What is the life of this world but play and amusement?
But best is the home in the hereafter, for those who are righteous.
Will you not then understand?
(Surat al-An’am: 32)
The Life of This World
Our universe is perfectly orderly. Countless billions of stars and galaxies move in their separate orbits yet in total harmony. Galaxies consisting of almost 300 billion stars flow through each other and, to everyone’s astonishment, during this gigantic transition no collisions occur. Such order cannot be attributed to coincidence. What is more, the velocities of objects in the universe are beyond the limits of man’s imagination. The physical dimensions of outer space are enormous when compared to the measurements we employ on earth. Stars and planets, with masses of billions or trillions of tons, and galaxies, with sizes that can only be grasped with the help of mathematical formulae, all whirl along their particular paths in space at incredible velocities.
For instance, the earth rotates about its axis so that points on its surface move at an average velocity of about 1,670 km an hour. The mean linear velocity of the earth in its orbit around the sun is 108,000 km an hour. These figures, however, only relate to the earth. We encounter tremendously larger figures when we examine dimensions beyond the solar system. In the universe, as systems increase in size, velocities also increase. The solar system revolves around the centre of the galaxy at 720,000 km an hour. The velocity of the Milky Way itself, comprising some 200 billion stars, is 950,000 km an hour. This continual movement is inconceivable. The earth, together with the solar system, each year moves 500 million kilometres away from its location of the previous year.
There is an incredible equilibrium within all this dynamic movement and it reveals that life on earth is based on a very delicate balance. Very slight, even millimetric variations in the orbit of heavenly bodies could result in very serious consequences. Some could be so detrimental that life on earth would become impossible. In such systems in which there is both great equilibrium and tremendous velocities, gigantic accidents may happen at any time. However, the fact that we lead our lives in an ordinary way on this planet makes us forget about the dangers existing in the universe at large. The present order of the universe with the almost negligible number of collisions of which we know, simply makes us think that a perfect, stable and secure environment surrounds us.
People do not reflect very much upon such matters. That is why they never discern the extraordinary web of interlocking conditions that makes life possible on earth nor do they apprehend that understanding the real aim of their lives is so important. They live without even wondering how this vast yet delicate equilibrium ever came to be.
Nevertheless, man is endowed with the capacity to think. Without contemplating one’s surroundings conscientiously and wisely, one can never see the reality or have the slightest idea why the world is created and who it is who makes this great order move with such perfect rhythms.
One who ponders these questions and grasps their importance comes face to face with an inescapable fact: the universe we live in is created by a Creator, whose existence and attributes are revealed in everything that exists. The earth, a tiny spot in the universe, is created to serve a significant purpose. Nothing occurs purposelessly in the flow of our lives. The Creator, revealing His attributes, His might and wisdom throughout the universe, did not leave man alone but invested him with a significant purpose.
The reason why man exists on earth is recounted by Allah in the Qur’an as follows:
He Who created death and life, that He may try which of you is best in deed: and He is the Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving. (Surat al-Mulk: 2)
Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm, in order to try him: So We gave him (the gifts) of hearing and sight. (Surat al-Insan: 2)
In the Qur’an, Allah further makes it clear that nothing is purposeless:
Not for (idle) sport did We create the heavens and the earth and all that is between them! If it had been Our wish to take (just) a pastime,We did not create heaven and earth and everything in between them as a game. If We had desired to have some amusement, We could have found it in Our presence, if We would do (such a thing)! (Surat al-Anbiya: 16-17)
The Secret of the World
Allah indicates the purpose of man in the following verse:
That which is on earth We have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We may test them – as to which of them are best in conduct. We made everything on the earth adornment for it so that we could test them to see whose actions are the best. (Surat al-Kahf: 7)
In doing so, Allah expects man to remain His devoted servant all through his life. In other words, the world is a place where those who fear Allah and those who are ungrateful to Allah are distinguished from each other. The good and the evil, the perfect and the flawed are side by side in this “setting”. Man is being tested in many ways. In the end, the believers will be separated from the disbelievers and attain the Paradise. In the Qur’an it is described thus:
We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false.Do people imagine that they will be left to say, ‘We believe,’ and will not be tested? We tested those before them so that Allah would know the truthful and would know the liars. (Surat al-‘Ankabut: 2-3)
In order to have an understanding of the essence of this test, one needs to have a deep understanding of one’s Creator whose existence and attributes are revealed in everything that exists. He is the Creator, the Possessor of infinite power, knowledge, and wisdom.
He is Allah, Allah – the Creator, the Maker, the Bestower of Forms.Giver of Form. To Him belong the most beautiful names: whatever isnames. Everything in the heavens and on earth, declare His glory: and He is the Exalted in might, the Wise.earth glorifies Him. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. (Surat al-Hashr: 24)
Allah created man from clay, endowed him with many features, and bestowed many favours upon him. Nobody acquires the traits of seeing, hearing, walking or breathing by himself. Moreover, these complex systems were placed in his body in the womb before he was born and when he was without any ability to perceive the outer world.
Given all these traits, what is expected of man is to be a servant of Allah. However, as Allah makes clear in the Qur’an, the majority of people are “wrongdoers” and “ungrateful” to their Creator, for they refuse submission to Allah. They suppose that life is long and that they possess the individual strength to survive.
That is why their purpose is to “make the most of their lives while they last”. They forget death and the hereafter. They endeavour to enjoy life and to attain better living standards. Allah explains the attachment of these people to this life in the following verse:
As to these, they love the fleeting life, and put away behind them a day (that will be) hard. (Surat al-Insan: 27)
||In the Qur’an, the last remaining authentic revelation which guides humanity to the true path, Allah repeatedly reminds us of the temporary nature of this world, summoning us to clarity of mind and consciousness. Indeed, wherever we live, we are all vulnerable to the devastating effects of this world, a self-explanatory phenomenon for people who observe life and the happenings around us. This is also true of all the attractions surrounding us. The pictures in this page are each a demonstration of this fact. Any corner of the world, no matter how impressive, will be exposed to unavoidable deterioration in a few decades, sometimes in even shorter periods of time than one would have ever expected.
||Everything on earth is destined to perish. This is the real nature of worldly life…
Disbelievers endeavour to taste all the pleasures of this life. Yet, as the verse implies, life passes very quickly. This is the crucial point that the majority of people fail to remember.
Let us think about an example to further clarify the subject. Read the rest of this entry »