The Qur’an describes man as a dignified, privileged being, endowed with faculties and powers which enable him to undertake the role of God’s vicegerent on earth. Man is the dignified creature to whom God ordered his angels to prostrate in adoration. This fact is enshrined in the following Qur'anic verse:
“Your Lord said unto the angels, ‘Lo I am creating a mortal out of potter’s clay, of black mud altered. So when I have made him and have breathed into him of my spirit, you must fall down in prostration before him.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:30) God granted man enough knowledge to excel the noble angels as is revealed in Qur’an:
“And He taught Adam all the names, then showed them to the angels saying, ‘Inform Me of the names of these, if you are truthful! They said, ‘Be glorified. We only know what You have taught us. Verily you are the Knower, the Wise. He said, ‘O Adam! Inform them of their names. And when he had informed them of their names. He (Allah) said, ‘Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of the heavens and the earth? And I know that which you disclose and that which you hide” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:31) In addition to endowing man with an intellect with which he could acquire knowledge of all the things around him or learn from divine revelation, Allah has made products of the earth readily available to man for his sustenance. The following are only a few of the many Qur'anic verses which point to this fact:
“Verily, We1 have honoured the children of Adam. We carry them on land on the sea, and made provisions of the good things for them, and have preferred them above many of those whom We have created with a marked preference. (Surah Bani Israel 17:70) Moreover; God put the entire universe in the service of man as is evident from the following Qur'anic verse:
“And (He) has made of service for you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth; it is all from Him, Lo! Herein are portents for people who reflect” (Surah Al-Jathiyah 45:13)
God had not left man to grope in darkness, but chose messengers to communicate His divine revelations to mankind and thus show them the right way, render their lives happy, and enable them to return to paradise and prosperity. Allah states in the Qur’an:
“We said, ‘Go down, all of you from hence; but verily there will come unto you from Me guidance and whoever follows My guidance, there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.
(Surah Al-Baqara 2:38) This is the story of man in the Qur’an. He has been bestowed with dignity and given a unique position in this life and in the hereafter. The secret of man’s unique position is his gift of intelligence, knowledge and reason. In return for these gifts, man has been charged with duties for which he has to account. If we judge by human standards where we usually question people of rank only, it could be argued that accountability is a further sign of the honour bestowed by God upon man. Man is held accountable for his actions because he has been endowed with the faculties that enable him to distinguish between right and wrong and make moral choices. This fact is expressed in the Qur’an as follows:
“Whoso does right it is for his soul, and whoso does wrong it is against it; and your Lord is not at all a tyrant to His slaves.” (Surah Sajdah 41:46)
By preaching the unity of human origin and emphasizing that people are all the descendant of Adam and Eve, Islam has provided humanity with a strong basis for brotherhood and solidarity.
The multiplicity of individuals, nations and tribes should invite man to become acquainted with his fellow man and to cooperate with him in harmony rather than to be the cause of mutual hostility, dissension and animosity. The essential concept can be found in the following Qur'anic verse:
“We have created you all from a single (pair) of a male and female and made you nations and tribes that you may know one another.” (Surah Al-Hujarat 49:13) Since people have the same origin and the same parents, there should be no reason for boasting, arrogance, racial superiority and oppression since righteousness is the only real attribute which a person should feel proud of. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was reported to have said. “O people! (God says) We have created you from male and female and We have made you into families and tribes that you may recognize one another. Your God is one and your father is one. All of you belong to Adam. And Adam was created from dust. Those who fear God most, are the most noble. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, or a non-Arab over an Arab, or a black person over a white, or a white over a black person except by being more righteous. [Reported by Ibn Sa”d from Abu Hurairah, and collected by Ibn Asakir].
Based on the unity of man’s origin, no one should claim that a person is born distinguish vis-à-vis others. All people are born equal and are all granted the faculties of intelligence and reason that enable each person to excel in the field which suits his natural capabilities. The Qur’an says:
“And God brought you forth from the wombs of your mother knowing nothing and gave you hearing, sight and hearts that hopefully you might give thanks.” (Surah An-Nahal 16:78) Every person has been endowed with Al-Fitrah: the pure nature that constitute his conscience and religious restraint and thus helps him distinguish between good and evil. God says:
“And We guided him to the parting of the mountain ways.” (Surah Al-Balad 90:10)
And Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Every child is born having the same natural disposition (Fitrah). But his parents make him Christian, Jews or Magian” [Sahih Al Bukhari]