Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Hamdy Zaqzouq
President of Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue
1- God created man and established him as His vicegerent on earth and made the universe with its heavens and earth and all that lies between them subservient to him and instructed him to populate and subdue the earth. This indicates that God intended that man should be the master in this universe, but at the same time he should not forget that God created him. In this sense only, he is a slave to God, his Creator whom he is expected to serve as one who worship Him and not as a servile or abject slave. God Almighty gave man the freedom of choice between obeying Him or disobeying Him, between believing in Him or rejecting His Faith and this is stated in the following Qur'anic verse: “let those who wish to believe in it do so, and let those who wish to reject it do so” (Al-Kahf: 29). Freedom of choice is the opposite of slavery. Man has always been granted the right and freedom of choosing his way in life and is consequently responsible for his actions: “Whoever does good benefits himself, and whoever does evil harms himself: you will all be returned to your Lord” (Al-Jathiyah: 15).
2- God has honoured man and preferred him to many of His creatures as is stated in: “We have honoured the children of Adam” (Al-Isra`:70). This honour with which God has blessed man is the exact opposite of servility, and when God created man and breathed into him a spark of His spirit, he ordered the angels to prostate themselves before him: “When I have fashioned him and breathed My spirit into him, bow down before him”(Al-Hijr 15:29). In this process of divine spiritual animation lies the close relation between man and his Creator, and every human being retains within his soul the essence of this divine process which always assures him that he is in the Divine presence of God, wherever may be: "And He is with you where so ever you may be" (Al-Hadid:4).
3- The Qur'an also assures us that God Almighty is nearer to man than his own jugular vein (Qaf: 4). He is always near to man and answers the prayers of every person who invokes Him (Al-Baqara: 186). His Mercy encompasses all things (Al-A`raf: l56) and that He is the lord of Mercy. Although God Almighty has been described in the Qur'an as being the All-Compelling once and as being the Supreme Controlling Power twice and as being Irresistible six times, He has been described as being the Most Gracious and Beneficent fifty-seven times and as being the Merciful one hundred and fourteen times. In addition to being described as the Most Merciful of the merciful four times, God Almighty has also been described as the Most Kind and the attribute of His Mercy has been mentioned innumerable times.
The aforementioned verses all prove the strong and close relation between man and his Creator for it is a relation of proximity, mercy and response to man's prayers and invocations. God Almighty is more merciful and compassionate to His creatures than a mother is to her child and this mercy is felt by every Muslim in the depths of his heart.