What is the purpose of life? Why are we here and what’s the point of it all?
This is an age-old question, regardless of race, religion or background. In generations gone by, many would turn to faith, to tradition, to spirituality to understand their place in the world.
In our increasingly scientific, secular and perhaps nihilistic age, there is perhaps more despair than ever and less turning to those original sources for guidance. There are now more and more young people who are lost, lethargic and confused, who are desperately seeking answers to what helps everything make sense.
As a second-generation Muslim growing up in the West, having had the traditional university education and the subsequent corporate career that often comes afterwards, I had this dilemma myself and have since been researching this topic for almost a decade. I have also interviewed and surveyed many young Muslims who admit they have no idea of their purpose, beyond the traditional answer given in the Quran which is ‘to worship God’. What does that even mean, to today’s lost soul?
The KNOW Your Purpose Program is our response to solving one of the core crises of the modern age, with a view to championing, inspiring and activating young Muslims in particular to become more purpose-driven, to be curious, to critically think and to do impactful work that they love, are good at and that the world needs more of.
This initiative seeks to dive deep and finally answer the questions about our purpose of life through looking trends, analyses, patterns and precedents from both Western and Islamic sources and to synthesise and put them together into contemporary frameworks and mental models that anyone can apply, today to understand:
i) their purpose as humans
ii) themselves, deeply,
iii) their personal mission in life,
iv) how to work towards it and make it a reality
The core objective is by helping young people to discover their purpose; we can awaken their spirit, align their goals and actualize their true potential, insha’allah.
Sounds like a big promise. How exactly does this project do each of those things?
To explain each of the elements further:
At the base level, there has been deep research undertaken and gathered to put together the core frameworks and methodology at each stage of the journey for the individual.
- KNOW Your Purpose — this stage covers the overall human (macro) purpose through helping people understand our origin story, gather meaning behind why we have been placed on this Earth, provide context for why we are told to do the things we do and why sometimes bad things may happen to us as part of the journey.
2. KNOW Your Potential — this stage covers the discovery process of the individual. A deep dive into yourself and extracting various data points, such as personality types, heritage, temperaments, passions, abilities, experiences etc — so you can find clues as to your personal mission.
3. KNOW Your Path — this stage allows you to fuse together your understanding from stages 1 and 2, to begin to figure out your own personal purpose, your mission in life and why God has placed you on this Earth. This stage has multiple activities, scenarios, role plays so you can ensure you are truly aligned with what the fitrah really wants.
4. KNOW Your Process — this stage allows the individual to thread everything together into an action plan, so you can begin to self-actualise and make this purpose-driven life a reality.
All of this has been put together with looking at the Quran, the Hadith, the Seerah and extensive research of over 70 books. It has also been done through the lens of looking at four key (modern) icons of Islam who represented each of the stages of growth of the human in the purpose context.
These are: Malcolm X, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Rumi and Al-Ghazali.
The online program is an action-oriented transformational training program that takes people who are lost and lethargic and desperately requiring change, through a focused and intense series of content and activities, aimed at hand-holding them throughout the process of discovering themselves, their purpose and the new direction more aligned with who they really are.
Finding one’s purpose can be a lifelong pursuit that spans decades. The idea is that this program fast-tracks and accelerates that process and turns decades into days.
What are the benefits of understanding one’s purpose, anyway?
As part of putting this project together, we interviewed and surveyed over 50 young Muslims. Over 90% of them said they had an issue with understanding their purpose, and were struggling with motivation, clarity and meaning. There is a clear problem that an ever-changing (and uncertain) world is having on people, whose mere job is not enough to give the sense of identity and purpose that perhaps was sufficient in the past.
A recent BBC article stated that millennials and Gen-Z are 59% more likely than any other generation to experience burnout. Too much time on screens, coupled with an overabundance of information and a severe disconnect towards a higher purpose is leaving them withdrawn, lethargic and lacking hope. This contributes towards why we are seeing more and more meaningless and destructive activity prevalent amongst the young; over-sexualised hook-up culture, binge-watching Netflix, binge eating and overconsumption of pretty much every dopamine hit that can be found.
