What did the angels want?

13 Sep

وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً ۖ قَالُوا أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

And  men, when your Master said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” 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.” (2:30)

  • What is the specific corruption? It is disbelief in Allah (2:27). Benefit: The root cause of corruption is disbelief, and the foundation of all good is belief in Allah.
  • Why did they mention killing? The greatest sin after shirk is murder, even if it is a non-Muslim.
  • The root of tasbeeh is sabaha, which means he swam. To remove all impurities, one needs to shower. Similarly, tasbeeh is said when an imperfection — such as having a son — is associated to Allah.
  • Benefit of combining hamd and tasbeeh: affirms the perfection of Allah and negates any imperfections.
  • Taqdees means to purify.
  • Didn’t say purify you but purify for your sake (the lam is used for exclusivity and to mention who the action is for).
  • Why did the angels mention tasbeeh, hamd and taqdees? Tasbeeh and hamd are said in response to the kufur, and taqdees in response to killing.
  • Allah did not ask the angels for their opinion. So were the angels objecting? Of course not! They said this wondering about the wisdom and the reason for choosing humans.
  • A hidden intent behind this question was to indirectly ask why an imperfect creation is being chosen and not a creation who is perfect. i.e. why are they not being chosen. Hence, the angels wanted to be the vicegerents on Earth.
  • What is it that Allah knows that the angels do not?
    • He knows who is more deserving to be chosen.
    • He knows the wisdom behind choosing Adam and not angels.
    • He knows the fallacy of their argument (i.e. mentioning the evil of humans — killing — and not mentioning their good).
    • He know the hidden intent behind their question.
  • Why did Allah not answer their question directly? Sometimes it is better to demonstrate than to explain.

Ibn Taymiyah was asked who is superior: the righteous or the angels. He replied that ‘Abdullah ibn Amar RA said that the angels said: O Allah, You have created the sons of Adam, and they eat and drink and enjoy life in the world; create for us the hereafter as you created the world for them. He SWT said I shall not do that. They asked Him again and He said I shall not do that. Then they asked Him again two or three times and He said, by My Glory, I cannot regard the righteous among the descendants of the one whom I have created with My own Hand as being like one to whom I said: Be! And he was (narrated by ‘Uthmaan ibn Sa‘eed ad-Daarimi).

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