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What Is the Real Purpose of Life?

Questioner

Kamal

Reply Date

Nov 27, 2016

Question

Salam. The Quran explains that the purpose of life is to worship God. Yet at the same time it emphasizes that God is self-sustaining and all powerful and is in no need of worship and even so He has completely obedient Angels for that task. Question: 1. One may still wonder if Islam answers the question on the real purpose of life. 2. God cannot be hurt by physical forces yet is infuriated by thoughts or speech such as blasphemy and disbelief. This is all too evident in the Quranic discourse. Isn't that proof that the concept of God also exists only in the mind? As a mere thought?

Consultant

Answer


What Is the Real Purpose of Life

Salam Dear Kamal,

Thank you for your questions and for contacting Ask About Islam.

You are correct when you say that Allah is all-powerful and not in need of our worship. So why did He command us to worship Him? The answer is really very simple if we understand Allah’s nature properly.

Islam has the best insight into Allah’s nature and attributes to Him what is most appropriate and respectful. As you mentioned, the Quran definitely answers the question, “Why are we here?”

{I have only created jinns and humans that they may serve Me.} (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

You are also correct when you say that Allah is self-sustaining and has Angels that worship Him non-stop. So again, why the command to humans and Jinn to worship him? If we say that Allah is in no need of anything from us yet He commands us to worship him, it is not necessarily a contradiction.

As Muslims, we understand that Allah is far above His creation insofar as He is not dependent on any part of it. Quite simply, it is out of His mercy that He has created us.

Why did He command certain things and forbid others? It is not Allah that benefits from the commands He gives us, we are the ones who benefit.

For example, if Allah commands us to abstain from eating pork, blood, and animals found dead, or if He forbids the drinking of alcohol, it is not Allah who benefits from this if we obey nor is He harmed if we disobey. We are the ones who suffer from disobeying Him and we are the ones who benefit from obeying.

This applies to anything that Allah commands us to do and anything He commands us to avoid. In a hadith qudsi (revelation from Allah expressed in Prophet Muhammad’s words), we read the following:

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) once said that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said, “O My servants, I have made oppression unlawful for Me and unlawful for you, so do not commit oppression against one another.

O My servants, all of you are liable to err except whom I guide on the right path, so seek right guidance from Me so that I should direct you to the right path.

O My servants, all of you are hungry and needy except whom I feed, so ask food from Me, so that I may feed you.

O My servants, all of you are naked except whom I provide garments, so ask clothes from Me, so that I should clothe you.

O My servants, you commit error night and day and I am there to pardon your sins, so ask pardon from Me so that I should grant you pardon.

O My servants, you can neither do Me any harm nor any good.

O My servants, even if the first in creation among you and the last in creation among you and even the whole of human race of yours and that of Jinns even, become God-conscious like the heart of the most God-conscious person among you, that would add nothing to My power.What Is the Real Purpose of Life

O My servants, even if the first in creation among you and the last in creation among you and the whole human race of yours and that of the Jinns too in unison become the most wicked like the heart of a single person, that would take nothing of My power.

O My servants, even if the first in creation among you and the last in creation among you and the whole human race of yours and that of Jinns also all stand in one plain ground and you ask Me and I confer upon every person what he asks for, it would not in any way cause any loss to Me any more than that which is lost to the ocean by dipping a needle in it.

O My servants, it is but your deeds that I reckon up for you and then recompense you for, so let him who finds good praise Allah; and let him who finds other than that blame no one but himself. (Muslim)

If we study prohibitions closely and use available science, it is easy to see that actions and things Islam prohibit are clearly harmful. Allah forbids what is harmful and enjoins on us what is beneficial. This is true mercy.

Were Allah not merciful and only intended to serve Himself, we would find some commands that were beneficial to Him only and harmful to us. We find no such commands in any part of the Quran or in anything that Prophet Muhammad has commanded us.

{Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own scriptures, in the Torah and the Gospel; for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good and pure and prohibits them from what is bad and impure; he releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honor him, help him, and follow the light that is sent down with him, who will prosper.} (Al-A`raf 7:157)

When you say that Allah becomes infuriated by blasphemous speech or thoughts, you run the risk of attributing to Allah what is not true. He likes and dislikes different things, and He may even get angry, but to say He becomes infuriated, which is not a description found anywhere in the Quran, is to say that He loses control to some degree or does not conduct Himself in a manner becoming of the Creator of all things.

Allah is far above this type of character. He is Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful. To become infuriated, as you put it, would be to say that someone could affect Him negatively, and that is impossible.

It goes without saying that as Muslims we do not believe that Allah is a mere thought that is invented by our imagination. Minds have limited capacities; if that idea of Allah being a thought were true, we would find many contradictions and shortcomings in what we attribute to Him, since it would merely be an invention of our own minds. I would go as far as saying that if Allah were merely a concept of the mind, we would be denying our own existence.

If we assume for a moment that everything in the universe came about on its own, and that all plant and animal life, bacteria, fungus, etc. evolved from a single-celled organism, what is it that caused that first cell to take shape, come to life and later reproduce? How would that organism know that it needs to divide itself into two separate parts and multiply?

That would imply a level of intelligence and will to survive and carry on its species. Is it reasonable to expect an amoeba to possess that level of intelligence on its own without outside help? What are the chances of that happening? I would say zero.

What is that “life force” that got everything going in the first place?

Allah created us out of His mercy. He created good and evil and gave us the ability to choose between right and wrong, knowing full well that some of us would choose what is harmful to us and some would follow His guidance. He will reward us for choosing good and following His guidance and punish us for harming ourselves by choosing evil.What Is the Real Purpose of Life

Part of this guidance involves recognizing all of the incredible blessings, which He has created along with us, enabling us to lead a beneficial life.

{All that are in the heavens and the earth entreat Him. Every day He exercises universal power.} (Ar-Rahman 55:29)

He has given us everything we need to sustain this life, but more importantly, He has shown us the way to achieve something even more incredible, the chance to live in eternity in Paradise in His glorious presence.

To achieve this, it is absolutely necessary to remain in close contact with Him on a regular basis as much as we can, and if possible, at all times of the day and night. Hence comes the necessity of prayer and piety. We do ourselves a great disservice if we miss this opportunity.

I hope this has been helpful. I ask Allah Almighty to lead us to what is beneficial and to protect us from what is harmful.

Salam and Please stay in touch.




About Waleed Najmeddine

Waleed Ahmed Najmeddine is a Canadian born Muslim and public school administrator. He is an active member of the Muslim community and enjoys educating Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam. He currently holds a Master of Education degree in leadership and school improvement.

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