By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
A Western philosopher has written that it appears that man is a stranger in this vast universe. It seems that neither has man been made for this world, nor has this world been made for man. Both seem mismatched.
Man is born with unlimited potential, yet in the present world he finds only a very limited use for it. According to his nature, man wants to live eternally, but very soon, without his leave, death arrives and puts an end to his life. He harbours an ocean of desires in his heart, but these desires are never fulfilled. He houses a life of dreams in his mind, but these dreams are never realized. In this case, there is no difference between a poor man and a rich man.
Why are man and the present world so mismatched? We can find our answer if we understand God’s Creation Plan.
The reality is that God – the Creator of man, has created man according to His plan. To become acquainted with this plan is necessary for a man to have a thorough understanding of himself – just as the workings of a machine can only be understood when we study the drawings of the engineer who made it. Besides the mind of the engineer, there is no other thing that can clarify what the machine is meant for. The case of man is the same.
The existence of man is such a unique phenomenon that no other such example can be found throughout the vastness of the cosmos. Man is rightly called the ‘best of all creations’, which means the best and most meaningful ‘being’ among all the things created. Such a ‘meaningful being’ cannot have been created without a purpose.
The Creator of man has created him according to a special Plan. His intention being that man must spend a period of trial in this present, imperfect world and subsequent to this, according to his deeds, he will earn the right to inhabit the perfect and eternal world, another name for which is Paradise.
The Creator of the world has created this world, as one half of a pair — the present limited world, in which we pass our lives after birth, is the first half; and the next eternal world where we live after death is the other half. The Creator of man has thus created him as an eternal creature and has divided his life into two stages — the pre-death period or the limited life in this world and the post death period or the eternal life after death. The limited period before death is meant to be a test for man, while the eternal period after his death will be the period for his reward or punishment, based on his performance in the test in this life. This is the scheme of existence for this world as devised by its Creator. The real aim of creation is to select those who are fit to inhabit the world of Paradise [...]
Paradise is the name of the ideal world; the desire for which is lodged in the hearts of every man and woman. It is Paradise where the personality of man shall achieve fulfillment in the fullest sense. Man with his entire existence is desirous of this very Paradise and Paradise with its entire existence awaits him.
Paradise is that world, where a creation such as man attains his complete fulfillment [...].
How do we qualify for Paradise?
In the present world of trial, any man or woman, to be eligible for Paradise, needs to have two qualifications: one is to acknowledge the truth of the one God and the other is to lead a principled life. Those men and women who qualify in this test will be given a place in Paradise — where all their desires will be fulfilled. For those who fail in this test, they shall spend their lives in a state of eternal deprivation.
In the present world, man finds himself totally free. However, this freedom does not belong to him as a matter of right, but is rather a test paper. What man has to do is to acknowledge the truth of One God, and surrender to him — not by compulsion but by his own choice. This surrendering before the truth of One God is without doubt the greatest sacrifice that any man can make. Acknowledging the truth of One God is, like making oneself smaller not only to God but to others as well. But this is the very virtue which will raise man to the highest position. It will take him to the very entrance of Paradise.
The second important thing in this set of requirements is to lead a principled life. Generally what happens is that man’s character is moulded by his emotions — anger, revenge, jealousy, hatred, rivalry, etc. These are the negative feelings that shape man’s personality. But what man ought to do is to become disciplined in such matters. He should not build his character under the influence of external incentives, but by his own decisions he should establish it on the basis of higher principles. This is what is called as Divine character.
According to the Creation Plan of God, human beings are placed in situations where they have to face hardships from time to time at every moment throughout their lives as part of their test. Difficulty and sadness are integral part of the creation plan of the Creator. No man has the power to extricate himself from this life of trial and tribulation. This arrangement is to remind man of the fact that the present world has not been made as a place of luxury and comfort, but rather as a period of trial and as such as will help determine whether he is eligible or not for the eternal life in Paradise.
In spite of tremendous development in the present world, adverse conditions are still very much in evidence. But people, owing to their lack of awareness of God’s creation plan, do not understand why this is prevalent. So, they continue to react negatively to situations and by giving such a response, prove themselves — in the eyes of God — to be failures in the examination he has set for them.
Stress is also a major problem faced by people everywhere. Many institutions have been established which claim to be able to eliminate stress. What these institutions actually do, in their endeavor to de-stress people is to ask them to stop their thinking process, thus bringing on them a kind of temporary anesthesia. This is, however, not a real solution to the problem of stress. There is only one true solution to this problem and that is to adopt the correct attitude to stress that of managing stress instead of trying to eliminate it or react negatively to it. In this way we will pass our test. Unpleasantness has been put into this world for man to learn the right lessons from it. The true lesson taught by unpleasant experiences is that man remembers the next world of Paradise. His approach thus becomes, ‘Let me not suffer in the Hereafter what I have suffered in this world.’
Seen in the light of this creation plan, the root of all human problems is that the unenlightened want to make their Paradise in this world prior to death, whereas under the natural laws, the situation here on earth makes this impossible. According to God’s creation plan, man has to be content in this limited world before death, so that he may be sure that in the eternal world after death he has Paradise in store for him. The right and proper thing for man to do is therefore to acknowledge and accept this law of creation, and plan his life accordingly. His sole aim in this present world should be to make himself acceptable in the eyes of God, so that he may be held eligible for admission into Paradise in the eternal world after death.
Successful is one who has realized the eternal world in this temporary world; who has discovered in the failures of the present world, the secret to eternal success in the next eternal world.