Human Being (isl.)

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(Arab. Insan, Turk. İnsan)

The human is the noblest of God’s creatures; all of the gifts of the world are entrusted to humankind (2:30; 95:4). Given talents that include knowledge, thought, will and language, of all creatures, the human is the one closest to God. This is why man is referred to in Islamic theology as the most venerable creature.

God created man from earth, breathed a soul from His own soul into him (32/9). He then told the angels to prostrate before the man whom he had raised to His authority on earth, and they did so (2:30; 2:34). The Qur’an says that at the dawn of time, God asked the souls of all people: ‘Am I not your Lord?’, and that the souls all answered the question in the affirmative (7:172). Thus entered into a covenant with each and every individual even prior to his or her creation. This means that humankind is, by nature, ordered by faith and obedience to God (30:30).

The first human beings, Adam and Eve, lived in Paradise in accordance with the commandments of God until the devil ensnared them: They committed the prohibited act, an act they nevertheless regretted, whereupon God forgave them; still, He banished them from Paradise (2:36‑37; 7:22‑25). According to the Islamic view, this fall from grace did not result in any original sin that should affect all of creation; instead, the act committed by Adam and Eve is attributed to them alone.

When a person uses his or her ability to think, he or she is always in a position to ascertain that this person owes his or her existence to a transcendent Being, and that the order that prevails in the universe has been created with the human being in mind, has its purpose therein (2:213; 30:30). In addition, through his grace, God has revealed knowledge to humankind through His chosen prophets. But it is the responsibility of the human being to enlist his or her resources to discern the truth, and to base his or her behaviour upon it. Abraham, for instance, made use of his powers of reason, beginning with fleeting things, to recognise the eternal being. Every person can come to this realisation (6:75‑81). The ability to engage with God is thus part of the very nature of humankind. In this understanding, disbelief is alien to him or her.

The ambivalent state in which the human being evidently finds him- or herself points to the ultimate basis of the individual’s earthly existence: The human individual must subject him- or herself to a test in the world insofar as he or she has options of faith or unbelief, and of good or bad actions. The results will be disclosed in the hereafter (67:2; 76:2‑3). People who believe in God, perform good works and align their lives to high ethical values will be rewarded with endless good deeds in Paradise.

Engin Erdem

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