The purpose of creation is a topic that puzzles every human being at some point in his or her lifetime. Everybody at some time or another asks themselves the question “Why do I exist?” or “For what purpose am I here on earth?”
Why Did God Create?
Creation is fundamentally the consequence of the divine attribute of being the Creator. A creator who does not create is something of a contradiction in terms. This is not to say that God needs His creation. God is free from all needs. It is creation which needs Him. But, as the greatness of a writer becomes apparent in his writings, the perfection of the divine creative attribute is manifest in creation. Creation in the true sense is unique to God alone. Although humans ascribe the act of creation to themselves, what they do is not true creation. Humankind merely manipulates what already exists – what was already created by God. A table is made from wood which came from trees and is held together with nails and screws made from metal that came from rocks. Human beings did not make the trees or the rocks. In fact, all human creations can be traced back to basic elements which humans cannot make. Even the artist ‘creates’ designs based on what he has seen. It is not possible to imagine what has not been perceived by the senses. Thus, all of the artist’s thoughts are reflections on what was already created. Only God alone creates from nothing.
“God created all things and He is the agent on which all things depend.“
“And God created you all and whatever you do.“
Why Did God Create Mankind
This question is answered without any ambiguity.
“I have created the jinn and humankind only for My worship.“
Meaning of Worship
In Arabic, the language of the final revelation, worship is called ‘ibaadah, which is closely related to the noun ‘abd, meaning ‘a slave.’ A slave is one who is expected to do whatever his master wills. Consequently, worship, according to the final revelation, means ‘obedient submission to the will of God’. This was the essence of the message of all the prophets sent by God to humankind. For example, this understanding of worship was emphatically expressed by Prophet Jesus (Peace be upon him) in the Gospel according to Matthew, 7:21 –
“None of those who call me ‘Lord’ will enter the kingdom of God, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
It should be noted that ‘will’ in this quote means ‘what God wants human beings to do’ and not ‘what God permits humans to do’, because nothing happens in creation without the will (permission) of God. The ‘Will of God’ is contained in the divinely revealed laws which the prophets taught their followers. Consequently, obedience to divine law is the foundation of worship. In this sense, glorification also becomes worship when humans choose to obey God’s instructions regarding His glorification.
The Need for Worship
Why do human beings need to worship and glorify God by obeying the divinely revealed laws? Because obedience to divine law is the key to success in this life and the next. Divine laws represent guidance for humankind in all walks of life. They define right and wrong for them and offer human beings a complete system governing all of their affairs. The Creator alone knows best what is beneficial for His creation and what is not. The divine laws command and prohibit various acts and substances to protect the human spirit, the human body and human society from harm. In order for human beings to fulfill their potential by living righteous lives, they need to worship God through obedience to His commandments.
Why Did God Create Mankind on Earth
The question concerning the purpose of mankind’s creation may be expanded to include the world in which they live. The question would then be, “Why did God create human beings in this world?” This can further be extended to, “Why is life filled with suffering and adversity, trial and error?”, “What possible purpose can such difficulties serve?”, “Why did life not begin in Paradise?”, “Why didn’t God make us like the Angels?”, “If worship, obedience to God, love, compassion, truth and other qualities brings the greatest joy, why are we not created with these qualities from the start?”, “Why were these virtues not simply programmed into us?”
Even the Angels asked this question –
“Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent on earth.” They said: “Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?” He said: “I know what ye know not.””
The answer is almost obvious. Virtue, if programmed, is not true virtue; it is always something less. You can program a computer never to make an incorrect statement but it does not thereby become a truthful computer, nor does any medicine possess compassion, although they are made to help the sick. The Qur’an presents the Angels as non-discriminating beings, as beings who are pure. While man is potentially much greater and alternatively much worse creature. It emphasizes three essential components of this stage of man’s moral and spiritual evolution; Free will, or the ability to choose; Intellect, the tool for weighing the consequences of one’s choices and learning from them; and third, An environment of adversity.
To learn to be truthful requires the option to lie, and hence the ability to learn and discern. A higher level of honesty is attained if we insist on speaking the truth in adversity, say at the threat of physical or material loss. To grow in compassion there must be suffering and the choice to ignore it. And so it is with all the virtues; love, charity, forgiveness and so on. To grow in each of them, we must have the alternative to do otherwise and the possibility for the existence of hate, indifference, greed, vengeance or revenge, and obviously suffering.
“Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere, Who say, when afflicted with calamity: “To God We belong, and to Him is our return“
[Al Qur’an 2:155-156]
“O ye who believe! Persevere in patience and constancy; vie in such perseverance; strengthen each other; and fear God; that ye may prosper.“
It is by trial and error, and by realizing and rising above our mistakes, that we learn and progress to a higher level of goodness. Error, if realized and repented off sincerely, can lead ultimately to a higher state.
“Excepting the one repents, believes, and works righteous deeds, for God will change the evil of such persons into good, and God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.“
Without knowledge of the purpose of creation, human beings wander aimlessly through life, like ships at sea without rudders. Their goals are either wrong due to incorrect religious teachings or materialistic and thus confined to this world. It is, therefore, essential for their own well-being that they know why God created them.
“Those (are believers) who remember God standing and sitting and lying down, and reflect upon the heavens and the earth, (saying): “Our Lord, you did not create all this in vain.”
“We did not create the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in vain.“
“And We did not create the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them as a game.”