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I have a query on this verse from Surah Al Imran (ayah no 26)

Say, "O Allah , Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent.

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My question is it is clear from this verse that Allah honor or give respect to those whom He will and disgrace others at His will.

But it is also commonly said that

Respect is earned not given

That it is human beings who earn respect.

This contradicts what is said by Allah. It is clearly said that it is Allah who gives respect at His will.

  • It is given by God only by letting you earn respect.. ! :) – servant-of-Wiser Mar 11 '15 at 0:20
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    (Sovereignty == Governorship) != Respect. Are you sure you have the right Ayah? – user12537 Aug 8 '15 at 0:43
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Here is how I understand this ayah, according to some tafseer I have read about it. Let's go step by step;

First of all, ayah starts with قل (say!), so Allah swt commands us to say what follows with the ayah.

Next, ayah wants us to recognize that Allah swt is maalik ul-mulk (owner of dominion). Nouman Ali Khan explains that this means Allah's swt dominion is very big and he owns every single thing that exist in it. So Allah swt commands us to say this and recognize this.

Now, my logical conclusion is that, since everything belongs to Allah swt, it makes sense that he can give to anyone he wishes anything in it.

Moreover, according to tafseer ibn kathir, this ayah encourages us to thank Allah swt for favors he granted Prophet saw and his ummah. As you may already know, Muslims gained many victories and spread to most of the world in a short amount of type. Therefore, no matter what kind of victories one earns, he should declare that Allah is malik ul-mulk and it is who that gives victory to anyone and moreover, we should be conscious that Allah swt can take away anything he granted for us, so that we shouldn't be arrogant, like fir'avn.

On the other hand, while acknowledging that only Allah swt can give respect to someone, it is still our duty to make constant struggle and make constant du'a to Allah swt. You can find in many places in Qur'an that Allah swt honours people who do good deeds (amal is-salihaat).

As a side note, I have read somewhere that this ayah came after Prophet saw announced that ummah will win dominance over certain places, and non-believers making fun of that statement and suggesting that it is impossible for muslims to win dominance over those places. So that Allah swt commanded Muslims to say that Allah gives dominance and respect whoever he wills.

Surat al-baqarah, ayah 32

Sources:

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Yes it's Allah who gives honor to whom He wills. There are many verses and narrations speaking about rights and moral standards that need to be given. Allah is the one who addresses us with these commandments and it's from whom we take our orders.

In Surah al-Hujurat 49:13 Allah says =

"O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most honorable of you with Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted."

Allah has told us in Surah al-Israa to respect and honor our parents and to pray for them.

Allah tells us through out the Quran to take care of orphans and help those who are in need.

etc..

All of these are given to us by Allah. When Allah said it is He who gives it, then He tells us who to respect and on what basis by revealing verses clarifying it.

So we have to read the Quran and look at who deserves what.

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I think it is about Külli Irade(Allah's will) and Cüzi Irade(slight will, creature's will). Lets take a look at another 2 verses:

Indeed, those who disbelieve - it is all the same for them whether you warn them or do not warn them - they will not believe.

Allah has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing, and over their vision is a veil. And for them is a great punishment. (Surat Al-Baqarah 2/6-7)

Someone can claim that he is a non-believer because Allah made him so according to these verses. This is the same problem with any verse in this kind and to understand them you have to understand the difference between will types.

Allah's will, as you guess is about Allah's choices. He is the creator of this whole system (universe etc). He determines the rules, he has the power to interfere anything, thus you can't change what he wants or wills.

Creature's will is about human's or djinn's will. When you have an option, you can choose either bad one, or good one. You can choose to steal, or to kill, or not. We will be judged by Allah in the Judgement Day and we will be rewarded or punished for our actions in this world.

Now think, if you can't decide which one to choose, why would be punished? You may think that if there is a thing called Allah's will and you can't exceed it, then your stealing choice should be actually Allah's choice. But, the system doesn't work like that. Its still your choice and you have the responsibility. How?

Think about an election. There are 4 candidates. You are the voter. What are your options? You can either give your vote to 1 of them, you can give empty vote, or you can choose to not vote. Now, you know that 2 of the candidates are corrupted, other 1 of them looks like good and you are not sure about the last one. The corrupted ones gave you promises to give you money if you choose them. The good looking one gives promises about hard-working but good management. Now, choosing which one depends on your slight will. You can choose one of the corrupted ones to gain money in the short term, but then you will suffer from bad management. You can choose the good looking one, you may complain about hard-working in the short term, but you would have a just management. You can give empty vote, then you would have no right to complain or to be proud of. You can choose to not vote, to protest the system. You choose, and then you get the consequences.

How about Allah's will? In this case, Allah is the creator of the voting system, the determiner of the candidates and the one who punishes not to vote. He is very powerful, so you can't escape from punishment. Allah makes a promise that there will be always good candidates and bad candidates, he also teaches you how to differentiate them.

According to this example, Allah has the power to change the rules of the voting system, to put just bad candidates, or not accept the result of the voting. That's Allah's will (külli irade). You can do nothing in that case except vote for one of the bad ones. But when you look at the what has happened for years, he keeps his promising. You can't change the candidates, that's your will's limit. But you can choose whichever you want.

Conclusion

Just like that, if you want respect, you have to do what is needed (you have to vote). Allah just says in that verse, he has the power to reject the result. But also he keeps his promising. He promises that, if you do what is needed, he will make its done. But, be careful, he also warns that, if you reject the Allah's part in that success, he will take it away from you and he has the power to do that.

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The question you ask is if it is contradicting that if respect is earned or given?

The simple explanation is, Allah is the giver, living beings are the takers, Allah gives to whom hes pleased by, he gives to the displeased too but just to see if they come to him/thank him or think its them who actually deserved or earned it without Allah.

So its the combination of both, we earn it but the source of giving is Allah and Allah says he loves to give.

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    Hello and welcome to Islam. This doesn't properly answer the question. Could you please edit your answer to elaborate on the quoted verse as well. Please also go through How to Answer and the tour page. – Bleeding Fingers Dec 15 '14 at 21:52

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