As Viktor Frankl once said “When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.”
I think it is clear to see in our society today, there is an epidemic concerning a lack of purpose.
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf once said, “without teaching people purpose and meaning, you create monsters.”
What purpose is supposed to teach us, is how to navigate our way in the world and become a successful human being. As we get more and more surrounded by extreme ideologies, having a sense of purpose is a grounding, centring force. It keeps you accountable, keeps you focused on the big picture and gives you a sense of urgency and legacy. Above all, our decision-making, when made through the lens of purpose are vastly improved.
Why did you choose to create something like this?
KNOW are an education and training company, aimed at helping Muslims to embrace lifelong learning, find their purpose and fulfil their potential, whilst having a massive impact on the world.
The entire KNOW Your Purpose project is actually a strategic initiative, intended to inspire a paradigm shift amongst Muslims, to dare to dream big, to aspire for greatness, to be connected on an individual level to discover who they really are, versus who society expects them to be, and to then use that passion and momentum to go and achieve great things in the world.
Much of our inspiration came from the Islamic Golden Age, and when studying what made those scholars and scientists of the past so successful and impactful, one of the critical factors was they had an extremely strong sense of purpose, which then drove them to excellence in all that they did.
It is with this in mind that we have as our company vision — a world experiencing a second Golden Age of Islam, where Muslims are leading the way in innovation, intellect and impact.
Reintroducing and reconnecting both young people and old to their God-given purpose has the ability to galvanise and to revitalise not only a community that has been somewhat disillusioned but also one which has extremely high potential. If we can reactivate the desire to live by one’s purpose, the sky really is the limit in terms of the impact that can be made.
What makes you credible to be able to teach this subject?
KNOW have actually been around for ten years. Since our first event in 2012, we have been committed to elevating human potential. In that time, we have worked with and been taught by a wide array of scholars and experts.
I myself have been researching this area for almost ten years, as it’s been a personal issue for me. I bounced from one career to another, from a lawyer to a buyer to a project manager to a data analyst (with a lot of entrepreneurial ventures in between) in pursuit of purpose. I now write on the subject on my blog.
The purpose frameworks themselves have been trialled in a pilot in December 2021, to excellent feedback. They are something that have been put together painstakingly but can really help someone fast-track to success.
We have had a long history in producing thought-provoking, paradigm-shifting content, we have produced hundreds of videos, articles and even a high-quality documentary over the past few years.
We have a strong and passionate team of volunteers, including researchers, marketers, video editors, scientists and coaches.
What do others say?
Here are a few comments from people that have gone or are going through the program:
“Do I recommend the program? Absolutely yes, since it broadens your understanding about who you are, and how to fit in this world, aligned with Allah’s commands. May Allah reward this beautiful and truly needed effort with nothing but Jannah. Ameen!” Egzon, Italy
“It’s extremely well put together, it’s full of incredible jewels that help you think a lot and gain knowledge across different perspectives. It’s put together in an easy way with exciting exercises to discover for yourself how you perceive things, what motivates you and what holds you back, even. It’s very revealing, incredibly insightful, incredibly perceptive, thought-provoking, refreshing and stimulating. I’m finding it so uplifting, it’s allowing me to look at things that I thought I already knew with refreshed, renewed vigour. It’s wonderful to know I’m part of something that can really help people improve their lives, their wellbeing and enjoy the journey of getting closer to Allah and improving their akhirah even more. I wholeheartedly recommend it!” Fozia, London
So, in summary, you’re saying…
In particular, the entire Know Your Purpose journey looks at man’s place in the cosmos, from beginning to end, the macro and the micro, looks holistically at what has been said about it in the past, breaks it all down and builds it back up using first principles thinking. This has specifically been designed so that it can take anyone who is keen to understand themselves better, and put them through a process of transformation where they understand themselves, their environment, their mission and journey, in relation to God. It takes principles from biomimicry, philosophy, history, science and medicine to help understand our greatest desire as humans — what does it take to actually fulfil the talent and potential we have been given?
I am yet to find anything in the Islamic world created on this subject in a modern yet substantial way.