What Is the Purpose of This World?

Answered by Ustadh Sufyan Qufi


Allah is Powerful and the One who guides; why did He (Most High) not guide all of mankind and make them upright? Why did Allah place us here to be tested when He could have made all of us upright in the first place by His will?

What is the purpose of being tested, sinning, disobeying Allah, and so on? Why does hell exist when everyone could have been in paradise in the first place?


In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

I pray this finds you in the best of states.

Allah, Most High, is not only the One who guides but also leads astray.

Allah, Most High, says: “Had Allah willed, He could have easily made you one community (of believers), but He leaves to stray whoever He wills and guides whoever He wills. And you will certainly be questioned about what you used to do.” [Quran, 16:93]  

Allah, Most High, has chosen to test us, to allow us to sin, punish some of us in Hell, and so forth instead of making all of us upright or creating us directly in Paradise simply because He has chosen to do so.

We Have No Right to Question Allah on Anything He Does

Human beings and the rest of the creation belong to Allah, Most High. He has created us; thus, He owns us. You don’t belong to yourself. Your body and soul are not yours because you didn’t create yourself. These things belong to Allah, Most High, the One who has created them.

Allah, Most High, says: “To Allah (alone) belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And Allah is Fully Aware of everything.” [Quran, 4:26]

After accepting that, you will realize deep down in your heart that Allah, Most High, has the right to do with His creation whatever He chooses to do with it without being questioned about it because whatever He chooses to do with His creation, He will have acted as an owner dealing with His own property. Thus He has the right to do with it anything He wants, and Him being unjust is simply impossible.

If you decide to open your fridge and eat the ice cream in it, nobody can accuse you of committing a crime. If you enter your neighbor’s house, open his fridge without his consent, and eat his ice cream, you are now being unjust, and what you are doing is morally wrong and blameworthy. This scenario is not conceivable for Allah, Most High, because anything else besides Him is His creation. He will never break the right of anyone else because no one has any rights over Him.

Allah, Most High, says: “He cannot be questioned about what He does, but they will (all) be questioned.” [Quran, 21:23]

This is why Imam al-Ghazali (may Allah be pleased with him) mentions in his book, Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din, that if Allah, Most High, would have created all of humanity directly in hell, without even giving them the possibility to avoid it, He would not have acted unjustly because human beings, as with the rest of creation, belong to Him.

After realizing this, we should start to recognize how merciful Allah, Most High, is by simply not torturing us from the start. We should also realize that He didn’t have to create us in the first place and that the mere fact of choosing to bring us into existence is a tremendous gift and a pure act of generosity for which we have no claim.

The gift of life is priceless, and before coming into existence, you had no fee to pay… but here you are on earth with a body and a soul, breathing and living without having done anything whatsoever to deserve that.

Allah, Most High, says: “If you tried to count Allah’s blessings, you would never be able to number them. Surely Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Quran, 16:18]

Human Beings and Sins

You have asked why Allah, Most High, has not guided all of us and created all of us upright.

The thing is that this type of creation already exists. They are called angels, and they never sin. Allah, Most High, has created angels in such a way that the possibility of sinning doesn’t even cross their minds.

As for human beings, they do sin. And the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him) has said in this regard:

“By the One in whose hand is my soul, if you did not sin, Allah would replace you with people who would sin, and they would seek forgiveness from Allah and He would forgive them. [Muslim]

There is tremendous wisdom behind the fact that we do sin. A wisdom that we will try to appreciate at the end of this answer.

The Real Wisdom behind the Creation

The reality is that there is only one being in an absolute and totally independent existence. This being is Allah, Most High. The existence of anything besides Him is merely possible and is totally reliant on Allah’s choice to create them or not at each second.

Nothing in the creation has an independent existence at any point in time. You exist right now because Allah, Most High, has chosen for your to exist. If Allah, Most High, decides for you not to exist anymore, the next second, He can, and you will go from existence to nothingness without the possibility to do anything about it.

Allah, Most High, says: “Say, (O Prophet,) ‘He is Allah—One (and Indivisible); Allah—the Sustainer (needed by all).’” [Quran, 112:1-2]

This means that we are – you, me, and all of the rest of the creation – merely actions of Allah, Most High, because at each moment, we are in existence simply because Allah has willed for us to exist. In other words, the only things in existence are Allah, Most High, and His actions, i.e., His creations.

And this is how we should look at the world around us (and in us!): Allah, Most High, acting and manifesting Himself through His creation. And then, we can start to know Allah and appreciate who He is.

The mere act of creating something, bringing something from nothingness to existence, is an act of Mercy. He is thus the Merciful (al-Rahman). And anywhere you look around you, you will see Allah, Most High, manifesting Himself to you and His other creations through His name al-Rahman. You can also, simply by looking at the creation, appreciate His name, “the Omnipotent” (al-Qadir), and so forth.

He has given you the gift of faith in Him and His Messenger (Blessings and peace be upon him). Thus, He is manifesting Himself to you through His name, “the Guide” (al-Hadi).

In fact, there is no limit to appreciating Allah’s manifestations in His creation and witnessing them.

Allah, Most High, says: “Allah has the Most Beautiful Names. So call upon Him by them, and keep away from those who abuse His Names. They will be punished for what they used to do.” [Quran, 7:180]

And the real wisdom behind creation is here:

Without Allah, Most High, creating the creation, His Names and Attributes would not have been manifested externally and would have remained hidden.

Nonetheless, the perfection of Allah, Most High, beautiful Names demand to be manifested in the external world. Allah knows from beginningless eternity that He will create the universe in such a way, thus manifesting Himself in it with such Names and Attributes. It would be absurd that His Knowledge about His creations wouldn’t be realized in the external reality, as this would entail for Allah to be ignorant.

Allah, Most High, says: Allah has (perfect) knowledge of all things.” [Quran, 24:64]

Spiritual masters from the Akbari tradition mention that the created universe is acting like a mirror in which Allah’s Names and Attributes are manifested in all their beauty, thus reflecting Allah, Most High, reality.

But no creation in the universe is able to reflect all of Allah’s beautiful Names at once except Human beings.

Allah’s Names are of two types—Names of Beauty (Jamal) and Names of Majesty (Jalal).

Only Names of Beauty, such as the Guide (al-Hadi), will be manifested in Angels or the creation of Paradise, for example. Iblis (the devil) has no share in those Names.

And only Names of Majesty, such as the One who leads astray (al-Mudil) or the Retaliator (al-Muntaqim), will be manifested in the devil (Iblis) or the creation of Hell, for example. Angels, who never sin, have no share in those Names.

But only Human beings who will have followed the religion of Islam fully by conforming themselves to the Divine command inwardly and outwardly will be allowed to be a loyal reflection to all the beautiful Names of Allah, Most High (except for Allah’s Names indicating necessary and beginningless existence because no creations whatsoever have a share in it).

By obeying Allah, Most High, Human beings will manifest the Names of beauty, such as the Guide (al-Hadi) or the Merciful (al-Rahim). And by sinning, they will manifest Names of Majesty such as the Subduer (al-Qahar).

This is why human beings are the jewel of Creation and its ultimate purpose.

Allah, Most High, has created the universe for us. And He has created human beings for Himself.

Allah, Most High, says: “It is Allah Who created the heavens and the earth and sends down rain from the sky, causing fruits to grow as a provision for you. He has subjected the ships for your service, sailing through the sea by His command, and has subjected the rivers for you.” [Quran, 14:32]

Allah, Most High, says: (Remember) when your Lord said to the angels, ‘I am going to place a deputy on earth.’ They asked (Allah), ‘Will You place in it someone who will spread corruption there and shed blood while we glorify Your praises and proclaim Your holiness?’ Allah responded, ‘I know what you do not know.’” [Quran, 2:30]

Because of this reality, Angels have been commanded to prostrate to Adam, peace be upon him.

Allah, Most High, says: “And (remember) when We said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam,” so they all did—but not Iblis, who refused and acted arrogantly, becoming unfaithful.” [Quran, 2:34]

I really hope that this has helped you understand the wisdom behind the possibility for human beings to sin and not have been directly created in Heaven.

I will simply close with the following:

The most beautiful, faithful, beloved, and complete reflection of Allah’s beautiful Names and Attributes is the last Messenger of Allah, Sayyiduna Muhammad (blessings and peace upon him).

From this, we can understand that Allah, Most High, has created the universe, us included, for the sake of the Messenger of Allah, Sayyiduna Muhammad (Blessings and peace upon him). And Allah, Most High, created the Prophet (Blessings and peace upon him) alone for Himself.

The following verses may be enough to understand this reality:

Allah, Most High, says: “We have sent you (O Prophet) only as a mercy for the universe.” [Quran, 21:107]

Allah, Most High, says: “Say: If you (sincerely) love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Quran, 3:31]

In Sayyiduna Muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him), Allah, Most High, sees Himself, and His love for his most beloved creation is ultimately love for Himself.

The Messenger of Allah (Blessings and peace be upon Him) has said: “The truest words (ever) uttered by a poet is the saying of Labid: ‘Behold! Everything besides Allah is vain.’” [Abu Dawud]

Sources for this answer: Imam al-Ghazali, Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din; Ibn Atta-Illah, al-Tanwir fi Isqat al-Tadbir; ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi, Jawahir al-Nusus fi Hal Kalamat al-Fusus. May Allah be pleased with them all.

What has been mentioned is but a drop on what can be said on this subject, and I encourage you to seek teachers in Islamic spirituality who will help you navigate these critical questions.

And Allah knows best.
[Ustadh] Sufyan Qufi
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Sufyan Qufi is an advanced seeker of knowledge, originally from Algeria, who grew up in France. He began searching far and wide for answers to the fundamental questions of life and was disappointed at the answers he found. Then he connected with various traditional teachers and gradually connected with SeekersGuidance. He embarked on his journey of learning through the various teachers at SeekersGuidance, including his mentor Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. He studied numerous texts in Islamic Law, Theology, Hadith, and other areas with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and other teachers, including Shaykh Abdurrahman al-Sha‘ar, Shaykh Ali Hani, and others. He is an active instructor at SeekersGuidance and answers questions through the SeekersGuidance Answers Service.