What are the various definitions of man according to Islam?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Let us briefly explain those various descriptions of man.

What Does Man’s Being a Guest Mean?

Man is a guest and the world is a guesthouse. Each guesthouse has a manual and an official who guides the guests; the manual of the world guesthouse is the heavenly books and its guide is prophets. The last of manual is the Quran and the last guide is the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

The guest has to act based on the requests of the host. He cannot do the things that the host will not consent. He cannot waste, give the food of the host to others, take the food from the table and give others as charity or throw the food away.

Everything in the universe belongs to Allah. Man belongs to Him too. That is, man’s body, material and spiritual feelings, eye, ear, mind, etc. have been entrusted to him temporarily.1

Man has been equipped with those feelings and emotions just like the equipment entrusted to a soldier by the state. A soldier cannot use the things entrusted to him as he wishes; similarly, man cannot use the means and emotions given to him by Allah as he wishes.

One cannot end his life, which has been entrusted to him by God Almighty, by committing suicide. He cannot blind his eye deliberately; he cannot look at haram things, which means blinding the eye spiritually, without the consent of the one who has given him the eye. He cannot kill his ears, tongue and other organs spiritually by using them to commit haram deeds. He cannot say:

— It is my eye. I can look at whomever I wish.

— It is my ear. I can listen to whatever I wish.

— It is my mouth. I can speak however I wish. All of our organs have been entrusted to us. If we use them without the permission of our Lord, who is the real owner of them, we will be regarded to have killed them spiritually:

Animals are also entrusted to man by Allah. They should be treated well. Man cannot kill an animal whose flesh is not eaten unnecessarily; he cannot torture animals.

What Does Man’s Being a Traveler Mean?

Man is a traveler in this world. We all know that when a journey starts, preparation is made according to the length of the road. The more you intend to stay in a place, the more preparation you make. In this world, man is the traveler of an eternal journey from which he will never return. Everyone will inevitably embark on this journey. The time of departure is not certain. There is no difference between young and old, sick and healthy. Therefore, the most important duty of every person is not to forget about the requirements of the eternal life while thinking about the requirements of this worldly life.

In this journey, man is given a 24-hour capital every day by Allah to obtain the things he needs in both lives. For example, in this journey, prayer will be our spirit in the world, food for the heart and our spiritual wealth; it will be food and light in the grave, into which we will definitely enter; it will be our certificate of salvation in the Gathering Place; it will be light and our mount on the Sirat Bridge over which everybody will have to pass.

In conclusion, man will be called to account for how he spent the capital called life in the world and whether he spent it appropriately or not. 

What Does Man’s Being an Official in the World Mean?

Man was sent to the world as an official. Just as an official is obliged to fulfill his duty so too is man obliged to fulfill the commandments of Allah.

Thus, man, who was sent to the world as an official, is responsible for the fulfillment of the commandments he receives from Allah.

What Does Man’s Being an Inspector and Vicegerent Mean?

Man is an inspector of the earth. The inspector is the one who inspects, searches and investigates something, sees the mistakes and good deeds; he examines and then informs the authorities about them; in short, he searches everything. The purpose of this inspection is to investigate and evaluate all material and spiritual feelings of man and the beings in the universe. That is also what sciences do. As a matter of fact, Nobel Laureate Pakistani physicist, Abdus Salam describes sciences as the art of examining the works of Allah in the universe.

Thus, man does this research with the intelligence and other feelings given to him. The tongue distinguishes all tastes, the eye distinguishes all colors and the ear distinguishes all sounds.

As every work shows its owner, all beings in this universe show Allah. For example, the faces, the eyes, and the fingerprints of a person are unique and they are not the same as those of anybody. This is valid for the people living today and in the past as well as the people to live in the future. Such differences are manifested in everything from animals and plants to snowflakes. The unique creation of everything clearly reveals the oneness, infinite knowledge, will and power of Allah. Allah wants to introduce Himself to people with those works; He also shows that He loves people with His blessings. He wants people to show that they know him by believing in Him and to love Him by worshipping Him.

Man is the vicegerent of the earth; every deed of man is recorded, whether it is small or big, and he has great responsibility both toward the creatures and Allah. The responsibility of man increases as his authority increases. Accordingly, his reward and punishment will increase. A vicegerent cannot act randomly and talk carelessly in the presence of others. He has to act carefully. 

Thus, man has to act temperately and carefully so as not to be ridiculed by others and embarrassed in the presence of Allah since all of his deeds are recorded.  

What Does Man’s Being a Fruit Mean?

If we liken the universe to a tree, man is the last and most talented, perfect fruit of the tree of the universe and a seed of that tree.

What Does the Universe’s Being a Tree Mean?

The universe can be likened to a tree whose roots are elements, whose leaves are plants, whose flowers are animals and whose fruits are human beings. The roots, stem, leaves and flowers of the tree serve fruits; similarly, everything in the universe, including the heavens and the earth, plants and animals, serves man. In other words, man is like the last and most talented fruit of this wonderful tree of the universe.

The purpose and outcome of this tree of universe is man; similarly, the fruit of man is thanking, worshipping, praising and loving his Creator. The thanking, loving, praising and worshipping are also the purpose of creation of the universe along with being the fruit of man.

What Does Man’s Being the Supreme Sign Mean?

If we liken the universe to the Quran written by Allah’s pen of power, man is the supreme sign of that book, that is, the greatest evidence and sign for its author. The sign is clear evidence that no one can deny. The signs are evidence for the author of the book. Everything from atoms to galaxies, including living beings and non-living beings, is evidence to understand and know Allah in the book of the universe.

However, the largest and most brilliant one among them is man. He is the greatest and most comprehensive mirror that shows all of the names of Allah. He serves in the best way as a mirror to the name Khaliq (Creator) and Sani (Maker) with his creation, the name Hayy(Living)with his life, the names Razzaq (Sustainer), Rahim (Compassionate), Rahman (All Merciful), Karim (Generous) and Muhsin (Beneficent) with his sustenance, the name Musawwir(Giver of Shape) with his shape and the names Nazim (Arranger) and Muqaddir(Determiner) with his tidy and proportionate creation.

A picture of a person indicates an artist and his sculpture indicates a sculptor. Man himself, who is a miracle of power, indicates a wonderful artist, and a creator with infinite knowledge, will and power.   

All sciences, especially medical science, try to read and understand man, who was created and written in the form of a book. How is it possible for man, who is written in the form of a book, to come into being without a creator, though even a single letter cannot come into being without a scribe?

In conclusion, the definition made by Western philosophers about man as a featherless biped (a creature with two legs) and a speaking animal, which regards man to be in the same level as animals, cannot be compared to the definition made by the Quran as the most honorable being, the vicegerent on earth, the most delicate and valuable guest of the Sultan of the universe, which elevates man to the level of the highest, most honorable and most valuable being.  

1.Nursi, B.S.Şuâlar. p. 213.

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