge of the Names which gives the right to this earthly being (earthly meaning one that starts its path to perfection from this Earth, hence automatically excluding the Angels from the equation) the capability to bear the responsibility and the trust given to him. This is further indicated in the verse:
إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَنْ يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنْسَانُ ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا
‘We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it;- He was indeed unjust and foolish’ (Al-Ahzab:72)
The Qur’an praises those who fulfil the responsibility of viceroyship and denounces those who, on account of their iniquity and ignorance, fail to do so. The trust is the viceregency of Allah (khilafah) given to man as a gift from the Lord to represent Him according to His will. In the chapter Hashr verse 21, the sending down of the Quran onto the mountains is mentioned, and it is also mentioned therein that such parables are put forth in order to aid man to reflection. The heavens, the earth and the mountains submit themselves to the laws made by Allah. They have no free will. The first and foremost pre-requisite to accept the responsibility is freedom of choice which implies accountability for all acts of thought and conduct. The trust referred to is the trust of free will or accountability. The evil ones among the human beings have betrayed the trust and brought punishment on themselves, but there are some chosen ones who have been endowed with divine wisdom to rise far above the common level of human abilities, to be the muqarrabin, the nearest ones to Allah. There can be no higher attainment than this for any creature.
Now, from the above we can deduce that, human beings on this Earth have the capability to rise to the heights of the closeness to Allah, and also, by refusing to bear the responsibility of the trust given unto him, to reach the lowest of the positions, furthest away from His nearness. But, this implies that every human being has been given the same responsibility of His trust, no matter what path he chooses. This is a wrong notion, because the Qur’an also categorizes humans into two groups: those addressed with all respect, courtesy and honour, as in the verse:
قَالَ رَبِّ بِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأُزَيِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِين; َإِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ
(Iblis) said: “O my Lord! because Thou hast put me in the wrong, I will make (wrong) fair-seeming to them on the earth, and I will put them all in the wrong,- “Except Thy servants among them, sincere and purified (by Thy Grace).” (Al-Hijr:39-40)
… and the other addressed with dishonour, disrespect and disdain, as:
وَلَقَدْ ذَرَأْنَا لِجَهَنَّمَ كَثِيرًا مِنَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنْسِ ۖ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ أَعْيُنٌ لَا يُبْصِرُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ آذَانٌ لَا يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْغَافِلُونَ
‘Many are the Jinns and men we have made for Hell: They have hearts wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not, and ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle,- nay more misguided: for they are heedless (of warning).’ (Al-A’raaf:179)
ثُمَّ قَسَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ فَهِيَ كَالْحِجَارَةِ أَوْ أَشَدُّ قَسْوَةً ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنَ الْحِجَارَةِ لَمَا يَتَفَجَّرُ مِنْهُ الْأَنْهَارُ ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَشَّقَّقُ فَيَخْرُجُ مِنْهُ الْمَاءُ ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَهْبِطُ مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
‘Thenceforth were your hearts hardened: They became like a rock and even worse in hardness. For among rocks there are some from which rivers gush forth; others there are which when split asunder send forth water; and others which sink for fear of Allah. And Allah is not unmindful of what ye do.’ (Al-Baqarah:74)
… amongst many others. Now, is this the kind of Man worthy of respect and honour? The kind that is compared to cattle or stone? Is that logical at all? Surely not. And therefore the conclusion can be drawn, that viceroyship was not intended for ALL humanity, but for a particular group; a group created with care and with special attention.