You wake up startled and find yourself on an airplane. The rest of the seats are empty.
Leaning over to the window, you see impassive clouds hovering over a sparkling sea miles below.You don’t know how you got into the plane and you have no idea where you are going or why.
What would you do next?
Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, or search for answers?
In this context, I suspect most would agree that it would be abnormal to just sit back and enjoy the ride, unaware of how you wound up a passenger on an empty plane and where the plane is headed.
If confronted with the above hypothetical situation, most people would probably get up, walk around and look for some sort of message or clue as to how they ended up on the plane and why. Many would not rest until finding some kind of answers.
Yet, how many people don’t ever stop to think about why they are here, living on Earth, and where they are going? How many people reach old age without ever having asked the question, “What is the purpose of life?” and without ever having found the clear, undoubtable answer to that question?
How can we sit back and enjoy the ride when we didn’t put ourselves here? How can we relax, not knowing our final destination?
Virtually everything around us has a purpose. When we see intricate gadgets or lofty buildings we effortlessly understand that those objects did not spontaneously come into being on their own. If we find a watch or a smartphone lying on the ground, we would scoff at the notion that it automatically materialized from nothing.
When we observe the detail and function within our bodies and consider mankind’s inventive abilities, it is natural to conclude that there is a creative force behind our existence.
If we are in fact confident that there is a cause for our existence, the next natural questions are who or what? and why?.
Back in 1998, after careful exploration, consideration and introspection, I abruptly arrived at the conclusion that there must be some force – some originator of the astonishing wonders of the Earth – of humanity and human ingenuity. I also suddenly felt an innate inclination to communicate with that force as I sat staring out at the deep night sky. So, I spoke, silently and from my heart. I asked to know. I asked to understand. I was admitting my complete vulnerability and need in that moment. I was also willing to surrender to whatever it was, knowing its greatness, knowledge and abilities must be, by necessity, beyond compare.
After listening to countless stories related by people who’ve found and accepted Islam as their way of life, it has become apparent to me that almost all of our unexpected journeys to Islam began with an instance where we implored the Originator, sincerely wanting to know and understand.
Collectively, we are riding the vehicle of time; moving forward whether or not we like it. We have virtually no control over time’s passing, over our growth and our eventual deterioration, or whether or not our lives are cut short before we reach old age. Our journeys’ lengths are unknown to us.
By acknowledging this, it is similar to the parable I presented at the outset, and the most rational course of action is to pursue knowledge of the inherent purpose for which we have been made, and then to strive to fulfill it successfully.
It’s the difference between leaving our vehicle on autopilot, or taking control of our direction and safe arrival at our ultimate destination.