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 kilometers away from its location of the previous
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
The reason why man exists on earth is recounted by Allah in the Qur'an
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 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:
|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.
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. (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. (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, the Creator, the Maker, the Bestower of Forms. To Him belong
the most beautiful names: whatever is in the heavens and on earth, declare
His glory: and He is the Exalted in might, the Wise. (Surat al-Hashr:
Allah created man from clay, endowed him with many features, and bestowed
many favors 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 endeavor 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)
Disbelievers endeavor 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.
A Few Seconds or a Few Hours?
|Everything on earth is
destined to perish. This is the real nature of worldly life...
Think about a typical holiday: after months of hard work, you have your
two weeks' vacation and arrive at your favorite holiday resort after
an exhausting eight hours' ride. The lobby is crowded with holidaymakers
like you. You even notice familiar faces and greet them. The weather is
warm and you do not want to miss one moment enjoying the sunshine and
the calm sea, so without losing any time, you find your room, put on your
swimsuit and hurry to the beach. At last, you are in the crystal-clear
water, but suddenly you are startled by a voice: "Wake up, you will be
late for work!"
You find these words nonsense. For a moment, you cannot grasp what
is happening; there is an incomprehensible discrepancy between what
you see and hear. When you open your eyes and find yourself in your
bedroom, the fact that it was all a dream astonishes you greatly. You
cannot keep yourself from expressing this astonishment: " I rode eight
hours to reach there. Despite the freezing cold outside here today,
I felt the sunshine there in my dream. I felt water splashing on my
The eight hours' drive to the resort, the time you waited in the lobby,
in short everything related to your vacation was actually a dream of
a few seconds. Though indistinguishable from real life, what you experienced
in a genuine way was merely a dream.
This suggests that we may well be awoken from life on earth just as
we are awoken from dream. Then, disbelievers will express exactly the
same type of astonishment. In the course of their lives, they could
not liberate themselves from the misperception that their lives would
be long. Yet, at the time when they will be recreated, they will comprehend
that the period of time which appears to have been a lifetime of sixty
or seventy years was as if it were merely a few seconds' duration. Allah
relates this fact in the Qur'an:
He will say: "What number of years did you stay
on earth?" They will say: "We stayed a day or part of a day: but ask
those who keep account." He will say: "You stayed not but a little,
if you had only known!" (Surat al-Muminun: 112-114)
Whether it be ten years or a hundred, man will
eventually realize the shortness of his life as the verse above relates.
This is just like the case of a man who wakes up from dream bitterly
witnessing the vanishing of all images of a nice, long holiday, suddenly
realising that it had merely been a dream of a few seconds' length.
Similarly, the shortness of life will most strike man when all else
about his life is forgotten. Allah enjoins careful attention to this
fact in the following verse of the Qur'an: On the day that the hour
(of reckoning) will be established, the transgressors will swear that
they tarried not but an hour: thus were they used to being deluded!
(Surat or- Rum: 55)
No less than those who live for a few hours or a few days, those who
live for seventy years also have a limited time in this world…
Something limited is bound to end one day. Be life eighty or a hundred
years long, each day brings man closer to that predestined day. Man,
in reality, experiences this fact throughout the course of his life.
No matter how long-term a plan he devises for himself, one day he attains
that specific time when he will accomplish his goal. Every precious
objective or thing deemed a turning point in one's life soon turns out
merely to have been a passing whim.
Think of a boy, for instance, who recently entered high school. Typically,
he cannot wait for the day on which he will graduate. He looks forward
to it with unrestrained eagerness. Yet soon he finds himself enrolling
in college. At this stage of his life, he does not even recall the long
years of high school. He already has other things on his mind; he wants
to take advantage of these precious years to ease his fears for the
future. Hence, he makes numerous plans. Before long, he becomes busy
arranging his forthcoming wedding, a very special occasion that he eagerly
awaits. Yet time passes faster than he expected and he leaves many years
behind him and finds himself a man supporting a family. By the time
he becomes a grandfather, an old man now in declining health, he faintly
recalls the events from which he derived pleasure as a young man. Grim
memories do fade. The troubles that obsessed him as a young man interest
him no more. Only a few images of his life unfurl before his eyes. The
appointed time approaches. The time left is very limited; a few years,
months or possibly even just days. The classic story of man, without
exception, ends here with a funeral service, immediate family members,
close friends and relatives attending. The reality is that no man is
immune to this end.
