Were Human Beings and Jinns Created to Worship Allah or to be Sent to the Hellfire?
Brief description of the dubiety
In verse 56 of Surah al-Dhariyat, it says that the purpose of man and jinn’s creation is to worship Allah, while verse 179 of Surah al-Araaf says that the majority of the jinn and human beings were created so that they could be sent to the hellfire. These two verses appear to be contradicting one another with regards to the purpose of why mankind and jinn were created.
Detailed description of the dubiety
Verse that suggests that the philosophy of creation is to worship
Verse 56 of Surah al-Dhariyat says: “I did not create the jinn and the humans except to worship Me.”
In this verse, Allah defines that the purpose of the creation of jinn and man is for the sole purpose of worshipping Him
Verse that suggests that the philosophy of creation is to be sent to hell
Verse 179 of Surah al-Araaf says: “Certainly We have created for hell many of the jinn and humans: they have hearts with which they do not understand, they have eyes with which they do not see, they have ears with which they do not hear. They are like cattle; rather they are more astray. It is they who are the heedless.”
In this verse, Allah outlines that the purpose of the creation of most of the jinn and human beings is to be sent to the hellfire.
One verse explicitly mentions that the reason for which Allah created humans and jinn to for His worship. In another verse it clearly says that the purpose of creating most jinn and humans is so that they can be sent to the hellfire. These two things are irreconcilable and appear to be contradictory to one another.
A summarized response
The preposition “for” in the Arabic language can be used for various meanings. At times it is used to imply “a purpose,” while on other occasions it can imply “the fate or conclusion of something.” The preposition “for” in the verse of Surah al-Dhariyat is mentioning the purpose of why humans and jinn were created. However, in the verse of Surah al-Araaf the “for” is mentioning the fate of creating humans and jinn, meaning that since many of them will not accept the guidance, the end result of them will be to enter the hellfire. Therefore, there is no contradiction between these two verses, because they are not both speaking about the reason why mankind and jinn were created.
A detailed response
Cases where “for” is used in Arabic
The preposition “for” in the Arabic language has various usages, and in the books of Arabic grammar these have been alluded to. Each of these usages have a specific meaning. In this introduction, two meanings of “for” will be expounded upon, citing the work Mughni al-Labib – which is one of the earliest and most reliable works on the Arabic grammar – so that they can be used to help explain the answer to the query mentioned above.
Use of “for” to mean purpose and goal
In this usage, the phrase which comes after the preposition “for” describes the end purpose and goal of an act which specifically appears in the sentence. This is the most popular use for the preposition “for” in the Arabic language. For example, one of the many verses in the Quran where this preposition is used in this meaning is verse 44 of Surah al-Nahl where it says: “We have sent down the reminder to you so that you may clarify it for the people.”
In this verse, the preposition “for” has been used to describe the purpose and reason for why the Quran was sent down to the Prophet. 
Use of “for” to describe the result and fate of actions
In this usage, that phrase which comes after the preposition “for” describes the end result of an action. For example, in poetry from the era of Ignorance, it used to be said: ‘The houses were made for destruction.’ It is clear that the constructor of the houses did not make them to be demolished and destroyed, but the eventual result of the houses somewhere down the line would be that they would turn into ruins. Therefore, the preposition “for” in the phrase “for destruction” is a reference to what will be the eventual result of what was being discussed, but it is not in relation to the purpose of it.
The Quran also makes use of the preposition “for” in this meaning on various occasions. Verse 8 of Surah al-Qasas uses it to convey this meaning of describing the result and fate of actions. This verse refers to the story of Prophet Musa when he was a baby in the casket and was being taken from the river by Firawn’s kinsmen. The verse says: “Then Firawn’s kinsmen picked him up for he might be to them an enemy and a cause of grief. Indeed Firawn and Haman and their hosts were iniquitous.”
In the phrase “for he might be to them an enemy” the preposition “for” is referring to the end result of the actions of Firawn’s kinsmen. The final outcome of taking Prophet Musa from the water was that the Prophet became the source of Firawn’s enmity and depression. It is clear that the reason why that tyrant asked for Musa to be taken out of the water was not so that he becomes his enemy or that he brings problems for him. Therefore, the preposition “for” in this verse was describing the eventual fate of Firawn’s actions, not the purpose of his actions. Other verses with this meaning also occur in the Quran, but this paper will suffice with just this example. 
After these two preliminaries, we will analyze the preposition “for” in the verses in question above.
“For” in verse 179 of Surah al-Araaf is mentioning the fate of most humans and jinn
As per the logic of the Quran, it is clear that Allah created human beings so that they are guided and live their lives according to the revealed guidance. For example, in verse 9 of Surah al-Hadid, Allah mentions that guidance was sent down to people so that they can be brought out from darknesses into the light. The verse says: “It is He who sends down manifest signs to His servant that He may bring you out of darknesses into the light, and indeed Allah is most kind and merciful to you.”
Yes, the Quran itself explicitly mentions that some people will not accept this guidance and will live their lives as misguided beings, while others will accept the guidance and thus will be given salvation. In verse 3 of Surah al-Insaan this has been mentioned explicitly. The verse says: “Indeed We have guided man to the way, be he grateful or ungrateful.”
In reality, Allah’s purpose was to ensure that everyone is guided and given salvation, but human beings themselves have free-will and through their own choices, some of them misuse their free-will and choose the path of misguidance.
Therefore, when taking all of the verses of the Quran into consideration, it is clear that this verse of Surah al-Araaf is not mentioning the purpose of why jinn and humans were created, rather it is only describing what the fate of many of them will be. The preposition “for” in the phrase “for hell” as mentioned in the verse is describing the fate of these creations, not the purpose of their creation. The continuation of the verse itself is reconcilable with this understanding, not with the interpretation of it being their purpose.
In the continuation of verse 179 of Surah al-Araaf, it says: “They have hearts with which they do not understand, they have eyes with which they do not see, they have ears with which they do not hear. They are like cattle; rather they are more astray. It is they who are the heedless.”
This part of the verse shows that despite them having the tools to accept the guidance, they were heedless and did not make use of these tools appropriately. Despite having an intellect, eyes, and ears, they chose the path of misguidance for themselves. Therefore in the continuation of this verse it explains why many of them will end up in hellfire. The beginning of verse 179 of this Surah is not saying that the reason why the jinn and humans were created was so that they could be sent to hell, rather it is stating that this is what the fate of most of them will be due to their actions and deeds in the world.
No contradiction between the two verses due to the different meanings of “for”
After clarifying the meaning of the entire verse 170 of Surah al-Araaf, it becomes clear that it has no contradiction with verse 56 of Surah al-Dhariyat. This is because one verse is describing the purpose of creation in Surah al-Dhariyat, and the other verse in Surah al-Araaf is describing the fate of this creation. The claim of contradiction would have been valid if both of the verses were referring to the purpose of creation as two different reasons, but in this case one of the verses is not speaking about that at all. 
- Mughni al-Labib an Kitab al-Aarib, Volume 1, Page 229
- Ibid., Page 235
- Tafsir Majma al-Bayan, Volume 4, Page 773