LIFE IN THE SOCIETY OF IGNORANCE
In the earlier sections, we mentioned that the main
difference between believers and disbelievers is the formers' awareness
of Allah's infinite might. We also talked about how a believer,
who is aware of Allah's existence, must and does orient his entire
life to earn the approval of Allah.
One of the most significant characteristics of someone
who can appreciate Allah's might and thus reorients all his deeds
to earn Allah's blessing, is his liberating himself from all beings
other than Allah. Having his life focused on earning His approval
and being a servant to Him, he develops a different outlook on the
universe, which he knows is created and controlled by Allah. Since
he considers Allah as the only deity, the false deities surrounding
him lose their meaning.
In the Qur'an, this subject is stressed in the story
of the Prophet Ibrahim (as) as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad
...He was a saintly man and a Prophet. Remember
when he said to his father, "Father, why do you worship what can
neither hear nor see and is not of any use to you at all?" (Surah
Since a believer seeks the pleasure of Allah alone,
prays to Him, and beseeches only Him, he has become "independent"
of all created beings. He does not feel the need to seek other people's
pleasure, and does not pin his hopes on anyone other than Allah.
The attainment of true freedom is, in fact, possible only through
having a full grasp of this fact and turning towards Allah.
The lives of those lacking true faith, unlike those
of the believers, are subservient to countless false deities. Such
people devote their entire lives to gaining the approval of countless
people, and when they seek help, it is from other people. In reality,
however, the creatures a disbeliever idolises in his mind are nothing
but weak "servants," just like himself. Indeed, these beings are
far from fulfilling his desires, much less saving him. Death is,
no doubt, the most obvious fact, revealing that these idolised beings
can by no means be of any help. However, it would be too late to
wait for death to grasp the imaginary nature of these deities.
The deadlock these people face is related in
the Qur'an as follows:
They have taken [other] gods besides Allah [Alone],
hoping that they may be helped. They cannot help them, even though
they are an army mobilised in their support. (Surah Ya Sin: 74-75)
Disbelievers base their entire lives on this very distorted
rationale. There emerges from this another important difference
between believers and disbelievers: Believers adopt the criteria
laid down by Allah as their only guidance. They observe the commands
of the Qur'an, the just Book and the Sunnah of the Prophet (saas).
Their religion is Islam, which is explained in detail in the Qur'an
and is presented to us through the exemplary of the life of the
People who lead their lives in a state oblivious of
Allah will surely accept the criteria laid down by the imaginary
deities rather than the criteria set forth by Allah. Unlike Islam,
the one and immutable law of Allah, theirs is a polytheistic religion.
These people have various conflicting rules and goals imposed by
society. This being the case, the polytheistic religions they abide
by take various forms.
Some of them aim at money and power, while others desire
a prestigious and influential status. Some aspire to find a "good
spouse" and have a "happy family life." This diversity that engenders
different life styles and accordingly different "religions" is,
in fact, based on the failure to grasp Allah's existence and His
However, man is, by nature, inclined to trust Allah
and be a servant to Him. Unable to fulfil his infinite needs and
desires by himself, by nature, he tends to turn to Allah alone.
Accordingly, the nature of man is inclined to recognise Allah as
So, as a pure and natural believer, set your face
firmly towards the faith, Allah's natural pattern on which He made
mankind. There is no changing Allah's creation. That is the true
faith-but most people do not know it. (Surat ar-Rum: 30)
A sincere believer, who is not seized by the evil desires
of his soul but who has faith in Allah, learns how to conduct himself
throughout his life from the book revealed by Allah, and follows
the prophets as his role models. The life of a believer is entirely
different from that of a disbeliever. This aside, from the Qur'an
and the sunnah of the Prophet (saas) a believer learns the facts
of which disbelievers are utterly unaware. For example, Allah has
given the glad tidings that for whoever observes his duty to Allah,
He will provide a means of salvation:
… Whoever goes in fear of Allah-He will give him
a way out and provide for him from where he does not expect. Allah
is all-sufficient for one who puts his trust in Him. Allah always
achieves His aim. Allah has set a measure for all things. (Surat
A believer who duly acknowledges the power of Allah
will dedicate his life to Him, because he knows that Allah will
be enough for "whoever puts his trust in Him." This is expressed
in the following Quranic verse:
He (Ya'qub) said, "My sons!… in no way can I save
you from the might of Allah, for judgement comes from no one but
Allah. In Him I put my trust, and in Him alone let the faithful
put their trust." (Surah Yusuf: 67)
A believer who grasps this fact will see that his duty
in this world is solely to fulfil Allah's commands. This is his
duty and his "profession." He is merely responsible for striving
in the way of Allah. He asks Allah for everything, because it is
Allah Who gives everything to him. Man's purpose of creation is
thus recorded in the Qur'an:
I only created jinn and man to worship Me. I do
not require any provision from them and I do not require them to
nourish Me. Truly Allah, He is the Provider, the Possessor of Strength,
the Sure. (Surat adh-Dhariyat: 56-58)
Consequently, it is unlikely that a believer, who displays
the morals praised in the Qur'an, can have "fear of the future"
in his heart. This fear is peculiar to those who perceive life as
a struggle among millions of independent false deities. Unaware
that all events take place under Allah's control, in compliance
with destiny, they assume that they need to put up a struggle to
survive. They believe that they will benefit by "stepping on others"
and "abusing them" to achieve their own ends and satisfy their personal
interests. Indeed, their thinking matches what they receive…
Said Nursi explains how man fails to understand that
his real duty is to be a servant to Allah and adds:
"… They unwisely concluded that life is a struggle."
