Among the many creations of God, the creation of humans holds a very unique position. In a world where both good and evil exits, humans are directed to establish a morally esteemed designation and enrich their life with worldly and spiritual pleasures. God says in the Holy Quran, “And I have created Jinn and men so that they should worship me” (51:57).
What then is worship? It is to act upon the commandments of Allah and to follow Him seeking His pleasure. Elaborating on this, Hazrat Hakeem Maulawi Nur-ud-din(ra) gives the example of commandments related to fasting and praying. If these acts themselves were part of worship, doing more of them would be beneficial and a source of reward. However, we are forbidden to pray at certain times of the day, and also forbidden to keep a fast on certain days like Eidul Fitr and Eidul Adhaa. Giving the example of the relationship between a man and a woman, Huzoor says that the acts of walking together, expressing love, private conversations, and intercourse, when done with one’s spouse are a means to gain reward from Allah. But when a man does the same things with a woman who he has not married, it becomes something worthy of punishment. The acts are the same, but in one case they are rewarded and in the other case they are punished. This means that acts themselves are not worship. Worship (‘ibadat) is essentially obedience to God (ita’at).[i]
Life holds great value in Islamic philosophy. As creatures of God, human beings enter a world where the potential to advance in both spiritual and worldly terms is endless. Humans do not have the authority to appoint the true purpose of their life, as they did not enter this world with their own will nor will they depart with their own will. Simply put, the purpose of life for God’s creation is to find God and lose oneself in Him. This can be accomplished by two means. Firstly, humans must strive to attain absolute moderation in their worldly pursuits and work tirelessly for the service of humanity. And secondly, humans are to use the external and internal limbs bestowed on them to establish an everlasting and sacred attachment to God Almighty.
That then is the ultimate goal and the true fulfillment of the purpose of existence. All acts of righteousness, or articles of faith, hold importance, but they are only a means to an end. And that end is to connect with God. The practice of the ritualistic prayer should never be just that: a ritual. That is not what defines the purpose of life. The true purpose of life can only be fulfilled when humans actively utilize these practises of worship and other virtuous acts as aids to find God and devote their heart to pleasing Him.
One’s life can only be fulfilled when man reaches his spiritual peak and is in divine communion with God. This very goal forms the foundation of Islam. Believers are encouraged to present themselves before God in the utmost humility and desperately seek His Mercy in order to create an intimate bond with their Master. This relationship, between man and his Creator, is one that cannot be mirrored by any other relationship in this world.
Some individuals take God’s love for granted. For example, they may offer the obligatory prayers to God yet they do the bare minimum in terms of helping humanity to attain His pleasure and do not strive to heighten their spirituality when times are good. However, at the first sight of trouble, the intensity and fervency in their prayers increases exponentially and they change their actions to win God’s pleasure for the time being. It is simply foolish to turn to God only during times of hardship. Is it not our duty as believers to thank God for His mercy when our lives are peaceful?
Contrary to what other religions claim, God is not aloof from His creation. For those who are sincere in their worship, humble in their ability, compassionate in their actions and honest in their words, God is closer to them than they could ever imagine. When humans intend to win the love of God, no effort of theirs is ever wasted or left unnoticed. Fortunate are those who have found God, for they have contentment in their hearts and peace in their minds.
[i]. Haqaiqul Furqan, vol. 1, p. 17