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What is the Purpose of My Life?

24 March, 2017
Q As-salamu Alaikum. I was wondering if life was all about a mundane routine - that we study most of our lives, marry, have children, then die. Is that all? Like robots, we're stuck in it, day in and out, worrying about bills and many other stuff.I am still in my care-free years as you would call it, and I am scared of what life has to offer. I need to know why our lives are so selfish; why don't we live for others, making efforts to bring a change? Do I only study to earn big bucks and to have a huge house? What do they do for me?It seems so hollow to me; what about all the other people? Is it okay if one lives that way and also fulfills their Islamic duties? I know this is a confusing question, but I do find myself asking what I’d do after getting a degree. Will I still be at home cooking for the rest of my life, or will I try and make a difference? Is making a difference even important?



Wa á Alaykum As-salaam dear sister,   

 You are awakened, and you are experiencing a healthy discontent. This is the “struggle” that we are called upon as spiritual beings to engage in. This struggle begins when we are awaken to the existential questions that you are presenting here. Indeed, human beings are both beast and spiritual. If our consciousness lies within the animal part of ourselves only, then we can only progress as far as our ego can go.

In other words, we have instincts to run after those things that we consciously or unconsciously believe will secure our safety. These are food, covering and shelter, power, status, prestige, through family, work, etc. The mundane things of this world are the dunya (worldly life) that we chase after in hope that we will find contentment.  When that contentment eludes us, we are awaken to the idea that maybe there is something more.

In and of itself, chasing after food, sex, money, family, status, power, etc. is not inherently “bad”; it is a result of our animal instinct seeking to survive. It serves a function. The problem is that we are also spiritual beings, and when our focus on these things overshadows the nurturing of our soul, our spiritual growth, and purpose, we become discontent. This in itself is not even a problem; if this discontent wakes you up to your spiritual needs – and, thus, your spiritual self -, this is the actual purpose of this discontent.

When things progress in this manner, nature is not disturbed. If we get stuck and remain focused on dunya, then we will either dissociate from our healthy discontent, thus, losing our ability to see beyond our animalistic and egoistic self, or we will become stuck in our discontent resulting in emotional and psychological disturbances.

It is the nature of the human being to grow and develop beyond the animalist and egoistic level of existence. Unfortunately, as a collective humanity, we have become stuck in that cycle of discontent and dissociation, and mental and emotional illness that have at its root a focus on dunya in the egoist level of consciousness. This is the cause of family dysfunction, community breakdown, societal lawlessness, and international wars.

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The only solution is to head the calling of your discontent and shift your focus from dunya toward the unfoldment of your spirituality. The only way to do that is to do what I call getting out of your own way, or what some call getting over yourself. Now, I don’t mean this personally, but I am trying to make a point in general.

The first step for shifting our focus away from dunya onto our higher purpose that we get from having our connection with Allah (swt) is to commit our actions to serving something other than ourselves. We experience this safety by first making a commitment to serving Allah (swt). For in this state of discontent, we can become vulnerable to false gods; ideas, ideologies, theologies, or even human beings or human systems that we believe will help us transcend our state of discontent if we commit (worship) these false gods.

Many human beings are “tricked” by their own egos to serve a collective Ego (false god) rather than the whole of Allah (swt) although that be beyond our ability to comprehend. So, if you make a concerted effort to put nothing above Allah (swt), you will be starting off with your right foot, moving toward a true and lasting “safety zone”. This will also have the effect of calming your ego down. You don’t want to kill your ego, – you still need to function on earth -, but you want to subjugate your ego to your soul that yearns for connection with Allah (swt).

Once you have made the commitment to submit your will (creative ego) to the will (Power of the Creator) of Allah (swt), then you can begin to seek His will for you, and you can be transformed into His instrument. This is the “goal”. If you seek to be an Instrument of Allah (swt), and your focus turns toward your own spiritual development in lieu of this goal, then all of your other earthly goals will be subjugated for the purpose of fulfilling this goal.

Thus, if you require a big house in order to fulfill His will, you will be motivated to have a big house. If you require an education in order to fulfill His will, you will work toward your degree. Any time we serve another human being, whether our neighbor or a nation, we are serving Allah (swt), for His spirit is in every other human being.

In this way, we shift our focus from our self, and we are saved from our ego’s destructive energy. We can then use our ego for constructive purposes, instead of letting it use us. This is your only way out of your discontent. But also be aware that each time you achieve a level of “epiphany” and experience the joy of being released from the egoistic chain, you will likely experience another discontent and “decent” to some level of dyna. This is ok as it is simply nature. Nature is integral and cyclical. Yet, each time, it will be on a “higher” or more “transcendent” level, and your will find that your attachments to the lower energies are loosened.

Right now, you are in a very good place. You are right where you need to be. The decision about whether to “sit home and cook” for the rest of your life or to “try and make a difference” can be answered by prayer.

There is a subtle difference in the feeling of egoist self-serving motives and inspiration. Indeed, both actions can equally serve humankind for the sake of Allah (swt), and both actions can equally be self-serving. So, the answer to your question is: which one feels less self-serving and more for the sake of Allah (swt)? Perhaps, you will do both.

Now, the answer does not lie in examining which one is less exhilarating. Both egoistic aspirations and inspired aspirations will give you a feeling of exhilaration. But the egoistic aspiration will leave the human being feeling attached to the outcome. This is how you know the difference. If things don’t turn out the way you imagine, and you become distraught about this, then this disappointment is coming from ego.

Now, please, don’t obsess about this too much; our ego is going to have its dramas in life, and that is part of nature, so you are not supposed to become critical of yourself if you do become attached and distraught when your ego does not have its way. This is just something for you to be aware of so that you can discern what is inspired. When you move forward with an inspired action, you will feel that contentment that you are seeking.

Make room for both situations, increase your awareness, and then you will receive inspiration. Follow your inspirations. Indeed, if you do not, you will feel a discontent in your soul, for it is heeding your inspirations and making your actions to be congruent with these inspirations that will help you become more and more aware of your connection to Allah (swt).

Do not ask Life what Life has to offer. Ask Allah (swt) to use you as His instrument in His Creation of Life. Seek to give back to Life for all that Life has given you. The “Earth” identity that you accept, and the actions and functions that you do for this purpose will then be compatible with the soul that is, in fact, you and the expression that this soul is here on Earth to emanate for the sake of Allah (swt).


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About Dr. Bachmeier
Dr. Bachmeier is a clinical psychologist who has been working in the mental health field for over 15 years. She is also a former adjunct professor at Argosy University, writer, and consultant in the areas of mental health, cultural, and relationship issues.