Human Nature and the Purpose of Existence
Written by: Beth Davies-Stofka
Islam is a monotheistic religion like Judaism and Christianity, and like those religions, it teaches that God created the whole universe and everything in it. God is the master designer who put order and purpose in his creation, and he rules over it with compassion and mercy. Everything in creation depends upon God, the Sustainer, for its existence. The purpose of all creation, including humans, is to love and serve God.
The very name of the religion, Islam, means submission or obedience to God, and the Muslim is one who submits or surrenders to God and recognizes Muhammad as God's prophet. All created things fulfill their assigned purpose by serving God. Plants and animals, rocks and minerals, rain and wind, stars and planets all naturally fulfill the purpose for which they were designed. By doing so, they worship and serve God. Everything in nature, by acting according to its design, serves God's will. In a sense, the whole universe is Muslim because it surrenders to the divine purpose.
|The Opening Chapter of the Holy Quran|
Islam teaches that God created humans from clay and breathed the spirit of life into them. He separated them from the rest of creation by giving them three divine gifts: intelligence to distinguish the true from the false, a will that can freely choose between them, and the power of speech to worship. Because of these gifts, people are the noblest of God's creatures, superior to the rest of nature. However, people are not perfect. Although not sinful by nature, humans are vulnerable to temptation. Because they are rebellious and proud, they often forget that they are dependent on God.
The Quran stresses the mercy and compassion of God, and the words "merciful" (rahmah) and "compassionate" (rahim) come from the same root, rahma, which carries the meaning of forgiveness, and abundant mercy that sustains, protects, and rewards. Because He is the sustainer and protector, God has created a well-regulated and ordered universe in which night regularly follows day so that creatures may rest, and the sun and moon follow predictable patterns, creating seasons so that humans may cultivate plants for food. God also provided animals to assist humans in fulfilling their needs for warmth and food. Those who remember this fulfill their purpose by worshiping and serving Him as stewards of His creation.