As humans living in this social media phenomenon, there are 5 questions we ask ourselves. Whether that’s in the behaviour of who we follow, or the captions we read to seek knowledge.
The 5 questions we should seek answers for are:
- Where did I and all this come from?
- How do we know anything (where does knowledge come from)?
- Who am I?
- What is my purpose?
- Where am I going?
We ask questions in times of solitude whether it’s at home or on a morning commute to work. Or when a tragic or sad event happens, and the dust starts to settle on what took place. Or at night when the world sleeps and your eyes stare into the darkness. Or when you endlessly scroll through your social media feed. Hoping to find something enlightening. The voice inside starts to question your existence.
We start searching online and follow accounts that claim to have the right answers. We read self-help books, watch YouTube videos and share posts, which makes us feel good for a few minutes. And still, the void seeps in. But how can we find the correct answers to these questions? Questions that we should occupy our lives with and deeply ponder about.
In one of Sheikh Hamza Yusuf’s talks, he answers these questions. And we will summarise the answers as a starting point. What you do with these answers and what direction you to take is up to you.
1. Where did all this come from?
This question has burned humans for centuries. Countless hours have gone into finding the answer to this question. Conflicts, arguments and debates have raged from this question. Yet the answer is simple:
“And if you asked them, “Who created the heavens and earth?” they would surely say, ” Allah.” Say, “[All] praise is [due] to Allah “; but most of them do not know.”
This verse was asked to idol worshippers who admitted that Allah created everything. But they still insisted on worshipping idols.
Today, we see a wave of atheism that history has never witnessed before. Where more and more are doubting the existence of Allah and claim that we came from nothing.
Either way, the verse tells us at the end that the majority don’t know the truth.
But in short, know that the heavens and the earth, and everything between is created by Allah (SWT). And this is how we got here, today.
2. How Do We Know Anything?
In other words, what is knowledge and how is it obtained?
Have you ever thought where knowledge actually comes from? Where your ideas originate from? Who taught the first human anything? How does new knowledge enter our world?
Let’s read the first few verses revealed.
- Read: In the Name of your Lord who created.
- Created man from a clinging clot.
- Read: And your Lord is the Most Generous.
- He who taught by the pen.
- Taught man what he never knew.
We are told that Allah (SWT) taught the human being. Allah (SWT) has all knowledge and it is passed down to us in different ways (which we’ll see below).
“And if all the trees on the earth were pens and the sea, with seven seas behind it to add to it, yet the Words of Allah would not be exhausted.”(31:27)
We can’t process how much knowledge The All-Wise has. He possesses all knowledge. So how is it passed down to us? There are four main ways this happens.
Revelations are what Prophets are given except dreams, which we have access to as well. Dreams are 1/46th of a revelation. Dreams can be accessed by anyone regardless of religion.
Revelation is a way of knowing something without having any means to learn it. You can’t learn it or be intuitive. This is given to the Prophets, who then teach others.
ii. Speech & language
We are also taught by & through speech and language
“He taught him Al-Bayan (Eloquent speech).” (55:4)
ii. Reasoning & Learning
This is what we usually think of as learning. We learn from individuals, books or experiences. Then reflect on what we’ve learnt, come up with our own conclusions and test our new understanding. This is part of Kolb’s famous learning cycle.
Another way we learn is through intuition. For example, you know a car is bigger than a football when you see them next to each other. Even as a child you knew that. By looking and reflecting, you learn new things and make sense of the world.
3. Who Am I?
One of the more common questions amongst philosophers and millions of people today, “who am I?”
If you understand the two-part answer below to this question. You will go a long way to finding yourself.
The first part is to know that we are slaves of Allah (SWT).
“Is not Allah Sufficient for His slave? … “(39:36)
Slavery is offensive. And slavery to anyone else is humiliation. A violation of your rights.
But a slave to Allah (SWT) is an honour and freedom. This is the lowest title given for the person with the highest knowledge. Because the more a person knows about his Master, the more he understands how much he depends on Him. And this is the second part of the answer.
That we are dependent on Allah (SWT). From food, light, time, health, sustenance and everything else, we are totally dependent on Him.
In summary to the third question: You are a slave of Allah and are completely dependent on Him.
4. What Is My Purpose in Life?
“Did you think that We had created you in play (without any purpose), and that you would not be brought back to Us?”(23:115)
Has your mind ever wandered off into space and a little voice asks, “Why am I here? Why do I exist?”
A deep question that travels the internet. Where people are hoping to find their purpose and even find themselves. For this answer, we’ll break it down into three different reasons mentioned in the Quran:
Allah states that He has created us from the world and put us on it as 3maara or to cultivate. What is the purpose of cultivating? It is to benefit humanity. To serve the best interest of humanity.
We’re here to cultivate the earth for beneficial purposes. That can include agriculture, medicine, schools, orphanages, political structures. And you take what you need from the earth to do that. Hence, we have the resources and means to cultivate the earth.
“…Surely we have made you a viceroy (khafifah) in the land…” (3:26)
We’re on earth as leaders and He watches what we do. And this is twofold.
As humans, we need to know that we are here today because of the people before us. Every generation played their part to advance our nation. So, we should be grateful and maintain what they have done for us.
We don’t need to start again. You don’t need to build the roads that you drive on. The previous generation did that so you can use it today.
The next thing is what we’re going to leave behind for the next generation. So that they can strive and prosper. We all have a responsibility to build on what the previous generation left behind. And pass it on to the next generation. This is done on a global, communal and individual level.
The third part of our purpose permeates the other two purposes, which is to worship Allah. There is worship which involves yourself and worship that involves others.
Ibaadah that involves yourself. Is the responsibility to learn the fardh and sunnah of the religion. Know that the acts of worship are not to make your life difficult.
“…Allâh does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favour to you that you may be thankful”(5:6)
The reasons for them are to purify you as Allah (SWT) states. To wake up for Fajr is not to make it difficult for you. But it’s beneficial to you. So that you’re upright, disciplined and that it brings you success today and tomorrow.
The second is how you deal with others. The prophet (S.A.W.S.) said: “I have been sent to perfect the best of manners”.
We should want others what we want for ourselves. We should help people so that they can succeed not only when they’re in trouble. We shouldn’t show arrogance or make fun of people. Our actions, whether in front or behind their backs should make them happy and not upset them.
5. Where Are You Going?
We’re all going to die. We know that. But does it end there, or does it go on? And if it goes on where does it lead to? There are a lot of questions here.
But the answer in short is, inna lillahi wa inna alahi rajioon – To Him do we belong and to Him do we return.
He will raise you up and will take you to account. Everything that you did on this earth you will be asked about. And it’s why we should take account of ourselves now before Allah takes account of us after we die. Don’t leave it too late. There are no guarantees that you will see tomorrow.
The first question (where did all this come from?) states we came from Allah and the last (where are you going?) states we return to Him. So, it’s logical that everything between should be about Allah (SWT). We begin to understand that we’re here as slaves of Allah (SWT), to benefit mankind and the whole world and to worship Him.
To do this, we need to learn the correct knowledge so we can do it in the right way. We don’t need to start from scratch. Instead, we can build on what the past generation left for us. And we need to build for the future as well as for the present.
Ultimately, what’s guaranteed for us is death. After death comes our judgement of how we lived on this earth. We should start to see how all our actions today effects this life and our next life.