What is man (human being) according to Islam?

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What is man (human being) according to Islam?
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Dear Brother / Sister,

Man has a unique place in the vast realm of beings. He is Allah's most beautiful work of art in terms of his spirit and body. The creation of man with these characteristics is expressed as “the best of moulds” (1) in the Quran.

Man, who is created in the best way is the vicegerent on earth. (2) That is, man is the caliph and sultan of this palace of the world that we live in. Wherever a president goes, journalists follow him. They record whatever he says. Similarly, man, who was sent to the world as the vicegerent, is followed closely by the angels “kind and honorable― writing down”. (3) These angels write down every word he utters and every deed he does. (4)

Man is the carrier of the great trust. (5) The heavens, earth and mountains lack the ability to carry the trust of Allah despite their size. They can only be a page of meditation for man. The following sacred hadith confirms this meaning:

“Neither the heavens nor the earth could take Me in but I settled in the heart of My believing slave.” (6)

Neither mountains nor deserts show the sun with its perfect form. However, a small mirror reflects the sun clearly. We can understand the settlement of Allah inthe heart of His believing slave through that example. That is, the heart of a believer is a sensitive and transparent mirror that can know Allah. This is why the heart is also called “the thing that ALLAH looks at” (7).

Man who is small in terms of his body is spiritually a realm. This reality is expressed as follows:

“Just as man is a small world, the microcosm, so is the world a large human being, the macroanthropos.” (8)

Man has the samples of everything that is the world. His spirit points the realm of spirits, his memory to the preserved tablet and his imagination to the realm of similitude.  The elements in man are the elements in the universe. The hairs on his body have traces of trees on the earth, his bones of stones and rocks, the blood which flows in his body and the fluids which issue from his eyes, ears, nose and mouth of the spring and mineral waters of the earth. (9)

Man is the most honorable creature.

“We have honored the sons of Adam.” (10)

The verse above declares this. Attention is drawn to two bounties that are given to man as samples of this honor in the following part of the verse:

1. Man is carried on the land and sea,
2. He is given the best (cleanest) sustenance.

Animals like horses and camels are bigger than man but they serve man. A big camel kneels down before a small child and lets him ride it. Besides, vehicles like cars and trains and sea vessels like boats and ships are among the bounties indicated by this verse.  

The issue of man being sustained by “tayyib (clean)” foods is really a thought-provoking incident. Animals that eat green grass or yellow hay produce milk and present that nice drink to man. They even give their lives to man. A chicken that eats all kinds of grains on the ground gives man a delicious gift like an egg. The honeybee visits all flowers and gives man honey, which is curative.  

The states like that show what a delicate and coddled being man is. Allah, who is the Lord of human beings, looks after them very well and feeds them. In fact, man himself is a poor being.

“O ye men! It is ye that have need of Allah.” (11)

The verse above draws attention to this aspect of man. Yes, man needs Allah even if he is the richest person in the world. He needs Allah' creation, sustenance and land of eternity.  

What a great grace it is for such a poor being becoming an addressee of Allah. Some people of high ranks avoid talking to people of low ranks but the Lord of the realms chooses man as His "special addressee". He addresses human beings as “O man! O sons of Adam! O believers!” in the Quran.

Man's nature is like that when viewed under the light of the verses of the Quran but those who do not look with the light of the Quran cannot see this nature. Some think he is a mass of matter while others regard him as an animal a bit higher than monkey; yet others regard him as an “economic being”.


1. at-Tin, 95/4.
2. al-Baqara, 2/30.
3. al-Infitar, 82/11.
4. Qaf, 50/18.
5. al-Ahzab, 33/72.
6. Ajluni, Kashful-Khafa, II/195.
7. It is an expression deduced from the following hadith: “Allah does not look at your bodies and shapes but He looks at your hearts.” Muslim, Birr, 32. Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 9.
8. Said Nursi, Lem’alar (Flashes), p. 79.
9. ibid, p.337.
10. al-Isra, 17/70.
11. Fatir, 35/15.

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