If tawhid (Oneness of God) constitutes the ideological foundation of Islam, the concept of man’s Khilafah (vicegerency/caliphate) provides the operational framework for the Islamic scheme of life.
The story of Adam and Eve is found in almost all religious and major cultural traditions. But in these narrations, fact and fancy are found intermingled. The way the Qur’an narrates this event is crucial to the understanding of the Islamic world-view.
God declared His intention to send a vicegerent (khalifah) to the earth. He created Adam and Eve from the same substance. They were destined to play this role of vicegerency and were endowed with the ‘knowledge of the things’ to do the job well. Then they were put to a test and were asked not to approach a certain tree. They fell victim to the evil persuasions of Satan and committed sin. But immediately after sinning they repented their mistakes, sought God’s forgiveness and were forgiven. It was after they were forgiven and redeemed that they were sent down to the earth to play their role as vicegerents of God. They were promised Divine Guidance and were assured that those who followed that guidance would be successful. Adam was the first man to receive this guidance and convey it to his progeny.
Adam and his childrenare not obligated to feel “guilty” or “shame” for anything. Rather, they realize that only the children of Adam have the highest rank and honor in the entire universe as the “trstees/moral agents/vicegerents/khalifas” on earth.
Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent (khalifah) on earth.” They said: “Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?” He said: “I know what ye know not.” TMQ 2:30.
The children of Adam, according to the Quran, inherited the lofty and divine duty as the khalifah (trustee, moral agent, vicegerent) to fight the evil forces in order to restore the divine system on earth. This was the holy mission from the very begining of man’s journey for which we will be questioned at the end of our journey.
What would be the “job description” of such a person who was a “vicegerent” (khalifah) of God on earth?