THE MEANING OF LIFE
WHY DOES GOD TEST HUMANS?
We have been reiterating that this life is a test for humans. Even those who disbelieve in the Quran can realize that this world is a place of test by looking at the perpetual combat between good and evil. Good and evil are the choices put in front of everybody throughout their lives whether they are religious or irreligious. Well, why does God test human beings? The worldly life is like a school in which God introduces himself to mankind. We come to this school in a completely ignorant state, we find opportunities to improve ourselves here, and the tests we take here determine our rank in the hereafter which is going to be our genuine and eternal life. We wouldn't have been more sophisticated than an animal if we were all created in Heaven outright; we wouldn't have known God, his titles, mercy, good and evil in there. If we were created in Heaven, the provisions in there wouldn't have any sentimental value for us since we wouldn't have earned God's love with our own effort. We would have turned into creatures that only relish pleasures without thinking any deeper. Indeed disbelievers are not different than this although they have gone through the worldly life, this is why they don't deserve going to Heaven. If it wasn't for the worldly life, many people who are not worthy of going to Heaven would be in Heaven. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) earned the title of being the most beloved creation to God thanks to this worldly life. If it wasn't for the worldly life, he would have no distinction from Joseph Stalin in the eternal hereafter. If it wasn't for the worldly life, we would never have known the most prominent titles of God such as ar-Rahim (The Merciful), al-Adl (The Just), al-Qahhar (The Subduer), as-Sabur (The Patient One); because there wouldn't be any situation in Heaven involving or requiring mercy, justice, punishment, and patience. We would have no idea what these titles are, thereby we wouldn't have known God enough. Given all these factors, we can see that it is necessary for God who does everything with wisdom to test human beings who have volition. God prepares us for the eternal and genuine life of the hereafter through this worldly life. God improves and prepares us just like how soldiers improve and strengthen themselves by exercising in difficult conditions. Every difficulty we sustain in this life matures us, sophisticates us and makes us closer to God. All these preparations are for our eternal and genuine life in the hereafter.
All attributes of God are infinite, therefore they cannot be grasped by the finite human mind. God teaches these infinite attributes to the limited human mind through the reflections of these attributes in his creation. For this reason, the worldly life is full of the reflections of God's attributes. The compassion that the mother has for his child is a reflection of God's infinite mercy, it presents our minds with the specimen of God's attribute of ar-Rahim (The Merciful) so that we can perceive it. The beauty of an animal is a reflection of God's infinite beauty, it presents our minds with the specimen of God's attribute of al-Jameel (The Beautiful) so that we can perceive it. The horror of an earthquake is a reflection of God's infinite rage, it presents our minds with the specimen of God's attribute of al-Qahhar (The Subduer) so that we can perceive it.
Rewards feel better when they are deserved. We would rejoice if our father bought us a computer. If we gained a computer as a reward for our success in an exam, we would rejoice even more. This computer would seem like the most valuable thing to us. A computer that we attain with our own effort would feel even sweeter than a car that our father buys us. We can apply the same logic to the hereafter. Living by God's orders and earning his love in this world is superior to all physical pleasures, and this will add a spiritual component to the pleasures of Heaven because we will feel like we have earned these pleasures with our own effort. A provision that God grants in Heaven out of his love for us would give us more spiritual pleasure than physical one, just like we regard a thing gifted by our loved one more valuable than ordinary likes of it. Rewards are better when we need them. Food may look more appealing than everything in the world for a hungry person whereas the same food may disgust a full person. A man with heavy work tempo would look forward to a day off, and that day off would feel sweeter than anything to him; whereas for an idle person, that same day would be as boring as any other day. Just like this, the difficulties we sustain in this life and the defects of this world evoke our craving for God and Heaven, thus making our genuine life of Heaven more appealing to us. If we didn't know what difficulty and pain are, we would have no appreciation of the beauties and pleasures of Heaven anyway. Nobody could appreciate white in a world that is completely white. We would have no appreciation of Heaven at all if we didn't see this defected world.
