Chapter 13: The Ultimate Goal
Having understood our origin, our present and our future we can project some light on the topic of our ultimate goal. The following points can be mentioned as examples:
A) We are created by Allah, the Wise. We are not created through chance or without any purpose.
B) Our Creator is absolutely needless. So whatever is considered by Him as the goal of our creation is completely to our benefit. We should try our best to actualize whatever He wants for us.
C) This universe is perishable. Everything in this universe is also perishable. So it is not as precious as ourselves. We can live forever since our spirits are not material and mortal. So we should search to find our goal in something other than this material life. We must avoid becoming engaged in a circular life.
D) An endless future is awaiting us. The pleasures or pains in the Hereafter are not comparable with those of this universe. Complete happiness can be experienced only in Paradise.
E) Our future completely depends on our present.
F) In Islam every value is debited to the relationship with Allah. Our happiness is based on our voluntary devotion to Him. If we are close to Him nothing can threaten us.
It seems that these points are enough for everyone to decide for himself. We shall try, however, to consider this issue from another point of view and then we will concentrate on the concept of closeness to Allah and its consequences.
Allah is absolutely needless. He is also the Wise. So He creates purposefully. In the Glorious Qur'an it is 1nuch emphasized that creation is not purposeless.
لَوْ أَرَدْنَا أَنْ نَتَّخِذَ لَهْوًا لَاتَّخَذْنَاهُ مِنْ لَدُنَّا إِنْ كُنَّا فَاعِلِينَ
“Had We wished to make a diversion, We would have mad e it from before Ourselves: by no means would We do (it).” (21:17).
أَفَحَسِبْتُمْ أَنَّمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ عَبَثًا وَأَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْنَا لَا تُرْجَعُونَ
“What! Did you then think that We had created you in vain and that you shall not be returned to Us?” (23:115)
The benefit of creation is for creatures not the Creator, because the Creator is needless. Allah is able to create the opportunity for them to reach perfection. He is the Knowing so He knows how to do everything. He is also the Benevolent. Therefore He creates.
If we think deeply we will find that He has created the universe because of Himself. Nothing can influence Him or His decision. Nothing other than Him is to be considered.
This is what Islamic philosophers mean by saying that in the case of Allah, the final cause and the efficient cause are the same. But we can consider some middle goals in the chain of goals. So then it is the turn of the goodness of the creation itself. It means that Allah primarily has created the universe because of Himself and secondly because the creation and bringing into existence is better than nothing. Then comes the turn of providing the opportunity for perfection to creatures and then different (intellectual) stages of this process.
Among all creatures human beings can reach the highest levels of perfection or closeness to Allah. Thereby all beings are created for human beings, that is, they are means for the existence of the human beings. They are good in themselves and they have some degree of perfection, but only man can improve himself through his free will, and we know that the perfection brought into beings voluntarily is more precious.
هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مَا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا
“He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth.”(2:29).
وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمْ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا مِنْهُ
“And He has made subservient to you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth, all, from Himself.” (45:13).
This world is created to enable us to follow our spiritual journey. Here is the place of test, 'imtihan'. Although Allah has created everything for us and created us to test us, these are only means for the existence of real human beings. This is just like the exa1nple of school. Everything, including classes, chairs and blackboards are created for students. Students are asked to try their best to pass exams successfully. But this in itself is not important. Only those good students who pass the exams successfully actualize the hope and aim of the school makers or educational staff. In the Glorious Qur'an in one place Allah says:
الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا ۚوَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ
“Who created death and life that He may try you which of you is best in deeds; and He is the Mighty, the Forgiving.” (67:2).
Only those who are good and have good deeds are primarily intended. So in another verse Allah says:
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
“And I have not created the jinn and the men except to serve Me.” (51:56).
مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُمْ مِنْ رِزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَنْ يُطْعِمُونِ
“I do not desire from them any sustenance and I do not desire that they should feed Me.” (51:57).
إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِينُ
“Surely Allah is the Bestower of sustenance, the Lord of power, the Strong.” (51:58).
Allah wants us to worship Him and this implies to know Him and finally to get close to Him. According to some views the phrase لِيَعْبُدُونِ is interpreted as لِيَعْرفون meaning that I have created them only to know Me. This fact can be also understood from the verse (65:12). There is a divine saying, hadith qudsi1, which is very famous, that is:
کنت کنزاً مخفیاً فأحببت أن أعرف فخلقت الخلق لکی أعرف
“I was a hidden (secret or unknown) treasure, so I liked to be known; therefore, I created men to be known.”2
Imam Husayn (‘a) in the Prayer of 'Arafah says:
إِلٰهِي عَلِمْتُ بِٱخْتِلاَفِ ٱلآثَارِ وَتَنَقُّلاَتِ ٱلأَطْوَارِ أَنَّ مُرَادَكَ مِنِّي أَنْ تَتَعَرَّفَ إِلَيَّ فِي كُلِّ شَيْءٍ حَتَّىٰ لا أَجْهَلَكَ فِي شَيْءٍ
“O Allah! Through the variety of your signs (in the world of being) and the changes in states and conditions, I found that the purpose is to make yourself known to me in eve1ything, so that I would not ignore you in anything.”
