Purpose Of Life by AGA Barrie

Goal of human beings

Each of us has our own individual goals for worldly success.  It could be to rise up in our chosen careers, or maybe to leave this world with a legacy, or perhaps something as simple, yet just as every bit crucial, as to have a roof over our heads and enough food in our bellies.  Whatever it may be, we all have goals that differ from one another’s; yet there is one goal that many of us share.  It is to achieve the Paradise in the Hereafter.  Through the goals we set in this world and the life we lead, through the relationships we hold with the many we meet and the actions we take, everything we do in this world should relate back to that one goal.  Allah clearly states in the Quran in chapter 9, Surah Taubah, verse 72: “Allah hath promised to believers, men and women, Gardens under which rivers flow to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in Gardens of everlasting bliss.”

In this article we will, Insha Allah, analyze the route one should take to understand the purpose of their lives, to achieve the goals of this world and to attain the ultimate goal of the Hereafter.  I would like to share my views on achieving goals based on the Quran and Sunnah, quoting applicable verses from the Quran, applicable Hadeeths and referring to my own life experience.

Allah created human beings with free will and guided them through Messengers and RevelationsWhen Allah (S.W.T.) created the world and its belongings, HE had HIS own plan for which HE knows best.  We know from the Quran that HE created the world and its belongings in six days.  “Indeed, your Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and then He rose over (Istawa) the Throne (really in a manner that suits His Majesty)” [al-A’raaf 7:54].  Allah followed this by creating the human being, this was questioned by the angels; again Allah knew what his vision was, and even though the angels could not understand it, they dared not challenge that vision.  Adam Alihissalaam was the first human Allah created and HE taught him all the names.  When Allah asked the angels to name the things  they said they are aware only of what Allah has imparted on them while Adam Alihisalam conveyed them the names.  “Allah then asked Adam to say those names and he did so,” [Surah 2: verse 33].  When the angels were told to prostrate, all did except for Iblis, through his arrogance and pride he refused to bow down to one who was made of clay, when he was made of fire.  Iblis replied, “I am better than him. You have created me from fire, but him You created from clay.” [Surah 7: verse 12].  Allah ordained Adam Alaihissalaam and his partner to dwell in the garden, Jannat ’Adn, but they were given clear instruction not to go near the tree.  However they were influenced by Shaitan, and acted against the will of Allah.  Adam Alaihissalaam and his partner repented and were pardoned but sent to this world to live as viceroy, with a sole purpose of worshipping Allah and Allah alone, while Iblis too was sent down to be the enemy until the doomsday.  “I am going to place a viceroy in the earth, they said: What! Wilt Thou place in it such as shall make mischief in it and shed blood, and we celebrate Thy praise and extol Thy holiness? HE said: Surely I know what you do not know.” [Surah 2, verse 30].  Those who are guided have no fear while those who deny Allah’s command and follow the path of Shaitan will be doomed.

The human beings were given the free will to follow the final message and be guided or reject it and go down the wrong path.  Through Allah’s mercy, HE sent Prophet after Prophet to guide the human beings.  The final messenger was Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) and the final message to humanity was the Quran.

Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) demonstrated the essentials of achieving goals

The beloved Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) carried out Allah’s mission by explaining the final message and living by it through all phases of his life; so that human beings, who are governed by free will, can follow the right path and be successful.  In carrying out the message, the Prophet (S.A.W.) spent in the beginning of his prophet-hood stressing the importance of Tawheed, the oneness of Allah, and the belief in the unseen and the Hereafter. Why did the beloved Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) spend so many years in emphasizing the importance of these two critical ideals?  Humanity shall only be directed through divine guidance and the will of Allah, and divine guidance can only be sought out when one accepts that there is only one God and no one is worthy of his worship

In his own worldly life, the Prophet Muhammad, proved to be a respected youth, good husband, model father, able businessman, just ruler, great warrior and above all the greatest of all human beings.  All this was achieved during various phases of his life.

Various phases of human life

In layman’s terms, we all know that all human beings go through many stages or phases in life.  Childhood, adolescence, adulthood, parenthood and old age are the most conventional phases.  The following chart, lays out the phases in our lives, age groups and what I believe, from my experiences, the purpose of each phase.

