j Truly the disbelievers among the People of the Book and the idolaters are in the Fire of Hell, abiding therein; it is they who are the worst of creation.
6-8 That human beings can be both the best of creation and the worst of creation testifies to their unique place in the cosmos, as in 95:4-5: Truly We created man in the most beautiful stature, then We cast him to the lowest of the low. On the one hand, human beings are favored above all else, as in 17:70: We have indeed honored the Children of Adam, and We carry them over land and sea, and provide them with good things, and We have favored them above many We have created. On the other hand, when they do not live up to their potential, they are below all else, as in 25:44: Truly they are but as cattle. Nay, they are further astray from the way. Vv. 6-7 can also be taken as a reference to those who are the worst or the best of the age in which they live, as in 2:47, which addresses the Children of Israel, Remember My Blessing which I bestowed upon you, and that I favored you above the worlds (Q). According to both Shiite and Sunni sources, the Prophet said to ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib regarding the best of creation, “That is you and your partisans (shīʿah) on the Day of Resurrection, content, contenting [89:28]” (Kā, Sh, Sy).
The combination of the best of creation and the mutual contentment mentioned in v.
8 indicates that human beings have an illustrious station (IK). Based upon these and other verses, some scholars have argued that believing and righteous human beings are better than the angels (Āl, IK). Others see an allusion to believers as the best among the created beings in this world. Regarding the latter, the Prophet is reported to have said to some Companions, “Shall I not inform you of the best of creation?” They said, “Of course, O Messenger of God!” He replied, “A man who takes the reins of his horse in the way of God, and whenever there is a cry from the enemy, he mounts it. Shall I not inform you of the best of creation?” They said, “Of course, O Messenger of God!” He
said, “A man who has a flock of sheep, and he establishes the prayer and gives alms. Shall I not inform you of the worst of creation?” They said, “Of course.” He said, “The person who is asked for the sake of God (biʾ Llāh), yet does not give for His sake” (IK, Sh). According to another ḥadīth, “The believer is more noble in the Eyes of God than some of His angels” (Q).