The human mind can ask this question: Why does God test us if he knows what all of us will do in this world thanks to his infinite knowledge? God's sending us to this world is due to his mercy. If God directly created the people of Hell in Hell and the people of Heaven in Heaven and told to the people of Hell, "I know thanks to my infinite knowledge that you would be ungrateful to me if I tested you, therefore I created you in Hell outright" would the people of Hell accept this explanation? Not only the people of Hell, but the people of Heaven and angels wouldn't accept this either because they would think that these people are being unjustly punished. God negated all these excuses by creating the world. All people, angels and even the organs of people will become witnesses on Judgment Day. Even disbelievers will concede in the hereafter that they have wronged, but there's no point crying over spilled milk.
If disbelievers lived in this world forever, even so, they would never believe. Moreover, if they were to be sent back to this world after seeing the Day of Judgment, they would still transgress blatantly. The Quran speaks of this as follows: "If only you could see when they will be detained before the Fire! They will cry, ‘Oh! If only we could be sent back, we would never deny the signs of our Lord and we would ˹surely˺ be of the believers.' But no! ˹They only say this˺ because the truth they used to hide will become all too clear to them. Even if they were to be sent back, they would certainly revert to what they were forbidden. Indeed they are liars! (Qur'an 6:27-28)" The human being begs God when in trouble, but he turns away from God when God saves him and he returns to his previous sins. A sick man would suddenly realize the triviality of worldly pleasures and would pledge himself that he won't turn back to his sins after healing. However, his nafs would assert dominance over him when he heals and would entice him into his previous sins by causing him to forget his weakness. There would be no atheist in a crashing plane, everybody would pray to God in some way. However, if that plane were to be somehow rescued, those who were atheists before would revert to atheism. This is why disbelievers will burn forever in the hellfire. Their regret in the hereafter is not a sincere one; instead, it is a self-seeking one in order to avert the punishment. In other words, they will regret because of the torment, not because they will sincerely think that they were ungrateful to God. "And whoever is blind in this [life] will be blind in the Hereafter and more astray in way. (Qur'an 17:72)" God could've forgiven disbelievers if their regret were sincere. The people of Heaven, on the other hand, will multiply in gratitude every time they look at the people of Hell for not being one of them, and this will provide them with spiritual pleasure.
God judges people by what is in their hearts. However, nobody can know the state of the heart besides God, nor can anybody become witness to it. The rationale we mentioned above applies to this situation as well. If God told disbelievers "I put you in Hell because your hearts are evil", nobody would accept this because the cleanness or blackness of the heart is not visible from outside, and nobody could witness these besides God. If one of them rejected the claim that his heart is evil, there would be no evidence to be presented against him. That's why God bases his judgments on deeds while evaluating people; deeds can be witnessed by everyone and their manifestness doesn't allow anybody to claim anything contradicting them. All of our deeds are recorded throughout our lives and they will have no room for denial in the Day of Judgment. Deeds are the reflections of the heart and they manifest the state of the heart for people to see; good-hearted people do good deeds, and bad-hearted people do bad deeds. A person who constantly defies the rules of Islam cannot say "I am not religious but my heart is clean", he is fooling himself if he says so. The heart and deeds go hand in hand and they boost each other. God made deeds witnesses over the heart so as not to allow for any objection against his verdict on the Day of Judgment. Deeds are the litmus tests of the heart.
Adam and Eve’s Expulsion from Paradise
The Islamic story of Adam and Eve is different in many ways from its version in Christianity despite looking similar from the outside. According to Islam, Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Paradise after eating of the prohibited tree is only the visible cause of the events, it is not actually the fault of Adam (pbuh) that caused us to live in this world instead of Paradise. God had told the angels that Adam and his children are meant to live on the earth even before he created Adam (pbuh) as narrated in this verse: “And when your Lord said to the angels, "Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority. (Qur’an 2:30)" Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Paradise and placement on the earth is not a punishment like Christians and Jews interpret it, it is the visible reason for the destiny that God had written for them. For example, some verses of the Quran have “the reason of revelation” and they were revealed as answers to the questions people asked of the Prophet. Resolving a specific issue that happened during the Prophet’s time or answering a specific question that was asked of the Prophet back then are not the sole reasons why these verses were placed in the Quran and are being recited for centuries. The Quran was already complete in the Book of Destiny long before the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The events that happened and the questions that were asked during the lifetime of the Prophet became the visible reasons for the revelation of these verses that were already part of the Quran in God’s plan. Nobody can say that the Quran wouldn’t have had the chapter of Joseph had the Jews not asked the Prophet about Joseph (pbuh), this kind of perception is not what is meant by “the reason of revelation”. Similarly, the story of Adam and Eve (pbuh) should be understood in God’s destiny plan. Adam and Eve (pbut) were created for the earth in the first place, their expulsion from Paradise after being deceived by Satan is only meant to teach humanity a lesson, and not the root cause of their continued life on the earth.
