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Why Was I Created?

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.

Dear Questioner,

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.

The Impact of Our Choices – Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

Oftentimes we pass the hours away not realizing how many choices we are making. We also don’t realize how many opportunities we are missing out on, says Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said.

Syedina Abu Dharr (radiallah anhu), the great Sahabi of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), in sharing his wisdom about the choices we make as humans, said:

“Good company is better than being lonely,

And being lonely is better than the corrupted.

The one that spreads khair is better than the one that is quiet,

And the one that is quiet is better than the one devoid of good words. “

The profundity of Abu Dharr’s (radiallah anhu) statement is that it recognizes that we as humans have wants, and as such he is framing those wants as within a set of impactful choices.

Choices that seem as mundane as eating and talking, can at moments be good and at others not be the choicest.

An example of such being when Imam Shafi (rehmatullah alaih) visited Imam Ahmad (rehmatullah alaih), and when the latter’s daughter commented on the amount of food Imam Shafi (rehmatullah alaih) was consuming, he explained that he had done so because of the blessings in the food that was spread before him!

As we tread through the choices that are spread before us, may Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) facilitate the choicest.

Resources for Seekers

 

Free Will and the Divine Decree: A Reader

“And you cannot intend (to do anything) unless it is so willed by Allah, the Lord of all the worlds.” [Quran 81.29]

Destiny and Human Responsibility in Islam

Affirming Free Will and the Divine Decree

Why Does the Qur’an Say Allah Misguides the Disbelievers? The Question of Free Will

Is Iblis Really from the Jinn? Why Is Iblis Blaming Allah for Leading Him Astray?

Do We Have Choice? And Does Allah Prevent That Choice from Being Realized?

How Can Allah Punish Disbelievers If He Is the One Who Veils Them From the Truth?

How Are the Prophets Protected from Error and Sin?

“Allah Guides to His Light Whom He Wills” – The Muamilat of Rahma and Baraka by Shaykh Faid Said

