chapter  8
20 Pages

The Notion of the Divine Trust (amānah)

The root-word of amānah is a-m-n. According to Ali Bulut, in his unpublished master’s thesis, derivatives of this root-word is mentioned 879 times in the Qur’ān.1 The direct meaning of a-m-n is, according to Bulut, to trust a person or a being with peace of mind and heart.2 Bulut’s conclusion, after a semantic analysis of the term, is that the common denominator for the meaning of amānah is ‘trust.’3 In the history of Islam until most recent studies, a lot of different interpretations have been made regarding what the divine trust, mentioned in the following verse of the Qur’ān, might mean:

The range of interpretations seems to be innumerable. Mullā Ṣadrā5 (d. 1640) claims that what is meant by the divine trust is man’s vicegerency of God on earth, which has been accepted by him.6 Thus Mullā Ṣadrā continues, the fact that it was man who overtook the divine trust and no other being shows that every object in the universe is a fragmentary Being, ontologically broken and disintegrated and is therefore unable to understand and shoulder this responsibility.7 Man, being an ontological whole and accomplished Being, a universe in a nutshell, is capable of understanding the gravity of this responsibility.8