Is the Worldly Life a Fair Test?
There might be this opposition against Islam's identification of this life as a test: "The conditions under which people live in different times and in different places are not the same. For example, it is much easier for someone living in Mecca to believe in Islam and to live by its rules compared to someone living in the USA. Those who were born in Muslim families have a significant advantage over others in regards to the test of worldly life. How can we talk about a fair test given all these undeniable facts?"
One of the most prominent attributes of God is his infinite justice. We have no doubt that God is going to judge everybody with the most perfect justice on the Day of Judgment. The Messenger of God told his companions in one of his narrations: "Verily, you are in a time in which whoever among you leaves a tenth of what he has been commanded will be ruined. Then there will come a time in which whoever among you practices a tenth of what he has been commanded will be saved." People are going to be judged in accordance with the time and place they lived in. The value of a deed is not fixed regardless of the time and place in which it is done; rather, it varies depending on the time, place and most importantly the intention with which it is committed. God's standards are different for everybody. Getting a grade of 70 in an exam might be deemed unsuccessful by an intelligent student, but it is a huge success for an unintelligent student. Just like this, success in this world is determined according to one's conditions and capacity.
The statistical fact that the vast majority of those who are born in Muslim countries live and die as Muslims may give us the impression that those who are born in Muslim countries have an unfair advantage. However, what must be taken into account is that how many of those who are called Muslims are actually believers, because the titles "Muslim" and "believer" are different as explained in the Quran (49:14). Not all Muslims are believers, but all believers are Muslims. The prospect of someone who lives in a Muslim state being a hypocrite (A Muslim on the outside but not a believer on the inside) is pretty high. No Muslim can become sure that he is not a hypocrite; even Umar bin Khattab (ra), one of the greatest companions of the Prophet, would constantly ask people about whether he himself is a hypocrite or not, and he was always in doubt of himself. The Quran mentions hypocrites as frequently as disbelievers, and it states that they will have a rank below disbelievers in the hereafter. So, a Muslim living in a Muslim state follows either of these two options: belief or hypocrisy. Someone living in a non-Muslim state follows either of these two options: belief or disbelief. Considering that hypocrisy is worse than disbelief, we can say that being born in a Muslim state entails a greater danger. Also, we need to keep in mind that Islam must be introduced to someone with clear and accurate knowledge for him to be held responsible for believing in Islam on the Day of Judgment. If the message of Islam didn't reach him, the Quran and our traditions let us know that he wouldn't be punished like disbelievers even if he couldn't find God by using his reason. "And never would We punish until We sent a messenger. (Qur'an 17:15)"
THE EXISTENCE OF THE HEREAFTER
God and the hereafter are two intertwined terms; the existence of God requires the existence of the hereafter. There would be no justice if it wasn't for the hereafter; the oppressor would get away with his crimes and the oppressed would remain uncompensated. There would be no wisdom if it wasn't for the hereafter, because we would have to accept that God created humans without a purpose. There would be no mercy if it wasn't for the hereafter, because it would go against God's mercy if he threw us into non-existence after having created us from nothing. If someone believes in God but rejects the hereafter, he believes in a cruel, merciless, impotent and purposeless god. However, God is above all bad and deficient attributes. Would it be a logical and coherent act if one welcomed his guest with hospitality and treated him to everything he wanted, but then threw him off the roof in the evening? God entertains us in this world with the highest of hospitality; he treats us to everything we need without expecting any return and treats us with his mercy. Would it be befitting for his merciful and coherent nature if he threw us into nonexistence after we die despite entertaining us generously here? Every single thing in this world is proof of the hereafter, and there cannot be any proof against the existence of the hereafter. "And if you are astonished, [O Muhammad] - then astonishing is their saying, ‘When we are dust, will we indeed be [brought] into a new creation?' (Qur'an 13:5)"
It is unthinkable for God not to guide human beings through his messengers because he is the one who gave us reason and the sentiment of curiosity in the first place. Given that no creature in this world is created in vain and every one of them has a role to play in this world, we would assume that the human being, as a reasonable creature, is not created in vain either. Given that 99.999% of creation is created for a purpose, we should assume that human reason and curiosity which comprise 0.001% of creation are created for a purpose too. The general trend leads us to this conclusion even though we don't have concrete evidence for it. And just like God satisfies all of our needs such as hunger, sleep, and sexual desire by creating the necessary means, it is expected of him to satisfy our reason and curiosity too by divine revelation.
