The Purpose of this Life in Light of the Qur’an


by Ahsan Shah

Recently, a very close member of my family died. While the dead body lay inside one of the rooms of my house, two thoughts continuously went through my mind. The body reminded me that one day, I would be lying in the same manner, motionless, and my close ones would be looking at me, remembering the treasured moments we had together. Another thought that occurred to me was what would remain of the dead body while it lay so still, ready to be buried; and what it would take with itself for the Day of Judgment was a question that kept coming back to me again and again. This question has been answered in the Qur’an in various places and it reminds us of the fact that death is the biggest reality of this life and the real struggle in this life should be to acquire good deeds so that one is able to attain a higher status in the Hereafter. As the Qur’an says, “Wealth and children are [but] adornment of the worldy life. But the enduring good deeds are better to your Lord for rewards and better for [one’s] hope,” (Qur’an 18:46).

The Qur’an in Surah Raad has pointed out that in the creation of the heavens and the earth, the rising of the sun and moon are signs for those who believe in the meeting with their Lord (Qur’an 13:2-4). What we have to understand is how these signs indicate that there will be a Hereafter. One course of thought is that if God can create the heavens, earth, mountains and rivers then why can He not raise us all after we are dead. The second reasoning is that there is so much wisdom behind the Creation of this Universe and each object follows such an impeccable order, that it cannot be that the Creator of this galaxy with His infinite Wisdom will treat the oppressed and oppressor in the same manner. How can it be that one who commits murder and rape will be treated in the same manner as one who uses his wealth in helping the poor and needy?  That is why the Qur’an has said in Surah Rahman, “Is the reward for good [anything] but good?” (Qur’an 55: 60).  Another confirmation of the Day of Judgment through the message of the Qur’an can be seen in Surah Ash-Shura, “Respond to your Lord before a Day comes from Allah of which there is no repelling. No refuge will you have that day, nor for you will there be any denial,” (Qur’an 42:47).

From these ayaat (verses) we can say that the main purpose of this life is to prepare oneself for the Day of Judgment. The Qur’anic description of that day is one of distress and anguish for those who have committed more sins than good in this worldly life. For example in Surah Al-Waqia1 , the treatment of sinners is described as follows:

“Then indeed you, O those astray [who are] deniers, will be eating from trees of zaqqum, and filling with it your bellies, and drinking on top of it from scalding water, and will drink as the drinking of thirsty camels. That is their accommodation on the Day of Recompense.” (Qur’an 56:51-56)

On the other hand, those who were righteous and God-fearing in this world will be granted a place in Heaven wherein lies great rewards for them. The rewards for such people have been described in many different places of the Qur’an2 .

What an individual has to remember is that he is answerable for his actions and God is watching over us all the time. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) keeps on reminding us that He is watching every action of ours and has informed all believers that He is All- Knowing and Wise. In Surah Taghabun it is said, “He knows what is in the heavens and earth and knows what you conceal and what you declare. And Allah is Knowing of that within the breasts,” (Qur’an 64:4).

God Almighty has said in the Qur’an that He created men and jinn for no other reason but to serve (worship) Him (Qur’an 51:56). But, God did not leave man astray and gave him guidance in the form of His revelation so that he may be led to the right path. As the Qur’an says:

“It is He who sends down upon His Servant [Muhammad] verses of clear evidence that He may bring you out from the darkness into the light. And indeed, Allah is to you Kind and Merciful,” (Qur’an 57:9).

The first nine ayaat of Surah Mu’minun are describing the characteristics of one who will be awarded a place in Paradise. These individuals will be those who are careful of their prayers, keep their promises, confine themselves to the limits set by Allah and are active in deeds of charity (Qur’an 23:1-9). God Almighty has assured man that He is very forgiving and will forgive his past sins if he repents. The following ayaat are an indication of God’s mercy towards His creation.

“Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” And return [in repentance] to your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes upon you; then you will not be helped.’” (Qur’an 39:53-54)

We as individuals should try to read the Book of Allah (swt) more often so that we are guided towards the right path and so that the concept of death does not become a shock for us but a warning that one day we will all die and will be answerable to our Lord for our each and every action. It is our responsibility to read the Qur’an with understanding so that we can comprehend the message of Allah (swt) and the purpose of this life becomes clearer to us all. The Qur’an is Allah’s Mercy upon His creation and we should not neglect the warning that the Book of God sends to the whole of mankind. The Qur’an has further ensured mankind that in its reading do hearts find ultimate rest and peace. The following verse of Surah Raad points out the same concept:

“Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah are hearts assured,” (Qur’an 13:28).

