The purpose of creation is a topic that puzzles every human being at some point in his or her lifetime. Everybody, at some time or another, asks themselves the question: “Why do I exist?” or “For what purpose am I here on earth?”
The variety and complexity of the intricate systems, which constitute the fabric of both human beings and the world in which they exist, indicate that there must have been a Supreme Being who created them. Design indicates a designer. When human beings come across footprints on a beach, they immediately conclude that a human being had walked by there some time previously.
No one imagines that the waves from the sea settled in the sand and by chance produced a depression looking exactly like human footprints. Nor do humans instinctively conclude that they were brought into existence without a purpose. Since purposeful action is a natural product of human intelligence, humans conclude that the Supreme Intelligent Being who created them must have done so for a specific purpose. Therefore, human beings need to know the purpose for their existence in order to make sense of this life and to do what is ultimately beneficial for them.
Throughout the ages, however, there has been a minority among humans who have denied the existence of God. Matter, in their opinion, is eternal and mankind is merely a chance product of accidental combinations of its elements. Consequently, for them there was no answer to the question: “Why did God create man?” According to them, there simply is no purpose to existence. However, the vast majority of humankind over the ages have believed and continue to believe in the existence of a Supreme Being who created this world with a purpose. For them it was, and still is, important to know about the Creator and the purpose for which He created human beings.
Why did God create man?
To answer the question: “Why did God create man?” it must first be determined from which perspective the question is being asked. From the point of view of God it would mean: “What caused God to create human beings?” While from the human point of view it would mean: “For what purpose did God create humans?” Both points of view represent aspects of the intriguing question: “Why do I exist?”
In the following pages, both aspects of the question will be explored based on the clear picture painted by divine revelation. This is not a topic for human speculation, because human guesswork cannot possibly produce the whole truth in this matter. How can human beings intellectually deduce the reality of their existence when they can hardly understand how their own brain or its higher entity, the mind, functions?
Consequently, the numerous philosophers who have speculated on this question through the ages have come up with innumerable answers, all of which are based on assumptions, which cannot be proven. Questions on this topic have even led a number of philosophers to claim that we do not really exist and that the whole world is imaginary.
For example, the Greek philosopher Plato (428-348 CE) argued that the everyday world of changeable things, which man comes to know by the use of his senses, is not the primary reality, but is a shadow world of appearances.
Many others, claimed and continue to claim that there is no purpose for the creation of humans at all. According to them, human existence is merely a product of chance. There can be no purpose if life evolved from non-living matter, which only became animate by pure luck. Humankind’s supposed ‘cousins,’ the monkeys and apes, are not bothered with questions of existence, so why should human beings be bothered with them?!
The necessity of the answer
Although most people put the question of why we are created aside after occasional brief reflection, it is extremely critical for human beings to know the answer. Without knowledge of the correct answer, human beings become indistinguishable from the other animals around them. The animal needs and desires like eating, drinking and procreating become the purpose of human existence by default, and human effort is then focused to this limited sphere.
When material satisfaction develops into the most important goal in life, human existence becomes even more degraded than that of the lowest of animals. Human beings will consistently misuse their God-given intelligence when they lack knowledge of their purpose of existence. The degraded human mind uses its abilities to create drugs and bombs and becomes engrossed in fornication, pornography, homosexuality, fortune-telling etc.
Without knowledge of the purpose of life, human existence loses all meaning and is consequently wasted, and the reward of an eternal life of happiness in the hereafter is completely destroyed. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that human beings correctly answer the question: “Why are we here?”
How to know the answer
Humans most often turn to other human beings like themselves for answers. However, the only place that clear and precise answers to these questions can be found is in the books of Divine Revelation. It was necessary that God reveal the purpose to man through His prophets, may Allah exalt their mention, because human beings are incapable of arriving at the correct answers by themselves. All of the prophets of God taught their followers the answers to the question: “Why did God create man?”
From the perspective of humankind, the question “Why did God create man?’ implies: “For what purpose was man created?” In the final revelation (i.e. The Holy Quran), this question is answered without any ambiguity. God informed humans that every human being is born with an innate consciousness of God.