God wants people to be on the tips of the balance between Heaven and Hell so that they become completely deserving of the punishment or the reward. Therefore, he opens ways for more evil deeds for the people of Hell and gives opportunities to the people of Heaven to do more good. God facilitates for people whatever the road that they want to take. "And let not those who disbelieve ever think that [because] We extend their time [of enjoyment] it is better for them. We only extend it for them so that they may increase in sin, and for them is a humiliating punishment. (Qur'an 3:178)"
Hell is a mercy of God
Even the existence of Hell is a mercy of God, it definitely is not cruelty. God's saving of guilty people from nonexistence and putting them in Hell is like reducing the punishment of death sentence to life imprisonment, and this is a mercy for the guilty. Nonexistence is too bad to compare with any punishment; a suffering person at least has a degree over nonexistence that allows him to feel something. The Quran tells us that disbelievers will wish that they had ceased to exist once they will feel the hellfire, however, this wish comes from the nafs instead of reason. We had talked under the title "The Nafs" in the writing "What Makes Us Human?" about how the nafs induces us to take actions that go against reason, and how people would prefer a hundred lashes in the future to fifty lashes at the moment because of the nafs. Since disbelievers are controlled by their nafses instead of their reason, they consider being lashed fifty times at the moment as more displeasing than being lashed a hundred times in the future, although the more logical option is to be lashed fifty times at the moment. This is similar to disbelievers' wish of ceasing to exist in Hell; fifty lashes at the moment can be compared to the hellfire, and a hundred lashes in the future can be compared to nonexistence. Nonexistence will look more attractive to disbelievers while they will be suffering in the hellfire, however, they would understand that nonexistence is more terrifying than anything if they had broken free from the influence of their nafses and thought reasonably for a while. It is not logical to wish for nonexistence but people cannot make rational decisions while suffering. God implies that disbelievers will follow their nafses and will not decide rationally even in Hell by telling us that they will opt for non-existence in there, namely, God implicitly lets us know that the people of Hell won't come to their senses even in the hereafter.
WHY DID GOD CREATE THE UNIVERSE?
This life is God's complimentary favor upon us. If a generous, good-hearted and rich man donated to you a thousand dollars without expecting any return, you would try to thank him instead of questioning why he gave that money. This grant of the generous rich man demonstrates the goodness of his heart, he doesn't expect any material profit out of this. We wouldn't care even if he did expect a material profit out of it that is irrelevant us (for example this donation might have helped him with tax reductions), we would thank him anyway for his favor. This life is a favor of God who is the most generous, the most compassionate and the richest upon us without expectation of any return. The fact that God created us out of nothing is due to his infinite mercy and power, it doesn't have a material reason behind it. Even if did have a material reason, it wouldn't be upon us to question it, what is upon us is to show gratitude for it. God didn't have to create the universe, and he wouldn't lose anything of his might if he didn't create it. However, he preferred creating it and wanted himself to be known by other entities.
Just like how we feel spiritual pleasure in helping a needy person; God, as the source of our spirit, might feel pleasure in feeding and providing for his slaves in Heaven with his title of el-Wahhab (The Bestower). Just like how we feel spiritual pleasure in punishing a guilty and cruel person, and in taking revenge from the oppressor; God, as the source of our spirit, might feel pleasure in punishing criminals in Hell with his titles of al-Qahhar (The Subduer) and al-Muntaqim (The Avenger). Just like how we feel spiritual pleasure in the appreciation of our own beauty and the beauty of our works; God, as the source of our spirit, might feel pleasure in the appreciation of his beauty and the beauty of his creation. We cannot know the exact nature of these pleasures, we can only predict them by looking into ourselves. As we have stated before, the attributes of God that have been reflecting in us are small copies of their original, the human being is created in the image of God.
