Why has man been created and what is his duty in the world?
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
By the sun and its brightness, and the moon when it follows it, and the
day when it reveals it, and the night when it enshrouds it, and the heaven
and Him Who built it, and the earth and Him Who spread it, and the soul and
Him Who perfected it.
A parable to understand the purposes for the creation of man and his duty in the world
My brother in religion! If you desire some understanding of the Divine
purposes behind the creation of man and the universe and the enjoining of
the five daily prayers, heed, together with me, the following parable:
Once, there was a king. He had a vast treasury of precious stones,
including diamonds and emeralds. He also had buried treasuries unknown to
anybody. He was well versed in all kinds of industry and had a vast
knowledge of arts and sciences and their different disciplines. It is
natural that whoever has beauty and perfection [especially admirable by
everyone and beneficial to others] would tend to show those qualities to
others. So that king willed to construct a palace of exhibition where he
might publicly display the magnificence of his kingdom, the splendor and
ex-tent of his wealth, the wonderful products of his artistry and skill. He
desired to behold his beauty and perfection in two ways: one, with his own
discerning eye; the other, through the eyes of others.
With this purpose in mind, the king began to build a very large,
magnificent palace. He di-vided it into many apartments and rooms,
decorating it with the finest and most beautiful works of his art, and
embellishing it with all kinds of the precious stones in his treasure. He
designed the palace according to the principles and disciplines of sciences
and arts, and furnished it with the miraculous products of his knowledge.
Then he prepared in the palace all kinds of delicious foods and drinks
peculiar to each family of those that would inhabit it. He provided those
foods and drinks so elaborately and generously, and so artistically that you
would think that each food on each table was the result of at least a
hundred separate skills.
Finally, the king willed that some certain part of his subjects should
dwell in the palace and settled them in it. He sent them his aide-de-camp so
that he should inform them of the purposes for which the king built that
palace and what rules they should obey while staying in it. The aide-de-camp
was also to describe to the dwellers what kind of being the king was and
inform them about the architecture of the palace and all the decorations,
furniture and ornaments therein. The king also ordered his aide-de-camp to
tell the dwellers in what ways the palace, with its structures and designs
and all its contents demonstrate the artistry and perfection of the king,
and how they could please him while dwelling in it.
An eternal address to the whole mankind
The aide-de-camp had many assistants, each of whom was deputed for a
certain apartment, and numerous students. Standing among his students, the
aide-de-camp addressed the audience as follows:
O people! Our lord, who is the owner of this palace, would like, by
building it, to make himself known to you. In return, know him, recognize
him properly. He would also like to make himself lovable to you through
these ornaments. In return, by appreciating his artistry and commending him
upon his works, make yourselves loved by him. Through all his favors to you,
he demonstrates his love for you. So, do you love him by obeying him! He
also displays, through all these offerings of his, his care and compassion
for you. Therefore, by thanking him, show your respect for him! Through the
works of his perfection, the lord wants to show his beauty and grace to you.
In return, exhibit a great desire to see him and secure his attention upon
you! By setting his special stamp, which is impossible to copy, on all these
things that you see, he would like to demonstrate to you that he is unique
and absolutely independent, without any partners. This palace, with
everything in it, is a work of his and belongs to him exclusively. In
response to this, acknowledge his uniqueness, and absolute independence,
without any partners.
The dwellers of the palace built by the Lord
The aide-de-camp continued his address in the same strain. The dwellers
of the palace were two groups:
The first group consisted of those who were sensible and self-aware. Once
they had beheld the wonders in the palace, they concluded that all that they
witnessed could not be to no purpose. While thinking of the purposes behind
them, they heard the aide-de-camp and understood what all those things were
for. They acted in accordance with the desires of the king. In return, the
king was pleased with them and invited them, to another, much bigger and
indescribably beautiful pal-ace, conferring on them all kinds of bounties
and blessings from himself eternally.
