Knowing the real nature of this life is the second part of understanding its meaning.
Life is a test.
Animals and plants fulfill their purpose within their ecosystems and natural processes by instinct alone. They can’t choose and don’t have the capacity to wonder. Similar it is with rocks, orbiting planets, etc.
But we humans dominate everything on our planet (and could on others too) with our great intellect. This intelligence is so powerful that we can almost limitlessly use the power of other things for our own ends. Think of how we harness animal power, wind power, gravity, etc. for our own use.
What’s more, we can operate beyond instinct and have a mysterious capacity to even defy it. We have choice in our actions.
It could only be because life is a test. We are being tried to see how we react to the situation. For with power comes responsibility. And with choice comes consequences.
Everything we do individually and collectively either protects the nature and order of God’s magnificent creation or ruins it. This applies even to our own selves. We can ruin our bodies, our lives, state of mind, and ultimately our relationship with God if we so choose. We can choose to do what is morally right or wrong.
Thus life is a trial to see if we are worthy beings, worthy shepherds over God’s creation—over our own creation as well as the creation around us.
God says:“and We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good. And to Us you will be returned”
Can there be any more coherent way to describe the nature of this life?
As with any test, wouldn’t we be naturally endowed with the ability and knowledge to pass? If God is the most-just, most-compassionate (since he created justice and compassion) and created this test, wouldn’t He endow us with the tools to pass?
No matter how a person fulfills their spiritual needs—religiously, scientifically, philosophically, etc.—it all goes back to a need for God both emotionally and rationally. The various things we may look to for spiritual fulfillment other than God (whether they are people, ideas, or even ourselves) are simply indirect or inadequate ways of fulfilling an unconscious need for God Himself. If we examine these spiritual objects closely, they all exhibit in our minds the very attributes only God could have in a perfect sense or which ultimately can come only from Him. (see article)
Furthermore, we all have a natural tendency to do what’s perceived as good. We are moral creatures who want to see things be right and better. Even lifetime criminals do some good intentionally and are opposed to certain injustices.
So the ability and the need to recognize guidance from God so that we may pass the test of life is actually something we’re all born with. It’s hard-wired into human beings.The Prophet Muhammad said,
“No child is born except in a state of fitrah (believing in and wanting to submit themselves to God, i.e. Islam)”4
But society confuses us into interpreting and pursuing it in ways that don’t lead directly to God and are thus never fully satisfying.
We were made to succeed by fulfilling our purpose in holistic worship (i.e. to recognize God for who He is, be in touch with Him, learn what He wants so we may please Him and be successful, seek his blessings, etc.
Yet the test is to overcome the distractions, temptations, and tests of this brief phase of existence so that we may be purified and prove worthy of a lasting and permanent relationship with Him, to exist in the perfected state of heaven which we naturally cannot be fully at ease without.
- Barrett, Justin L. Born Believers: The Science of Children’s Religious Belief, Free Press, 2012, pp. 35 – 36.
- “Infants ‘have natural belief in God’”, The Age National (Australia).https://www.theage.com.au/national/infants-have-natural-belief-in-god-20080725-3l3b.html . Accessed 25 June 2017.
- Kelemen, Deborah, “Reasoning About Purpose and Design in Nature:Are Children “’Intuitive Theists’?”, May 2004, Accessed 23 March 2018; Calloway, Ewen, “Humans may be primed to believe in creation”, March 2009, New Scientist online, Accessed 23 March 2018.
4. Narrated by Muslim