The Purpose of CreationWritten by: by Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips :: (View All Articles by: Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips)
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, to them, the question "Why did God create man?" had and still has no answer. 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.
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 many philosophers who have speculated on this question down 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 BC) 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.1 Many others, as was previously mentioned, 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 inanimate matter which only became animate by pure luck. Humankind?s supposed ?cousins,? the monkey and apes are not bothered with questions of existence, so why should human beings be bothered with them?
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 necessities and desires of eating, drinking and procreating become the purpose of human existence by default, and human effort is then focused in 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, fortunetelling, suicide, 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??
Humans most often turn to other human beings like themselves for the 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, 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??
Judeo-Christian ScripturesA survey of the Bible leaves the honest seeker of truth lost. The Old Testament seems more concerned with laws and the history of early man and the Jewish people than with answering the vital question concerning humanity?s creation.2 In Genesis, God creates the world and Adam and Eve in six days and ?rests? from His work on the seventh.3 Adam and Eve disobey God and are punished and their son Cain kills their other son Abel and goes to live in the land of Nod. And God was ?sorry? that he had made man!4 Why are the answers not there in clear and unmistakable terms? Why is so much of the language symbolic, leaving the reader to guess at its meanings? For example, in Genesis 6:6 it is stated, ?When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose.? Who are these ?sons of God?? Each Jewish sect and each of the many Christian sects who followed them have their own explanations. Which is the correct interpretation? The truth is that the purpose of man?s creation was taught by the prophets of old, however, some of their followers - in collusion with the devils - later changed the scriptures. The answers became vague and much of the revelation was hidden in symbolic language. When God sent Jesus Christ to the Jews, he overturned the tables of those merchants who had set up businesses inside the temple,5 and he preached against the ritualistic interpretation of the law practiced by the Jewish rabbis. He reaffirmed the law of Prophet Moses and revived it. He taught the purpose of life to his disciples and demonstrated how to fulfill it until his last moments in this world. However, after his departure from this world, his message was also distorted by some who claimed to be among his followers. The clear truth which he brought became vague, like the messages of the prophets before him. Symbolism was introduced, especially through the "Revelations" of John, and the Gospel which was revealed to Jesus was lost. Four other gospels composed by men were chosen by Athanasius, a fourth century bishop,6 to replace the lost Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the 23 books of writings of Paul and others included in the New Testament outnumbered even the four versions of the gospel.7 As a result, New Testament readers cannot find precise answers to the question "Why did God create man?"8 And one is forced to blindly follow the contrived dogmas of whatever sect they happen to belong to or adopt. The gospels are interpreted according to each sect?s beliefs, and the seeker of truth is again left wondering, which one is correct?
The Incarnation of God
Perhaps the only common concept to most Christian sects regarding the purpose of mankind?s creation is that God became man so that He could die at the hands of men to cleanse them of sin inherited from Adam and his descendants. According to them, this sin had become so great that no human act of atonement or repentance could erase it. God is so good that sinful man cannot stand before Him. Consequently, only God?s sacrifice of Himself could save humankind from sin.
Belief in this man-made myth became the only source for salvation, according to the Church. Consequently, the Christian purpose of creation became the recognition of the ?divine sacrifice? and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Lord God. This may be deduced from the following words attributed to Jesus in the Gospel according to John, ?For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.?9 However, if this is the purpose of creation and the prerequisite for everlasting life, why was it not taught by all the prophets? Why did God not become man in the time of Adam and his offspring so that all mankind would have an equal chance to fulfill their purpose for existence and attain everlasting life. Or did those before Jesus? time have another purpose for existence? All people today whom God has destined never to hear of Jesus also have no chance to fulfill their supposed purpose of creation. Such a purpose, is obviously too limited to fit the need of humankind.
Everything is God
The Hindu scriptures teach that there are many gods, incarnations of gods, persons of God and that everything is God, Brahman. In spite of the belief that the self (atman) of all living beings is actually Brahman, an oppressive caste system evolved in which the Brahmans, the priestly caste, possess spiritual supremacy by birth. They are the teachers of the Vedas10 and represent the ideal of ritual purity and social prestige. On the other hand, the Sudra caste are excluded from religious status and their sole duty in life is ?to serve meekly?11 the other three castes and their thousands of subcastes.
