The Quran Khalifa and Biblical Dominion






The Quran Khalifa and Biblical Dominion

Compare and contrast the Quranic concept of Khalifa with the biblical concept of dominion

Both concepts are used by the respective followers of these religions to argue that God gave some control over other things in earth, to man. Their major difference is that a Khalifa is like a ruler, while biblical dominion does not establish a single force of authority. The Quran Khalifa is the vicegerent or a steward. Khalifa is responsible for ruling the world on behalf of God. He is mandated to implement and ensure that the Sharia is followed. However, there are limitations for the freedoms that Khalifa has because God is considered as the primary law giver. The freedom of Khalifa, is thus limited to the levels necessary for him to implement and follow up the laws in their republics. Therefore, the main idea under the concept of Khalifa, is that God has a vicegerent on earth and that this is supposed to be man[1].

Similarly, Christians quotes the book of Genesis as an indication that man was given power over other things in the earth by God. The word dominion is considered to give mankind the right and responsibility to govern, and rule all other creations in the world. It is seen as construct of a hierarchy of authority and power that places human beings on top of other natural world. Dominion is also in existence even on various spheres of human life. For instance, it’s seen in the control of men over women in marriage or kings over their servants. It is, therefore, generally illustrative of control, power, and authority of a person or group in comparison to others[2].

How do these different understandings of human obligations and freedoms shift the conversation about environmental issues?

People’s understanding of the concept of dominion has tended to form two extreme positions in discussion of environmental issues. On one side, it’s seen as allowing human to exploit environment and the other side sees it as encouraging responsible care of creation. However, the biblical scripture on creation indicates that human being was given a specific task by God. Therefore, he bore the responsibility of performing this task with the intention and design of God. More so that human was made in God’s image. Therefore, as God in the book of genesis is depicted to exercise power with kindness, “bringing all of life into existence, considering it all good, placing it all within harmonious ecosystem,[3]” human must meet the same goals of their source of this power. In addition, there is also evidence that some restrictions also existed for instance Gen.9:1-7, provided that human were only supposed to eat plants.

Similarly, the concept of Khalifa is viewed by Muslim as a God’s command to them to take good care of the environment. This is by making them the shepherds of his creation or the vicegerents.

“He it is who has made you successors generations after generations in the earth….[4]

Muslims are therefore supposed to understand their responsibilities in conservation of environment and use of the natural resources. This is because under khalifa they are also supposed to take care of their brother in generations after them. Failure to do that would mean lack of compliance with the words of Allah.


Works cited

Hiebert, Theodore.  Rethinking Dominion Theology. Direction Journal, 25 (2): 16-25.

Khan, M. A. Muqtedar. Soverignity in Islam as Human Agency. Ijitihad journal, 1(10). 1999.

Tanjil, Sheikh Abdulwakil. Al Khalifa (The Steward). 2007. Retrieved from:


[1]M. A. Muqtedar Khan. Soverignity in Islam as Human Agency. Ijitihad journal, 1(10). 1999.

[2] Theodore Hiebert.  Rethinking Dominion Theology. Direction Journal, 25 (2): 16-25.

[3]Theodore Hiebert.  Rethinking Dominion Theology. Direction Journal, 25 (2): 16-25.

[4]Sheikh Abdulwakil Tanjil.  Al Khalifa (The Steward). 2007. Retrieved from:

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