Sun. Nov 17th, 2019

Islamic Web Library

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‘Malaika’ (Forces of Nature)

9 min read

The following excerpt is taken from “Lamp of Islam” (Link)

To human bow down all the ‘Forces’, except the ‘Evil Force’ inside his mind

Clearly, thanks to this vocabulary – which is related to the special, human faculty of logical definition (55:3-4) – man is superior to and is gradually becoming capable of harnessing all the observable and hidden ‘controlling Forces of nature’ (‘malaika’), which are commanded by the Divinity to PROSTRATE themselves to man (2:34).

However, out of all the ‘controlling Forces’ (‘malaika’), there is one that makes an exception: the hidden, evil Force inside human mind that refuses to bow down to human (2:34).

It is difficult to avoid the impression that IBLIS in 2:34-36 – which refuses to bow down to Adam and misguides him – is a metaphor for all the overpowering, negative forces intrinsic in human psyche, i.e. the Devilish urge inside man, as described in a previous verse in the context (2:14). These uncontrollable, destructive emotions are burning in relation to sound reasoning, as if they are ‘made of fire (7:12).

Thus this invisible Devil residing in Adam’s inner self is described in the Quran as ‘hidden’ (‘jinn’, 18:50) and one of the ‘controlling Forces’ (‘malaika’, 2:34).

A QUESTION MISINTERPRETED THROUGHOUT THE CENTURIES

While reading the allegory of Adam in the Quran, the readers often get puzzled: “How would the ‘angels’ know about future atrocities and bloodshed?”

Now, the question posed by the Malaika (‘divinely guided natural Forces’, though traditionally misconceived as ‘winged angels’) in 2:30 has been traditionally translated in FUTURE TENSE: ‘Will You establish therein one who will spread corruption therein and will shed blood?

So the question posed by the Malaika (‘atajAAalu feeha man yufsidu feeha wayasfiku alddimaa’), when thus translated in future tense, has classically raised the wrong theological question:

‘How would the Malaika, who have no foreknowledge about the future, know about future atrocities and bloodshed?’

However, looking at the verbs in the question, we cannot see any reason why we should not simply and preferably keep their translation in PRESENT TENSE: ‘Do you establish therein one who spreads corruption therein and sheds blood? Please note that a few translators in IslamAwakened also have chosen this translation in present tense.

Then the question posed by the Malaika, when the translation is thus left in present tense, refers to modern man (Homo sapiens) – a successor of his anthropoid ancestors (cf. 6:133, 70:39-41, 56:58-62) – as a divinely authorized inheritor of Earth, who is already present on Earth (‘who spreads corruption therein and sheds blood’) and whose ‘aggressive nature’ concerns the witnessing ‘natural Forces’ about the ‘violence and atrocities’ humans are inclined to.

Please note: It is not a question that was asked by the natural Forces only once, or only in the past. As a query and a concern ongoing, it is a constantly recurring question being asked by them throughout the history of mankind (Adam).

READING THE QUESTION IN ITS CONTEXT

Let us read the question in its context:

And when your Sustainer said to the Forces: Indeed I am establishing upon Earth an inheritor, they said: Do You establish therein one who spreads corruption therein and sheds blood, while we, we hymn Your praise and sanctify You? He said: Surely I know that which you know not. 2:30

It is interesting to observe that the active participle ‘jaAAilun’ (‘establishing’; cf. ‘innee jaAAilun’,Indeed I am establishing’) in the above actually describes a CONTINUOUS PROCESS, which has already started and is ongoing, rather than a planned project of the future.

In other words – because ‘jaAAilun’ refers to past and present as much as it refers to future – ‘establishing an inheritor’ is not just one time action, it is a process. This concept is fully consistent with the evolutionary perspective: Man is in an evolutionary process of getting established on Earth.

Moreover, the clear mention of blood and the shedding of it further suggest that the question simply refers to an already existing creature of our planet – who is in an evolutionary process of getting established on Earth – rather than a future creature on it or any similar creature in another part of the Universe.

Thus ‘Do You establish therein one who spreads corruption therein and sheds blood?’ is not a question that was asked by the natural Forces only once, or only in the past. It is a constantly recurring question being asked by them throughout the history of mankind – every time with creation of every human (Adam).

Consider all those forces of nature carrying out the divine command to create a baby human (an Adam) in its mother’s womb. Consider this in macro and micro- levels, in all molecular, atomic and subatomic levels. Then just imagine this question is being asked, metaphorically, by all those forces – including physical, chemical and biological.

As Adam belongs to past no more than s/he belongs to present and future, so is the question about Adam.

It is a question asked in the past, being asked in the present and will continue to be asked in the future. It is a query and a concern ongoing.