And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.”
ًWhen Allah SWT informed the angels of the appointment of Adam AS as a khalifa (responsible successor) of Allah on earth , they questioned why Allah would create someone who would spread corruption and bloodshed on earth while the angels constantly declared the perfection and sanctity of Allah. Allah responded by telling them “I know that which you do not know.” Between the lines, Allah is saying here that Adam’s responsibility on earth is to do the exact opposite of corruption and bloodshed. His role as a khalifa is to make this world a better place by spreading justice and peace on earth.
When you watch the news today all you see is corruption and bloodshed in every corner of the world. So why have we reached such a low point in human civilization. In my opinion, one of the main reasons for that is that human beings have forgotten or not realized who they really are and what their real hidden potential is.
We have certainly created man in the best of stature; Then We return him to the lowest of the low. (Surah Al-Teen 95:4-5)
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In Surah Al-Teen, Allah swears by the four things (the fig, the olive, Mount Sinai and Makkah) and then makes the powerful statement declaring the honorable creation and upright potential of the human being, which if and when not realized, can bring him down to the lowest of the low.
A remarkable insight into why Allah swore by these four things and how they are connected to the following statement is that each of these four things represent Prophets fo the past:
- The Fig was found to be most popular in the area of Mount Judi where Prophet Noah’s ark got settled after the Great Flood.
- The Olive originated in Jerusalem, the homeland of Prophet Isa (Jesus).
- Mount Sinai is obviously represented by Prophet Musa (Moses)
- The city of Makkah not only represent Prophet Muhammad pbuh but also Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham).
Interestingly these five prophets have been given a special status in the Quran known as أولوا العزم (those with high determination) compared to the rest of the Prophets and messengers sent by Allah to humanity.
In other words, Allah started this Surah by reminding us of the top five best examples of human beings and then confirmed this with his statement that all human beings have this amazing potential. However, when the human being forgets or is not aware of who he really is, he can become worse than even animals and can become a burden on this earth rather than an asset.
So to understand who the human being really is, let’s break him down into five elements and try to understand them in a deeper context. In order to strive to reach the human being’s true potential, these five elements need to be taken care of in a balanced manner to achieve holistic harmony in a human being’s life. When you pursue such a journey of self development, you will instantly start to experience happiness and inner peace as you fulfill your purpose of creation by making this world a better place and spreading justice and peace in yourself, your family and your surroundings.
- Mind: The main function of the mind is understanding and thought. The food for the mind is reading, learning, asking, thinking, reflection, attending workshops, joining mastermind groups, thought provoking talks and discussions, watching beneficial material on TV, online or on your phone. The reason I decided to place this element in the beginning is because Allah himself made it a priority when He decided that ‘Read” should be the first revelation and command to humanity according to the chronological order of revelation fo the Quran.
- Body: The main function of the human body is activity and movement. We take care of our body by working, eating and drinking healthy, maintaining our fitness level, breathing well and of course sufficient sleep. In the age of processed food and the increase of obesity related diseases, this has become a critical element to take care of.
- Ruh: Also known as our soul, since its origin is from Allah, its primary function is to remember Allah, get closer to Him and finally return to Him. The food for the Ruh is anything that helps you remember Allah and get closer to Him such as: praying with consciousness, reading Quran with understanding, remembrance, du’a, listening to spiritual reminders, purification through repentance, righteous company, community service, fasting and performing Hajj or Umra.
- Nafs: Many call this the Self or your personality. Its main function is to be emotionally happy and at inner peace. The food for the nafs is values and morals. The Quran and the biography of Prophet Muhammad are filled with lessons of values, morals and manners. The Prophet himself was known as the Honest and Trustworthy before even becoming a Prophet. Values such as Gratitude, Mercy, Love, Humility, Confidence, Balance are fundamental to achieve holistic harmony in the life of a human being.
- Heart: The primary function fo the heart is decision making. For smokers, their mind knows that smoking causes cancer and can lead to death. They still continue smoking because the heart decides to do it anyway. So what should we feed the heart in order to make sure we make the right choices in life? The answer is love. Fill your heart with love for Allah, your Self, your family, humanity and all of Allah’s creation. When you feed your heart love, you will make the right choices every single time. You will say nice things to people and will avoid to hurt them. You will have positive thoughts and will avoid negativity and pessimism. You will obey Allah’s commands out of love and will avoid everything He has prohibited because you know it will cause you harm and suffering. When your heart is clean, you will only watch things that please Allah and you will avoid seeing anything shameless that will make you lose your decency. When you love your Self, you will take care of your health and body and will avoid harming your Self by smoking, eating unhealthy or stressing yourself out. When you love the environment, you will do whatever is in your means to keep this earth clean. When you love humanity, you eliminate hatred, anger, jealousy, racism and back-biting. You stop judging others based on their looks, their backgrounds, their skin color or their religion and culture. You stop having negative assumptions about people. Love in your heart will make you a merciful, forgiving and caring person who spreads peace on earth. Afterall the name of our Allah’s way of life is Islam (submissive peace).
So what do you think will be the star rating of humanity, if we gave a score out of five based on each of the five elements of the human being? Are most people aware fo their true potential and purpose. Are most people taking care of these five elements and living a life of harmony, happiness and inner peace? Now do you realize why you continue to see negative news everywhere you look. Now do you understand why we have major problems in the world like poverty, disease, immorality, hunger, wars and bloodshed? It is because human beings have forgotten who they are and this has led them to fall to the lowest of the low.
To make this a practical exercise, give yourself a rating out of five for each of the five elements mentioned above. If you score bad, don’t panic, lose hope or get depressed. Nobody is perfect and we all have our areas of weakness and shortcomings. Know that your awareness of this deep reality is a blessing and can be seen positively as the beginning of a beautiful journey of self development to get closer to Allah. My humble advice is to strengthen your relationship with the Quran while driving along this road. Allah has given us the gift of the Quran to guide us on the straight path of الصراط المستقيم. What makes the Quran a miracle unlike any other book on the face of this planet is that when you read it with understanding and deep reflection, it actually feeds all five elements of the human being simultaneously. It stimulates the Mind, nourishes the Ruh, feeds the Nafs with the right values, fills the Heart with love and since all of these elements are interconnected, it eventually has a positive healing impact on your body. That explains how the Quran transformed the lives of the bedouins of Arabia in a short span of just 23 years to become leaders of the world who held the noble vision to spread peace and justice to all of humanity. That is what makes the Quran the ultimate Self Development Book.
Wishing you a life of holistic harmony 🙂