This is one of the highest levels of perfection for men to know Allah in everything. This recalls to mind what Imam Ali (‘a) said:
ما رايت شيئا الّا وقد رايت اللّة قبله و بعده و معه
“I did not see anything except that I saw Allah before it and with it and after it.”3
These people, who are the perfect men 'insan kamil', are really the goal of the creation. In a divine saying Allah says to the Prophet (S):
لَوْ لاك لما خلقت الافلاك
“If you were not there I would not create the world.”4
The perfect man or woman actualizes the goal. Perfection is nothing but closeness to AJlah and receiving His pleasure. For He is the most perfect being and the source of all values and goods. The following are results of the closeness to Him which come after His pleasure:
A. Material Blessings
If a person or a society obeys Allah and gets His pleasure he or it will receive more and more blessings.
وَلَوْ أَنَّ أَهْلَ الْقُرَىٰ آمَنُوا وَاتَّقَوْا لَفَتَحْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ بَرَكَاتٍ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَلَٰكِنْ كَذَّبُوا فَأَخَذْنَاهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ
“And if the people of the towns had believed and guarded (against evil) we would certainly have opened up for them blessings from the heaven and the earth, but they rejected, so we overtook them for what they had earned.” (7:96).
The prophet Nuh (‘a) told his people:
فَقُلْتُ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفَّارًا
“Then I said: Ask forgiveness of your Lord, surely He is the most Forgiving.” (71:10).
يُرْسِلِ السَّمَاءَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِدْرَارًا
“He will send down upon you the cloud, pouring down abundance of rain.” (71:11).
وَيُمْدِدْكُمْ بِأَمْوَالٍ وَبَنِينَ وَيَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ وَيَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ أَنْهَارًا
“And help you with wealth and sons and make for you gardens, and make for you rivers.” (71:12).
B. Social Justice
If a society obeys Allah and follows His laws there will be no oppression. Every person will have the opportunity to have a comfortable life and to enjoy the results and benefits of his activities.
لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَنْزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ
“Certainly we sent our apostles with clear arguments, and sent down with them the Book and the balance that men may conduct themselves with equity.” (57:25).
According to above verse one of the aims of the prophethood is to establish social justice, 'qist'. In such societies people can be comfortable and they can easily perform their religious duties to reach His pleasure.
C. Freedom·From All Obstacles In The Process Of Self-Improvement
To be religious means to be devoted to Allah and divine values. At the same time it means to be free from false gods in the society, bad habits or customs, bad social norms or laws and superstitions. In the Glorious Qur'an we find that one of the works of the prophets is to free people.
الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الرَّسُولَ النَّبِيَّ الْأُمِّيَّ الَّذِي يَجِدُونَهُ مَكْتُوبًا عِنْدَهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنْجِيلِ يَأْمُرُهُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَائِثَ وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالْأَغْلَالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ فَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِهِ وَعَزَّرُوهُ وَنَصَرُوهُ وَاتَّبَعُوا النُّورَ الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ مَعَهُ ۙ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
“Those who follow the Apostle-Prophet the Ummi whom they find written down with them in the Torah and the Gospel, [who] enjoins them good and forbids them evil, and makes lawful to them the good things and makes unlawful to them impure things, and removes from them their burden and the shackles which were upon them; so [as for] those who believe in him and honor him and help him, and follow the light which has been sent down with him, these it is that are the successful (happy ).” (7:157).
D. Peace And Confidence
Whenever a man gets close to Allah the Lord of all universe, the Great, all other things appear light and small to him. He feels that he is under His protection so nothing can be harmful to him. He does not suffer any difficulties or pain except that they are to his own benefit and Allah will give him rewards.
There are many people in the world who have comfortable lives, but they suffer a lack of peace and confidence in their lives to the extent that some of them resort to alchoholic drinks or narcotic drugs to decrease their spiritual pain or really to decrease their self-consciousness. And finally they might commit suicide.
وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَنْ ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنْكًا وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَىٰ
“And whoever turns away from My reminder, his shall surely be a straitened life, and he will be raised on the day of resurrection, blind.” (20:124).
أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ
“Now surely by Allah's remembrance are the hearts at rest.” (13:28).
يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ
“O soul that art at rest!” ” (89:27).
ارْجِعِي إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَرْضِيَّةً
Return to your Lord well-pleased [with Him], well-pleasing [Him].” (89:28).
Imam Ali (‘a) says that the reason why the pious are not afraid of losing anything and everything becomes easy for them is that they have appreciated His greatness so nothing else is itnportant in their views. If you are on a beach close to the ocean you do not pay any attention to a glass of water in the hand of a baby. Imam Ali (AS.) says about the pious, muttaqin:
عَظُمَ الْخَالِقُ فِي أنْفُسِهِمْ فَصَغُرَ مَا دُونَهُ فِي أَعْيُنِهِمْ
“The greatness of the Creator is seated in their hearts and so everything else appears small in their eyes.”5
There is still another reason why peace and confidence come after faith and the closeness to Allah. Human beings are innately thirsty to reach the infinite good or perfection. They may make mistakes in distinguishing their goods, e.g., they may consider money or fame or power as their goods. so they try to obtain each of them more and more without any limitation, but nothing can provide the real answer to their innate need (or love). Those who are very rich or very powerful suffer a lack of spiritual peace. Only closeness to Allah can satisfy them. Let's submit our hearts with Imam al-Sajjad (‘a) while he prays:
وَغُلَّتِي لا يُبَرِّدُها إلاَّ وَصْلُكَ، وَلَوْعَتِي لا يُطْفِيها إلاَّ لِقآؤُكَ، وَشَوْقِي إلَيْكَ لا يَبُلُّهُ إلاَّ النَّظَرُ إلى وَجْهِكَ، وَقَرارِي لا يَقِرُّ دُونَ دُنُوِّي مِنْكَ،
“Nothing will cool my burning thirst but reaching You, quench my ardour but meeting You, damp my yearning but gazing upon Your Face (wajh), settle my settling place without closeness to You.6”
E. Entrance To The Universe Of The Light
Through closeness to Allah man is saved from all evils. A person who has· experienced a relationship with the source of all goods cannot be pleased with low things. Allah also helps those who want to keep their relationship with Him. He strengthens their faith, He saves them from being lost (going astray). So they enjoy special guidance. The Glorious Qur'an says:
اللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يُخْرِجُهُمْ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ
“Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light.” (2:257).
يَهْدِي بِهِ اللَّهُ مَنِ اتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَهُ سُبُلَ السَّلَامِ وَيُخْرِجُهُمْ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَيَهْدِيهِمْ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ
“With it Allah guides him who will follow His pleasure into the ways of safety and brings them out of utter darkness into light by His will and guides them to the right path.” (5:16).
These verses are just some samples and there are many more in the Glorious Qur'an This fact act is also expressed in traditions and divine light is asked for in prayers. For example, we see this phrase in Al-Munajat al-Shabaniyyah:
إِلٰهِي هَبْ لي كَمَالَ ٱلاِنْقِطَاعِ إِلَيْكَ وَأَنِرْ أَبْصَارَ قُلُوبِنَا بِضِيَاءِ نَظَرِهَا إِلَيْكَ حَتَّىٰ تَخْرِقَ أَبْصَارُ ٱلْقُلُوبِ حُجُبَ ٱلنُّورِ فَتَصِلَ إِلَىٰ مَعْدِنِ ٱلْعَظَمَةِ وَتَصِيرَ أَرْوَاحُنَا مُعَلَّقَةً بِعِزِّ قُدْسِكَ
“My God! Make me completely cut off from all else but You and enlighten the vision of our hearts with the radiance of looking at You until the vision of our hearts penetrates the veils of light and reaches the Source of Grandeur and set our spirits to be suspended by the glory of Your sanctity.”7
Through obedience to Allah and worshiping Him one can reach the position of being His universe and have generative guardianship. So one can do whatever one wants. (For a further discussion refer to Chapter 7: The Representative Of Allah On Earth). We have already seen this tradition of Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (‘a):
أَلْعِبَادَةُ جَوْهَرَةٌ کُنْهُهَا الرُّبُوبِيَّةُ
“Servanthood is a substance, the kernel of which is Lordship.”8
There is a divine tradition (hadith qudsi) saying:
عبدي أطعني أجعلك مثلي أنا حي لا أموت، أجعلك حيا لا تموت، أنا غني لا أفتقر أجعلك غنيا لا تفتقر، أنا مهما أشأ يكن أجعلك مهما تشأ يكن
“My servant, obey Me that I make you an example of Myself I am alive and never die so I make you alive and never die. I am rich and never become poor so I make you become rich and never poor. Whatever I want it will be, so I make you in the way that whatever you want it will be there.”9
G. Complete Knowledge
One of the results of getting close to Allah is to be equipped with complete knowledge. This knowledge cannot be acquired through learning or studying. This is the real knowledge of which Imam Sadiq (‘a) says:
لَيسَ العِلمُ بِالتَّعَلُّمِ ، إنَّما هُوَ نورٌ يَقَعُ في قَلبِ مَن يُريدُ اللّهُ تَبارَكَ وتَعالى أن يَهدِيَهُ
"The knowledge cannot be acquired by learning. It is just a light which appears in the heart of he, whom Allah, the Blessed and Sublime, wills to guide.”10
All people are asked to learn and acquire ordinary knowledge, but it is not enough. The real knowledge which revives our hearts and guarantees our happiness is what comes through the faith and being close to Allah. In the Glorious Qur'an we recite:
وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ اللَّهُ
“Be wary of Allah, and Allah will teach you.” (2:282).
