How do you discover your real purpose in life? I’m not talking about your job, your daily responsibilities, or even your long-term goals. I mean the real reason why you’re here at all — the very reason you exist.
Perhaps you’re a rather nihilistic person who doesn’t believe you have a purpose and that life has no meaning. Doesn’t matter. Not believing that you have a purpose won’t prevent you from discovering it, just as a lack of belief in gravity won’t prevent you from tripping. All that a lack of belief will do is make it take longer, so if you’re one of those people, just change the number 30 in the title of this blog entry to 60 (or 120 if you’re really stubborn). Most likely though if you don’t believe you have a purpose, then you probably won’t believe what I’m saying anyway, but even so, what’s the risk of investing an hour just in case?
Here is a story about a man who found out the purpose of his life:
Twice while Muhammad (pbuh) was still a young man he went on business trips with his uncle. On both trips, separate holy men warned Abu Talib to care for Muhammad (pbuh). They could see that he would be the great Prophet. Muhammad's (pbuh) uncle began to watch Muhammad (pbuh) more closely.
Muhammad (pbuh) was twenty five when he married his first wife, Khadijah. Khadijah was wealthy and came from a very respected family among the Quraish. She was forty and had been widowed twice. Both men had been wealthy and left her all of their money.
Abu Talib heard that she was looking to hire a man to take a caravan of merchandise to Syria. So on behalf of his nephew, he told her about Muhammad (pbuh). Khadijah had heard of how honest this young man was and agreed to allow Muhammad (pbuh) to lead the Caravan. During this trip, he was accompanied by Khadijah's personal servant, Maisarah.
Muhammad (pbuh) not only made a very successful trip psychically, but also financially. He had treated each trade with such fairness and honesty that Maisarah was overwhelmed. Maisarah was astounded at the way Muhammad (pbuh) conducted himself. He relayed all of this to Khadijah. Khadijah was very pleased at the great success of her trading mission.
Muhammad (pbuh) was soon rewarded with more. Khadijah having spoke with Muhammad (pbuh) and having heard the accounts of the trip from Maisarah, fell in love with Muhammad (pbuh). She confronted her best friend Nafisa. It was Nasfisa that went to Muhammad (pbuh) and asked him why he was not married. He replied that he was to poor to marry. Nasfisa told him of Khadijah and her love of him. She asked him if he would marry Khadijah. Muhammad (pbuh) accepted.
The authority in Mecca was divided among the ten senators who constituted the governing body of the Arabian Commonwealth. A storm had ripped threw Mecca, damaging many of the building's including the Ka'bah. A group of young men from each tribe had assembled in shifts to repair the Ka'bah, afraid that it would collapse. Though most of Mecca was worshiping idols, many of them felt the Ka'bah was the only remaining connection to the Prophets of the past.
The project was half way completed, and was time to replace the Hajai Aswad (the black stone). The tribes began to argue on who should have the honor. They all decided, the next one to enter the courtyard would decide the matter for them. The first to come was Muhammad (pbuh), the people cried out ‘Al Ameen, he will decide’. Muhammad (pbuh) listened to the tale of what happened. Then he got a large sheet and placed the black stone on it with his bare hands. He asked the chiefs of each clan to take hold of the cloth and carry it to the wall. When they reached the wall he told them to raise it up high. Muhammad (pbuh) again took the stone with his hands and placed it in position. The tribes we’re all very pleased with his wisdom. Muhammad (pbuh) had averted a war between them.
Muhammad (pbuh) and Khadijah had been married for fifteen years and they had many children. Unfortunately many died early in childhood. It was during this time that Khadijah turned all of her wealth over to her husband. She had done so, because Muhammad (pbuh) had no wealth of his own. She knew how much he wanted to help others. Muhammad (pbuh) never abused the wealth, using it only when he needed to help an unfortunate. He even paid off part of his Uncle Abu Talib debt, out of gratitude for having raised him. Muhammad (pbuh) also helped to raise his uncles children, and adopted a boy who was bought as a slave.
Muhammad (pbuh) had never believed in the worshipping of idols. He knew that Allah was a much higher power then these wood and stone figures could ever represent. He could see how lawless cruel behavior and superstitious immoral conduct had engulfed the tribes of Arabia. The land was fueled with bitter quarrels and bloodshed, that was slowly destroying them. To elevate his heartache, Muhammad (pbuh) would retreat to a cave known as Hira, in the mountains surrounding Mecca. He would meditate over the intricacies of the universe and creation.
