By: Yusuf Estes
This question should be asked because humankind is not, in fact, the greatest creation. God says in the Qur’an what means:
The creation of the heavens and earth is greater than the creation of mankind, but most of the people do not know. (Ghafir 40:57)
The composition of human beings is far less complex than the composition of the universe in which they exist. However, very few people reflect on this reality. Because of the apparent supremacy of human beings over the other creatures on this earth, man’s journeys through space and the continued advancement of their technology and knowledge, humankind in every age becomes arrogant and considers itself the greatest thing in this world.
It is worth noting that the majority of humankind’s amazing discoveries are not concerning the human being, but his surroundings. Thus, human efforts tend to be focused on the material world rather than human beings. In this verse, God brings human beings back to their actual status in this world. Humankind is merely a small part of the existence that resulted from the miraculous act of divine creation. Thus, in order to understand why God created mankind, one first needs to answer the even more fundamental question of why God created.
Creation is fundamentally the consequence of the divine attribute of being the creator. A creator who does not create is something of a contradiction in terms. This is not to say that God needs His creation. God is free from all needs. It is creation which needs Him. But, as the greatness of a writer becomes apparent in his writings, the perfection of the divine creative attribute is manifest in creation. Creation in the true sense is unique to God alone. Although humans ascribe the act of creation to themselves, what they do is not true creation.
Humankind merely manipulates what already exists, what was already created by God. A table is made from wood which came from trees and is held together with nails and screws made from metal that came from rocks. Human beings did not make the trees or the rocks. In fact, all human creations can be traced back to basic elements which humans cannot make. Even the artist creates designs based on what he has seen. It is not possible to imagine what has not been perceived by the senses. Thus, all of the artist’s thoughts are reflections on what was already created. Only God alone creates from nothing. This basic fact was and still is incomprehensible to some.
Some ancient as well as modern philosophers, who could not comprehend how God could create from nothing, claimed that the created world and its contents are all originally a part of God. That is, according to them, God took a part of Himself and made the universe. This conclusion is based on comparing God to man, who can only ‘create’ by modifying what already exists. However, God, denies any such comparisons which would give Him human limitations. In Chapter Ash-Shura of the final revelation, Almighty Allah states:
There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing. (Ash-Shura 42:11)
Thus, the act of creation is a consequence of the divine attribute of being the Creator. God describes Himself as the Creator in a variety of verses throughout the final revelation to emphasize to humankind that everything belongs to Him alone.
Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is, over all things, Disposer of affairs. (Az-Zumar 39:62)
While Allah created you and that which you do? (As-Saffat 37:96)
Man needs to realize that nothing takes place in this universe without the permission of God. To seek protection from evil or to seek to acquire good from any source other than God is a major mistake. Due to ignorance, many people attempt to avoid misfortune and to gain good fortune through a variety of charms and amulets, astrology, palmistry, etc. Consequently, in the final revelation, Chapter Al-Falaq, God informs human beings to seek refuge in God from evil:
Say, “I seek refuge in the Lord of daybreak. From the evil of that which He created. (Al-Falaq 113:1-2)
Allah, God Almighty, is not evil; He is good. He created a world in which evil or good can be done by beings to whom He gave this ability. However, no evil or good can take place in this world without the permission of God.. This is why it is futile to turn to others besides God for help and protection.
No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. (At-Taghabun 64:11)
The final prophet of God, Muhammad (peace be upon him), further elaborated on this concept, saying, “Be aware that if the whole of mankind gathered together to do something to help you, they would only be able to do something for you which Allah had already written for you: Likewise, if the whole of mankind gathered together to harm you, they would only be able to do something to harm you which Allah had already written to happen to you.” (At-Tirmidhi)
The Merciful, The Forgiving
In the creation of humankind, the divine attributes of forgiveness, mercy and kindness are also manifested. Human beings were created good and pure with a natural awareness of good and evil. The Almighty also created in humans desires and gave them an ability to control those desires according to divine law or to turn them loose and follow them blindly. God created mankind knowing that they would disobey Him. Consequently, He taught human beings, beginning with Adam, how to repent and thereby purify themselves of their sins. Adam and Eve represent a pattern for all mankind to follow.
Source: Taken from the author’s The Purpose of Creation.