PHASE AGE GROUP PURPOSE WHOSE RESPONSIBLITY
CHILD 0 to 7 YEARS LEARNING TO LIVE PARENTS
ADOLESENCE 8 to 18 YEARS INITIAL EDUCATION SELF & PARENT
UNDER GRADUATE 19 to 24 YEARS LEARNING A TRADE SELF
EMPLOYEMENT 25 ONWARDS EARNING A LIVING SELF
PARENT 29 ONWARDS UPBRINGING A FAMILY SELF & SPOUSE
GRAND PARENT 60 ONWARDS SEREVING HUMANITY SELF & SPOUSE, CHILDREN

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The Quran is very clear of the four stages of life that exist for all human beings.  The first being the formation of the child in the womb, the second being brought up as an infant, next is growing to the age of full strength and finally being brought back to old age where you know nothing after having known.  Refer to Surah 22 Al Hadj verse 5: “O mankind! If you are in doubt about the resurrection, then verily! We have created you from dust then from Nutfah (mixed drops of male and female sexual discharge) then from a clot, then from a little lump of flesh, some formed and some unformed, We make it clear to you to show you our power and ability do what We will. And cause whom We will to remain in the womb for an appointed term then We bring you out as infants then give you growth that you may reach age of full strength. And among you there is he who dies young and he who brought back to miserable old age that he knows nothing after having known.”

The Hadeeth #1356 of Chapter 5 of the Book of the beginning of creation confirms that Allah orders an Angel to write his deeds, his livelihood, his date of death and final abode in Hereafter.

The infancy and really old age phase is not as prevalent when it comes to discussing planning and achieving goals for obvious reasons.  It is during the period of the age of full strength where one is truly immersed in the world around us, and involved in the activities that he/she will be judged on both in this world and the Hereafter.  As this world is very temporary the achievements in it are also very superficial even though we can see and measure them.  The success in the next world, however, is the true success that we should all try and attain.  But that success will only be known when we meet the Creator.  [Surah 6: verse 32] “The life of this world is no more than illusion and vanity, while the abode of the Hereafter is far better for the righteous. Do you not understand?!”

CHART ILLUSTRATING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AGE AND THE DEEDS

Judging deeds and its rewards and punishments are related to the age.  During the younger years the reward for a good deed is much more than the reward received if the same deed were committed at an older age.  This correlation is demonstrated by the “S” curve shown above.  Punishment for a bad deed done has an opposite relationship. During your younger years, punishment is much less than if the same wrong deed was done when you are older.  Reward is indicated above the “S” curve while punishment is shown below the “S” curve, with the deeds plotted against the age.  Hence, by analyzing this graph we see that it is during the period of youth that one has to be at their most productive, be concerned about his or her future and be in the path of Allah, if they are to find success in this world and the Hereafter, Insha Allah.  This is also confirmed by the Hadeeth that a youth growing up in the path of Allah will have the shade from Allah’s throne when there is no shade available during the day of resurrection. [Sahih Al Bukhari volume 1]

Planning and achieving the goals in each phase

In the light of divine direction, one has to strive with great difficulty to be on the right path, as we are not aware of our deeds, livelihood and the final abode.  Commencing from the very early stages of our lives, it is mandatory that every one of us follow the commands of Allah and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, if we are to achieve the best in this world and Hereafter.  The second Caliph Umar (R.A.) states that we need to plan our life as if we are going to live forever and when we pray the prescribed prayer, pray as if it will be our last prayer.  Here he describes to us how crucial it is to plan and to be ever vigilant to meet the creator, no matter what phase of our life we may be in.

As demonstrated by Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), nothing is impossible to achieve.  As individuals we all have to come to our own decision to follow the divine guidance given to us by Allah.  As for youths, parents spend and exorbitant amount of time in guiding them and setting milestones for them to follow; but it is the children who have to put in the hard work to attain these goals.  Muslim children must have their schedule drawn around the five daily prayers.  This is where the foundation for proper Islamic life is created.  If the children give priority to the importance of prayers, everything else will fall into place.  The parents and teachers have to underline the importance of prayers so in time the children will be trained to maintain that schedule.  Success of reaching their goals and the schedule they keep will be based on performing the prayers on time.  This is exactly, what Umar (R.A.) meant.  Plan around prayers and perform it sincerely, whatever your prayers may consist of.   Muslim Schools have no problem as there timetable will be drawn up around the prayer times but children in Non-Muslim schools have an issue.  The children should perform their prayers at the lunch break or any time suitable to do so.  It is the responsibility of the parents who send their children to Non-Muslim schools to make suitable arrangements for the children to perform their prayers on time.  Alhamdulillah, I attended a Muslim school and never had any issues when it came to upholding my prayers but I like to draw an incident which took place in a Non-Muslim school.  The student excelled in all subjects and all areas of school.  All the awards, whether it was for an academic achievement or non academic feat, were won by this student.  The teacher was curious to discover what kind of home-life she had to be such a brilliant and dedicated student.  The teacher came home to meet the parents and they explained that every day as a family, they used to read a saying of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and promised each other to practice it. This allowed the student to keep to her schedule and attain whatever she wanted through complete discipline.