Nevertheless, from the beginning of history, Allah has instructed
man about the temporary nature of this world and described the Hereafter,
his real and eternal residence. Many details pertaining to paradise
and hell are depicted in the revelations of Allah. Despite this fact,
man tends to forget this essential truth and tries to invest all his
efforts in this life, even though it is short and temporary. However
only those who assume a rational approach to life are summoned to clarity
of mind and consciousness and realize that this life is not worth anything
compared to the eternal one. That is why man's objective in life is
only to attain paradise, an eternal place of Allah's benevolence and
enduring abundance. Seeking the contentment of Allah with true faith
is the only way to obtain it. However, those who try not to think about
the unavoidable end of this world, and who lead a life in keeping with
such an attitude surely deserve eternal punishment.
Allah in the Qur'an relates the awful end that will meet these people:
One day He will gather them together: (It will
be) as if they had tarried but an hour of a day: they will recognize each
other: assuredly those will be lost who denied the meeting with Allah
and refused to receive true guidance. (Surah Yunus: 45)
Therefore patiently persevere, as did (all) Messengers
of inflexible purpose; and be in no haste about the (disbelievers).
On the Day that they see the (punishment) promised them, (it will be)
as if they had not tarried more than an hour in a single day. (Yours
is but) to proclaim the Message: but shall any be destroyed except those
who transgress? (Surat al-Ahqaf: 35)
Earlier in this book, we mentioned that the time an ordinary man spends
in this world is as short as "the blink of an eye". Yet, no matter what
a man possesses in life, he does not attain real contentment unless
he has faith in Allah and keeps himself occupied with His remembrance.
From the time he begins to become an adult he craves wealth, power
or status. To one's astonishment however, he has limited resources to
satisfy these cravings; there is no chance whatsoever to possess everything
he desires. Neither wealth, nor success nor any form of prosperity,
however, will placate his ambitions. Regardless of social status or
gender, people's lives are most often limited to six or seven decades
only. Upon the termination of this period, death renders all worldly
tastes and joys meaningless.
One who is prone to unbridled desires always finds himself incurably
"dissatisfied". At every stage of life, this dissatisfaction is always
there, while the causes change according to time and conditions. The
will to satisfy these desires can make some people indulge in almost
anything. He may be so committed to his desires that he is willing to
face every consequence, even if it means losing the love of immediate
family or being an outcast. Yet by the time he accomplishes his goal,
the "magic" disappears. He loses all interest in his accomplished purpose.
Moreover, not being content with this accomplishment, he immediately
starts to seek another and makes every effort to attain it until he
at last achieves it in turn.
Having unbridled ambition is the typical characteristic of a disbeliever.
This trait remains with him until he dies. He never feels satisfied
with what he possesses. That is because he simply wants everything for
his own selfish greed and not to obtain the contentment of Allah. Likewise,
everything people possess and toil to possess is a reason for boasting,
and people become heedless of Allah's limits. Surely, Allah will not
allow one who is so rebellious against Him to have peace of mind in
this world. Allah says in the Qur'anic verse:
Those who believe and whose hearts find satisfaction
in the remembrance of Allah: for, without doubt, in the remembrance
of Allah do hearts find satisfaction. (Surat ar-Ra'd: 28)
A Deceptive World
Countless examples of the perfection of the creation surround man
all over the world: gorgeous landscapes, millions of different kinds
of plants, the blue sky, clouds heavy with rain, or the human body -
a perfect organism full of complex systems. These are all breathtaking
examples of creation, reflection on which provides deep insight.