BISMILLAH Imam al Shatabi, may Allah be pleased with him (rehmatullah alaih) mentioned that the primary foundation of the Shari’ah of Islam is based on two principles: the first principle being Mercy (Rahma), and the second, justice.
This is evident, as Allah, may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), says in the Qur’an (Surah Al-Hajj, 78): “And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty…”
Allah, may he be glorified and exalted, (subhana wa ta’ala) has not placed anything upon us that is beyond our ability, as He says in Surah Al-Baqarah (286): “Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity…”
Surah baqara 185In the same Surah, Allah, may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), says (Surah Al-Baqarah, 185): “Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship…”
Even when Allah, may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), asks for something, despite the fact that He is our Master and can ask us anything, we see His Rahma even when asking us to complete the most compulsory of requests, as if He is giving us space to choose: “Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth?” (Surah Al-Hadid, 16)
In a Hadith narrated by Abu Hurrairah, Allah’s blessings be on him (radiallah anhu), Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), said: “Verily this religion (deen) is easy, whoever tries to go deep into deen and makes things difficult, he will be overpowered by the deen!” [Bukhari]
How beautiful would the world be if we dealt with one another as Allah, may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), deals with us!
Despite all of our evil and bad deeds, Ar-Rahman (The Most Merciful) has never stopped Giving us! Ar Rahman was, is and will remain the Most Merciful!
This is the very Rahma we see Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), with when dealing with the worst of his enemies; those who disrespected him and his loved ones, and conspired to destroy Islam and him. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), said about the accursed hypocrites (Surah An-Nisa, 140-3):
“And it has already come down to you in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allah [recited], they are denied [by them] and ridiculed; so do not sit with them until they enter into another conversation. Indeed, you would then be like them. Indeed Allah will gather the hypocrites and disbelievers in Hell all together. Those who wait [and watch] you. Then if you gain a victory from Allah , they say, “Were we not with you?” But if the disbelievers have a success, they say [to them], “Did we not gain the advantage over you, but we protected you from the believers?” Allah will judge between [all of] you on the Day of Resurrection, and never will Allah give the disbelievers over the believers a way [to overcome them]. Indeed, the hypocrites [think to] deceive Allah , but He is deceiving them. And when they stand for prayer, they stand lazily, showing [themselves to] the people and not remembering Allah except a little. Wavering between them, [belonging] neither to the believers nor to the disbelievers. And whoever Allah leaves astray – never will you find for him a way.”
And yet, Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), did not kill them, put them in prison nor did he even disclose their names!
If we were to deal with one another like Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) and Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), deal with us, our world would be very different from its current state!
In a Hadith, Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), regarding muamilat (dealings), speaks of a transaction, about buying and selling and the rules of the marketplace. However, the transaction that is spoken of is not purely financial, nor is about morality, but rather, the Hadith elucidates our understanding of human nature.
In Bukhari and Muslim, Hakim ibn Khuzaym, Allah’s blessings be on him (radiallah anhu), narrated that when a buyer and seller commit to a transaction, they have the choice and ability to reverse the transaction up until the point of their parting. If the parties to the transaction were clear and sincere, Allah, may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), will put blessing (baraka) in their transaction. If the parties were deceitful, Allah may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), will remove the baraka from that transaction.
In this Hadith we see the Rahma of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), as Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) is not only speaking of transactions and their legality or morality, instead he is speaking of Baraka! He is speaking of the increase in benefit and Rahma of what you are doing. It is not how much you are making, but rather how beneficial it is to you, your family and those who are around you.
It might be that someone might not make a profit from a given transaction, but the baraka from their action might instead be reflected in their good health, ease, protection, honor, peace, love and to be surrounded by love from the environment around you.
Baraka has not limit or end! Baraka is connected to Allah, may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala).
Do we not see what Allah, may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), said in Surah Al-Mulk (1): “Blessed is He in whose hand is dominion, and He is over all things competent,” and in Surah Al-Furqan (1): “Blessed is He who sent down the Criterion upon His Servant that he may be to the worlds a warner.”
So when you obtain Baraka, this is what you are getting! This is the connection you receive!
256px-Al-Aqsa_Mosque_by_David_ShankboneAllah, may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), even described the area of Baitul Maqdis as blessed. There is no limit for Baraka. Even when you buy and sell, you can get close to Allah, may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), and obtain this Baraka!
Imam Muhammad ash-Shaybani, may Allah be please with him (rehmatullah alaih), student of Imam Abu Hanifah, may Allah be please with him (rehmatullah alaih), and the pillar of the madhab (school of jurisprudence), when he was asked to write about zuhd (asceticism), he instead wrote about buying, selling and transactions. When asked why, he said if you do not know the precepts of halal and haram, how can you even expect to speak of zuhd!
Even when we buy and sell, we can make our transactions a means for us to get closer to Allah may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), with this baraka.
That is why Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), connected honesty in buying and selling with baraka, and dishonesty in transacting not with monetary loss, but with the absence of baraka. What a punishment! Even though you may be successful in that transaction, the lack of baraka will cause the jealousy of people, and suffering in what you have obtained!
In doing so, Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), has transformed the way we look at things, and not only that, but he transformed our beings! He is telling us that success is not measured by how much profit you are make, and it is not measured by the number of transactions you complete, rather, success is measured by the baraka you are receiving from Allah, may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala).
The Hadith shows us the baraka of business, and that not everyone has to be in a particular trade, as Allah, may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), has created us all different in terms of language, color and even interests!
Everything that we are interested in can bring us closer to Allah, may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), if we do that which interests us with honesty and sincerity; with that intention, our interest may turn into a business and interest of baraka!
Returning to the earlier point on understanding human nature, why do we have a choice, during the course of the transaction? Why did Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) give us a choice? The choice is connected to two components of the transaction: price and product. All sellers want the highest price for the product, whereas all buyers want the lowest price. As a result, we often make quick decisions and then regret dawns on our prior eagerness to obtain a given product, which after being obtained our rational mind takes hold. Hence, buyer’s remorse sets in thinking we paid too much, and if, when trying to return the product, the seller were to say no, the buyer would walk away with a broken heart and may hold a grudge against the seller; and the feeling of having been deceitful will be left for the seller, who will have to live knowing what he has done. In some instances, the seller might give the wrong price, and the price in the market may actually be higher than what he has sold the product for, and hence the importance having a choice.
That is why Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) gave the buyer and seller a choice, as it gives them a chance to rectify their actions in that moment. With regards to the second component, the product, the buyer, before purchasing the product, may feel that he needs to purchase the product, but then after buying it, his thoughts may waver and he may ask himself if he really needs it. For the seller, the product may be the last of his supply, and therefore he may want to keep it; the choice is a source of Rahma.
Why this Hadith? Reading this Hadith caused us to stop and wonder at the consideration of Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him (sallallahu alayhi wasalam)! What consideration and concern for all! That is why Allah , may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), described Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), as a “Mercy to all the worlds” (Surah Anbiya, 107).
Also, this Hadith helps us to understand the human condition, how we as humans are not always stable, and we often waver in and out of regret and chance; this condition even extends to the sharpest of minds, including those involved in business.
The Hadith shows us the important aspects of life, and highlights giving others a second chance, as this leads us to understand the nature of each other, which is very important. It is always important to keep promises and our word; however, it is much more important to correct and rectify, as Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), mentions in a Hadith narrated by Abu Hurrairah, Allah’s blessings be on him (radiallah anhu): Whoever swears to do something and then they find something better, let them fast three days, as kafara (in substitution), and choose that which is better. [Tirmidhi, 1530]
It is important to keep your word, but when you discover a better way or outcome, you should accept the later, as Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) has shown us the way of Baraka and Rahma, because he knows our human nature.
This our understanding of the Hadith, and with this Hadith we urge everyone to look at the guidance of Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), and to understand that we, as humans, are weak, and with all our deficiencies, we need to understand each other, and make things easy for one another, as Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), has shown us in this Hadith.
May Allah, may He be glorified and exalted (subhana wa ta’ala), forgive us, and make us worthy to follow the Baraka of Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him (sallallahu alayhi wasalam).
Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

