Two commonly used Arabic terms in the Quran, to refer to human beings are: al-bashar and al-insaan. The term al-bashar is often used to refer to the physical characteristics or appearance of human beings. The term ‘al-insaan’ is used when reference is to be made towards human behaviour or conduct. All of Allah’s Messengers were apparently human beings with respect to their physical characteristics. So the Quran used the term ‘al-bashar’, when physical aspect of human beings was under discussion. Hence, the Prophet (s.a.) was commanded by Allah to declare: “Say, ‘I am a human being (al-bashar) like you, to whom has been revealed that your god is one God…” (Al-Quran Surah 18: Verse 110).
The Quran has used the term ‘al-insaan’, when reference is made to his behaviour or conduct. See the following verse:
وَخُلِقَ الْاِنْسَانُ ضَعِيْفًا
And man has been created weak
(lacking firmness to control his vain desires and passions).
[Al-Quran Surah 4: Verse 28]
اِنَّ الْاِنْسَانَ خُلِقَ هَلُوْعًا
Indeed, man has been created impatient and anxious.
[Al-Quran Surah 70: Verse 19]
خُلِقَ الْاِنْسَانُ مِنْ عَجَلٍ
Man has been created hasty.
[Al-Quran Surah 21: Verse 37]
وَكَانَ الْاِنْسَانُ عَجُوْلًا
And man is very hasty.
[Al-Quran Surah 17: Verse 11]
اِنَّ الْاِنْسَانَ لَظَلُوْمٌ كَفَّارٌ
Surely, man is very unjust and ungrateful
[Al-Quran Surah 14: Verse 34]
وَكَانَ الْاِنْسَانُ كَفُوْرًا
And man in ever ungrateful.
[Al-Quran Surah 17: Verse 67]
اِنَّ الْاِنْسَانَ لَكَفُوْرٌ
Surely, man is ever ungrateful.
[Al-Quran Surah 22: Verse 66]
اِنَّ الْاِنْسَانَ لَكَفُوْرٌ مُّبِيْنٌ
Surely, man in evidently ever ungrateful.
[Al-Quran Surah 43: Verse 15]
اِنَّ الْاِنْسَانَ لِرَبِّهٖ لَكَنُوْدٌ
Surely, man is ever thankless to his Sustainer (denying the reality of His Grace).
[Al-Quran Surah 100: Verse 6]
وَكَانَ الْاِنْسَانُ قَتُوْرًا
And man is every miserly
[Al-Quran Surah 17: Verse 100]
وَكَانَ الْاِنْسَانُ اَكْثَرَ شَيْءٍ جَدَلًا
And man, in most cases, is contentious and quarrelsome.
[Al-Quran Surah 18: Verse 54]
اِنَّهٗ كَانَ ظَلُوْمًا جَهُوْلًا
Surely, he is very unjust and ignorant (lacking thought and deliberation).
[Al-Quran Surah 33: Verse 72]