Single, comprehensive species

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How can we reconcile the Qur'anic expressions; surely we have honored the children of Adam (17:70) and He (man) is very unjust and ignorant (33:72) ?

God Almighty makes many things from a single substance to cause that substance to serve many purposes, and inscribes on a ‘page’ the content of a thousand ‘books’. Likewise, He has created man, as a single, comprehensive species in place of many; that is, He has willed to make each single man perform the duties and functions that could be done by all the species of the animal kingdom, and therefore He has not put a natural restriction on his feelings and faculties. Al-though the senses and faculties of all animals have naturally been restricted, every faculty of man functions in an infinite space. Since man is a mirror reflecting the endless manifestations of the Creator’s Names, his faculties have been endowed with infinite potentials. For example, if man were to be given the whole world, he would, because of his greed, ask:

‘Is there any more?’

Also, because of his selfishness, he would agree to thousands of people’s suffering harm for the sake of his interest. And so on. As he makes so much ‘progress’ in evil conduct as to be a Nimrod or Pharaoh, and becomes a most unjust individual, so also does he realize so great an evolution in good conduct as to attain the rank of the truthful ones or the Prophets.

In addition, man, unlike animals, is ignorant of the necessities of life, and therefore obliged to learn everything. Since he is in need of an unending number of things, any of which he does not know of when he is born, he is most ignorant. Whereas, an animal needs only a few things when it is born, and it acquires their knowledge in a few months or in a few days, or sometimes in a few hours. It is adapted to the conditions of life in so short a time that you would think that it was born after it had been perfected in another world. But man, by contrast, learns how to walk in one or two years and can distinguish between benefit and harm in fifteen years. The verse mentioned above alludes, by mentioning man’s ignorance, to this fact.


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