FINDING THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
In our previous lesson, we discussed how death is inevitable and that if there is a purpose to our life which could affect what happens to us after we die, we should try to find out what it is before it’s too late.
Consider this statement: “Our life has no purpose - we came from nothing, our purpose while alive is nothing, and when we die we become nothing.” A fairly depressing thought. But beyond that, it is also highly unlikely. Even the simplest of inventions has a purpose (a clock tells the time, an oven heats things, a car transports), whereas human beings with a much more complex intelligence, design and ability have no purpose? It is far more likely that we do have a purpose to our existence, and that the real questions are what is our purpose and how do we find out what it is?
“Did you think that We had created you in play (without any purpose), and that you would not be brought back to Us?” [Quran 23:115, 116]
Muslims believe that the purpose of our creation is to WORSHIP our Creator. “And I (Allaah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).” [Quran 51:56]
What does worshiping Allah mean? Does it mean being in constant prayer, being in seclusion and shunning this life by not getting married, having families or enjoying other blessings of this life? Definitely not. Worshiping Allah simply means to do what He commands (let’s call it “the Good”) and to avoid what He forbids (let’s call it “the Bad”), the reward of which will be eternal bliss. For instance, being generous with family, kind to neighbours & ethical at work with the intention of pleasing Allah constitute worship, as these are all commanded by Him. Similarly, avoiding gossip, dishonesty and arrogance for the sake of Allah also constitute worship.
Using the earlier A House vs. A Home example, it essentially means that the purpose of living in the tenanted house is to use that time in the house to build a permanent home to go to when the tenancy ends.
A life that is lived in accordance with this purpose bears many advantages:-
* One is able to optimize their time on earth by focusing on the Good and avoiding/keeping to a minimal the Bad, instead of living aimlessly or according to one’s whims and desires only to discover its consequences all too late;
* Doing the Good and avoiding the Bad isn’t only a wise investment for the future but also brings much benefit during this lifetime. After all, the One who created us knows what’s good and bad for us, even if we may not know it. Just ask a diabetic who has had one too many desserts (it seemed like a good, irresistibly delicious idea at the time….)
Of course, fulfilling our purpose of life isn’t going to be a stroll in the park and will require some effort. And well it should, because (as with many worthwhile things in this life) Paradise is earned and only the deserving are rewarded with it. If you want to be on the Dean’s list and get that scholarship, you’ve got to put in the effort and prove that you deserve it more than the slacker who’s too busy partying to bother with lectures and coursework. Similarly, our time on earth is a test for us, so that Allah may distinguish the ones who deserve Paradise from those who don’t. “And He it is Who has created the heavens and the earth in six Days and His Throne was on the water, that He might try you, which of you is the best in deeds. [Quran 11:7]
WHERE DO WE FIND THIS PURPOSE OF LIFE?
Just as an inventor would not sell a machine without telling anyone how to use it to fulfill its function, God would certainly not create us and expect us to fulfill our life’s purpose without telling us what that purpose is. In the next lesson, we will explore how God has communicated with mankind and how He has made it easy for man to recognise that it is a communication from a Divine source.
Next Lesson : Revelation.
[Islam 101 is specially brought to you by sister Mary, Vice President of MRM]