As a student at Zahira College in Colombo and being from a middle class family, I was determined to excel in my studies and extracurricular activities, of course all the while, maintaining my Islamic faith.  This was possible only through hard work, self discipline, being kind to others and above all help from Allah.  I was blessed with a mother who had been praying for my success and always wanted me to be in the path of Allah.  Even though I lost my father when I was a six month old baby, I never felt his absence as I was blessed with good uncles who were more than a father to me. They guided me and helped me to achieve whatever I wanted.  Fortunately, I also developed an important principle in life which is helping others to achieve what they want and putting others before me.  Later in my life I found out that this falls in line with the Hadeeth that the Muslims should hope for others, what would be seen as best for them.  With Allah’s blessing, I was admitted to the hostel by then Principal, A.M.A. Azeez, through The Ceylon Muslim Scholarship Fund.  I had made up my mind to be the best in my studies and sports.  I wanted to be the senior prefect and to win the coveted gold medal, which was awarded to the best all around student, in academics, extra-curricular activities and community leadership.  Alhamdulillah, these were my goals and with help of Allah and consistently pushing myself I was able to achieve every one of them.  I maintained 100% in mathematics right up to my University entrance class and above 90% in other subjects resulting in admission into the University of Ceylon to study Engineering.  Even in university, I maintained the same approach in life.  I was proud to be Muslim and never hesitated to help others when needed.  I applied myself to my greatest ability and won the hearts of all the lecturers and fellow students.  I completed my degree and was appointed an Instructor based on the performance at the final examination.  The key to my success was discipline and hard work.  I never took anything for granted and never missed asking Allah to help me achieve all my goals, especially between the two sermons on Friday.  I continue this practice even today, Alhamdulillah.  As a youth, you are in a period of your life at which Allah has bestowed many blessings.  You have the greatest potential to set yourself for up success in this period, mainly because Allah has given you the greatest threshold to bear pain and disappointment.  You can do things that you will not be able to do, ten, fifteen, twenty years down the road.  So prepare your goals now, start planning your strategy to achieve them, always work as hard as you can towards them, and do not be afraid to take a few risks.  Lastly, but most importantly always supplicate to Allah for his assistance, leave the rest to him.

Having graduated, I was appointed as an engineer in the Ceylon Government Railways, where I had to deal and interact with non-Muslims.  One of my first tasks was to clean up the Coal Grounds which received all contracted materials for Way and Works. The Grounds were famous for bribery and corruption.  As a fresh, young engineer I was given the choice, either to join the group and make my money or stand for justice and clean up the corruption.  I opted for the latter.  This required courage, self discipline, fortitude and help from Allah and of course, the authorities.  Alhamdulillah, everything in due time had taken its course, bribery was no longer a conventional practice and the only deals that were made were of the legal kind.  I had succeeded with the help of Allah and became the blue eyed engineer, the favourite of the Chief Engineer of Way and Works.   This was the beginning of my career and I ended up as a well respected engineer in the Railways.  All this came from living by Islamic principles to enjoy the blessings of Allah and standing up for them in the face of adversity.  Earning in a halal, legal fashion is one of the important principles of Islamic living.  Unless one practices this, the eternal goal of paradise cannot be achieved.

Once you are matured and settled in your career, it is on all of us to move into the next phase, that of starting a family.  It is one of the Sunnahs of Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W.).  The partner must be compatible in all respects, particularly both being religiously inclined.  This is the foundation on which the family will be built.  Islam should be the focus.  Everything else should revolve around it.  Marrying and leading a meaningful and peaceful life should be for the sake of Allah.  You impart what you’ve learned and practiced as a child and youth to your children.  There is no such thing as the world has changed and we have to follow suit.  It should be the other way around as the world has changed for the worse and we have to go back to the days of the Prophet.  Allah created the human beings to worship HIM and HIM alone. This is widely misunderstood by the Muslims today and they feel it is only the spiritual activities that matter, but this is completely wrong. Worshipping Allah means following HIS commandments twenty four hours a day.  Earning in a halal manner is a form of worship.

It is important that you lead an exemplary life.  Be the leader at home in all respects. Here again, some of the scholars, interpreted the Hadeeth  that a just ruler can be acquainted to a just leader of a family.  In other words all of us are qualified to enjoy the shade of Allah when no shade is available in the day of Qiyamah, if you practice justice in dealing with your family, Insha Allah.

