Dr. Obaidur Rahman Nadwi studies the status of man as the Lord Creator has determined in His Final Book, the Qur’ān, and also mentions some of his responsibilities in the light of Divine Guidance.

Man, according to the teachings of Islam, is the representative and vicegerent of Allah on earth. This world is a trust and man is its trustee. It is not a personal property of an individual or people which could be used or misused to satisfy personal desires. It is man’s responsibility to manage the world according to the instructions of Allah and promote divine guidance. This great world, including animals, birds, trees, rivers, mountains, gold, silver, and all it contains has been given to the care of man because he is more familiar than anyone else with the world (as he is himself made of dust) and has also a genuine interest in it. Thus, because he has knowledge of the world and interest in it – two essential conditions for a successful trustee – he can be a good caretaker of the world. (Islam An Introduction, p. 145)

The Qur’ān was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to guide man and lead him out of darkness to the truth. That is why the subject matter of the Qur’ān is mankind. It is the last of the revealed books. It covers spectrums of issues regarding mankind ranging from birth to death and life after death as well as creation of earth and the Day of Judgment. It mentions various stages of man’s embryonic development: “We created man from an extract of clay. Then We made him as a drop in a place of settlement, firmly fixed. Then We made the drop into an alaqah (leech, suspended thing, and blood clot), then We made the alaqah into mudghah (chewed substance)….” (Surah 23, Ayaat 12-14)

Allah vividly says, “O mankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and female and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other); verily the most honoured of you in the Sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous of you.”(Surah 59, Ayat 13)

According to the Qur’ān, the whole universe is the subject of observation, experimentation and research. The Qur’ān says, “In the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alteration of night and day there are indeed signs for men of sense.” (Surah 3, Ayat 190)

Besides, a believer in the Qur’ān is commanded to assume special responsibility to establish and transact for a just order and not to deviate from the principles of justice, come what may. “So establish weight with justice and fall not short of balance.” (Surah 55, Ayat 9)

No doubt, Allah is the Lord of the Heavens, the Earth and of all that is between them. “To Allah belongs all that is in the Heavens and Earth: and to Allah do all matters return.” (Surah 3, Ayat 109) But out of all creatures, mankind has been endowed with highest rank, status and dignity. He Himself says, “We have honoured the sons of Adam, provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favours, above a great part of Our creation.” (Surah 17, Ayat 70) We may easily comprehend the position of mankind through the following verse of the Qur’ān. “And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a viceregent in the earth, they said: “Will Thou place there in the earth one who will do harm and will shed blood. We hymn Thy praise and sanctify Thee”. He said: “Surely I know that which ye know not.” (Surah 2, Ayat 30)

The above mentioned two verses of the Holy Qur’ān indicate that God bestowed upon human beings the highest position as compared to other creatures of Him.

Allah lays great stress on human dignity by declaring: “If anyone slew a person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.” (Surah 5, Ayat 32)

He further warns us, saying: “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive with his might and main for mischief through the land is execution or crucifixion or the cutting off hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world and a heavy punishment is theirs in the hereafter.” (Surah 5, Ayat 33)

In this context it should be kept in mind that God sent Prophets and Messengers to show people the path of salvation. All Prophets performed their duties with integrity and honesty.

But a long time had passed since the raising of Jesus by God, humanity had reached the edge of precipice. People had gone astray. Even divine books were not intact. Hence God sent Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to extricate people from the darkness to lead the right path and enlightenment. It is Prophet Muhammad ﷺ who first taught people the lesson of brotherhood, fraternity, love and equality. Besides, he first introduced Human Rights and stressed on its importance. Indeed, the last sermon of the Prophet was the first Charter of Human Rights.

Noted Islamic scholar S. Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi says: “The world before the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was divided by manifold divisions of castes and creeds, tribes and nations. Some claiming ranks of nobility for themselves and condemning others to the position of serfs and chattels. It was the first time that the world heard the revolutionary message of human equality from the Prophet of Islam.”

“O mankind! Your God is one and you have but one father. You are all progeny of Adam and Adam was made of clay. Lo! the noblest among you, in the Sight of God, is (the one who has) the best conduct. No Arab has any preference over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab over an Arab save by his Piety.” The Prophet said: The entire creation constitutes the family of God and he is dearest to Him who is the best in his dealings with God’s family.”

Narrated Anas: The Prophet ﷺ said, “None of you will have faith till he wishes his brother what he likes for himself. He also said, “A person whose neighbour is not safe from his acts of misdemeanour shall not enter Paradise.” “He who has had a full meal while his neighbour sleeps at night on an empty stomach is not a true Muslim.” Narrated Musa: some people asked Allah’s Apostle ﷺ whose Islam is the best (who is a very good Muslim)?” He replied, “One who avoids harming the Muslims with his tongue and hands.”

Despite these instructions and advice of the Holy Qur’ān and Sunnah, if a Muslim gets involved in unholy and anti-social activities, he is not a good Muslim. Not to speak of harming and killing anyone, a true Muslim cannot even call anyone names.

It is imperative that we must keep away from inhuman and terroristic acts. No religion allows such sort of atrocities and offences. If anyone commits such heinous crimes and wrong doings, he is not a true follower of his faith. He is reprobate, malevolent and not loyal to his religion.

The need of the hour is that we should abide by the teachings of the Qur’ān in letter and spirit. Moreover, we must develop humanitarian attitude and come forward to render welfare and charitable services for the poor and down-trodden sections of the society irrespective of caste, creed, colour and region.

[The writer is Faculty Member, Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India]

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