Purpose Of Our Existence

Ustaz Ahmad Ibrahim Ehwaas

This Lecture has been given by Mr. Ahmed Ibrahim Ehwass on Sunday 22nd May 1977, at the Queenstown Mosque.

In the name of Allah Most Gracious, Most Merciful

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَجَعَلَ الظُّلُمَاتِ وَالنُّورَ ۖ ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ يَعْدِلُونَ – 6:1

هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن طِينٍ ثُمَّ قَضَىٰ أَجَلًا ۖ وَأَجَلٌ مُّسَمًّى عِندَهُ ۖ ثُمَّ أَنتُمْ تَمْتَرُونَ – 6:2

وَهُوَ اللَّهُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَفِي الْأَرْضِ ۖ يَعْلَمُ سِرَّكُمْ وَجَهْرَكُمْ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا تَكْسِبُونَ – 6:3

Alhamdu lillahi allathee khalaqa assamawati wal-arda wajaAAala aththulumati wannoora thumma allatheena kafaroo bi rabbihim yaAAdiloon. Huwa allathee khalaqakum min teen inthumma qada ajalan waajalun musamman AAindahu thumma antum tamtaroon. Wahuwa Allahu fee assama watiwafee al-ardi yaAAlamu sirrakum wajahrakum wayaAAlamu mataksiboon

“Praise be to Allah, who created the heavens and the earth, and made the darkness and the light. Yet those who reject faith hold (others) as equal with their Guardian Lord.  He it is who created you from clay and then decreed a stated term (for you) and there is in His presence another determined term. Yet ye doubt within yourselves And He is Allah in the heavens and on earth. He knoweth what ye hide, and what ye reveal, and He knoweth the (recompense) which ye earn (by your deeds)” S (6/1-3) 

Peace be upon the Prophet Muhammad, son of Abdullah, the ear of goodness which received the last message from Allah, and was the tongue of truth who conveyed – on behalf of Allah – the selected system of life for the people. He started his prophecy by the word اقْرَأْ  – Iqra [Read] and his message by

قُمْ فَأَنذِرْ – 74:2

وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ – 74:3

Qum faanthir Warabbaka fakabbir

“Arise and deliver the warning, and thy Lord do thou magnify” (74/2-3).

May Allah recompense him the best reward for the achievement of his duty according to the commandments of Allah without any misconstruction or any misinterpretation. He explained the religion of Allah at the will of Allah. And peace be upon all prophets of Allah who came to explain this fact: -­

ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنَّ مَا يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِهِ هُوَ الْبَاطِلُ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْكَبِيرُ – 22:62

Thalika bi-anna Allaha huwa alhaqqu waanna ma yadAAoona min doonihi huwa albatilu waanna Allaha huwa alAAaliyyu alkabeer

“That is because Allah-He is the Reality:  and those beside Him whom they invoke.  They are but vain falsehood.  Verily Allah is He Most High, Most Great.” 22/62

which, (in this emphatic construction) calls attention to the fact that Allah is the only abiding reality, all else is like shadows that will pass away, and our vain imagination, groundless doubts, foolish subtleties, and false worship should all give place to trust and faith in the one and only reality.

This is the first question -question of existence -which the human mind should be engaged with. I say human mind, not only the mind of believers, because the believers’ minds have already found the answer and believe in this absolute reality.  Mankind should search carefully in the universe and find out his position in this world.  If one does not know his position in this world, that means he does not know himself, and if so, that means he misused his mind and spoiled his life. I do not mean that he should know his name and age and height and so on, but, what everyone should ask himself and should try to know is – Why do know some things and do not know so many other things? Why am I able to do some things and unable to do others? Why do I have a choice in some cases and am obliged in others? Why and Why and Why? It seems the answer is not very easy, and mankind is to rather complicated instrument.  He is a mystery to himself and to others who do not know him.

If we look in our deeds, what makes us know and ignore, what makes us able and unable, what gives us the option and forces us?

If we are by our nature qualified to know, we might get the whole knowledge, if we are by our nature qualified to be almighty, we must not be conquered, and so on….

