Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verse 30..........Part 2
Chapter 2, Verse 30
When your Lord told the angels, ‘I am putting a successor on earth,’ they said, ‘How can You put someone there who will cause corruption and bloodshed, when we celebrate Your praise and proclaim Your holiness?’ but He said, ‘I know what you do not.’ (Chapter 2, Verse 30)
Allah wants us to know the story of the human race, in essence, how we came into existence. Thus, we are presented with the story of the first human: Adam (peace be upon him). God spoke about the substance from which Adam was created, and the path laid for him. He told us about the conversation that took place with the angels when God pointed out that Adam will be the successor on land. We are also informed about the conversation that took place between God and Satan when Satan refused to prostrate with the angles. Perhaps most importantly, God wants you to know the arguments of your enemy, Satan, and his constant efforts to find a way into the hearts of the believers since the time of Adam.
The verse starts with God informing the angels that He will create a successor on earth. Let’s take a moment here to discuss the question: Was Adam created as an individual successor? or was the whole progeny, enveloped in him until the day of resurrection, the intended successors? God says:
We created you and then formed you and then We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate before Adam,’ and they prostrated – except for Satan. He was not among those who prostrated. (7:11)
The word 'you' in this verse is translated from the Arabic Quranic origin which is plural, meaning that it includes Adam and his progeny. Through this, God points out that within Adam ,who was the first creation, are the traits of all his descendants through heredity until the last day. You, and every person you know has inherited a particle or a molecule from Adam. The children of Adam inherited directly from their father, and the generation after them took a part from the living cells and genome that Adam deposited in his children and so on. Life is a continuous uninterrupted chain. You are alive now because you came from a living cell from your father. Your father was given life through a living cell from his father and so on until we reach Adam (peace be upon him). Hence, you carry within you particles that lived since Adam. If you are blessed with children, they will have a part of you and a part of Adam and this chain of will continue until the day of resurrection. This brings us back to the verse: when Allah ordered the angels to bow before Adam, they actually bowed before Adam and all his progeny until the day of resurrection.
The phrase ‘I am putting a successor on earth’ does not mean that Allah is consulting the angles about this matter, rather, He is only informing them. God informed the angels because they will have a role to play..........a link and a task related to mankind. For example, there are the angels who are the noble guardians and others who record our deeds and so on. Thus, God gave them this notification to prepare for their new tasks related to God's trustee on earth.
Here you may naturally ask, who will this successor succeed? Are people succeeding one another? Meaning that every person will die and another person will replace him or her? Or are we successors of another kind or species of creation? Let's look for the answer in the Quran. God says:
But they were succeeded by an evil generations who neglected the prayer, and followed appetites. So they will soon encounter perversity (19:59)
The verse clarifies that humans will succeed and inherit each other until the day of resurrection. However, the true meaning of succession on earth is not that of heredity, rather it is the meaning of responsibility, authority, and care for others. Adam (peace be upon him) and his progeny are appointed as God's trustees and ambassadors on earth. Allah gave Adam all that is necessary to carry out his mission on earth. He subjected the universe for mankind, made the angels prostrate before us, and provided us the means, both material and moral, to support the mission. God says in a sacred narration: “O son of Adam, free yourself for my worship, and I will, in turn, enrich your heart with satisfaction and spare you poverty; but if you don't, then I will fill your hands with distraction and will not remove your needs and poverty."
Let's look at what the angels said in response to Adam's appointment; They asked ‘‘How can You put someone there who will cause corruption and bloodshed, when we celebrate Your praise and proclaim Your holiness?” The first question to ask here is: How did the angels know that? There must have been a similar situation that occurred in the past -a situation they had compared and contrasted this case to- and assumed that Adam will transgress on land. The angles must have witnessed prior bloodshed and corruption. We find the answer in the following verse:
The jinn We created before, from the fire of scorching wind (15:27)
So, the angles made their assumptions based on the Jinn who were created before humans. When God answered with: ‘I know things you do not.’ He indicated that the knowledge of the angles is limited by what they have observed before. God's knowledge, on the other hand, is comprehensive and eternal.
Whether the angels had made that statement questioning Adam's mission out loud or within themselves, Allah had knowledge of it. He knows the secret and that which more hidden than it; He knows what you share with others and what you keep to yourself.
Let's focus now on the phrase: ‘when we celebrate Your praise and proclaim Your holiness.’ To praise means to negate all flaws that do not fit the Being, while to proclaim holiness means to cleanse to the point of absolute purity. Allah is indeed free of all flaws and has absolute holiness. This type of praise befits Allah alone, and is expressed with the Arabic word 'Subhanak' سبحانك. Only the absolute perfect being who is not tainted by any defects is praised with this word, therefore, the Arabic word 'Subhanak' is reserved exclusively for Allah's praise.
The statement of the angels: ‘we celebrate Your praise and proclaim Your holiness’ is similar to our statement when we say 'all glory is to God and all praise is belongs to Him'. His Being is not similar to any other being, neither are His attributes or actions. In fact, your ability to glorify and praise God, and your ability to say the words 'My Lord, Subhanak' in by itself is a blessing. Therefore, I praise you Allah for giving me the ability to praise and exalt you. Subhanak my Lord, only the pure is worthy of being linked to you. And it does not befit whom you created with your hands to do any action which is not pure.