The common human enterprise can be derived from the central theme of Surah Al-Fatiha: “You do we worship, and Your aid we seek.” [1:5]
This enterprise requires resources in order to be fulfilled.
In Surah Al-Baqara, we read: “It is He who created for you all things that are on earth; then he turned to the heaven and made it into seven heavens. And of all things he has perfect knowledge.” [2:29]
Let us take the following example: A highly respected scientific foundation gives a researcher a grant in the amount of ten million dollars to do a project. Without going into the details of the project, we can infer that the project is very important and significant, and the scientist is of great caliber. The greatness of the resources does not only reflect the greatness of the project and the great caliber of the scientist, but also the greatness of the allocator, the sponsoring foundation of this project.
The resources given to humans to fulfil their common enterprise include everything Allah has created in heaven and earth and in-between. The greatness of the resources indicates the greatness of the Creator or the Provider, the greatness of the enterprise, and the greatness of the human being tasked with this enterprise or project. Moreover, the human being is at the center of the project and therefore becomes the project itself. In the following verse, Allah tells us through the angels that He is assigning the newly created human being as a trustee on this earth: “Behold, your Lord said to the angels: I will create a trustee on earth.” [2:30]
The human beings are entrusted with and made responsible for all the resources in heaven and earth created for their service. In order for the human beings to properly utilize these resources and give them the direction of the Truth, Allah taught them through their Father, Adam all the names as we read in the following verse: “And He taught Adam all the names.” [2:31]
I believe the names here are the Beautiful Names of Allah from which all the high values originate.
Worshipping Allah then means how to approach Him and get closer to Him by realizing His Beautiful Names in our daily life. We get closer to Allah, the All-Forgiving by practicing forgiveness with our family, friends, neighbors and fellow citizens. We get closer to Allah, the All-Knowing by seeking knowledge and putting it in the service of humanity.
The know-how, the resources, and the technology are like the scaffold that is used in building a structure on this earth. After building is done and the scaffold is taken away, the structure will stand on its own only if the foundations are strong and sound. The Beautiful Names of Allah and the high values derived from them represent the foundation of the common human enterprise that ensure the proper utilization of the resources and the technology.
As we are exploring and utilizing the resources to build this earth and advance life on it; we should not forget who we are, how great we are, why we are created, and where we like to see our place in this existence.
By Dr. Walid Khayr