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You know not!
Jhangeer Hanif

For man, the enormity of darkness is more overwhelming than the profundity of dazzling sunlight. All day long, he enjoys the sunlight but little does he deliberate over the source and meaning of the rays of light. The days of affluence and comfort, however long they may be, scarcely have an impact upon his attitude and emotions. As the night falls, darkness vanquishes his faculties and he yearns for some safe haven to hide therein. As the adversities befall him, he yells and complains; and all he can see and feel is pain and anguish. So much so that other wretched people who have hitherto been somehow hidden from his eyesight suddenly come to his view. ‘Oh God. Why this world? Are you not the Merciful? Are you not the all Powerful and the Almighty? Why this misery? Why this bloodshed?’ The positive aspect of the world remains ignored and the negative comes to surface. The blessings are neglected and the miseries counted. This is man. The blessed creature!

Perhaps the same is also true of other creations of Allah. The most obedient species is obviously the angels. They never get tired of praising and glorifying the Lord. They are commanded to do a task and the same is done without hesitation or thinking about self- interests not to mention any effort whatsoever to secure them. However, when Allah announces his scheme regarding a creation who would be vested with authority in the earth, all they see is innocent blood being shed. They launch a silent protest against the decision of the Lord about entrusting man with the status of a Khalifah (someone vested with authority) of this earth. ‘Why settle this creation in this serene and peaceful land when they are going to abuse their authority and massacre their own fellow beings? We glorify You and hold You in reverence. Why give such creation the administration of the world, Lord? Why not just keep us only instead?’ Their words are polite, as they should be, yet the style of expression unveils the reservations implied1. The Qur’an records:

And when your Lord said to the angels: Lo! I am about to place a Khalifah in the earth, they said: will You place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood, while we hymn Your praise and sanctify You? (2:29)

The angels quickly translated the word ‘authority’ into harm and bloodshed. There is nothing disputing the fact that authority does bring about persecution, disorder and anarchy in that the person vested with it will ultimately be given the potential to abuse it since, without such potential, there can be no question of authority. The reservations of the angels were not unfounded: what they expressed could well be envisaged in the perspective of ‘authority’. But this was not it. All they saw was harm and bloodshed. The only picture of man that dangled before their eyes was disfigured and mutilated. The Lord is far from creating anything meaningless. He responded to their reservations:  

‘Surely I know that which you know not’. (2:29)

This seems to be a simple reply, no doubt. But the profound meaning it implies is as deep as the depth of the unfathomable ocean. Man and the angels are the creation and Allah is the Creator. Add the fact that the Lord is the Wise and the Merciful — attributes which cannot be elaborated properly in human language at least vis-à-vis their true intensity and extent. Therefore know you O man your status. Know you O party of angels your rank. Never question the divine decrees after you have professed faith in the Lord with all His attributes. You know not! Always submit to what the Almighty decides for you. You know not! It is indeed a world of knowledge to know that you know not.




1. Based on Ghamidi’s interpretation of the Qur’anic verse (2:29).

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