tence as there are in His speech and address. These fine points are illustrated also in the verse “We have sent down to you the Book in truth. That you might judge between men in accordance with what Allah has taught you.”(4:105) Here, the first person plural in “We have sent down” indicates the existence of an intermediary in [the sending down of] revelation and infers its splendour. [That is, it indicates the angel(s) of revelation, who manifest the splendour of the One who sends them.] While the third person singular in “in accordance with what Allah has taught you” indicates that there are no intermediaries in the inspiration of meanings.
The choice of “place (jā‘il)” rather than ‘create’ indicates that what causes the doubts and questioning is mankind being ‘placed’ on the earth and appointed to cultivate it, not [man’s] creation and being given existence. For existence is pure good and creation is an essential act (fi‘l dhātī) [of Allah] and [as such] cannot be questioned.
And the choice of “in (fī)” in the phrase “in the earth” rather than ‘on,’ despite mankind being on the earth, intimates that humankind resembles the spirit breathed into the earth, and if it ever quits the earth, the earth will fall apart and expire.
“Vicegerent (khalīfatan)” suggests that before conditions on the earth were readied for human life, there were intelligent creatures for whose lives, conditions during the earth’s early epochs were suitable. This [view] is in conformity with the questions of science (qaḍīyya al-ḥikma). The most widely held [view] is that these creatures were a species of jinn, but they spread corruption [on the earth] so were succeeded by mankind.
The parts of the sentence: “They said: Will You place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? (qālū a taj‘alu fī-hā man yufsidu fī-hā wa yasfiku al-dimā’a)”
Consider this: “They said” being apparently unconnected to what precedes it (istīnāf) suggests that the Most High’s turning to and addressing the angels drives the listener to ask: “What will [the angels’] attitude be towards their neighbours, seeing that their houses are side by side? Will they be happy to have them as fellows? What is their opinion of them?” So the Qur’an says: “They said: Will You place therein..?”
This last phrase, “They said: Will You place (qālū a taj‘alu)” is the consequence of the conditional particle “idh” [in the phrase “Behold (lit. and then) (your Lord) said (Wa idh qāla)”] [but the necessary phrase (luzūm) is unstated, implying the words:] “Allah the Most High ruled that man should be made vicegerent of the earth, which was under the supervision of