By Mohamed Haroon Sait
“I did not create the Jinns and the human beings except for the purpose that they should worship Me.” (Adh-Dhariyat: 55)
While the scientists are searching for life on Mars and on other planets, it appears that the purpose of life that exists on the Earth is not something that is given any importance at all.
In my conversations with many of my friends and colleagues as well as people that I come across in outreach, I get all kinds of answers on this important question. I do not remember any one saying that there is no purpose to this life. At least, I have not come across such an answer. Most common among the answers is “we should be good to each other”. Even though the answer is too broad in the scope, it sounds good. The only issue is, who will decide what is good? What I consider good may not be good to another. What about the five billion people on Earth who live in different continents with diverse cultures? Do we all agree on what is “good”? While we may agree on some, we may differ on many. Let us assume we agree on everything. Then the next question is how can we be sure that being good to each other is the purpose of this life? Isn’t that just a guess? If someone else comes with a better theory, then will that become the purpose of this life?
Who gets to decide the purpose of life? Let me give you an example. We make products for specific uses: A pen is made for writing; a cup is made for the use of holding liquid, etc. It is the maker who decides what he intends with his products. Similarly one who made the human kind has the right to decide what He aims for his creation. For one who rejects God, He is left to decide the purpose of his life based on his imagination. A believer in God will find it easy and logical in accepting that fact and submitting to God. In fact, here is what Quran says about the state of his mind.
“Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding. Those who remember God (always, and in prayers) standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): ‘Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose, glory to You!’ “ (Family of Imran 3:190)
What makes this question really important? Well, we only have one chance to live our life. There is no coming back to fix any errors. Therefore, we better be right the first time itself. Important matters need pondering, reading, listening and fact finding missions attached to them. We do all those when we start a new business, buy a house or join a course. All Important matters need time and are done with care and deliberation. We need time so we can reflect on the realities of life. Thanks to the electronic age, society has glued hand-held devices and distractions into our hand; which took away what we once considered precious, time.
Well, how can we ignore such an important question? If we are prepared to look within ourselves, and see the perfection human beings are created with, his internal and external mechanisms, it won’t take any time to discover that there has to be a creator who put together this perfection in us. It is just naïve to consider that a perfect creation can come out of mere chance or evolve by itself in to perfection without a designer or controller behind it. If we can agree that much, then it is easy to admit that it is the creator who will tell me what He intends of me.
Man has been given choice. He is provided with a free will and with guidance on how to conduct himself. This free will has made many deny the existence of any creator. For them the purpose of life is self defined and a changing target. Those who ponder and humble themselves to the wonders in and around them have found the creator and the purpose of life. What if we fail in fulfilling the purpose for which we are created? Here is what Quran says about that:
“… then whenever there comes to you Guidance from Me, and whoever follows My Guidance, there shall be no fear on them, nor shall they grieve. But those who disbelieve and belie Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.)- such are the dwellers of the Fire, They shall abide therein forever.” (Quran: The Cow:38-39)
Once we come to agree that there is a creator and He created us with intent, then the next question would be what if we fail in this intention? Am I going to be accountable? Will I be raised after death? Is there an afterlife? What is the after life like? How long will that be?
We can take two paths in the face of that question. The easy one is to say all of that is just non-sense. The argument from people who take that path is that we cannot see God, we have not seen the Hell or Heaven. We have not see any one coming back to life after they died. Hence all of this is just idle talk. The second path is to admit that just because I do not see something does not necessarily mean it does not exist. People who are willing to admit that much will find guidance in the divine revelations that were send down from God. Here is what Quran said about itself:
“This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear God. Who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them. And who believe in the Revelation sent to thee, and sent before thy time, and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter. They are on (true guidance), from their Lord and it is these who will prosper.” (Quran The Cow, 2:2-5)
I beseech you to read the Qur’an and learn for yourself, the purpose of this life.