By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam
11 October 2019
The Quran accords all human beings with equal honour. “Certainly,We have honoured the Children of Adam. We carry them on the land and the sea, and have made provision of good things for them, and have conferred upon them an appropriate excellence over most of those whom We have created” (Quran: 17:70)
This verse implies that all the Children of Adam are honourable. It is an undeniable truth for most religious people that all human beings are the Children of Adam (peace be upon him). This is also a fact that all Muslims and Non-Muslims are included in the list of human beings. All this leads to the general Muslim belief that, in accordance with the Quran, both Muslims and non-Muslims, as human beings, are equally respectable.
God Almighty has honoured all the human beings by blessing them with numerous attributes and authority over other creatures. The attributes given uniquely to human beings include their powers of intellect, insight into good and evil, ability to think and know God Almighty, extraordinary knowledge and other worldly blessings that the animals or other creatures have not been similarly blessed with.
There lies a very spiritual message in this verse (17:70)—that which demands us that we respect all human beings equally not because they perform good deeds or commit evil deeds, but because they are human beings. If they commit evil, their actions will be deemed evil and if they are accountable to God Almighty, they will be so for their evil actions. Similarly, if they perform good deeds, they will gain their actual reward from God Almighty alone.
A person may be a Kafir (disbeliever), Momin (believer) Mushrik (polytheist), Muwahhid (monotheist), Fasiq (sinner), Zaalim (oppressor), liar, traitor, cheater, thief, honest, black, white, Dalit, Brahaman, Ansari, Sheikh, Sayyid or Pathan and whatsoever. However at the same time, he is a human being. He deserves respect as being human being.
The Quran calls all human beings to avoid kufr, shirk, fisq, oppression, dishonesty, theft, treachery, disloyalty and all such acts disliked by God Almighty. It is the personal responsibility of each individual to refrain from such acts. Despite that, this cannot be said that the perpetrators of these acts are excluded from those whom God Almighty has blessed with honour and respect. The reason is thatthey are still human beings and Children of Adam (peace be upon him).
No matter whether a person’s belief or action is good or bad, he will be accountable only to his God for his or her deeds. Others will not be responsible for his actions. The Quran declares this point very clearly, “Whoever receives guidance, receives it for (the benefit of) his own soul and whoever goes astray does so for his own loss. And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And never would We punish until We sent a Messenger (to give warning)” (17:15).
This verse brings together several themes that are generally invoked throughout the Quran that the consequences of a person’s moral actions and the state of his guidance or misguidance devolve upon himself. The clause “no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another” means that nobody will be punished for the evil deeds of another but all will bear the consequences of their own deeds (cf. 6:164, 35:18, 39:7). Though some may misguide others, the burden of the sins perpetrated by those who are thus misguided will still be borne by themselves. Nevertheless some verses warn that those who misguide others will bear an additional burden (cf. 7:38, 37:32-33, 16:25).
A person may be greater in rank because of his pious beliefs and deeds, as God Almighty says, “The most honoured of you with Allah is the one who is the most pious”(49:13- see also, 16:97, 65:11, 98:8). However it does not mean that those who are not pious do not deserve the honour of being human beings- the honour of "walaqad karramna bani Adam" given in the verse 17:70. Thus they still deserve respect, good treatment and all other rights enshrined in the Islamic Sharia, such as peace, harmony, sympathy, benevolence, forgiveness, justness and so on.
A regular Columnist with NewAgeIslam.com, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar), with a Sufi-Sunni background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator. He has also done B.A (Hons.) in Arabic, M.A. in Arabic and M.A in English from JMI, New Delhi. He is Interested in Islamic Sciences; Theology, Jurisprudence, Tafsir, Hadith and Islamic mysticism (Tasawwuf).
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