Life is a valuable treasure. Everybody loves to live. But what do we live for? Why has God created us? What will happen to us? Many people have told us what to do or what not to do. However, the answers to these questions are not so clear for us! These are the questions you may ask many times in your life. Understanding the purpose of life and knowing the means and tools that help us fulfill this purpose can be helpful. If a man cannot determine the aim of life and what will happen to him, the meaning of life will be meaningless to him. It is worth mentioning that the purpose of life greatly depends on the beliefs and worldview of man. It is his worldview that tells him what the final purpose of his life is. To clarify these issues, we will discuss the following:
Where Do We Come From? What Are We?
Every man may often ask in his life, where do we come from, what are we, and where do we go in the end? The answers to these questions play a vital role in discovering the purpose of life. When and how do we know where we come from and where we go?
The Quran reveals to us that God has created us, and we did not exist before. You can find many verses about the origin of humankind in the Quran, for instance:
اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ ثُمَّ رَزَقَكُمْ ثُمَّ يُمِيتُكُمْ ثُمَّ يُحْيِيكُمْ ۖ هَلْ مِن شُرَكَائِكُم مَّن يَفْعَلُ مِن ذَٰلِكُم مِّن شَيْءٍ ۚ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ
God is [the All-Creator] who created you, then He provided for you; [the One who] brings your death and gives you life. Is there anyone among your partners who can do so? He is glorified above the partners they ascribe [to Him].1
The Quran has also told us where we will go. God revealed in the Quran that man would be resurrected on the Day of Judgment, and that he is responsible for what he performs in the world. Therefore, those who believe in the Quran should manage their life based on the Quran, and the purpose of their life should be performing good deeds and gaining the pleasure of God so that they may receive the enormous rewards of the Hereafter.
قُلْ هُوَ الَّذِي ذَرَأَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَإِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ
Say, “It is He who multiplied you on earth, and you will be gathered unto Him.”2
Life of the World Is Like a Bridge.
We will not remain in the world forever. We will leave the world sooner or later. This life is like a bridge we should pass to reach the Hereafter. No one considers a bridge as an eternal abode for himself. One knows that one should pass it to reach the destination. Is it logical to build a permanent house on the bridge or imagine staying on it forever? No. Then how can we trust the temporary life of the world and ignore our final destination?
What should we do when we understand that we will leave this world to live in the world to come? Should we not get ready for such a marvelous place? Should we not build up our future eternal abode? Wise people know that we need to make provision for the life to come. This provision is taqwa, that is, observing God’s limits based on the Quran:
وَمَا تَفْعَلُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يَعْلَمْهُ اللَّهُ ۗ وَتَزَوَّدُوا فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَىٰ ۚ وَاتَّقُونِ يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ
And any good deed you perform, God knows it. And make provisions; indeed, the best provision is piety. O the Wise! Observe taqwa.3
Love and Mercy in Life
One of the significant provisions for our eternal abode is love for humankind. God is merciful and spreads His love and mercy over all creatures. God has created humanity and animals. Therefore, He takes care of them with compassion and love; He also sent the Prophet as a mercy for the whole world.
قُل لِّمَن مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ قُل لِّلَّهِ ۚ كَتَبَ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ ۚ لَيَجْمَعَنَّكُمْ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ ۚ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ فَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ
Say, “To who belongs whatever exists in the heaven and the earth?” say, “It belongs to God [who has] prescribed for Himself mercy. He will certainly gather you on the Day of Judgment which is beyond doubt. [But] those who ruined their souls, they do not believe [in the Day of Judgment].”4
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ
And indeed, We have sent you [as] mercy for humanity.5
The All-Merciful and All-Kind God loves humanity, and He loves that people extend their mercy and love to each other? He does not like the oppressors or cruel people. As God prescribed for Himself mercy, He commands the believers to cooperate in good deeds so that they may receive the enormous reward of the world to come. Moreover, He commands us to be kind and merciful, too, so extending peace, mercy, and love to people is one of the purposes of life.
A human being can grow in all aspects. For instance, he can acquire knowledge or spiritually grow and get near to God. One of the human capacities is his spiritual growth. Obeying and worshipping God is the leading cause of spiritual growth. This is why the Quran mentions that God created man to worship Him. Thus, worshipping God is one of the purposes of life and creation.
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
And We created jinn and humanity only to worship Me.6
Why do we worship God? When we see that the life of the world is a temporary life and human beings will be resurrected, we should rise to the occasion and near ourselves to God. Worshipping God is one of the purposes of life because it leads humanity to prosperity. When you worship God, you obey His commands, so you must perform some deeds and avoid sinning. As a result, when a believer refrains from sinning and carries out the obligatory acts, his soul is purified. The purification of the soul paves the way for acquiring good qualities and becoming nearer to God and brings prosperity.
God has created humanity to show His mercy to them. He loves His servants, so He desires to guide them to have a successful life in this world and the Hereafter. To achieve success, people need to use reason and plan a suitable life for themselves. In doing so, they pave the way for their prosperity.
To achieve such a purpose, on the one hand, man needs to know that the life of the world is a temporary one, and he will eventually leave the world, and on the other hand, God knows about his deeds and sees him, his words, and intention. Therefore, he will be held accountable for what he performs. If man considers these two matters, he will do his best to benefit himself, his family, and his people as the primary purpose of his life.
- Quran 30:40 (Foroutan).
- Quran 67:24 (Foroutan).
- Quran 2:197 (Foroutan).
- Quran 6:12 (Foroutan).
- Quran 21:107 (Foroutan).
- Quran 51:56 (Foroutan).