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The history of the world shows that the angels' accusations that humans will spill blood on earth and spread corruption have been accurate so far. Is it possible for us to come out from under the angels' judgment to the light of the Lord's knowledge of us; can we accomplish this scientifically and methodologically?

How can we return to the covenant of the prophets, the covenant they pledged with God to enter the world of love and compassion, the world of knowledge and eternal life and bliss? Though, it seems that our species is still fulfilling the predictions of the angels, God saw something else in the capacities He bestowed upon humanity1.

The shift to the nervous system makes this possible, for instead of the demand, "I have authority because I am stronger," human beings can say, "counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength." (Prov 8:14)2 In this categorical change3, this biological evolution, ability and authority became ours. Humanity will come out of this age of illusion just as it has come through the ages of enslavement and human sacrifice, decreasing comxption by abolishing slavery and decreasing bloodshed by ending the practice of human sacrifice.

It is easy to understand why it was difficult to recognize the relocation of authority from muscles, fangs and nails to human consciousness in the era of Jesus. But to see this ignorance, this illusion still dominating the modern world is amazing. Its implications are so shocking that very few wake up from the shock. I have felt this despair and disconnection for over a third of a century. But the path that recognizes the shift of authority from muscles to the nervous system is narrow: For example, the problematic status of women in the world is still connected to this inability to understand the shift to the nervous system. And so are all power relations: between adults and children, men and women, superpowers and small powers, the owners of nuclear arms and those who lack them, the possessors of veto rights and the ones to whom they are forbidden.

Many other forms of corruption and bloodshed need to be urgently addressed because they have become burdensome and shameful; the institutions through which they are performed have become obsolete. As an example, it is scandalous that one-fifth of the world consumes four-fifths of the world's resources while the poorest fifth of the world population lives on less than one-fifth of tits resources. Moreover, millions die in tribal and hierarchical wars under the eyes and ears of humanity, this species that knows good and evil. This is corrupt management; and human beings turn a blind eye or even ~ nourish its continuation. They become accomplices in evil, undisturbed by the moral condemnation of their deeds for they do not understand morality as another form of economy. The violation of moral values leads to loss and sacrifice in the human economy; and we need to revise our notions of "economic" loss and gain to account for this reality.

Knowledge and skills are acquired through socialization in our species. This growth was implied in God's answer to the angels, who did not believe in the possibilities for humanity. However, we must understand that this is a sacred space for action when we look at it closely and realize what it means. It is like receiving a delicate baby, a carner of possibilities that are capable of growth. We must respond to humanity with care and attention equal to that we give a small infant. We must discover the trust that has been placed in us by God, who talks about the human soul as the ultimate evolution in the cosmos. After first presenting the wonders of the sun, moon, day, night and the heavens, the Qur'an continues: "By the soul (self) and the proportion and order given to it; He inspired it as to its wrong and its right. Truly he succeeds that purifies it. And he fails that vilifies it!" (Surah 91 A1 Shams: 7-10)

The perfected self sits at the top of creation. The human self has the potential to grow and go in either direction, to choose either path. The Qur'an talks about this amazing creation:

We have indeed created insan (human being) in the best of moulds, Then did We abase him [to be] the lowest of the low-. Except such as believe and do righteous deeds; for they shall have a reward unfailing. (Surah 95 A1 Tin: 4-6)
We created insan (human being) from sequences (genealogies) of clay; Then We placed him as a drop in a place of rest, firmly fixed; Then We made the drop into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a lump; then We made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We evolved it into another being . . . so blessed be God, the best to create! (Surah 23 Al Mu'minun: 14)

This is the best and ultimate creation, upon whom the administration of the earth was bestowed, and to whom the improvement of human society was handed.

