By Fatima Ariadne
This is my own definition of life. Life is…a complex hologram of reality and consciousness, interwoven through our perception and senses into a path called experience.
“It’s As If I Have Lived Forever”
“Your life is the only opportunity that life can give you.
If you ignore it and waste it, you will only turn to dust”
If there is one question bugging me for a long time, it must be IT.
Have you ever felt this peculiar feeling since child age, a STRONG feeling that you were born here to accomplish something – but never know what is that “something”? And when you grow up, you’re surprised that other people doesn’t share the same thought like you?
Have you ever felt as if you have existed here forever, as if life is not something unfamiliar with you, as if you have walked through this path in a long, long time? And somewhere in the back of your distant memory — it feels like the consciousness dots are always there, and you just knew how to connect them?
For unknown reasons, since childhood, I just knew there is more to life than what’s apparent. I had asked deep questions not many other 5-year old children would, something like, “what is death feels like?”, “why do I exist here?”, “what does it feels like to be non-existent all these centuries?”.
But with the very questions, even inside my 5-year old self, I already felt this unexplainable weariness at heart – despite the wonder of discovering reality for first time. Yes. It’s as if I have lived forever.
Sometimes my parents would nag if I started talking this stuff. They’d start saying, “oh please, don’t talk about death”, “your mum never even think once what is the purpose of life, but why do you?”.
I won’t exaggerating a bit that my mind had been wired to connecting metaphysics dots even when I was an infant, but it has a positive sides too. This is why I couldn’t keep on becoming agnostic for so long in my early adolescence. Fingerprints of Creator are too real to be overlooked.
Everything exists for a purpose.
We are not living to be aimless wanderer through life.
YOU – The Extension of Spirit
“Your physical body is merely the instrument of your soul” (Avicenna)
You must have heard about the hadith : be in this world like a traveler, where you look for a shade for a while but then continue to move on. It’s always seen as how we should view this world like a stranger’s land for it’s only temporary, and hereafter, the real destination. Or as Rumi stated, life in this world is a dream, and only sleepers consider it real.
But you too can see the branch meaning of the hadith : Our soul is the traveler.
You are here in this world as a spiritual being walking through human experience, not otherwise. Your body is merely the instrument of the soul.
Think about your spirit as water, and your body is a vessel carrying it. Within time and hot temperature, the water evaporates and the vessel turns empty. Is the water completely gone, vanish to oblivion? No. It’s still there, but in another form, a subtler one. We call it “water vapors”. If the temperature is cooling, the vapor then turns again into water, through a dew form.
After your spirit vessel, your body, dies and rotten, your soul doesn’t die away with it. It only will re-unite with your physical body in the Judgment Day, after a temporary separation called death.
So in essence, death is actually a temporary transmigration. “Death” itself is only valid in the physical world. But basically you, your SELF is only switched life to another dimension with your soul. Just like the water that evaporates and turned into a vapor. The water is not completely gone, just transformed into another form.
But FYI : it doesn’t mean you can get away freely from the deeds you’ve done in this lifetime, you know.
“Be it anything (deeds) equal to the weight of a grain of mustard seed, and though it’s hidden in a rock, or in heavens or in earth, Allah will surely bring it forth (i.e. its consequences). Verily, Allah is Subtle and Well-Aware” (Suraa Luqman : 16)
In his work “O Son”, Al Ghazali quoted Abu Bakar (may Allah bless him) said “these physical bodies are a cage for birds (i.e. soul), a stable for animals, so consider for yourself of which you are. If you are of the lofty birds, then when you hear the drumroll (of the death), return, fly, and climb upward until you sit in the highest towers of the Garden”.
So think about this :
You are beyond your apparent reality.
Or as the Islamic fourth caliph, Ali ibn Abu Thalib, stated : “You view yourself as a mere piece of flesh. Oblivious that within you, lies an infinite potential”.
Hence, stop viewing yourself in a limitation of flesh. You are beyond that.
Feed your soul like you feed your body, and see how the Divine Creator will reward your effort.
Several Purposes of Life
1. Live to Prepare the Hereafter
This is what I love about Islam. It’s simple and direct. The Prophet himself described that our walk in a worldly life is like a passing traveler looking for a shade, who then continuing his journey. Life is certainly short, and a cesspool of trial. But hereafter is infinite. And your life after death is dictated by how you live your life in this world.
By remembering the infinite time of hereafter, you will no longer think you’re just wandering aimlessly in life, because everything you do now is nothing but dictate your next life.
You will think twice before performing your deeds : how will it benefit me in hereafter?
“And the life of this world is nothing but play and amusement. But far better is the house in the Afterlife for those who are pious. Will you then not understand?” (Suraa Al An’am 32)
And this poignant hadith :
2. The Multiple Facets of Worships
Over and over again, in many Islamic lectures about “Purpose of Life”, the scholars really love quoting this verse :
“And I don’t create jinn and mankind unless to worship Me”
(Suraa Adz-Dzaariyat : 56)
But here’s the part that’s often partly discussed or missing. The “worship” is often over-simplified with the meaning that the sole and only one purpose to live is to do ritualistic worship or becoming a religious devout. Now, I DON’T belittle this verse, only the way it’s interpreted. Becoming the servant of God goes beyond the act of ritualistic worship.