There are two cases, knowledge and ignorance, ability and disability, choice and obligation, and these things do not come by themselves. Some one is giving them and directs them, I should say – grants them. But who? As long as we are not commanding these things, and these things are not commanding themselves, it must be a tremendous and a bigger power that is controlling them and giving them to us. This power is Allah, the Almighty. Once we know this, we should not hesitate in strengthening the relationship with Him because He is the Most Great and Most High. He is the Lord of the Universe, and by that we know our position which is the position of His servants who should know how to serve and how to worship. If one does not know this reality and does not try to know it, he is not making use of his mind, and his life has no value. What is the value of one who does not know himself or his position in the life rather than his duty?

The Muslim knows his stand and his duty. He knows the purpose of his being in this world; because he realizes Allah the Creator, and he has to worship Him -in other words to fulfill his duty in this life. That is the duty which has been given by Allah who says in the Holy Qur’an:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ – 51:56

مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ – 51:57

إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِينُ – 51:58

Wama khalaqtu aljinna wal-insailla li yaAAbudoon. Ma oreedu minhum min rizqin wamaoreedu an yutAAimoon. Inna Allaha huwa arrazzaquthoo alquwwati almateen.

“I have only created Jinns and men that they may serve me. No substance do I require of them nor do I require that they should feed me, For Allah is He who gives (all) substance, Lord of powers steadfast.” (51/56-58)

Which means, Creation is not for idle sport or play. Allah has a serious purpose behind it, which in our imperfect state we can only express by saying that each creature is given the chance of development and progress towards the goal, which is Allah. Allah is the source and centre of all power and all goodness and our progress depends upon our putting ourselves into accord with His will. This is His service, it is not of any benefit to Him, it is for our benefit. Allah is independent of all needs, He commands all powers, therefore, any power we seek must be from Him and His help is always sure because His power is steadfast, the same today as yesterday and forever. His guidance and His mercy are very near and comprehensive for everything.

Let us deal with the matter in another way. If one wants to locate his position in this world scientifically, he will know that the universe according to the ideas of the materialists and scientists consists of:

  1. Minerals, or inorganic substance.
  2. Vegetable Kingdom.
  3. Animal Kingdom.
  4. Mankind.

Each of these has a task, but at the same time each one of them surpasses the other in characteristics and in duties. The lowest of them is the mineral or the inorganic substance. If Allah – ­the Originator – gives the peculiarity of the nature of growing to any element of this sort, it becomes something else: it becomes a plant – change to another sort -vegetable. If Allah the Almighty gives this sort the peculiarity and nature of feeling it becomes a new sort, it becomes an animal. After that it becomes another kind ~ with a collection of peculiarities of the mineral, the vegetable and the animal, besides the peculiarity of sense and the ability of understanding – and that is mankind, that is you and you and me. Therefore mankind surpasses all the other creation in this world because he has a mind.

But what is the duty of his intellect? Its duty is to choose between the substitutes. It has no duty if there is not substitution. All other sorts have no choice; they are created for certain duties. One may ask this question. Who gave mankind the choice and gave the other sorts the obligation? Who gave mankind the right to use these sorts, which sometimes he is unable to reach? For instance, we benefited by using the sun without reaching it, and so many other things. If we go a little further, the duties of the mineral and inorganic substance are to feed the vegetable, the vegetable’s duties are to feed the animals and mankind, the animal’s duties are to serve mankind who can use all Allah’s creations for his need.

What about the duties of the human being? If Humans have no duty in this life that means all of the other sorts are better than him. But I think his being in this world is more than this in importance, and because he has a mind his duties should be bigger and greater.  As I have shown each lower sort serving the higher, therefore the human should serve something superior to him otherwise he is the insignificant being in the universe.  But I have shown previously, that the human is the master of the other sorts, so I think he has duties, and his duty is to serve the power which controls all of these sorts. This power is nothing but Allah, The Greatest, and The Originator of everything.

