|Why were we
Author: Bil‚l Philips
All praise is due to All‚h and may His peace and blessings be upon his last Messenger sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam and on all those who follow the path of righteousness until the last day.
We have to answer the most fundamental question that every human being asks himself at some point in his or her lifetime. Not just Muslims, but every single human being.
"Why was I created? Why am I here? What am I doing in this world? Why did
God create me?"
These questions, are questions which each and everyone of us reflects on at some point during their life. We have some answers, which are given generally, but usually these answers donít satisfy us, they seem somewhat simplistic. We still wonder. "Why me? Why here?" I know all of you, generally speaking, in the back of your mind, you are saying "to worship All‚h, khallas (finish), what more is there to say? Why do we need to have a big long talk on why we were created, when we all know it is to worship All‚h?" But wait, if this is presented to a non-Muslim, the next logical question would be "why does All‚h want us to worship Him?" and then your stuck.
It means, in our own minds it is not really clear to us. Why did All‚h create us to worship Him?
The question, why did All‚h create us, for some people, and we have to deal with those people around us, who donít consider there to be any purpose in manís creation because he is just a product of evolution that the forces of nature have produced him, and just as we donít have apes, dogs or cows thinking about why they are here, then we donít really have to think about it either. Of course that being the basis of the philosophy of western society, that man is without purpose, then the whole issue of government, morality etc has no basis in Revelation, there is no guidance there. The product of this is of course the corruption that we are living in.
For a Muslim, when we go in to this topic, we have to find our understanding in divine revelation and not human speculation. Because human speculation has no bounds, we can imagine all kinds of things, and is any of you have studied philosophy of religion, you can see how many opinions exist about the creation of man and existence. Because of the variety of philosophies, which are out there, no one can say this one is correct or that one is incorrect, because there is no guidance behind it. No divine revelation. It is only from divine revelation that we can determine the reality of our creation, because it is All‚h who has created us and he knows the purpose of our creation. We can hardly understand ourselves, much less try to understand the essence of things. So it is for All‚h to inform us through the revelation in the Qur'‚n and the Sunnah which was brought by his last Messenger sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam and the Messengers before. Now if we are to look, initially into revelation, to determine why was man created, there is a deeper question that we should be asking before that. "Why did God create?" Before we even get to man, why did god create, because man is not the greatest act of creation that we should be so focused on why man. No, because All‚h says:
"The creation of the Heavens and the Earth is indeed greater then the creation of mankind; yet, most of mankind know not." [SŻrah Gh‚fir, verse 57]
Man is not the greatest act of creation, this universe is far more complex and far more magnificent then man. So the issue of creation should then go to why create? As opposed to simply why create man?
Fundamentally, we can say that the creation is the natural consequence of the attribute of creator. All‚h is the creator. That is one of his attributes. That is what he has informed us. That being his attribute, the creator, the natural consequence or the product of this attribute is his creation.
A painter, if we are to draw a similitude on a lower level, who tells you that he is a painter, if you ask him where are his paintings and he replies I donít have any. What kind of painter is this? The concept of a painter who doesnít paint, there is some thing not quite gelling together here, of course All‚h is beyond this. But if we are to understand on the simplest level, the two go together. The perfection of a painter lies in his paintings. His quality and his ability to paint, is manifest in his paintings. And All‚h, beyond all that, as creator, this quality of creation is manifest in the creation itself. All‚h didnít create out of a need. No, the fact that he is the creator, is manifest in the creation.
Furthermore, consider the act of creation, this act, with regards to All‚h 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 donít really create, they manipulate, because they can only "create" what already exists. When we make a chair or a table, we didnít create the wood, we had to take it from a tree, we didnít 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 All‚h 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 All‚h alone.
This is a concept, which many people in ignorance, because they couldnít grasp the idea of creation from nothingness, it lead them to conclude that the world is All‚h. Those who say "inside of each and every atom is All‚h." And you have people, who call themselves Muslims saying this. Non-Muslims have said this before and there are Muslims who claim this. That All‚h is inside each and everything, because All‚h is the reality and everything else is fake in their interpretation. That means then, that the creation is All‚h, and All‚h is the creation. Very, very dangerous concept, which leads some of those who make this claim to say that you donít have to worship outside of yourself. Ibn Arabi, was famous for this statement, he is considered to be one of the saints, amongst the so called SŻfÓ religion. Ibn Arabi said "There is no need to worship one outside yourself, you are All‚h. It is sufficient to worship yourself." This is Shirk.
