Saturday 23 September 2023

Man laments: I feel dishonoured - Allah replies: We have indeed honoured the children of Adam

Allah created man as His vicegerent on earth and made him powerful, both physically and mentally. Yet man is always lamenting of being low and dishonoured when he cannot seize authority or power over everything that is beside him on this earth. This happens when man does not use his hidden abilities and capabilities which Allah has embedded in him intrinsically. Those who do so, scale Everest like towering mountains and brace the powerful sea waves. For those, how lag the ability to get hold of their inner powers and who then lament of being not able to face the mighty and powerful, Allah assures them that He hs made them superior to all other beings on earth. He only needs to muster up courage to prevail over others and feel honoured.

This Divine assurance is made is the 70th verse of Surah 17. Al Isra (The Night Journey), also known as Surah Bani Israil (The Children of Israel). Allah tells us how He has honored the sons of Adam and made them noble by creating them in the best and most perfect of forms:

وَلَـقَدۡ كَرَّمۡنَا بَنِىۡۤ اٰدَمَ وَحَمَلۡنٰهُمۡ فِى الۡبَرِّ وَالۡبَحۡرِ وَرَزَقۡنٰهُمۡ مِّنَ الطَّيِّبٰتِ وَفَضَّلۡنٰهُمۡ عَلٰى كَثِيۡرٍ مِّمَّنۡ خَلَقۡنَا تَفۡضِيۡلًا
(17:70) Indeed, We honoured the progeny of Adam, and bore them across land and sea and provided them with good things for their sustenance, and exalted them above many of Our creatures.
That is, "It is an obvious fact that the superiority man enjoys over all other beings on the Earth and all that is in it, has not been bestowed upon him by a jinn or an angel or a prophet. Most surely that is Allah's blessing and favor. Is it not then the height of folly and ignorance that after having achieved such a high rank, man should bow down before any creature of Allah instead of Him?"

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir
Allah tells man in a later chapter of Qur'an: (لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الإِنسَـنَ فِى أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ  Verily, We created man in the best stature (mould).) (95:4) He walks upright on his two feet and eats with his hand, while other living creatures walk on four feet and eat with their mouths, and He has given him hearing, sight and a heart with which to understand all of that, to benefit from it, and distinguish between things to know which are good for him and which are harmful, in both worldly and religious terms.

(and We have carried them on land) means, on animals such as cattle, horses and mules, and also on the sea in ships and boats, great and small.

(and have provided them with At-Tayyibat,) meaning agricultural produce, fruits, meat, and milk with all kinds of delicious and desirable flavors and colors and beautiful appearance, and fine clothes of all kinds of shapes colors and sizes, which they make for themselves or are brought to them by others from other regions and areas.

(and have preferred them above many of those whom We have created with a marked preferment. ) means, over all living beings and other kinds of creation. This Ayah indicates that humans are also preferred over angels.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
I.e., by bestowing upon them the faculty of conceptual thinking (cf. 2:31), [(2:31) Then Allah taught Adam the names of all things and presented them to the angels and said: “If you are right (that the appointment of a vicegerent will cause mischief) then tell Me the names of these things.”] which makes them superior in this respect to all other animate beings, and even to the angels. By stressing here this unique distinction of man, the present passage connects with, and continues the theme of, verse {61} of same surah, which says: AND LO! We said unto the angels, "Prostrate yourselves before Adam" - whereupon they all prostrated themselves, save Iblis. Said he: "Shall I prostrate myself before one whom Thou hast created out of clay?".

Yusuf Ali Explanation
The distinction and honour conferred by Allah on man are recounted in order to enforce the corresponding duties and responsibilities of man. He is raised to a position of honour above the brute creation: he has been granted talents by which he can transport himself from place to place by land, sea, and now by air: all the means for the sustenance and growth of every part of his nature are provided by Allah; and his spiritual faculties (the greatest gift of Allah) raise him above the greater part of Allah's Creation. Should he not then realize his noble destiny and prepare for his real life in the Hereafter?

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
God has honoured mankind, favouring the human race over many of His creatures. He honoured man when He created him in this particular fashion, giving him a nature that combines the characteristics of clay, from which he was made, and the spirit that was breathed into him. Thus, he combines elements of heaven and earth in his constitution. God has also honoured man by placing in Op his nature such faculties that make him able to take charge of the earth, able to be active and make changes in it. Thus, human beings initiate and produce new things, combine things together and analyse complex matters in order to elevate life to the highest standard attainable.

God has also honoured man by making natural forces on earth subservient to his will and endeavour, and by making other natural forces operating in the universe helpful to him. A further aspect of the honour God has given man is seen in the reception given him when he was first created. It was a reception in which the angels prostrated themselves in a gesture of respect, because God Himself declared that man is to be honoured. Then there comes the additional honour when God states in His book, sent down from on high and which He guaranteed to remain intact for the rest of time, that man is given a position of honour.

We have indeed honoured the children of Adam, and borne them over land and sea, and provided for them sustenance out of the good things of life, and favoured them far above many of Our creatures. (Verse 70)

“And borne them over land and sea.” This is accomplished by making natural laws fit with human nature and its abilities. Had these laws been at odds with human nature, life would have been impossible to sustain on earth. Indeed, man is weak when his strength is measured against the natural forces that operate on land and sea, but man is given the ability to live on earth and to make use of its resources and treasures. This is all an aspect of God’s grace.

“And provided for them sustenance out of the good things of life.” (Verse 70) Man tends to forget that whatever sustenance is given to him is indeed granted by God, because its different aspects become familiar to him. He only remembers the different forms of sustenance he is given when he loses access to them. It is then that he realizes the value of what he was given. But man’s memory is short. He soon forgets again all God’s blessings. He forgets what role the sun, air, and water play in sustaining human life. He forgets how important health is to him, and how he is given mobility, senses and reason, in addition to different types of food and drink. Indeed, he is placed in charge of a complete world which includes countless blessings.

“And favoured them far above many of Our creatures.” (Verse 70) Indeed God has favoured human beings by giving them mastery of this wide planet. Furthermore, He placed in their nature such abilities that make them unique among God’s creatures.

So, my dear brothers and sisters in Islam, never feel ashamed of yourself and know your strengths and weakness. Make use of your strengths to the utmost and find ways and means to overcome your weaknesses so that you feel composed and confident of the abilities bestowed upon you by Allah.
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

You may read more posts on similar theme in our series of posts related to: Al Qur'an guides and helps those who sincerely seek Divine Guidance and Help.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages  and Understanding Al Qur'an for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Tafsir References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from the following sources: 
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Translation Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Qur'an Wiki
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
In addition, references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

Disclaimer: The material for this post has been collected from the references given above. If anyone differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

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