Is pursuing worldly provisions the sole purpose of our lives, or is there any greater meaning to our existence?
KHAN MAMOON AHMAD, QADIAN
FEBRUARY 21, 2021
Since the inception of mankind, humans have been progressing in all spheres of life. Man has been continuously expanding his horizon so much so that he conquered the earth and is now planning to colonize neighbouring planets.
From a materialistic prism and frame of reference, the discoveries and inventions man made in the short course of his existence adequately attest to his revolutionary progress while from a moral perspective, these achievements alone do not qualify to be termed as progress in the actual sense. Because teleologically, man can be said to be progressing only if he is moving towards fulfilling the purpose of his creation, which in religious terms, is to lead a righteous and peaceful life.
In view of this, when we examine the history of man, we find that while man was advancing far and wide in material aspects, we also find his history to be replete with many wars, conquests and invasions which always proved to be dreadful.
Hence, upon reflecting on all of these facts, a religious person is compelled to ask if man has ever thought about the purpose of his creation. Has he been tolerant and compassionate towards his fellow beings or was he living a life controlled by greed and cupidity? Because, although man has evolved as the strongest creature on earth, his actions have been bearing witness to his moral decline.
We know that man is referred to as ‘the progeny of Adam’ in Abrahamic religions. But, have we contemplated on what it means to be the progeny of Adam? Is it just to live our lives in pursuit of worldly provisions or is there any greater meaning and purpose behind our existence?
From a materialistic point of view, man is just an organized system of molecules brought into existence by the unguided hands of chance. Hence, it would be difficult to find any non-physical purpose to man’s life in such a worldview. Furthermore, the absence of absolute accountability emanating from the denial of the afterlife also contributes to the incontinent nature of man’s actions in this world. This has been beautifully illustrated in the Holy Quran. The disbelievers say:
There is no life other than our present life; we were lifeless and now we live, but we shall not be raised up again.
Although morality is man’s innate quality, the above belief is sure to not encourage him to abide by moral principles. Instead, such a belief will only contribute to weakening man’s moral values.
Religion, on the other hand, reminds man that his life is not without purpose. It encourages him to lead a righteous life and urges him to be a beneficial being for the whole of mankind.
It is this sublime principle that the Holy Quran refers to when it addresses man as ‘the progeny of Adam’ because Adam, according to the Holy Quran, was the first Prophet sent by God for the reformation of mankind. He was the first to devote his life for the cause of humanity and who reminded man of the purpose of his creation.
Hence, being the progeny of Adam, man should reform himself and lead his life in a way that is beneficial for mankind. To care for others is what it means to inherit Adam. To be righteous is what it means to follow his legacy. The Holy Quran says:
O children of Adam! …. The raiment of righteousness is the best.
Hence, given that the purpose of our life is to create a peaceful world, we should strive to attain that goal and let not any emotion prevent us from doing so. When we look at the situation of the world, we find that man’s greed to acquire more than what he deserves is demolishing the peace in society.
In view of this, Islam reminds man that worldly provisions should not distract him from remembering God which will eventually divert him from the real purpose of life. The Holy Quran admonishes:
O ye who believe! Let not your wealth and your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. And whoever does so – it is they who are the losers.
The Holy Quran also teaches man to be contented with what he has been bestowed and advises him to be free from greed. It admonishes him to refrain from looking at the wealth of others. It says:
And strain not thy eyes after what We have bestowed on some classes of them to enjoy for a short time — the splendour of the present world — that We may try them thereby. And the provision of thy Lord is better and more lasting.
Similarly, the Holy Prophetsa warned his followers in relation to greed and advised them saying:
Beware of greed, for it was only greed that destroyed those before you. It commanded them to be miserly and they did so. It commanded them to sever their family ties and they did so. It commanded them to behave wickedly and they did so.
Hence, in order to create a peaceful world and fulfil the purpose of our creation, we have to let go of our greed and show concern for humanity. Disregard for other’s rights and the incontinent pursuit of worldly pleasures are a cobweb woven by Satan which, if we insist on staying in, will undoubtedly annihilate us.
Hence, being the best of God’s creation, we should develop in ourselves deep love, sympathy and compassion for mankind so that we may become deserving to be called ‘the progeny of Adam’ in the true sense.
The author is a graduate from Jamia Ahmadiyya Qadian, the Ahmadiyya Institute of Languages and Theology, and currently serves as a missionary in Qadian.
 Holy Quran 23: 38
 Holy Quran 7: 27
 Holy Quran 63: 10
 Holy Quran 20: 132
 Sunan Abi Dawud 1698