What is the purpose of this life?
What is the ultimate purpose of life? I find it difficult to believe that it is to worship God only – does that mean that all the people who do not or cannot, have no meaning to their lives?
My understanding on the issue is this: When we say that the purpose of our life is to do ‘Ibadat, it means, in simple language, to acknowledge the reality about our existence the way it is and to behave accordingly. The truth about our reality is that we have been created by an Almighty Creator and we owe our existence and whatever it entails to Him. What it demands from every rational individual is an attitude of thankfulness and submission to Him. In other words, ‘Ibadat has two components, intellectual and practical.
At the intellectual level, we are expected to keep acknowledging and remembering His favours on us, and at the practical level we are expected to keep behaving the way an individual who believes in the Almighty God, ought to behave.
The ‘Ibadaat (plural of ‘Ibadat) of prayers and others are both ‘Ibadaat for their own sake, for they enable us to thank the Almighty and come closer to Him, and they also enable us to mould our entire life in accordance with the requirements of the reality of life.
Serving mankind is a part of this wider understanding of ‘Ibadat, but not the only aspect of it. We cannot serve God Almighty properly if we don’t behave well with His creation. But serving mankind alone and ignoring to worship Him is also not an acceptable behaviour.
A person who is not doing ‘Ibadat exactly in accordance with the requirements of Islam may actually be doing so for two reasons: He may be unaware of the true requirements from the Divine Revelation sent by God or he may be intentionally ignoring it despite knowing it. In the first case, a person is not going to be held guilty for not following the expectations of ‘Ibadat mentioned in Islam properly. He would be expected only to follow what he honestly thinks is the truth. In the second case, he would be considered a criminal in the eyes of God.