There is a famous report from the Prophet (S). He says that on the night of mi'raj he asked Allah about the status of the believers. Here is a part of the answer:
ما تقرب إلي عبد بشئ أحب إلي مما افترضت عليه، وإنه ليتقرب إلي بالنافلة حتى أحبه، فإذا أحببته كنت سمعه الذي يسمع به، وبصره الذي يبصر به، ولسانه الذي ينطق به، ويده التي يبطش بها، إن دعاني أجبته، وإن سألني أعطيته
“None of My servants will seek closeness to Me by that which is more dear to Me than things I have made wajib to him. Then with the nawafil (the recommended), he will seek closeness, so that I would love him. When I love him, I will be the ear with which he hears, the eyes with which he sees~ and the hand with which he strikes. If he calls Me, I will answer his call, and if he makes a request, I will grant it.”11
فإذا أحبني أحببته ]و حببتُ الى خلقى[، وأفتح عين قلبه إلى جلالي] وعظمتى[ ولا أخفي عليه ]علم[خاصة خلقي وأناجيه في ظلم الليل ونور النهار حتى ينقطع حديثه مع المخلوقين ومجالسته معهم، وأسمعه كلامي وكلام ملائكتي واعرفه السر الذي سترته عن خلقي
“I will love him when he loves Me and I will make him loved by My creation and I will open up his inward eyes to My glory and grandeur and I will not hide from him knowledge of the select of My creation. So in the darkness of night and in the light of day, I will tell him secrets, so that his conversations with creatures and with his companions will be cut off. I will make him hear My words and the words of My angels and I will reveal to him the secret I have hidden from the creation.”12
H. Eternal Happiness
Besides the above mentioned results, there are many things reserved for these people until the Day of judgement. We briefly discussed the infinite rewards in the last chapter. So we finish this discussion with one verse of the Glorious Qur'an.
وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَمَسَاكِنَ طَيِّبَةً فِي جَنَّاتِ عَدْنٍ وَرِضْوَانٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ
“Allah has promised to the believing men and the believing women gardens beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them, and goodly dwellings in gardens of perpetual abode, and best of all is Allah's goodly pleasure. That is the grand achievement.” (9:72).
Please, pay attention to the phrase: “best of all is Allah's goodly pleasure”! The highest level to which a man or woman can reach is to know that Allah, the source of all goods and the Lord of all the universe, is pleased with him or her.
- 1. Divinely-inspired utterances of the Prophet (S) differ with those which comprise the text of the Glorious Qur'an in that in the Latter both the meaning and words are God's, but in the former only the meaning is God's and words are those of the Prophet (Ta'rifat by Jurjani).
- 2. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 87, p. 344.
- 3. Al-Asfar al-Aqliyat al-Arbi'ah, Vol. 1, p. 117, Vol. 4, p. 479 and Vol. 5, p. 27.
- 4. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 15, p. 28.
- 5. Nahj Al-Balaghah, Sermon 193 or Khutbah Al-Muttaqin, online at: https://www.al-islam.org/nahjul-balagha-part-1-sermons/sermon-193-now-th...
- 6. The Psalms of Islam, p. 251, 252.
- 7. Mafatih al-Jinan.
- 8. Misbah al-Shari’ah, chapter 2.
- 9. Al-Jawahir Al-Saniyah fi al-Ahadith al-Qudsiyah by Hurr 'Amili, p. 284.
- 10. Mizan Al-Hikmah, Hadith #2283 Bihar Al-Anwar, Volume 1, P. 225, Number 17.
- 11. Usul al-Kafi, Vol. 2, pp. 352 & 353.
- 12. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 77, pp. 28 & 29.