were we Created?
Author: Bilâl Philips
All praise is due to Allâh
and may His peace and blessings be upon his last Messenger sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam and
on all those who follow the path of righteousness until the last day.
We have to answer the most fundamental question that every
human being asks himself at some point in his or her lifetime. Not just
Muslims, but every single human being.
"Why was I created? Why am I here? What am I
doing in this world? Why did God create me?"
These questions, are questions which each and everyone of
us reflects on at some point during their life. We have some answers,
which are given generally, but usually these answers don’t satisfy us,
they seem somewhat simplistic. We still wonder. "Why me? Why here?" I
know all of you, generally speaking, in the back of your mind, you are
saying "to worship Allâh, khallas (finish), what more is there to say? Why do we need to have a big
long talk on why we were created, when we all know it is to worship
Allâh?" But wait, if this is presented to a non-Muslim, the next
logical question would be "why does Allâh want us to
worship Him?" and then your stuck.
It means, in our own minds it is not really clear to us. Why
did Allâh create us to worship Him?
The question, why did Allâh create us, for some people,
and we have to deal with those people around us, who don’t consider
there to be any purpose in man’s creation because he is just a product
of evolution that the forces of nature have produced him, and just as
we don’t have apes, dogs or cows thinking about why they are here, then
we don’t really have to think about it either. Of course that being the
basis of the philosophy of western society, that man is without
purpose, then the whole issue of government, morality etc has no basis
in Revelation, there is no guidance there. The product of this is of
course the corruption that we are living in.
For a Muslim, when we go in to this topic, we have to
find our understanding in divine revelation and not human speculation.
Because human speculation has no bounds, we can imagine all kinds of
things, and is any of you have studied philosophy of religion, you can
see how many opinions exist about the creation of man and existence.
Because of the variety of philosophies, which are out there, no one can
say this one is correct or that one is incorrect, because there is no
guidance behind it. No divine revelation. It is only from divine
revelation that we can determine the reality of our creation, because
it is Allâh who has created us and he knows the purpose of our
creation. We can hardly understand ourselves, much less try to
understand the essence of things. So it is for Allâh to
inform us through the revelation in the Qur'ân and the Sunnah which was brought by his
last Messenger sallallâhu 'alayhi
wa sallam and the Messengers before. Now
if we are to look, initially into revelation, to determine why was
man created, there is a deeper question that we should be
asking before that. "Why did God create?"
Before we even get to man, why did god create, because man is not the
greatest act of creation that we should be so focused on why man. No,
because Allâh says:
"The creation of the Heavens and
the Earth is indeed greater then the creation of mankind; yet, most of
mankind know not." [Sûrah Ghâfir, verse 57]
Man is not the greatest act of creation, this universe is far
more complex and far more magnificent then man. So the issue of
creation should then go to why create? As opposed to simply why create
Fundamentally, we can say that the creation is the natural
consequence of the attribute of creator. Allâh is the creator.
That is one of his attributes. That is what he has informed us. That
being his attribute, the creator, the natural consequence or the
product of this attribute is his creation.
A painter, if we are to draw a similitude on a lower level,
who tells you that he is a painter, if you ask him where are his
paintings and he replies I don’t have any. What kind of painter is
this? The concept of a painter who doesn’t paint, there is some thing
not quite gelling together here, of course Allâh is beyond this.
But if we are to understand on the simplest level, the two go together.
The perfection of a painter lies in his paintings. His quality and his
ability to paint, is manifest in his paintings. And Allâh, beyond
all that, as creator, this quality of creation is manifest in the
creation itself. Allâh didn’t create out of a need. No, the fact
that he is the creator, is manifest in the creation.
Furthermore, consider the act of creation, this act, with
regards to Allâh is unique. Though we use the term i.e. So and so
created a table etc, actually it is in a limited sense. Human beings
don’t really create, they manipulate, because they can only "create"
what already exists. When we make a chair or a table, we didn’t create
the wood, we had to take it from a tree, we didn’t create the metal,
which makes the screws etc, we had to melt down rocks and take the
metal out. So we are not creating from nothing. We are manipulating
things which Allâh has already created in to different shapes and
forms which are useful to us. We call it "creation" but the real act of
creation, is creation from nothing, and this is unique to Allâh
This is a concept, which many people in ignorance,
because they couldn’t grasp the idea of creation from nothingness, it
lead them to conclude that the world is Allâh. Those who say
"inside of each and every atom is Allâh." And you have people,
who call themselves Muslims saying this. Non-Muslims have said this
before and there are Muslims who claim this. That Allâh is inside
each and everything, because Allâh is the reality and everything
else is fake in their interpretation. That means then, that the
creation is Allâh, and Allâh is the creation. Very, very
dangerous concept, which leads some of those who make this claim to say
that you don’t have to worship outside of yourself. Ibn Arabi, was
famous for this statement, he is considered to be one of the saints,
amongst the so called Sûfî religion. Ibn Arabi said "There is no need to worship
one outside yourself, you are Allâh. It is sufficient to worship
yourself." This is Shirk.
