Life, as many of us live it, makes it no easy than an enigma for us to contemplate, comprehend and understand its true meaning and purpose. Billions have lived, billions live and billions are yet to live, but the complexity of the understanding of life has always been a constant source of utter perplexity. Questions such as “What is Life?”, “What is our goal in life?”, “What is our purpose in life?”, and “How to live life?” are still uncatered for, even after the world has undergone several ages of religious, philosophical, psychological and technological contemplation.
The answers to these questions are understood from a balanced perspective, incorporating both, religious as well as scientific concepts.
“What is Life?” It is a universal source code of all living beings.
Think of it like this. What is the source code of a computer? A program.
A computer program is coded with instructions that direct a computer towards performing a specific task when executed. For example, if a person clicks once on any desktop icon, let’s say, My PC, one click is coded in the computer software program as selecting that icon whereas, 2 clicks on that icon are programmed for executing the said icon’s application. Likewise, a simple language learning computer program displays “hello world” on the desktop when (print”hello world”) is executed in any programming language console, say python. If an instruction, let’s say, (print”access granted”) is coded to be displayed on the desktop if a correct input to the question (askname”what is your name”) is given and if (print”access denied”) is coded to be displayed for the wrong input to the said question, the program is seen as executing the coded instructions/commands. Add a little more complexity, set a range of more diverse options, like, execute command A (any set of commands you like) if input is 1 and execute command B (any set of commands you like) if input is 2 and execute none if input is 3 and you’re on your way to becoming a programmer who can now develop a program, a source code of a computer, to bring the hardware to life.
Similarly, life is a hyper-intelligent coded-program that constitutes a broad and almost limitless range of commands and their executions. It is the source code that directs the actions of all living beings. But the difference here is that unlike a computer which executes programs as per the chosen commands of the programmer or user, the commands to choose in life are the subject’s (human being) own without prior knowledge of their executable results. The programmer (Allah Almighty) has programmed this source code without giving us humans any prior knowledge of either the commands or their executable results. But the wonder here is that HE ALMIGHTY has made us intelligent beings, with the power to deliberate and contemplate and hence, choose. Unlike a programmed and unintelligent computer which can’t falter in the execution of commands in its software, human beings are intelligent beings with the power and ability to choose from any of the imaginable coded instructions in our software program and await and even mold their execution.
Since life is a hyper-intelligent source code, it has trillions and trillions of coded instructions/commands which further trillions and trillions of executable possibilities and their sub possibilities for trillions and trillions of life aspects. While the initiation point (when, where, how a person is born) and termination point (when, where, how a person dies) of this program is in the hands of the supreme programmer, ALLAH ALMIGHTY, what lies in between is where the choosing part comes, like the domain and range of a function, where the range is the set of possible inputs for a function that give the desired domain. People make choices since the first day they gain consciousness till the last day they are rendered unconscious. These choices about numerous aspects of life like education, profession, marriage, place to live, things to eat, habits to pursue, etc. are all made through contemplation, deliberation and the concept of relativity. If someone before jumping in his educational life, chooses pre-engineering, the instructions regarding the educational life of that person as per his choice of pre-engineering will start execution step by step as the person begins making choices along the way. A new but pre-programmed instruction for every choice (say, pre-med, commerce, arts, social sciences etc. in education) gives us a unique and choice-specific result. Since the Almighty has programmed this source code, life, in a universal manner, it includes instructions about all the commands that a given person at a given period in time can imagine of.
But is the source code of every individual different? No. Life is a universal source-code with a set of trillions and trillions of coded instructions/commands for trillions and trillions of possible outcomes. But since the Almighty knows best the psychological nature of each and everyone of HIS creation including us humans, HE Almighty is cognizant of the pathway a given individual at a given time period will choose. So, the choices are actually ours from a broad range of options or commands that execute different results, but the pathway is always known.
So, where does fate stand. Is life all free will and no fate?
Well, why will humans be the only ones held accountable for their actions and deeds? Because they have been given a choice to choose between the coded-instructions or commands of the program that runs them, whereas, angels, animals, birds, fish, etc. are all programmed to act in certain ways prescribed to them in their source-code without the element of choice available to them. Fate can be described as the uncontrolled circumstances that may direct our choices in certain ways so we move on the pathway that ALLAH ALMIGHTY already knows about and what is the best for us in any case scenario.
Now as per the questions, “What is our goal in life?” and “What is our purpose in life?”, these questions are rather easy to answer. The answer is as simple as this, we as Muslims have only one purpose in our lives and that is “To live life as per the commandments of the Allah Almighty, the rules and regulations prescribed to us by the Quran and Sunnah and in choosing this pathway, deem the Holy Prophet (SAW) as our role model”. As far as the goal of one’s life is concerned, goals can be thousands and millions in number. Even waking up in the morning is a goal, planning to have breakfast is a goal, reaching school is a goal, having a nice education is a goal, aspiring for high grades is a goal, hence everything in a short-term that achieves us some productive end-result is a goal, which can be many.
Goals can be many, but the purpose is just one, without which one truly faces a severe existential crisis.