إِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً
Wa-idh qaala Rabbuka lil-malaa’ikati innee jaa‘ilun fil-ardhi khaleefah
And when your Lord said to the angels, I am going to place in the earth a khalifa
Suratul Baqarah (No. 2), Aayat 30
When the Almighty created the human being and sent him to the earth, He announces it to the angels as the sending of His khaleefah. The word khaleefah means vicegerent, or representative. It is an honor for the human being that he was chosen out of all of creation to represent God on earth. He was equipped to do this with the power of intelligence and awareness, and given free will and potential for perfection. Allah created for the human being all that is in the heavens and the earth, and put it at his disposal to use for his stay on earth. The one thing Allah demanded of him was to obey Him and act in a manner worthy of being His representative. Allah tells the human in Hadith al-Qudsee:
I have created all things for You, but you I have created for Myself.
To be a representative of God is an honor and privilege. It carries responsibilities which have to be performed well. To understand the true role of a representative, think about the following.
A good representative is one who:
– understands that he/she is there on behalf of someone else and not for himself.
– has knowledge and awareness of whoever he is representing.
– communicates closely to make sure he is carrying out his duties well.
– follows orders strictly
– reflects the qualities and values of the one being represented.
– works in accordance with what is expected of him.
To be true representatives of Allah on earth it is imperative that we put aside personal and individual perspectives. We need to submit and surrender completely, and forget ourselves, remembering only what is expected of us from the One we are representing. That is what being a khaleefah is all about.
Source: Tafsir Namune, Aytaullah Nasir Makarim Shirazi (ed).