PURPOSE OF LIFE – Goal of human beings
Each of us has our own individual goals for worldly success. It could be to rise up in our chosen careers, or maybe to leave this world with a legacy, or perhaps something as simple, yet just as every bit crucial, as to have a roof over our heads and enough food in our bellies.
Whatever it may be, we all have goals that differ from one another’s; yet there is one goal that many of us share. It is to achieve the Paradise in the Hereafter. Through the goals we set in this world and the life we lead, through the relationships we hold with the many we meet and the actions we take, everything we do in this world should relate back to that one goal. Allah clearly states in the Quran in chapter 9, Surah Taubah, verse 72: “Allah hath promised to believers, men and women, Gardens under which rivers flow to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in Gardens of everlasting bliss.”
In this article we will, Insha Allah, analyze the route one should take to understand the purpose of their lives, to achieve the goals of this world and to attain the ultimate goal of the Hereafter. I would like to share my views on achieving goals based on the Quran and Sunnah, quoting applicable verses from the Quran, applicable Hadeeths and referring to my own life experience.
Allah created human beings with free will and guided them through Messengers and Revelations
When Allah (S.W.T.) created the world and its belongings, HE had HIS own plan for which HE knows best. We know from the Quran that HE created the world and its belongings in six days. “Indeed, your Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and then He rose over (Istawa) the Throne (really in a manner that suits His Majesty)” [al-A’raaf 7:54]. Allah followed this by creating the human being, this was questioned by the angels; again Allah knew what his vision was, and even though the angels could not understand it, they dared not challenge that vision. Adam Alihissalaam was the first human Allah created and HE taught him all the names. When Allah asked the angels to name the things they said they are aware only of what Allah has imparted on them while Adam Alihisalam conveyed them the names. “Allah then asked Adam to say those names and he did so,” [Surah 2: verse 33]. When the angels were told to prostrate, all did except for Iblis, through his arrogance and pride he refused to bow down to one who was made of clay, when he was made of fire. Iblis replied, “I am better than him. You have created me from fire, but him You created from clay.” [Surah 7: verse 12]. Allah ordained Adam Alaihissalaam and his partner to dwell in the garden, Jannat ’Adn, but they were given clear instruction not to go near the tree. However they were influenced by Shaitan, and acted against the will of Allah. Adam Alaihissalaam and his partner repented and were pardoned but sent to this world to live as viceroy, with a sole purpose of worshipping Allah and Allah alone, while Iblis too was sent down to be the enemy until the doomsday. “I am going to place a viceroy in the earth, they said: What! Wilt Thou place in it such as shall make mischief in it and shed blood, and we celebrate Thy praise and extol Thy holiness? HE said: Surely I know what you do not know.” [Surah 2, verse 30]. Those who are guided have no fear while those who deny Allah’s command and follow the path of Shaitan will be doomed.
The human beings were given the free will to follow the final message and be guided or reject it and go down the wrong path. Through Allah’s mercy, HE sent Prophet after Prophet to guide the human beings. The final messenger was Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) and the final message to humanity was the Quran.
Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) demonstrated the essentials of achieving goals
The beloved Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) carried out Allah’s mission by explaining the final message and living by it through all phases of his life; so that human beings, who are governed by free will, can follow the right path and be successful. In carrying out the message, the Prophet (S.A.W.) spent in the beginning of his prophet-hood stressing the importance of Tawheed, the oneness of Allah, and the belief in the unseen and the Hereafter. Why did the beloved Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) spend so many years in emphasizing the importance of these two critical ideals? Humanity shall only be directed through divine guidance and the will of Allah, and divine guidance can only be sought out when one accepts that there is only one God and no one is worthy of his worship
In his own worldly life, the Prophet Muhammad, proved to be a respected youth, good husband, model father, able businessman, just ruler, great warrior and above all the greatest of all human beings. All this was achieved during various phases of his life.
Various phases of human life
In layman’s terms, we all know that all human beings go through many stages or phases in life. Childhood, adolescence, adulthood, parenthood and old age are the most conventional phases. The following chart, lays out the phases in our lives, age groups and what I believe, from my experiences, the purpose of each phase.
|0 to 7 YEARS
|LEARNING TO LIVE
|8 to 18 YEARS
|SELF & PARENT
|19 to 24 YEARS
|LEARNING A TRADE
|EARNING A LIVING
|UPBRINGING A FAMILY
|SELF & SPOUSE
|SELF & SPOUSE, CHILDREN
The Quran is very clear of the four stages of life that exist for all human beings. The first being the formation of the child in the womb, the second being brought up as an infant, next is growing to the age of full strength and finally being brought back to old age where you know nothing after having known. Refer to Surah 22 Al Hadj verse 5: “O mankind! If you are in doubt about the resurrection, then verily! We have created you from dust then from Nutfah (mixed drops of male and female sexual discharge) then from a clot, then from a little lump of flesh, some formed and some unformed, We make it clear to you to show you our power and ability do what We will. And cause whom We will to remain in the womb for an appointed term then We bring you out as infants then give you growth that you may reach age of full strength. And among you there is he who dies young and he who brought back to miserable old age that he knows nothing after having known.”
