Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari
Question: A sister is very disorientated with life nowadays, and is questioning her existence. Why exactly was the world made? Why did Allah need people on this earth? Why make humans, when He had angels? Why not make them all Muslims and the world a happy place? The sister is under the impression that she would prefer to be a robot than a person with free will.
Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Praise be to Allah. May Allah’s peace and blessings bestow upon our beloved Prophet, his family, companions, and those who follow them.
Sometimes when someone questions the very purpose of life, their doubt is a manifestation of other issues, some of which may go back to the person’s faith, and the strength or weakness thereof.
These are all important concerns that I will try to address to the best of my ability.
1. The purpose of our creation: Allah says, I did not create the jinn and mankind except for My worship.[51:56] Allah created us with fitra, a pure, primordial nature that seeks to return to its Lord. This innate fitra in the human being desires only to worship Allah. As Muslims, our purpose in life is profound, yet simple. We strive to bring all aspects of our outer and inner beings in complete conformity with what Allah has commanded.
Allah did not create us because He needs us. He is beyond all needs. We are in need of Allah. The wisdom of our creation is known only to Allah. It is not for us to question the wisdom of the Divine. Rather, we say, “We hear and obey.” The angels themselves asked Allah, “And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth, they said: Wilt thou place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Thy praise and sanctify Thee ? He said: Surely I know that which ye know not.”[2:30]
Our creation is one of the signs of Allah. According to the tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Allah favored us by mentioning us before He had even created us. Ibn Kathir interprets the meaning of ” Surely I know that which ye know not,” as: “I know that the benefit of creating this type of creature outweighs the harm that you mentioned, that which you have no knowledge of. I will create among them prophets and send messengers. I will also create among them the truthful, martyrs, righteous believers, worshippers, the modest, the pious, the scholars who implement their knowledge, humble people and those who love Allah and follow His Messengers.”
2. Even if the whole world were Muslim, would we necessarily be happy? Happiness comes from inside. Allah purposely created us with linguistic, ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious diversity. Allah says in the Qur’an, “Had Allah willed He could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which He hath given you (He hath made you as ye are). So vie one with another in good works. Unto Allah ye will all return, and He will then inform you of that wherein ye differ.” [5:48]
This diversity is one of the signs of Allah’s greatness. In all our difference and variation, He sent us divine guidance in the form of books and messengers. Encountering people who hold different beliefs from ours should not discourage us. Rather, this should strengthen our faith and encourage us to study our way of life more deeply.
3. As Muslims, we are required to believe in Allah’s decree or predestination. Part of Allah’s decree is that human beings have limited free will. It is wrong to say that we have no free will whatsoever. For example, Allah knew that I would sit down and type this question. Based on His knowledge, He facilitated the means for me, such as my computer and my chair. However, I made the choice to sit down and answer this particular question at this particular time, when I could have chosen otherwise.
Allah rewards or punishes based on the choices we make. He knows whether we will make good choices or bad ones. However, He leaves it up to us to pick from a vast array of choices in how we live our lives. Please tell your friend to sit down and count the blessings Allah has given her; she’ll never be able to, because they are too numerous. Why wish to be created as a robot? Robots don’t have hearts, souls, or minds. It is the presence of these qualities that makes us human. For this, we should thank Allah.
I pray this is of benefit.
And Allah alone knows best.
[Ustadha] Zaynab Ansari
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq is a native Southerner with Northern roots. She spent several years studying the core Islamic sciences, including Arabic, jurisprudence, Qur’anic recitation & commentary, Hadith, and Prophetic biography in Damascus, Syria at Abu Nour Masjid’s college preparatory program. Upon her return to the United States, she continued her Islamic studies privately with Shaykh Khalil Abdur-Rashid, Imam of New York’s Iqra Masjid, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, educational director of SeekersGuidance, Shaykh Jamal Ud-Deen Hysaw, and Dr. Fareeha Khan, Assistant Professor of Religion & Anthropology at Willamette University.