This concept of Allâh being within his creation, no
distinction the creation and Allâh, it leads them to this shirk.
Because they are unable to accept the uniqueness of Allâh’s
creation, they compare the act of creation by Allâh to human
creation. That is, just as we manipulate, Allâh took pieces of
himself and made the earth and the universe. Others will say that all
human beings have inside of themselves Allâh, that there is a
part of Allâh inside each and everyone of us. The whole essence,
the purpose of life is for us to realize that we have part of
Allâh inside of ourselves, remove the material blocks which keep
us from Allâh and again become one with Allâh in what they
call "fana". This is again a teaching of the Sûfî religion.
Becoming one with Allâh, returning back to
Allâh in this sense. But this is in fact part of the teachings of
shirk. Shaytân (Satan) has deluded man into this imagination. It is part of the
belief of the Hindus. Nirvana, the concept that when you die, you are
reborn again, and you move up in stages, each time, if you are a good
boy or good girl, you go up higher and higher, until you get to the
top. You know you have reached the peak, because when you die the next
time you become one with the universal soul, Nirvana. That is the end
of rebirth. So your whole purpose is to return and become one with God
again. This is all, as I said, a product of the inability to understand
the concept of creation from nothingness, which is unique to
Allâh. Allâh says:
"There is nothing like him,
and he is the hearer and seer of all."
So when we try to interpret Allâh’s creation
like the way we create, then we have made Him like his creation
and it leads us ultimately to those aspects of shirk which I
have mentioned. This is quite common amongst the Muslim world today,
because when you look into the various branches of the Sûfî religion, where they have prescribed various
acts of purification, they call it dhikr, exercises to torture
the body through spinning and dancing. What is the purpose of this?
They will tell you, to liberate the soul from this earthly body and to
achieve that state of "fana" or "itihâd",
a variety of names they have for it.
this concept, which lead al-Hallaj, many centuries ago, when he was
promoting this idea, and he was put before a panel of judges
questioning these concepts, which he was expressing. When they asked
him to recant, to take this stuff back, he stood up, opened up his
cloak and said "There is nothing inside this cloak except Allâh".
So they executed him. And of course, those in the Sûfî religion,
they have stories that when they cut his head off, it rolled around
saying "Allâh, Allâh, Allâhu Akbar etc". It might
have, that is Shaytân may have entered
and said these things, as happened with the calf of the Isrealites,
when the Prophet Mûsa (Moses) let Egypt and the people, after
crossing the red sea, had a desire to have a god that they could see,
so they made a golden calf which they began to worship. This calf was
saying "moo" like the calves do. This is what convinced them that this
was the real thing. We know it wasn’t the calf saying this. The evil jinn
can enter the in to physical entities, make sounds and give these
impressions. So there is no problem for us to say ok, maybe when they
cut of al-Hallaj’s head that it said these things, because this was
part of a test. If we are clear in terms of creator and creation, this
is no problem for us.
is the creator and everything besides Him is His creation, which He
created from nothing. It is not Him, nor is He it. This is the pure
concept as taught by the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam,
his companions, and the early generations of righteous scholars, the
students of the companions and those who came after them. The best of
generations. That is how they understood this matter. There was no
confusion in their minds. It wasn’t until Islâm spread to areas
like Egypt, India and Persia, areas where the Christians had already
gotten into deep philosophies, trying to explain how Jesus was a man
and god at the same time. When they came in to Islâm they brought
it with them. This is the reality. It is not something we should
necessarily condemn them for or feel is unusual. It is natural, when a
person reverts to Islâm, that they will carry with them what they
believed before. What has been clarified for them, of the basic
principles, they accept, and they reject things, which obviously
contradict. But it doesn’t mean that every last thought that they have,
and everything that was wrong in their philosophies, ideology and
concepts will be erased. They will carry these things in with them.
