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Essay No. 2 in a series of essays on Values
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The Quran and the Honour of Human Beings
Jan 2006

By: Dr. Tanveer Hussain

Allah has honoured the Children of Adam. All human beings are the Children of
Adam. So, all human beings must be treated with honour, respect and regard,
without distinction of any kind, such as the colour of their skin, their race, line
of descent, social background, national origin, gender, age, language, religion,
political or other opinion, education, occupation, job, wealth, property or any
other status.

“And certainly, We have indeed honoured the children of Adam”. [17:70]

The particle la- appearing at the beginning of the verse confirms the
statement, meaning ‘truly, verily’. The particle ‘qad’ also denotes the
affirmation of truth, or certainty, meaning ‘verily, certainly, indeed, really’. All
this makes it clear how much Allah Wants to emphasise on human dignity,
honour and being worthy of esteem and respect.

Allah says that He has created all humans of a male and female. As regards
various families, tribes, or nations, the objective (of different distinctions) is
that you should be able to recognize each other. No tribe or family is superior
to the other. According to the Divine Law, the criterion to determine status or
superiority is how closely and consciously one follows and guards the Divine
Laws? The one whose whole life is in conformity with the Law is most worthy
of respect. The person may either be a man or a woman, or from any family or
tribe. The criterion for superiority is not race or status, but personal character
and behaviour. This is being told by the Almighty, Who knows well what
superiority means and how it is earned.

O mankind! We created you of a male and a female, and made you into
nations and tribes, that you may recognise each other (owing to your
distinctive features). Verily, the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is
(he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well
acquainted (with all things). [49:13]

The criterion of greater respect that has been mentioned in the verse quoted
above is “taqwa”. “taqwa” is a very comprehensive term of the Quran. Some
characteristics of those who possess this virtue are given as follows:

- Following the Right Guidance [47:17], the Straight and the Upright Path [6:
153] as is given in the Quran [39:28], and compliance with the Laws and
Commands of Allah (ibada), with humility and submissiveness, in all walks of
life [2:21]  

- Believing in Allah and the Last Day and the Angels and the Book and the
Prophets, and giving wealth that one loves, to: family and relatives; orphans;
widows; those left helpless in the society; those whose hard-earned income
fails to meet their basic needs; those whose running businesses have stalled;
those who have lost their jobs; whose life has stalled for any reason; the
disabled; the needy wayfarer, son of the street, the homeless, the one who
travels for assistance; those who ask for help, and those whose necks are
burdened with any kind of bondage, oppression, crushing debts and extreme
hardship of labour [2:177]

- Striving to establish the Divine System of Salat, and set up the Just
Economic Order of Zakat; being true to one’s promises whenever one makes
a promise; remaining steadfast and keeping constancy with the Divine Law in
physical or emotional distress and in times of peril [2:177]  

- Keeping one’s wealth open for mankind in favourable as well as in adverse
circumstances; diverting and sublimating one’s anger and potentially virulent
emotions to creative energy, and becoming a source of tranquillity and
comfort to people; pardoning people gracefully; quickly correcting any wrong
or indecency; staying mindful of (the Laws of) Allah, protecting oneself from
trailing behind in dignity, and refraining from wilfully persisting in error. [3:133-