The well-known American evangelist Billy Graham (b. 1918) narrates one of his life experiences. Once he received an urgent message from an American statesman who wanted to meet him at the earliest. On receiving this message, Billy Graham canceled his appointments and immediately set out to meet this man. When he arrived at the statesman’s palatial home, he was immediately taken to a room, where Billy Graham and the statesman sat on chairs facing one another. Then, in a serious tone, the statesman said to Billy Graham: “You see, I am an old man. Life has lost all meaning. I am ready to take a fateful leap into the unknown. Young man, can you give me a ray of hope?”
This is a common question. Every man and woman, consciously or unconsciously, has this question in their minds. This is the first concern of every human being. To find out the real answer we have to try to understand the creation plan of God. God is the Creator of this world. And, only by gaining an understanding of the Creator’s creation plan can we get the right answer to this question. The Qur’an, the preserved book of God, gives an answer to this question. According to the Qur’an, man is born as an eternal being, but his lifespan is divided into two parts: pre-death period and post-death period. The pre-death period is very short, and the post-death period is eternal.
Everyone feels that they have enormous desires, but that they are not being able to fulfill these desires. The reason is that the present world is a limited world with many kinds of disadvantages. This means that there is a contradiction between man’s nature which seeks fulfillment of his desires, and the world which is incapable of fulfilling man’s desires. Man, by nature, wants a world where his personality can find total fulfillment, but the present world fails to provide such fulfillment. Sir James Jeans in his book, The Mysterious Universe, has rightly pointed out this fact in these words: It appears that man has strayed into a world that was not made for him.
According to the Qur’an, the present earth is not a habitat for man. Man’s habitat lies in the world hereafter. According to the divine plan, man must develop his personality in the pre-death period, so that he is selected as a deserving candidate for this habitat, or Paradise, in the post-death period. The Qur’an tells us that the above habitat or Paradise is perfectly equipped to fulfill all the desires of a man in the utmost sense of the word.
Man is born with total freedom. The only requirement for finding entry into Paradise is that he should use his freedom properly and avoid all kinds of misuse of freedom. It is the divine criterion that will decide whose case was one of proper use of freedom and whose was that of misuse of freedom. Here, the chapter Al-Tin (The Fig) of the Qur’an is worth quoting. We have indeed created man in the best of mold, then We cast him down as the lowest of the low, except for those who believe and do good deeds—theirs shall be an unending reward! What then after this, can make you deny the Last Judgement? Is not God the greatest of the judges? (95:4-8)
It means that while man is born as a complete personality, his present abode – the planet earth – is incomplete. Because of this disparity, man’s condition on earth becomes like that of a fish out of water. The present world has highly intelligent design. But the disparity between man’s nature and the limitations of the present world to fulfill all his desires indicates the need for man to have a real habitat. This habitat is Paradise. Only those men and women will find entry into Paradise who qualify themselves as deserving candidates for it. The planet earth is a selection ground for this purpose.
In the chapter Fussilat (Revelations Well Expounded) the Qur’an tells us about Paradise in these words: Therein you shall have all that your souls desire, and therein you shall have all that you ask for. (41:31) The Qur’an mentions all aspects of Paradise in detail and then guides man in these words: For the like of this, then, let the workers work. (37:61)