One can ask this question here: "The majority of people will go to Hell because most people are disbelievers, and as a result, the creation of God will happen to bring more pain and suffering than happiness. Wouldn't it have been better if God had not created anything in the first place?" Let's answer this with an example. Suppose that a farmer has a thousand seeds at hand and he decides to sow all of these. However, he knows that nine hundred of these seeds won't produce a crop either for being eaten by animals or for withering before flourishing. In spite of this, the farmer would not refrain from sowing all the seeds he has because the crops that the hundred seeds will yield are so valuable as to more than compensate for the loss of nine hundred seeds. If God hadn't known by his infinite knowledge that noble prophets, martyrs, scholars will come from among people, he wouldn't have created the universe. Only the fruit of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that the tree of this universe has borne is enough of a reason for this universe to be created. Let's quote here the Biblical parable that is also alluded to in the last verses of Surah al-Fath in the Quran: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear." … "Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." (Matthew 13: 3-9 … 18-23)"
What was God Doing before He Created the Universe?
Time is a creation of God; God is not bound by time as nobody is bound by and in need of his own creation. Terms such as past, present, future, before, and after are being used by human beings who are bounded by time. The terms before and after cannot be used for God who is beyond time, therefore the question of "What was God Doing before He Created the Universe?" is self-contradictory. Since we humans have always been bound by time, we cannot imagine timelessness, nor can we conceive the nature of God properly. Trying to fit God into the human brain is like trying to fit an entire ocean into a glass. Some fools ask "Who created God if God created everything?" This question too stems from the misconception that God is bound by time and he has a particular beginning point in time. In reality, God is the source of all existence, and existence means God. There is no existence outside of God.
Why is there so much evil and suffering in the world if God is good?
One of the most popular questions imported from the Christian world today is the question of “Why did God create evil and why does he allow suffering if he is good and merciful?” Many people who hate religions harbor this question in their subconscious: why does God permit wars, poverty, starvation, and evil if he is all-Merciful? In fact, this question cannot be asked against Islam; because Islam teaches that this world is a world of test and it is created to distinguish those who choose good from those who choose evil. This distinction couldn’t have been made had there not been evil in the world. “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient (Qur’an 2:155)”
What is the definition of “evil” for the one who asks this question? Is the death of a child evil? This death guarantees Heaven for the kid, and it causes his/her mother to enter Heaven as long as she remains patient with submission to God. Are wars evil? Wars cause many Muslims to be blessed with martyrdom and convey the pure message of Islam to non-Muslims. Are diseases evil? Diseases act as expiation for our sins and let us get rid of the punishment in the hereafter by taking that punishment in the world, and diseases make it harder for us to commit sins. Something that our nafs (ego) hates may actually be good, and something that our nafs (ego) loves may actually be harmful to us. Prophets and scholars had the most difficult lives among people because the tribulations that these people faced were actually the blessings of God. Christians often think that those who suffer in this world are punished by God for being evil; Muslims, in contrast, believe that these people are being tested with even greater trials for having a high degree in the eyes of God. Namely, the Christian and Muslim perceptions of evil and suffering are starkly different from each other. Islam disagrees with the Christian doctrine that focuses only on good and fails to account for evil. People feel pain for exerting their muscles during workouts, but this pain strengthens their muscles in the long-term. Although the sufferings in this world give us temporary pains, they make us stronger and more durable in the long run, and increase our piety. Even the pains that God sends upon us have good in them, they enhance and mature us.
