Islam is a religion that aims to ascertain, uplift and sustain the honor and dignity of man.
Man resides in the center of Islam’s universe. As such, the creation of man stood for the last segment in a long formative process of creation during which everything that there is came into existence. It signified the pinnacle of God’s act of universe creation that went through six stages.
Moreover, God created Adam, the first man and father of humanity, with His own Hands and in His own Image, as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) revealed. (Sahih Muslim)
This means that “Adam has been bestowed with life, knowledge, power of hearing, seeing, understanding, but the features of Adam are different from those of Allah, only the names are the same, e.g., Allah has life and knowledge and power of understanding, and Adam also has them, but there is no comparison between the Creator and the created thing.
As Allah says in the Quran:
There is nothing like Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer (42: 11).
Hence, when God created Adam, angels, the most sublime and infallible creatures, were summoned to witness the final divine act of creation.
Upon its completion, they were asked to prostrate themselves before Adam, that is, to prostrate to God, for there is no prostration except to God alone, and to acknowledge thereby the merit and wisdom of God’s handiwork, and to accord respect to Adam and his existential capacities as the crown of divine invention.
The Quran describes the dramatic occurrence as follows:
And (mention, O Muhammad), when your Lord said to the angels: ‘Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority (khalifah, vicegerent).’ 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.’ And He taught Adam the names – all of them. Then He showed them to the angels and said: ‘Inform Me of the names of these, if you are truthful.’ They said: ‘Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You who is the Knowing, the Wise.’ He said: ‘O Adam, inform them of their names.’ And when he had informed them of their names, He said: ‘Did I not tell you that I know the unseen (aspects) of the heavens and the earth? And I know what you reveal and what you have concealed.’ And (mention) when We said to the angels: ‘Prostrate before Adam’; so they prostrated, except for Iblis. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers. (2: 30-34)
Islam exists because of man; it is meant for him. Man, in turn, exists because, and for, Islam, to be shown how to live in complete service to his Creator and Master, and to be shown the way to self-assertion and deliverance in both worlds.
Thus, the most important knowledge that Islam grants man is the knowledge about himself, his Lord and his relationship with Him, and about the life phenomenon and his place as well as role in it.
Indeed, this is the greatest blessing that man enjoys in Islam. It is a demonstration of man’s honorable and dignified position that he occupies in the hierarchy of Islamic beliefs, values and principles. It is due to this that the Quran often articulates such testimonials as, for example:
We have indeed created man in the best of moulds. (95: 4)
Verily We have honored the Children of Adam… (17: 70)
Do you not see that Allah has made subject to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth and amply bestowed upon you His favors, (both) apparent and unapparent?. (31: 20)
Read and your Lord is Most Honorable, Who taught (to write) with the pen, taught man that which he knew not. (96: 3-5)
It goes without saying that the ultimate objective of the Islamic message is the preservation of a believer and his honor and dignity.
This translates into the preservation of his religion, life, lineage, intellect and property. There is nothing on earth that is more inviolable than a believer, his blood, property and honor.
There is nothing that supersedes him in importance. Everything on earth exists in order to make possible and then sustain a believer’s lofty position. All things and events play second fiddle to his status. Even holy messengers were sent and revelations revealed for the purpose.
Based on the divine Will and Letter, life systems, ordinances and practices are concocted for this same end as well.