From where did people come?
For what purpose?
Where are they going?
What will they find there?
Day and night come and go while most people live trapped in shallow purposes, distracted by material things from what lies behind them. Appearances blind them from seeing the great realities, forgetting that Allah has created them for a purpose, to live a life on earth for a limited period, assigned during it with certain duties, after which there shall be a grand meeting to ask them about every word they said and every deed they did.
(Indeed, the hearing, the sight, and the heart – about each of those you will be questioned (by Allah)
(Al-Isra’ 17: 36)
Amidst hordes of worldly distractions, and the running of each after their own worldly pursuit, arises the guiding voice of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) calling upon people, waking them from slumber, moving them from fear to trust, answering “from where and to where?”,
Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.
(Al-Baqarah 2: 156)
Teaching the high aim of their existence,
I (Allah) did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.
(Az-Zariyat 51: 56)
Reminding them of what they have forgotten,
(Fear a Day when you will be returned to Allah. Then every soul will be compensated for what it earned, and they will not be wronged.)
(Al-Baqarah 2: 281)
Warning against what they have been deceived by,
Follow not the footsteps of Satan. Verily, he is to you an open enemy.
(Al-Baqarah 2: 168)
Telling them of the provisions they need for the meeting with their Lord1,
Take provisions, indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah.
(Al-Baqarah 2: 197)
And, showing the shortest distance from where they are to where they belong: the Straight Path,
(Indeed, you (O Muhammad) invite them to a Straight Path. And verily, those who believe not in the hereafter are indeed deviating far astray from the Path.)8 Any curve or swerve in the line they are traveling will diverge them from the direct path, (Verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His Path.)
(Al-Mu’minun 23: 73-74)
“Allah has set an example,” Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said. “A Straight Path bordered by walls on both sides, with several open doors within the walls, covered with curtains. There is a caller on the gate of the Straight Path who heralds, ‘O people! Join the path all of you and do not deviate from it.’ A caller from inside the path is also warning any person who wants to open any of these doors, ‘Mercy be to you! Do not open it! If you open it, you will pass through.’ The Straight Path is Islam, the two walls are the Boundaries of Allah Almighty, and the open doors are the things that Allah Almighty has prohibited. The caller on the gate of the Straight Path is the Book of Allah Almighty, and the caller above the Straight Path is an admonisher from Allah in the heart of every Muslim.”2
With presence of purpose and the path of reaching it, triviality and absurdity are replaced with the true meanings of life:
Verily, my prayer, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the worlds
(Al-An’am 6: 162)
The new awareness stills the mind and dissolves any worries, fears, or doubts. People are not created without a purpose,
Did you think that We (Allah) created you in play (without a purpose), and that you would not be brought back to Us?
(Al-Mu’minun 23: 115)
They will not be left to go to waste,
Never will I allow to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female
(Al-‘Imran 3: 195)
And they will not travel the path alone, (And when My servants ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me – I am indeed near. I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls upon Me
without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, that they may be led aright
(Al-Baqarah 2: 186)
- Adapted from Muhammad Al-Ghazali, Ma‘a Allah (With Allah), chapter one: Defining Da‘wah, Nahdet Misr Publishing House.
- Narrated by An-Nawwas bin Sam‘an: Musnad Ahmad, Book of Ash-Shamyyin, Hadith no. 16976; similar versions by At-Tirmidhy (2786) and Ahmad (16978).