In Chapter Al-A’raaf, Allah Says (what means): “[Remember] when your Lord extracted from the loins of Aadam’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 falsifiers did?'”
[Quran 7: 172-3]
The Prophet Muhammad (may Allah exalt his mention) explained that when Allah created Aadam (Adam), may Allah exalt his mention, He took from him a covenant at a place called Na’maan on the 9th day of the 12th month. He then extracted from Aadam, may Allah exalt his mention, all of his descendants who would be born until the end of the world, generation after generation, and spread them out before Him to take a covenant from them. He spoke to them, making them bear witness that He was their Lord.
Consequently, every human being is responsible for belief in God, which is imprinted on each and every soul. It is based on this inborn belief that Allah defined the purpose of humankind’s creation in Chapter Ath-Thaariyaat (which means): “I have created the jinn and humankind only for My worship.” [Quran 51: 56]
We are here to worship God
Thus, the essential purpose for which humankind was created is the worship of God. However, the Almighty is not in need of human worship. He did not create human beings out of a need on His part. If not a single human worshipped God, it would not diminish His Glory in any way, and if all of mankind worshipped Him, it would not increase His Glory in any way. God is Perfect. He alone exists without any needs. All created beings have needs. Consequently, it is humankind that needs to worship God.
The meaning of worship
To understand why human beings need to worship God, one must first understand what is meant by the term ‘worship.’ The English term ‘worship’ comes from the old English ‘weorthescipe’ meaning ‘honor’. Consequently, worship in the English language is defined as ‘the performance of devotional acts in honor of a deity’. According to this meaning, man is instructed to show gratitude to God by glorifying Him.
In Chapter An-Nasr of the final revelation, Allah Says (what means): “Glorify the praises of your Lord.” [Quran 110 : 3]. In glorifying God, man chooses to be in harmony with the rest of the creation, which naturally glorifies its Creator. Allah addresses this phenomenon in many chapters of the Quran. For example, in chapter Al-Israa, Allah states (what means): “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.” [Quran 17: 44]
However, in Arabic, the language of the final revelation, worship is called ‘`Ibaadah’, which is closely related to the noun ‘`Abd’, meaning ‘a slave.’ A slave is one who is expected to do whatever his master wills.
Consequently, worship, according to the final revelation, means ‘obedient submission to the will of God.’ This was the essence of the message of all the prophets sent by God to humankind. For example, this understanding of worship was emphatically expressed by Prophet ‘Eesaa (Jesus), may Allah exalt his mention, in the Gospel according to Matthew, 7 : 21: “None of those who call me ‘Lord’ will enter the kingdom of God, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
It should be noted that ‘will’ in this quote means ‘what God wants human beings to do’ and not ‘what God permits humans to do’, because nothing happens in creation without the will (permission) of God. The ‘Will of God’ is contained in the divinely revealed laws, which the prophets, may Allah exalt their mention, taught their followers. Consequently, obedience to divine law is the foundation of worship. In this sense, glorification also becomes worship when humans choose to obey God’s instructions regarding His glorification.
The need for worship
Why do human beings need to worship and glorify God by obeying the divinely revealed laws? This is because obedience to divine law is the key to success in this life and the next. The first human beings, Aadam (Adam), may Allah exalt his mention, and Eve, were created in paradise and later expelled from paradise for disobeying the divine law. The only way for human beings to return to paradise is by obedience to the law.
’Eesaa (Jesus, the Messiah), may Allah exalt his mention, was reported in the Gospel according to Matthew to have made obedience to the divine laws the key to paradise: Now behold, one came and said to him: “Good teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So he said to him: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
Also in Matthew 5:19, ‘Eesaa (Jesus), may Allah exalt his mention, was reported to have insisted on strict obedience to the commandments, saying: “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven”
Divine laws represent guidance for humankind in all walks of life. They define right and wrong for them and offer human beings a complete system governing all of their affairs. The Creator alone knows best what is beneficial for His creation and what is not. The divine laws command and prohibit various acts and substances to protect the human spirit, the human body and human society from harm. In order for human beings to fulfill their potential by living righteous lives, they need to worship God through obedience to His commandments.
