Likewise, man has the Divine Names engraved in the very clay of his being. It is because of this divine similitude, that God has called him to be His ‘khalifa’, His ‘vice-regent on earth’.
Ibn al-Arabi said, “Vice-regency (‘khalafa’) was assigned to Adam, to the exclusion of other creatures of the universe, because God created him in His image. A vice-regent must possess the attributes of the one he represents; otherwise he is not truly a vice-regent.”
But these two favours granted exclusively to man, his divine form and his governance, simultaneously expose him to the greatest danger of his existence: the illusion of sovereignty. As Ibn al-Arabi points out, being conscious of this leads man to forget that he was created from clay – the most humble of substances and a symbol of his servitude. The power and the authority granted to him by this mandate, leads mankind to consider himself autonomous. He appropriates sovereignty, which rightfully belongs to God, whom he betrays by not serving God and not re-confirming that He is our Lord.
When mankind refuses to assume his status as ‘servant of God’ (‘abdullah’) he is unworthy of being ‘God’s viceregent’. Ibn al-Arabi continues, “The homeland of man is his servitude; he who leaves it is forbidden to take on the Divine Names.” To regain our original nobility, we must reactivate the divine characteristics inscribed in our primordial form; characteristics that our pride and ignorance have covered up.