Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Purpose of the Creation of Mankind

In his monumental work The Meccan Revelations, Ibn ‘Arabi claims that God created humanity in order to make Himself known. He bases his belief on the verse in the Qur’an where God says: I have only created jinn and men that they may worship me (Surah Zariyat, 56) The great commentator Ibn ‘Abbas gives the meaning of “to worship” as “to know”, stating that the purpose of man’s existence is to know God. God has created everything in perfect order, connecting everything with everything else, and connecting also, everything to Himself. He has manifested His attributes upon His creation, and regulates the actions of each thing in relation to the divine attributes bestowed upon it. Speaking through His Prophet, God says, “I was a hidden treasure, I loved to be known, and through this love I created creation.” God has honored humanity, His supreme creation with being a means of His becoming known. p.54 Just as God’s essence is incomparable with, and other than, His creation, so human being has no equal in creation as a manifestation of all His most beautiful names and attributes.God is Most Perfect and has created humanity perfectly. The human being contains all of the potential necessary for reaching the perfect state. As God is in need of nothing, He has made humanity in need of nothing but Himself. Thus God made man to know Him, and man is capable of knowing the truth and finding perfection. The practical meaning of “worship” in this Qur’anic verse is to abase oneself, to erase oneself in front of the Lord. The reward of that undertaking is a conscious connection between the created and the Creator. It is a means of coming close to Him and knowing Him. The Lord says: “Pray to Me so that I accept your prayers.” In the same divine verse, not only men but also jinn are mentioned, because in the whole of creation there are none but men and jinn who, with arrogance, claim to be Lords themselves, over everything that exists. Nothing else in creation is given the possibility of ownership. Nothing else can inherit. Nothing else can claim another of its own kind its slave. Nothing else can claim to represent God. Nothing else in the world is conscious, claiming to have life, power and will – the divine qualities of Ever-Living, All-Powerful, and Total-Will, which belong to God. The possibility of this claim is the meaning of “God has created man in His own image.” These manifestations of divine attributes in man, so misused by him, are also the connection and the relationship between us and our Lord, and a means for us to know our Lord. It is in consideration of man’s willfulness and arrogance that “worship” must signify self-abasement before it can mean knowledge of the Lord. For all the knowledge that human beings with their given intelligence can attain, is as nothing before God’s infinite greatness. We must bow our heads in cognizance of that fact. It is only through utter humbleness that we will be able to realize the purpose of our creation. But it is also true that someone who does not know his Lord already is incapable of erasing himself in the first place! (The Tree of Being:Shajarat al-kawn. An Ode to the Perfect Man. Interpreted by Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti. Archetype Pub. London, 2005)

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