Seeing a butterfly displaying its wings, the marvelously intricate
patterns of which are statements of its identity, is an experience never
to be forgotten. The feathers of a bird's head, so fine and lustrous
that they look like rich black velvet, or the attractive colors and
scent of a flower are all amazing to the human soul.
Everyone, almost without exception, appreciates a beautiful face.
Opulent mansions, gold-plated fixtures and luxury cars for some people
are the most cherished possessions. Man craves many other things in
life, yet the beauty of whatever we possess is destined to perish in
A fruit gradually darkens and finally decays from the moment it is
plucked from its branch. The scent of flowers fills our rooms only for
a limited period. Soon, their colors fade and they wither away. The
prettiest face wrinkles after a few decades: the effect of years on
skin and the greying of hairs make that pretty face no different from
those of other elderly people. No trace remains of the healthy complexion
or ruddy cheeks of a teenager after the passage of years. Buildings
need renovation, automobiles become old-fashioned and, even worse, rusty.
In brief, everything surrounding us is subject to the ravages of time.
This seems to be a "natural process" for some. However, this conveys
a clear message: "Nothing is immune to the effects of time."
Above all, every plant, animal, and human being in the world -
that is to say, every living thing - is mortal. The fact that
the world population does not shrink over the centuries - due
to births - should not make us ignore the fact of death.
Yet as an unbridled passion, the spell of possessions and wealth influences
man greatly. The lust for possessions unwittingly captures him. However,
one point should be grasped: Allah is the sole Owner of everything.
Living things remain alive as long as He wills and they die when He
decrees their death.
Allah calls upon man to reflect on this in the following verse:
The likeness of the life of the present is as
the rain which We send down from the skies: by its mingling arises the
produce of the earth - which provides food for men and animals:
(It grows) till the earth is clad with its golden ornaments and is decked
out (in beauty): the people to whom it belongs think they have all powers
of disposal over it: There reaches it Our command by night or by day,
and We make it like a harvest clean-mown, as if it had not flourished
only the day before! Thus do We explain the Signs in detail for those
who reflect. (Surah Yunus: 24)
In this verse, it is shown that everything on this earth deemed nice
and beautiful will lose its beauty one day. Moreover, they will all
disappear from the surface of this earth. This is a very important point
to ponder since Allah informs us that He gives such examples "for those
who think". As an intelligent being, what is expected from man is to
think and to take lessons from events and finally to set rational objectives
for his life. "Thought" and "comprehension" are the unique traits of
man; without these traits man lacks his most distinctive features and
becomes lower than the animals. Animals also lead lives which are similar
in many respects to human lives: they breathe, breed, and, one day,
die. Animals never think why and how they are born, or that they will
die one day. It is very natural that they do not engage in an effort
to comprehend the real objective of this life; they are not expected
to think about the purpose of their creation or about the Creator.
And coin for them the similitude of the life
of the world as water which We send down from the sky, and the
vegetation of the earth mingled with it and then became dry twigs
that the winds scatter. Allah is able to do all things.
(Surat al-Kahf: 45)
However, man is responsible to Allah for building consciousness of
Allah through pondering on and being mindful of His orders. Furthermore,
he is expected to comprehend that this world exists only for a limited
period. Those who truly comprehend these facts will seek Allah's guidance
and illumination by engaging in good deeds.
Otherwise, man meets suffering both in this world and the Hereafter.
He becomes wealthy, but never attains happiness. Beauty and fame usually
entail misfortune rather than a joyous life. A celebrity, for instance,
who one day basks in the adulation of his fans later battles severe health
problems, and one day dies alone in a small hotel room with no-one caring
Qur'anic Examples of the Deception of the World
Allah repeatedly emphasizes in the Qur'an that this is just a "world
where all pleasures are doomed to perish". Allah tells the stories of
those societies and men and women of the past who rejoiced in their wealth,
fame or social status yet met disastrous ends. That is exactly what happened
to the two men related in Surat al-Kahf:
Set forth to them the parable of two men:
for one of them We provided two gardens of grape-vines and surrounded
them with date-palms; in between the two We placed corn-fields.
