In the common parlance the statement human is “Crown of the Creations or Ashraf ul Maqluqaat” is very much quoted. What did the holy Quran say about it? Perhaps not directly, however, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has been referred to as the best of all the creation (S68:V4, and S33:V21)
What makes humans superior creatures? Some argue the superiority of the intellect qualifies it so. No doubt the overall human may be considered a super-intelligent creation. Perhaps this capability makes humans control many other creatures. Humans can tame wild carnivores like a tiger or a lion, making the largest animal like an Elephant walk on the ramp in the circus. Cage the largest land bird (Ostrich) or largest flying bird (pelican) in the zoo. Whether it is venomous Snakes or scary Crocodile surrender to the intelligent capabilities of human beings. Though humans may not have the physical strength of many of the mentioned creatures still it is able to control them through their sheer intelligence. Human has been able to create tools and techniques that can help them overcome some of their inherent short comings.
Human is the weakest of all land animals by birth. Perhaps it is the only living creature that requires more than 6 months to become mobile on its own. It needs feeding and nursing for almost 2 years and modern-day child needs caretaking till adulthood. It cannot protect itself from any form of danger around it. It has the weakest immunity to tackle diseases that can occur due to invisible microorganisms. The last 2 years of COVID are a recent example. A minute virus has created havoc of unparallel magnitude in the shortest possible time and killed millions. The irony is humans cannot even see the disease-causing micro-organisms with their own naked eyes.
Some creatures display isolated superiority and strength that can be jaw-dropping to the observant human. A tiny little Ant can carry weight equal to 150 times its own weight or can pull 300 times its own weight. Birds can fly non-stop for thousands of kilometers without any navigational aid. Elephants and dogs can sniff from far distances; Whales can hear the calls of their co-species from thousands of kilometers.
It is only humans that can overcome their limited strengths by converting the available resources to leverage their capabilities. Allah swt in its divine wisdom provided a superior brain that can put the available resources to unlimited conveniences. The progress in terms of development is no doubt enormous. Human has conquered the heights of the skies, depths of the oceans, peaks of ice-laden mountains, vast stretches of the moon, and a large expanse of deserts. Other creatures have predominantly adapted to survive in a particular climatic and living conditions. But it is only human that has developed adaptation to live in multiple environments with ease.
All said and done these credentials do support the claim of being a superior creation. But the unlimited greed and lack of empathy towards fellow being are converting progress into a curse. Humans have brought all the other creatures and resources under their control. Its undying desire to expand its circle of control to other fellow beings has created a conflict-of-interest situation. A never-ending saga of suppressing individuals and groups to promote self-centered interest has created unrest within human dwellings and challenged the survival of other living creatures.
Today the biggest threat to humans is from other human beings. We have created nuclear weapons, chemical and biological arsenal, destroyed the environment, polluted seas, and rivers, deforested, exploited resources unchecked, shrunk habitats of other living beings, and exchanged fresh air with polluted air, living very limited options for a thriving a life that can live and let live for others. The biggest loss of humans in recent history was the world wars where an estimated approximately 60 Million lives were lost. About half a million people died in the gulf and Afghanistan due to war during the fag end of the last century. About 15 million children die out of hunger every year on the contrary about 3 million people die due to obesity, 1.1% of the world population owns 46% of the global wealth, and ironically 55% of the world population owns 1.3% of the global wealth. Inequality and exploitation are human-created and flourished under the tutelage of the powerful. Perhaps the creator of all the creation is aware of the mischief of his human creation. If left unchecked, it can become a monster of disaster.
To keep the human greed and addictive aspiration to be supreme, noble individuals in the form of Prophets were sent to keep the associated title of ‘crown of creations’ intact. Revelations to check the acts in the form of guidance were sent and demonstrated by his chosen vices.
“Mischief has appeared on land and sea because of that the hands of men have earned that (Allah) may give them a taste of some of their deeds: in order that they may turn back (from Evil)”. (S6-V41)
We the believers are given the bigger responsibility to strictly adhere to the revealed instructions, and become role models and torchbearers of the divine standards. “You are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is Good, forbidding what is Evil, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith it was best for them; among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors” (S3-V110).
This position of Ashraf Ul Maqluqaat has to be earned and acquired through sincere efforts with the intention to please the Almighty Allah swt. It cannot be inherited by name or lineage. Perhaps the biggest challenge is to continue being human at every instance of the act and thought to claim the position of a human being.
Bas Ke Dushwar Hai Har Kaam Ka Asaan Hona Admi ko Bhi Mayassar Nahin Insaan Hona
(Poet: Mirza Ghalib)