All revelations guide man to believe in the Supreme Power and make this knowledge beneficial for her/his spiritual development. Islam as revealed to Muhammad (PBUH) gave new dimensions to the relationship between man and the Supreme Power or God. According to the Divine teachings that were revealed to Muhammad (PBUH), to be "God's Servant" Abdullah is the highest rank that man can achieve.
To elaborate, to surrender to the Divine Law is a choice. While man can destroy her/himself by violating the law of his spiritual development, other creatures do not have that choice. They are in harmony with the order of the universe and follow the law of their own existence.
The seven heavens and the earth, and all beings therein, declare His glory: there is not a thing but celebrates His praise; and yet ye understand not how they declare His glory! verily He is Oft-Forbearing, Most Forgiving! (HQ: 17:44).
Because of man’s ability to mischief, continuous revelations came in order to correct man's way and to teach her/him about how to live in harmony with her/himself, and with her/his fellow humans, with nature, that is to be in harmony with the Divine Order. In other words, those revelations taught him how to follow the pure nature of Creation Aööööl-Fitra, so s/he can reach the rank of being Servant of Allah.
The relationship between Man, angels and Satan clarifies the status of man among creatures and her/his very special place as God's vicegerent:
I have 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 praise and glorify Thy holy (name)?" He said, "I know what ye know not" (HQ 2:30).
In this verse, there is a declaration of the potentialities that man can have; s/he is a vicegerent of God, but factually s/he has the power to mischief as the angels perceived. The angels cannot be disobedient to Allah, but they expressed their limitations when they said that they could not see the wisdom of sending Adam to the Earth. They could see one fact: man has the ability to destroy and fight. The wisdom of creating “a vicegerent on earth” lies in Allah's Knowledge. "I know what ye know not". Therefore, the angels fell down in obeisance:
And behold, We said to the angels: "Bow down to Adam:" and they bowed down: not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: he was of those who reject Faith" (HQ 2:34).
Iblis or Satan did not obey Allah's commandment because he denied the fact that Adam is a Vicegerent of Allah, and took the challenge to prove that Adam does not deserve to be in such a high rank. By so doing Satan was not accepting his limitations, and was full of pride as a powerful creature. When Adam made that act of disobedience out of ignorance, he was ready to repent. Here lies the very unique character of Adam. Both Satan and Adam are given the power to obey or disobey the Divine Law. However, Adam may fall in mistakes out of ignorance or he may forget his mission and his way, Satan disobeys God's directions out of arrogance and limited knowledge. He does not accept to be mistaken and his role is to prove that he is right. He challenges the Power of Truth by illusions. His followers stuck to illusions as real, and reject the Path to the truth. Naturally, Satan and his followers will meet their destiny by being in great suffering:
"Get out from this, disgraced and expelled. If any of them follow thee, Hell will I fill with you all (HQ: 7: 18ó).
Satan succeeded in revealing Adam's inherited ability to violate his own nature Fitra. Adam had to come to earth, to start a journey where he had to struggle against all the powers of illusions and to remember the Divine knowledge as was revealed to him in Heaven.
And He taught Adam the names of all things" (HQ 2: 31)
The verse points to what made Adam qualified for being Allah’s Vicegerent on earth. Allah has been supporting Adam and his children by continuous revelations and guidance, yet the ability to discern between the Truth and illusion, and to uncover the embedded knowledge needs a great deal of work from Adam's children. Their ultimate achievement is to be in the rank of Servant of Allah, so they can be in complete serenity and security:
…, there comes to you guidance from Me, whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. "But those who reject Faith and belie Our Signs, they shall be Companions of the Fire; they shall abide therein." (HQ 2:38-39)
The potential of being God's Servants was given to the children of Adam. Therefore, this potentiality put a great responsibility on the human beings' shoulders. If they follow the Path of Allah, surrender to His Divine Law, they prepare themselves to be His Servants. In Arabic, the root of ‘Abdullah servant of Allah is derived from the three letters ‘a.b.d which if put together with certain pronunciation “abbada” means “to prepare” or “to pave the way”. “Abdullah” is s/he who surrenders her/himself to Allah, so that Allah prepares her/him for Himself:
And I have prepared thee for Myself (HQ 20:41) (Our translation)
“Heavens and Earth contain Me not, but the heart of my believing Servant contains Me” (DH).
