Why we are here?
The reason we were brought into this world is given in the Quran. Although this information is not presented in the Quran in chronological sequence, nor grouped in one Sura, various Quranic verses give pieces of information which together present the full picture.
The Quran confirms that we were all living in God's Kingdom before we were brought into this world. Although this is our first and only life on planet earth, it is not our first existence. We were all living before the earth was created. We were put to death and reborn into this life on earth:
Blessed is the One in whose hands is the sovereignty and He is Capable of all things. The One who created death and life that He may test you regarding who will do better works. He is the Dignified, the Forgiving. 67:1-2
There are no words in the Quran that are coincidental, and since God is always precise in expressing and delivering any truth, we cannot overlook the order in which the words "The One who created death and life" are placed. The placing of the word "death" before the word "life" indicates that we were put to death before we were brought to this life on earth, hence we must have been alive before we came to this world.
Sometime, during the previous existence, a few billion years ago, a feud arose in the Heavenly Society:
Say, "It is awesome news from which you turn away. I had no knowledge of the Highest Assembly as they quarrelled." 38:67-69
One of the high-ranking creatures, Satan, entertained supercilious thoughts that his God-given powers qualified him to be a god besides God. These supercilious thoughts meant that he challenged God's absolute authority. Not only was Satan's idea blasphemous, it was wrong - only God, and no one else, possesses the attributes and ability to be a god. Consequent to Satan's blasphemy, a division occurred in the Heavenly Society. There were those who agreed with Satan (that he is capable of being a god). There were also those who were not sure, and then there were those who were under no doubt that God alone has the attributes to be a god.
As a result, God gathered all those who sided with Satan and also those who were not sure and offered them a second chance to repent and submit to His absolute authority:
We have offered the trust to the heavens, the earth and the mountains, but they refused to carry it and were afraid of it while the human being accepted it; he was transgressing, ignorant. 33:72
The words in 33:72 state that everything in the heavens and the earth, which includes all animals, plants and other inanimate objects refused to carry the trusted responsibility and only the human being arrogantly accepted it. This tells us that the vast majority of the guilty creatures took advantage of this opportunity to repent and return to upholding God's absolute authority, while a minuscule minority failed to take advantage of this offer and arrogantly preferred to carry the responsibility of finding out for themselves whether Satan could indeed be a god, as he claimed. The following verse also confirms that the vast majority of creatures in the heavens and the earth have corrected their error and are now worshipping and glorifying God:
Do you not see that everything in the heavens and the earth glorifies God, even the birds in their flight formation? Each is familiar with its prayer and its glorification. God is fully aware of what they do. 24:41
As a result, all God's creatures were classified into four categories:
1. Angels: Creatures who never doubted God's absolute authority and who rejected Satan's claim.
2. Animals: Creatures who doubted but then accepted God's invitation to repent include all animals and also inanimate objects.
3. Jinn: Creatures who agreed with Satan; that he is capable of being a god.
4. Humans: Creatures who did not make up their minds; they failed to make a firm stand with God's absolute authority. They also rejected God's second offer and preferred to find out for themselves about Satan's claim.
The Most Merciful
To settle Satan's claim that he can be a God, God devised a plan to expose Satan's incompetence. If you claim the ability to fly a plane, the best way to test your claim is to give you a plane and ask you to fly it. This is precisely what God decided to do. God created seven vast universes, then informed the angels that He was appointing Satan as a 'khalifa' (supreme ruler) on the tiny mote called 'earth' (2:30). The powers given by God to Satan as a temporary supreme ruler on earth will allow him to whisper to people and attempt to lead them astray (4:60). Satan, and his descendants (the devils), will also invite the human to commit all kinds of vice (2:268, 24:21). Satan's ego and arrogance will ultimately invite humans to worship him (36:60). Since the human being failed to uphold God's absolute authority in the previous life and was not sure that God alone can be a god, the human is brought to this life to witness for himself if Satan can really be a god, and also brought to this life in the hope of redeeming himself and returning to uphold God's absolute authority. All who will follow in Satan's footsteps and fail to worship God alone will be doomed while those who repent and follow God's commands and uphold God's absolute authority will be redeemed.
God's plan called for creating death (67:1-2), then bringing the humans and jinn into this world for the sole purpose of rectifying their mistake.
The fact that Satan claimed to have the attributes to be a god, and that he rejected God's absolute authority is apparent from the following verses:
1- Satan's illusion that he is worthy of being a god leads him to entice the human being to worship him. To warn us against doing so, God tells us:
2- Satan rejected God's absolute authority:
The squanderers are brothers to the devils and the devil is a rejecter of his Lord. 17:27
The only way for the human and jinn to rectify their error, is by denouncing Satan and worshipping God alone. This is the whole purpose for which we have been brought into this life on earth:
I have not created the jinn and the humans except to worship Me. 51:56
We note that God did not say that He created the humans, jinn and animals to worship Him, this is because the animals have already repented and are worshipping and glorifying God constantly (see 24:41 above). They do not come to earth to be tested like the human does.
