Pearl of Wisdom

when asked about poverty, said, 'It is the greed of the self for everything.'

Imam Hasan ibn Ali al-Mujtaba [as]
Ibid. no. 225

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Library » Death & The Hereafter » Philosophy of Death
Philosophy of Death E-mail

Why is it that man is created, and then after a certain period of time, in which he lives in this world, departs from it?  If death is total annihilation and man after death becomes totally non-existent, this question is propounded with greater seriousness, meaning that, according to this assumption, the probability of the creation of man being futile and the life being vain and empty increases.  But, in the event that we do not consider death to be a 'negative entity' and define it to be a transfer or a renewed birth, still the question arises and seeks its answer as to why exactly do we come into the world and why exactly do we get transferred from it?

This very question can be expressed in one of the two possible ways:

i) What aim did Allah or the Agent possess in creating His creations, or in other words, what benefit does He wish to avail of by the life and death of man and other creations?

If the question is put up in this form, it is necessary to state that the question and its answer is not related to our discussion and it must be deliberated in a discussion related and appropriate to it.  All we can say is that Allàh is an Independent Entity, and He avails of no benefit as a result of His creating His creations.  Hence, the exact answer for “ Then why did He create?” is related to profound, Gnostic topics.
ii) What purpose did Allàh or the Agent have for his action?  In other words, Allàh created His creations and among them man, that they travel along which path and to where they reach or what goal they follow?  If the above question is expressed in this manner, we must say that according to the Qur’ànic verse, Allàh created the heavens and the creations so that they recognize Allàh and worship Him:

“And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they worship me.” (Holy Quran - 32:11)

In the meaning that, all the creations must, in their journey for perfection, reach a stage that they can, by means of man, become a mirror for the Divine Attributes, because it is in this stage that the worship and cognition of Allàh can reach a stage which is befitting it.

In short, Allah created His creations and amongst them, man so that finally they reach the level of cognition of Allàh and can understand His Beautiful Attributes and manifest them within themselves, because the real worship and cognizance of Allàh can take the creation and man to a position and status, the specialties and the grandness of which must be referred to in gnostical topics.

So according to this view, the philosophy of life and death, which are part of the creation of Allàh, become clear.  The life and death and basically, the changes in the material world and the transfer from one stage of life to another of it or the transfer from one world into another world, all of these play a part in the journey of man and the creations towards perfection. Such changes or the ups and downs must be present, in the light of which, people can be tested, and the pure are separated from the unpure. This is what, the Holy Qur’àn says:

“Who created death and life that He may try you - which of you is best in deeds; and He is Mighty and Forgiving.” (Holy Quran - 51:56)

According to this verse, firstly, both life and death are part of the creation of Allàh.  Thus, death is a thing which Allàh has created and hence cannot be a 'negative entity', because a negative entity is not capable of being created.

Secondly, tests and trials are considered to be the philosophy of the creation of life and death so that it can be known who is the most righteous.

Of course, it should be known that this “ test “ is not in its literal meaning that takes place on an appointed time and is taken from one particular group or according to a pre-determined subject-matter, but it possesses a very wide meaning.  In other words, the tests and trials here, encompass all the moments of the life and death of man, his ups and downs during the span of his entire life, even during his transfer into the next world and after that too.  Basically, these changes and transfers prepare the ground for the development and progress of man.  Similar to sportsmen, for whom, not only their competition is a trial and a test, but the pre-competition training is also considered as a form of test and these phasic trials and tests, help to prepare them for the original competition.  Life and death and the transfer of man from one world to another world and also the bounties and at times the problems of life, according to the verses of the Holy Qur’àn, are trials and tests for man which prepare him, stage by stage, for attaining his ultimate objective.

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