Mulk means kingdom. It is what’s in someone’s possession and control. Everything belongs to Allah and He takes total control of everything.
If Allah gives kingdoms to any one of His servants, they are only as trusts and given to him to manage. They are temporary and not permanent. The things that Allah entrusted him with will either leave him or the person will die and leave it.
He cannot do as he pleases with them because Allah will surely question him. So, as you see, the total control and dominion belongs to Allah. He says,
تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ الْمُلْكُ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ – 67:1
Blessed is He in whose hand is the dominion, and He is over all things competent
From the tradition of Allah is that He puts mankind in the position of authority to control and make use of what He has created besides them. And among mankind, Allah has chosen some to serve as managers and controllers of the affairs of others. Allah says,
قُلِ اللَّهُمَّ مَالِكَ الْمُلْكِ تُؤْتِي الْمُلْكَ مَن تَشَاءُ وَتَنزِعُ الْمُلْكَ مِمَّن تَشَاءُ وَتُعِزُّ مَن تَشَاءُ وَتُذِلُّ مَن تَشَاءُ ۖ بِيَدِكَ الْخَيْرُ ۖ إِنَّكَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ – 3:26
Say (O Muhammad): “O Allah! Possessor of the kingdom, You give the kingdom to whom You will, and You take the kingdom from whom You will, and You endue with honor whom You will, and You humiliate whom You will. In Your Hand is the good. Verily, You are Able to do all things.
Conditions for managing a position
Most people think the condition for getting a position or being in control of affairs is according to the wealth one possesses. This is not surprising as Allah reported people of the past as having this kind of ideology. Allah says,
وَقَالَ لَهُمْ نَبِيُّهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ بَعَثَ لَكُمْ طَالُوتَ مَلِكًا ۚ قَالُوا أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ عَلَيْنَا وَنَحْنُ أَحَقُّ بِالْمُلْكِ مِنْهُ وَلَمْ يُؤْتَ سَعَةً مِّنَ الْمَالِ ۚ – 2:247
And their prophet said to them, “Indeed, Allah has sent to you Saul as a king.” They said, “How can he have kingship over us while we are more worthy of kingship than him and he has not been given any measure of wealth?”
This happened when the Israelites asked their prophet to appoint a king over them. He appointed Talut (Saul), who was then a soldier. But Talut was not a descendant of the house of kings and was also a poor man.
This is why they disputed with their prophet and said: “How can he be the king for us! When we are fitter than him for the kingdom, and he has not been given enough wealth.”
قَالَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَاهُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَزَادَهُ بَسْطَةً فِي الْعِلْمِ وَالْجِسْمِ ۖ وَاللَّهُ يُؤْتِي مُلْكَهُ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ – 2:247
He said, “Indeed, Allah has chosen him over you and has increased him abundantly in knowledge and stature. And Allah gives His sovereignty to whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing [in favor] and Knowing.”
This knowledge includes; knowledge of Allah, the position, the condition of the people under his charge and about the physical aspects of the land he is given position over.
This includes; good physique and a healthy body to manage the position.
Because knowledge with a sick body cannot give good results; likewise a healthy body with ignorance cannot bring good results either.
From among the people are those whom Allah has given dominion and used it to serve him and those who used it for His displeasure. Here is an example:
Prophet Dawud and Sulaiman
Allah really blessed the family of Dawud, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, by giving him knowledge, wisdom, Prophethood and a kingdom in which the birds used to assemble around him and the mountains were subjected to him. Allah strengthened this kingdom for him. He says,
وَشَدَدْنَا مُلْكَهُ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْحِكْمَةَ وَفَصْلَ الْخِطَابِ – 38:20
And We strengthened his kingdom and gave him wisdom and discernment in speech.
Then, his son, Sulaiman came and Allah tested him and he passed. He made dua to Allah to grant him a kingdom that no other could compare to after it. He inherited from his father the prophethood and the kingdom.
قَالَ رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَهَبْ لِي مُلْكًا لَّا يَنبَغِي لِأَحَدٍ مِّن بَعْدِي ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ – 38:35
He said, “My Lord, forgive me and grant me a kingdom such as will not belong to anyone after me. Indeed, You are the Bestower.”
Allah accepted this prayer from him and granted him His bounties by giving him soldiers among the humans, jinns and birds. He was able to hear and talk to jinn, birds and ants; subjecting the wind to his command, blowing gently wherever he directed; and builders and divers among his jinn soldiers.
رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَالِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَدْخِلْنِي بِرَحْمَتِكَ فِي عِبَادِكَ الصَّالِحِينَ – 27:19
“My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to do righteousness of which You approve. And admit me by Your mercy into [the ranks of] Your righteous servants.”
He, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was so grateful and Allah gave him more. Everyone will be called to account for his possessions except for Sulaiman. Allah says,
هَٰذَا عَطَاؤُنَا فَامْنُنْ أَوْ أَمْسِكْ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ – 38:39
[We said], “This is Our gift, so grant or withhold without account.”
Among those who ruled the land was Fir’aun. He was a tyrant and oppressor. Allah gave him the dominion of the people of Isra’eel but he used it unwisely out of his ignorance of how mighty Allah is. He started by afflicting them with great torments, killing their sons and sparing their daughters.
وَنَادَىٰ فِرْعَوْنُ فِي قَوْمِهِ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ أَلَيْسَ لِي مُلْكُ مِصْرَ وَهَٰذِهِ الْأَنْهَارُ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِي ۖ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُونَ – 43:51
And Fir’aun called out among his people; he said, “O my people, does not the kingdom of Egypt belong to me and these rivers flowing beneath me; then do you not see?
Allah sent Musa to him to deliver His message. He was adamant and arrogant against the truth that was sent to him. Allaah destroyed Fir’aun and his kingdom. That’s the reward for the criminals.
Everything on this earth, places where kings ruled and people have transgressed the limits Allah has given to them will see who has the complete dominion on the Day of Resurrection. That is why He said He is,
مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ – 1:4
Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.
On that Day, Allah will gather the entirety of mankind on a plain, bring the sun closer to them with its hotness, everyone in his sweat according to his sins and Allah will fold up the heavens and earth and ask them;
(عن أَبَي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ : (يَقْبِضُ اللَّهُ الأَرْضَ، وَيَطْوِي السَّمَوَاتِ بِيَمِينِهِ ، ثُمَّ يَقُولُ: أَنَا المَلِكُ، أَيْنَ مُلُوكُ الأَرْضِ؟
Abu Hurayrah said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) say: “Allah will seize the earth and will roll up the heavens in His right hand, then He will say: ‘I am the Sovereign; where are the kings of the earth?’”
No one will be able to answer out of the fear for the greatness of Allah and He will say,
لِّمَنِ الْمُلْكُ الْيَوْمَ ۖ لِلَّهِ الْوَاحِدِ الْقَهَّارِ – 40:16…
….To whom belongs [all] sovereignty this Day? To Allah, the One, the Prevailing.
فَسُبْحَانَ الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ مَلَكُوتُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ – 36:83
So exalted is He in whose hand is the realm of all things, and to Him you will be returned.
مُلْكُ = Dominion, Sovereignty, Kingdom
مَلِكٌ = King
مالك = King
مُلُوكٌ = Kings
مَلَكُوتٌ = Realm.