The second group consisted of people who were morally corrupt and
unaware, and devoid of sound reasoning. When they had entered the palace,
they had noticed nothing other than the delicious foods, in complete
blindness to the meaning of all the decorations and embellishments the
palace contained. They gave no heed to the address and directives of the
aide-de-camp and his assistants. They only ate and slept, and they drank of
the beverages forbidden to them. Getting drunk, they caused disorder in the
palace and created mischief. They troubled both the servants of the king and
the guests who had been invited to see the palace and eat of some particular
foods provided in it. They did not obey the rules laid down by the king and
he put them in prison.
How are the purposes behind the creation of man realized?
O friend, you have been listening to this parable together with me! You
have certainly understood that the glorious king built the palace for the
purposes explained by his aide-de-camp. The realization of these purposes
depends on the following two things:
The first is the existence of the aide-de-camp, whose address you have
heard. If he did not exist, all those purposes would go to naught. For a
book unintelligible and without a teacher to explain it amounts to no more
than a package of sheets.
The second is the necessity of obedience to what the aide-de-camp
communicated to the dwellers. That is, the existence of the aide-de-camp is
the motive for the existence of the palace and the obedience of the dwellers
is the cause of its maintenance. It can therefore be argued that, but for
the aide-de-camp, the master who made the palace known to the dwellers and
conveyed to them the will of the king, the glorious king would not have
built the palace. Also, it can be said that if the dwellers do not heed the
instructions of that master, the palace will be destroyed.
O friend! The parable has ended. If you have understood what it means,
then come and reflect upon its meaning:
The meaning of the parable
The palace is this world, whose roof is the heavens illuminated with
smiling stars. Its floor is the surface of the earth embellished from east
to west with numerous kinds of flowers. The king is the Most Holy One, the
Eternal King, Whom the seven firmaments and the earth, together with
everything they contain, glorify and extol in tongues particular to each. He
is such a Powerful King that He created the heavens and the earth in �six
days�. Seated on His Throne of Lordship, [that is, through continuous
manifestations of His Lordship,] He alternates day and night like two
threads, one white, the other black, to inscribe His signs on the vast sheet
of the universe. Again, He is One, All-Majestic and Powerful, to Whom the
sun, the moon and stars are all subjugated.
The apartments or divisions of the palace are the thousands of worlds,
each designed, furnished and decorated in a way particular to it. The finest
and most beautiful works of art you saw in the palace are all those things
you see in the world, each of which is a miracle of the Divine Power. The
foods stand for the wonderful fruits of the Divine Mercy that you see in the
world, especially in summer. The kitchen of the palace stands for the fire
in the center of the earth and the heat of the sun. The jewels or precious
stones represent the manifestations of the Divine Sacred Names and
the embellishments symbolize the well-ordered and finely-made beings and the
perfectly proportioned inscriptions of the Pen of the Power that adorn this
world and point to the Names of the Majestic All-Powerful One.
The aide-de-camp, the master who addressed the dwellers of the palace, is
our master, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. His
assistants are the other Prophets, and his students, the saints and purified
scholars. The servants stand for the angels, upon them be peace; the
dwellers, for the jinn and human beings, and the guests invited to the
palace, for animals created to be of service to human beings.
Believers and unbelievers in the palace of the world
The first group of people are the believers. They are the students of the
wise Qur�an, which is the interpreter of the verses of the book of the
universe. The other group are the people of unbelief and rebellion. They
are some �deaf and dumb� misguided people who, obeying their carnal selves
and Satan, accept only the worldly life and therefore reduce themselves to a
rank even be-low the animals.
The first group, comprising the good and spiritually prosperous people,
heeded the master who brought the principles of both intellectual
enlightenment and spiritual well-being, the path of prosperity in both
worlds. That master is both a worshipping servant in regard to servanthood
who describes his Lord and makes Him known to people, and he also functions
as an envoy of his community in the court of Almighty God. He is a Messenger
in regard to Messengership who communicates his Lord�s commandments to men
and jinn by means of the Qur�an.
Believers find themselves in elevated stations, invested with many subtle
and pleasing duties of the prescribed prayer, which is the index of all the
varieties of worship:
That prosperous group heeded the Messenger and listened to the Qur�an.
