Once I was having a terrible day and I found my mind constantly on edge, questioning the purpose of my life and everything that I was going through. Not able to decipher any thoughts, I picked up my bag and went shopping at my favourite mall. I spent more than two hours, going from one store to another, buying anything that I felt I wanted. As I returned back home, I noticed a small girl hardly 6 years old, begging for food.
I couldn’t help myself but ask her what she would like. She pointed to a sweetshop nearby. I reached into my bag and pulled out whatever money I had left, and bought her some sweets and walked on. I felt, in that moment, that the weight of my irritation and sadness had suddenly lifted. I realised how that little girl became a source of my peace and contentment.
On the road to doom
The most insolent aspect of our ‘existence’ lies in the fact that our lives are dominated by tendencies that are materialistic, improbable and superiority- centric. Human being is captioned to be power hungry, selfish and illusionistic. We are driven by goals that have no sensibilities, overpowered by inane desires and attracted to what is terrible and doomed. Time and again, human beings have proven that their understanding of life is based on false pretences and unreasonable assumptions of happiness.
The factual reality tells us that we have overcome ‘the age of darkness’ and have come towards light (renaissance). However the parameters of development and progress are what differentiates one human being from another. A person might appreciate a meal a day while someone else might still complain for not having enough dishes on the table.
Our version of contentment and peace is misinterpreted to be more digits on the pay-check or a new dress for the weekend. However, it’s quite strange that even though we are blessed with ability to criticise and correct, analyse and reason; we do not venture to question the prevalent trends of misunderstood happiness. Why do we fail to not explore our confusion or clarify our doubts? If our soul takes more pleasure in the sujood for our lord, lingering whispers of Ar Rahman and Ar Rahim brings us more peace than a fancy dinner at a restaurant uptown, isn’t this a sign enough for us to try and change the way we live our lives?
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Under the Light of the Quran
We often enquire the ‘why’ of our creation; this being the purpose of our existence is deeply misattributed and misconstrued. Our creation is so profound and yet so intricate that it seems seriously unreasonable that we were created without purpose. We accept and acknowledge that we have been created with such perfection and with powerful abilities that it is impossible to not question as to why we were created.
When I turned to the Quran for a solution to my depression and grief, I was surprised to find that it had one very simple and straight forward answer- turn to your Lord. The historical aspect of the Quran shows that desires have always existed and continue to do so in the lives of men and women. If a person works out to look a certain way or makes effort towards earning more money, these endeavours are a means to a larger end and not an end in itself. Life does not advocate attaining these minor goals, for they do not leave an indelible mark in your earthly existence. And that is where having a purpose in life comes into picture. ‘Purpose’ is about living a life that centres on improving yourself and the enhancing the things around you to achieve a greater good.
The Quran, in its very poetic, logical, philosophical and scientific manner explains ‘how’ and ‘what’ of our existence. It gives us the most comprehensive answer to our complex dilemmas. It works as a luminous guidance to us, a solace to our wary conscience and a light on the darkest of paths. Quite interestingly, Islam, as perceived by the wise and pious, is concluded to be a way of life. It is about submitting yourself to the will of Allah; and in doing so the Quran in no way denies us the pleasures of this world.
Quran wants us to establish peace within ourselves and peace with the creator. The manufacturer of an object is the best person to tell us the ‘purpose’ of that object’s creation. Along the same reasoning it only seems intelligent for us to turn to our creator and in that extent, to the Quran itself, for answers as to ‘why’ of our creation.
Allah says in the Quran:
“And I created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship me.” (51:56)
It is in the light of this verse that the purpose of our lives is best explained. However, does this mean that in order to worship Allah, are we supposed to sit in our prayer mats forever and wait for death? What does this word worship signify?
According to scholars, worship signifies anything that is done internally or externally to please our creator. Worshiping Allah removes the veil that exists because of our continuous sinning, cleanses our soul and instils in us peace that is the ultimate need. Worship does not in its essentials state only the five basic pillars of Islam, but it rather envelopes everything that shall bring us closer to Allah our creator.
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The Forbidden Fruit
Let us understand it from a different perspective; was Adam (a.s.) sent down from the heaven simply because he ate some fruit. To think that someone who is understood to be profound in his mercy and generosity would simply punish a person for an inherent human act is absurd. It is incumbent to understand that it was not the idea of Adam’s (a.s.) desire that caused such rage but in fact the outright disobedience of the will of his creator. Thus, being obedient to Allah is as important as any other act of worship for it brings a human being closer to his creator just like forgiveness does.
The purpose of life is the purpose of our creation.
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