He was forty in the year 610AD. He was is a deep concentration in the cave. The Angel Jibril appeared, with a dazzling light. “Recite!” the voice boomed echoing against the walls of the cave. Muhammad (pbuh) was so startled the only thing that he could think of saying was “I can not recite.” This was true he did not know how to read or write. “Recite!” commanded the voice again, louder. Muhammad (pbuh) was desperate, pain had seized his chest. He cried out again “I cannot recite!” Muhammad (pbuh) chest was squeezing even harder and he was frantic. “Recite!” boomed the angel. Muhammad (pbuh) wanting the pain inside of him to stop he said “What should I recite” The pain stopped. The Angel continued "Recite! In the Name of Your Lord, Who has created all that exists, has created a man from a clot. Recite...and your Lord is the Most Generous, Who has taught the writing by the pen, and has taught man that which he knew not." Muhammad (pbuh) repeated the words to Jibril. The angel disappeared and the cave went dark.
Muhammad (pbuh) scared and shaking, not comprehending what had happened ran from the cave. He was stumbling down the path to his village, when he heard the voice call after him. “Muhammad (pbuh) you are the messenger of Allah, and I am the angel Jibril.” Muhammad (pbuh) cried out for Khadijah “cover me! cover me!” laying in her arms trembling through the night. Feverishly he slept till morning. When he awoke he narrated the story to his wife. Khadijah was worried about her husband, but knew of the prophecy of his life. She even spoke to her cousin Waraqa Ibn Naufal, who was old and blind and who knew the Scriptures of the Jews and Christians. He told her that Muhammad (pbuh) was visited by the Namus (The Holy Spirit) who came to Moses. He told Muhammad (pbuh) to be brave and hold his faith.
Muhammad (pbuh) was dreadfully concerned, how was he going to make them listen. His people had been indulging for generations. Most of the town was rich and had very little concern for others. Six long months passed without another revelation. It seemed that Muhammad (pbuh) would go mad. He thought that, he had displeased Allah in some way. He was then visited again by the angel Jibril. "O you (Muhammad (pbuh)) enveloped (covered in cloth) Arise and warn! Your Lord (Allah) magnify!" He awaked sweating and told Khadijah. This was the will of Allah and he had to warn the people. She accepted the revelations and abandoned the idolatry of her people and was the first to accept Islam.
In the following weeks the angel Jibril came to Muhammad (pbuh) teaching him the importance of purity, the manner of absolution and how to pray. Once this was completed Jibril taught him the most important surah. Surah Al-Fatiha. It took twenty three years, for the rest of the Quran to be revealed.
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيم الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ اهْدِنَ الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَل الضَّالِّينَ
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds,
The Beneficent, the Merciful.
Master of the Day of Judgment,
Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) we ask for help.
Show us the straight path,
The path of those whom Thou hast favored; Not the (path) of those who earn Thy anger nor of those who go astray.
Muhammad (pbuh) began his mission with his family. Many ridiculed Muhammad (pbuh) and we’re in disbelief. Those who knew him well, accepted the truth. Zayd ibn Harith, his adopted son embraced Islam. Ali, his cousin was the next to convert. Ali was the son of Abu Talib. Abu Talib came to the Prophet and said: "O son of my brother, what is this religion you are following?" "It is the religion of Allah of His Angels, of His Messengers and of our ancestor Abraham," answered the Muhammad (pbuh). "Allah has sent me to his servants, to direct them towards the truth, and you, O my uncle, are the most worthy of all. I should thus call upon you and you should accept the truth and help in spreading it." Abu Talib replied that he could not abandon the religion of his fathers. He also said that as long as he lived he would not let any harm come to Muhammad (pbuh). Ali's conversion was followed by Abu Bakr, from the elders of his people. Abu Bakr was a close friend of the Prophet (pbuh).
Muhammad (pbuh) took his message to the people of the Ka'bah. He explained the oneness of Allah. How they must abandon their idols and accept the truth. The people we’re too reluctant to give up the their false tangible gods, that had been handed down to them for generations. They became hostile with Muhammad (pbuh) and the Muslims for offending them.
The wealthy and powerful non believers in Mecca disagreed with the teachings of Muhammad (pbuh). Many Muslims we’re tortured and slain for not giving up their belief in Allah. Realizing that brute force was not going to waiver the Muslims, they decided to bargain with Muhammad (pbuh). Muhammad (pbuh) was offered the position as Chief of Mecca along with any maiden he wished for a bride, and as much money as Muhammad (pbuh) wanted. The only condition was, that he must stop his teachings. Muhammad (pbuh) replied that his mission was beyond the riches of this life. No amount of money or gifts or power would stop him from his duty as messenger of Allah...
If you want to discover your true purpose in life, you must first empty your mind of all the false purposes you’ve been taught (including the idea that you may have no purpose at all). So maybe the first thing you should do is to begin to pray. Put your forehead against the floor, say: God, oh God, if you exist, please guide me. And Allah willing, you will be guided, and you will find the purpose of your life, inchallah.