According to Hindu monist philosophers, humankind?s purpose is the realization of their divinity and -following a path (marga) to emancipation (moksha) from the wheel of rebirth - the reabsorbtion of the human soul (atman) into the ultimate reality, Brahman. For those following the bhakti path,12 the purpose is to love God because God created humankind to ?enjoy a relationship - as a father enjoys his children? (Srimad Bhagwatam). For the ordinary Hindu, the main aim of worldly life lies in conforming to social and ritual duties, to the traditional rules of conduct for one?s caste - the karma path.13
Although most of the religion of the Vedic texts, which revolves around rituals of fire sacrifice, has been eclipsed by Hindu doctrines and practices found in other texts, the absolute authority and sacredness of the Veda remains a central tenet of virtually all Hindu sects and traditions. The Veda is composed of four collections, the oldest of which is the Rigveda (?Wisdom of the Verses?). In these texts, God is described in the most confusing terms. The religion reflected in the Rigveda is a polytheism mainly concerned with appeasing deities associated with the sky and the atmosphere, the most important of which were Indra (god of the heavens and rain), Baruna (guardian of the cosmic order), Agni (the sacrificial fire), and Surya (the Sun). In later Vedic texts, interest in the early Rigvedic gods declines, and polytheism begins to be replaced by a sacrificial pantheism to Prajapati (?Lord of Creatures?), who is the All. In the Upanishads (secret teachings concerning cosmic equations), Prajapati merges with the concept of Brahman, the supreme reality and substance of the universe, replacing any specific personification, thus transforming the mythology into abstract philosophy.14 If the contents of these scriptures were all that human beings had to choose from for guidance, one would have to conclude that God hid both Himself and the purpose of creation from humankind.
God is not the author of confusion, nor does He wish difficulty for mankind. Consequently, when He revealed His final communication to humankind one thousand four hundred years ago, He ensured that it was perfectly preserved for all of the generations of human beings to come. In that final scripture, the Qur?an (Koran), God revealed His purpose for creating mankind and, through His last prophet, He clarified all of the details which man could comprehend. It is on the basis of this revelation and the prophetic explanations that we will analyze the precise answers to the question "Why did God create man?" in the coming pages.
Why Did God Create?
From the point of view of God, an even more fundamental question needs to be asked, ?Why did God create?? This question should be asked because humankind is not, in fact, the greatest creation. God says in the Quran:
?Indeed, the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater than the creation of mankind, but most of mankind do not realize it.1
The composition of human beings is far less complex than the composition of the universe in which they exist. However, very few people reflect on this reality. Because of the apparent supremacy of human beings over the other creatures on this earth, man?s journeys through space and the continued advancement of their technology and knowledge, humankind in every age becomes arrogant and considers itself the greatest thing in this world. It is worth noting that the majority of humankind?s amazing discoveries are not concerning the human being, but his surroundings. Thus, human efforts tend to be focused on the material world rather than human beings. In this verse, God brings human beings back to their actual status in this world. Humankind is merely a small part of the existence which resulted from the miraculous act of divine creation. Thus, in order to understand why God created mankind, one first needs to answer the even more fundamental question of why God created.
Creation is fundamentally the consequence of the divine
attribute of being the Creator. A creator who does not create is something of a
contradiction in terms. This is not to say that God needs His creation. God is
free from all needs. It is creation which needs Him. But, as the greatness of a
writer becomes apparent in his writings, the perfection of the divine creative
attribute is manifest in creation. Creation in the true sense is unique to God
alone. Although humans ascribe the act of creation to themselves, what they do
is not true creation. Humankind merely manipulates what already exists - what
was already created by God. A table is made from wood which came from trees and
is held together with nails and screws made from metal that came from rocks.
