person holding black & brown globe ball while standing on grass land golden hour. What are we doing on this earth?

What are We Really Doing on this Earth?

Ask people, what they are doing on this earth? the answers would mostly be materialistic. This life is all

     If you ask most people about what they are doing on this earth and what their goals in life are, the answers would mostly be materialistic and worldly.  This life is all what they know, need, want and aspire to. But… What is truly the point of it all?

Linguistically, a “GOAL” is defined as, the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim, purpose or desired result.  Other synonyms are: aim, objective, object, end, target, design, desire, intention, intent, plan, purpose, idea, point, wish, dream, hope, resolve, ambition, object of…etc.. 

A goal must be clear, precise, achievable, realistic and legal both worldly and religiously.

In Islam, it is a whole different story.  You find in Qur’an God (Allah) says,

The enjoyment of ˹worldly˺ desires—women, children, treasures of gold and silver, fine horses, cattle, and fertile land—has been made appealing to people. These are the pleasures of this worldly life, but with Allah is the finest destination.” [Qur’an 3:14] (1)

      You can understand how those things are enjoyments of this life. One can have it all but still you need to want more. Yes, you can have it all but make them not the focus of your life. Instead, fill your heart with the love of your Lord and observance.

Lusts and desires of this life are adorned to humans by their Creator to test their resilience, obedience and devotion to their Lord.

What are people’s goals and desires in this life?

Here are some examples of the most common:

  • Money (acquiring ownership)
  • Power
  • Lust
  • Fame and adornment
  • Having Children (specially males)
  • Food
  • Knowledge

How do all those good things become bad goals in life?

     All of these goals – in moderation – are normal human needs and desires that are quite legitimate; socially and religiously acceptable.  What changes them into “frowned upon worldly desires” is the weight we give them in our lives. Also, the importance of such on our priorities scale.  Making them priorities and goals over good deeds and seeking Allah’s pleasure and bounties is the utter loss in this life and the afterlife.  

Why did God put those things in life? Does He want us to stray?

     God has created Humans and only He knows what is good for them.  He made beautiful things in life for our benefit, good and joy. Those beautiful things and the desire of them should not fill our hearts. But it should be means for us to become better people and more devoted slaves to Allah.  Those things are for all humans in this life but exclusive to those who believe in the Hereafter as rewards in Heavens. We find in Qur’an,

Say (Oh Muhammad), “Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has produced for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision?” Say, “They are for those who believe during the worldly life [but] exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection.” Thus do We detail the verses for a people who know.” [Qur’an 7:32] (2)

Is it wrong to want those things in life? 

     It is okay to want those things and work for them. In fact, it is a must. But it’s not okay that those desires own us and become our Goals and objectives in life. 

A believer’s goal is reaching one’s ambition or desire of Allah’s pleasure and bounties by focusing one’s efforts and diligently striving towards it or as close as it can be. Muhammad PBUH said,

The deeds of anyone of you will not save you (from the (Hell) Fire).”  They said, “Even you (will not be saved by your deeds), O Allah’s Messenger (PBUH)?” He said, “No, even I (will not be saved) unless and until Allah bestows His Mercy on me. Therefore, do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and worship Allah in the forenoon and in the afternoon and during a part of the night, and always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course whereby you will reach your target (Paradise).” [Al-Bukhari] (3)

We were created for a much higher purpose and a much more honored mission; “Worshipping Allah”.  The proof is in the final revelation from God; Qur’an,

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.”  [Qur’an 51:56] (4)

How should I know how to behave and how to value matters in life?

     Muhammad PBUH was the living example of the perfect human being and the submitting servant of Allah. He teaches how he tried his best to guide to the righteous way of Allah saving people from the Hell fire. He said,

My example and the example of the people is that of a man who made a fire, and when it lighted what was around it, Moths and other insects started falling into the fire. The man tried (his best) to prevent them, (from falling in the fire) but they overpowered him and rushed into the fire. The Prophet (PBUH) added: Now, similarly, I take hold of the knots at your waist (belts) to prevent you from falling into the Fire, but you insist on falling into it.”  [Al-Bukhari] (5)


“And the worldly life is not but amusement and diversion” 

The fact of  this verse is in three places in Quran and in each one Allah shows how trivial this life is in comparison to the Hereafter. 

  1. “And the worldly life is not but amusement and diversion; but the home of the Hereafter is best for those who fear Allah, so will you not reason?”   [Qur’an 6:32] (6)
  2. “[This] worldly life is only amusement and diversion. And if you believe and fear Allah, He will give you your rewards and not ask you for your properties.”   [Qur’an 47:36] (7)
  3. “Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion.”   [Qur’an 57:20] (8)

Amusement is play and fun without much of use in life but entertainment. It is not criticized in religion but it is mostly pointless except for refreshment and a bit of joy and leisure.

Diversion is the action of turning something aside from its course. Its synonyms are: rerouting, redirection, turning aside, deflection, digression, deviation, divergence.

This in Arabic language is what deflects away from good leading to bad and ugly deeds.  Diversion is usually criticized and never tolerated.

So, what are we really doing on this Earth?

For two reasons:

  1. We are here to know, worship and please Allah. “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.”  [Qur’an 51:56] (9)
  2. We are here to work for our place in the Hereafter; either Heaven or Hell.  “Race toward forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden whose width is like the width of the heavens and earth, prepared for those who believed in Allah and His messengers. That is the bounty of Allah which He gives to whom He wills, and Allah is the possessor of great bounty.”  [Qur’an 57:21] (10)


(1) Verses (3-14) of Qur’an (English interpretation of meaning).
(2) Verses (7-32) of Qur’an (English interpretation of meaning).
(3) Prophet’s saying ‘Hadith’.

(4) Verses (51-56) of Qur’an (English interpretation of meaning).
(5) Prophet’s saying ‘Hadith’.

(6) Verses (6-32) of Qur’an (English interpretation of meaning).
(7) Verses (47-36) of Qur’an (English interpretation of meaning).
(8) Verses (57-20) of Qur’an (English interpretation of meaning).
(9) Verses (51-56) of Qur’an (English interpretation of meaning).
(10) Verses (57-21) of Qur’an (English interpretation of meaning).
* Photo by Ben White on Unsplash.

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About Abeer Eltahan

Abeer El Tahhan is a pediatrician and a Quran and Arabic tutor. Abeer is deeply involved in Islamic studies and dawah activities. She is fluent in Arabic and English.