Allah Created Us, But We Can Also Invent Oursleves

When we concentrate on building and improving ourselves, without letting our ego marvel at how great we are, God will keep elevating us to heights unimagined. Let us embrace the beauty of obscurity; God has his own agents to work for our promotion and advertisement if needs be.

When we concentrate on building and improving ourselves, without letting our ego marvel at how great we are, God will keep elevating us to heights unimagined. Let us embrace the beauty of obscurity; God has his own agents to work for our promotion and advertisement if needs be.

There is an unmistakable element of craftsmanship in the way we humans are created and a dazzling display of wizardry in how each moment of our life unfolds. Our existence has a profoundly aesthetic appeal, be it the architectural symmetry of our body’s design, the faultless mechanism of its intricate functions, the cryptic way its codes are written, and the dramatic way the plot of our destiny is enacted with many twists and turns and an unexpected climax.

From womb to tomb, we are in a constant state of flux. We go through different stages of physical evolution from the gestation period to old age, sometimes getting transformed beyond recognition. We can hardly make out an old man from a photo of his childhood or early youth.

But still, our body and mind follow a carefully choreographed pattern. The amazing transformation we go through from the fetal stage to the end of life follows a unique pattern and structure, right from the beginning of human civilization.

Happening side by side with our physical evolution is a variety of transformations we go through such as emotional, cognitive, and behavioral changes as well as the constant shifts in several of our identities and belongings. The overall personality of a man is a sum total of all these variables, and our upbringing and surroundings, as well as the deliberate choices we make from time to time, have a direct bearing on these changes.

We can edit and redraft our spiritual DNA

While we have a limited role in deciding our physical features, we are entrusted with the nurturing and development of many of the variable components of our personality such as character, manners, attitude, etc. We are given the freedom to edit and format the DNA of those traits, unlike many of our physical features.

Although we won’t be held accountable and don’t deserve any credit for having a particular complexion or height, for being born to a given race, gender, or for living in a particular decade or century, we are certainly accountable for things which we can influence and change through our deliberate choices.

The biggest responsibility we are entrusted with as humans is to invent ourselves. The person God wants us to become is buried deep in ourselves and we are vested with the job of unearthing him or her. Life is not a finished product handed over to us to just live it. It is rather a job, a contract employment, to produce the best version of ourselves using the opportunities and resources available within and around us. That is why the Quran says life and death were created to test how efficient workers we are.

God constantly reminds us of our being judged for our actions and inactions on the Day of Judgment. A registry carrying all our movements will be handed over to us to prove that the results awaiting us are dependent on what we have done. Our work is assessed constantly, and we are rewarded justly.

God is the owner; we are the managers…

The business model is unambiguous. God has invested in us by creating, designing, and configuring us in whatever way He wished and providing for us constantly. He is the de-facto owner of the enterprise that our life is, but He has entrusted us with its management and daily operations. There is a contractual agreement by which we are expected to develop the business and make it profitable before returning it to the owner whenever He wants it back.

But the enormously risk-tolerant investor does not make any claim on the profit, as the success or failure of these businesses does not have any impact on the net worth of the investor. Unlike greedy lenders, He invested out of His sheer mercy, generosity, and compassion. Inventive and industrious operators are offered huge returns and perks, while those who are running it into bankruptcy are doing it at their own peril.

This is a ‘lifetime’ opportunity to prove our inventiveness, grit, and fortitude. As individuals, we hold within us immense potentialities which are more valuable than any other external asset and properties we inherit.

God has endowed us with the requisite skills and potentialities, but the job of invention is left to us. Like a sculpture inventing with his chisel a beautiful statue from hard rock, we are supposed to carve a perfect individual out of ourselves. The product we come out with is the net result of our choices – our thoughts, expressions, actions, and interactions. Our tomorrow is made of the choices we make today.

Our choices, our freedom, our paradise

Our choices reverberate throughout our lives. What makes life exciting is the abundance of choices offered to us to transform our life and make it productive. When the Quran talks about the lives of its heroes, be it prophets, saints, or great leaders in history, it glorifies the choices they made along with the help they got from God. None of them were shirkers who sat back waiting for God’s help to come. But they made their choices and left no stone unturned in pursuing them. God was impressed with them and helped them out unconditionally. They refused to stop even when God’s help did not come for an inexorably long period of time. They refused to be stuck with any limiting belief that curtailed their possibilities.

Especially important to their journey has been the freedom to eschew beliefs and conventions which prevented them from inventing themselves. They let no grand ideologies, established conventions, sanctified institutions and people, unfettered lust and desires, delusions of wealth and positions deter them from focusing on the main goal of life. We need the freedom from all distraction to focus on the core objective.

We have been given the freedom to decide how the final product of our life looks like. We can constantly look at ourselves in the mirror and make the necessary changes to make the final product unique and near perfect. When we do not like what we find in the mirror, we have the freedom to make the necessary amendments.

Make ourselves redundant by inventing a better version of us

However, we are too outward-oriented and too preoccupied with the wonders of the world to marvel at the infinite capabilities bubbling up inside us and the miracles we can create with them. We are not so excited about the wonders we can make as we are about the majestic mountains, lush green forests, turquoise oceans, intriguing sand dunes, etc. We can master machines and create technologies that can serve us, but we fail when it comes to mastering and maintaining ourselves.

People who are serious and passionate about inventing themselves do not complain about any obstacle nor do they take their job as a burden. They have a clear purpose and are passionate about it. When we have a well-defined purpose, we will be committed to it and will never substitute it with anything shallow or superficial.

When we are robbed of this purpose, our confidence level will plummet, and our commitment taper off. We can also grow ourselves by committing ourselves to ideals greater than us and serving people nobler than us. The purpose of making ourselves constantly redundant by inventing a better version of us is quite interesting. If we are passionate about the job, the days unlived stretching before us excite us because we have enough time to do the job we love. But if we hate to live or if we dread to see a new dawn, we belong to the irresponsible lot who do not want to make any contribution to the making of their life.

Focus on your craft

But as responsible artists, we have to take utmost precaution against our ego getting the better of our craft. The moment we feel proud of ourselves and satisfied with our works, we risk getting stuck in a rut of delusion and forget about inventing ourselves. The moment we start elevating ourselves over our craft and our work, we get our priorities wrong. Therefore, as dedicated artists, let us chisel on, without craving for attention and without letting everyone know how great of artists we are.

When we concentrate on building and improving ourselves, without letting our ego marvel at how great we are, God will keep elevating us to heights unimagined. Let us embrace the beauty of obscurity; God has his own agents to work for our promotion and advertisement if needs be.

We cannot stop working on ourselves. We can go on recrafting and redrafting it until the death knell is tolled, and the paper is snatched away from us by the examiner without any warning.