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1. Destination: The Qur’anic statement,
To God we belong and to God is our return
represents the Islamic map of life. It is an entire way of seeing and responding to the world, where life and every particle of it takes on direction, significance, and purpose when God is the beginning and the end.
2. Choice: Humans, like all creatures, must by necessity be servants to something. Throughout their journey, every human is confronted with essentially the same choice: Will they be a slave to God or to false masters of their own making? There are no other alternatives. The Qur’anic declaration,
You (God) alone we worship; You alone we ask for help
emphasizes servitude to and reliance on God alone, and freedom and independence from everything else.
3. Sole Power: A human affirming that, “There is no god but God” is submitting to God not only as the Creator but also as the only Master, Refuge, Sustainer, Sovereign, Law-Giver, and the only Power that can benefit or harm, give or withhold, exalt or abase, cause life or death; therefore, no one has the right to be worshiped, or sought help from, or hoped, or feared except God alone. This attitude is summed up succinctly in the Qur’an as:
Sufficient for me is God; there is no god except Him. On Him I have relied, and He is the lord of the Great Throne
4. Living worship: To submit properly, one must fully submit, with all of life’s activities conforming to the instructions of the one to whom one is submitting. Islam, being a whole way of life, provides a concept of worship as broad as life itself, encompassing not only ritual worship, but also behavior and common daily tasks. It thus allows the whole of one’s life to be an act of worship, as long as every action, however small, is done sincerely with the pure intention of pleasing God and is consistent with His Way. A supplication in the Qur’an reads:
Indeed, my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are all for God, the Lord of the worlds
God points out in His Words,
You (Satan) will certainly have no authority over My servants, except the deviant who follow you
that the belief in His Oneness and the worship of Him alone frees the human being from slavery, diminution, and subjugation of oneself to false gods and false attachments.
1. Special distinction: According to the Qur’an, God created humans in the best form with the highest faculties of feeling and intellect (95:4), and distinguished them above many of His other creatures (17:70).
2. Equal before God: All human beings are equal, having intrinsic worth and dignity. Superiority of one over another is only on the basis of piety and good action:
Verily, in God’s Sight, the noblest of you is the most righteous of you
3. God’s vicegerent: Every human has both the dignity and the responsibility to act as God’s vicegerent or representative on earth. The role of every individual is one of guardianship and betterment, which requires nurturing and acting according to God’s Qualities (truth, compassion, mercy, knowledge, justice, and so forth) and Law in every aspect of life towards every created being.
4. Individual responsibility: Every human, and no one else, will bear the consequences of their actions, good or evil, during this life journey. Their time, knowledge, wealth, and strength are the most important assets of which they should make the best use for the benefit of themselves and others. On Judgement Day, every individual will be asked by God how they spent each of these.
5. Trust: Earth, creation, and nature have been placed in the hands of humankind in trust, and not as property, to be used for the benefit of humanity and all created beings. It shall be accounted for when life is over.
THE ISLAMIC PURPOSE OF LIFE IS A CONSTANT ONE, PREVALENT THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE LIFE