This rationale, subscribed to by those who do not live
according to the values of the Qur'an, is one of the fundamental
tenets of their religion. It is due to the rationale in question
that these people always suffer feelings of distress and tension:
- The majority of these people, unlike believers, are
selfish, self-seeking people whose only concern is to benefit themselves.
- They lack the delicate disposition that develops
with self-sacrifice. Their love is based on gaining advantage; they
love a person not because of his good values or attributes but because
it is in their interest to love him.
- Those whom they consider to be their loved ones,
too, approach them with the same rationale, which creates a relationship
bereft of loyalty. They always feel concerned about the potential
unfaithfulness of their partners, since they know that at any time
they may find others who are wealthier or more beautiful…
- They are consumed by jealousy, a trait that prevents
them from taking pleasure in beauties and blessings. For example,
instead of taking pleasure in someone's beauty and saying "How beautifully
Allah has created him or her," they feel restless and ask, "Why
am I not as good looking and beautiful as him or her?"
- They do not feel grateful to Allah or are not contented
with their blessings. With such a disposition, they always want
to possess more. This insatiable desire becomes a constant source
- Unable to accept their feebleness and weaknesses,
they do not ask for help from Allah. They assume they will get rid
of their weaknesses if they turn away from Allah haughtily without
asking Him for help. However, this is not the way to get rid of
their weaknesses. At this time too, they turn to others and pin
their hopes on them. Yet those they turn to are also weak individuals
who only think about their own benefit. Moreover, they are far from
being merciful and compassionate. This being the case, they often
feel "depressed," and lose their spirit through a failure to satisfy
- They lack forgiveness and tolerance. For this reason,
even a minor disagreement among them is likely to develop into a
clash or conflict. Most of the time, each party makes it a matter
of pride to refuse to accept being the one in the wrong. For this
reason, they often feel distressed.
- They do not believe that they live in a world under
Allah's protection and control, but rather in a ruthless jungle
where they have to "defeat" others to survive. According to their
misguided idea, they assume they have to develop a tough, aggressive
and egoist character to be able to survive in this "jungle." Indeed,
their attitude matches what they encounter. They are either, as
the society of ignorance calls it, swallowed up, as in the example
of the "small fish," or they grow into a "big and cruel" fish and
These laws apply to almost all societies where people
do not experience true faith, and behave according to the mistaken
morality described above. The Qur'an calls these societies "ignorant
and behavent," because they are entirely unaware of Allah and the
The Qur'an tells us that the Prophet Musa (as) described
the sons of Israel, a tribe that never exercised wisdom or submitted
themselves to Allah, as ignorant:
We led the tribe of Israel across the sea and they
came upon some people who were devoting themselves to some idols
which they had. They said, "Musa, give us a god just as these people
have gods." He said, "You are indeed an ignorant people.
What these people are doing is destined for destruction.
What they are doing is purposeless." He said, "Should I seek something
other than Allah as a deity for you when He has favoured you over
all other beings?" (Surat al-A'raf: 138-140)
However, as mentioned earlier, "the society of ignorance"
is not of a uniform nature. Though generally called "ignorant,"
there may be different sections in a given society, all displaying
varying characteristics. The society is commonly segmented according
to the degree they have attained the criteria-economic power being
the foremost-set by the society itself.
The Criterion by which to Appraise People in the
Society of "Ignorance"
Muslims take "taqwa" (awe or fear of Allah which inspires
the individual to be on guard against wrong actions and eager for
ones which please Him) as the only criterion by which to appraise
people. As the Prophet (saas) said, they know that "the most perfect
man in his faith among the believers is the one whose behaviour
is most excellent." (Tirmidhi) In ignorant societies, however, which
are made up of people with no faith, "money" is considered the main
criterion by which to form an opinion of others:
This being the case, many distorted rationales appear
in ignorant societies:
- A rich person, albeit indecent and corrupted, is
- Due to this rule laid down by society, one who is
"rich but indecent" believes himself actually to be an "estimable"
- Because society attaches so much importance to "money,"
the poor lack self-confidence. This attitude of the poor becomes
most obvious when they are among the rich. A poor person may well
recognise that he is superior to the rich man next to him because
the latter is depraved. However, under the influence of ideas instilled
by society, he is unable to overcome his feelings of inadequacy.
