Islam and the Aim of Life

What is the purpose of my life? What is the purpose of your life? What is the purpose of our lives? Such questions occur frequently to thinking people.

People answer these questions in different ways. Some people believe the purpose of life is getting wealthy. But what will their purpose be after they have collected millions of dollars. So What? What then? What will be their purpose after they get these millions? If the purpose of life is to become wealthy, there will be no purpose after becoming wealthy. In fact, here comes the problem of some disbelievers or misbelievers. When they have amassed the money of which they have dreamed, their lives lose purpose, they live in tension and restlessness and suffer the panic of nothingness. 

Can Wealth be an Aim?
We often hear of a millionaire committing suicide and sometimes, not the millionaire himself but his wife, son, or daughter. The question is this: can aiming at wealth bring happiness to the individual? In most cases the answer is NO. Is the purpose of collecting wealth is a standing purpose? As we know, the child of five years does not look for wealth: he prefers a toy to a million dollars. The adolescent of eighteen does not dream of wealth because he is busy with more important things. The old man of ninety years does not care for money, he is worried more about his health. This proves that wealth cannot be a standing purpose in all the stages of the individual’s life.

Wealth can do a little to bring happiness to a disbeliever, because a disbeliever is not sure about his end or his fate. A disbeliever does not know the purpose of life. And if he has a purpose, this purpose is doomed to be temporary or self destructive. What is the use of wealth to a disbeliever if he feels scared of the end and sceptical of everything? A disbeliever may gain a lot of money, but surely loses himself. 

Worshipping Allah as an Aim
On the contrary, faith in Allah gives the believer the purpose of life he needs. In Islam, the purpose of life is to worship Allah. The term “Worship” covers all acts of obedience to Allah. The Islamic purpose of life is a standing purpose. The true Muslim sticks to this purpose throughout all the stages of his life, whether he is a child, adolescent, adult, or an old man.

Worshipping Allah makes life purposeful and meaningful especially with the framework of Islam. According to Islam this worldly life is just a short stage. Then there is the other life. The first life and the second life are separated by the death, which is a transitory stage between the two. The type of the second life a person deserves depends on his deeds in the first life. At the end of the death stage comes the Day of Judgment. On this day, Allah rewards or punishes people according to their deeds in the first life.

The First Life as an Examination
So Islam looks at the first life as an examination of humans. The death stage is similar to a rest period after the test, i.e., after the first life. The Day of Judgment is similar to the day of announcing the results of the examination. The next life is the time when each examinee enjoys or suffers from the outcome of his behaviour during the test period.

In Islam, the line of life is clear, simple, and logical: the first life, death then the Day of Judgment, and then the next life. With this clear line of life, the Muslims have a clear purpose in life. They know that they have been created by Allah. They know that they are going to spend some years in this first life, during which they have to obey God, because God will question them and hold them responsible for their deeds, whether done publicly or privately, because Allah knows all deeds of all people. The Muslims know that their deeds in the first life will determine the type of their next life. They know that this first life is very short one, one hundred years, more or less, whereas the next life is an eternal one.

The Eternity of the Next Life
This concept of eternity in the next life has a tremendous effect on Muslims during their first life, because Muslims believe that their first life determines the shape of their second life. In addition, this determination will be through the Judgment of Allah, the All-Just and the Almighty.

With this belief in the next eternal life and the Day of Judgment, the Muslim’s life becomes as purposeful and as meaningful as possible. The Muslim’s main goal in this life is to eventually end up eternally in paradise in the next life.

In other words, the Muslim’s permanent purpose is to obey Allah, to submit to Allah, to carry out His orders, and to keep in continuous touch with Him through prayers (five times a day), through fasting (one month a year), through zakah (obligatory annual charity), and through pilgrimage (once in a life time).

The Need for a Permanent Purpose
Disbelievers have purposes in their lives such as collecting money and property, indulging in sex, eating, and dancing. But all these purposes are passing ones. All these purposes come and go, pass up and down. Money comes and goes. Health comes and goes. Sexual activities cannot continue forever. All these lusts for money, food and sex cannot answer the individual’s questions to himself: So what? Then What?

However, Islam saves Muslims from trouble of asking the question, because Islam makes it clear to the Muslim, from the very beginning, that the permanent purpose of the Muslim, in this life is to obey Allah in order to go to Paradise in the eternal second life.

We should know that the only way for our salvation in this life and in the hereafter is to know for sure our Lord who created us, believe in Him, and worship Him alone. We should also know our Prophet (PBUH) whom Allah had sent to all mankind, believe in Him and follow Him. We should, know the religion of truth which our Lord has commanded us to believe in, and practice it.