This concept of All‚h being within his creation, no distinction the creation and All‚h, it leads them to this shirk. Because they are unable to accept the uniqueness of All‚hís creation, they compare the act of creation by All‚h to human creation. That is, just as we manipulate, All‚h took pieces of himself and made the earth and the universe. Others will say that all human beings have inside of themselves All‚h, that there is a part of All‚h inside each and everyone of us. The whole essence, the purpose of life is for us to realize that we have part of All‚h inside of ourselves, remove the material blocks which keep us from All‚h and again become one with All‚h in what they call "fana". This is again a teaching of the SŻfÓ religion.
Becoming one with All‚h, returning back to All‚h in this sense. But this is in fact part of the teachings of shirk. Shayt‚n (Satan) has deluded man into this imagination. It is part of the belief of the Hindus. Nirvana, the concept that when you die, you are reborn again, and you move up in stages, each time, if you are a good boy or good girl, you go up higher and higher, until you get to the top. You know you have reached the peak, because when you die the next time you become one with the universal soul, Nirvana. That is the end of rebirth. So your whole purpose is to return and become one with God again. This is all, as I said, a product of the inability to understand the concept of creation from nothingness, which is unique to All‚h. All‚h says:
"There is nothing like him, and he is the hearer and seer of all."
So when we try to interpret All‚hís creation like the way we create, then we have made Him like his creation and it leads us ultimately to those aspects of shirk which I have mentioned. This is quite common amongst the Muslim world today, because when you look into the various branches of the SŻfÓ religion, where they have prescribed various acts of purification, they call it dhikr, exercises to torture the body through spinning and dancing. What is the purpose of this? They will tell you, to liberate the soul from this earthly body and to achieve that state of "fana" or "itih‚d", a variety of names they have for it.
It is this concept, which lead al-Hallaj, many centuries ago, when he was promoting this idea, and he was put before a panel of judges questioning these concepts, which he was expressing. When they asked him to recant, to take this stuff back, he stood up, opened up his cloak and said "There is nothing inside this cloak except All‚h". So they executed him. And of course, those in the SŻfÓ religion, they have stories that when they cut his head off, it rolled around saying "All‚h, All‚h, All‚hu Akbar etc". It might have, that is Shayt‚n may have entered and said these things, as happened with the calf of the Isrealites, when the Prophet MŻsa (Moses) let Egypt and the people, after crossing the red sea, had a desire to have a god that they could see, so they made a golden calf which they began to worship. This calf was saying "moo" like the calves do. This is what convinced them that this was the real thing. We know it wasnít the calf saying this. The evil jinn can enter the in to physical entities, make sounds and give these impressions. So there is no problem for us to say ok, maybe when they cut of al-Hallajís head that it said these things, because this was part of a test. If we are clear in terms of creator and creation, this is no problem for us.
All‚h is the creator and everything besides Him is His creation, which He created from nothing. It is not Him, nor is He it. This is the pure concept as taught by the Prophet sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam, his companions, and the early generations of righteous scholars, the students of the companions and those who came after them. The best of generations. That is how they understood this matter. There was no confusion in their minds. It wasnít until Isl‚m spread to areas like Egypt, India and Persia, areas where the Christians had already gotten into deep philosophies, trying to explain how Jesus was a man and god at the same time. When they came in to Isl‚m they brought it with them. This is the reality. It is not something we should necessarily condemn them for or feel is unusual. It is natural, when a person reverts to Isl‚m, that they will carry with them what they believed before. What has been clarified for them, of the basic principles, they accept, and they reject things, which obviously contradict. But it doesnít mean that every last thought that they have, and everything that was wrong in their philosophies, ideology and concepts will be erased. They will carry these things in with them. This is why in the later part of the Prophet's sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam life, prior to his death, when he was coming back from one of the battles, his companions asked him to set aside a tree for them, that they could hang their weapons on, like the way the pagans would hang their weapons on trees, believing that when they hung the weapons, it became super-powerful, as if some power was coming from the tree, that their shields would now block steel and their swords would cut through the enemy. Some of the companions who had newly accepted Isl‚m, asked the Prophet sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam to designate one for them, a special one, an Islamic one. They understood that what the pagans had, this was wrong. These were the companions of the Prophet sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam and he had to clarify it for them. He said:
You are like the companions of MŻs‚ who asked to have the calf built.
