What is it that we want out of life? Where are we going? What are we doing? What should we be doing? What is the purpose of Allah (swa) sending us to this world? What exactly is our aim in life?
These are the most fundamental questions that we all need to ask ourselves. People answer these questions in different ways. Some people’s aim in life is to collect money, property, to have perfect careers and perfect families, whilst other people desire name, fame and power. However, as there is no permanence to our world the nature of our worldly desires is also transitory. In other words all these aims are temporary and lusts for wealth, power, name, fame, and family can never wholly satisfy an individual.
Despite what many people believe, the acquisition of wealth, power, prestige and fame does not bring happiness. We often hear of famous celebrities who have attempted suicide or suffer from depression. This is because all worldly pleasures are ephemeral and self-destructive.
Vain pursuits wear out the soul. Those who pursue transitory worldly pleasures exhaust themselves, working for them day and night. The culture of wanting more and more for the sake or more can literally occupy a person for life. The needs of the seeker of worldly pleasures are insatiable. So what should our aim in life be? One of our ultimate aims should be love for Allah (swa), and love for the sake of Allah (swa), so that we are able to recollect the covenant that we made in another world to one we love.
Before creation Allah (swa) gathered all of humanity; the people of the past, present and future and asked us all one question: "Am I not your Lord". We all answered “Yes, we do testify” (that you are our Lord, the one we love). This consciousness about Allah (swa), this realization and understanding is embedded deep within our souls. Our inner person, who took this oath with Almighty Allah, was then attached to the physical body and was sent to Earth, so that its love may be tested.
The purpose of the soul descending to this lowest level of realms is so that it should seek to return to its previous closeness with its Beloved Creator, whilst being trapped between the form of flesh and bone. However, on Earth we forgot about the oath that we made in the other world and occupied ourselves with the transitory worldly love of wives, children and wealth.
We have entered a state of heedlessness, forgotten our purpose, our function, our promise to Him while living in this world. We have allowed ourselves to love the ephemeral aspects of the world to the point that it surpasses our spiritual yearnings.
Many of us today are choosing a way of living that is allowing divine signs to pass by. The Holy Qur’an warns that Satan seeks to adorn things before the human eye, so that we do not see things for what they truly are.
A true Believer however, looks beyond himself and focuses on Allah (swa). By doing so, he move’s towards fulfilling the purpose for which he was created, and thus is able to attain peace with his Creator and within himself.
It is said that no man was allotted two hearts in his breast; this means that we are unable to feel two things at the same time. We are also unable to simultaneously pursue two things at the same time, especially when they are at two opposing poles in the Universe.
Hence those who make worldly pleasures their objective do so at the expense of the hereafter, such people suffer in this world and in the hereafter. Our Holy Prophet (saw) has said “If anyone’s intention is to seek the hereafter and Allah (swa) pleasure then, Allah (swa) will place sufficiency in his heart and will order his affairs and the world will approach him submissively, but if anyone’s intention is to only seek worldly benefits, Allah (swa) will place poverty before him and disorder in his affairs”. According to Imam Ghazzali, the desire for the quests for the provisions of the hereafter appears in the one who knows that the world causes misery and is but of a few days in duration, while the hereafter is pure and everlasting. It is not difficult for him to exchange something despicable for something valuable. In order to reaffirm to ourselves the real purpose of our existence we need to seek the company of the righteous and develop special attachments with them. It is recognized in virtually all traditions and cultures that the company one keeps has inroads to ones heart and morality.
When a person is surrounded by people who are sincere and pious, and has no ulterior motive out of his association; he only stands to benefit from them. Scholars have always encouraged visiting the righteous people as part of the protocol of the spiritual ascendancy. Hadhrat Isa (AS) once said “Do not sit with the dead people”. When he was asked who are the dead people, he replied “Those who desire this world”. According to some linguists, the Arabic word for human being is insan, which means to forget. This suggests that one of the characteristics of man is forgetfulness. This implies that we need to be reminded often. Which is why the importance of attaching ourselves with the righteous, who are always busy in the remembrance of Allah (swa) can not be emphasised enough.
When sitting in the company of the righteous, feelings of peace and wellbeing wash over us. A dim flame within us flickers and lights up. Our souls faintly recollect a covenant that was made in another world to one we love. For a short moment, we feel disgusted with ourselves for occupying ourselves with petty, trivial worldly affairs; these feelings strike a chord inside us and we reaffirm to ourselves the real purpose of our existence.
These blessed individuals are described as being the perfume of Allah (swa) upon this world, however only the true, sincere believers have noses to smell them. They smell that beautiful perfume and follow that smell. That perfume creates a yearning in their hearts for their Lord, and as a result the sincere believers increase their pace, efforts and devotions. To sum up, our beloved Prophet (saw) knew what would come when He said “my pain is for my beloved people who will come in later times”. We are living is such a time in which the abnormal is seen as normal. We have forgotten the true purpose of our existence, and are in a state of Ghafla (heedlessness). We need to reaffirm to ourselves the true objective of human life, which is the Raza (pleasure) Allah (swa). This can be achieved by permanent attachment with those who are Allah (swa) friends. Only then will we be blessed with the yearning and longing to return to the true home.
One must bear in mind that patience, perseverance, and persistency are indispensable in the quest of Allah’s (swa) Raza (pleasure). It is said that he who seeks something and is industrious shall find it, and he who knocks at the door and is persistent shall enter. A person should also remember that one always reaches whatever they desire-only to the extent that they pursue it.
May Allah (swa) give us the ability to reaffirm to ourselves the real purpose of our existence and may He keep us in the company of those Blessed individuals whose hearts are illuminated with His (swa) light. Ameen.
By Alveena Salim