The Islamic system of belief is a set of principles pertaining to the Creator, to prophecy, and to the unseen, which includes such matters as the existence of angels, the Resurrection, and the Last Day. It deals with anything that the Messengers have informed about on the basis of revelation – the teachings that they commanded to believe in with certainty while knowing that everything to the contrary is false.
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The question, why did Allah create us, for some people, and we have to deal with those people around us, who don’t consider there to be any purpose in man’s creation because he is just a product of evolution that the forces of nature have produced him, and just as we don’t have apes, dogs or cows thinking about why they are here, then we don’t really have to think about it either. Of course that being the basis of the philosophy of western society, that man is without purpose, then the whole issue of government, morality etc has no basis in Revelation, there is no guidance there. The product of this is of course the corruption that we are living in.
For a Muslim, when we go in to this topic, we have to find our understanding in divine revelation and not human speculation. Because human speculation has no bounds, we can imagine all kinds of things, and is any of you have studied philosophy of religion, you can see how many opinions exist about the creation of man and existence. Because of the variety of philosophies, which are out there, no one can say this one is correct or that one is incorrect, because there is no guidance behind it. No divine revelation. It is only from divine revelation that we can determine the reality of our creation, because it is Allah who has created us and he knows the purpose of our creation. We can hardly understand ourselves, much less try to understand the essence of things. So it is for Allah to inform us through the revelation in the Qur’an and the Sunnah which was brought by his last messenger (saaw) and the messengers before. Now if we are to look, initially into revelation, to determine why was man created, there is a deeper question that we should be asking before that. “Why did god create?” Before we even get to man, why did god create, because man is not the greatest act of creation that we should be so focused on why man. No, because Allah says:
“The creation of the Heavens and the Earth is indeed greater then the creation of mankind; yet, most of mankind know not.” (Surah Ghafir, verse 57)
Man is not the greatest act of creation, this universe is far more complex and far more magnificent then man. So the issue of creation should then go to why create? As opposed to simply why create man?
Fundamentally, we can say that the creation is the natural consequence of the attribute of creator. Allah is the creator. That is one of his attributes. That is what he has informed us. That being his attribute, the creator, the natural consequence or the product of this attribute is his creation.
A painter, if we are to draw a similitude on a lower level, who tells you that he is a painter, if you ask him where are his paintings and he replies I don’t have any. What kind of painter is this? The concept of a painter who doesn’t paint, there is some thing not quite gelling together here, of course Allah is beyond this. But if we are to understand on the simplest level, the two go together. The perfection of a painter lies in his paintings. His quality and his ability to paint, is manifest in his paintings. And Allah, beyond all that, as creator, this quality of creation is manifest in the creation itself. Allah didn’t create out of a need. No, the fact that he is the creator, is manifest in the creation.
Furthermore, consider the act of creation, this act, with regards to Allah is unique. Though we use the term i.e. So and so created a table etc, actually it is in a limited sense. Human beings don’t really create, they manipulate, because they can only “create” what already exists. When we make a chair or a table, we didn’t create the wood, we had to take it from a tree, we didn’t create the metal, which makes the screws etc, we had to melt down rocks and take the metal out. So we are not creating from nothing. We are manipulating things which Allah has already created in to different shapes and forms which are useful to us. We call it “creation” but the real act of creation, is creation from nothing, and this is unique to Allah alone.