On this journey of Hope and Closeness, Shaykh Faraz throws light on diverse ways a believer can strengthen the connection with the all-sustaining and ever-living God, the ultimate purpose of life and religion, and the means to draw closer to Allah.
The Qur’an asserts: “If My servants ask you about Me, I am indeed close. I answer the call of those who call on Me.” [2:186] This ayah attests to God’s presence in our lives and equally serves as a beacon of hope amid the sea of hopelessness.
The only requirement to begin this journey of closeness is to remind ourselves of God’s presence in our lives. As Allah says, “Let them truly believe in Me, so that they may be rightly and truly guided.” [Qur’an 2:186] The ways of attaining this closeness are through our acts of devotion – prayer, recitation of the Qur’an, and other acts of devotion. Realize also that our relationships – human and transcendental – are a means to achieve the true purpose of life as Allah says: “Lord! You have not created this without purpose.” [Qur’an 3:191]
The Qur’anic injunction of the purposefulness of the creation directs our hearts to a meaningful engagement with religion. That is, to identify the purpose of this life amid the myriad of material gods of this world. It is for us to inquire about the beginning and end of our journey in this world, and to do this takes thought and consideration.
Allah Most High says: “Truly in the creation of the heavens and earth and the change by night and by day there are signs for those of insight.” [Qur’an 3:190] This ayah points to the evidence of God, and these numerous changes in creation point towards the origin of human beings and, hence, to the Originator. All these signs point to God and make it clear that life – existence – has a purpose.
The Purpose of Existence
Allah says: “I have not created Jinns and Human except to Worship Me.” [Qur’an 51:56] This is a matter of identifying the often forgotten reality of life – that we owe our existence to God, that our existence (wujud) is a mercy, and that mercy expects us to respond to God with gratitude and devotion. Failure lies in reducing religion to mere social or cultural markers of identity instead of seeing it as the only transcendental path (way of life) acceptable to God. [Qur’an 39:3] Identifying the place, purpose, and importance of religion is to recognize our role in this world. To recognize the role of devotion and sincerity of that devotion as a rightful responsibility of the creation towards the Creator.
Imam Jurjani wrote that religion “is divine guidance, revealed through prophets, calling those of intellect to choose what is good for them, towards their ultimate good in this life and the next.” This alludes to the fact that religion is a purposeful metaphysical reality communicated through Prophets with demonstrable proofs. Our duty is to rightfully identity the metaphysical truth of religion amid the created reductionist false narratives of truth. To explore the beauty of this transcendental truth meaningfully manifest in the Prophet’s life, blessings and peace be upon him.
The eternal good religion invites us is to secure our place at the actual and ultimate destination – salvation or punishment in the hereafter. For this, we should have a living relationship with this beautiful religion and remind ourselves that material status, comfort, joy, fulfillment in this life are all fleeting. The ultimate joy is the joy waiting for the dwellers in Paradise.
We should keep in mind that everything has a purpose in this world, and religion is the only way to meaningfully navigate this journey from the fleeting good of this life towards the eternal good in the afterlife.