Human beings did not make the trees or the rocks. In fact, all human creations
can be traced back to basic elements which humans cannot make. Even the artist
?creates? designs based on what he has seen. It is not possible to imagine what
has not been perceived by the senses. Thus, all of the artist?s thoughts are
reflections on what was already created. Only God alone creates from nothing.
This basic fact was and still is incomprehensible to some. Some ancient as well
as modern philosophers, who could not comprehend how God could create from
nothing, claimed that the created world and its contents are all originally a
part of God.2
That is, according to them, God took a part of Himself and made the universe.
This conclusion is based on comparing God to man, who can only ?create? by
modifying what already exists. However, God denies any such comparisons which
would give Him human limitations. In the Qur?an, He states:
?There is nothing like Him and He is hearer and seer of all.?3
Thus, the act of creation is a consequence of the divine
attribute of being the Creator. God describes Himself as the Creator in a
variety of verses throughout the final revelation to emphasize to humankind that
everything belongs to Him alone.
?Allah created all things and He is the agent on which all things depend.?4
?And Allah created you all and whatever you do.?5
Man needs to realize that nothing takes place in this
universe without the permission of God. To seek protection from evil or to seek
to acquire good from any source other than God is a major mistake. Due to
ignorance, many people attempt to avoid misfortune and to gain good fortune
through a variety of charms and amulets, astrology, palmistry, etc.
Consequently, in the Qur?an, God informs human beings to seek refuge in God from
?Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the dawn, from the evil of what He has created.?6
Allah, God Almighty, is not evil; He is good. He created
a world in which evil or good can be done by beings to whom He gave this
ability. However, no evil or good can take place in this world without the
permission of God. This is why it is futile to turn to others besides God for
help and protection.
?No calamity strikes except by Allah?s permission.?7
The final prophet of God, Muhammad (peace be upon him), further elaborated on this concept, saying, ?Be aware that if the whole of mankind gathered together to do something to help you, they would only be able to do something for you which Allah had already written for you. Likewise, if the whole of mankind gathered together to harm you, they would only be able to do something to harm you which Allah had already written to happen to you.?8
The Merciful, The Forgiving
In the creation of humankind, the divine attributes of forgiveness, mercy and kindness are also manifested. Human beings were created good and pure with a natural awareness of good and evil. The Almighty also created in humans desires, and gave them an ability to control those desires according to divine law or to turn them loose and follow them blindly. God created mankind knowing that they would disobey Him. Consequently, He taught human beings, beginning with Adam, how to repent and thereby purify themselves of their sins. Adam and Eve represent a pattern for all mankind to follow. They forgot the commandment of God, and Satan played on their desires. After they had disobeyed God, they turned back to Him in repentance, and He forgave them. In humankind?s disobedience and turning back to God in repentance, the divine attributes of total forgiveness and infinite mercy become manifest. The final Prophet (peace be upon him) informed his followers of this reality, saying, ?If you did not commit sins and turn to Allah, seeking His forgiveness, He would have replaced you with another people who would sin, ask Allah?s forgiveness and He would forgive them.?9 Every one of the 114 Chapters of the final revelation, except one, begins with the prayer, ?In the name of Allah, the Beneficent the Most Merciful.? Allah?s attributes of mercy and forgiveness are stressed to encourage humans not to fall into despair. No matter how great the sins of human beings may be, God can forgive them if man turns back to Him in sincere repentance. The Messenger (peace be upon him) was quoted as saying, ?When Allah created the universe, He made an obligation on Himself [recorded] in a document kept by Him: My mercy supersedes my wrath.?10 He was also reported to have said, ?[Allah created] mercy with one hundred parts, one of which was sent down upon the jinn, human beings and other living beings. It is out of this one part that they love each other, show kindness to each other and even the animals treat their offspring with affection. Allah has reserved the remaining ninety-nine parts for His true worshippers on the Day of Resurrection.?11
Had Allah wished, He could have created mankind like angels, incapable of committing sin. However, that was not His wish, as He had already created angels. Human beings were created capable of making mistakes and when they realize their errors and seek God?s forgiveness, the divine attributes of mercy and forgiveness become manifest.
