Dr. Saleh as-Saleh
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Allah could not have created this universe without a purpose. He is All-Wise, All- Knowledgeable, All-Merciful and All-Just. All of these attributes entail providing ways of guidance that would lead to the proper knowledge of Him, and thus the right way to worship Him:
أَيَحۡسَبُ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنُ أَن يُتۡرَكَ سُدًى
“Does man think that he will be left Sudaa1 (without a purpose)?” (Qur’an 75: 36)
One of Allah’s ways of guidance is the office of Messengership which involves the Message and the Messenger. The essence of the Message is to direct man to relate to His Creator through complete submission and obedience (this is the meaning of Islam).
Man does not possess the air he breathes. He does not create. He is not the creator of himself. He needs to know what benefits him and what harms him. The Message from Allah comprehends everything. It brings man to live for a noble purpose. That is why Allah called the Message of Islam, an Inspiration and a Light:
وَكَذَٲلِكَ أَوۡحَيۡنَآ إِلَيۡكَ رُوحً۬ا مِّنۡ أَمۡرِنَاۚ مَا كُنتَ تَدۡرِى مَا ٱلۡكِتَـٰبُ وَلَا ٱلۡإِيمَـٰنُ وَلَـٰكِن جَعَلۡنَـٰهُ نُورً۬ا نَّہۡدِى بِهِۦ مَن نَّشَآءُ مِنۡ عِبَادِنَاۚ وَإِنَّكَ لَتَہۡدِىٓ إِلَىٰ صِرَٲطٍ۬ مُّسۡتَقِيمٍ۬
“And thus We have sent to you (O Muhammad) Ruhan2 of Our command. You knew not what is the Book (the Qur’an), nor what is Iman (Faith)? But We have made it (the Qur’an) a Light, whereby We guide whom We will of Our bondsmen. And verily you are indeed guiding (mankind) to the Straight Path.” (Qur’an 42: 52)
The Inspiration brings Life, and the Light brings Light. Allah gave a beautiful parable on the Message and its effects, saying:
أَنزَلَ مِنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ مَآءً۬ فَسَالَتۡ أَوۡدِيَةُۢ بِقَدَرِهَا فَٱحۡتَمَلَ ٱلسَّيۡلُ زَبَدً۬ا رَّابِيً۬اۚ وَمِمَّا يُوقِدُونَ عَلَيۡهِ فِى ٱلنَّارِ ٱبۡتِغَآءَ حِلۡيَةٍ أَوۡ مَتَـٰعٍ۬ زَبَدٌ۬ مِّثۡلُهُ ۥۚ كَذَٲلِكَ يَضۡرِبُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡحَقَّ وَٱلۡبَـٰطِلَۚ فَأَمَّا ٱلزَّبَدُ فَيَذۡهَبُ جُفَآءً۬ۖ وَأَمَّا مَا يَنفَعُ ٱلنَّاسَ فَيَمۡكُثُ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِۚ كَذَٲلِكَ يَضۡرِبُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡأَمۡثَالَ
He sends down water (rain) from the sky, and the valleys flow according to their measure, but the flood bears away the foam that mounts up to the surface, and (also) from that (ore) which they heat in the fire in order to make ornaments or utensils, rises a foam like unto it, thus does Allah (by parables) show forth truth and falsehood. Then, as for the foam it passes away as scum upon the banks, while that which is for the good of mankind remains in the earth. Thus Allah set forth parables (for the Truth and Falsehood, i.e. Belief and Disbelief).” (Qur’an 13: 17)
The Knowledge about the Message (about Allah, the universe, the purpose of our existence, what is good and what is bad) is like the water sent down from the sky. In the water there is life for our bodies and in the Message there is life for our hearts. The parable of the light was given in the heating fire which removes impurities (foam) from metals like iron, gold, and silver, and what remains is a pure and beneficial substance.
