It is important to know God’s purpose in making the creation because human beings can fulfil their own purpose only when they know clearly why God made them. Every being comes into existence to fulfil a purpose given to it by its creator; nothing creates itself or determines its own purpose. As a result, a creation can fulfil its potential only by realising its creator-given purpose.
Though different people, on account of their short-sightedness or lack of courage, appoint various types of objectives for their lives and stop short at worldly purposes and desires, yet the purpose that God Almighty has specified in His Holy Word is:
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
“I have created jinn and men so that they should worship me”The Holy Qur’an (51: 57)
According to this verse the true purpose of human life is the worship and understanding of God Almighty and devotion to Him. It is obvious that it is not open to man that he should himself appoint the purpose of his life by his own authority inasmuch as man does not arrive in the world of his own will, nor will he depart from this world of his own will. He is a created being and He who created him and gave better and higher abilities than those given other animates, has appointed a purpose for his life. Whether anyone realises that purpose or not, without doubt the purpose of man’s creation is the worship and understanding of God Almighty and to lose himself in Him.
إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَنْ يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنْسَانُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا
“We offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to undertake it and were afraid of it. But man undertook it. Indeed, he is capable of forcing himself to obey, disregardful of consequences”The Holy Qur’an (33: 73)
This means that the Divine Trust, by which are meant the love of God and complete obedience to Him, was offered to the angels and the whole of creation and the mountains, all apparently full of strength, but they all refused to undertake it, being afraid of its magnificence. But man undertook it for he possessed two qualities, that he could force himself in the cause of God Almighty and could advance so far in love of Him as to forget altogether everything else.
People who believe there is a Creator assume that creation occurred by His will. But in a world where everything is shown to have a purpose, it is natural for a human being to wonder about the purpose of his own creation. One is surely justified in expecting the Creator who put us on this earth to inform us why He did so and what He expects of us. The Qur’an informs us that He did just that. It says God created us for a test here on earth, conveying His words:
أَفَحَسِبْتُمْ أَنَّمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ عَبَثًا وَأَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْنَا لَا تُرْجَعُونَ
“Then did you think that We created you uselessly and that to Us you would not be returned?”The Holy Qur’an (23:116)
A non-believer might decide that the objective of his life will be to collect wealth, obtain position or pursue pleasure to the greatest extent possible. But none of this will benefit him in the long run. God created man to test him with certain responsibilities. He did not intend life on this earth to necessarily be comfortable or satisfying but merely a trial of limited duration, the punishment and rewards of which will be due in the Hereafter.
The real purpose of all the external and internal limbs and faculties that have been bestowed on man is understanding and worship and love of God. That is why, regardless of a thousand occupations, man does not find his true wellbeing except in God Almighty. Having attained great wealth, or achieved high office, or having become a great merchant, or having attained main authority, or become a great philosopher, he departs in the end from these worldly involvements with a sense of frustration. His heart rebukes him all the time about his deep concern with the world and his conscience never approves his deceits and wrongful actions. This problem can be appreciated in another way. The purpose of the creation of a thing is determined by its highest achievement beyond which its abilities cannot rise, but when we take stock of man’s talents and powers to discover his highest capacity, we find that he is devoted with the ability of seeking after God so much so that he desires that he should become so devoted to God’s love that he should have nothing of his own and that everything should become God’s. He shares his natural needs like food and drink and rest with other animates, and in industry some animals are ahead of him; for instance, the bees produce such excellent honey from every type of flower that man has so far not been able to compete with them. It is clear, therefore, that the highest capacity of man is meeting with God Almighty and thus the true purpose of his life is that the window of his heart should open towards God.
The question is how and through what means can man achieve this purpose? The main means for achieving this purpose is the correct recognition of and faith in the True God. If this first step is wrongly taken and a person sets up a bird, or an animal, or any of the elements, or a human being as his god, it cannot be expected that his succeeding steps would be taken along the straight path. The True God helps His seekers; but that which is dead cannot help the dead. As the Holy Quran says:
لَهُ دَعْوَةُ الْحَقِّ وَالَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِهِ لَا يَسْتَجِيبُونَ لَهُمْ بِشَيْءٍ إِلَّا كَبَاسِطِ كَفَّيْهِ إِلَى الْمَاءِ لِيَبْلُغَ فَاهُ وَمَا هُوَ بِبَالِغِهِ وَمَا دُعَاءُ الْكَافِرِينَ إِلَّا فِي ضَلَالٍ
“Unto Him is the true prayer. Those on whom they call beside Him, do not respond to them at all. Their case is like that of one who stretches forth his hands towards water that it may reach his mouth, but it reaches it not. The prayer of the disbelievers is but a delusion”The Holy Qur’an (13:15)
We all recognize that people make things to perform specific functions for them, in other words, to serve them. God has made us to serve Him, but with one major difference; it is not for the benefit of the Creator Himself but for the benefit of us, His creation. The purpose of our existence is thus stated in the Qur’an:
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
“I have not created the jinn and mankind except that they may worship Me.”The Holy Qur’an (51:57)
But man’s worship of God is not automatic like the vast majority of created beings but by his own choice and effort, and this is what enables him to honor and reward.