Rather, we should view this verse in a bigger picture.
As much as we are created to know our Source and connect with Him, the Divine has another purpose why He put us to life :
“And remember when your Lord said to angels : ‘Verily I shall create on earth a vicegerent’. The angels said, ‘Why would You place therein the beings who will make mischief therein and shed blood – while we glorify You with praise and sanctify Your name?’. The Lord answered, ‘Verily, I know that which you do not know’” (Suraa Al Baqarah : 30)
God doesn’t just create us to live like angels in human body. He also created for us the developed brain, mind, commonsense, intuition, passion, willpower – along with our five senses. He also granted us ability to discern and to create. These are the tools to build physical and spiritual civilization, which differed us from animals.
By placing you here, Divine One already trusted you as His ambassador.
In Islam, there is something called habloom-minallah and habloom-minan-naas. Relationship with Allah, and relationship with human beings (including other creatures of Allah).
By serving good for others, you in return are serving yourself. Because in essence, all creations of Allah are one. We are one. Your existence in this Universe is only as a piece of puzzle in the giant picture. And you must unite with other parts of puzzle to manifest the wholeness. This service too, is a form of devotional act to Allah – as the verse explained “the worship”. And in return He will reward you.
The question now, HOW do we reach the path for that. But The Divine has equipped our souls with unique capabilities to fulfill that role. Be it : healers, leaders, innovators, artists, communicators, visionaries, scholars, seekers, guardians, spiritualists, etc. Just like the colors of rainbow, our gifts are unique to our own!
“Certainly, your efforts and deeds are diverse (i.e. according to role and purpose)” (Suraa Al Lail : 4)
As recorded in several Hadiths, even a trivial acts like giving a cheery face to your brothers and sisters, smiling, give a comforting kind words, and get rid of thorns from the public road are counted as “the act of charity”.
Can you imagine what if it’s something bigger?
Allah never overlook our good effort to bring the light in this world, no matter how trivial it is.
3. Learn Lessons and Grow Yourself
Some people view life as a trial, as we must continue to navigate throughout the field of light and dark. But I only see it as a learning field for soul growth.
One of my favorite motto to this day is, life is a never ending learning event. Our paths in this worldly life is a fertile field for lessons and self growth. The Divine arranges us to cross path with certain people, places, and things – in essence they’re only to enrich our souls in several aspects.
For example, there was a very annoying guy I knew in my teenager who liked gossiping. He’s gossiping worse than girls, but the sad thing was I was the ultimate target for his gossip and cruel slanders. Because I was always “the weird one” who go against the grain and prefer Carl Jung over Harry Potter. He would told everyone I’m a lesbian, psycho, and all the WTF stuff. The worse he treated me, the more I determined to myself I’ll never treat anyone the way he treated me. Somehow, in an uncanny way, this super annoying guy have taught me empathy!
The Prophet had messaged us to learn from our cradle to grave. Knowledge is not just about how many books you read. Open your mind and heart to a new experience. Limitation only belongs to mind.
4. Connecting with Others, through Compassion
“The best deed after belief to Allah, is to show compassion to people” (Hadith Tabarani)
“Love for other people what you love for yourself” (Hadith Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)
Remember a Prophetic narration about a man coming to God with tons of rewards for his worship devotions — but he treated other people like crap? Then his victims coming to sue him in Afterlife, and his good deeds were taken away from him as redemption for the victims?
And the irony — how many religious people are downright meanie, acting as if they have free ticket to Paradise?
Some people even go far by telling me this once : there is no love in Islam, only God’s command to obey and submission. I say BULLSHIT. Islam is vast, definitely larger than that kind of narrow-minded thought.
Every verses in Qur’an was started with two loving traits of Allah : Most Compassionate and Most Merciful. The hadith “Love for your brothers what you love for yourself” is one of foundation of Islam – which is sadly frequently forgotten indeed. Prophet too had messaged “you will not enter paradise until you love one another”. Branch of Islam, Sufism also bases its teachings on love devotion to Divine as well as humanity and oneness.
If you read the Companions’ stories, you will see how they’re not only obey the Prophet, but fiercely love him. And even now we Muslims can attest how much we love our Prophet. Could you love someone who only impose you, “obey me no matter what”, but didn’t give anything positive in return? But as much as we are commanded to adhere the Sunnah (Prophetic traditions), he was merciful to all. To Companions, women, children, to ignorant Bedouins who treated him rudely, to non-muslims, even animals. God is my witness that my heart turned better after learning his hadiths about being merciful. These are examples :
“A believer is friendly and lovable and there is no good in those who are not friendly nor lovable. And the best of them are those who are most beneficial to others” (Sahih Al Jami)
“Kindness doesn’t enter anything unless it beautifies it, and it’s not removed from anything unless it make it tarnished” (Sahih Muslim)
My dear readers, being compassionate is part of Sunnah!
5. Dancing to Your Own Tune, and Make a Difference
Part of your purpose of life is “doing”, and part of it is “being”.
Now ask yourself this :
if you could be, do, and have anything in this world and no one is judging you – what will you have? If you have no self-limiting fear at all, what are you going to be, do, and have?
Are you going to lead a company? Becoming spiritual teacher? Healer? Creating the most magnificent work of art you could ever made?
Since life is short and is just once……then go for it!
Carpe diem all the way!