- In the society of ignorance, where the possession
of "money" is a highly estimable criterion, moral degeneration prevails.
Such corruption appears in various forms, such as bribery, abuse
of authority or forgery, and is almost totally incorporated into
daily life. Since the successful amassing of money is the most important
value, all methods rendering the making of money possible, no matter
how immoral and unjust they may be, are legitimised.
The story of Qarun in the Qur'an best describes
the "money-oriented" stance of the society of ignorance:
Qarun was one of the people of Musa but he lorded
it over them. We gave him such treasures that their very keys would
have been too heavy a weight for a band of strong men. When his
people said to him, "Do not gloat. Allah does not love people who
gloat. Seek the abode of the hereafter with what Allah has given
you, without forgetting your share in this world. And do good as
Allah has been good to you. And do not seek to cause corruption
in the land. Allah does not love corrupters." he said: "I have only
been given these riches because of the knowledge I have." Did he
not know that before him Allah had destroyed generations with far
greater strength than his and far more possessions? The evil-doers
will not be questioned about their sins. He went out among his people
in all his finery. Those who desired the life of the world said:
"Oh! If only we had the same as Qarun has been given! What immense
good fortune he possesses." But those who had been given knowledge
said: "Woe to you! Allah's reward is better for those who have faith
and act rightly. But only the steadfast will attain it." We caused
the earth to swallow up both him and his house. There was no group
to come to his aid, besides Allah, nor was he able to defend himself.
Those who had longed to take his place the day before began to say:
"Allah gives abundantly to whom He will, and sparingly to whom He
pleases. If Allah had not shown great kindness to us, we would have
been swallowed up as well. Ah! Truly the disbelievers are not successful."
As for the abode of the hereafter, We shall grant it to those who
do not seek to exalt themselves in this world or to cause corruption
in it. The successful outcome is for those who fear Allah. (Surat
As can be understood from the verses, Qarun and those
who envied him were representative of a typical society of ignorance.
They failed to comprehend that Allah is the owner of everything
and that Allah bestows possessions upon whoever He wishes. Qarun
thought that the wealth he possessed had been given to him because
of his superiority. But this was not so.
- Because Allah creates every being, He is the real
owner of everything. In this sense, one who owns something may be
considered as a "trustee," temporarily taking care of a possession
which actually belongs to Allah.
- Blessings bestowed upon people are given to them
not because they are superior or because they possess something
important. These blessings are given to man as a favour or as a
trial. What is expected of him in return is not to grow "arrogant"
but to be "grateful" to Allah. If one fails to understand this,
the property he owns brings him neither happiness nor salvation
in this world and in the hereafter.
- Property is not given so that one can "hoard" it
and be parsimonious. Allah gives property to man so that he may
use it in Allah's way. The end of those who do otherwise is stated
in the Qur'an as follows:
Those who are miserly with the bounty Allah has
given them should not suppose that that is better for them. No indeed,
it is worse for them! What they were mean with will be hung around
their necks on the Day of Rising. Allah is the inheritor of the
heavens and the earth and Allah is aware of what you do. (Surah
Al 'Imran: 180)
- While spending the wealth bestowed upon him by Allah,
the individual must use it wisely to attain the approval of Allah,
without fearing the exhaustion of his resources. In the Qur'an,
Allah draws attention to this danger and reminds us that Satan threatens
man with "poverty" (Surat al-Baqara: 268) It is further stated that
Allah repays whatever is spent in His way. The relevant verse about
this issue is as follows:
Say: "My Lord gives abundantly to whom He wills
or sparingly to whom He pleases. But anything you expend will be
repaid by Him. He is the Best of Providers." (Surah Saba': 39)
The story of Qarun in fact reveals a general attribute
of the society of ignorance. A closer examination of the story reveals
that Qarun could actually be representative of a character in the
society of ignorance that embodies rich and prestigious people.
In the relevant verses, reference is also made to those
who envy Qarun. These people have the very same ignorant rationale
as Qarun and fail to understand that the real owner of property
is Allah. So, they attach great importance to Qarun and his wealth.
Those who can distance themselves from the inculcations
of society are the true believers:
- Because the criterion of believers was not money
but faith and because they knew all property belonged to Allah,
they realised that it was unwise to envy Qarun. Furthermore, they
understood that he was certainly in a pitiable position.