Now, if materialists ask themselves this question, they apparently cannot answer it since the matter does not have awareness and understanding for it to follow an objective. Hence, they have put themselves at ease in this concern by convincing themselves of the unimportance of man’s creation!
Is it not strange that these people imagine precise aims and plan efficient programs for the minute details of life such as education, job, work, treatment, medication and sports, but, when they view life as a whole, they consider it to be aimless?
Therefore, it is not surprising that when a group from among such people reflects upon these issues, they become dissatisfied by this vain and purposeless life and consequently route to suicide.
However, when a God-worshipping person asks himself this question, he never finds himself in despair. Mainly, he knows that the Creator of this world is Wise and therefore His act of creation is undoubtedly based on understanding – although some men might not be aware of it; secondly, viewing every part of himself, he observes that each one possesses an objective. Not only the brain, heart, blood vessels and the nerves, but even the nails, eyelashes, fingerprints, the depressions in the palms and the feet; each has a philosophy attached to its existence which has been identified and proven today.
How simply we reflect when we consider all of these to individually have a purpose but to collectively lack an objective! What kind of unreasoned conclusion it is that identifies an objective for the construction of each building within a city, yet denies the existence of any purpose for the city itself! Is it possible that an engineer constructs a great building in which all the rooms, passages, doors, hatches and the gardens have been precisely built with a particular purpose in mind, whereas the building itself has been constructed without any objective?
These are the points which provide belief to a believing person that this creation follows a great objective, which he should strive to realize by means of his intelligence.
Furthermore, it is amazing that when the believers of the purposelessness of creation risk into the fields of physical sciences, they demandingly attempt to uncover the aim of various miracles which they happen to come across; so much so that they are unwilling to consider the unimportance of even one small gland placed in a corner of the body – experimenting for years to uncover the reason behind its existence. However, when it comes to the creation of man, they clearly claim it to be without an objective!
Consider the act of creation, this act, with regards to Allah is unique. Though we use the term i.e. So and so created a table etc, actually it is in a limited sense. Human beings don’t really create, they manipulate, because they can only “create” what already exists. When we make a chair or a table, we didn’t create the wood, we had to take it from a tree, we didn’t create the metal, which makes the screws etc, we had to melt down rocks and take the metal out. So we are not creating from nothing. We are manipulating things which Allah Almighty has already created in to different shapes and forms which are useful to us. We call it “creation” but the real act of creation, is creation from nothing, and this is unique to Allah Almighty alone.
In any event, belief in the understanding of Allah and attention towards the purpose of the various parts of man, informs a firm belief to us that there exists a great importance behind the creation of man. Having understood this, we should strive to understand this purpose and, to the best of our abilities, set off towards achieving it.
Attention towards one important point might serve to lighten our path and thereby make our journey easier: All of our actions are always motivated by an objective; and this goal usually involves fighting our flaws and fulfilling our requirements. Even acts such as serving someone, helping a person in distress or practicing self-sacrifice; each serve to do away with shortcomings and fulfill our spiritual needs.
Although most people put the question of why we are created aside after irregular brief reflection, it is extremely critical for one to know the answer. Without knowledge of the correct answer, one becomes unclear from the other animals around them. The animal needs and desires like eating, drinking and procreating becomes the purpose of one’s existence by default, and one’s effort is then focused to this limited circle. When material satisfaction develops into the most important goal in life, one’s existence becomes even more degraded than that of the lowest of animals. Then, one will consistently misuse one’s God-given intelligence when they lack knowledge of their purpose of existence. The degraded one’s mind uses its abilities to then create drugs and bombs and becomes occupied in fornication, homosexuality, fortune-telling etc. Without knowledge of the purpose of life, one’s existence loses all meaning and is therefore wasted, and the reward of an eternal life of happiness in the hereafter is completely destroyed. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we correctly answer the question:”Why are we here?”
There is another aspect, besides the fact that the creation exists because Allah is the creator. We can also see from what The Holy Prophet saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" has informed us, that in the creation there is manifestation of Allah’s attributes of mercy, forgiveness, kindness etc. Allah created man in paradise, they disobeyed Allah, but Allah had taught them how to repent, how to turn back to him and seek his forgiveness, then he would forgive them. The story of Adam and Eve is the story of human existence. Human beings are given a consciousness of Allah. He has also given us a consciousness of what is right and what is wrong.
We have free will, allowing us to choose to fulfill our given purpose. Free will is a gift from God that enables humankind to know and love God, and participate with God in creative processes. If we do not understand the purpose for which God made us, we are likely to make wrong choices and therefore live unfulfilled and tragic lives in the chase of wrong purposes. However, when a person does fulfill his God-given purpose, he experiences complete joy and fulfillment.
God Almighty’s intention in creating the universe is clearly outlined in The Holy Qur’an and is centered on humanity. Numerous verses in The Holy Qur’an explain how the whole universe, the heavens and the earth are arranged to provide for and to serve humanity (The Holy Qur’an: 2:23; 2:30). Thus the universe and everything within are inferior to mankind, putting the responsibility on man to take care of nature, bringing us back to the environmentalism theme in Islam.
أَفَلَمْ يَنْظُرُوا إِلَى السَّمَاءِ فَوْقَهُمْ كَيْفَ بَنَيْنَاهَا وَزَيَّنَّاهَا وَمَا لَهَا مِنْ فُرُوجٍ
“Do they not look at the sky above them? How We have made it and adorned it, and there are no flaws in it?”The Holy Qur’an (50:7)
When viewed from this perspective, the universe takes on an entirely different meaning and becomes increasingly significant for man. The study of natural sciences becomes almost an act of worship, since it leads to knowledge of the Creator. God Almighty, in the above verses, urges humans to use the intelligence that He gave them. It is emphasized that we are given this intelligence (and were not created as a plant or an animal, with limited intelligence) so that we use it in the right way and recognize God Almighty. Also, The Holy Prophet Muhammad’s saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" own words explain that the universe and its contents were created in order to make known the Creator. This refers to and requires a being with free will and intelligence to know and praise God, which brings us to another matter.
The Purpose of the Creation of Humankind
If the universe was created to serve humanity, then what is the purpose of creation for humankind? There are three main reasons that are agreed upon by a wide range of scholars as to why God created humanity: to know God, to love God, and to worship God. The reason for their existence is specially to guide humanity to recognize, acknowledge, and worship God as He deserves. Only after knowing God can we begin to love God in a more mindful and grateful manner.
Why does God want human beings to worship him by obeying Him and His Divine Laws? Without faith in one’s heart, the immediate response to obedience and worship is “why does God need my worship?” However, it is the human beings themselves who need the worship. Islam presents Divine Laws that guide all aspects of life by differentiating right from wrong. The Creator alone knows best what is beneficial for His creation and what is not. The divine laws command and forbid various acts and matters to protect the human spirit, human body and society from harm. In order for human beings to fulfill their potential by living righteous lives, they need to worship God through obedience to His commandments. Also, the basic purpose of the regular acts of worship is to constantly remember God.
The Holy Qur’an outlines the appropriate chain of conclusions to draw after acknowledging God Almighty as the sole creator. Since God created existence and is the source of provisions, then His creatures should live according to His Will. Therefore, the Messengers and The Holy Qur’an explain the right way of life for us.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“O people, worship your Lord Who has created you as well as those who came before you so that you may guard against evil.”The Holy Qur’an (2:22)
Him being the creator is a central reason that he is deserving of worship for the entire universe owes its existence to him; therefore, worship is a requirement of loving and acknowledging God.
Some people believe Charles Darwin theory of evolution, Let’s assume for a moment that our existence is explained by the theory of evolution. Bang! There was the big bang. Then, a series of events lead to DNA, then to genes, cells, and eventually to human beings. Now, how did this all come about? By chance, according to evolution, isn’t that right? But a chance is, by definition, something that just happened without any meaning or purpose. Therefore, to believe in the theory of evolution is to accept the idea that there is no purpose in life. This has grave consequences. Not only do we, as individuals, lose a sense of purpose in our lives, but also, life itself becomes completely meaningless if we were to believe in evolution. According to evolution, we happened to exist, but if it turned out that we didn’t, it would not have mattered. Then there is the theory of reincarnation, which has quite a following around the world. What is at the heart of this philosophy? It is a belief that souls are reincarnated over and over again in an endless cycle. This can only be true if souls are immortal. Therefore, to believe in reincarnation is to believe in the natural immortality of the soul. However, to say that souls have existed for all eternity is to reject the idea of creation. Clearly, there is no need to create something that already exists.