The human being with his/her unique nervous system is capable of transformation and change. Even evil is subject to reform. Thus, transforming humanity is a priority for all communities, who must focus on changing human content through learning the name, through teaching. The Qur'an puts it wonderfully: "Verily never will God change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves." (Surah 13 A1 Ra'd: 11)

T'he Qur'an expresses a profound orientation to the natural world as God's creation, as the source of knowledge after humanity has become capable of understanding: "Say: `Behold (observe) all that is in the heavens and on earth'; but neither signs nor warners profit those who believe not."' (Surah 10 Yunus: 101)

The Qur'an asks us to trace our history, its beginnings and end, causes and consequences by tracing the earth and observing what is in it. Looking into the heavens and earth is the source of knowledge. We read: "Say: `Travel through the earth and see how God did originate creation . . . "' (Surah 29 AI Ankabut: 20) We also find: "Let insan (human being) look from what he is created." (Surah 86 Al Tariq: 5)

Understanding how creation started will enable humanity to claim and utilize the world (taskhir); and to differentiate good from evil, harm from benefit. Understanding creation will propel humanity into creativity and inventiveness, divine attributes worthy of the vicegerency bestowed upon us:4 "And the Lord God . . . said, `The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil . . ."' (Gen 3:22)

With the gift of its mind, humanity has become a species altogether different from others, and has moved to a world outside the animal kingdom. In fact, the evolution of humanity into a thinking species enabled it to utilize other creatures in its service. For instance, after using their own muscles to labor, humans were then able to discern how to use the muscles of other species for energy, a pattern which continued for ten thousand years. Then, using the gift of the nervous system, humanity harnessed fire and steam and captured electricity for heat and light. Now we even know the secrets of the sun and stars' energy; yet, as the Qur'an foretold, the nervous system in a human being has more potential than all the energies of the suns and stars5. The angels may be excused for their accusation, for all of these achievements were made on a long path of suffering and struggle. But God knew how this species would move beyond the use of its muscles in dealing with itself and its environment to using its nervous system.

The dialogue between God and the angels that captures God's vision of humanity's future is retold in part of Adam's tale in the Qur'an, the story of Adam's sons:

Behold! They each presented an offering (to God); it was accepted from one, but not from the other. Said the latter: `Be sure I will kill you.' `Surely,' said the former, `God does accept from those who are righteous.' `If you do stretch your hand to kill me, I (surely) will not stretch my hand to kill you: for I fear God, the cherisher of the worlds (of all).' `I intend to let you draw on yourself my sin as well as yours, for you will be among the companions of the Fire, and that is the reward of those unjust.' The (selfsh) self of the other led him to the murder of his brother: he murdered him, and then became (himself) one of the losers. Then God sent a raven who scratched the ground to show him how to hide the shame of this brother. `Woe is me!' said he; `Was I not even able to be as this crow, to hide the shame of my brother?' Then he became [regretful] full of regrets. (Surah 5 A1 Ma'idah: 30-34)

Whether this is a historical event or a symbolic story, what I find important in the story is the way it signifies the elevation of humanity to the level of mind, to understanding and utilization (taskhir) over the muscle. The story signifies a shift in authority, once based on violence and coercion, to a new authority based on comprehension. It signifies a voluntary choice between good and evil, and humankind's evolution from the law of the jungle to the law of understanding.

Here, we see a shift toward the law of dialogue, the emergence of accountability and moral responsibility. We see the refusal to return to the previous law of violence, a glimpse of a world that humanity could surpass and a trust that humanity could abide by the new law. In the Qur'an, we are witnesses to the dialogue over the murdered son of Adam. Cain, who failed, rest~rted to killing instead of reviewing his mistakes. He told his brother, whose offering was accepted, "I will kill you." While the book of Genesis does not describe Abel's answer, the Qur'an does. Abel clearly and emphatically answers his brother's threat: "I (surely) will not stretch my hand to kill you: for I fear God . . . ." (Id.) There is no hesitation or doubt in Abel's position. He is determined and willing to face the consequences. His newly conferred responsibility is laid bare, and he uses well his newly acquired authority. Abel's response is not heretical any more than was Galileo's, though the world and the church came to believe him only after four hundred years had passed. It rather marked the evolved attitude of humanity's new life.

We should stop a moment to witness the beginning of a new era that Abel founded, with his new evolutionary consciousness. Whether the story is factual or symbolic, four million years after humans stood erect, this moment is recognized in history through Socrates. His story is a similar case: one who accepted death and refused to evade or stop dialogue. We salute both Abel and Socrates for trusting humanity's evolution and refusing to regress. In doing so, they rejected return to the law of physical power. By their response to violence, they became an example and role model for the intellectual.