And he clarified for them that all of this is shirk and there is no place for it in Isl‚m. So if it could happen to some of the companions, then we cannot blame the generations who have come after them, who come into Isl‚m and carry with them some of their old ideas. What it is for us to do is to clarify.
So what we have in front of us then, is that All‚h created this universe out of nothing, and everything that is in it was created. For example:
"All‚h created all things, and he is the agent, upon which, all things depend." [SŻrah 39, verse 62]
This is the reality. This is stressed for us, in order for us to realize that ultimately, all good, all evil, that takes place in the world, only takes place by the permission of All‚h. Therefore we should not seek any other channels to protect ourselves from evil, or to gather for ourselves good, as people commonly do today. They will go to fortunetellers, this is big business today, all the magazines have various forms of fortunetellers like dial a horoscope etc. in a society that has lost touch with All‚h, this is what is open to them. All‚h has stressed for us that no calamity will befall us except by All‚hís permission;
"Nothing is taking place in this world except by the permission of All‚h."
And the Prophet sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam further emphasized this principle by saying;
"If the whole of mankind gathered to do some thing to help us, they could help in anything which All‚h had not already written for us. And if the whole of mankind gathered together to harm us, then they would not be able to harm with anything which All‚h had not already written for us."
Therefore what is required of us is to depend on All‚h, put our trust in All‚h. This is what we have to draw out of this attribute of All‚h being the creator. This creation exists because of that attribute. Its practical significance to us lies in putting our trust in All‚h.
There is another aspect, besides the fact that the creation exists because All‚h is the creator. We can also see from what the Prophet sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam has informed us, that in the creation there is manifestation of All‚hís attributes of mercy, forgiveness, kindness etc etc. All‚h created man in paradise, they disobeyed All‚h, but All‚h had taught them how to repent, how to turn back to him and seek his forgiveness, then he would forgive them. Having done that, they were forgiven, Adam became the first prophet, and mankind was absolved of that sin. The story of Adam and Eve is the story of human existence. Human beings are given a consciousness of All‚h. When All‚h created all human beings, as he states in the Qur'‚n, he took from ¬dam (Adam) all of his descendents, and made them all bear witness that All‚h is their Lord. So we are all born with that consciousness. He has also given us a consciousness of what is right and what is wrong.
"We have inspired each and every soul to an awareness of corruption and righteousness."
All‚h gave revelation through his commandments, not to eat of the tree. However, human beings forget. And when they forget All‚h then they fall into sin. We can absolve ourselves of that sin by means of repentance, and All‚h forgives us when we repent sincerely. The Prophet sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam said;
"The one who repents is like the one without sin."
"If you did not commit sins and turn to All‚h seeking his forgiveness, then he would replace you with another people who would sin, ask All‚hís forgiveness and he would forgive them."
So in our sinning and asking All‚hís forgiveness, the attribute of All‚hís mercy and forgiveness becomes manifest. All‚h knew what we were going to do before he created us, he knew that he was creating a species who would sin. If he didnít wan t them to sin, if it was not his intention to permit them to sin, then he could have created angels, more angels. But the had already created angels, so he chose to create a being, that would disobey his commandments through forgetfulness or just simple disobedience, but would turn back to him in repentance, and his attribute of forgiveness would become manifest. Similarly, his mercy;
The Prophet sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam is quoted as saying that when All‚h created the universe, He made an obligation on Himself, recorded in a document, kept by Him, that "My mercy precedes my wrath." He sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam also was reported as saying;
"All‚h created mercy with a hundred parts. One of which was sent down upon the jinn and human beings and other living creatures. It is out of this one part that they love each other, show kindness to one another, and even the animals treat their offspring with affection. All‚h has reserved the remaining ninety-nine parts for his true worshippers on the Day of Judgment."
