When a Muslim, indeed any believer, is faced with the choice of leaving her/his faith, the first question that strikes her/him is what is the point of living---particularly living a good life, being good---if there is nothing to look forward at its end? Dr. Ali Sina has some excellent advice for such doubters...

Ali Sina,

I have been reading what you’ve been writing for a long time now. And I do agree with the majority of what you say, especially about logic. Lately I have become a very reason oriented person (this is in general and not due to your site). For about a year now, I have been out of college and been working for a year now. I’m finding out that everything I have been told is a lie. Not all religions are good. Women don’t really want nice guys. An Education won’t necessarily make your life any better. Good doesn’t always conquer evil.

Life is pain. Everything that you love, just goes away. And good things that’ll come to you in the future will go away too. If there is no god, then what’s the point? The logical thing to do is to just end your life and save yourself from pain that is to come. What’s the point? Honestly, I don’t see it. I just want to hear your take on it.


Dear M.

Upon reflecting on what you wrote I ended up agreeing with you. What is the point indeed? I go even one step further than you and say:

  • What is the point of finding love when all relationships end, either in death or they break up?
  • What is the point in bringing to the world a child when eventually they will die?
  • What is the point in planting anything when one day they will whiter?
  • What is the point in building a house when one day it has to be demolished?
  • What is the point of taking a bath when you’re going to be dirty again?
  • What is the point of eating, when you’ll get hungry a few hours later?
  • In fact what is the point of this universe when it too will one day come to an end?

Yes what is the point? And yet, despite all these pointlessnesses, life goes on, people fall in love,  children are born, trees are planted, houses are built, people eat and wash…. and guess what? They also find time to dream, to laugh, to sing, to play, to produce art and to be merry.

Maybe that is what life is all about? Maybe life is a journey without destination. The only certainty about life’s destination is death. So why hurry? Why go so fast? Why not go through the road of life ambling, enjoy the sceneries, behold the flowers, befriend the fellow travelers, joke with them, have fun and give a hand to those who are tired and limping and make their journey pleasant too?

Yes, most of the things we were told are proven to be lies. Every day we discover new things and realize what we knew before was a lie. Up and down, east and west, truth and falsehood, good and bad, are all illusions. Your up is down to someone else. Your east is west to another person, your truth is falsehood to your neighbor and what is good for you can be bad for the next guy. But there is one thing that is not an illusion and that is the fact that we exist. You and I are real.

Descartes concluded that if he can think, he must exist. But we also exist because we love. Love is real and if we can love, it follows that we exist.

Doubt is good. Doubt everything and particularly the commonly held truths. Doubt your senses, doubt your beliefs, doubt science and doubt even God. But there are some things that are beyond doubt. You cannot doubt love.

If you have ever loved you know that love is real – just like thought. Thoughts are real, even though their content may not be. Love is real too, even though its object may not be.

You feel alive when you love. Love is what makes life meaningful. It encompasses everyone and everything. The object of your love can be real, like people; lofty, like knowledge and service to humanity; mundane, like power, fame and wealth; or  imagined, like God and religion. It is not the object of love that matters; it is its exercise that makes you feel alive.

To make life meaningful you have to find the love of your life.

One of the most inspiring lives is that of Professor Steven Hawking. He is a theoretical physicist known for his contributions to the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity, especially in the context of black holes. He has also achieved success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general; these include the runaway best seller A Brief History of Time, which stayed on the British Sunday Times  bestsellers list for a record-breaking 237 weeks. Hawking was a professor of mathematics for thirty years. He retired on October 1, 2009.

Professor Hawking has a neuromuscular dystrophy – a condition that has progressed over the years and has left him almost completely paralyzed.

But Hawking loves life. Why? Because he is passionate about his work! His mind is busy decoding the mysteries of the universe. Consequently, he has no time to dwell on his infirmity. He is not just happy, he is productive and he is perhaps the greatest mind alive.

And yet, there are so many healthy bodied people who find no meaning in life, give in to depression and despair, and often at a young age, end their lives.

What sets Hawking apart? What makes a man condemned to wheelchair that needs assistance for everything including for his bodily functions; that cannot use even his vocal cords to speak and communicates through a voice simulator, so alive? And why some healthy people are so worn out and so depleted of life?

The difference is in love. Hawking has a great love in his life. He loves knowledge. He is passionate about learning and discovering the secrets of the universe. This is what makes life meaningful for him. He wants to live in order to discover and to share his findings with others.

Hawking lives for and thanks to his passion. But he is not an exception. Everyone can find his or her passion and feel the same vitality and zest for life.

Love is the elixir of life. The secret of happiness is that you find the love of your life. “Find your own Calcutta,” as Mother Teresa responded to a woman who wanted to join her in ministering to one of India’s most crowded cities.

In the road of life, there are thorns and thistles. There are cliffs and precipices. There are hardships to overcome. And at times, the journey can become tiresome. But there are also flowers that grow alongside the road. There are beautiful sceneries to see, interesting people to meet and good companions to cherish. The journey can become joyous when you walk in good company, and when you are surrounded by people that you love and who love you. It is also joyous when you have a purpose to live for.

We are in this road without asking to be here. We don’t know wherefrom we come and whither we go. Since there is no way of knowing, there is no point in asking. It is also foolhardy to believe in fantastic tales of religions whose own origins and credibility are dubious, and whose outlandish claims are unproven.

Maybe there is nothing but the road! Maybe the journey is all there is. We know that the journey is real. Its origin and destination may not be. So what is the rush? Why to overrun others? Where do you think you are going so fast? What if the road of life is nowhere? Why inflict so much pain to ourselves and to others for nothing or for a fantasy? Why not enjoy the journey instead and make it pleasant for our fellow travelers too?

Each one of us can find the love of our life – something that excites us and kindles our passion, that makes us feel alive, and gives purpose to our existence.

The purpose of life is in living it, not in ending it. Those who tell you otherwise are charlatans and liars. These conmen promised an afterlife and disdained the one we have. They eulogized death and disparaged life. They said this life is a testing ground. No! This life is the living ground. What test? Test of blind faith? Test of stupidity? Everything they said is proven to be a lie. Their understanding of the physical world is shown to be bogus. If they were so ignorant of this world, why should we believe in what they said about the next?

The difference between great people and losers is not in their talents or their intellects, but in their loves. Great people are great lovers. It is the greatness of their love, their passion and their dedication that makes them great. Not only these people live a life full of joy, they spread joy, and they leave joy behind.

Yes great people die too. But their lives are not pointless. They are immortalized in what they leave behind.

Sure, not all women want the nice guy, but many do. Education won’t necessarily make your life any better, but it improves the odds drastically. Good does not always conquer evil, but evil prevails when good people do nothing. Life becomes a pain if you have nothing to live for. If you find the love of your life, ‘your own Calcutta,’ life can be full of joy.

Life is what you want it to be. You are the architect of your destiny, the designer of your own life. It is up to you to find the point of your life and give it meaning. Find your Calcuta and experience a life full of joy.

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