Surah Al-Baqarah >> Currently viewing Surah Baqarah Ayat 30 (2:30)

Surah Baqarah Ayat 30 in Arabic Text

وَإِذۡ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلۡمَلَـٰٓئِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٞ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ خَلِيفَةٗۖ قَالُوٓاْ أَتَجۡعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفۡسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسۡفِكُ ٱلدِّمَآءَ وَنَحۡنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمۡدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَۖ قَالَ إِنِّيٓ أَعۡلَمُ مَا لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ
Wa iz qaala rabbuka lil malaaa’ikati innee jaa’ilun fil ardi khaleefatan qaalooo ataj’alu feehaa mai yufsidu feehaa wa yasfikud dimaaa’a wa nahnu nusabbihu bihamdika wa nuqaddisu laka qaala inneee a’lamu maa laa ta’lamoon

English Translation

Here you can read various translations of verse 30

Sahih International
And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.”

Yusuf Ali
“Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent 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.”

Abul Ala Maududi
Just recall the time when your Lord said to the angels, “I am going to appoint a vicegerent on the Earth.” They humbly enquired, “Are you going to appoint such a one as will cause disorder and shed blood on the Earth? We are already engaged in hymning Your praise, and hallowing Your name”.

Muhsin Khan
And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels: “Verily, I am going to place (mankind) generations after generations on earth.” They said: “Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood, – while we glorify You with praises and thanks (Exalted be You above all that they associate with You as partners) and sanctify You.” He (Allah) said: “I know that which you do not know.”

And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth, they said: Wilt thou place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Thy praise and sanctify Thee? He said: Surely I know that which ye know not.

Dr. Ghali
And (remember) as your Lord said to the Angels, “Surely I am making in the earth a successor.” They said, “Will You make therein one who will corrupt in it and shed blood (Literally: bloods) while we (are the ones who) extol (with) Your praise and call You Holy? Literally: hallow for you)” He said, “Surely I know whatever you do not know.”

Abdel Haleem
[Prophet], when your Lord told the angels, ‘I am putting a successor on earth,’ they said, ‘How can You put someone there who will cause damage and bloodshed, when we celebrate Your praise and proclaim Your holiness?’ but He said, ‘I know things you do not.’

Muhammad Junagarhi
اور جب تیرے رب نے فرشتوں سے کہا کہ میں زمین میں خلیفہ بنانے واﻻ ہوں، تو انہوں نے کہا ایسے شخص کو کیوں پیدا کرتا ہے جو زمین میں فساد کرے اور خون بہائے؟ اور ہم تیری تسبیح، حمد اور پاکیزگی بیان کرنے والے ہیں۔ اللہ تعالیٰ نے فرمایا، جو میں جانتا ہوں تم نہیں جانتے

Quran 2 Verse 30 Explanation

For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Baqarah ayat 30, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.


(2:30) Just think[36] when your Lord said to the angels:[37] “Lo! I am about to place a vicegerent[38] on earth,” they said: “Will You place on it one who will spread mischief and shed blood[39] while we celebrate Your glory and extol Your holiness?”[40] He said: “Surely I know what you do not know.”[41]

36. Thus far man has been summoned to serve and obey God on the grounds that God is his creator and sustainer, that in His grasp lies man’s life and death, that He alone is the Lord Who rules over the entire universe in which he lives. In view of this, the only attitude which can be deemed appropriate for man is one of service and subjection to God.

The same idea is presented in the following section, but supported on slightly different grounds

In this connection the Qur’an defines precisely the true nature of man and his correct position in the universe. It also enlightens us to a period of man’s past which is otherwise inaccessible. What the Qur’an tells us here, with its practical consequences, is of far greater value than knowledge derived by unearthing bones and pottery, and piecing together scattered fragments of information with the help of conjecture.

37. The word malak in Arabic means ‘message’

38. ‘Khalifah’ or vicegerent is one who exercises the authority delegated to him by his principal, and does so in the capacity of his deputy and agent. Hence, whatever authority he possesses is not inherently his own, but is derived from, and circumscribed by, the limits set by his principal. A vicegerent is not entitled to do what he pleases, but is obliged to carry out the will of his master. If the vicegerent were either to begin thinking himself the real owner and to use the authority delegated to him in whatever manner he pleased, or if he were to acknowledge someone other than the real owner as his lord and master and to follow his directions, these would be deemed acts of infidelity and rebellion.