This is why in the later part of the Prophet's sallallâhu
'alayhi wa sallam life, prior to his death, when he was coming back
from one of the battles, his companions asked him to set aside a tree
for them, that they could hang their weapons on, like the way the
pagans would hang their weapons on trees, believing that when they hung
the weapons, it became super-powerful, as if some power was coming from
the tree, that their shields would now block steel and their swords
would cut through the enemy. Some of the companions who had newly
accepted Islâm, asked the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa
sallam to designate one for them, a special one, an Islamic one.
They understood that what the pagans had, this was wrong. These were
the companions of the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam
and he had to clarify it for them. He said:
You are like the companions of
Mûsâ who asked to have the calf built.
clarified for them that all of this is shirk and there is no place for
it in Islâm. So if it could happen to some of the companions,
then we cannot blame the generations who have come after them, who come
into Islâm and carry with them some of their old ideas. What it
is for us to do is to clarify.
we have in front of us then, is that Allâh created this universe
out of nothing, and everything that is in it was created. For example:
"Allâh created all things, and he is the
agent, upon which, all things depend." [Sûrah 39, verse 62]
This is the reality. This is stressed for us, in order for us
to realize that ultimately, all good, all evil, that takes place in the
world, only takes place by the permission of Allâh. Therefore we
should not seek any other channels to protect ourselves from evil, or
to gather for ourselves good, as people commonly do today. They will go
to fortunetellers, this is big business today, all the magazines have
various forms of fortunetellers like dial a horoscope etc. in a society
that has lost touch with Allâh, this is what is open to them.
Allâh has stressed for us that no calamity will befall us except
by Allâh’s permission;
"Nothing is taking place in this world except by the
permission of Allâh."
And the Prophet sallallâhu
'alayhi wa sallam further emphasized this principle by saying;
"If the whole of mankind
gathered to do some thing to help us, they could help in anything which
Allâh had not already written for us. And if the whole of mankind
gathered together to harm us, then they would not be able to harm with
anything which Allâh had not already written for us."
Therefore what is required of us is to depend
on Allâh, put our trust in Allâh. This is what we have to
draw out of this attribute of Allâh being the creator. This
creation exists because of that attribute. Its practical significance
to us lies in putting our trust in Allâh.
There is another aspect, besides
the fact that the creation exists because Allâh is the creator.
We can also see from what the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi
wa sallam has informed us, that in the creation there is
manifestation of Allâh’s attributes of mercy, forgiveness,
kindness etc etc. Allâh created man in paradise, they disobeyed
Allâh, but Allâh had taught them how to repent, how to turn
back to him and seek his forgiveness, then he would forgive them.
Having done that, they were forgiven, Adam became the first prophet,
and mankind was absolved of that sin. The story of Adam and Eve is the
story of human existence. Human beings are given a consciousness of
Allâh. When Allâh created all human beings, as he states in
the Qur'ân, he took from Âdam (Adam) all of his descendents, and made
them all bear witness that Allâh is their Lord.
So we are all born with that consciousness. He has also given us a
consciousness of what is right and what is wrong.
"We have inspired each and
every soul to an awareness of corruption and righteousness."
Allâh gave revelation
through his commandments, not to eat of the tree. However, human beings
forget. And when they forget Allâh then they fall into sin. We
can absolve ourselves of that sin by means of repentance, and
Allâh forgives us when we repent sincerely. The Prophet
sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam said;
"The one who repents is like
the one without sin."
"If you did not commit sins
and turn to Allâh seeking his forgiveness, then he would replace
you with another people who would sin, ask Allâh’s forgiveness
and he would forgive them."
So in our sinning and asking Allâh’s
forgiveness, the attribute of Allâh’s mercy and forgiveness
becomes manifest. Allâh knew what we were going to do before he
created us, he knew that he was creating a species who would sin. If he
didn’t wan t them to sin, if it was not his intention to permit them to
sin, then he could have created angels, more angels. But the had
already created angels, so he chose to create a being, that would
disobey his commandments through forgetfulness or just simple
disobedience, but would turn back to him in repentance, and his
attribute of forgiveness would become manifest. Similarly, his mercy;
The Prophet sallallâhu
'alayhi wa sallam is quoted as saying that when Allâh created
the universe, He made an obligation on Himself, recorded in a document,
kept by Him, that "My mercy precedes my wrath." He sallallâhu 'alayhi wa
sallam also was reported as saying;
"Allâh created mercy
with a hundred parts. One of which was sent down upon the jinn and
human beings and other living creatures. It is out of this one part
that they love each other, show kindness to one another, and even the
animals treat their offspring with affection. Allâh has reserved
the remaining ninety-nine parts for his true worshippers on the Day of
This is the mercy of Allâh
manifest in his creation. What is also manifest in creation, in the act
of creation, the creation of man, is his attribute of justice,
fairness, which comes out as the judgment at the end of this world. I
am sure we have all read the ahadîth in which the Prophet
sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam said:
"Allâh created some
people for hell and some people for paradise."
For allot of people, this is
something very heavy. And the companions, they asked the prophet sallallâhu
'alayhi wa sallam then what is the point in doing good deeds? If
Allâh created some for heaven and some for hell then what is the
pin in doing anything? It has already been decided. The Prophet
sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam said:
"Each one of you will find it
easy to do what he was created for."
So if you choose the evil way, you find it
easy and you carry on in that way, then that was what you were created
for. But ultimately it is your choice. You choose hell. The fact hat
Allâh has recorded, before anything was created, who would be in
hell and who would be in heaven does not change the fact that it is we
who choose. The judgment is only to manifest to those who go to hell,
that they deserve to be in hell. It is only for them basically. Because
if Allâh created you, and put you in paradise, with all that is
in paradise, and you see those people in hell suffering, are you going
to ask Allâh, why did you put me in paradise? No. your going to
say "all praise be to Allâh!" you don’t want to question or to
wonder, all you will be is ecstatic that you are of those in paradise.
So the judgment is not for you, it is for those who are going to hell.
If you happen to be amongst those who were created for and put in hell,
you would say, why me? Why did you put me in hell? And Allâh
would say; because you would have done so and so in your life. But you
would say; no, no I wouldn’t. If you give me a chance I would do
good deeds. You would not give up arguing.
So Allâh has allowed us to live out our
lives. So when we stand before him, our book of deeds is spread before
us, we know without a shadow of a doubt, that we chose hell. That
Allâh’s judgment is just. There is no injustice in it, in any way
shape or form. Allâh says he oppresses no one. We will know that
we chose hell.
And the only thing that remains for us, and I
pray that it is not in fact us, who are going to hell, is to beg
Allâh for another chance. Allâh says;
"If you cold only see when
the sinners will bow their heads before their lord, saying; O Lord, we
have now seen and heard, so send us back and we will do righteous
deeds. Verily, we now believe with certainty."
This is the only response, which
will be left for them. Or as Allâh said;
"And those whose light
scales of good deeds, they ruined themselves and they will be in hell
eternally. The fire will burn their faces, and they will grin with
disfigured lips, I will say to them; Were My Verses not recited to you,
and you rejected them? They will reply; Our Lord, our misery overcame
us and we were a people astray. Our Lord, bring us out of this, and if
we ever return we will truly be unjust."
When we die, there remains behind
us a barrier, the Barzakh, none of us will come back, it is a
one-way ticket. Those poor individuals who think they will get another
chance, this is the new age religion, they think it is new, but it is
just plain old Hindu delusion, that when you die, you
get another chance to come back again. The effects of this actually,
among Hindus, where I am in the UAE, there are a lot of Hindus here, everyday in the news paper you read
about a Hindu man or woman who ties a rope to a
ceiling fan, which is found in many of the homes, put it around their
neck, kicked away the chair and passed out of this world. Suicide is
common amongst them. Why? Because they think they have another chance.
It will be a rude awakening for them when they meet the angel of death
and find themselves in the next life, realizing that there is no coming
In the creation of man is manifest
the grace of Allâh. This is a particular point which all of us
should reflect on and be thankful to Allâh for. His grace, and
Christians, they like to refer to us Muslims as those who don’t believe
in the grace of God, we are those who look at God’s judgment and it is
just about deeds, you do good then you go to heaven, you do bad and you
go to hell, that is it, no grace there at all. For them the grace of
God is there for all those who accept that he became a man, and was
crucified by man, to provide salvation for human beings who’s sins had
become so great that they could not remove that sin through any act
themselves. So it was with the spilling of the "Blood of God" that we
could be absolved of our sins. For them, if you accept that God spilt
his blood for mankind’s salvation, then you have earned the grace of
God. Does not matter what you do as long as you have accepted this
belief in the grace of God.
