What did Allah mean when He said to the angels "I know what ye know not" in verse 30 of the chapter of al-Baqara?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The meaning of verse 30 of the chapter of al-Baqara is as follows: 

"Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: ‘I will create a vicegerent on earth.’ They said: ‘Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?’ He said: ‘I know what ye know not.’"

When the angels were informed by the divine address that such a predestination existed about man’s vicegerency on earth, they said," Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?" Your Lord answered them as follows:

"I know what ye know not." Doubtlessly, when it is thought in general, the angels knew that it was like that and that divine knowledge was more and higher than them. Nevertheless, that Allah Almighty reminded it again strongly shows that the divine desire aims something particular in this generality, that is, the issue of making someone a vicegerent; that was what the angels did not know and what caused them to express their surprise in the presence of the possibility of evil and express their idea.

Then, the meaning is as follows: "There are some aspects of the issue of the wisdoms behind vicegerency and deserving it that you do not know. I know this issue as well as other issues that you do not know." With this, it is pointed out that the talents peculiar to the angels are not enough and that demand is not permissible regarding the issue so that the answer will be appropriate for the question in all aspects. The wisdom is also reminded here. (see Elmalılı, Hak Dini, the interpretation of the verse in question)

Razi, the tafsir scholar, summarizes some of the wisdoms that the angels do not know according to the answer given to the question of the angels as follows:  

- This is an answer given due to astonishment. Accordingly, it is an answer because Allah said, "Do not be astonished by the existence of some people among them that will make mischief and shed blood. For, I know but you do not know that there will be a group of righteous and pious people among them."

- This was asked due to sadness. In that case, the answer means as follows: "Do not be sad that there will be mischief-makers among people. For, I know that there will be a group of pious people among them. If one of those pious people vows on behalf of me, I will make his vow come true."

- This question was asked in order to learn a wisdom. In that case, the answer means as follows: "What is useful for you is to know the wisdom here briefly, not in detail. It will be harmful to you to know the details about the issue."

- This question is a request of the angels from Allah to make them vicegerents on earth. In that case, the answer means as follows: "I know that what is useful for you to be in the heavens, not on the earth."

- When the angels said, “We do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)” Allah Almighty said, "I definitely know what ye know not.” It is the fact Iblis was together with them and he had envy, conceit and mischief in his heart.

- "I know the following state, which you do not know: You praised yourselves with those words. It looks as if you glorified yourselves, not Me. Wait until human beings emerge. When they emerge, they will pray to Allah as follows: "Our Lord! We have wronged our own souls” (al-Araf, 7/23); "And who, I hope, will forgive me my faults on the day of Judgment" (ash-Shuara, 26/82) and "And admit me, by Thy Grace, to the ranks of Thy righteous Servants." (an-Naml, 27/19)

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