They found them-selves in elevated stations, invested with many subtle and
pleasing duties of the prescribed prayer, which is the index of all the
varieties of worship:
- They observed the Divine works, and seeing themselves in the station of
objective observers of the wonders of the Kingdom of Divine Lordship,
declared �God is the Greatest� in performance of the duty of glorification
- They saw themselves in the station of announcing the curious and
precious manifestations of the Divine Sacred Names, and performed the duty
of praising God and esteeming Him as the All-Holy, declaring: �Glory be to
God! All praise be to God!�
- In the station of tasting and perceiving with their outer and inner
senses the bounties stored up in the treasuries of the Divine Mercy, they
performed their duty of giving thanks and praise.
- In the station of weighing with the scales of their spiritual faculties
the jewels in the treasuries of the Divine Names, they carried out their
duty of praise and declaring God to be free of all fault.
- In the station of studying the Messages of the Lord written on the
lines of Destiny by the Pen of His Power, they performed their duty of
contemplation and commending.
- In the station of observing the subtle beauties and delicacies in the
creation of things and in the art of creation and declaring God to be free
of all fault, they set out to fulfill their duty of loving and yearning for
their Majestic Originator and Gracious Maker.
�You are One so worthy of thanks and praise that all Your favors
scattered everywhere in the universe voice Your praise in the tongue of
Thus, in observation of the universe and all the works therein, they
addressed God indirectly in the third person and performed all those duties
of worship in all the stations mentioned above. Then, having attained to the
rank of observing the actions of the Wise Maker and the way He acts, they
were amazed by the realization of how the Majestic Creator makes Himself
known to conscious beings through the miracles of His Art. In direct
response, they proclaimed in His presence: �Glory be to You! We are unable
to know You as required by Your knowledge, as the duty of knowing You
requires! What makes You known are Your miracles displayed in Your
Then, in response to the All-Merciful making Himself loved through the
lovely fruits of His Mercy, they proclaimed in love and ecstasy: �You alone
do we worship and from You alone do we seek help!�
After that, in response to the Real Giver of Bounties exhibiting His Care
and Compassion through His decorous gifts, they thanked Him and praised Him,
saying, �Glory be to You and all praise be to You!� By which they meant,
�You are One so worthy of thanks and praise that all Your favors scattered
everywhere in the universe voice Your praise in the tongue of their
disposition. Again, all Your bounties arranged and exhibited in the market
of the world and scattered on the face of the earth declare Your praise and
commendation. Besides, the beautiful, well-proportioned fruits and produce
of Your Mercy and Graciousness scattered on the earth in due measure and
quantity, bear witness to Your Generosity and Magnificence, thereby carrying
out the duty of thanking You before the eyes of all creatures.�
Then, in response to His displaying His Grace, Majesty, Perfection and
Grandeur in the �mirrors� of creatures ever-recruited and renewed, they
proclaimed �God is the Greatest!� and bowed before Him in due perception of
their own impotence. Afterwards, they prostrated them-selves in humility and
with wonder and love. Then, before the All-Wealthy One�s exhibition of the
abundance of His Wealth and comprehensiveness of His Mercy, they displayed
their poverty and neediness and prayed, �From You alone do we seek help!�
After that, in response to the Majestic Maker�s exhibition of the
subtleties and wonders of His Art through animate beings, they showed their
appreciation, saying, �What (wonders) God has willed!� and their
commendation, saying, �How beautifully they have been made!� Also, they
continued their observation and said, �God bless them! How wonderfully they
have been made!� and testified to Him by proclaiming their belief. Then, in
full admiration, they called everyone else to witness the same, shouting,
�Come and see! Attach yourselves to the way to prosperity!�
In response to the Eternal King�s declaration of the Kingdom of His
Lordship and manifestation of His Oneness in all the spheres of the
universe, they believed in and confirmed His Unity, and displayed their
obedience and submission, saying, �We have heard and obeyed.� Also, to the
manifestation of the Divinity of the Lord of the Worlds, they responded with
worship, which consists in declaration of their impotence embedded in
weakness, and their poverty embedded in neediness, and with the prescribed
prayer, which is the essence of worship.
By spending their lives in that huge mosque of the world in performing
these and other similar duties of worship, the prosperous group assumed the
best pattern of creation.