Used by Al Ghazali in Ihia Ulum Al Din
Man prepares himself to Allah, when s/he focuses on how to climb the ladder to achieve being His Servant. His first step is to live up to the knowledge of the Oneness of Allah where purifying the heart is a prerequisite:
O thou man! Verily thou art ever toiling on towards thy Lord - painfully toiling - but thou shalt meet Him" (HQ 84:6).
Prophets present a model of such a struggle. When they were prepared, the truth prevailed, and the Heavenly Guidance came to enlighten humankind’s way. It all starts from man’s sincere request and her/his work for it. It is that part of man, the secret of life that God endowed her/him with, and which is called in the Holy Qur’an “the Trust” Al Amanah that can be, awaken to supports man in her/his struggle:
We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it; - he was indeed unjust and foolish" (HQ: 33:72).
The “Trust” is the hidden knowledge within man's heart. Without it, s/he would be “unjust and foolish”. If s/he keeps this Trust and follows its inspiration, s/he achieves her/his goal. S/he can keep this Trust if s/he is aware of the Divine Law. To put it in other words, the Trust is the symbolic word of the potentiality of living according to the Divine Law. At that point s/he attains being Allah’s Servant. If s/he follows the Truth that is embedded in her/his own nature, s/he will be guided to real life and if s/he deviates from this path, s/he will go astray.
If it had been Our Will, We should have elevated him with Our Signs; but he inclined to the earth, and followed his own vain desires (hawah). His similitude is that of a dog: if you attack him, he lolls out his tongue, or if you leave him alone, he (still) lolls out his tongue. That is the similitude of those who reject Our Signs; so relate the story; perchance they may reflect (HQ: 7:176).
Therefore let not such as believe not therein but follow their own vain desires (hawah) vert thee therefrom, lest thou perish!(HQ: 20:16)
But if they hearken not to thee, know that they only follow their own desires: and who is more astray than one who follows his own desires, devoid of guidance from Allah? For Allah guides not people given to wrong-doing. (HQ: 28:50)
O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts) (hawa) lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.(HQ: 4:135)
For man to be Servant of Allah s/he should resist the illusive tendency al-hawa vigorously. If s/he succeeded, s/he will be just to her/himself and to everything. Because s/he is a Servant of God, Qur’an describes His Messenger as, "He does not say a word out of ‘hawa’, he is inspired, and he inspires" (HQ 53: 3, 4) (Our translation).
The teachings revealed to The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), clarify this relationship between Man and God in a way that solves the contradictions, which prevailed among some followers of other revelations between the nature of man and the nature of God. As God's vicegerent and His servant, man carries a divine nature within her/his soul; it is the “Trust” that God gifted her/him with, and the spirit that He breathed unto her/him:
When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto him." (HQ: 15:29).
But He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him from His spirit (HQ 32: 9).
Yet man is not God, neither is s/he a reincarnation of God. The highest rank that man can achieve is to realize the goal of her/his own existence and to become God's Servant and His Vicegerent. To represent Allah on earth as Vicegerent (Khalifa) gives Man the chance to be in complete harmony with the Divine.
" So my Servant is still trying to get closer to me by all means till I love him. If I loved him I would be his ears with which he hears, his eye with which he sees, his hand with which he works, and his legs with which he walks"(DH).
Narrated by Al Bukhari and Ahmad.
