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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES 04

9710-MISSION OF THE HUMAN ON EARTH (RISALAT AL INSAN)

Lecture delivered to 1st year medical students at Kuantan, Pahang on October 11th 1997 by Prof Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. Deputy Dean for Research and Post-graduate Affairs, Kulliyah of Medicine IIUM

OUTLINE

DEFINITION OF THE MISSION

SCOPE OF THE MISSION

DURATION OF THE MISSION

SUCCESS

FAILURE

 

DEFINITION OF THE MISSION

Allah (SWT) could not have created humans, gave them all the bounties that make them a special creation without a purpose. That purpose must be a great one since the human is a great creation. It also must be comprehensive to explain the wide range of human potential and actions. The purpose must also have pre-dated human creation such that human nature and faculties must conform to it. The purpose in turn defines the mission of humans on earth.

 

A human unaided can not identify and define the purpose of creation. The Qur’an has informed us that the purpose of human creation was worship of Allah (‘ibadat). The mission of the human is therefore to undertake ‘ibadat. A human who establishes ‘ibadat is successful in the mission; the one who fails is not successful.

 

The concept of ‘ibadat in Islam is very wide. It includes virtually all  human endeavor and all human activities as explained in a previous chapter.  Closely related to ‘ibadat are the concepts of istikhlaf and isti’mar that have been explained before. Istikhlaf is vicegerancy of the human on earth. Isti’imar is the building of a material civilisation on earth. Both istikhlaf and isti’mar are part of the mission of humans on earth.

 

SCOPE OF THE MISSION

The scope of the human mission is as wide as the scope of ‘ibadat. Human responsibility is wide-ranging. As an individual he is obliged to worship Allah while at the same time undertaking those functions needed to maintain life like working to earn a living. He has a role in building and maintaining a family and a community. This involves putting group interests before individual interests. He has responsibilities to the eco-system to leave the earth a better place or at least not worse that what he found it.

 

Ibadat is the purpose of creation. ‘Ibadat in Islam is a comprehensive concept that embraces all human endeavors. Whatever humans do in sincerity and without disobeying any of Allah’s commands is a form of worship and they will be rewarded for it. Thus ‘ibadat is the practical expression of taqwa. ‘Ibadat can be structured or non-structured. Structured ‘ibadat can be obligatory or non-obligatory.

‘Ibadat must be constant and in all circumstances and is not confined to certain places, times, or occasions. The whole purpose of human creation is the worship of Allah. Only Allah is worthy of worship (4:36. P 776 19:93…44:18). ‘Ibadat is Allah’s right and He punishes those who do not fulfil it. Humans were given a free will to choose what to do and not what not to do within the limited human capacity. Life is therefore a test for them whether they will choose the right path of ‘ibadat or they will choose otherwise. 

 

All human activities can be ‘ibadat. There must be a balance between these various activities for a harmonious life. No one act should be done to excess to the detriment of others. For example prayer at night is ‘ibadat. It should not be done to such an excess that the ‘ibadat of looking for a livelihood the next morning is not possible. Although every human endeavor can be ‘ibadat, only those undertaken with the correct intention (niyyat) are rewarded as ‘ibadat. An act of ‘ibadat can therefore not be accidental. It must be a consequence of a deliberate choice and intention.

 

DURATION OF THE MISSION

The duration of human responsibility covers today and the future. It does not include the past, no human can be held accountable for actions that he was not a party to. While humans undertake work to build and maintain a civilisation today they must have a sense of responsibility for generations to come. The benefits of today must be balanced against the harm of tomorrow.

 

SUCCESS (FALAH)

The Qur’an has provided a clear definition of the success of human endeavors. The Qur’an has used the word falah to refer to the success of humans in their mission (p 906 4:73….58:22). Success can be on earth or in the hereafter (p 906 73:185…85:11). Falah can be achieved by having a strong iman (p 908 2:3-5…31:3-5), self-purification (tazkiyat) (p 908 2:189….5:100), consciousness of Allah (taqwat) ( of Allah), obedience (ta’at) (p 908 24:51), remembrance of Allah (dhikr Allah) (7:69, 8:45, 62:10), avoiding shaitan (p 907 5:90), doing good (p 908 22:77), enjoining the good and forbidding the bad (p 907 3:104), giving (infaq)  (p 907 30:38…64:16), seeking forgiveness (tawbat) (p 908 24:31), struggle in the path of Allah (jihad) (5:35).

 

Falah includes material success on the earth and spiritual success in the hereafter. Both types of success depend on human effort on earth. It is perhaps a unique feature of Islam that all human endeavors that are good contribute to both types of success at the same time.

 

FAILURE

Failure at the individual level is not worshipping Allah as was enjoined. A civilisation can fail if it does not follow and uphold the laws of Allah (sunan al Laah fi al kawn) that are needed to guide human action. The failure of the human in his mission manifests as transgression (dhulm) (p 907 6:21…28:37), lying (kadhb) (p 907 10:69, 16:116), disbelief (kufr) (p 907 23:117, 28:82), crime (p 107 10:17), and disappointment (khaibat) (p 408 3:127….91:10).

 

KEY WORDS

ARABIC: risalat al insan ‘ala al ardh - falah

ENGLISH:  Mission of human on earth -

 

 

DISCUSSION

Why is ibadat considered the purpose of creation

What are the auxiliary purposes of human creation

Describe the amanat that humans accepted and other creations did not

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule October 1997