All humans and jinn start over without any biases, and exercise full freedom to uphold God's absolute authority or Satan's polytheistic ideology. To make this crucial decision, every human being receives a message from God advocating His absolute authority. This is given to the human in the form of the Scriptures which are sent with guidance and which charts the way to salvation. Whoever accepts the guidance and submits to God will then be redeemed into God's Kingdom. Those who refuse it will end up in hell:
We said, "Go down there from, all of you, then when guidance comes to you from Me, those who follow My guidance will have no fear nor will they grieve.
And for those who disbelieved and rejected Our revelations, they will be the companions of the fire; therein they shall permanently remain. 2:38-39
The human being will also receive a message from the devil pushing his polytheistic invitations. To give us a head start, the Most Merciful gathered all the human beings before Him, prior to sending us to this world, and we bore witness that He alone is our Lord and Master:
Your Lord brought forth from the children of Adam, from their backs, their descendants and had them bear witness over themselves, "Am I not your Lord?" They said, "Yes. We bear witness." Thus, you cannot say on the Day of Resurrection, "We were unaware of this." 7:172
The reader is urged to ask himself if he remembers making such a witness directly to God. The fact that none of us remember any such event confirms the fact that we had a previous existence and that we are now oblivious of this existence. The moment we were brought into this life on earth our memories were wiped clean of all that happened in the previous existence.
The fact that we all made such a pledge to God is reflected in our natural instinct:
Instinct is an integral driving force in every human being. Our instincts come to the fore when we face grave danger or in 'near death' situations. At such a time, which may be a split second, our survival instinct takes over and we plead with God to save us, at that time we know that only God is able to save us.
After putting all who doubted and rejected God's absolute authority to death, their souls were placed in a special repository. God then created the appropriate bodies to house the souls of the jinn and the humans during the test period. The first jinn body was made from fire, and Satan was assigned to that body (15:27). The first human body was created from earthly material and clay (15:26), and God assigned the first human soul to that body. The divine plan called for the angels to serve the humans on earth - guard them, drive the wind and rain for them, distribute provisions, etc. This fact is stated in the Quran allegorically: "Your Lord said to the angels, 'Fall prostrate before Adam.' " Satan, due to his arrogance, naturally refused to have anything to do with serving the human race (2:34, 7:11, 17:61, 18:50, 20:116).
Adam was admitted into Heaven where God commanded him not to eat from the forbidden tree. Satan was appointed as Adam's companion to deliver to Adam his satanic message. The rest is history.
At a specific time in the womb, a time that is known only to God, every human being is assigned a soul from the repository of souls. God assigns the souls in accordance with His knowledge (28:68). Every soul deserves to be assigned to a certain body, and live under certain circumstances. God alone knows which souls are good and which souls are evil. Our children are assigned to our homes in accordance with God's plan.
An independent jinn soul is also assigned as a companion to the new human being to promote Satan's ideology to that human. While all humans are the descendents of Adam, the jinn are the descendants of Satan (7:27, 18:50).
The jinn companion remains with the human being from birth to death, serving as the main witness on the Day of Judgment (50:23). A continuous debate takes place in our heads between the human soul and the jinn soul invariably leading to one of them winning the argument.
The Original Sin
Contrary to common belief, the 'Original Sin' was not Adam's violation of God's law when he ate from the forbidden tree. The original sin was our failure to uphold God's absolute authority during the 'Great Feud'.
If the human person convinces his or her jinn companion to denounce the original sin and uphold God's absolute authority, both creatures are redeemed to God's eternal kingdom on the Day of Judgment. But if the jinn companion convinces the human being to uphold Satan's idolatrous views, then both creatures are exiled forever from God's kingdom.
To promote his ideology, Satan and his representatives advocate the idolization of such powerless mortals such as Muhammad, Jesus, Mary, and the saints. Since we are here due to our polytheistic tendencies, most of us are easy prey for Satan.
The devil promises you poverty and commands you to commit immorality, while God promises you forgiveness from Him and grace. God is Immense, Knowledgeable. 2:268
On the other hand, the humans who denounce Satan, uphold God's absolute authority, and refrain from idolizing powerless and dead persons, such as Jesus and Muhammad, are restored to God's protection - they enjoy a perfect life here in this world and forever.
As our life in this world is a series of tests designed to test our polytheistic ideas, God informs us that idol worship is the only unforgivable sin (4:48, 116). The world is divinely designed to manifest our decision to uphold either God's absolute authority, or Satan's idolatrous views (67:1-2). Only those who are totally certain about God's absolute authority are redeemed (26:89).