By spending their lives in that huge mosque of the world in performing
these and other similar duties of worship, they assumed the best pattern of
creation. They became, above all other creatures, trustworthy vicegerents of
God on the earth equipped with the blessing of faith and trustworthiness.
After this world of trial and place of testing, their Munificent Lord
invited them to eternal happiness in reward for their belief, and to the
Abode of Peace in recompense for their devotion to Islam. There, He bestowed
on them out of His Mercy bounties so dazzling that no eye has seen them, nor
ear heard them, nor anybody conceived of them, and gave them eternity and
everlasting life. For, the observing and reflecting lovers of an eternal,
abiding beauty will certainly go to eternity. Such is the end, the final
station, of the students of the Qur�an. May Al-mighty God include us among
As for the other group, the sinners and the wicked, they entered the
palace of this world at the age of discretion. They responded with unbelief
to all the evidences of Divine Oneness, and with ingratitude to all the
bounties. They also insulted in an unbelieving manner all creatures by
accusing them of being worthless and responded with rejection and denial to
the manifestations of all the Divine Names. In sum, they committed a
boundless crime in a short time and deserved an eternal punishment.
Is the duty of life restricted to living an easy life?
Certainly, the capital of life and human faculties was given to man to
spend on the duties mentioned above. If this is so, then, O my foolish
carnal self and O my friend full of desires! do you think that your life�s
duty is restricted to living an easy life according to the requisites of
modern corrupt civilization and gratifying your carnal desires? Those
delicate senses and abilities, those sensitive faculties and organs, those
well-ordered members and systems, and those inquisitive senses and feelings
were included in the �machine� of your life�our body. Do you suppose it was
in order that you should use them only to satisfy the low desires of your
base, carnal self? Rather, they were included in your body and made a part
of your nature for the following two basic aims:
- They should make you feel all the varieties of the bounties of the Real
Giver of Bounties and urge you to offer Him thanks. So, you should feel them
and perform the worship of thanking Him in return for them.
- They should make known to you and urge you to experience each sort of
all the manifestations of the Divine Sacred Names manifested in the
universe. So, you should experience and know them in order to believe.
It is through achievement of these two basic aims that a man can gain
human perfection and become a true human being.
A parable to understand that man was not given his human faculties only
to earn his worldly life through them:
Someone gave one of his servants twenty pieces of gold, telling him to
buy himself a suit of clothes made out of a particular cloth. The servant
went and bought himself a fine suit out of the best quality of the cloth,
and put it on.
The same person gave another of his servants a thousand pieces of gold,
and putting in his pocket a piece of paper with some things written on it,
sent him to do some trade. Now, anyone with any sense would know that that
capital was not for buying a suit of clothes. Since the first servant had
bought a suit of finest cloth with twenty gold pieces, of course these
thousand gold pieces were not to be spent on a suit. Assume the second
servant did not read the paper in his pocket and, imitating the first
servant, gave all the money to a shopkeeper for a suit of clothes. Assume
further that he got a suit of the worst kind of cloth, one fifty times worse
than his friend�s. For sure his employer would reprimand him severely for
his utter stupidity, and punish him angrily.
O my carnal self and my friend! Come to your senses! Do not spend the
capital of your life and your vital potentials on material pleasures and
this transient life. Otherwise, although you are fifty times superior with
regard to the �capital� than the most developed of animals, you will fall
fifty times lower than the lowest.
What are the aims of the human life?
O my heedless self! If you would like to understand to some degree the
aim of your life and its nature, its apparent form and meaning, and the
perfect happiness in your life, then look! The aims of your life can be
summarized as the following nine articles:
- You should weigh up on the scales of the senses established in your
body the bounties stored up in the treasuries of the Divine Mercy, and
offer general thanks on be-half of all your body.
- Through the feelings, tendencies and faculties embedded in your nature,
you should discover the hidden treasuries�the works and manifestations�of
the Divine Sacred Names, and recognize the Most Holy One through those
- In his place of exhibition�the world�you should consciously display
through your life before the whole creation the subtle manifestations of the
Divine Names in your being [such as your senses, faculties and abilities].
