FROM THE FIRST CHAPTER: SOVEREIGNTY
What has been defined above as the ‘ontological triad’ depends on the maintenance within a civilisation of balance in the essential relationship between three levels of existence, those of the unseen, the human and the natural world. In Islam, the mīzān is predicated on upholding the authority and sovereignty of God as Creator and Ruler of the universe. From the mīzān perspective, we are not talking about a balance between equals; rather it is through the sovereignty of God that balance and harmony is maintained in the created world.
In the Qur’an, the Creator’s authority is unequivocally stated in this verse from the sura entitled al-Mulk (‘Sovereignty’ or ‘Dominion’):
Blessed is He in whose hand is the dominion, and He has power over all things. (Qur’an 67:1)
This is a theme that is stated time and time again in the Qur’an, reminding humanity of the divine omnipotence. The all-encompassing power of God over His creation is further described in the Throne verse, which according to a saying of the Prophet Muhammad is the greatest verse in the Qurʾan:
In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
God! There is no god but He, the Living, the Self-subsisting.
Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him.
To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth.
Who is there that shall intercede with Him save by His leave?
He knows what is before them and what is behind them.
And they encompass nothing of His knowledge, save that which He wills.
His throne extends over the heavens and the earth,
The preserving of them wearies Him not,
He is the Sublime, the Tremendous. (Qur’an 2:255)
The human response to God’s absolute and all-encompassing sovereignty is to glorify and worship Him.
And We sent no messenger before you but that We revealed to him, ‘There is no god save Me, so worship Me’. (Qurʾan, 21:25)
But the human being has been granted the special honour among creatures of being the vicegerent, successor, or representative (khalīfa) of God on earth:
And He it is who has made you successors in the earth and has raised some of you above others in degrees, so that He may try you in what He has given you. (Qurʾan, 6:165)
Moreover, the Qur’an repeatedly states that God has placed all that is in heaven and on earth at mankind’s disposal. However, with this privilege come responsibilities. Firstly, as vicegerent, it is the unique function and duty of human beings that they should know and recognize the Creator through the signs of His creation, as well as showing gratitude for His bounty:
…He produces crops for you, and olives, date-palms, grapes and every kind of fruit; surely in this is a sign for people who give thought.
He has made subject to you the night and the day; the sun and the moon; and the stars are in subjection by His command. Surely in this are signs for people who use their intellect.
It is He who has made the sea subject, that you may eat from it fresh meat, and bring forth from it ornaments which you wear; and you see the ships cleaving through it, that you may seek of His bounty, and that you may be grateful.
(Qurʾan, 16: 11, 12 and 14) . . .
. . Over the last five hundred years, the West has gone on a journey that began with absolute sovereignty being vested in God, then with it passing into the monarchy and the sovereign nation state, then being vested in the people through democracy, and finally ending up with the sovereignty of the individual.
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