The main point behind this article is to remind each reader that one day we will all have to go back to our Lord. Hence, we must strive to earn good deeds in this world, as this life will be our only opportunity to present something in front of God on the Day of Judgment. The funeral should not be confined to just a ceremony but serve as a reminder to each of its participants that our return is to our Lord and the only thing that will help us on that Day will be good deeds. May Allah (swt) guide us all to the right path and help us in earning good deeds and may He forgive our past sins. Ameen.


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  1. Other references to such sinners are Qur’an 70:11-18, 74:26-29 []
  2. Qur’an 55:46-77, 78:31-36. There are many other references as well []

18 Comments

  1. Yasmin says:

    Jazakallah khair for this much needed reminder!

  2. Noor says:

    Salam. My husband died on the last day of Ramadhan 1432. Alhamdulillah the loss really opened my eyes as to the purpose of this life, and have brought me closer to Allah swt. I pray that Allah swt will grant him jannah and will keep me and my family close to Him

  3. Mariam says:

    MashAllah, beautiful article May Allah swt bless you with more knowledge and grant you Jannat-Al-Fridous. Ameen

  4. Harris says:

    As-Salāmu `Alaykum, brothers and sisters. Sorry if this is random.

    I am becoming an extremely confused youth and am starting to doubt all my actions and decisions. If someone could please answer my questions, then jazakallah khair.

    Is eye contact haram or halal?

    Is it haram to befriend a non-muslim?

    What is imitating the kufr?

    • Hassan says:

      Wasalaam Harris,

      Its halaal to make eye contact with people… but don’t be excessive with it and make people feel uncomfortable.

      Its not haraam to befriend a non-muslim.

      Imitating the kufr… not sure… you might need to be specific on that one before I can comment.

      Either way though, only ALLAH swt knows best.

    • N. says:

      wa alaikum us salaam,

      If you find yourself doubting all your actions and decisions, my advice: Choose to simplify and concentrate on what is most important and essential.

      Decide to take your focus off side/minor issues, vague/theoretical issues, and issues of disagreement and debate.

      For example, make sure you are saying your 5 daily prayers on time. Make sure you have made up any missed Ramadan fasts. Make sure you are eating and drinking halal, and avoiding the major sins. Ask Allah for forgiveness regularly.

      Pay your zakat. Go to someone qualified whom you trust and ask how much you owe in zakat and pay that amount. Done. Don’t go too deeply into zakat issues that don’t apply to your situation.

      Concentrate on a few key pieces of remembrance of Allah (dhikr) and du’a. For example, renew your shahada frequently. Pick a few du’as that you feel connected to, and keep saying those.

      Try to stay connected to Qur’an at whatever level you are at. Maintain your level. For example, if you know a few short surahs, keep saying those. Maybe read their translations. If you can read from the Qur’an, read a little every day.

      Be nice to your family and neighbors (muslim and non-muslim).

      The above is more than enough to occupy you, and stay contented in maintaining this level. Ask Allah to help you.

      When any issues start making you doubt yourself and decisions, seek protection in Allah from the Shaytan. (audhu billahi min ash Shaytan ar rajeem).

      If you find you still have a real, solid question about something specific, find a qualified and trusted person (or resource) to answer specific questions related to your situation or concrete practices, e.g. about the prayer).

      I hope this helps.

      Allah Knows best and Allah’s help is needed.

  5. Harris says:

    I’m sorry if it may be too much, brothers and sisters. :(

  6. Muhammad says:

    As salaamu alaikum

    Your translation of the ayah 51:56 (… to serve me) is glaringly incorrect. The word in this ayah is ‘ya’buduuni’ which means to worship me and according to several tafaaseer, it means ‘yuwahiduuni’ or to single out Allah alone in worship. To translate this word is as ‘serve’ is blatantly inaccurate. Where in the Arabic language does ya’bud mean ‘to serve’? Even the translation of the ayah on the link connected to your article has a different translation than yours. It seems that because you misunderstood the ayah, you also misunderstood the purpose of life which is tawheed of which your article makes no mention of.

  7. Shaifa says:

    Friending a non Muslim can be an excellent way to do dawah (spreading /teaching of Islam)! Remember the best way to teach is by example as well…definitely not haraam ! Jazakallah khair

  8. Shaifa says:

    Imitating the kuffar can be of two kinds: the obvious one of imitating their manners, their customs, their appearance, and the not so obvious imitation of their ideas, their way of life, their system of government and their laws.

    The first kind includes such things as men shaving their beard, eating using the left hand, and behaving like the kuffar, while the second kind involves accepting, or being influenced by, the standards, and the values, of the kuffar, or using the kuffar, and their society, as “role models” and so seeking to copy the kuffar and their society.

    The above was just copied &pasted from a website…seems sensible to. Me…Allah knows best

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