We cannot go beyond this in using our minds and substantials to examine and to touch and to infer. If one tries to act without the guidance and help of Allah, he may miss the way. That is why Allah sent the messengers. As He says in the Holy Qur’an

وَمَا نُرْسِلُ الْمُرْسَلِينَ إِلَّا مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ ۖ فَمَنْ آمَنَ وَأَصْلَحَ فَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ – 6:48

Wama nursilu almursaleena illa mubashshireena wa munthireena faman amana waaslaha fala khawfun AAalayhim wala hum yahzanoon

We send the Apostles only to give good news and to warn. Who believe and mend (their lives) upon them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve“. 6/48.

Which means, the Apostles are not sent to cancel man’s limited free will, they are sent to preach and teach – to preach hope to the repentant “good news” and to warn the rebellious of the wrath to come, and of course to explain to the people the unique reality and the unique religion, to show the people and to guide them along the way of Allah.

So, if you hear a propagator telling you about the Almighty Allah – it is the responsibility of every Muslim; to convey the Islamic call – you have to listen to him and to follow him to connect yourself with the biggest and greatest power in the universe, otherwise you are wasting your present life and you may lose the hereafter. I am not saying to follow anyone, or to accept any call but the right end the truth are evident and clear and anyone who lays by his desires and looks seriously for the matter Allah will guide Him to the straight way.

Let us come to this point. In the Holy Qur’an Allah says:

أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَسْجُدُ لَهُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَن فِي الْأَرْضِ وَالشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ وَالنُّجُومُ وَالْجِبَالُ وَالشَّجَرُ وَالدَّوَابُّ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنَ النَّاسِ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ حَقَّ عَلَيْهِ الْعَذَابُ ۗ وَمَن يُهِنِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِن مُّكْرِمٍ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَفْعَلُ مَا يَشَاءُ – 22:18

Alam tara anna Allaha yasjudu lahuman fee assamawati waman fee al-ardi washshamsu walqamaru wannujoomu waljibalu washshajaru waddawabbu wakatheerun min aannasi wakatheerun haqqa AAalayhi alAAathabu waman yuhini Allahu fama lahu min mukrimin inna Allaha yafAAalu ma yasha

“Seest thou not, that to Allah,bow down in worship all things that are in the heavens and on earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, the hills, the trees, the animals and a great number among mankind? But a great number are (also) such as are fit for punishment: and such as Allah shall disgrace, None can raise to honour, for Allah carries out all that He wills.” (22/18).

This means all created things, animate and inanimate, depend on Allah for their existence, and this dependence can be construed as their bowing down in worship. Their very existence proclaims their dependence. How can they be objects of worship? But if we look to this (Ayat) we find …

  1. Things are in the heavens and on earth pointing to Angels and Jinns ••••• unseen.
  2. The sun, the moon, the stars, the hills pointing to inorganic substance.
  3. Trees pointing to vegetable kingdom.
  4. Animals.
  5. Great number among mankind (not all of them).

Why? Because Allah gave them the ability of choice without determinism or compulsion. Only He shows them by the messengers the righteousness and the unrighteous, what they have to do it they want to gratify Allah, and their deeds if they neglect etc. If mankind uses his mind properly he will not go astray, but sometimes he misuses it and commits evil. That happens when the soul’s desires overcome the mind and screen it from seeing the truth, by that time, the mind ceases to practice its leadership on the human person and the desires, any kind of desire, start to control and lead; the desires always preferring the nearest gains regardless of the ways and means of achievement.

In other words, preferring anything in this life without looking to the hereafter. That is always the problem, when the unqualified receive leadership. This does not mean to make illicit everything in this life but only to avoid evil, wickedness, harm to one’s self and others. Someone may say that religion limits our amusement in this life and puts many restrictions – and I say, this is not true, the religion means system and discipline and the system is to put everything in order, to organise the relations between Allah and the people and among them.

So that the religion of Islam understanding does not deal with the soul only, but it controls all sides of life, actually it is the way of life for that it consists of three aspects.