Do We Have Choice? And Does Allah Prevent That Choice from Being Realized?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: As Salaam alaikum,
1. Does Allah create our choices?
2. When we ask Allaah to give someone guidance how does Allah’s help to this person manifest itsef in regard to his free will?
3. When Allaah miraculously saves a Prophet or saves someone from some harm coming from the enemy, is this just Him occasionally stopping the enemy’s free will? Like when the disbelievers didn’t to destroy the spider web on the cave…
4. How do we deal with mentally challenged people? I know they are not responsible in front of God but why do they exist?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
Everybody has choice (ikhtiyar), and therein lies the secret of responsibility (taklif) before the Divine.
But there is no such thing as choice being prevented and the like. It is possible that what people wish to do doesn’t always happen as they intended, yet this doesn’t negate choice as people aren’t running the world– Allah is. With that in mind, don’t overcomplicate such discussions lest you put yourself into some degree of hardship.
(1) Allah is the Creator of absolutely everything. The human being has no power in and of himself, and does not create his own actions, yet is responsible by virtue of his being able to act.
(2) Supplication benefits. [see: Can Supplication Change Destiny?]
(3) They had the choice to break the spider’s web, but they chose not to.
(4) There is wisdom in the creation of everything– sometimes such wisdom is apparent and sometimes it is not. Something we can appreciate from the existence of such people is the magnitude of the Divine Favour upon us.
Please also see: Affirming Free Will and the Divine Decree and: Suffering and Divine Wisdom
Consider taking: Excellence in Faith & Action (from Ghazali’s 40 Foundations of Religion) and: Islamic Beliefs for Seekers: Dardir’s Kharidah Explained
And Allah alone gives success.
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Affirming Free Will and the Divine Decree

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: I’ve been having strong doubts about Islam due to difficulty accepting the belief in Qadr.

This verse from Imam al-Tahawi’s creed strongly bothers me, for example.

83. The Garden and the Fire are created things that never come to an end and we believe that Allah created them before the rest of creation and then created people to inhabit each of them. Whoever He wills goes to the Garden out of His bounty and whoever He wills goes to the Fire through His justice. Everybody acts in accordance with what is destined for him and goes towards what he has been created for.

Also this: 44. The same applies to all actions done by people, which are done exactly as Allah knew they would be done. Everyone is eased towards what he was created for and it is the action with which a man’s life is sealed which dictates his fate. Those who are fortunate are fortunate by the decree of Allah, and those who are wretched are wretched by the decree of Allah.

I used to believe that Allah loves and wants the best for all his creation. But now I have to believe that he tests the non-Muslims to justify damning them to perdition. How is this fitting for a kind and loving God? This belief is causing me distress in religion and life. Also doesn’t this mean that Firoun and Shaytan etc. were only fulfilling their purpose of creation?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

I believe you have a misunderstanding of this issue. Allah’s preeternal will coincides with His preeternal knowledge, and this by no means negates the free will of man and jinn.

That is to say, Allah in preeternity knew and, based on His knowledge, willed that Firown would be the way he would. Allah decreed the actions of Firown as per His preeternal knowledge of Firown’s choices. Of course, there is no implication of time sequence in this (see below on Allah’s timelessness).

But in his own lifetime, Firown chose to act the way he acted, and was not forced by any means. The two realities are not mutually exclusive. We affirm human free will, and we also affirm divine knowledge, will and power.

This issue is a complex one that is difficult for the mind to grasp at even an elementary level. Indeed, at the root of our difficulty is that we cannot fathom the divine attribute of ‘timelessness.’ He Most High is the First and the Last, without beginning and without end. He is not bound by time, since time itself is His creation. As our Master Ibn Ata’illah states, “Allah existed, and there was nothing besides Him. And He is now just as He was.”

So all of creation, and all moments of creation, are “laid out” in front of the Divine, as it were. There is no ‘before/now/after’ with respect to Allah. So from the divine vantage point, Firown’s place in the Fire is not ‘after’ Firown’s birth… Divine knowledge of Firown did not increase one iota after Firown. This is essential to understand. It was already done, in a sense.

“They did not estimate Allah His rightful estimation; indeed, Allah is strong, mighty.” (22:74)

I would advise you to study creed under qualified scholarship. You may want to take the following course for example: Islamic Beliefs for Seekers: Dardir’s Kharidah Explained

And Allah knows best.

wassalam

Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Related Answers:

Destiny and Human Responsibility in Islam

Divine Decree, Contentment, and Lessons From the Prophet’s Life

Can Supplication Change Destiny?