The valleys are our hearts. This is where knowledge flows to. Some valleys can hold more water flow than others; each has its own capacity. Some valleys have surfaces that will not hold any water. The same for hearts. Some holding more knowledge than others, while some comprehend and understand little. The foam produced during water flow passes away as scum upon the banks and what benefits mankind remains on the earth. Similarly, lust, uncontrolled desires, doubts about Allah and His true religion are just like foam; they shall pass away while belief in Him and in His Message will remain. This life links man to his Creator and to all that is created by Allah, and provides him with codes of conduct that distinguish him from the animal world. Those who think that man’s presence on earth has no purpose are most certainly wrong:
وَقَالُواْ مَا هِىَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا ٱلدُّنۡيَا نَمُوتُ وَنَحۡيَا وَمَا يُہۡلِكُنَآ إِلَّا ٱلدَّهۡرُۚ وَمَا لَهُم بِذَٲلِكَ مِنۡ عِلۡمٍۖ إِنۡ هُمۡ إِلَّا يَظُنُّونَ
“And they say: “There is nothing but our life of this world, we die and we live, and nothing destroys us except the Dahr (time)3″. And they have no knowledge of it, they only conjecture.” (Qur’an 45: 24)
Those who are aimless about their purpose of existence search for all possible means of “enjoyment” and compete for it. Their life as explained by Allah:
لَهُمۡ قُلُوبٌ۬ لَّا يَفۡقَهُونَ بِہَا وَلَهُمۡ أَعۡيُنٌ۬ لَّا يُبۡصِرُونَ بِہَا وَلَهُمۡ ءَاذَانٌ۬ لَّا يَسۡمَعُونَ بِہَآۚ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ كَٱلۡأَنۡعَـٰمِ بَلۡ هُمۡ أَضَلُّۚ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡغَـٰفِلُونَ
“They have hearts (minds) wherewith they understand not, they have eyes wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not (the Truth). They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones.” (Qur’an 7: 179)
In the world of animals there is a struggle for survival! But in the human world there is a purpose:
يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقۡنَـٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ۬ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ شُعُوبً۬ا وَقَبَآٮِٕلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓاْۚ إِنَّ أَڪۡرَمَكُمۡ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتۡقَٮٰكُمۡۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ۬
“O mankind! We have created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily, the most honorable of you in the sight of Allah is that (believer) who is best in At- Taqwa: adhering to the religion of Allah and best in performing good deeds as prescribed by Allah.” (Qur’an 49: 13)
The aim to achieve At-Taqwa is constructive and beneficial and it stands against mischief like “might is right,” “my Color is better,” “worshipping of idols, lust, money, or other created entities,” and so forth:
This is part of man’s purpose on earth. Man’s whole life is related to His Creator:
قُلۡ إِنَّ صَلَاتِى وَنُسُكِى وَمَحۡيَاىَ وَمَمَاتِى لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ – لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ ۥۖ وَبِذَٲلِكَ أُمِرۡتُ وَأَنَا۟ أَوَّلُ ٱلۡمُسۡلِمِينَ
Say (O Muhammad SAW): “Verily, my Salât (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allâh, the Lord of the ‘Alamîn (mankind, jinn and all that exists) (162) “He has no partner. And of this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims.” (163) (Qur’an 6: 162-163)
All deeds and utterances, open or hidden, and which Allah loves and accepts, constitute the meaning of worship. All forms of worship are explained in the Qur’an and by the Prophet (SAW: sallallaahu ‘alaihi was-sallam4). Worship is not left for our limited minds to decide upon their ways. Worship is one’s life according to Islam. Thus it can only be devoted to our Creator, Allah.
1 Sudaa, has many meanings including, aimless, without a purpose, not to be held accountable, neglected etc.
2 Ruhan, an inspiration and a mercy.
3 Everything is in the Hands of Allah, He is the disposer of everything. Time does not cause cheerful or disastrous events.
4 (SAW): sallallaahu ‘alaihi was-sallam: This is an invocation meaning may Allah exalt his mention and render him and his message of Islam, safe from every derogatory thing.