[Al-Quran 50:6-8] Have they not looked at the heaven above them - how We structured it and adorned it and how it has no rifts? And the earth - We spread it out and cast therein firmly set mountains and made grow therein [something] of every beautiful kind, Giving insight and a reminder for every servant who turns [to Allah].

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Teleology: A purpose-built Universe?

Science tends to explain the how of various phenomenon, but falls short of the why. Many students of science are so focused on the how explanations that they simply refute any ideas on the why. To them, everything just evolved, and by removing purpose from creation, they eventually tend to remove the existence of a Creator, becoming atheist or agnostic in the process. 

‘A teleology is any philosophical account that holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that — analogous to purpose found in human actions — nature inherently tends toward definite ends.’ [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleology ]

Teleology Research  
An interesting study in teleology is shown in this video titled: ‘Is God an alien concept?’ The experiment on children and adults’ concepts and instincts of the world being purpose-driven or otherwise, (between minutes 2 to 7 of the following video) is quite interesting!  
Is God an alien concept? Daily Motion

What the Quran states about Purpose  
In Quran, surah Saad, ayat 27 reads: 

وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاءَ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا بَاطِلًا ذَٰلِكَ ظَنُّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَوَيْلٌ لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنَ النَّارِ
[Al-Qur’an 38:27, translator: Arberry] We have not created the heavens and earth, and what between them is, for vanity; such is the thought of the unbelievers, wherefore woe unto the unbelievers because of the Fire!

[Al-Qur’an 38:27, translator: Yusuf Ali] Not without purpose did We create heaven and earth and all between! that were the thought of Unbelievers! but woe to the Unbelievers because of the Fire (of Hell)! 

The word b-t-l has various shades of meaning, and is generally translated as falsehood. The same word in this ayat [38:27:7] has been interpreted by other translators variously as in vain, aimlessly and so on [Comparative translations of 38:27: http://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp?chapter=38&verse=27

And regarding Accountability on the Day of Reckoning, the Quran poses the question: 

أَيَحْسَبُ الْإِنسَانُ أَن يُتْرَكَ سُدًى

[Al-Qur’an 75:36, translator: Yusuf Ali] Does man think that he will be left uncontrolled, (without purpose)? 

Purpose of Heavens and Earth 
The purpose of creation of the Heavens and Earth is something that we are expected to contemplate upon, as stated in this ayat:
[Al-Qur’an 3:190-191, translator: Sahih International] Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], "Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire. 

وَخَلَقَ اللَّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِالْحَقِّ وَلِتُجْزَىٰ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ

[Al-Qur’an 45:22, translator: Arberry] God created the heavens and the earth in truth, and that every soul may be recompensed for what it has earned; they shall not be wronged.

[Al-Qur’an 45:22, translator: Yusuf Ali] Allah created the heavens and the earth for just ends, and in order that each soul may find the recompense of what it has earned, and none of them be wronged.

Purpose of Humans and dJinns  
Our purpose is to willingly believe in and submit to the worship and service of Allah: 

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

[Al-Qur’an 51:56, translator: Shakir] And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me.

The following ayat tells us that even those who are closest to God are not too proud to serve Him:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ عِندَ رَبِّكَ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِهِ وَيُسَبِّحُونَهُ وَلَهُ يَسْجُدُونَ

[Al-Qur’an 7:206, translator: Shakir] Surely those who are with your Lord are not too proud to serve Him, and they declare His glory and prostrate in humility before Him.

Speaking about the entire creation, the Quran states: 

إِن كُلُّ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ إِلَّا آتِي الرَّحْمَٰنِ عَبْدًا

[Al-Qur’an 19:93, translator: Pickthall] There is none in the heavens and the earth but cometh unto the Beneficent as a slave.

The arabic word defining our purpose is لِيَعْبُدُونِ [root a-b-d] which implies both worship and service. Nouman Ali Khan explains the concept of ibadat in an interesting way in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzZhXlcgBfc 

Purpose of Accountability 

إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَن يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنسَانُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا
لِّيُعَذِّبَ اللَّهُ الْمُنَافِقِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ وَالْمُشْرِكَاتِ وَيَتُوبَ اللَّهُ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

[Al-Qur’an 33:72-73, translator: Pickthall] Lo! We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man assumed it. Lo! he hath proved a tyrant and a fool. So Allah punisheth hypocritical men and hypocritical women, and idolatrous men and idolatrous women. But Allah pardoneth believing men and believing women, and Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. 

وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَكُمْ خَلَائِفَ الْأَرْضِ وَرَفَعَ بَعْضَكُمْ فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ دَرَجَاتٍ لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُمْ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ سَرِيعُ الْعِقَابِ وَإِنَّهُ لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

[Al-Qur’an 6:165, translator: Pickthall] He it is Who hath placed you as viceroys of the earth and hath exalted some of you in rank above others, that He may try you by (the test of) that which He hath given you. Lo! Thy Lord is swift in prosecution, and Lo! He verily is Forgiving, Merciful.

Also, consider the following ayat: 

أَوَلَمْ يَتَفَكَّرُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِم مَّا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَأَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ النَّاسِ بِلِقَاءِ رَبِّهِمْ لَكَافِرُونَ

[Al-Qur’an 30:8, translator: Sahih International] Do they not contemplate within themselves? Allah has not created the heavens and the earth and what is between them except in truth and for a specified term. And indeed, many of the people, in [the matter of] the meeting with their Lord, are disbelievers. 

This temporal life has been granted to the Believers as a mercy: an opportunity to escape punishment and earn Allah's forgiveness.  

إِلَّا مَن رَّحِمَ رَبُّكَ وَلِذَٰلِكَ خَلَقَهُمْ وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَةُ رَبِّكَ لَأَمْلَأَنَّ جَهَنَّمَ مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ

[Al-Qur’an 11:119, translator: Shakir] And if your Lord (had) willed surely He (could) have made the mankind one community, but not they will cease to differ. Except those on whom your Lord has mercy; and for this did He create them; and the word of your Lord is fulfilled: Certainly I will fill hell with the jinn and the men, all together.  

Who are the Believers:
The characteristics of the believers (al-Mominoon) are described in Surah al-Mominoon

Last updated on June 5, 2018

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