It is important to acquire goodness in order to understand the meaning and purpose of life.
Distressed and hopeless people do not consider or think about the meaning of life. For them, the meaning of life becomes inappropriate when their existence is at stake and when their life is a mixture of worries and perplexities. On the other hand, people who are not desperate mull over the meaning of life. It becomes a problem for such people to reflect on the meaning of life who count on endurance, relief, safety measures, and pleasure. For desperate people, life is to be lived one moment at a time. However, those who consider the meaning of life as important consider it every day and very well know that they should step back from the moment to see and observe life in a long-range context (Baumeister 3).
It is a fact that every time a person speaks or thinks, he/she is using meaning. Not only this, a person uses meaning when he/she decides or plans something. The life does not have a particular meaning in an automatic way. Every individual has to construct his/her own meaning of life. Sometimes people devote their lives to their offspring; some dedicate it to their work or religious faith; some devote it to something else. It is these choices made individually that determine the meaning of life (Baumeister 3).
In short, the meanings of life do not instigate from a mysterious well set deep inside the soul of an individual. A person acquires and understands this meaning from society, other people or culture. Nature has equipped the Homo sapiens with hunger but not with meanings. It is, thus, the gradual development of meaning that a person has to find within his/her self to live a contented life (Baumeister 3).
My Idea of a Meaningful Life
As far as my idea about the meaning of life is concerned, I am a hopeful, optimistic and positive individual who thinks that the life is not at all meaningless. I don't consider myself as a secular saint but for me, life has tremendous value and meaning and this is the reason why we have been gifted life by God. Though there are times when life gets tough but it doesn't mean at all that life is absurd and meaningless.
I think that my life was given a particular meaning when I was born. I was given a name, a home, a position in the community, some money that my parents kept aside for me etc. There are several other things related to me that were already planned by my parents when I was a child. Now when I am grown, I think that all the smaller meanings and bigger meanings have merged and are helping me to determine the course of my life.
I believe that hope encompasses my life and I believe in my worth as a human being and in my destiny. My faith has supported me in every troubled time. I think that a man can only have a true meaning in life if he/she moulds it according to the wonderful teachings of his/her religion or any other religion that teaches wonderful things about spending one's life. In this regard, my understanding of a meaningful life is greatly influenced by the teachings of the last prophet of Islam, Muhammad. For me, the meaning of life is simply to be righteous and honest in every situation. Muhammad asked his followers i.e. Muslims, to abstain from evil doings and indulge in morality. The purpose of my life is greatly impacted with his teachings as I also try to be good and withdraw from immoral doings. The reason is simple. By opting goodness, I would be able to win God's favor. Muhammad, too, has emphasized on being moral because only then one can become God's favorite.
Teachings of Muhammad (peace be upon him)
Muhammad's universe is composed of two constituents: Allah (God) and the world He created. Out of these two, Allah is the more remarkable. Muslims believe that their God is Eternal, has always been there and will always be. Not a single leaf falls without His consent and knowledge. Muhammad's God is unique in every sense and everything in the universe is dependent upon Him. Moreover, Allah is sympathetic, generous, forgiving and beneficent. He is angry only when a human being crosses His defined limits (Cook 25).
Though the world has a variety of intelligent life; Allah has given the lion's share of His divine attention to mankind. According to Muhammad's teachings, human beings belong to God. However, regardless of the fact that God is too compassionate and benevolent towards His creations, the record of human conduct is mainly consisted of disobedient acts; and this is where man stops to think about his meaning of life. When one disobeys God, he is in fact portraying an image of an ungrateful being who in spite of being given every detail to lead a moral life, leads an immoral one (Cook 26). This is the reason why Muhammad asked his followers repeatedly to live a life according to the specified moral values (Cook 26). Muhammad said:
"A group from my Nation will always remain obedient to Allah's orders, and they will not be harmed by those who abandon them nor those who oppose them, until the command of Allah comes while they are [still] in that state" (as qtd. In Zarabozo 368).
At the end of this life, Allah will be judging men according to their deeds with the aid of balances. The consequences will be simple. The colorful delights of Paradise would be awarded to the people with good aids of balance while the immoral people would have to suffer the pains of hell. Therefore, it is exceedingly necessary to understand the particular meaning of life defined by Muhammad i.e. To adopt goodness in every aspect of life (Cook 26). Muhammad warned his followers:
"Wrongdoing (shall be) darkness on the Day of Resurrection" (as qtd in. Zarabozo 3).
The main message that the last prophet of Islam, Muhammad, made an effort to convey to the whole mankind is the existence of an Omnipotent God who is inimitable in every sense. Muhammad has provided his own example to the human civilization by living his life in accordance with the teachings of this Supreme Being. Muslims view their God as the sole cause for their existence and this image of God has been presented to them through the teachings of Muhammad. In Islam, there is no idea of any place without the God in it. This belief of the presence of God everywhere is the sole reason why a true Muslim (like Muhammad) always tries to be involved in good activities as he/she fears the wrath of God in case he/she does something immoral ("Life and Times of Prophet Muhammad").
A major theory presented by Muhammad is the fact that every individual is born pure. He repeatedly informs the human civilization in his teachings that they are given a choice on earth; either to adopt goodness or follow evil. He also lays emphasis on being faithful, grateful and charitable to seek God's pleasure and find a place for one in the heavens in the later life. This theory influences and convinces me really strongly. I have a firm belief in the notion that human beings have no predetermined approach regarding which direction to follow. Philosophically, they have to stumble through the rocks or climb over them throughout their life since their birth. The meaning of life is only understood by an individual when he makes choices, sees the consequences, and analyzes the good or bad as the end product. This quality allows an individual to derive logics out of the situations and thus, separates him/her from animals ("Life and Times of Prophet Muhammad").
Muhammad (PBUH) and the Sharia
When the teachings of Muhammad are discussed, it is unavoidable to not discuss the issue of the Sharia. One of the most renowned interpreter of Islam, Fazlur Rahman, says "The most important and comprehensive concept for describing Islam as a function is the concept of the Shari'a or 'Shar'" (as qtd. In Nyang 297). He describes the original meaning of this word as "the path or the road leading to the water,' i.e., a way to the very source of life" (as qtd. In Nyang 297). He also describes it as "the highway of goodlife, i.e., religious values, expressed functionally and in concrete terms, to direct man's life" (as qtd. In Nyang 297). It is important for those who study Islam and consider the teachings of Muhammad as an important way of understanding life to also ponder over the Sharia as it consists of laws and principles to lead a meaningful and contented life. Sharia consists of the Commands of God and teaches an individual, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, to analyze and understand the true meaning of life as defined by God.…