- You should proclaim your worship and servanthood to the Court of the
Creator�s Lordship verbally and through the tongue of your disposition.
- You should do like a soldier who, appearing on ceremonial occasions
before the king with the decorations he has received from him, displays the
marks of the king�s favor towards him. You should consciously adorn yourself
in the �jewels� of subtle human senses and faculties embedded in your being
through the manifestations of the Divine Names and present yourself to the
view of the Eternal Witness.
- The main purpose for the creation of living beings is that they should
worship and glorify their Creator. They fulfill this duty by submission to
Him�by obeying, consciously or unconsciously, the laws He established for
their lives. Thus, you should consciously observe the obedience of living
beings to their Creator�their glorification and worship of Him�and reflect
on them and acknowledge them through testifying to them.
- Through taking as units of measurement the small samples of attributes
like the partial knowledge, power and will given to your life, you should
recognize the absolute Attributes and sacred qualities of the Majestic
Creator. For example, seeing that by using your partial knowledge, will and
power, you have made a beautiful, well-ordered house for yourself , you
should know that the Maker of this palace of the universe is powerful, wise
and capable to the degree it is greater than your house.
- You should understand the speech of each being in the world in its
particular tongue concerning the Oneness of the Creator, the Lordship of the
- From your impotence and weakness, and poverty and neediness, you should
infer the degrees of the manifestations of the Divine Power and the Richness
of the Lord. Just as the pleasures and varieties of food are understood or
distinguished in relation to the degrees of hunger and kinds of need, so too
you should understand the degrees of the infinite Divine Power and Richness
through your infinite impotence and poverty.
What is the nature of the human life?
Briefly, those are the aims of your life. As for the nature of your life,
it can be summarized as follows:
It is an index of wonders originating in the Divine Names, and a measure
to consider the Divine Attributes, and a unit to know the worlds in the
universe, and a catalogue of the macrocosm, and a map of the universe and
its fruit or compressed form. It is a bunch of keys with which to open the
hidden treasuries of the Divine Power, and a most excellent pattern of the
Divine perfections reflected in creatures and manifested through time.
The following is to describe the apparent, observable form of your life
and its meaning:
Your life is a word inscribed, a wisdom-displaying word written by the
Pen of Power. Observed and sensed, it points to the Divine Beautiful Names.
What is the meaning of the human life?
The meaning of your life is this: It is a mirror to reflect the Divine
manifestation of Divine Oneness and the Divine manifestation as the
Eternally-Besought-of-All. That is, through a comprehensiveness as the
point of focus for all the Divine Names manifested in the entire world, it
functions as a mirror to the Single and Eternally-Besought One. As for the
perfection of your life in happiness, it is to perceive the lights of the
Eternal Sun pictured in the mirror of your life, and to love them. It is to
display ardor for Him as a conscious being. It is to be enraptured with love
of Him. It is to establish the reflection of His Light in the center of your
heart. It is because of this that, as the meaning of a hadith qudsi, which
expresses your rank among the highest of the high, it is said:
�I am not contained in the heavens and earth, but I am
contained in the heart of the believer.�
So, O my selfhood! While your life is for the realization of such sublime
aims and potentially has such priceless treasures, is it at all right and
reasonable that you should waste it by spending it on gratifying fleeting
carnal desires and seeking transient worldly pleasures? If you want not to
waste it, reflect on the oaths and the following truths in the verses below,
which allude to the parable and truths above, and act accordingly:
By the sun and its morning brightness; by the moon when it follows it; by
the day when it reveals it; by the night when it enshrouds it; by the heaven
and Him Who built it; by the earth and Him Who spread it; by the soul and
Him Who perfected it, and inspired it (with conscience) of what is wrong for
it and what is right for it. He is indeed prosperous who purifies it, and he
has indeed failed who stunts it.
O God! Bestow blessings and peace on the sun of the sky of Messengership
and the moon of the constellation of Prophethood, and on his family and
Companions who are the stars of guidance, and have mercy on us and have
mercy on believing men and believing women. Amen! Amen! Amen!