Man in viewpoint of Islam

Man in viewpoint of Islam

Man, in the view of Islam, is a multi-dimensional being. His creation began with a matter, which lacked perception and understanding and after traversing the stages of perfection, he developed into a being that is superior to matter.

The Holy Quran says with regard to the creation of man:

وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَنَ مِن سُلَلَةٍ مِّن طِينٍ‏ * ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَهُ نُطْفَةً فِى قَرَارٍ مَّكِينٍ‏ * ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَماً فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَمَ لَحْماً ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَهُ خَلْقاً ءَاخَرَ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَلِقِينَ‏

And certainly We created man of an extract of clay. Then We made him a small seed in a firm resting-place. Then We made the seed a clot, then We made the clot a lump of flesh, then We made (in) the lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, then We caused it to grow into another creation, so blessed be Allah, the best of the creators.” (23:12-14)


In the above verse, after explaining the stages of perfection of matter it is said: ‘then We caused it to grow into another creation’ In this stage, he has changed the words and instead of ‘we created’ the term of ‘we originated’ has been used. He has described this new creation in the words of ‘another creation’, that is the last stage of the creation of man is having absolute difference with the previous stages.

It is concluded from this verse that the last stage of the creation of man (form and soul) is superior to and more perfect than the previous stages.

In philosophy also, it is proved that the soul of man is an abstract being consisting of a matter, which is related to non-material effects. In the same way, it is proved that the material form, under the effect of the substantial motion (Harkat Jauhari), changes into a spiritual and non-material entity. Therefore, since this matter was extremely astonishing, Almighty Allah has praised this important matter in the Holy Quran and said:

فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَلِقِينَ‏

“Blessed be Allah, the best of the creators.” (23:14)


In another verse also, the story of the creation of man is narrated as follows:

ألَّذِى أَحْسَنَ كُلَّ شَىْ‏ءٍ خَلَقَهُ وَبَدَأَ خَلْقَ الْإِنْسَانِ مِن طِينٍ‏ *  ثُمَّ جَعَلَ نَسْلَهُ مِن سُلاَلَةٍ مِّن مَّآءٍ مَّهِينٍ *  ثُمَّ سَوَّاهُ وَنَفَخَ فِيهِ مِن رُّوحِهِ وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمَعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَ الْأَفْئِدَةَ قَلِيلاً مَّا تَشْكُرُونَ

“Who made good everything that He has created, and He began the creation of man from dust. Then He made his progeny of an extract of water held in light estimation. Then He made him complete and breathed into him of His spirit, and made for you the ears and the eyes and the hearts; little is it that you give thanks.” (32:7-9)


In this verse, three important points are hinted at:

1. The soul is blown into the body of man when the body is perfected and becomes capable to accept it; which in Quran is described as ‘made him complete’.

2. Allah, the Mighty and the High has related the soul of man to Himself and said: ‘I blew My soul in it,’ so that it may indicate the lofty status of man.

3. Man is introduced as a being that is in possession of ears, eyes, heart and soul. Since the tools of obtaining knowledge, that is ears, eyes and heart are placed in his being, he can obtain knowledge and gain precedence over the other creatures. This earthly and ethereal being, since he is having the above precedence, he became eligible to be the prayer direction of angels.

The Holy Quran also says:

فَإِذَا سَوَّيْتُهُ وَنَفَخْتُ فِيهِ مِن رُّوحِى فَقَعُواْ لَهُ سَاجِدِينَ

“So when I have made him complete and breathed into him of My spirit, fall down making obeisance to him.” (15:29)


Man in Quran is described in two apparently contradictory ways: On one hand he is worthy of praise and laudation and is having superiority over all beings.

وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِى ءَادَمَ وَحَمَلْنَهُمْ فِى الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَرَزَقْنَهُم مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَتِ وَفَضَّلْنَهُمْ عَلَى‏ كَثِيرٍ مِّمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلاً

“And surely We have honored the children of Adam, and We carry them in the land and the sea, and We have given them of the good things, and We have made them to excel by an appropriate excellence over most of those whom We have created.” (17:70)

As a result of his special creation, man is capable of gaining knowledge, which cannot even be understood by angels.

The Holy Quran says in this regard:

وَعَلَّمَ ءَادَمَ الْأَسْمَآءَ كُلَّهَا ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى الْمَلَئِكَةِ فَقَالَ أَنبِئُونِى بِأَسْمَآءِ هَؤُلَا ءِ إِن كُنْتُمْ صَدِقِينَ‏ * قَالُواْ سُبْحَنَكَ لَا عِلْمَ لَنَآ إِلَّا مَا عَلَّمْتَنَآ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ‏ * قَالَ يَادَمُ أَنْبِئْهُمْ بِأَسْمَآئِهِمْ فَلَمَّآ أَنبَأَهُمْ بِأَسْمَآئِهِمْ قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُل لَّكُمْ إِنِّى أَعْلَمُ غَيْبَ السَّمَوَ تِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَأَعْلَمُ مَا تُبْدُونَ وَمَا كُنتُمْ تَكْتُمُونَ‏

