“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”
The German philosopher Martin Heidegger presented a concept called geworfenheit (“thrownness”), in which he argues about the meaninglessness of human existence. According to Heidegger, we are “thrown” into the world without our consent, and with no purpose. With that, our very existence is a trauma.
Without a purpose or meaning, that’s one miserable way to live, isn’t it? The meaning of life is one of the most oft-debated topics in philosophy. Aristotle’s view is that happiness is the meaning and purpose of life. According to Socrates, it’s personal growth. Plato said it’s the pursuit of knowledge. Arthur Schopenhauer said that life is meaningless, and that it’s nothing except for our impulses and desires. Viktor Frankl said that the meaning of life is up to you to decide, and once you do, the meaning of life is to help others find their meaning.
In Islam, we are taught that the meaning of life is simple, and that is to serve Allah, to act in accordance with what pleases Him.
The more I study philosophy, the more I realize just how much we need the positivity of Islam and the Qur’an. Muslims believe that life in this world is only a transit before we head onto the next life. The world we’re living in now is imperfect, it’s full of pain. We don’t deny that, of course. But we also believe in enjoying it while we can.
It’s a sucky world that we live in, sure — but there are also beautiful things in it, and nothing happens without great wisdom behind it. Since our life here is truly short, and that our real life starts in the next one, we shouldn’t give too much weight on what worries us here.
No one is free from suffering, from feeling the pangs of sadness or depression. But rather than seeing these hard facts of life as a burden or a curse, we see them as tests. This doesn’t just apply to hard times, but easy times as well — the tests are for us to remember Him, to keep our best faith, and to continuously emerge from them as better people.
Not only that, Allah is more than confident that we can triumph over any test that comes our way. As He said in the Qur’an, He doesn’t test us beyond what we can bear (Q, 2:286), and that He created us in the best form (Q, 95:4).
And as the Prophet (pbuh) said it, “How wonderful is the case of a believer! There is good for him in whatever happens to him — and none, apart from him, enjoys this blessing. If he receives some bounty, he is grateful to Allah and this bounty brings good to him. And if some adversity befalls him, he is patient, and this affliction, too, brings good to him.” (Hadith verified by Muslim)
There is light around us, dear reader. It’s not all dark here.