The Purpose of our Birth
Q: Is anything mentioned in the Qur’an regarding the purpose of our birth? It seems that we are born to eat, work, sleep and get married, and perhaps pray, but to create problems for others as well. Are we, Muslims, doing anything good for the benefit of human beings, as the West is doing? It looks as if we are living our lives without any specific purpose or goal.
A: You may be true about the condition of Muslims nowadays, the large majority of whom do not seem to have any specific purpose in life. But that is their own fault as they seem to neglect looking into their main sources of faith to determine their duties and their mission in life.
However, it is clearly mentioned in the Qur’an that God has created us to put us to a test so that we may prove who of us can utilize his life to the best purpose. God states in the Qur’an:
“He is the One who created the heavens and the earth in six days. His throne rises over the water, so He may test you: Who is finest in action.” (11;7)
In the system of God’s creation, there are the angels who can do only what is good. At no time can an angel do something evil or disobey God. On the other hand, Satans are the opposites: They can do only evil. Man is given the power of choice and he determines for himself whether to follow the guidance provided by God through his messengers or to indulge in satisfying his wanton desires. The test is made clear for man right from his early years and the chance to rectify his attitude and choose what is good for him is offered at every juncture. In fact, if he errs, he can at any moment correct his error, repent and turn to God for forgiveness. If he does so, then he is forgiven. When people abandon God’s guidance, their lives on earth seem to be nothing more than eating, drinking and self-indulgence. God says in the Qur’an:
“God will admit the ones who believe and perform righteous deeds into gardens through which rivers flow, while those who disbelieve will enjoy themselves and eat just as animals do, and the fire will be their lodging place.” (47;12)
You add that some people who pray also create problems for others. I am afraid that not many people do pray, but quite many of them are guilty of mischief, and try to take advantage of others, paying no attention to other people’s interest.
You ask whether we do any good for the benefit of other human beings, citing the example of Westerners as do-gooders. I can say that as a community, a nation, or followers of a great faith, most of us do not do much good.
However, some of us, in our little way, do a great deal for other people. Nevertheless, the example you have chosen does not serve your purpose well. In order to be clear, I acknowledge without hesitation that as individuals, the majority of Western people are good in their own way. But when we speak of a society and a government, then it is the West which has spent and is still spending so much on arms of mass destruction, selling them to countries in the Third World and encouraging them to make their countries experimental battle fields, thus sapping their resources and keeping them in continuing poverty. I realize that we should not blame the West for our own mistakes, but when we speak of the West as governments and societies working for the benefit of mankind, then our argument may be heavily lopsided.