In the judgment of mankind at the end of this world,
God?s attributes of supreme justice and fairness also become manifest. Based on
His infinite knowledge, God could have created all members of the human race who
were to live on earth and immediately placed some of them in paradise and the
remainder in hell. Before creating man, Allah already knew what choices they
would make in this life, what provision and opportunities He would give them,
and in what state of belief or disbelief they would die. Therefore, in one sense
it could be said that some people were created for paradise and others for hell.
?Aa?ishah, wife of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), quoted him
as saying, ?Don?t you know that Allah created paradise and hell, and He
created inhabitants for each??12
If God had immediately placed those headed for paradise in paradise, they would
not question God?s decision. Those in paradise would happily accept an
everlasting life of bliss and be thankful that they were not placed in hell.
However, those immediately placed in hell would ask why. They would feel a sense
of unfairness due to their ignorance of what they would have done had they lived
on earth. Those in hell would relentlessly argue that had they been given a
chance to live out their lives on earth, they would have believed and done
righteous deeds. Consequently, Allah allows human beings to live out their lives
on earth and make all the choices they would have made, so that everyone who
enters hell will know that they chose hell by themselves. They will recognize
God?s mercy in their lives and acknowledge their sin in rejecting His signs and
guidance. And they will accept His judgment as being just and beyond reproach.
However, they will still beg for another chance to do good in this world, as God
says in the Qur?an:
?If only you could see [the time] when the sinners will bow their heads before their Lord, [saying], ?Our Lord! We have now seen and heard, so send us back and we will do righteous deeds. Verily, we now believe with certainty.? ?13
However, if Allah were to send them back to this world having
forgotten what they had seen of hell, they would again choose evil and end up in
hell as before. God spoke about this in the Qur?an,
?But if they were returned [to this world], they would certainly go back to what was forbidden to them. Indeed they are liars.?14
God?s love is manifest in beings brought into existence,
whether believer or disbeliever, to enjoy life, if only for a brief moment. It
is also realized in the creation of paradise for those who choose righteousness
over evil. Allah states in the final revelation that He loves those who do good
(5:13), those who are just (5:42), those who are pious (9:4), those who are
patient (3:146), those who put their trust in Him (3:159), those who frequently
turn to Him in repentance and those who purify themselves (2:222). However, it
is He who has defined for human beings through the scriptures and the prophets
what is good, just and pious. Consequently, those who follow the prophets are
most beloved to God. In the Qur?an, Allah instructed Prophet Muhammad
(peace be upon him) to say the following to the believers:
?If you really love Allah, follow me and Allah will love you and forgive your sins.?15
The prophets should be followed not only in the compulsory acts ordained by God, but also in their eagerness to do acts of voluntary worship.
The love of God is also manifest in His mercy and blessings which He grants to those who deserve them as well as those who do not. But, it is particularly manifest in His willingness to forgive the sins of whomsoever turns to Him in sincere repentance. From the creation of Adam and Eve, repentance was granted to them to erase their sins as an example to all human beings who would follow them into this world. No matter how great human sins may become, the door for sincere repentance remains open until the last day of this world. Anas quoted Allah?s Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying, ?Allah, the Almighty, has said: O son of Adam, as long as you call on Me and ask of Me, I will forgive what you have done, and I do not mind. O son of Adam, even if your sins reached the clouds and you asked My forgiveness, I will forgive you. O son of Adam, if you came to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and you met Me without giving Me partners, I will give you a similar amount of forgiveness.?16
As for those in paradise, they will not enter it solely based
on their good deeds. It is the grace of God which will ultimately carry them
there. The final Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said in this regard, ?Try
your best to do right, and be happy. For none will enter paradise only because
of his deeds.? His companions said, ?O Messenger of Allah! Not even
you?? He replied, ?Not even I, unless Allah envelops me in His mercy and
And bear in mind that the deed most loved by Allah is one done constantly, even
though it is small.?18
However, God?s grace is not arbitrary. It is based on both correct faith and
righteous deeds. In the Qur?an, Allah says:
?Whoever brings a good deed, will have [the value of] ten like it, and whoever brings an evil deed will only be punished with one like it, and they will not be wronged.?19
Were God to hold humankind to account strictly, no one?s good deeds would outweigh their evil deeds. However, God has manifested His grace by multiplying the value of good deeds, while keeping evil deeds at their face value. It is by the grace of God that the true believers enter Paradise. This does not mean that deeds have no role. Deeds have a major role, but they are not the deciding factor. God?s grace outweighs them.
