Although the human species has progressed and evolved over centuries in the form of technological developments, however, there are some issues of conscious, unconscious or metaphysics that have been there from day one and that continue to haunt the human race at present as well. One of the such renowned questions is the question of human existence.
Philosophers and thinkers throughout the world have been debating on the issue of human existence. They want to know or the debate on the reasons that how humans exist and the purpose they have associated with their existence. To answer these questions some take the route of philosophy while there are others who take the route of science. However, there is a third type as well, that tries to answer this question in the light of religion.
Islam like all other religions also addresses the what and why of human existence as well. The point of view that Islam gives pertaining to human existence is quite different from other religions where in some there is no purpose for human existence, or if there is any, it is beyond human comprehension. The lines below discuss the view of Islam pertaining to human existence in the light of Quran.
The reason why Muslims have a better shot at knowing and understanding the reason behind human existence is the fact that Allah Almighty has bestowed them with Quran which contains all the guidelines pertaining to all the walks of life. It is by reading Quran that the humans can find answer to the question of how they came into being and what is there purpose on this earth and in this life. The lines below try to discuss this question.
In Quran Allah Almighty says:
“[Remember] when your Lord extracted from the loins of Adam’s children their descendants and made them testify (saying): ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said: ‘Yes, we testify to it.’ [This was] in case you say on the Day of Judgment: ‘We were unaware of this.’ Or you say: “It was our ancestors who worshipped others besides God and we are only their descendants. Will you then destroy us for what those falsifier did?” (7:172-173)
From the ayah it is clear that when Allah Almighty made the souls of all the humans, the first thing He did was to take an oath from all the human race in which they testified to His Lordship. This oath shows the fact that all the humans were made aware of the fact that Allah is their Lord and they ought to remember it. The things change for people when they come to this earth where they are given freedom of will. Thus, some people don’t turn towards Him and will give different excuses for this act of theirs on the day of Judgment. What this ayah and the acts of people in during the oath and when they come to this earth gives the prime purpose of human existence in Islam i.e. knowing the Lord or identifying Him is the primary objective of human existence.
There are two types of people in this world who can know the Lord in two different ways. Those who are born in some household where they have no knowledge about the Truth and Allah Almighty, the humans of that house hold have the objective of going out in search of Truth. They need to ponder over the creation of this universe, the way it runs, the way all the nature is in extremely coherent all point to the fact that there is some Lord who takes care and governs all this system. Thus, those who aren’t familiar with the Truth, they need to search for that and make it a purpose of life to know the Truth which is Allah Almighty.
On the other hand, those who are Muslims and who have got the religion Islam in inheritance from the parents, for them the purpose of life is not fulfilled with their birth on the religion Islam, rather they also have to know their Lord and develop a closer relationship with Him. For a Muslim all the details of what he or she ought to do in order to grow closer to Him and be among one of the blessed ones are mentioned in Quran.
The first thing that a Muslim ought to do in order to fulfill his or her purpose of knowing Allah Almighty and going closer to Him is to worship Him. In Quran, Allah Almighty says:
“I have created the jinn and humankind only for My worship.” (51:56)
From the ayah it is clear that the creation of humans as well as jinns is for the purpose of worshiping Allah Almighty. When a Muslim worships Allah Almighty, he or she actually accepts His Lordship which is the same as they did on the oath that was taken before their birth. Thus, the more a Muslim worships Allah the more closer to Him he or she gets and the meaning to existence starts surfacing.
This worshiping of Allah Almighty is not limited to saying Salat only, rather any form of glorification of Allah Almighty is a form of worship and with every act of glorification a person grows closer to Him and the understanding of things develops in his mind and heart. In Quran, Allah Almighty says:
“The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them glorify Him and there is nothing which does not glorify His praise. However, you do not understand their glorification.” (17:44)
Therefore indulging in glorification of Allah Almighty for every element of awe and greatness one sees in this world is also a means of worshiping Him and by doing so one could develop a stronger relationship with Allah and grow closer to Him.
Other than that, all the guidelines that Allah Almighty has mentioned in Quran, all are there for humans to follow in their lifetime. The better they are able to perform in accordance with those instructions, the more they will be able to grow closer to Allah Almighty. In this regard, in addition to offering prayer, a Muslim must also keep fast to purify the soul, give charity to purify the wealth and perform pilgrimage as a means of growing close to Allah Almighty.
In addition to doing what Allah Almighty has ordered a Muslim to do, a Muslim also has to refrain from the things which Allah Almighty has forbidden. The things that are forbidden in Islam do nothing other than taking a person away from Truth and Allah, which means that the person is moving away from the message of Truth. Allah Almighty says in Quran:
“Satan’s plan is to incite enmity and hatred among you with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and regular prayer. Will you not then abstain?” (5:91)
From the ayah it is clear that when humans will indulge in hatred of each other then they will definitely select hating others as a purpose of their life which will turn them from the true purpose and that is the remembrance of Allah. Therefore, in order to fulfill the purpose of knowing the Lord, a Muslim needs to refrain from evil in the same extent to which he or she is inclined towards doing good.
The true purpose (Allah knows best) of the existence of humans is to know their Lord. Quran in this regard is one of the best ways of knowing the ways in which a person can fulfill this purpose and give meaning to his or her life.