What is the Purpose of Islam?

Islam’s scripture, the Qur’an, teaches that God created the world and all it contains, the living and the non-living, but that human beings were “favoured” by God above all other created things, and gave human beings the gift of reasoning, where we can choose right from wrong. The Qur’an describes human beings as being appointed by God to be caretakers of (God’s) earth, as ambassadors of God carrying out God’s directions and guidance. Islam is literally defined as submission (to God), and also means peace or harmony. The purpose of Islam is to live a life on earth in ways that reflects this appointment and these favours. Life lived in harmonious submission to God, choosing right over wrong.

The Qur’an says that human beings were granted life in order to worship God. The Islamic concept and teachings around worship here are very broad, beyond our image of worshipping in a religious building. In Islam, worship is any act in harmony with God’s guidance: giving water to a thirsty dog is an act of worship, and so on. The Qur’an teaches that God did not create this world for mere fun and games, so to speak, and so clearly the purpose of life and of Islam warrants our attention. The Qur’an asks us to reflect upon the life that surrounds us.

Islam teaches that one’s life on earth will end, and we will be raised in another life, in another realm. There, we will be held accountable for the lives we led, the choices we made and the impact of those choices. There, some will be successful and rewarded by God, and others will be held accountable for wrongs they committed. This belief should impact the choices and actions of a Muslim during their life. Throughout the Qur’an, we are taught that those who have faith and do good will be successful. The Qur’an is urging people to do good with the lives and opportunities they have.

The purpose of Islam is to bring good / righteousness within and across human relations and the world at large. It seeks to do this by calling individuals to recognise God and God’s guidance that helps one differentiate right from wrong. In so doing, the purpose of Islam is to help people, as individuals or as collectives, to bring about the good and right in this world, and to address evil and wrong.