39. This was not said by way of objection or protest. It was said rather by way of inquiry and in order to satisfy their curiosity; it is inconceivable that the angels could object to any of God’s decisions. The word ‘vicegerent’ suggested to them that the proposed species of creation would be placed on earth with some authority. It was incomprehensible to them how a species of being which had been invested with discretionary power and authority could conform with the overall order of the universe, which is based on absolute and involuntary subservience to the Will of God. They thought that investing anyone with authority in any part of the universe would lead to mischief and disorder. It is this aspect which the angels were curious about.

40. This does not mean that the angels considered themselves suitable for vicegerency’. They merely wanted to point out that God’s orders were already being carried out fully, that they – the angels – were engaged in doing His will and that according to His Divine will the entire universe was kept in a state of absolute purity; moreover, God’s glory was constantly being extolled and His holiness celebrated. Since all these things were being done, they wanted to ask what gap was still considered to exist that called for the creation of a new species of being to fill it.

The word tasbih has two meanings: (i) to proclaim glory and (ii) to exert oneself earnestly and energetically. In the same way taqdis has two meanings: (i) to celebrate or proclaim holiness and (ii) to purify.

41. This was an answer to the latter doubt expressed by the angels. The angels were told that the reason for the appointment of a vicegerent was best known to God alone and could not be understood by them. Despite the services rendered by the angels, something over and above their work was still required. God decided, therefore, to create a new species of being in the world and to invest it with some authority.


30. And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels: “Verily, I am going to place (mankind) generations after generations on earth.” They said: “Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood, ـ while we glorify You with praises and thanks and sanctify You.” He (Allah) said: “I know that which you do not know.”

Adam and His Children inhabited the Earth, Generation after Generation

Allah reiterated His favor on the Children of Adam when He stated that He mentioned them in the highest of heights before He created them. Allah said,

﴿وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَـئِكَةِ﴾

(And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels.)

This Ayah means, “O Muhammad ! Mention to your people what Allah said to the angels,

﴿إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِى الأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً﴾

(Verily, I am going to place a Khalifah on earth).

Meaning people reproducing generation after generation, century after century, just as Allah said,

﴿وَهُوَ الَّذِى جَعَلَكُمْ خَلَـئِفَ الاٌّرْضِ﴾

(And it is He Who has made you (Khala’if) generations coming after generations, replacing each other on the earth) (6:165),

﴿وَيَجْعَلُكُمْ حُلَفَآءَ الاٌّرْضِ﴾

(And makes you (Khulafa’) inheritors of the earth) (27:62),

﴿وَلَوْ نَشَآءُ لَجَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ مَّلَـئِكَةً فِى الاٌّرْضِ يَخْلُفُونَ ﴾

(And if it were Our will, We would have (destroyed you (mankind all, and) made angels to replace you (Yakhlufun) on the earth.) (43: 60) and,

﴿فَخَلَفَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ﴾

(Then after them succeeded an (evil) generation (Khalf)) (7:169). It appears that Allah was not refering to Adam specifically as Khalifah, otherwise he would not have allowed the angels’ statement,

﴿أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَآءَ﴾

(Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood).

The angels meant that this type of creature usually commits the atrocities they mentioned. The angels knew of this fact, according to their understanding of human nature, for Allah stated that He would create man from clay. Or, the angels understood this fact from the word Khalifah, which also means the person who judges disputes that occur between people, forbidding them from injustice and sin, as Al-Qurtubi said.

The statement the angels uttered was not a form of disputing with Allah’s, nor out of envy for the Children of Adam, as some mistakenly thought. Allah has described them as those who do not precede Him in speaking, meaning that they do not ask Allah anything without His permission. When Allah informed them that He was going to create a creation on the earth, and they had knowledge that this creation would commit mischief on it, as Qatadah mentioned, they said,

﴿أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَآءَ﴾

(Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood)

This is only a question for the sake of learning about the wisdom of that, as if they said, Our Lord! What is the wisdom of creating such creatures since they will cause trouble in the earth and spill blood “If the wisdom behind this action is that You be worshipped, we praise and glorify You (meaning we pray to You) we never indulge in mischief, so why create other creatures”

Allah said to the angels in answer to their inquiry,

﴿إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ﴾

(I know that which you do not know.) meaning, “I know that the benefit of creating this type of creature outweighs the harm that you mentioned, that which you have no knowledge of. I will create among them Prophets and send Messengers. I will also create among them truthful, martyrs, righteous believers, worshippers, the modest, the pious, the scholars who implement their knowledge, humble people and those who love Allah and follow His Messengers.”