Remembrance of God
All of the various acts of worship contained in the divine laws are designed to help humans remember God. It is natural for human beings to sometimes forget even the most important things. Humans often become so engrossed in fulfilling their material needs that they totally forget their spiritual needs.
Regular prayer is ordained to organize the day of the true believer around the remembrance of God. It interweaves spiritual needs with material needs on a daily basis. The regular daily need to eat, work and sleep is linked to the daily need to renew man’s connection with God. With regard to regular prayer, Allah states in the final revelation, Chapter Taa Haa (what means): “Verily, I am Allah, there is no god beside Me, so worship Me and establish regular prayer for My remembrance.” [Quran 20:14]
Regarding fasting, Allah stated in Chapter Al-Baqarah (what means): “O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that you may become God-conscious.” [Quran 2:183]
The believers are encouraged to remember God as much as possible. Although, moderation in all spheres of life, whether material or spiritual, is generally encouraged in divine law, an exception is made regarding the remembrance of Allah. It is virtually impossible to remember God too much. Consequently, in the final revelation, Chapter Al-Ahzaab, Allah encourages the believers to remember God as often as possible (what means): “O believers! Remember Allah often.” [Quran 33:41]
Remembrance of God is stressed because sin is generally committed when God is forgotten. The forces of evil operate most freely when consciousness of God is lost. Consequently, the satanic forces seek to occupy people’s minds with irrelevant thoughts and desires to make them forget God. Once God is forgotten, people willingly join the corrupt elements. The final revelation, the Quran, addresses this phenomenon in Chapter Al-Mujaadalah as follows (which means): “Satan got the better of them and caused them to forget Allah. Those are the party of Satan. Truly the party of Satan are the real losers” [Quran 58:19]
God, through divine law, has prohibited intoxicants and gambling primarily because they cause human beings to forget God. The human mind and body easily become addicted to drugs and games of chance. Once addicted, humankind’s desire to continually be stimulated by them leads them into all forms of corruption and violence among themselves. Allah Says in Chapter Al-Maa’idah of the final revelation (what means): “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?” [Quran 5 : 91]
Consequently, humankind needs to remember God for their own salvation and growth. All humans have times of weakness in which they commit sins. If they have no means of remembering God, they sink deeper and deeper into corruption with every sin. However, those who follow the divine laws will be constantly reminded of God, which will give them a chance to repent and correct themselves. The final revelation accurately describes this process in Chapter Aal ‘Imraan (what means):
” Those who, having done something shameful or having wronged their own souls, remember Allah and immediately ask forgiveness for their sins…” [Quran 3:135]
The religion of Islam
The most complete system of worship available to human beings today is the system found in the religion of Islam. The very name ‘Islam’ means ‘submission to the will of God.’ Although it is commonly referred to as ‘the third of the three monotheistic faiths,’ it is not a new religion at all. It is the religion brought by all of the prophets of God, may Allah exalt their mention, for humankind. Islam was the religion of Aadam (Adam), Ibraaheem (Abraham), Moosaa (Moses) and ‘Eesaa (Jesus), may Allah exalt their mention.
God addresses this issue in the final revelation with regard to Prophet Abraham, may Allah exalt his mention, saying (what means): “Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was an upright Muslim who did not worship others besides God.” [Quran 3 : 67]
Since there is only One God and humankind are one species, the religion, which God has ordained for human beings, is one. He did not prescribe one religion for the Jews, another for Indians, yet another for Europeans, etc. Human spiritual and social needs are uniform, and human nature has not changed since the first man and woman were created. Consequently, no other religion is acceptable to God besides Islam, as He clearly states in Chapter Aal ‘Imraan of the final revelation (what means): “Surely Allah’s religion is Islam.” [Quran 3:19]
And (what means): “And whoever desires a religion besides Islam will not have it accepted, and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter.” [Quran 3:85]
By: Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips