SK11 – SEEN KAAF. PODCAST – What Is Your Noble Purpose?
Read full details below, transcribed. Therefore the wording often appears as it is spoken by our hosts. Please, listen to above podcast for full value.
Our noble purpose in life
In order to unpack the meaning of this verse inss (humans) and jinn (spirit world). God says,
“I only created jinn and men so that they worship me.” We went through two reformulations of the verse to shed light on one of the aspects. And there are as many aspects, of course, as God wants. Let’s focus now on the third potential reformulation. It could be reformulated as God saying,
“I have not created jinn and men so that they would occupy themselves with leading each other astray by expressing mutual animosities and satisfying their desires. But I created them to worship Me”.
I know of no better life purpose
Our Creator, expresses the fact that He created us, not to quarrel amongst ourselves, but to worship Him.
This is illustrated by the following verse in surah Bakarah, the second chapter of the Quran, verse number 102, “and they followed that which the devils falsely related about the kingdom of Solomon. Or there’s also in Fusilat, chapter 41, verse 29,
“and they were who? And they who were bent on denying the truth will exclaim ‘our Lord. Show us those among jinn and men who misled us. We shall crush them beneath our feet’”.
So these are the people who will complain on the day of judgment that they were misled. They will enter quarrels with others. Meanwhile, the accountability is squarely on us in this life. We are not to follow other beings to be led astray. The purpose of our life is certainly not that.
Our Creator, expresses the fact that He created us, not to quarrel amongst ourselves, but to worship Him. This is the highest purpose of our life. So once we have done that, we can make progress by reformulating the verse a fourth time. And this reformulation would be,
“I have not created jinn and men so that they would waste their lives and destroy themselves in the race for material goods. Quite the contrary. I have created them for an incomparably more noble purpose, so that they worship Me”.
That noble purpose is always to worship Him.
Isn’t it the highest form of honor that a Creator can be given?
But I think we should be reminded on what exactly entails the idea of worshipping.
This, the idea of worship, is what we need to make clear. Because one can live a very robust life on this course of just pure worship.
In fact, it is ideal.
Hence the importance of really understanding what worship is and how to do it correctly.
What worship really is.
We need to take a step back to contemplate and understand the information that revelation is giving us.
Because, as we said before, one might assume that it’s just sitting on your prayer mat, praying all day long. And they think that would be worship. But it’s not. It’s actually getting involved in the world, getting involved with people and with families and with trade and with commerce.
Yes, these are all aspects of life. Fortunately, our Lord gave us the keys to understand what true worship is conducting our activities through His revelation. So we need to take a step back to contemplate and understand the information that revelation is giving us and then understand what true worship is.
We will do this exercise of objectivity because we all want the truth. And what better source than the Quran to give us this information? So when we reformulate this in that way, “that we have not created you so that you would race towards material good and quite the contrary on a higher purpose”, we are getting there.
If we make an opinion poll and we present two different individuals to the population and we have, on the first hand,
- an individual that is very highly religious, spiritual person. Right. That has become highly sophisticated with regards to spiritual questions.
- And the second individual we present is a very materialistic person, is the very picture of material success, right. Through his wealth, his possessions, his influence that has no spirituality in him.
If we present these two individuals and we ask which of these two individuals seems to you to be the more advanced human being? Most certainly, barring preconceived notions about people, most will answer that the more advanced individual is the one who is spiritual.
- So is it a regression for a human being to be spiritual?
- Or is it, on the contrary, a mode of advancement?
- Can one consider the devotion of time to such questions of spirituality and the establishment of places of worship?
- Can we consider a society that is devoted to spirituality?
- Is it a decadence for humanity?
- Or is it, on the contrary, a blessing?
And to be clear, when we’re talking about dedicating ourselves to spirituality, we’re talking about dedicating ourselves to God and God’s mandates of what is expected and advised of us to do and to be as human beings. Yes. And when we see the remains of ancient civilizations, most remains are temples and places of worship.
This shows us why people of those times were considered sophisticated and refined human beings.
Purpose of life in Islam
Dedicating our lives to worshipping Allah is the ultimate highest form of spirituality.
When we find remains of rituals, et cetera, even neanderthal or previous times of humanity, the more we find proofs of their spiritual life, the way they buried their dead with beds of flowers and with some objects, for example, we have an idea of them being more elevated in their practices.
We learn throughout our studies in time that the more spirituality a society has, the more we learn that they are advanced. Definitely more advanced than a society that has no spirituality.
Then is there any humiliation whatsoever to dedicate our lives to the worshipping of Allah?
Because that is the ultimate highest form of spirituality.
Especially creation has elements that complement each other to form a perfect whole, where nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous. So each creature, from the lowest to the highest degrees, has a function. If these two creatures, man and jinn, compare themselves to other creatures in the creation, where they could look up towards the angels or downward towards the rest of the creation.
So if we compare ourselves to the angels, it would be a little bit narcissistic, right?
However it may be, that to compare oneself with the angels is of no help for a person who is disturbed by the verse. Because the angels worship Allah, full time without any problem whatsoever.
Because for the angels, they don’t have a choice. Yet, for men and jinn, there is a choice. Because we have the intellectual ability. We know they are the highest creatures, and we cannot really compare ourselves because of the question of choice. So the only choice we have would be to compare ourselves to what is lower.
Leading with noble purpose
We can we learn from the animal world?
And this opens the way for a fifth reformulation of the verse, which would be,
“I have not created jinn and man for them to submit to others. Not for them to carry others burdens. Not for food for each other. No, quite the contrary. I have given them the honor of worshipping me.”
Because when you think about it, all these creatures, like all the fish and the birds, etc, all form communities like we do, don’t they?
And like us, do they not feel and love?
And do they not hate?
We know from a hadith that a woman entered hell because of her bad treatment of a cat and didn’t a man go to paradise because he was good to a dog?
All of this was information provided to us by our prophet, which means we can make the choice to either be good or bad. Even if it’s on a level of animals or the planet. We just have to make the best choice everywhere we go. Just doing good. Exactly. But even that good has to be defined.
So that’s why it’s important to know the rules and the guidelines that God has sent to us through the scriptures so that we understand what really embraces the idea of good and what we think might be the idea of good, but may not necessarily be so.
Yes, but I think this very reformulation helps us to be grateful, because the first time you read this verse, you have this reaction, “is it only for that?” And once you’ve understood that He could have created us for other purposes than this. For example, He could have created us to be food for other creatures and this is something we don’t think about enough.
Like each time you kill a sheep, for example, you can’t help to be very sensitive to what you’re doing. Because interestingly, when you see it with your own eyes, or you do it yourself, you feel this sensitivity towards living beings. When you take the sheep’s life, you are wondering, how does this creature accept that?
And yes, it’s like they accept it when it’s done properly in the halal way of slaughtering animals. Where we have very strict rules. For example, when an animal is killed, other animals do not see. Yeah. That’s a part of the halal guideline. The approach that is used to slaughter them has to be merciful.
And when you see a proper halal slaughtering of an animal, it is so peaceful and you see the animals submitting to it and accepting it. I was very surprised when I observed this myself. There is not a whim of fighting it. It’s like it knows that its purpose is to nourish human beings.
These particular animals have been created by Allah to help us. We take our meat, we take our skin, and even our milk. And you can never get used to this, that you see a cow that is accepting to be milked every day. This is very moving. It’s like someone who just accepts its place, very low rank in a society.
Fish that are swimming in the ocean, eaten by other fish, are submitting to their obligations to God. This is under God’s rule.
Because these fish are made to be food for other creatures, right?
So look at the destiny of the animals around you. It is incredible what you can see in the eyes of an animal. Look at an animal that is in a zoo. That is not in its natural milieu. When I was living in Ivory Coast, I would often go to the zoo and it was not very far from the house. So from home I could hear elephants crying all day long.
This is monstrous, right?
Noble purpose examples
And there are so many anecdotes of animals who have clearly incredible behaviors.
Like a friend of mine went away for several years. He had a cat who loved him because he always played with him and they were close. On the day of his return, the cat went out of the house and waited the whole day in front of the house. It’s like it knew he was coming back after all these years.
Similar examples of animal feelings, is when you can see the horrified expression of the mother cat when some children are playing very roughly with her babies. And you really see that it’s not saying anything, but it’s really taking in something. Right. Because it’s got this maternal role yes, but also accepting its place.
They have feelings.
And also people notice when there is both a dog or a cat. The cat is jealous and is really not happy. So the idea is that you see yourself in these creatures, right? And you can say I’m not better than these ones, but Alhamdulillah, I thank God he created me to worship Him and not to have another place, another role.
Straying from the Straight Path: The Consequences of a Life of Vanity and Materialism
We have to revise the wrong concepts we have about what is worship.
Aren’t we informed in the Quran that all creation form communities like we do? Yes. They do.
And when we come to that realization that we are here to only worship God, then our decency towards these animals just expands because we know it’s pleasing to God.
And so then we go through life doing whatever we can to please God because we know that’s also best for us and best for creation. All of creation. Because all of creation, again, is made of parts that are fitting together in perfect harmony.
Each one has its place. It is of course not our choice. So all this reformulation, I think, allowed us to unpack a little bit of the meaning of this verse. There are very quick steps to get to the very heart of the matter. Which is understanding what worship is, in its truth.
In order to access to this truth, we have to revise the wrong concepts we have about what is worship, right? And build back a concept that is sound. Based on sound foundations. And once we do that and we have a clear concept of worshiping, we can travel into this concept as far as God wants.
There’s so much to unpack about that. Because traveling as far as God wants and traveling as far as we want sometimes don’t align. And we often go through life with a lot of barriers that we keep stumbling into. We keep hitting our head against walls and we just get so frustrated that it actually impacts our faith.
And we think God doesn’t love us, we’re not worthy, or, nothing good ever happens or I’m never going to get through this, type of thing. And I think at that point, this message of God creating us just to worship Him is probably the most profound because at that point you actually come to a place of contentment with whatever is happening and realize this too shall pass according to his perfect plan.
But understanding all of this needs encapsulate the concept of worshiping. What does that mean, really? Right, exactly.
Once again, only understanding what God meant when He says that He created us to worship Him. And how he meant for us to worship Him is the key.
It is the key that opens that door to a magical life. And I think we can say that from experience because we’ve gone through quite a few different paths in our journey to perhaps get to the point of understanding the importance of worshiping God.
And of course, it’s work in progress. We’re always working at it to be better at worshiping God so that we can have a more content life. Which doesn’t mean that everything’s always peachy, every single day.
The ups and down happen because this life is full of tests and this life is full of hurdles. But it is how we go through those tests and hurdles and of course, the good times that really reflect where we’re at in this approach to just worshiping God and God alone.