The Sahih recorded that when the angels ascend to Allah with the records of the servant’s deeds, Allah asks them, while having better knowledge, “How did you leave My servants” They will say, “We came to them while they were praying and left them while they were praying.” This is because the angels work in shifts with mankind, and they change shifts during the Fajr and `Asr prayers. The angels who descended will remain with us, while the angels who have remained with us ascend with our deeds. The Messenger of Allah said,

«يُرْفَعُ إِلَيْهِ عَمَلُ اللَّيْلِ قَبْلَ النَّهَارِ وَعَمَلُ النَّهَارِ قَبْلَ اللَّيْل»

(The deeds of the night are elevated to Allah before the morning, and the deeds of the morning before the night falls. )

Hence, the angels’ statement, “We came to them while they were praying and left them while they were praying,” explains Allah’s statement,

﴿إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ﴾

(I know that which you do not know.)

It was said that the meaning of Allah’s statement,

﴿إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ﴾

(I know that which you do not know.) is, “I have a specific wisdom in creating them, which you do not have knowledge of.” It was also said that it is in answer to,

﴿وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ﴾

(While we glorify You with praises and thanks and sanctify You) after which Allah said,

﴿إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ﴾

(I know that which you do not know). Meaning, “I know that Iblis is not as you are, although he is among you.” Others said,

﴿أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَآءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ﴾

“(Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood, ـ while we glorify you with praises and thanks and sanctify You.) is their request that they should be allowed to inhabit the earth, instead of the Children of Adam. So Allah said to them,

﴿إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ﴾

(I know that which you do not know) if your inhabiting the heavens is better, or worse for you.” Ar-Razi as well as others said this. Allah knows best.

The Obligation of appointing a Khalifah and some related Issues

Al-Qurtubi, as well as other scholars, said that this Ayah (2:30) proves the obligation of appointing a Khalifah to pass judgements on matters of dispute between people, to aid the oppressed against the oppressor, to implement the Islamic penal code and to forbid evil. There are many other tasks that can only be fulfilled by appointing the Imam, and what is necessary in performing an obligation, is an obligation itself. We should state here that Imamah occurs by either naming a successor, as a group among Ahl As-Sunnah scholars said occurred – by the Prophet – in the case of Abu Bakr, or hinting to a successor. Or, the current Khalifah names a certain person as Khalifah after him, as Abu Bakr did with `Umar. Or, the Khalifah might leave the matter in the hands of the Muslim consultative council, or a group of righteous men, just as `Umar did. Or, the people of authority could gather around a certain person to whom they give the pledge of allegiance, or they could select one among them to choose the candidate, according to the majority of the scholars.

The Khalifah must be a responsible adult Muslim male, able to perform Ijtihad (independent legal judgments), bodily able, righteous, with knowledge of warfare, politics. He also must be from the tribe of Quraysh, according to the correct view, but it is not necessary that he be from the tribe of Bani Hashim, or that he be immune from error, as the Rafidah (Shiites) falsely claim.

When the Khalifah becomes an immoral person (Fasiq), should he be impeached There is disagreement over this matter, but the correct view is that he is not to be removed, because the Messenger of Allah said,

«إِلَّا أَنْ تَرَوْا كُفْرًا بَوَاحًا عِنْدَكُمْ مِنَ اللهِ فِيهِ بُرْهَان»

(Unless you witness a clear Kufr regarding which you have clear proof from Allah. )

Does the Khalifah have the right to resign from his post There is a difference on this issue. It is a fact that Al-Hasan bin `Ali removed himself from the position of Khalifah and surrendered it to Mu`awiyah. However, this occurred because of a necessity, and Al-Hasan was praised for this action.

It is not permissible to appoint two Imams for the world or more at the same time. This is not allowed because the Messenger of Allah said,

«مَنْ جَاءَكُمْ وَأَمْرُكُمْ جَمِيعٌ يُرِيدُ أَنْ يُفَرِّقَ بَيْنَكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوهُ كَائِنًا مَنْ كَان»

(Whoever came to you while you are united and tried to divide you, then execute him, no matter who he is.)

This is the view of the majority of scholars. Imam Al-Haramayn stated that Abu Ishaq allowed the appointment of two or more Imams when the various provinces are far away from each other. However, Imam Al-Haramayn himself was indecisive about this view.

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