The deficiencies and sufferings of this world also evoke our yearning for Heaven. On account of the obstacles to pleasures in this world (diseases, wars, financial troubles), we think of Heaven as the genuine place for pleasure and constantly yearn for it. There is no beauty and pleasure without a drawback in this world: eating chocolate fattens us up, playing sports entails aches and injuries, sex causes unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, playing computer games for a long time gives a headache… Even the most beautiful woman knows that one day she will get old and turn ugly, even the smartest engineer knows that one day he will turn senile, and even the strongest sportsman knows that he will become weak after getting old. If it wasn’t for all these defects and apprehensions, people would abandon their efforts for Heaven and indulge in all kinds of worldly pleasures. The deficiencies and troubles of this world are blessings for us because they motivate us to work for admittance into Heaven. On top of this, the troubles of this world remind us of the genuine values of the blessings that we normally take for granted and make us grateful for what we have. We wouldn’t appreciate the value of our possessions if God didn’t deprive us of those from time to time. A person who never gets sick wouldn’t know how important health is and wouldn’t thank God for his health. If there were no blinds in the world, we wouldn’t realize the importance of vision because the value of something is appreciated only after experiencing its absence. Troubles and sufferings are beneficial for us as they teach us the values of God’s blessings and evoke our gratitude for being blessed with them. We should keep in mind that the default state of the world is peace and harmony, and calamities are exceptions. People are generally healthy, diseases are exceptions; The earth is stable by default, earthquakes are exceptions. Most of the time peace is prevalent in the world, wars are exceptions. The calamities we go through are not the default state of the world, they are exceptions that make us appreciate the general good and harmony.
Problems occurring in an unknown system contribute a lot to our knowledge of the way that system functions. If there were no mentally disabled people, we wouldn’t have known how the brain functions and couldn’t have made experiments on it. If it wasn’t for ozone depletion, we wouldn’t have known the nature of sunrays and the fact that the ozone layer protects us from the Sun. Humans are lazy creatures; they don’t endeavor for anything unless they derive a pragmatic benefit out of it. We wouldn’t have felt the need to research the human body if there were no diseases, we wouldn’t have studied geology if there were no earthquakes, and we wouldn’t have spent a penny to research the space if there were no radiations and meteors that threaten our life in it. God sometimes creates minute problems in the magnificent system that he created so that we may learn how that system functions and make research to fix it. God created everything for us to know and appreciate his art at the end of the day, our appreciation of God’s art by exploring the universe is one of the goals of our creation.
It is helpful to mention this Prophetic tradition on this topic: “If God had considered the worldly life as worthy as the wing of a mosquito, an unbeliever would not be allowed to take a sip of water from it.” We get zero when we divide a finite number by infinity. This world is temporary, and the hereafter is infinite; the temporary thing has zero value when compared to infinity no matter how grave it looks. The beauties and troubles of this life are negligible compared to the rewards that will be earned and the penalties that will be paid in the hereafter. It is stupid to complain over small matters of this world without paying attention to the genuine life of the hereafter. One may ask, “why did God create Hell if he is all-Merciful?” Forgiving the cruel and leaving a crime unpunished is a crime itself, it is definitely not mercy. If a government left a murderer unpunished and set him free, would the relatives of the murdered consent to this decision? It would have been unfair to those who were wronged if God didn’t punish those who wronged.
Most people do not think of the possibility that it may be beneficial for them in the long run when they are afflicted by a calamity, and they start complaining and grumbling right away. God commissions numerous means –including angels- for inflicting these calamities so that ignorant people do not blame God directly at times of calamities, and blaspheme God out of ignorance. For example, the one who loses his loved one in an earthquake would blame the earthquake and natural disasters for his grief, and wouldn’t blame God directly although the earthquake was ordained by God. Many people hold the angel of death responsible when they lose a loved one and speak ill of the angel of death. If God had not commissioned the angel of death to be an intermediary in taking of lives and had taken this job directly on himself, people would blame God whenever they suffered a loss of a loved one, thus committing a major sin. God made angels and the laws of nature as covers for the jobs he ordained so that ignorant people who do not know the wisdom of these may not reproach God directly.
The Meaning of Life for Atheists
People are created with a natural and inherent disposition to Islam. Just like our bodies are created with the need for eating and breathing, our souls are created with the need for being a Muslim. "So [Prophet] as a man of pure faith, stand firm and true in your devotion to the religion. This is the natural disposition God instilled in mankind- there is no altering God's creation- and this is the right religion, though most people do not realize it. (Qur'an 30:30)" Those who have not received the message of Islam satisfy their spiritual need of being Muslim by believing in superstitious religions. Every nations of the past would believe in religion even it be superstitious because of this inherent need. Believing in Islam is the default reaction when one receives its message, rejecting it requires an additional effort. A person who rejects God both gets himself to believe in the fallacy of deification of nature and resigns himself to a meaningless life. Namely, he resists his mind and heart although both of these dispose him to believe in God.