“And He taught Adam all the names, then presented them to the angels; then He said: Tell me the names of those, if you are right. They said: Glory be to Thee! we have no knowledge, but that which Thou hast taught us; surely Thou art the Knowing, the Wise. He said: O Adam! inform them of their names. Then when he had informed them of their names, He said: Did I not say to you that I surely know what is secret in the heavens and the earth and (that) I know what you manifest and what you hide?” (2:31-33)


On another occasion, He says:

وَ إِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَئِكَةِ إِنّى جَاعِلٌ فِى الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً قَالُوا أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمآءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَ نُقَدِّسُ لَكَ قَالَ إِنِّى أَعْلَمُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ‏

“And when your Lord said to the angels, I am going to place in the earth a vicegerent, they said: What! wilt Thou place in it such as shall make mischief in it and shed blood, and we celebrate Thy praise and extol Thy holiness? He said: Surely I know what you do not know.” (2:30)

In these verses, man is introduced as a valuable being and the vicegerent of God on the earth and also a being that has such scientific capability that he is even superior to the proximate angels of God so much so that angels prostrated before his lofty station.

On the other hand, man is at the same time denounced in Quran and his evil aspects are also mentioned:

إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ خُلِقَ هَلُوعاً *  إِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ جَزُوعاً *  وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الْخَيْرُ مَنُوعاً

“Surely man is created of a hasty temperament; being greatly grieved when evil afflicts him, and miserly when good befalls him.” (70:19-21)


And He says:

وَخُلِقَ الإِنْسَنُ ضَعِيفاً

“…and man is created weak.” (4:28)


And He says:

 كَلَّا إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَيَطْغَى‏ أَن رَّآهُ اسْتَغْنَى‏

“Nay! man is most surely inordinate. Because he sees himself free from want.” (96:6-7)


وَيَدْعُ الْإِنْسَنُ بِالشَّرِّ دُعَآءَهُ بِالْخَيْرِ وَكَانَ الْإِنسَنُ عَجُولَاً

“And man prays for evil as he ought to pray for good, and man is ever hasty.” (17:11)


إِنَّ الْأِنْسَانَ لَظَلُومٌ كَفَّارٌ

“…most surely man is very unjust, very ungrateful.’ (14:34)


وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَا الْإِنْسَنَ مِنَّا رَحْمَةً ثُمَّ نَزَعْنَهَا مِنْهُ إِنَّهُ لَيَوُسٌ كَفُورٌ * وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَهُ نَعْمَآءَ بَعْدَ ضَرَّآءَ مَسَّتْهُ لَيَقُولَنَّ ذَهَبَ السَّيِّئَاتُ عَنِّى إِنَّهُ لَفَرِحٌ فَخُورٌ

“And if We make man taste mercy from Us, then take it off from him, most surely he is despairing, ungrateful. And if We make him taste a favor after distress has afflicted him, he will certainly say: The evils are gone away from me. Most surely he is exulting, boasting.” (11:9-10)


قُل لَّوْ أَنتُمْ تَمْلِكُونَ خَزَآئِنَ رَحْمَةِ رَبِّى إِذاً لَّأَمْسَكْتُمْ خَشْيَةَ الْإِنفَاقِ وَ كَانَ الْإِنسَنُ قَتُوراً

“Say: If you control the treasures of the mercy of my Lord, then you would withhold (them) from fear of spending, and man is miserly.” (17:100)

Also, the two contradictory aspects of man are as follows: On one hand he is having an abstract ethereal soul, having the capability of obtaining knowledge, which is not possible from the angels. He is the vicegerent of God and angels have prostrated before him. Almighty Allah has praised him and made him superior over other beings. His nature is based on monotheism and it is aware of perfection. And on the other hand he is introduced as an oppressor, infidel, despairing, ignorant, riotous, anxious, obstructer, weak, hasty, gleeful, arrogant, niggardly and rebellious.

In traditions also, man is introduced in these same two ways. Now the question arises that what should be said in order to reconcile the two types of verses?

The reply is that man is a being with two kinds of natures, which is having two existences: half of his nature is from light and half from darkness. Although man is not more than one reality, he is having two dimensions: The aspect of bestiality and the aspect of humanity. On one hand, animal desires have been placed in his being and he is made the target of condemnation.

On the other hand, he is in possession of an abstract ethereal soul. His soul is a divine breath, which is compatible with and connected to the holy sphere and all the good deeds, merits, good manners and good qualities are all sourced from this; that is why he has been accorded nobility and became eligible that angels should prostrate before him. Man, as a result of this creation and specialties, can be attracted to animal desires and strengthen his bestial aspect as a result of which his human dimension would weaken. In the same way, he can focus his attention on human excellences and merits and to moderate and control the animal desires. It is at the discretion of man to choose any option he likes.