THE PURPOSE OF OUR LIVES – A RAMADAN REFLECTION
By Sana Gul Waseem
This might be my last Ramadan. And I am very excited about it.
I intend to use this month to find, understand and fulfill the purpose of my life for as long as I live. It’s a win-win situation, as inshaAllah, for as long as I am alive, I would be fulfilling the purpose of life in this world, and if I die soon, then at least I would die with the intention of having doing so, in addition to having spent my time productively.
A totally beneficial process in my opinion!
That we are all dying is a fact, for as Allah says:
كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۗ
“Every soul will taste death…”[Surah Ali’Imran; 185]
This ayah however, works its magic differently for me, as on coming to end of the long road of medical treatment for cancer, I can see death more clearly than ever before. On the other hand, the fact that I choose to hold on to my belief in Allah that all cure comes from Him, and in the saying of Prophet Muhammad :
“There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its remedy.” [Bukhari]
I am very hopeful of winning this battle inshaAllah.
With the arrival of Ramadan and its mercies, abundance, and blessings, I want to benefit more from the recommended acts during this month. As I thought about this, I realized what could be better than to use these acts to find, understand, and fulfill the purpose of my existence and live my days more attuned and in sync with it?
From the amount of time that I have lived in this world (a lady never tells her age!) I have learnt through a very hard way how to accomplish these three goals tied to the purpose of our lives.
FIND THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” [ Surah Adh-Dhariyat; 56]
There! The purpose of my existence spelled out for me. Whew! 1/3 of the work done.
I firmly believe with all my heart and mind in the word of Allah and accept the truth of the fact that my purpose of existence is solely to “worship Allah .”
UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
Understanding the purpose was as hard as finding the purpose was easy. Let me show you how! As my health started slipping rapidly, holding on to hope as part of my faith, became my goal. But hope is a fickle thing. Sometimes it stayed and at times it deserted me. I realized I needed something stronger than just hope to hold onto my faith, as no matter what, I cannot afford to use my faith!
I searched for ways which could keep my faith going, and to entice hope to stay longer with me. I turned to Allah for help. and He helped me by drawing my attention towards the example of Prophet Ayub . I felt that although the magnitude of my tests is much lesser than his ever were, they fell into similar categories. Losing health, battling personal issues; I felt my plate was overloaded to the point of breaking.
Struggling to be patient and hopeful at times, I yearned to know how he managed both at all times. I tried to get to know him more, in the hope of finding his secret to being so awesome. The immense reward he received from Allah , propelled me further. Even if I got a tiny portion of it, it would be so great! I then came across a lecture on prophet Ayub , and as I sat in the hospital bed with chemo coursing through my veins praying it would work, I eagerly listened.
Allah gave me what I wanted in His own way. I listened to the lecture in the hope of hearing something new about him, but began to feel disappointed when no new information came up. Nevertheless, I decided to go on a with it. The secret finally broke through the cloud of drowsiness brought by the chemo meds, and I sat up!
It was very simple. He had found the purpose of life and kept his focus on it. With all of his worldly possessions, his loved ones, and his body gone, the only thing that worked was his heart and tongue. He used the only things that worked to worship Allah , thus fulfilling the purpose of his existence. I had much more things than him that worked for now!
I felt light; as if a huge boulder had been removed from my chest. Good health and other blessings are as transient as bad health and misfortunes, and this effects the way I live and feel, as it effects my faith. If I simply moved my focus away from what was currently going on in my life in order to fulfill the purpose of my existence (like Ayub had), then no matter what, I would always be working to achieve this purpose.
This is why it is very important to truly comprehend the purpose of our existence. It helps to keep our focus on the main goal -that is to worship Allah – and not get overwhelmed with either a cascade of blessings or a mudslide of misfortunes. Ayub never lost his focus, but instead worshipped Allah in all circumstances.
FULFILL THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
Unlike the previous steps, fulfilling this purpose is an ongoing process. It requires focus on the goal, self-introspection, reflection upon the word of Allah and His creation, and innovation to tailor our acts of worshipping Allah according to our current circumstances .
Life, with its many distractions and with shaitaan as a persistent enemy, keeping our focus on the goal is not a piece of cake. With our busy schedules, self-introspection and reflection seem time consuming! And innovation requires creativity.
This is why, Ramadan is the perfect time to begin the process of finding, understanding, implementing a plan and getting into a habit of fulfilling the purpose of our existence in this world.
For those of you who will fast, each moment that you are fasting you will be in a constant state of worship. We all carve time out to read at least some portion of the Quran, increase our dua’s, consciously make an effort to do good deeds, give charity, and increase our prayers. Use this time to reflect upon the word of Allah , self-reflect and to open your eyes to the magic that unfolds in the creation of Allah each day. Get into a habit of daily dhikr while driving, or even waiting in queues. Beg Allah to help you never lose focus of the goal and help you fulfill it no matter what.
The reward for just trying is immense!
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ إِنَّا لَا نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ مَنْ أَحْسَنَ عَمَلًا
“Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – indeed, We will not allow to be lost the reward of any who did well in deeds.” [Surah Kahf; 30]
I take your leave with some promises that Allah has made to us which will come to pass, as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, inshaAllah.
مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
“Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, a life that is good and pure and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.” [Surah An-Nahl; 97]
وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ ۙ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ
“To those who believe and do deeds of righteousness has Allah promised forgiveness and a great reward.” [Surah Al-Ma’idah; 9]
Sana Gul Waseem, is a lecturer at Islamic Online University, teaching Business Administration and Islamic Business Ethics. She is also on the author call of Productive Muslim and Islamic Online University and has previously published in SISTERS, Virtual Mosque and Habibi Halaqas.