Consequently, the creation of human beings, the errors that they make and the good that they do are all circumstances for the manifestation of God?s attributes of mercy and forgiveness, His attribute of justice and His attribute of grace.
Humankind should not question why God chose to manifest His attributes in this way. It can only be assumed that this was the best way, because Allah describes Himself as being the Most Wise and the Most Knowledgeable. Humans can only understand what Allah chooses to reveal to them.
?They will only encompass of His knowledge what He wishes.?20
Thus, they should not try to equate themselves with God.
If He has told humankind why He decided to do something, it is not for them to
question why He decided to decide. Such questions are without end and thus
beyond human scope. It is they who will be questioned on the Day of Judgment
about their actions and intentions and not He. In the Qur?an, Allah addresses
?He cannot be questioned as to what He does, while they will be questioned.?21
In this regard Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was reported by Ibn ?Abbaas to have said, ?Reflect on the creation of Allah but do not reflect on Allah.?22 To reflect on the reality of Allah is to reflect on the infinite. And, as the mind boggles when it reflects on the limits of the finite universe and the galaxies and stars within it, it will be more confounded when it attempts to understand the uncreated. The Prophet (peace be upon him) warned that the satanic forces would seek to introduce doubts in the hearts of the believers by raising unanswerable questions about God. Aboo Hurayrah related that Allah?s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, ?Satan will come to everyone of you and ask: Who created this and that? - until he questions: Who created your Lord? When he comes to that, one should seek refuge in Allah [say: I affirm my faith in Allah and His prophets]23 and avoid [such thoughts].?24
Every Act Is Worship
In the Islamic system, each and every human act can be
transformed into an act of worship. In fact, God commands the believers to
dedicate their whole lives to Him. In the Qur?an, Allah says:
?Say: ?Surely my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of all the worlds.? ?22
However, for that dedication to be acceptable to Allah, each act must fulfill two basic conditions:
1- First, the act must be done sincerely for the pleasure of God and not for the recognition and praise of human beings. The believer also has to be conscious of God while doing the deed to insure that it is not something forbidden by Allah or the last Messenger (peace be upon him).
In order to facilitate this transformation of mundane
deeds into worship, Allah instructed the last Prophet (peace be upon him) to
prescribe short prayers to be said before even the simplest of acts. The
shortest prayer which may be used for any circum-stance is: bismillaah
(In the name of Allah). There are, however, many other prayers prescribed for
specific occasions. For example, whenever a new piece of clothing is worn, the
Prophet (peace be upon him) taught his followers to say:
?O Allah, thanks is due to You, for it is You who has clothed me. I ask You for its benefit and the benefit for which it was made, and seek refuge in You from its evil and the evil for which it was made.?23
2- The second condition is that the act be done in accordance with the prophetic way, called in Arabic the Sunnah. All of the prophets instructed their followers to follow their way because they were guided by God. What they taught were divinely revealed truths, and only those who followed their way and accepted the truths would inherit eternal life in paradise. It is in this context that Prophet Jesus, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, was reported in the Gospel according to John 14:6, as saying, ?I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.? Similarly, ?Abdullaah ibn Mas?ood related that one day Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) drew a line in the dust for them and said, ?This is Allah?s path.? He then drew several lines [branching off] to the right and to the left and said, ?These are the paths [of misguidance] on each of which is a devil inviting people to follow it.? He then recited the verse: ?Verily, this is my path, leading straight, so follow it. And do not follow the [other] paths for they will scatter you about from Allah?s path. That is His command to you in order that you may be conscious of Allah.24?25
Thus, the only acceptable way to worship God is according to the way of the prophets. That being the case, innovation in religious affairs would be considered by God among the worst of all evils. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was reported to have said, ?The worst of all affairs is innovation in religion, for every religious innovation is a cursed, misleading innovation leading to the hellfire.?26 Innovation in the religion is forbidden and unacceptable to God. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was also reported by his wife, ?Aa?ishah, to have said, ?He who innovates something in this matter of ours, that is not of it, will have it rejected.?27
It is fundamentally due to innovations that the messages of the earlier prophets were distorted and the many false religions in existence today evolved. The general rule to follow in order to avoid innovation in religion is that all forms of worship are prohibited, except those which have been specifically prescribed by God and conveyed to humans by the true messengers of God.
