Our purpose in life, I think, is a little like this. We all start off knowing that our purpose is one, wholly one on this earth. But as we travel through the jagged realities of this dunya, this purpose which can be explained in just three words, to worship Allah, becomes a multitiude of complex aims, desires and aspirations. And the further we fall into the lures of the dunya, the more divergent our aims and aspirations become, often becoming unrecognisable from our initial purpose, in reality, although we may not think so.
To exist in this world of course requires more than simply settling upon a prayer mat. And to fulfil your purpose in life, of worshipping Allah, definitely requires more than that. In fact as Muslims, we need to maintain a whole host of responsibilities in order to fulfil the instincts and needs we hold as human beings, in the way that Allah desires. But the question is, how do we maintain our purpose in life as well as live the life in this world?
The answer I think is quite simple. It means being able to distinguish the place where the light splits in the prism, where the purpose no longer is really the purpose. It's when we begin to do actions and then fit them into our purpose, however tenuous the link, instead of the other way round. And so normal this way of living has become for the Muslim, that to do things the other way round, raises eyebrows - they get labelled as making life as a Muslim very 'black and white'. That they have simplified it, that they have not really understood what living by Islam really means.
So when a Muslim woman has children, and she decides to fulfil her responsibility of bringing up her children, as this is the role, over all other roles, which Allah SWT will hold her to account for, she's being a bit black and white. It's all more complex than that. You can work in a job where you can do good, which gives you respect and social standing, you can put your kids in a nursery which teaches them well or you put them in the trusted care of a relative, and on top of all that the extra money that you earn will give those kids a better standard of life. It all fits in somehow to the grand scheme of our purpose in life, right? But I would ask that when we make these links, that we really stand back and ask ourselves. Is this action for Allah? Will these decisions get me closer to Jannah, or are they to enable me to progress more in this life, to fit in more in this life, to make myself more happy in this life? Because it's not really about being a stay at home mum or not. It's about the way we shape the decisions we make in life.
The point here is we live in a society today, where Capitalism has framed the right and wrong around us. From the bottom line - That money is it, has sprung values which promote accumulation of wealth, consumerism, materialism and when it comes to women, for example, in particular promotes the development of careers as the mark of value of a person. The values that the secular way of life has produced in society mean that people view personal benefit as paramount - Your career over your family, your contentment over the communities'. Although such an bare-faced exposition of society may stand as a little bit extreme, I believe that's exactly what it is. When you strip the society and values we live in of the normality which has grown on them, like the comfort of soft green moss on jagged rocks, I really believe, this is how it is.
So it's not really that complex. It is simple really. It's about the way you spend your time, that what gives you the feeling of worth and value is linked, inextricably, to your reason for being here. It actually is quite black and white. What makes things complex is the distractions of this dunya, the pressures of society and even family very often, and the luring values of personal benefit which have become so close to the way we think, they seem to even lurk under our skin.
So next time you start looking at your life in a very 'black and white' way, do so with pride, because it is Allah SWT who tells us repeatedly in the timeless Quran that those who forego the life of this world for His sake, His reward is with you.
And the life of this world is nothing but play and amusement. But far better is the house in the Hereafter for those who are AlMuttaqûn (the pious). Will you not then understand? (Al-An’am 6:32)