Allah states that the reality of this life is one of deception and we should not fall for its temporary enjoyments.
اعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ وَزِينَةٌ وَتَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُمْ وَتَكَاثُرٌ فِي الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَوْلَادِ كَمَثَلِ غَيْثٍ أَعْجَبَ الْكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُ ثُمَّ يَهِيجُ فَتَرَاهُ مُصْفَرًّا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَامًا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانٌ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ
“Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion.”The Holy Qur’an (57:21)
Allah assures us that the reality of this life is that each and every one of us is being tested, and we will be brought back to Allah Almighty in account for every deed we have performed, both the good and the bad.
Allah also teaches us that the purpose of life is to also worship Him alone without associating partners with Him. This does not necessarily mean praying 24 hours a day with our face planted on the ground, but rather live our lives in obedience to God in accordance with the moral code outlined in The Holy Qur’an. This includes being kind to your parents, relatives, neighbors, the poor and the needy. It also means fulfilling the commands of God whether it is to perform the 5 daily prayers, pay the Zakat, fast the month of Ramadan and perform the Hajj.
الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ
“(He) who created death and life to test you (as to) which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving.”The Holy Qur’an (67:3)
Acknowledging the existence of a creator is the first step in understanding our true purpose in life. There are many logical and rational reasons for believing in a creator. Three reasons are briefly mentioned below.
1. Beginning of the Universe
The first evidence that points to the existence of God relates to understanding the origin of the universe.
Imagine walking in a desert and finding a watch. We know a watch consists of glass, plastic and metal. Glass comes from sand, plastic from oil, and metal extracted from the ground – all these components are found in the desert. Would you believe that the watch formed itself? That the Sun shone, the wind blew, lightning struck, the oil bubbled to the surface and mixed with the sand and metal, and over millions of years the watch came together by random or natural coincidences?
Some may ask, “Who created God”? God Almighty, the Creator, is different to His creation. God is eternal, has always existed and has no beginning; therefore, the question of who created God is irrational. Human experience and simple logic tells us that something that has a beginning does not simply come from nothing, nor can something create itself. Therefore, the most sensible explanation is that a higher “being” created the universe. This “being” must be powerful and intelligent as it brought the whole universe into existence and created the ‘laws of science’ which rule it. We can also reason that this “being” is timeless and space less, because time, space and matter began at the creation of the universe. All of these attributes make up the basic concept of God, the creator of the universe. This is in perfect agreement with modern science which concludes that the universe is finite and has a beginning.
2. Perfection of the Universe
The second evidence that points to the existence of an intelligent creator is the order and perfect balance of our complex universe. Many features in the universe clearly indicate it to be specially designed to support life, such as the earth’s distance from the sun, the thickness of the earth’s crust, the speed at which the earth orbits, the percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere, and even the earth’s tilt. If these measurements were slightly different to what they currently are, life could not exist.
In the same way that a watch has an intelligent maker to keep accurate time, so too must the earth have an intelligent maker to keep accurate time around the sun. Could this occur by itself? When we see the order, precise laws and systems within ourselves and throughout the universe, is it not sensible they have an organizer? This ‘organizer’ is best explained by the existence of God – the one who brought about this order.
3. Revelation from God
The third evidence that points to the existence of God is the actual revelation that God has sent to humankind as a sign of His existence. There are clear signs that the book of Islam, The Holy Qur’an, is the word of God. The most sensible explanation for the many unique and miraculous aspects of The Holy Qur’an is that it is from God.
Acknowledging that we have been created by the All-Wise Creator, we would expect to be informed of our purpose. How can we know what God Almighty expects from us? Do we live in trial and error, or make our own purpose? Do we “go with the flow” by following others? No. God Almighty sent Prophets and revelation to inform us of our purpose. God Almighty sent thousands of Prophets, one to every nation, with the same message: to worship God Almighty alone and to follow His guidance. They included Adam asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", Noah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", Abraham asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", Moses asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", Jesus asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" and The Holy Prophet Muhammad saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". The Holy Prophet Muhammad saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", the seal of Prophets, was the perfect example of an honest, just, compassionate and brave human being. He was sent with The Holy Qur’an, to demonstrate how its teachings should be applied.
It is obvious that it is not open to man that he should himself lay down the purpose of his life by his own authority inasmuch as man does not arrive in the world of his own will, nor will he depart from this world of his own will. He is a created being and He Who created him and gave him better and higher abilities than those given to other animates, has instructed a purpose for his life. Whether anyone realises that purpose or not, as mentioned before, without doubt the purpose of man’s creation is the worship and understanding of God Almighty and to lose himself in Him.