Is the Purpose of Life Entertainment?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I recently became committed to Islam however before this and for much of my life I spent alot of time with people who strongly believed that the purpose of life was entertainment.

How do you get through to someone who believes life has no greater purpose and how can I break this within myself?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. Thank you for your question.

Modern culture is aggressively geared towards entertainment and making the most of this life in terms of worldly matters. Unfortunately, this is the opposite of the true meaning of the temporal life on earth, which is a mere test and a bridge to the real life in the Hereafter.

This World

Life on earth is not for entertainment, but rather it has been created with Divine Wisdom and for great and sublime purposes. Allah Most High says ‘And We created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, for mere play.’ [44:38].

Yet, at the same time this worldly life has also been created as a place of distraction in order to test us, and to differentiate between those who seek the truth and those who ignore it.

Allah the Exalted has said, ‘Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion. Race toward forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden whose width is like the width of the heavens and earth, prepared for those who believed in Allah and His messengers.’ [57: 21- 22]

The Purpose of Life

The purpose of life, as you rightly mention, is to worship Allah, for Allah Most High has said, ‘And I created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me’ [51:56]. However, this is not because Allah has any need of our worship, but rather, He ‘Has created death and life that He may test you which of you is best in deed.’[67:2]

Ultimately then, God has created us to worship Him because He has made it the means to for our success, to gain His Mercy, and that He may bestow his infinite Generosity and Bounty on us. It is us then who benefit and are in need of worshipping Him.

Of those who ignore the worship and remembrance of Allah, He Most High says, ‘Then woe unto those whose hearts are hardened against remembrance of Allah. Such are in plain error.’ [39:22], and ‘Leave them to eat and enjoy, and let them be preoccupied with [false] hope. They will come to know!’ [15:3]

How to Remember the Purpose of Earthly Life

Read Quran: Every believer should have an amount of Qur’an they read daily, even if little. The Qur’an is God’s direct words to man and contains the message that we need to succeed in both worlds. Reading it daily reminds us constantly of our purpose in life and that this life is just a passing phase, for this is the purpose of the revelation itself. As Allah says, ‘We have not sent down the Qur’an unto you to cause you distress, but only as a Reminder to those who fear [Allah]’ [20:1-2]

Reflect on Death: The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Remember often the destroyer of pleasures [meaning death]. Never does a servant remember it during hardship except that it will become easier for him, and never does he not remember it during ease except that it will become harder for him,’ [Ibn Hibban]. I would recommend reading Imam al Ghazali’s ‘The Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife’ which has been translated by the Cambridge Text Society.

Knowledge: Seeking religious knowledge builds one certainty in the triviality of this world compared to the next. Please seek out local classes in sciences such as belief, fiqh, tafsir, and seerah. If you there are no local scholars available, then consider taking a course with us at SeekersHub. You can find our courses here.

Company: Seek out the company of people who are serious about their religious practice. However, being religious doesn’t mean not joking or not having fun at all. In fact, being playful and seeking out lawful entertainment can be recommended, within limits. Please read the following answer:

How Can I Find Balance in Religious Practice?

May Allah grant us all a life full of good deeds and accept it from us, and honour us with a good ending in life.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.