Each of those gardens brought forth its produce,
and failed not in the least therein: in the midst of them We caused a
river to flow. (Abundant) was the produce this man had: he said to his
companion, in the course of a mutual argument: "more wealth have I than
you, and more honor and power in (my following of) men."
He went into his garden in a state (of mind) unjust
to his soul: He said, "I deem not that this will ever perish, nor do I
deem that the Hour (of Judgement) will (ever) come: Even if I am brought
back to my Lord, I shall surely find (there) something better in exchange."
His companion said to him, in the course of the
argument with him: "Do you deny Him Who created you out of dust, then
out of a sperm-drop, then fashioned you into a man? But (I think) for
my part that He is Allah, my Lord, and none shall I associate with my
Lord. Why did you not, as you went into your garden, say: 'Allah's will
(be done)! There is no power but with Allah!' If you see me less than
you in wealth and sons, it may be that my Lord will give me something
better than your garden, and that He will send on your garden thunderbolts
(by way of reckoning) from heaven, making it (but) slippery sand! Or the
water of the garden will run off underground so that you will never be
able to find it."
So his fruits (and enjoyment) were encompassed
(with ruin), and he remained twisting and turning his hands over what
he had spent on his property, which had (now) tumbled to pieces to its
very foundations, and he could only say, "Woe is me! Would I had never
ascribed partners to my Lord and Cherisher!" Nor had he numbers to help
him against Allah, nor was he able to deliver himself.
There, the (only) protection comes from Allah,
the True One. He is the Best to reward, and the Best to give success.
Set forth to them the similitude of the life of this world: It is like
the rain which we send down from the skies; the earth's vegetation absorbs
it, but soon it becomes dry stubble, which the winds scatter: it is (only)
Allah who prevails over all things. Wealth and sons are allurements of
the life of this world, but the things that endure, good deeds, are best
in the sight of your Lord as rewards, and best as (the foundation for)
hopes. (Surat al-Kahf: 32-46)
Boasting about one's possessions causes a person to be ridiculous. This
is the unvarying law of Allah. Wealth and power are given as a gift by
Allah and can, at any time, be taken away. The story of "the people of
paradise" which is recounted in the Qur'an is another example of this:
Verily We have tried them as We tried the people
of the garden, when they resolved to gather the fruits of the (garden)
in the morning but made no reservation, ("if it be Allah's Will").Then
there came on the (garden) a visitation from your Lord, (which swept away)
all around, while they were asleep.
So the (garden) became, by the morning, like a
dark and desolate spot (whose fruit had been gathered).
As the morning broke, they called out, one to
another, "Go you to your tilt (betimes) in the morning, if you would gather
the fruits." So they departed, conversing in secret low tones, (saying)
"Let not a single indigent person break in upon you into the (garden)
this day." And they opened the morning, strong in an (unjust) resolve.
But when they saw the (garden), they said: "We have surely lost our way:
Indeed we are shut out (of the fruits of our labor)!" Said one of them,
more just (than the rest): "Did I not say to you, 'Why not glorify (Allah)?'"
They said: "Glory to our Lord! Verily we have been doing wrong!" Then
they turned one against another, in reproach. Then some of them advanced
against others, blaming each other. They said: "Alas for us! We have indeed
transgressed! It may be that our Lord will give us in exchange a better
(garden) than this: for we do turn to Him (in repentance)!"
Such is the punishment (in this life); but greater
is the punishment in the Hereafter, if only they knew! (Surat al-Qalam:
The attentive eye immediately recognizes from these verses that Allah
does not give examples of atheists in this story. The ones in question
here are exactly those who believe in Allah but whose hearts have become
insensitive towards His remembrance and who are ungrateful to their Creator.
