Alex Broekhuijse: Man God & The Cosmos- A Humanistic Trinity

When one examines a religion or faith, they must primarily investigate the relationship that all religions revolve around. This relationship is the dynamic between man, God, and nature, or the cosmos. When one specifically inspects this relationship in Islam, one will find a dynamic between man, God, and the Cosmos that prioritizes self-determination and individual success and growth. Positioning man as God’s creation who carries out his deeds on earth, and positioning nature as the tools and base for mankind to grow and succeed, Islam produces a humanistic perspective on the dynamic between creation and creator relationship; a perspective which prioritizes humanities successes above all else.

An essential dynamic in this aforementioned relationship is the dynamic between man and God, a relationship that exists more like creator and creation, than that of Father and Son. In the Quran man and God are positioned not as dependent on each other, but instead independent. God created man, and man exists and serves God, but there is not a symbiotic relationship. Instead, the two exist as two separate entities, who have a relationship with one another. Man acts to serve God, through prayer, fasting, and pilgrimage, but this does not mean that God controls man. Instead, it reveals the collaborative nature between man and God, with the creation helping and serving the creator. In order to genuinely grasp the relationship between man and God, one must examine how humanity was created. The Quran chapter Sura al-Mu’minun describes the creation of man as “We created man of an extract of clay; then We made him a small life-germ in a firm resting-place; then We made the life-germ a clot, then We made the clot a lump of flesh, then We made (in) the lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, then We caused it to grow into another creation”1. This quote is significant as it highlights something unique about man. God created the body, the muscles, the flesh, etcetera; however, the text also highlights that there is something else that the creation grew into. There is something unique about human beings that God’s creation developed, and this adds to the Quran’s humanistic perspective on this relationship.

Similarly, in the Quran God gives humanity a unique sense of agency, and it is this agency that further defines the relationship between man and God as not master and slave, but instead two beings working together independent of one another. In Quran verse 2:28-39 God and the angels communicate with Adam. In this conversation, God imbues Adam, the first of all men, with the role as his deputy and the responsibility to carry out his wishes on earth, and this responsibility applies to all men. Specifically, the Quran describes this as “We said, “Go down from it, all of you. And when guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows My guidance – there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.”2. This again highlights the collaborative nature between man and God, positioning man not as a servant of God, but as someone who helps God. Unlike Christianity which posits God as ultimately greater than man, Islam highlights the individual. Instead of being God’s servant, he is instead an executor of his wishes, a colleague, and creation. 

While God and man possess a collaborative, creation and creator relationship in the Quran, the relationship between man and nature is distinctly different, possessing the nature of tool and user, with the earth and nature possessing all of the elements that man require in order to self-actualize and succeed. The relationship between man and nature is comparable to that of farm and farmer or merchant and market. The earth provides man with the opportunities to make riches, grow, and triumph. The earth is a gift from God to man which provides the opportunity for success. In Iman Ali’s text Nahjul-Balagha, the earth is described as “The world said: “I am what you see, and I have no stability, discern me the way as I am. Why do you suppose me to be what you wish, not what I really am?”3.  The world is an opportunity for man. It is a blank canvas for man to use to succeed. This further suggests a humanistic dynamic between Earth, God, and Man as the primary aspect of Man’s relationship with the earth is man’s own success and self-determination.

Ultimately the Quran can be perceived as a set of guidelines and rules for Islams followers and humanity. The text commonly prioritizes the human experience and man’s relation with his world. The ideas revealed through the relationship between man, God and nature reveal that not only does the Quran prioritize the human experience, but similarly prioritizes mankind’s successes. By positioning man as God’s creation, imbued with God’s will, Man is made into a being with potential. With earth positioned as Man’s tool to use in order to succeed, man is given the tools to succeed from birth. For the young students studying the Quran, this provides hope and inspiration, and that is exactly what a religious text should do. Religion should provide man with hope and inspiration, and by examining the unique dynamic between man, God, and nature in the Quran, it reveals Islam’s unique ability to provide man with his own unlimited possibilities. 

Bibliography

Peterson, Daniel C. “The Language of God: Understanding the Qur’An.” Brigham Young University Studies, vol. 40, no. 4, 2001, pp. 51–68., www.jstor.org/stable/43044280.

Izutsu, Toshihiko. God and Man in the Qur’an: Semantics of the Qur’anic Weltanschauung. Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Book Trust, 2008. Print.
Nahjul-Balagha
The Quran
Footnotes:
  1. Sura al-Mu’minun,23:12-14

  2. Quran 2:28-39

  3. Nahjul-Balagha, 493.