So often, we get caught up in life – our goals, desires, relationships, and achievements. Of course, all of this has its place – however, as Muslims, it’s important to engage in life with a sense of purpose, rather than for accomplishment in and of itself.
I’d like to share my favorite ayah of the Quran with you – one that has truly been a guiding light in my quest to live a more purposeful life, by the permission of Allah. Keeping this one ayah at the forefront of your consciousness can help you to become more centered, accomplished, serene, and purposeful – and provide a compass for everything you do in life.
Many of us are familiar with this ayah – but do we really give it the weight, reflection, and implementation it deserves? If we did, I’d argue that our lives would truly be transformed.
Living Your Purpose
When you truly know your real purpose on this earth – in more than just an abstract way, you’ll find that doors open wherever you go.
This is because infusing your life with purpose (worship of Allah), means knowing that every action, opportunity, emotion, and interaction is a means to gain closeness to Allah and exemplify the best qualities and actions.
Many people understand this on an intellectual level – of course it is best to live in a more purposeful, righteous manner. However, it may be challenging for some to understand how to truly infuse this sense of purpose into everyday life. Below are some examples, which illustrate a sense of Islamic purposefulness – and how it can guide you to the best of actions and character, in every facet of life.
~ In your work, infusing a sense of purpose and worship can be done in numerous ways. Dealing fairly with customers; giving accurate measure and prices; returning over-payments; excellent customer service, and wonderful quality are but a few examples.
Always strive for excellence in your work, seeking Allah’s pleasure. You will find that not only will you develop a stellar reputation, excel in your field, and move up within your company – the intangible rewards from Allah will be numerous, alhamdulillah.
“Abu Salid al-Khudri reported that The Prophet said: Do not sell gold for gold, except like for like, and don’t increase something of it upon something; and don’t sell silver unless like for like, and don’t increase something of it upon something, and do not sell for ready money something to be given later.” 1
~ In relationships, making it your purpose and focus to seek Allah’s pleasure is critical for success. This comes into play when you are first seeking a husband or wife, as well as once you are married.
Choosing a spouse based on who will motivate you to be the best slave of Allah is one of the most important choices you will make in life. And after marriage, approach the relationship as an act of worship in which you are seeking Allah’s pleasure. If this is your purpose, this will get you through those times when you are less than happy with each other.
Umm Salamah narrated that Allah’s Messenger said, “Whichever woman dies while her husband is pleased with her, then she enters Paradise.” 2
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said: “The most perfect of the believers in faith is the one who is best in attitude, and the best of you is the one who is best in attitude towards his womenfolk.” 3
~ Raising children is both a blessing, and an amaanah (trust). You will be asked about how you raised and cultivated them, and whether you instilled principles and guidance that will help them to be good Muslims – and ultimately raise their own children to continue the legacy, insha’ Allah.
From the perspective of parenting as worship, the Muslim parent focuses on teaching acts of ibaadah, character development, manners, and respect. You strive to raise children, who by their very character are a benefit to their community, and a dawah to mankind. Imagine how heavily this will weigh in the parents scale of good deeds!
And those who believed and whose descendants followed them in faith – We will join with them their descendants, and We will not deprive them of anything of their deeds. Every person, for what he earned, is retained. (At-Tur, 52:21)
And the duah from Surah Al-Ahqaf:
“My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims.” (Al-Ahqaf, 46:15)
~ With your friends, infusing a sense of purpose and worship means that you choose to keep company with beneficial people, and not those who engage in a lot of idle speech or call you to sin. Also, one of the best aspects of friendship is having someone you trust to confide in and seek counsel from. If your friends are righteous and fear Allah, they will always advise in a manner which will benefit your dunya and aakhirah.
Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “A man is upon the religion of his best friend, so let one of you look at whom he befriends.” 4
~ Wealth, its accumulation and spending can truly be a fitnah, if one is not careful. However, for the one focused on seeking Allah’s pleasure – wealth used correctly can be of much benefit. Instead of seeking to accumulate money for its own sake, use it as a means of getting closer to Allah . Give sadaqah, sponsor an orphan, or any other generous act of worship. Also, always strive to keep your money free from haram, such as riba (interest), or purchasing haram goods (alcohol, music, etc.).
Your wealth and your children are but a trial, and Allah has with Him a great reward.
So fear Allah as much as you are able and listen and obey and spend [in the way of Allah]; it is better for your selves. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful. (At-Taghabun, 64:15-16)
~ When seeking an education, a sense of purpose is paramount! Focus on the ultimate aim of ilm – to remove ignorance from yourself and others, by way of this knowledge. As you learn, filter any new knowledge through an Islamic lens, and seek Allah’s aid in completing your studies.
Also, think ahead of a way in which you can use what you’ve learned in Allah’s service! Whether in your career, or in tutoring or educating others – make a plan to “pay sadaqah” on the knowledge you’ve been blessed with.
Shaykh Al-Uthaymeen in his explanation of Hilyatu Taalibal Ilm (The Adornments of the Student of Knowledge) by Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd, referenced this when explaining the meaning of Zakaat.
The Shaykh mentioned that the Salaf used to say that just as people pay zakat on their wealth, they are also required to pay zakaat on their knowledge – if they hope for it to increase. This is done by acting upon that knowledge, helping others implement it, and calling towards that knowledge for Allah’s sake.
~ Your health and the strength of your body is truly a mercy from Allah , which we must be thankful for every day. Don’t take good health for granted, and use it for seeking Allah’s pleasure. Don’t use your legs to walk to a forbidden place, or your arms to touch a forbidden person. Also, while you have health, seek to do as much dawah, study, and beneficial work as possible, as the time may come when you cannot any longer. And lastly, seek to preserve your good health by eating well, exercising, and maintaining a low level of stress.
“Take advantage of five things before five other things: from your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you become occupied, and from your life before your death.” 5
~ Giving dawah is a major component of worshiping Allah and living a life of purpose. Once you understand your true goal in life “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Adh-Dhariyat, 51:56), not only do you want to implement this in your life – but you want to help others do the same.
Every Muslim should give dawah – first by his character, then by words and deeds. If you don’t feel that you are knowledgeable enough, even sharing the smallest bits of information about Islam, or taking someone to visit a masjid can have a profound impact.
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.” (An-Nahl, 16:125)
Masha’ Allah, these are just some of the areas of our lives that are enhanced tremendously, when we seek to truly live our purpose. In your own life, think of areas in which you can be more purposeful. Make your intention and select one area, focus on improvement for Allah’s sake, and then move on to another. Concentrated cultivation of one’s mind, body and soul – for Allah’s sake, is truly the purpose of life.
“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Adh-Dhariyat, 51:56).