This is the mercy of All‚h manifest in his creation. What is also manifest in creation, in the act of creation, the creation of man, is his attribute of justice, fairness, which comes out as the judgment at the end of this world. I am sure we have all read the ahadÓth in which the Prophet sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam said:
"All‚h created some people for hell and some people for paradise."
For allot of people, this is something very heavy. And the companions, they asked the prophet sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam then what is the point in doing good deeds? If All‚h created some for heaven and some for hell then what is the pin in doing anything? It has already been decided. The Prophet sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam said:
"Each one of you will find it easy to do what he was created for."
So if you choose the evil way, you find it easy and you carry on in that way, then that was what you were created for. But ultimately it is your choice. You choose hell. The fact hat All‚h has recorded, before anything was created, who would be in hell and who would be in heaven does not change the fact that it is we who choose. The judgment is only to manifest to those who go to hell, that they deserve to be in hell. It is only for them basically. Because if All‚h created you, and put you in paradise, with all that is in paradise, and you see those people in hell suffering, are you going to ask All‚h, why did you put me in paradise? No. your going to say "all praise be to All‚h!" you donít want to question or to wonder, all you will be is ecstatic that you are of those in paradise. So the judgment is not for you, it is for those who are going to hell. If you happen to be amongst those who were created for and put in hell, you would say, why me? Why did you put me in hell? And All‚h would say; because you would have done so and so in your life. But you would say; no, no I wouldnít. If you give me a chance I would do good deeds. You would not give up arguing.
So All‚h has allowed us to live out our lives. So when we stand before him, our book of deeds is spread before us, we know without a shadow of a doubt, that we chose hell. That All‚hís judgment is just. There is no injustice in it, in any way shape or form. All‚h says he oppresses no one. We will know that we chose hell.
And the only thing that remains for us, and I pray that it is not in fact us, who are going to hell, is to beg All‚h for another chance. All‚h says;
"If you cold only see when the sinners will bow their heads before their lord, saying; O Lord, we have now seen and heard, so send us back and we will do righteous deeds. Verily, we now believe with certainty."
This is the only response, which will be left for them. Or as All‚h said;
"And those whose light scales of good deeds, they ruined themselves and they will be in hell eternally. The fire will burn their faces, and they will grin with disfigured lips, I will say to them; Were My Verses not recited to you, and you rejected them? They will reply; Our Lord, our misery overcame us and we were a people astray. Our Lord, bring us out of this, and if we ever return we will truly be unjust."
When we die, there remains behind us a barrier, the Barzakh, none of us will come back, it is a one-way ticket. Those poor individuals who think they will get another chance, this is the new age religion, they think it is new, but it is just plain old Hindu delusion, that when you die, you get another chance to come back again. The effects of this actually, among Hindus, where I am in the UAE, there are a lot of Hindus here, everyday in the news paper you read about a Hindu man or woman who ties a rope to a ceiling fan, which is found in many of the homes, put it around their neck, kicked away the chair and passed out of this world. Suicide is common amongst them. Why? Because they think they have another chance. It will be a rude awakening for them when they meet the angel of death and find themselves in the next life, realizing that there is no coming back.
In the creation of man is manifest the grace of All‚h. This is a particular point which all of us should reflect on and be thankful to All‚h for. His grace, and Christians, they like to refer to us Muslims as those who donít believe in the grace of God, we are those who look at Godís judgment and it is just about deeds, you do good then you go to heaven, you do bad and you go to hell, that is it, no grace there at all. For them the grace of God is there for all those who accept that he became a man, and was crucified by man, to provide salvation for human beings whoís sins had become so great that they could not remove that sin through any act themselves. So it was with the spilling of the "Blood of God" that we could be absolved of our sins. For them, if you accept that God spilt his blood for mankindís salvation, then you have earned the grace of God. Does not matter what you do as long as you have accepted this belief in the grace of God.
Muslims also believe in the grace of God. Actually it plays a major and significant role. Often it is not stressed but it is important for us to realize how the grace of All‚h is manifest in our creation. The Prophet sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam said;
"Observe moderation, but if you fail, try to do as much as you can moderately and be happy. For none of you will enter Paradise only because of his deeds."