The Qur'an recites the determination of all the prophets to share the attitude of Adam's son, to withstand harm and exercise patience in the face of the persecution inflicted upon them by their own people. They refuse to respond with harm against the harm inflicted upon them. They continue in their call and dialogue and endure the consequences. They are determined not to regress back to the way of violence, because for them, this constitutes blasphemy. As with Abel, God asks Prophet Muhammad (PBITH) to tell the world about Noah, who said to his people,

O my people, if it be hard on you that I should stay (with you) and remind you of God's signs, then to God I commend my trust. Get you then an agreement about your plan and among your partners, so your plan be not to you dark and dubious. Then pass your sentence on me and give me no respite. (Surah 10 Yunus: 71)

Noah, here too, is addressing the understanding of humanity and is determined to withstand harm in this dialogue. He insists on performing his call no matter what his people do to him. He wants to address their minds with knowledge and not their bodies with physical harm. He suffers their harm while refraining from harming them back. The Qur'an tells a similar story of Shu'aib, who stands by his principles when the people of his town would drive him out6. In the dialogue, we read the response of Shu'aib and his followers, who are facing exile from their people:

`We would have concocted a lie against God if we returned to your sect (religion) after God has rescued us therefrom; nor could we by any manner of means return to it . . . .' (Surah 7 Al A'raf: 89) Thus, all of the prophets say: `We would have concocted a lie against God if we returned to your sect (religion or path) . . . ' (Id. )7
And the Unbelievers said to their messengers: `Be sure we shall drive you out of our land, or you shall return to our sect (religion) . . . .' (Surah 14 Ibrahim: 13) `No reason have we why we should not put our trust in God. Indeed He has guided us to our paths. We shall certainly bear with patience the harm you may cause us. For those who put their trust should put their trust in God.' (Id. at 12)

In the unity of the prophets' determination not to enter the world of physical conflict even in persecution, we see a pacifist attitude, the decision to decline even self defense, the ability to stay patient while they are being harmed, the insistence on intellectual conflict. They insist on freedom of opinion while bearing all possible consequences. In this determination to be pacifist, freedom of opinion and belief is established from their side. Such freedom is secured by keeping the field of conflict clean and disinfected like a surgical room. This is intellectual integrity, what Abel and Socrates and the prophets practiced; by practicing one's opinion and bearing the consequences without engaging in violence, intellectual freedom is founded.


1 "Have We not made for him a pair of eyes? And a tongue, and a pair of lips? And show him the two ways (paths)." Surah 90 A1 Balad: 8-10.

2. This verse is from the King James version.

3 Initially, I began by noting that the evolution of the nervous system and the possibility of transmitting knowledge and experience through symbols created God's vicegerent on earth enables humanity to interfere in deciding its future, as the Book of Genesis tells us in the story about Adam's creation. He has eaten from the tree of knowledge. (He also wanted to eat &om the tree of life. Perhaps he will do that too and live forever.) This shift is signified in the Bible in many instances: "I am wisdom, I bestow shrewdness and show the way to knowledge and discretion." Prov 8: 12. "[Yjou will know the truth, and the truth will set you &ee." JoHn 8: 32.

4 This the vicegerency we read about in: "Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: `I will create a vicegerent on earth . . . ."' Surah 2 A1 Baqarah: 30.

5 See, for example, the passage: "And He has utilized (subjected) to you, as from Him all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are signs indeed for those who retlect." Surah 45 A1 Jathiyah: 13.

6 "The leaders, the arrogant party among his people, said: `O Shu'ayb! We shall certainly drive you out of our city-and those who believe with you; or else you shall have to returo to our sect (religion).' He said: `What! Even though we do detest it."' Surah 7 Al-A'raf: 88.

7 The passage continues. This is reiterated again in the Qur'an:

Has not the story reached you, of those who (went) before you?-of the People of Noah, and `Ad, and Thamud-And of those who (came) after them. None knows them but God. To them came messengers with clear signs; but they put their hands up to their mouths, and said: `We do deny (reject) on which you have been sent, and we are really in suspicious doubt as to that to which you invite us.' Their messengers said: `Is there a doubt about God, the creator of the heavens and the earth' . . . . `No reason have we why we should not put our trust on God. Indeed He has guided us to our paths. We shall certainly bear with patience the harm you may cause us. For those who put their trust should put their trust on God.' Surah 14 Ibrahim: 9-12.