The Best of Creation
Those who believe in One Unique God, without partners or
offspring, and do righteous deeds [according to the above-mentioned principles]
become the crown of creation. That is, although humankind is not the greatest
creation of Allah, they have the potential to become the best of His creation.
In the final revelation, Allah states this fact as follows:
?Surely, those who believe and do righteous deeds are the best of creation.?28
The Gravest Sin
To contradict the purpose of one?s creation is then
the greatest evil that a human being can commit. ?Abdullaah reported that he
asked Allah?s Messenger (peace be upon him) which sin is the gravest in Allah?s
sight and he replied, ?To give Allah a partner, even though He created you.?29
Worshipping others besides God, called shirk in Arabic, is the only
unforgivable sin. If a human being dies without repenting from his or her sins,
Allah may forgive all their sins except shirk. In this regard, God
?Surely Allah will not forgive the worship of others besides Him, but He forgives sins less than that to whomever He wishes.?30
Worshipping others besides God essentially involves
giving the attributes of the Creator to His creation. Each sect or religion does
this in their own particular way. A small but very vocal group of people down
through the ages have actually denied God?s existence.31
To justify their rejection of the Creator, they were obliged to make the
illogical claim that this world has no beginning. Their claim is illogical
because all of the observable parts of the world have beginnings in time,
therefore it is only reasonable to expect the sum of the parts to also have a
beginning. It is also only logical to assume that whatever caused the world to
come into existence could not have been a part of the world nor could it have a
beginning like the world. The atheist assertion that the world has no beginning
means that the matter which makes up the universe is eternal. This is a
statement of shirk, whereby God?s attribute of being without
beginning is given to His creation. The numbers of genuine atheists have
historically always been quite small because, in spite of their claims, they
instinctively know that God does exist. That is, in spite of decades of
communist indoctrination, the majority of Russians and Chinese continued to
believe in God. The Al-mighty Creator pointed out this phenomenon, saying:
?And they denied [the signs] wrongfully and arrogantly, though within themselves they were convinced of them.?32
;nbsp; To atheists and materialists, life has no purpose
beyond the fulfillment of their desires. Consequently, their desires also become
the god which they obey and submit to instead of the One True God. In the Qur?an,
?Have you seen the one who takes his desires as his god??33
Christians gave Prophet Jesus Christ the attributes of the Creator by first making him co-eternal with God,34 then by making him a personality of God whom they titled ?God the Son.? Hindus, on the other hand, believe that God has become man in many ages, by incarnations called avatars, and then they divided God?s attributes between three gods, Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer.
Love of God
Shirk also occurs when human beings love, trust or
fear the creation more than Allah. In the last revelation, God said:
?There are among men those who worship others besides Allah as equals to Him. They love them as only Allah should be loved. But those who believe have a stronger love for Allah.?35
When these and other similar emotions are directed more strongly to the creation, they cause human beings to disobey God in a effort to please other humans. However, only Allah deserves a complete human emotional commitment, for it is He alone who should be loved and feared over all creation. Anas ibn Maalik narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ?Whoever possesses [the following] three characteristics has tasted the sweetness of faith: he who loves Allah and His Messenger above all else; he who loves another human being for Allah?s sake alone; and he who hates to return to disbelief after Allah has rescued him as he hates to be thrown into a fire.?36
All the reasons for which humans love other humans or
love other created beings are reasons to love God more than His creation. Humans
love life and success, and dislike death and failure. Since Allah is the
ultimate source of life and success, He deserves the full love and devotion of
mankind. Humans also love those who benefit them and help them when they are in
need. Since all benefit (7:188) and help (3:126) come from God, He should be
loved above all else.