The next major hurdle in life is to settle your children.  It is very important that the children are brought up under the principles of Islam and they in turn will guide their children.  One of the good things you leave in this world is righteous children.  In addition to them living right, they will also be involved in praying to Allah for their parents.  Hence, if you live by Islam you not only achieve the best in this world but you also pave the way for reward in the Hereafter, Insha Allah.

The last lap of one’s life is the golden age of living on past laurels.  It is the benefit you reap in this world, based on your performance and gear yourself to do more for the next world.  Proper living when able and practicing what was taught by our beloved Prophet Mohammed  (S.A.W.) which makes one at ease and continue to enjoy living for the sake of Allah.  The chart illustrating the affect of deeds with respect to age clearly shows that a good deed which will earn a handsome reward when young will give us a little reward where as a sin committed at old age will be much more than the same sin committed when young.

This is the final path to salvation.  Spend most of your time saving humanity and at the same time enjoying the presence of Allah in all your deeds so that we die in peace and attain Paradise Insha Allah.  This is the ultimate goal of all Muslims.

SUMMARY OF WAY OF LIFE

We are Muslims, Alhamdulillah, thus the way of life is all preplanned for us and it is up to us to follow the real way, as prescribed in Islam.  As for me, I had tried to practice one of the basic principles in the Islamic way of life.  ‘Living for others’.  It is not easy to practice this simple way but once you have set your mind to it, the change comes gradually, and the benefits are bountiful.  But you must train yourself from early days.  May Allah help and guide everyone to acquire this important fundamental and essential quality in life so that one will accomplish, at the end of his tenure, peace of mind. This is a basic requirement to meet the creator, of course after living as a Muslim.  One cannot achieve this overnight but has to prepare themselves from inception.

The following are the basic guidelines to preparation at various phases of life, in order to attain this goal and finally achieving the goal of paradise, Insha Allah.

CHILDHOOD

Learn to share.

Help other children when they are in difficulty.

Be kind and cheerful when you are with others.

Be satisfied and do not be a burden to parents

Be proud to be Muslim.

AS A STUDENT

Be consistent in your habits.

Learn to manage your time properly.

Be a good sport and learn to take defeat with class.

Do your school work and help others with pleasure.

Live within your means.

Learn to be humble when you excel.

AT WORK

Be exemplary.

Work more than you have been contracted for.

Do not live on others fault, but solve, as it is yours.

Volunteer to help others and refrain from complaining.

Be pleasant.

AT HOME

Be a leader and set examples, so that others will follow.

Be kind, firm and understanding.

Treat all alike, with no favourites.

Admire achievements and make sure others learn from their faults.

Give the best to your family.

Once you have the basics then you live as per code of Islam.  It is important to realize and accept the fact, “Everything you do and everything you think are known to Allah,” and you will not attempt to displease him.  You are only a passenger in this journey to meet the Creator. With this concept you act and live to please Allah.  How is that possible? Well, we have to have few fundamentals correct:

  1. Earning

This is the most important factor to lead a peaceful life, your earnings should be proper; in Islam it should be halal.  Your conscious is the answer to this.  Anything you doubt keep away from.  Feeding the family and helping others should stem from a properly earned income.  If you a re paid to work for 8 hours and you do only for 7 hours, then the salary you get is questionable.  In my opinion, this is the baseline before you set your goals, Insha Allah.

  1. Disposal

Having earned properly it is equally important to dispose the earnings in the proper way.  This is the difficult part but if you are in the path of pleasing the Creator, it is not difficult at all.  Keep for your basic needs and give away the balance, starting from your immediate needy kin.  You have to realize that you cannot have everything when your close relatives and the associates around you, do not have the basics.  If you practice this, you will find it is indeed a phenomena as all your needs will be met by the help of the Creator and you will achieve peace of mind.  Alhamdulillah.

CONCLUSION

Follow the path of Allah, as shown to us by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.).  Fear Allah and Allah alone. Work hard, live in a just manner and we will definitely achieve all our goals in this world and the lauded goal of the hereafter. Insha Allah!

One response to “Purpose Of Life by AGA Barrie”

  1. M. Tarcisius

    Hi Aga
    I am Mariampillai Tarcisius. i worked with you in the railways at Anuradhapura and then in the 4th D & C. I have lived in Mississauga for the past 21 years and before that in Nigeria.
    I saw the above clip and thought of writing this comment.
    ” You have done a fantastic job with the write up. You are a natural writer and a philosopher. It appears you have done a lot for your community and I am happy to note that are still continuing to be active.”
    I do not want to write more now as I am not sure whether you will open this comment or not.

    Tarci

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