Lately I’ve been thinking about the creation of the inanimate parts of the universe (which as we all know is quite the majority of it). Allah (praise Him) made us to serve Him, but why did He make things that aren’t sentient and lack the power of choice, and therefore cannot decide to serve anyone? A lot of the inanimate matter of the observable universe seems to be here at least partially to let humans and djinn see how majestic their Creator must be, yet there’s so much that we (and presumably no life forms) will ever get to observe. Is that part and parcel? Obviously it’s not all here for us, though, is it? I’ve been passing it off in my mind as God being somewhat of an artist and therefore with something we may compare remotely to a creative impulse. Does that work? Are there any ahadith on the subject?
It is important to remember that what our human minds perceive is very limited. What we may understand to be inanimate objects that we can never fathom having any sort of “choice” or “say” do actually have a function. Our perception of a rock is that it has no will or faculty whatsoever. But what if that were not true? What if on a much different level – one way beyond the scope of our perception – these “inanimate” objects do have something that we cannot understand. Whether it is their energy or whatever else only their Creator would actually know. Thus, we have remember our limitations and try not to project our function and human person on other things and expect them to live up to it. Another significant point is that to “serve” in the context of our religion is multifaceted and varied in the ways it is carried out. For instance, the sun radiates and functions as it does and we reap its benefits. The point is that radiance is what it does to serve God. Now apply this to as many things as you can think of and it may open up a lot of ideas. Whether you consider the moon, stars, water, earth or whatever they all have their function…and they all serve. In fact, the Qur’an mentions such things that are beyond our mental grasp:
The sun and the moon [move] by precise calculation, And the stars and trees prostrate. – Al Rahman 55:5-6
How do they prostrate? Of course, no one truly knows but the concept is that of servitude. Everything is within the will power of the Almighty. In another example of how the universe around us functions beyond our perception the Qur’an makes mention an important interaction:
Indeed, we offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, and they declined to bear it and feared it; but man [undertook to] bear it. Indeed, he was unjust and ignorant. Al Ahzab 33:72
Whether existence is here just for us is a question that cannot really be answered because it delves into the area of God’s design. We may have some ideas about the plan but we do not know details or even the overall picture of it. Nevertheless, as you pointed out the universe is a magnificent and what a waste of our existence it would be if we did not take the opportunity to truly appreciate it.
The attribute of creativity is not merely to create but that on the whole there omniscient knowledge behind it. It is not like the artist who paints to express himself and then enjoy his works, or that of the musician and so forth. There is a deeper and more profound element to the “creativity” of God than I can possibly explain, much less know. So the creative attribute is not one that merely expresses itself without all the other attributes in play.
I hope this helps.
God knows best.