Those who disbelieve in God can never have a genuine purpose in life. According to the Darwinian point of view, the only purpose of life is to pass our genes on to the next generation by producing offspring. Since this explanation cannot satisfy any reasonable person, it is evident that atheists don't have a purpose in life. In my opinion, it is more logical for an atheist to commit suicide than to keep on living. Now, I am going to give the reasons as to why I think this way.
Suppose that you are going to have your arms chopped off two days from now. How would you spend the remaining two days? Would you do all activities that require using arms by thinking of these two days as the last opportunity to take advantage of your arms? Or would you prefer activities that do not require arms so that you accustom yourself to your upcoming armless life? If you prefer the first option, your heart resembles that of an unwary atheist. You will ultimately lose your arms anyway, this is the ultimate destination. You would not get pleasure out of the activities that you do with your arms in those two days while your heart is still overtaken by the sorrow of losing your arms. On the contrary, these activities would cause you to have even more affection for your arms, thus boosting the sorrow of losing your arms. The relationship between life and death is similar to this. No matter what you do in life, your destination is going to be senility, followed by the ultimate destination of death. Nobody should fear the physical pain of death because it will at most last for a couple of minutes. What should be feared is the pain that the idea of death inflicts on our hearts during our lifetime. Since we are the only species that is aware of the fact that we are going to die, death is way beyond physical pain for us. Animals only live for the moment; they don't have a sense of past and future. However, the griefs of the past and the worries for the future never leave us alone as human beings. "Now" is nothing but a short moment stuck between the past and the future as far as humans are concerned. No animal lives in awareness of death, only the human being is burdened by the scary knowledge of death. The more the irreligious person gets attached to this world, the scarier death will become for him. The more the irreligious person loves this world, the more painful it will be to leave this world. Whatever success that the irreligious person accomplishes here will come along with the fear of losing it. The spiritual agony that death gives to his heart will follow him everywhere and won't let him relish the joys of this life. Since death is the ultimate destination and the grave is the ultimate residence, nothing of this life is valuable. The irreligious person must detach himself from this world as much as possible in order to alleviate the pain of death which is the ultimate reality, the more he attaches himself to this life the more difficult leaving it will become. This is similar to the man in our example who makes it more difficult for himself to lose his arms by boosting his affection for them. This is why atheists can have no purpose in life.
Think of a convict who is condemned to a death sentence, and his execution is due a week later. Is it possible for that convict to enjoy his life in that one week? The grief of not being able to see anymore what he is seeing, and not being able to hear anymore what he is hearing would overtake him. Death itself is only a pain lasting for a couple of minutes. That one week prior to death is more painful than the death itself. In fact, we are all convicts waiting for our execution, and waiting for our execution is more painful than the execution itself. The weird thing is that we don't know when our execution is going to take place, we cannot even be sure if we have a week ahead. If you held a gun to somebody's head while he is eating, he wouldn't take pleasure from his food even if it were the most delicious food in the world. In fact, we have tens of guns held to our head every second, death may come from anywhere. Man is a weak creature made of bones and meat, a tiny malfunction in his body or a tiny impact from outside can injure him, and even kill him. Every bite that we swallow is a death threat for us; all bites that we swallow would kill us if it wasn't for a small and mindless piece of muscle that closes our windpipe when we swallow. That's why this life is unbearable for a disbeliever, it is even worse than death itself. One would feel very nervous before taking an important exam. His anxiety would elevate even more as the time of the exam approached, but his anxiety would disappear after the start of the exam and he would feel a sudden relief. People experience Monday syndrome on Sundays, not on Mondays. The worry of having their holiday finished disturbs them throughout Sunday. These examples illustrate that the pain of death is felt during life, not at the moment of death. Prolonging life for an atheist is equivalent to prolonging the pain of death. This means that death is better than life for an atheist, and committing suicide is more preferable than keeping on living for a logical atheist.