The Hadeeth #1356 of Chapter 5 of the Book of the beginning of creation confirms that Allah orders an Angel to write his deeds, his livelihood, his date of death and final abode in Hereafter.
The infancy and really old age phase is not as prevalent when it comes to discussing planning and achieving goals for obvious reasons. It is during the period of the age of full strength where one is truly immersed in the world around us, and involved in the activities that he/she will be judged on both in this world and the Hereafter. As this world is very temporary the achievements in it are also very superficial even though we can see and measure them. The success in the next world, however, is the true success that we should all try and attain. But that success will only be known when we meet the Creator. [Surah 6: verse 32] “The life of this world is no more than illusion and vanity, while the abode of the Hereafter is far better for the righteous. Do you not understand?!”
CHART ILLUSTRATING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AGE AND THE DEEDS
Judging deeds and its rewards and punishments are related to the age. During the younger years the reward for a good deed is much more than the reward received if the same deed were committed at an older age. This correlation is demonstrated by the “S” curve shown above. Punishment for a bad deed done has an opposite relationship. During your younger years, punishment is much less than if the same wrong deed was done when you are older. Reward is indicated above the “S” curve while punishment is shown below the “S” curve, with the deeds plotted against the age. Hence, by analyzing this graph we see that it is during the period of youth that one has to be at their most productive, be concerned about his or her future and be in the path of Allah, if they are to find success in this world and the Hereafter, Insha Allah. This is also confirmed by the Hadeeth that a youth growing up in the path of Allah will have the shade from Allah’s throne when there is no shade available during the day of resurrection. [Sahih Al Bukhari volume 1]
Planning and achieving the goals in each phase
In the light of divine direction, one has to strive with great difficulty to be on the right path, as we are not aware of our deeds, livelihood and the final abode. Commencing from the very early stages of our lives, it is mandatory that every one of us follow the commands of Allah and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, if we are to achieve the best in this world and Hereafter. The second Caliph Umar (R.A.) states that we need to plan our life as if we are going to live forever and when we pray the prescribed prayer, pray as if it will be our last prayer. Here he describes to us how crucial it is to plan and to be ever vigilant to meet the creator, no matter what phase of our life we may be in.
As demonstrated by Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), nothing is impossible to achieve. As individuals we all have to come to our own decision to follow the divine guidance given to us by Allah. As for youths, parents spend and exorbitant amount of time in guiding them and setting milestones for them to follow; but it is the children who have to put in the hard work to attain these goals. Muslim children must have their schedule drawn around the five daily prayers. This is where the foundation for proper Islamic life is created. If the children give priority to the importance of prayers, everything else will fall into place. The parents and teachers have to underline the importance of prayers so in time the children will be trained to maintain that schedule. Success of reaching their goals and the schedule they keep will be based on performing the prayers on time. This is exactly, what Umar (R.A.) meant. Plan around prayers and perform it sincerely, whatever your prayers may consist of. Muslim Schools have no problem as there timetable will be drawn up around the prayer times but children in Non-Muslim schools have an issue. The children should perform their prayers at the lunch break or any time suitable to do so. It is the responsibility of the parents who send their children to Non-Muslim schools to make suitable arrangements for the children to perform their prayers on time. Alhamdulillah, I attended a Muslim school and never had any issues when it came to upholding my prayers but I like to draw an incident which took place in a Non-Muslim school. The student excelled in all subjects and all areas of school. All the awards, whether it was for an academic achievement or non academic feat, were won by this student. The teacher was curious to discover what kind of home-life she had to be such a brilliant and dedicated student. The teacher came home to meet the parents and they explained that every day as a family, they used to read a saying of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and promised each other to practice it. This allowed the student to keep to her schedule and attain whatever she wanted through complete discipline.
Hence the purpose of life is to live by the direction as specified by the Creator, so that we achieve the best in this world and Hereafter Insha Allah.
AGA Barrie, P.Eng.