The complete harmony or surrender to the Divine transforms a human being from her/his illusive untrue existence to the realm of reality and truth. This inner transformation, which might not be seen to the common observer, empowers a Servant of God with the capacity to foresee the wisdom and the truth beyond the common mind. Some of the prophets had obvious supernatural power to show people that the Almighty God can bestow that power upon whom He chooses to be His Servants. Jesus (PBUH) is but an example:
Then will Allah say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! recount My favour to thee and
to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the Holy Spirit, so that thou
didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold! I taught thee
the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel. And behold! thou makest out of
clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and thou breathest into it,
and it becometh a bird by My leave, and thou healest those born blind, and the
lepers, by My leave. And behold! thou bringest forth the dead by My leave
With our naïve mind we think that those whom Allah bestows on them His capability of the secret word "BE", will do for us what we wish to do but cannot. We also may try to increase our time of worship to gain this aptitude, putting in mind that we will have a super power, through which we can achieve our noble dreams. This is a misunderstanding of the teachings, because the one who will surrender completely to Allah, her/his will reflects Allah's will. S/he would have no supernatural interference with the universe. S/he surely will have this shining light from Allah, and her/his presence may transform the attendants if they are ready to receive. The power of truth in man can change the world. It happened with all prophets, not abruptly, but gradually. Moses (PBUH) for example saved the children of Israel and could escape the tyranny of the Pharaoh. That was a miracle. , not only could heal the ill, bring life to the dead and so on, but his call had spread all over the world and caused the failure of the most powerful Empire at that time. Needless to say that Muhammad's presence and the message he carried transformed Arabia, and made a breakthrough in the Human history.
The chance to be Servant of God and His vicegerent is not given only to prophets, but it can be given to whoever surrenders to the law fully and get free from the illusion completely. It is not necessary that a Servant of God will do miracles, because the most miraculous thing of all is to act and say out of the embedded Truth within one's heart, not out of hawa. Like him like Zakariyya who came out from solitude to inspire his people to remember God day and night:
So Zakariya came out to his people from his chamber: he told them through inspiration to celebrate Allah's praises in the morning and in the evening. (HQ: 19: 11).
He aimed for nothing but the Truth, and sought only God.
It has been the message of all revelations to teach man how to be linked to the Origin of life and to realize her/his potentials. But the Islamic teachings stress the value of being a Servant of God without reducing man into a mere vanishing being, and without magnifying him to be a god.
As simple as it may appear, this relationship between Man and God was perplexing to the human mind. The Call to be a Servant of God was misunderstood. For some, it meant that man should obey God's commandments blindly, and fear God as a Super Power that will exercise His mighty against those who disobey him by burning them in Hell or exposing them to all kinds of torture. This personification of God is against the basic principle of believing in Him as beyond everything and within everything at the same time. He is not an entity and cannot be. Therefore, it is a grave mistake to project a human image on Him, thinking of Him like human lords who lead their slaves by force and violence. Hell and Paradise are symbolic depicted pictures that explain the work of the Divine Law, demonstrating how man harvests the fruit of what s/he sows.
It is equally wrong to take good persons as gods, or reincarnation of Him. While it is well understood that there is a sacred part within man that can transform man from the illusive world to the world of Truth, the Originator is above and beyond and He is always Greater. Allahu Akbar “Allah is Greater” is a very distinguished phrase in Islam. No wonder, thus, the call for prayers starts by Allahu Akbar. Therefore in the Holy Qur’an, Jesus (PBUH) is a Word of God, but that does not imply that he is a god. Jesus (PBUH) became a Sign of Almighty God who manifests His Divine Word within him. Jesus (PBUH) did not ask people to worship him:
Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit,
'Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord'; and I was a witness over them whilst I
dwelt amongst them; when thou didst take me up thou wast the Watcher over them,
and Thou art a witness to all things.
SOME of Jesus' followers depict that God is reincarnated in Jesus (PBUH) . When Jesus (PBUH) said, "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name"(M’t: 6:9), he was emphasizing the greatness of God. This expression is the equivalent to Allahu Akbar. Yet it was not understood as such among SOME of Jesus' followers. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by clarifying the position of Jesus (PBUH) as “Abdullah,” introduced a concept and an approach that can protect human beings from falling in the same mistake of some of Jesus' followers. Allahu Akbar added the dimension that can protect the human mind from perceiving any limited creature as god.
There could be no contradictions between Jesus' saying, ", I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (Joh: 14:6) and being ‘Abdullah. Jesus (PBUH) came with the message of God that expresses the Truth and guided to Life. To follow Jesus (PBUH) is to be one with him and to be really alive. Yet God will remain greater. "Hallowed is His Name". Muhammad (PBUH) explains that man is created to be Man, that is, to be worthy of being a Servant of God. Hence, to be a Servant of God is a goal that should be acquired. Discovering the divine knowledge within her/him is the first step towards that end.
As human beings, we are either capable of realizing the sublime potentialities that we were given to us, or we lose them. It is the challenge that human beings have to face while on earth.