?If you try to count Allah?s blessings, you will not be able to add them up.?37
However, the supreme love which humans should feel for
God must not be reduced to the common denominator of their emotional love for
creation. Just as the love humans feel for animals should not be the same as
what they feel for other humans38,
the love of Allah should transcend the love humans feel towards each other.
Human love of God should be, fundamentally, a love manifest in complete
obedience to the laws of God,
?If you love Allah, then follow me [the Prophet] and Allah will love you.?39
This is not an abstract concept, because human love of other humans also implies obedience. That is, if a loved one requests that something be done, humans will strive to do it according to the level of their love for that person.
The love of God should also be expressed in the love of
those whom God loves. It is inconceivable that one who loves Allah could hate
those whom Allah loves and love those whom He hates. The Prophet (peace be upon
him) was quoted by Aboo Umaamah as saying, ?He who loves for Allah and hates
for Allah, gives for Allah and withholds for Allah, has perfected his faith.?40
Consequently, those whose faith is proper will love all those who love God. In
Chapter Maryam, Allah indicates that He puts love in the hearts of the
believers for those who are righteous.
?Surely, Allah will bestow love [in the hearts of the believers for] those who believe and do righteous deeds.?41
Aboo Hurayrah also related that Allah?s Messenger (peace be upon him) said the following in this regard, ?If Allah loves a servant He informs angel Gabriel that He loves so-and-so and tells him to love him, so Gabriel loves him. Then Gabriel calls out to the inhabitants of the heavens: ?Allah loves so-and-so, therefore love him.? So the inhabitants of the heavens love him. Then he is granted the love of the people of the earth.?42
Prayers should only be directed to God alone, for only He
can answer prayers. He is accessible as long as He is called upon sincerely.
?When My servants ask you [O Muhammad] about Me, [tell them] that I am near, I answer the prayer of everyone who calls on Me.?43
The Prophet (peace be upon him) emphasized this point,
saying, ?If you ask in prayer, ask only Allah, and if you seek help, seek it
only from Allah.?44
Thus, prayer to human beings or through human beings, dead or living, is a form
of shirk. The one to whom prayers are directed becomes an object of
worship. An-Nu?maan ibn Basheer reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him)
said, ?Supplication is worship.?45
?Surely, those whom you call on in prayer besides Allah are servants like yourself.?46
Thus, the Catholic Christian practice of praying to
saints is shirk. If something is lost, Saint Anthony of Thebes is prayed
to in order to help find it.47
St. Jude Thaddaeus is the patron saint of the impossible and is prayed to for
intercession in incurable illnesses, unlikely marriages or the like.48
And it used to be that when someone set out on a journey, Saint Christopher, the
patron saint of travelers, was the object of prayers for protection. However, in
1969 St. Christopher was unceremoniously struck off the list of saints by papal
decree, after it was confirmed that he was fictitious.49
Prayers to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and to the angels, as on Michaelmas50,
are also shirk. Even Christians who shun saint worship commit shirk
whenever they direct prayers to Prophet Jesus, through him or in his name.
Likewise, any Muslim who prays to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
commits shirk. Consequently, God commanded the Prophet (peace be upon
him) to inform his followers as follows, as stated in the Quran,
?Say [O Muhammad]: ?I have no power to bring good or avert harm even from myself, except if Allah wills. If I had knowledge of the unseen, I would surely have accumulated only good and no evil would have befallen me.?51
Aboo Hurayrah reported that when the verse ?Warn your nearest relatives,?52 was revealed to the Prophet (peace be upon him), he said the following to his relatives: ?O people of Quraysh, secure deliverance from Allah [by doing good deeds], for I cannot avail you at all against Allah...O Faatimah, daughter of Muhammad, ask me whatever you wish [in this life], but I have nothing which can avail you against Allah.?53
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|Title:||The Purpose of Creation|
|Author's name:||More Articles by Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips|
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