  1. Faith (Iman) which means to believe in Allah and His Prophets, His Angels, His scriptures, the Last Day, fate and destiny. These come as commandments from Allah through his Messengers, without any diligence and we have to accept it as a self-evident truth. Islam means surrender.
  2. Worship or devotion – Also comes from Allah as teachings the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) explained and practiced, and we have only to follow, means, the worship of Allah should be as the way which has been inspired to his Prophet (u.w.b.p. and blessing of Allah). No one has the right to change or to contrive. Worship ordinances in Islam are:
    1. Salah (Prayers) at least five times a day and should be done in the same way which Prophet Muhammad (u.w.b.p) had teached his followers and as it is evident in his Sunnah.
    2. Zakat (Charity) in particular system at least 21/2% of capital annually.
    3. Siam (Fast) at least during the 9th month of the Islamic year month of Ramadan.
    4. Pilgrimage to the Sacred town (Mecca) at least once in the life if one can afford it.
    5. Invite all Islam, struggling to reach the whole world by suitable means, but not to force anyone to be Muslim. Our duty is to let him know what Islam is, not only this, but to show the Islamic conduct.
    6. Enjoining righteousness and forbidding evil, as it is clearly evident in the Holy Qur’an and Prophet’s instruction. These and some others are the duties, ordinances and still there are the volunteering worships as they are detailed in the Islamic books.
  3. Treatment or dealing in the life. In this aspect Allah Almighty described only the main principles and gave details for the fixed relations only which do not change ever, and in fact, has left very good opportunity for the people themselves to arrange according to their needs within the main fundamentals which forbid transgression and injustice, and promote relations among people. So that Islam is suitable for all times and all places. Therefore, anyone who breaks these rule maltreats himself or others, and of course, those who keep themselves steadfast to the commandments of Allah, are doing better particularly for themselves, because regardless of how long one lives, and regardless of how much unlawful enjoyment he gets, it will be very little compared with the reward and the happiness in the paradise of Allah in the hereafter.  So that Allah says قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ – 23:1  “Qad aflaha almuminoon – The believers must eventually win through” 23/1 which means, prosper, succeed, achieve their aims, or obtain salvation from sorrow and all evil.

Let us conclude. We have known that Allah is the only reality, the Creator, the Ruler and the Lord of the Universe. He created mankind, provided them with temporary station in this part of His vast Kingdom (Universe) which is known as the earth. He has endowed mankind with faculties of thinking and understanding and has given him the power to distinguish right from wrong. Mankind has also been invested with freedom of will and choice and power to use the resources of the world in any manner he likes, he has been given a sort of autonomy while being appointed God’s vicegerent on the earth.

We know that Allah is the Sustainer and the Deity and mankind should follow His Guidance and His commands in all walks of life because they are going to be judged. One will get success in this world and in the next.  In this world by having a life of peace, and in the hereafter one will qualify himself for paradise if he follows the course of piety and Godliness, otherwise his life will be one of corruption, disruption and frustration in this world and he will meet misfortune in the life to come, abode of pain misery – Hell. In both courses, he is free to choose and follow.

But someone may ask Who is Allah? Where is He? What does He look like? Many questions of this type.  It is not difficult to answer these questions but before that I have to draw your attention to some facts: –

  1. Allah Almighty we cannot touch by hands but we can reach with our minds and our minds only.
  2. We cannot find anything unless we start searching for it.
  3. If one does not know something, it does not mean that thing does not exist.

Therefore, we can only find Allah when we start to look for him with our minds, our spiritual sense, which makes us higher than other forms of creation, and qualify us to deal directly with Allah the Superior Who describes Himself in the Holy Qur’an:

اللَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ ۚ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ ۚ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ ۚ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ ۖ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ ۚ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ ۖ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ – 2:255

Allahu la ilaha illahuwa alhayyu alqayyoomu la ta khuthuhusinatun wala nawmun lahu ma fee assamawati wama fee al-ardi man tha allathee yashfaAAu AAindahu illa bi-ithnihi yaAAlamu mabayna aydeehim wama khalfahum wala yuheetoona bishay-in min AAilmihi illa bima shaawasiAAa kursiyyuhu assamawati wal-arda wala yaooduhu hifthuhuma wahuwa alAAaliyyu alAAatheem

Allah there is no God but He, The Living, the Self-subsisting Eternal, no slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His is all things in the heavens and on earth.  Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they encompass aught of his knowledge except as He willeth; His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them, for He is the Most High, The Supreme in (glory)” S 2/255

In fact the meaning of these words is greater than can be expressed in words. But we must know that the attributes of Allah are so different from anything we know in our present world, that we have to be content with understanding that the only fit word by which we can name Him is HE – the pronoun standing for His name ALLAH.

