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Most, if not all human beings, have wondered about the purpose of life, at least once in their lives. It would be most intriguing to know the outcome of these reflections. Islam holds the answer to humanity’s quest for meaning, one that is enshrined in the Glorious Quran. Allah says in Surah Adh-Dhariyat that He did not create jinn and mankind for any purpose but to worship Him.

From Adam to Muhammed (PBUH), Allah sent repeated reminders unto humankind. In Surah An-Nahl, Allah states that He sent messengers to all nations, calling on people to worship Allah alone.

Reminders that bore an invitation to believe in what common sense dictates; that creation must have a Creator; that one should worship the Creator alone and not His creation; that man was not created without a purpose. God mind you, was not obliged to send these timely reminders but did so out of His love and concern for our well-being. With the advent of the last and final messenger, humankind’s purpose of life was revealed.

Mankind was created for God’s worship – what does it mean?

Worship in this context means obedient submission to Allah’s will. Every creation of God except man and jinn submits to the physical laws assigned to them. They do so willingly or unwillingly for they have no free will to defy, deny, or disobey God. All that is in the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah and obey His will, as mentioned in Surah Ar-Rum.

Man, on the other hand, needs to realize his real purpose of life through obedience to Allah’s beautiful guidance, and on His terms. What good is our God-gifted free-will and intellect, if we abuse it to embrace disbelief and disobedience, instead of earning God’s pleasure through belief and submission? Nay, the time for soul-searching has indeed arrived.

The sun, moon, stars, etc. do God’s bidding and are neither punished nor rewarded. Man faces the consequence of his choices and actions by way of punishment and reward. When a Muslim worships God by submitting to the moral and religious laws prescribed by Him, he places all his hopes in securing Allah’s pleasure. Obedience to Divine Law is thus the very foundation of all worship.

Every single act of obedience becomes worship when done sincerely seeking naught but Allah’s pleasure. Smiling in the face of a brother is worship, controlling one’s anger is worship, removing a harmful object from a pathway is worship, and enjoining good and forbidding evil is indeed worship. Even something as trivial as entering and exiting the toilet when done according to Islamic etiquettes becomes an act of worship.

In a Hadith reported in Sahih al-Bukhari, the Prophet (PBUH) said that helping the widows and the poor is like fighting in Allah’s path.

If to worship God is man’s true purpose of life, does God need it?

God is Self-Sufficient and free of all needs. Like Allah says in Surah Adh-Dhariyat, He needs no provision or feeding. Rather, he is the All-Powerful, who provides for all.

Our worship does not add to His glory, and our noncompliance takes nothing away from it. To worship God is a human need.

To God belong the treasures of the heavens and the earth, and it is humankind who remains in desperate need of His boundless blessings.

Why is worshipping God through obedience important?

Obeying Divine laws that are a manual for human existence is unquestionably vital to man’s success in both lives. This eternal truth is often brushed aside by the average human. Can he not see that although life is unpredictable, death, on the other hand, is guaranteed?

Islam is a way of life that all Muslims should live. It is not merely a label that we wear superficially. In Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah orders those who believe to accept Islam whole-heartedly.

Worshipping God through obedience is important because it brings us tranquility and well-being in this fleeting worldly life while preparing us for the next. For as we sow here, so shall we reap there…

How can humankind embrace their true purpose of life?

Beautiful Islam is the timely realization that most conscientious people certainly arrive at in middle or old age. Anyone who looks back at their wild and unruly life will see that the outcome of partying, womanizing, drinking and drugging, is naught but destruction and despair.

Every next-generation keeps challenging values, morality, and virtue even more ferociously than the past one. We demand abnormal rights that go against our God-given nature and instincts. Hankering after excessive freedom in every aspect of our lives causes our moral compass to malfunction.

Irrespective of how much fame, wealth, material possession, freedom, liberties, entertainment, and progress – you name it one has acquired. None of it, indeed not even all of it, can buy the much sought after ‘inner peace’. This is also the reason why so many celebrities turn to drugs, and some inevitably commit suicide.

In Surah Al-Hadid, Allah describes the worldly life as play, amusement, showing off, wealth and offspring. He compares it to rain and the temporary joy brought about by its fruits. However, in the Afterlife, the wrongdoers will face a grave punishment, while Allah will forgive the believers and be pleased with them. So, the worldly life is simply loaded with deception.

A final point

What a pity then, that we fail to take heed of the Omniscient and Omnipotent God’s enlightened guidance. A Divine Gift that could evidently save us from squandering away over half of our lives aimlessly and unfruitfully.

If the accurate measure of a worthy and meaningful life is to secure happiness, then the dark and ugly truth of our wasteful existence begins to dawn upon us as we age. Thus Islam’s eloquent answer to the meaning and purpose of life fulfills the cardinal human need.

A return to God.