Muslims also believe in the grace
of God. Actually it plays a major and significant role. Often it is not
stressed but it is important for us to realize how the grace of
Allâh is manifest in our creation. The Prophet
sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam said;
"Observe moderation, but if
you fail, try to do as much as you can moderately and be happy. For
none of you will enter Paradise only because of his deeds."
Of course when the companions heard that they said;
"O messenger of Allâh,
not even you? And the prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam said,
not even me. Were it not that Allâh wrapped me in his mercy. And
bear in mind that the deed most loved by Allâh is one done
constantly even if it is small"
What does this mean? It means that
God’s grace is manifest in our lives in that were He to call us to
account, one good deed, one evil deed, equal to each other, then we
would not enter paradise, not even the prophets of Allâh. But
Allâh through his grace and mercy has multiplied the value of the
good deeds. Allâh says;
"Whoever brings a
good deed, shall the value of ten like it. And whoever brings an evil
deed will be punished with one like it. And they will not be wronged." [Sûrah Âl-'Imrân, verse 160]
This is Allâh’s grace. Good deeds erase
evil deeds. One good deed will erase at least ten evil deeds.
Allâh’s grace is not arbitrary, simply because you say I believe
you have his grace, no matter what you do, no. The more good you do,
the more of his grace is manifest in you. If you chose evil and reject
the good, then you don’t receive His grace, it doesn’t matter what you
say. If you say, I am a Muslim, I believe, but really you don’t
believe, it is just some words you are saying, them you will not be
subject to the grace of Allâh.
So the creation is a manifestation of
Allâh’s attribute of being the creator. In the creation of man
within the scheme of things, there is manifest Allâh’s attribute
of mercy, his attribute of justice and this is the reason for the
creation of man from the point of view of Allâh. From human
perspective, why did God create man in terms of for what purpose? Then
this is the one we all know and are familiar with;
"We did not create the jinn and men
except to worship us" [Sûrah adh-Dhariyyat, verse 56)
So relative to Allâh, we were
created in a means or a way in which Allâh has chosen to manifest
his attributes of creation, mercy, grace etc and he could have chosen
another one. But relative to us as human beings, we know that our
purpose is to worship Allâh. As we said, Allâh does not
need our worship, a Allâh didn’t need to create. When he created
us to worship him, he didn’t create us, out of a need for our worship,
because Allâh has no needs. In a famous hadîth qudsî in which Allâh says;
If all of you, jinn and mankind, were
to worship like the most righteous amongst you, it would not increase
the dominion of Allâh in any way shape or form. And if all of us,
jinn and mankind ...
Therefore when we look for the purpose of
worship, we have to look into man. Allâh created us to worship
him, because we need to worship him. It is something he has given us as
a means of benefiting ourselves. We are the ones who benefit from it.
Worship has been established, fundamentally for the growth, the
spiritual growth of man. This growth takes place through the
remembrance of Allâh. When you look at all the different aspects
of worship, you will see the core of it is focused on the remembrance
"Establish the prayer for
This is the essence for the
consciousness of God. Allâh says that he has:
"…prescribed for us
fasting, as he prescribed it for those before us, so that we may fear
Worship is there for us to remember
Allâh. And it is in the remembrance of Allâh, that we
achieve that consciousness. Because it is when we forget Allâh,
that Shaytân causes
us to disobey Allâh and fall into sin. So it is only in His
remembrance that we can attain salvation. All of the various acts of
worship from saying "Bismillâh" when we eat is to help us
remember Allâh in order to grow spiritually.
Allâh has said that he has created us to
test us, to see which of us is best in deeds. He is not testing us to
know, in the sense that he doesn’t already know, but this world
is a test for us in order again that we can grow spiritually.
We cannot develop this spiritual
characteristic of generosity unless some of us have more then others
and then we are required to give of the wealth we have. When we give,
we grow. Similarly, if we were not in a position where others had more
then us then we wouldn’t have the ability to develop the higher
spiritual quality of contentment, patience, satisfaction in what
Allâh has given us.
So it is all there in order to bring out the
higher spiritual qualities, which enable us to attain the state, which
makes us suitable and eligible to return to paradise. The paradise from
which we were created, we were created in paradise and for paradise.
Through our choices we have left, in this life, a field of testing,
where we can grow to a state where we deserve paradise.
The purpose of this life is the worship of
Allâh, this life is a test. A test for us, will we worship
Allâh, or will we forget Him. This is where our focus has to