Almighty Allah as the Absolute Originator, Creator and Fashioner created life and saturated it with an ultimate purpose and meaning.
He then created man as a foremost component in the web of creation. He made him the vicegerent on earth to whom everything in the heavens and on the earth had been subjected.
In his capacity as vicegerent of Allah, man is bidden to responsibly inhabit the earth, interact with the rest of life’s realities, and gratefully avail himself of the infinite blessings and bounties spread out by his Creator.
All this is intended to innately demonstrate, as well as attest to, the greatness, benevolence and providence of the Creator.
In addition, while discharging his vicegerency mission, man is to generate a legacy that will consciously and by design confirm the same ontological actualities. That legacy is what the substance of each and every Islamic cultural and civilizational expression should be.
The Purpose of Creation
If the creation of man – and the creation of the worlds – is the outcome of Allah being the active Originator, Creator and Fashioner, then the nature of the operational procedures of man on earth – and of all other beings – is the outcome of Allah being the Most Merciful, the Most Kind, the Equitable, the Guardian, the Owner of all Sovereignty, the Supremely Exalted, and the Lord of Majesty and Generosity.
Hence, Allah created man in His own Image (Sahih Muslim). It means that man has been endowed with many qualities as Almighty Allah’s, such as life, knowledge, power of hearing, seeing, understanding, etc.
However, the features of man are fundamentally different from those of Allah. Only the names are the same, as there is no comparison between the Creator and His creation, and between the Master and His servants. The Quran declares:
There is nothing like Him… (42: 11)
That is why the biggest and most common misdeed man committed is either deifying himself or anthropomorphizing (humanizing) God.
In other words, via both passive and active engagements, man is to spend his life on earth searching, discovering, absorbing and living the truth. Only that way will man become true to himself, his existential purpose and his Creator and Master. Life is at once a test to pass and a gift to enjoy, both with distinction.
Almighty Allah is the Ultimate Truth. Life and man are unmistaken manifestations and proofs of that Truth. Man’s presence and role on earth signify a fine thread that connects all the primary and secondary physical and metaphysical aspects of life – and of the truth.
Man is as much a target as an active protagonist in the world. He originated from the Ultimate Truth; he exists surrounded by endless portents and displays of the truth, he himself is a truth; and, finally, everything he conceives and does ought to authenticate and support the very truth.
A Brief Journey
Man is sent to this world for the short term. He and everything he has are of his Creator and Master. Man is here for a purpose. He has a mission to accomplish, that is, to realize and through his entire being personify the truth.
At the end of his brief journey, man returns to his Creator and, expectedly, is held accountable for what he has done to the earthly test and opportunity. He is examined about his overall performances. For man, death is not the end; it is the beginning.
Mother of Exams
The exam is instantaneous and in the grave. It happens in barzakh (the period between a person’s death and his resurrection on the Day of Judgment). It’s the mother of all exams, in the sense that it is the most important and most consequential assessment for man and his impending destiny. It denotes a watershed in his continuously unfolding life journey.
If man passes this exam, he is bound to pass all subsequent exams. But if he fails or does badly, he is bound to fail and do badly in all succeeding exams, including the one on the Day of Judgment.
The exam, therefore, is the origin and cause of all exams and anxieties of man, one way or another. It is his raison d’etre.
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