Each of us asks “What is the life our lives” and “Why is it we here?” I have for a long time tried to make sense of my life, my choices, and my purpose and role here on earth. I have studied religion and found myself questioning my faith more often because I am Muslim woman in the United States. Moreover, I am Muslim woman in corporate America.
I have long sought the answers in Islam and other faiths to get some kind of concise meaning for all of it and all the roles I play in my life, a mother, a wife, a working person, and as a member of the human race. I ponder questions and I want answers, and the answers are different depending on who you ask. Many would tell their purpose is to be successful, happy, or charitable, but what reasoning do they have? If our purpose is to do these things, what do we have left once we have done them?
We look at our lives with meaning and purpose, but we still feel worthless, like we just haven’t found what we are looking for. I was raised in the Islamic faith, and I have always looked at my life from a spiritual, non-religious perspective, but I wanted to a better feeling of worth, because that spirituality just did not seem like enough.
Someone in his or her 30s or 40s may believe that all they need is to give their families a good life, whereas a person in 80s would replace all the money in the world for their health. Your teenager may believe that the purpose of life spending time with friends and being popular and your six-year just wants a new toy. What determines self-worth is going to depend on the stage of your life you are in.
Money will not follow you to the afterlife; neither will your health nor family or friends nor material things. If you are a disbeliever, you will live in fear of the end. While it is nice to have all these things in this world, you also need to focus on the afterlife. The challenge and contemplation of where we belong and our purpose is best reflected upon when we become parents. Suddenly, we see wealth and power does not define who we are and that our time here on earth is only temporary. Our actions and what we teach our children are what we will take to the afterlife. How can you enjoy your wealth if you are so skeptical of the world, of our own actions, and of where we belong? Our material worth will be gone when we are gone.
Between being children and adults, we begin our question our existence and some of us rebel, but in the end, we always come back to our beliefs. The only advice that I can offer to young people is to make sure they can live with the decisions they make now and that those decisions do not affect their futures. There will be a day when we all question our existence and we will come back to Islam and Allah, and we should be prepared for how our past decisions play in the decisions we make when we embrace Islam again. For example, if you decide to have a child out of marriage, be prepared to understand that that other child’s parent, if that parent is non-Muslim, may raise that child as a non-Muslim. That is something that will be a difficult blunt to bear when you are trying to be a good Muslim. Remember that Allah is merciful and forgiving, but as a parent, you owe a duty to yourself and to Allah to teach your child Islam, even under the most difficult circumstances.
We all need a purpose in life and worship is a good purpose. Our lives here on Earth can be fulfilling but they do require us to embrace Islam to submit to Allah. Our goal is the next life where Allah will reward us for our faith, our intentions, our attitudes and our good deeds. Remember that Islam teaches us that life on Earth is only a test our true natures and in the end, we all must accept death in order to beginning our final destination in the hereafter.
If there really is a true purpose for all of us, it is that our first lives are only a test. The life in the grave is a place to rest before the Day of Judgment. The Day of Judgment is the day we will clearly understand our fate based on actions in the first life. The Afterlife will be either one of paradise or one of punishment. If we can clearly and fully understand that, then our purpose, as Muslims, is clear.