According to Islam, what’s the basic purpose of life? What’s the point of this whole exercise? God already knew everything so He didn’t need to experiment with the world.
According to the Qur’an, God created the heavens and the earth (which apparently implies the physical universe) – Hu’d 11:7 – and created life and death – Al-Mulk 67:2 – for the purpose of testing human beings – as to who among them excels in good deeds.
It was God’s abounding mercy to give eternal life to man(1). However God, with His absolute wisdom, decided to make this eternal life conditional to man’s behaviour in a temporary life – which we have to live in this universe and which is subjected to God’s laws relating to life and death. Those who cleanse their minds, bodies and souls in the life of this world – by following God’s directives and living their lives according to the directives of their Creator – shall deserve the eternal bliss of the everlasting life in the Kingdom of God. While those who ignore the call of their Creator and live a life of arrogance, turning a deaf ear to the liking and disliking of their Creator, shall be punished according to the nature of crimes committed.
Thus, the basic purpose of the life of this world – according to the Qur’an – is to select cleansed souls for Paradise – the Kingdom of Heaven.
As far as the statement that “God already knew everything so He didn’t need to experiment with the world” is concerned, it is a statement which asks more than what the All Wise has decided fit for the human soul to know during the life of this world. In the absence of any guidance given by God in this respect, trying to answer or comment on this statement can only be a hit-in-the-dark. It would be an attempt to judge the working of God’s mind – which, obviously, is beyond the capacity of man. Moreover, an answer to this question is not necessary for the human soul to live a pious and Godly life and to abstain from impious activities. The important thing in the present framework (of the life of this world) and the present status of human knowledge is to know that all human beings are responsible – and therefore accountable – for such of their moral decisions and actions, which entail freedom of choice on their part, irrespective of the fact whether God had the knowledge of such actions and decisions beforehand or not.
- Humans have always considered life to be among the most valuable gifts of God, as is quite apparent from the fact that although man has always had the choice of taking his own life, yet – barring a few exceptions – man has held his life extremely dear to himself and has wanted to cling to it even in the direst of circumstances.