Allah Ta‘ala states in the Quraan Shareef:
وَلَقَدْ کَرَّمْنَا بَنِی اٰدَمَ
“Indeed We have honoured mankind”
Compared to the rest of the creation, man is unique in every aspect. Man has been created with a balance. He is a combination of bestial qualities as well as angelic qualities. However, in this entire equation, what is the purpose of man on earth? Every creation of Allah Ta‘ala remembers Him. Allah Ta‘ala says:
وَ اِن مِّن شَیءٍ اِلَّا یُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِہ
“There isn’t a thing that does not make the tasbeeh of Allah Ta‘ala”
This is one aspect that the various creations are engaged in the zikr of Allah Ta‘ala. But Allah Ta‘ala has specifically mentioned regarding man that he has been created for His ‘ibaadat.
To understand what ‘ibaadat means, understand the following analogy: There are two types of workers. One is the person who has been contracted for a specific work, such as an accountant who has been hired for his services. If you tell him to manage a shop for you or to cook a meal he will refuse because he has not been trained for this. The other type of a worker is like a slave. Whatever work he is asked to do, he will do it, whether to serve your guests, or to clean the toilets, or to run your business. This is the position of man, and therefore he has been exalted above the rest of the creation because he has been made in charge of handling all the affairs of the entire creation for Allah Ta‘ala. This is what is meant by the worship and service of Allah Ta‘ala; that man will be acting as a representative of Allah Ta‘ala in fulfilling His commandments on earth. Therefore, man cannot be selective and choose what he wants to do.