Here is another excerpt from my third book, Interfaith Dialogues and Debates. . . this question comes up every now and then in my classes, and you may find it interesting:
“What is creation for? Is it just an experiment on God’s part? Is it an amusement or a playful diversion? If God is perfect, then why does he need us as, imperfect as we are? Of course, he could correct us, but is he waiting for us to self-correct individually? Is it beyond us or did He tell us and we missed the point? Stand firm in faith as it is all any of us can have. We can do good things here and things can turn out good eventually.”
In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful:
For today’s materialist, life holds little significance other than that of consumption and seeking instant gratification. To believers in God and His Divine Unity, however, life is seen as a rich tapestry of signs, and as an arena of tests, that afford us the opportunity of knowing Allah and worshiping Him: “I created men and jinn only that they may worship Me.” (51:56)
Early Qur’an exegetists have cited Ibn ‘Abbås, and his illustrious student, Mujåhid, as saying that Allah’s words: ‘that they may worship Me’ – illå li ya‘budun, actually means: ‘that they may know Me’ – illå li ya‘rifun. The reason for this is quite straightforward: we cannot worship Allah without first knowing Him.
In his essay on Divine love, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali wrote: “Allah created creation so that they may worship Him through love, fear and hope of Him. Allah, Exalted is He, said: “I created jinn and men only that they may worship Me.” However, Allah can only be worshiped by possessing knowledge (ma’rifah) of Him; which is why He created the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, as an indicator to His divinity and majesty. About this, Allah proclaims: Allah it is who has created seven heavens, and of the earth a similar number. His command descends through them, so that you may know Allah has power over all things, and that He encompasses all things in knowledge.”(65:12) Here we are told that creation was created ‘that you may know’ Allah, and that His Command courses through the creation, and that His omnipotence and His omniscience envelop all things.”
Commenting on the above verse, Imam al-Sa‘di writes of the creation that, “All of this was [created] in order for people to know and to discern that His knowledge and power circumscribe each and every thing. As they come to know Him through His Beautiful Names and Sublime Attributes, they will then adore and worship Him, and also fulfill His rights. This is the greater purpose behind the creation and command: to know Allah and to then worship Him.”
Ibn al-Qayyim has noted: “In the Qur’an, Allah, Exalted is He, invites people to acquire ma‘rifah; or knowledge and gnosis [of Him], via two ways: Firstly, by reflecting upon the divine handiwork [in creation]; and secondly, by contemplating over the Qur’an and pondering over its meanings. The former are His signs that are seen and witnessed, the latter are His signs which are heard and understood. The first type is referred to in His saying: In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and day; in the sailing of ships through the ocean for the benefit of mankind; in the water that Allah sends down from the sky and with which He revives the earth after its death; in the animals of all kinds that He has scattered therein; in the ordering of the winds and the clouds that are driven between heaven and earth, are signs for people who can think. (2:164)
And His words: In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of the night and day, are signs for those of understanding. (3:190)
Verses like these occur frequently in the Qur’an. The second is referred to in His saying: Will they not reflect on the Qur’an? (4:84)
As well as: Do they not reflect about what is being said? (23:68)
And: This is a Book that We have sent down to you, full of blessings, that they may reflect over its signs. (38:29)
Such verses also occur frequently.”
In conclusion, we see that far from being an experiment or a form of amusement – God forbid!—the Almighty and Wise created us and this universe and all that is in it so that we may know Him.
. . . End of Excerpt . . .
Read more conversations like this in Dialogues and Debates on Islam: What Would a Muslim Say – Volume 3.
Get it HERE