Of course when the companions heard that they said;
"O messenger of All‚h, not even you? And the prophet sallall‚hu 'alayhi wa sallam said, not even me. Were it not that All‚h wrapped me in his mercy. And bear in mind that the deed most loved by All‚h is one done constantly even if it is small"
What does this mean? It means that Godís grace is manifest in our lives in that were He to call us to account, one good deed, one evil deed, equal to each other, then we would not enter paradise, not even the prophets of All‚h. But All‚h through his grace and mercy has multiplied the value of the good deeds. All‚h says;
"Whoever brings a good deed, shall the value of ten like it. And whoever brings an evil deed will be punished with one like it. And they will not be wronged." [SŻrah ¬l-'Imr‚n, verse 160]
This is All‚hís grace. Good deeds erase evil deeds. One good deed will erase at least ten evil deeds. All‚hís grace is not arbitrary, simply because you say I believe you have his grace, no matter what you do, no. The more good you do, the more of his grace is manifest in you. If you chose evil and reject the good, then you donít receive His grace, it doesnít matter what you say. If you say, I am a Muslim, I believe, but really you donít believe, it is just some words you are saying, them you will not be subject to the grace of All‚h.
So the creation is a manifestation of All‚hís attribute of being the creator. In the creation of man within the scheme of things, there is manifest All‚hís attribute of mercy, his attribute of justice and this is the reason for the creation of man from the point of view of All‚h. From human perspective, why did God create man in terms of for what purpose? Then this is the one we all know and are familiar with;
"We did not create the jinn and men except to worship us" [SŻrah adh-Dhariyyat, verse 56)
So relative to All‚h, we were created in a means or a way in which All‚h has chosen to manifest his attributes of creation, mercy, grace etc and he could have chosen another one. But relative to us as human beings, we know that our purpose is to worship All‚h. As we said, All‚h does not need our worship, a All‚h didnít need to create. When he created us to worship him, he didnít create us, out of a need for our worship, because All‚h has no needs. In a famous hadÓth qudsÓ in which All‚h says;
If all of you, jinn and mankind, were to worship like the most righteous amongst you, it would not increase the dominion of All‚h in any way shape or form. And if all of us, jinn and mankind ...
Therefore when we look for the purpose of worship, we have to look into man. All‚h created us to worship him, because we need to worship him. It is something he has given us as a means of benefiting ourselves. We are the ones who benefit from it. Worship has been established, fundamentally for the growth, the spiritual growth of man. This growth takes place through the remembrance of All‚h. When you look at all the different aspects of worship, you will see the core of it is focused on the remembrance of All‚h.
"Establish the prayer for My remembrance."
This is the essence for the consciousness of God. All‚h says that he has:
"Öprescribed for us fasting, as he prescribed it for those before us, so that we may fear him."
Worship is there for us to remember All‚h. And it is in the remembrance of All‚h, that we achieve that consciousness. Because it is when we forget All‚h, that Shayt‚n causes us to disobey All‚h and fall into sin. So it is only in His remembrance that we can attain salvation. All of the various acts of worship from saying "Bismill‚h" when we eat is to help us remember All‚h in order to grow spiritually.
All‚h has said that he has created us to test us, to see which of us is best in deeds. He is not testing us to know, in the sense that he doesnít already know, but this world is a test for us in order again that we can grow spiritually.
We cannot develop this spiritual characteristic of generosity unless some of us have more then others and then we are required to give of the wealth we have. When we give, we grow. Similarly, if we were not in a position where others had more then us then we wouldnít have the ability to develop the higher spiritual quality of contentment, patience, satisfaction in what All‚h has given us.
So it is all there in order to bring out the higher spiritual qualities, which enable us to attain the state, which makes us suitable and eligible to return to paradise. The paradise from which we were created, we were created in paradise and for paradise. Through our choices we have left, in this life, a field of testing, where we can grow to a state where we deserve paradise.
The purpose of this life is the worship of All‚h, this life is a test. A test for us, will we worship All‚h, or will we forget Him. This is where our focus has to begin.