Is not that a contradiction that humans were created as honorable creatures, but they are cruel and ignorant at the same time?

The Details of the Question

Do these two verses not contradict each other?
“We have honored the sons of Adam…” (al-Isra, 17/70)
“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, 33/72)
Can you explain it?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Verses of the Quran never contradict one another. Each of those verses point to different characteristics of man.

Although man is very small in size, he is capable of embracing the universe with the feelings and organs  and faculties placed in his nature.

Man can approach and examine the whole universe as if it is a watermelon with those feelings and faculties.

Man has organs that are like windows opening to all realms in the universe. For example, an eye is a window opening to visible realms; ear is a door opening to the realm of sounds; dream is a key to the realm of similitude; spirit is an opening to the realm of spirits.

Thanks to those feelings and devices, human mind can investigate the universe; he goes even beyond the possibility and tries to shape the highest circles.

With this aspect, man has such a great desire that he will not feel satisfied even if he owns the whole universe.  

Yet, the same man sometimes makes his glorious and comprehensive nature be overcome by some silly engagement; and he virtually gets lost in such small point. As a matter of fact, in some places, he might kill someone for a chicken or for a piece of land, continuing a blood feud.

Or, man wastes his comprehensive feelings and organs by being engaged with unnecessary things. Man who is capable of surrounding the universe and owning it, ruins his capability in deeds forbidden by Allah, kills and loses by doing useless things.

When man intensely sticks to something on which he focuses, he is sometimes overwhelmed by such unnecessary and silly things, which shows that one aspect of man is unjust and foolish.

That is why the Quran describes man as ‘created in the best of molds and honorable’ as well as unjust and foolish.

Some people act knowledgeably and hug the universe while others get lost in some insignificant point of the universe.

So, human nature has two aspects:

One of them is related to good deeds and obedience to Allah while the other one is related to the evil and disobedience to Allah.

Man is created “in the best of molds” in terms of good deeds and worshipping; that is, he is created perfectly, he is an honorable being. If the same man uses his will in the way of evil and disobedience to Allah, he turns out to be unjust and foolish. In other words, man is created as infinitely capable in terms of both good and evil deeds. It is up to man’s will in which way to use these capabilities.

If the man flourishes and develops the capability of good deeds, he earns the attribute of “perfect human being” and turns out to be the vicegerent of the universe. However, if he develops and activates the capability of evil deeds, he turns to be the lowest and most unjust one among the creatures.

That is why man is described as both a perfect vicegerent and honorable creature, and as unjust and foolish in the Quran.

If we look at Abu Bakr and Abu Jahl carefully, we can understand concrete meanings of those two concepts.

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