He lives but His life is self-subsisting and eternal, it does not depend upon other beings and it is not limited to time and space. Perhaps the attribute of الْقَيُّومُ “Qaiyum” includes not only the idea of “self-subsisting” but also the idea of keeping up and maintaining all life. His life being the source and constant support for all derived forms of life. Perfect life is perfect activity, in contrast to the imperfect life which we see around us. His activity like His life is perfect. There is no need for rest or sleep. His life is absolute life, His being is absolute being. He is the absolute reality…. He is everything. Allah’s knowledge is absolute, and is not contained by time or space. Everything is working from Allah’s power and will and authority, everything including spiritual things as well as things of sense.

Also He says:

هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ ۖ هُوَ الرَّحْمَٰنُ الرَّحِيمُ – 59:22

هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْمَلِكُ الْقُدُّوسُ السَّلَامُ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْمُهَيْمِنُ الْعَزِيزُ الْجَبَّارُ الْمُتَكَبِّرُ ۚ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ – 59:23

هُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ ۖ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ – 59:24


Huwa Allahu allathee lailaha illa huwa AAalimu alghaybi washshahadati huwa arrahmanu arraheem. Huwa Allahu allathee lailaha illa huwa almaliku alquddoosu assalamualmuminu almuhayminu alAAazeezu aljabbaru almutakabbiru subhana Allahi AAamma yushrikoon. Huwa Allahu alkhaliqu albari-o almusawwiru lahu al-asmao alhusna yusabbihu lahu ma fee assamawati wal-ardi wa huwa alAAazeezu alhakeem

Allah is He, than Whom, there is no other god, Who knows (all things) both secret and open, He Most Gracious, Most Merciful.  Allah is He, than whom, there is no other god the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace  (and Perfection) the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver, of Safety, the Exalted in Might, the Irresistible, the Supreme, Glory to Allah (High is He) above the partners they attribute to him.  He is Allah, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of forms (or colours) to Him belong the Most beautiful names, whatever is in the heavens and on earth doth declare His Praises and. Glory and He is the Exalted in might the Wise. 59/22-24

Now I come to answer the questions which I have asked before in a few words. It is beyond the capacity of our five senses to find Him, but if we use our minds and our feeling we will realize that He is very close to us. Exactly like our breath and our feeling which we cannot see, but without which we cannot live.

Allah says: ­

لَّا تُدْرِكُهُ الْأَبْصَارُ وَهُوَ يُدْرِكُ الْأَبْصَارَ ۖ وَهُوَ اللَّطِيفُ الْخَبِيرُ – 6:103

قَدْ جَاءَكُم بَصَائِرُ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ ۖ فَمَنْ أَبْصَرَ فَلِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَنْ عَمِيَ فَعَلَيْهَا ۚ وَمَا أَنَا عَلَيْكُم بِحَفِيظٍ – 6:104

La tudrikuhu al-absaru wahuwa yudriku al-absara wahuwa allateefu alkhabeer. Qad jaakum basa-iru min rabbikum faman absara falinafsihi waman AAamiya faAAalayha wama ana AAalaykum bihafeeth

“No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. He is above all comprehension. Yet is acquainted with all things. Now have come to you from your Lord proofs (to open your eyes). If any will see it will be for (the good of) his own soul.  If any will be blind, it will be to his own (harm). I am not (here) to watch over your doings.” 6/103-104

I am saying this, and seek guidance and ask forgiveness from Allah for me and you.  May He bless us.