Satan constantly deceives godless people by offering them worldly provisions such as money, possessions, lust, and children. Most people exert themselves to become richer although none of these will benefit us after we die. Living as an atheist is similar to walking hopefully on a road despite knowing that it is going to dead-end. Satan tries to cause us to forget death and asserts that this life is meaningful even in rebellion against God. The Quran tells that alcohol and gambling are the tricks of Satan because these two imprison the minds of those who are addicted to them and doesn't let these people question life. They thus live like animals and die like animals. Materialists assert that we are a breed of monkeys and we are not different at all from animals. This claim is true from their viewpoint since they think of everybody as similar to themselves. The Quran too likens disbelievers to animals: "And We have certainly created for Hell many of the jinn and mankind. They have hearts with which they do not understand, they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear. Those are like livestock; rather, they are more astray. It is they who are the heedless. (Qur'an 7:179)"
Does Believing in Religion Make One Close-Minded?
One of the fundamental prejudices against religion in the modern age is that religion causes people to become close-minded. According to this accusation, religious people cannot interpret affairs objectively as they cannot change the dogmatic principles of the religion they profess, therefore they are doomed to look at everything from a narrow perspective. In fact, it makes one stronger and more balanced to step one of his feet on a sturdy spot that he doesn't doubt. A Muslim would choose his religion after learning and questioning, thus determining the spot to put one of his feet on through a logical process. Just like we don't have to prove the existence of gravity every day and we take it for granted after convincing ourselves of it, one doesn't need to doubt his religion every single day and he would believe in it with certainty after some time. A person should put one of his legs on what he undoubtedly believes in, and use his other leg to reach out to other people, other beliefs and opinions. This doesn't make him close minded; instead, it makes him stronger and more balanced. A person without a firm belief, on the other hand, couldn't find any reliable spot to step one of his feet on and would jump aimlessly at various directions. He would realize after years of effort that he couldn't have found an answer to any of his questions and has randomly whirled around his starting point. One cannot step one of his feet on science either because science is dynamic and it has no certainty (atheistic scientists of our time step both their feet on science though, this is nothing but sheer bigotry). Even Descartes who had begun with the philosophy of doubting everything later came to admit that there must be certain things he shouldn't doubt, and he came to the conclusion that he should never doubt his own existence. He knew that he couldn't find answers to anything if he rejected his own existence, therefore he admitted that he cannot doubt his own existence with his famous quote: "I think, therefore I am".
Philosophers who tried to reach the truth without recourse to God could not cover even a tiny distance in their quest. These people don't know who they are, what they are questing for and for what purpose they are questing; most of them end up dying unsettled without satisfaction with their lives. Muslim scholars who pondered over Islam could reach the secrets of the truth, moved beyond the material world into the spiritual one and lived piously as satisfied with their lives because they knew the road that they should take and the methods leading to this road very well. We sometimes witness that the Quran and prophetic traditions answer a topic discussed by philosophers, scientists and sociologists for centuries in a very simple and precise way that makes us wonder how come people couldn't have resolved such a simple issue for centuries. Everything becomes simple and meaningful with the guidance of the Quran, those who consider themselves open-minded go blindly after all sorts of fallacies as they are deprived of the guidance of the Quran. Accepting the Quran as a mentor in life doesn't make us close-minded; on the contrary, it makes the truth much clearer to see, much easier to grasp for us.
What needs to be pointed out here is the difference between being subjective and looking subjectively. Everybody has an ideology that they subscribe to which inevitably makes them subjective, this is the inevitable consequence of thinking. However, being subjective shouldn't lead us to have a narrow and opinionated view of the world, we should be able to look at and interpret the world from above when needed. Unfortunately, most people are not equipped with this ability whether they are religious or irreligious. For example, being "modern" is emphasized and promoted quite often in Western and Western wannabe countries. Whereas in fact, being modern confines people to look at the world only with the paradigms of the modern age, and it instills in people many prejudices that the modern world harbors. We shouldn't be modern, we should see beyond the modern. We should run after the ultimate truth by breaking free from the paradigms of our age.
 Sunan Tirmidhi, Hadith: 2267
 Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2320