They take pride in possessing what Allah gives them as favors, and totally
forget that these possessions are only resources to be used in His way.
Typically, they affirm the existence and power of Allah; however, their
hearts are full of pride, ambition and selfishness.
The story of Qarun, one of the people of Moses, is narrated in the
Qur'an as an example of the archetypal wealthy worldly character. Both
Qarun and those who yearn for his status and wealth are so-called believers
who cast their religion away for possessions and thus lose the blessed
eternal life, whose loss is eternal deprivation:
Qarun was doubtless of the people of Moses but
he acted insolently towards them: such were the treasures We had bestowed
on him that their very keys would have been a burden to a body of strong
men, behold, his people said to him: "Exult not, for Allah love not those
who exult (in riches). But seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed
on you, the Home of the Hereafter, nor forget your portion in this world:
but do good, as Allah has been good to you, and seek not (occasions for)
mischief in the land: for Allah loves not those who do mischief." He said:
"This has been given to me because of a certain knowledge which I have."
Did he not know that Allah had destroyed, before him, (whole) generations,
which were superior to him in strength and greater in the amount (of riches)
they had collected? But the wicked are not called (immediately) to account
for their sins.
So he went forth among his people in the (pride
of his worldly) glitter. Said those whose aim is the life of this world:
"Oh! That we had the like of what Qarun has! For he is truly a lord of
mighty good fortune!" But those who had been granted (true) knowledge
said: "Alas for you! The reward of Allah (in the Hereafter) is best for
those who believe and work righteousness: but this none shall attain,
save those who steadfastly persevere (in good)." Then We caused the earth
to swallow up him and his house; and he had not (the least little) party
to help him against Allah, nor could he defend himself. And those who
had envied his position the day before began to say on the morrow: "Ah!
It is indeed Allah who enlarges the provision or restricts it, to any
of His slaves He pleases! Had it not been that Allah was gracious to us,
He could have caused the earth to swallow us up! Ah! Those who reject
Allah will assuredly never prosper." That home of the hereafter We shall
give to those who intend not high-handedness or mischief on earth: and
the end is (best) for the righteous.
Anyone who does a good action will get something
better. As for anyone who does a bad action, those who have done bad actions
will only be repaid for what they did. (Surat al-Qasas: 76-84)
The main misdeed of Qarun was to see himself as a separate being apart
from and independent of Allah. Indeed, as the verse suggests, he did not
deny the existence of Allah, but simply assumed that he - due to
his superior traits - deserved the power and wealth bestowed on
him by Allah. However, all people in the world are servants of Allah and
their possessions are not given to them simply because they deserve them.
Everything given to man is the favor of Allah. If he is aware of this
fact, man will not become ungrateful and spoilt towards his Creator due
to the riches in his possessions. He will only feel grateful and show
this gratitude by his good manners towards Allah. This is certainly the
best and most honorable way of showing one's gratitude to Allah. On the
other hand, Qarun and those who aspire to be like Qarun realize the wicked
deeds they engage in only when a disaster falls upon them. After all the
harm that befalls them, if they persist and still revolt against Allah,
they are utterly ruined. Their end will be unavoidable: the Hell, an evil
place in which to remain!
Know you (all), that the life of this world is
but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying (in rivalry)
among yourselves, riches and children. Here is a similitude: How rain
and the growth which it brings forth delight (the hearts of) the tillers;
soon it withers; you will see it grow yellow; then it becomes dry and
crumbles away. But in the Hereafter is a Penalty severe (for the devotees
of wrong). And Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the
devotees of Allah). And what is the life of this world, but goods and
chattels of deception? (Surat al-Hadid: 20)
TAKEN FROM "THE TRUTH OF THE LIFE OF THIS WORLD"
BY HARUN YAHYA, TA-HA PUBLISHERS, UNITED KINGDOM, 1999