Even though the above presentation is supported by numerous Quranic words, many readers and scholars will reject the theory of 'Why we are here' simply because it is totally novel and different from their traditional interpretations.
In contrast, the traditional Islamic teachings do not have a comprehensive rational reply to the question of "Why we are here".
The traditional scholars who reject the theory of 'Why we are here' are invited to come up with their own theory to include a rational answer, supported with Quranic evidence, for the following questions:
2- Traditional Islamic thought denies that we had a previous life before we came to earth. If we did not have a previous life, what then is the fault that would justify us being brought to Earth to suffer a life full of hardship and misery, such as severe illnesses, natural disasters, famines, mental illnesses, deformed bodies and so on?
3- If we are brought to Earth to suffer hardship and suffering, without having committed any previous sin to justify the suffering, how can we reconcile this arrangement with the Quranic assurance that God does not inflict any injustice on anyone:
God does not inflict an atom's weight of injustice. 4:40
God never wrongs the people in any way, but it is the people who wrong themselves. 10:44
Equally, how can the unjustified suffering on Earth (for no previous sin) be reconciled with the Quranic assurance that God is the Most Merciful and whose mercy is beyond our comprehension:
Say, "If you possessed my Lord's treasures of mercy, you would have withheld them, fearing over spending." Indeed, the human being is stingy." 17:100
4- Any alternative theory for why we are here must also be in harmony with God's assurance that He did not create the Heavens and the Earth in a playful manner, nor out of boredom, but in accordance with the truth:
We did not create the Heavens and the Earth and what is between them for mere play. We did not create them except with the truth, but most of them do not know. 44:38-39
Specifically, what is the "truth" that needs to be established through the creation of the Heavens and the Earth?
5- Any alternative theory for why we are here must also have an explanation to specific words in 33:72:
We have offered the Trust to the Heavens, the Earth and the mountains, but they refused to carry it and were afraid of it while the human being accepted it; he was transgressing, ignorant. 33:72
The words in 33:72 speak of an offer God made to all that is in the Heavens and the Earth, including the human being. The human being arrogantly accepted to carry the trusted responsibility, while everything else in the Heavens and the Earth refused to carry it.
6- Any alternative theory for why we are here must also have an explanation to specific words in 33:73.
This is in order for God to punish the hypocrite men and the hypocrite women as well as the men who commit shirk and the women who commit shirk. Also, so that God would redeem the believing men and the believing women. God is Forgiver, Merciful. 33:73
The words in 33:73 shed light on the purpose of creation and how it was to punish the hypocrites and those who have committed shirk, and also, "so that God would redeem the believing men and the believing women."
The question here is: Of what is God redeeming the believing men and women of if they are already classified by God as believers?
The only rational and justified explanation that offers a valid answer to all the above questions, and is also in perfect harmony with all the Quranic verses presented, is the theory of 'Why we are here' as presented above.
Many people today are turning atheistic primarily because they cannot find an answer to the question of: If there is a god, why would he allow all these bad things and all the suffering to happen in the world? Why does so much suffering happen to "innocent people"?
Indeed, this is a very good question which every person is entitled to ask, believers and non believers alike. The Quranic theory of 'Why we are here' is the only theory that provides a rational answer to such questions without compromising God's mercy.
Sometimes it is necessary to correct the wording of a question before a rational answer can be provided. The assumption of 'innocent people' in the question above is not a valid assumption, and there lies the key in replying to such questions. In line with the Quranic theory of 'Why we are here', had we all been 'innocent people' we would have never come to Earth nor experience seemingly endless suffering.
The reader is welcome to try all other explanations and theories and see which one would justify all the hardship that is imposed on all humans on Earth if it were not related to a previous sin.
The Quranic theory of 'Why we are here' also explains why Satan was appointed as the supreme ruler on Earth (2:30). It also points out that it is Satan's incompetence in being a supreme ruler on Earth, plus his constant invitations to sin and commit evil, that are behind all the evil that occurs on Earth.
Some may ask: Why did God allow Satan power and made him ruler over the Earth knowing that he will spread corruption and evil? Interestingly enough, this is the same question that the angels asked of God when He informed them that He is appointing a 'khalifa' (Satan) as a ruler on Earth:
When your Lord said to the angels, "I am placing a 'khalifa (supreme ruler) in the earth," they said, "Will You place in it one who will spread corruption therein and shed blood, while we glorify You with praise and extol Your holiness?" He said, "I know what you do not know." 2:30
For the analysis of why the word "khalifa" in 2:30 refers to Satan and not the human being, please see: The 'khalifa' on earth
The reason why God ordained things to happen in this way is because we did not accept God's absolute authority. Instead, we accommodated Satan's claims, thus we are made to witness for ourselves the truth in Satan's claims.
We have offered the Trust to the heavens, the earth and the mountains, but they refused to carry it and were afraid of it while the human being accepted it; he was transgressing, ignorant. 33:72