- Unlike the members of the society of ignorance, they
did not say: "Allah gives abundantly to whom He wills, or sparingly
to whom he pleases" after Qarun's death, but comprehended this fact
right at the beginning.
A similar situation is related in the story of "the
owners of the vineyards." The distinction between a man who is given
plenty of blessings and property, as is in the case of Qarun, and
a believer, who believes in Allah and observes his duty to Him,
is related in the Qur'an as follows:
Give them this parable. Once there were two men,
to one of whom We gave two gardens of grape-vines and surrounded
them with date-palms, putting between them some cultivated land.
Both gardens yielded their crops and did not suffer any loss, and
We made a river flow right through the middle of them. He was a
man of wealth and property and he said to his companion, which conversing
with him, "I have more wealth than you and my clan is mightier than
yours." He entered his garden and wronged himself by saying, "I
do not think that this will ever end. I do not think the Hour of
Doom will ever come. But if I should be sent back to my Lord, I
will definitely get something better in return." His companion,
with whom he was conversing, said to him, "Do you then disbelieve
in Him Who created you from dust, then from a drop of sperm, and
then formed you as a man? He is, however, Allah, my Lord, and I
will not associate anyone with my Lord. Why, when you entered your
garden, did you not say, "It is as Allah wills, there is no strength
but in Allah"? Though you see me with less wealth and children than
you possess, it may well be that my Lord will give me something
better than your garden and send down on it a fireball from the
sky so that morning finds it a shifting heap of dust, or morning
finds its water drained into the earth so that you cannot get at
The fruits of his labour were completely destroyed
and he woke up wringing his hands in grief, rueing everything that
he had spent on it. It was total ruin with all its trellises fallen
He said, "Oh, if only I had not associated anyone
with my Lord!" There was no group to come to his aid, besides Allah,
and he was unable to defend himself. In that situation the only
protection is from Allah, the Truth. He gives the best reward and
the best outcome. (Surat al-Kahf: 32-44)
The Leaders of the Societies in Which the Possession
of Money is the Criterion
In almost every story in the Qur'an, Allah mentions
a group of people to whom Muslims convey His message. However, instead
of reforming them, the communication of the true religion makes
these people grow arrogant and oppress believers. The Qur'an gives
an account of the attributes of this group of people that appear
in almost all stories of prophets.
In the Qur'an, this segment of society is defined
with phrases such as "arrogant chiefs of the people," "those who
led lives of ease," "those persisting in immense wrongdoing" and
"those who were unjustly proud in the land." Their common quality
is their employment of power and possessions to revolt against Allah
and to make mischief on earth. In the Qur'an, "the leaders" are
described in Surah Saba':
We never sent a warner into any city without the
affluent people in it saying, "We reject what you have been sent
with." They also said, "We have more wealth and children. We are
not going to be punished." (Surah Saba': 34-35)
- The "possessions and children" given to these people
added to their arrogance and denial of Allah:
The 'Ad were arrogant and unjust in the land, without
any right, saying, "Who has greater strength than us?" Did they
not see that Allah, Who created them, had greater strength than
them? But they renounced Our Signs. (Surah Fussilat: 15)
- This segment of society harbour a deep-seated enmity
against those who believe in Allah. Similarly, believers often receive
the strongest reaction from these people "who lead lives of ease."
These people, averse to submitting to Allah and using their possessions
in His way, nurture resentment and hatred of believers. Due to the
hatred they felt for believers, some of them even tried to "do away
The ruling circle of those of his people who were
arrogant said, "We will drive you out of our city, Shu'ayb, you
and those who believe along with you, unless you return to our religion."
He said, "What, even though we detest it?" (Surat al-A'raf: 88)
Examples of such people, who are extensively referred
to in the Qur'an, also exist in today's societies.
Once we consider the main qualities of "those who lead
lives of ease," as mentioned in the Qur'an, the subject becomes
self-explanatory, because there are striking parallels between the
qualities of "those who lead lives of ease" and of some members
of a certain segment of society who have adopted the values of the
ignorant. This segment of society is called "high society" almost
everywhere in the world
The life led by some of the members of this community
who enjoy a standard of living far above the average, is quite degenerate.(Of
course, there are those with good manners as well as those with
bad manners in this section of society). Parties extending from
private bars to homes, shows based on a crude understanding of entertainment,
young people ruined by drug-abuse, moral failings that irreparably
disqualify individuals from being decent and reliable, excessive
drinking, extravagant spending, etc., are presented as "natural"
in this unbridled social ambience… In this sense, in the guise of
the sophisticated concepts of modernism or freedom, all forms of
outrage, perversion and immorality are imposed upon people.
Some of the members of this community display all the
characteristics of the perverted societies mentioned in the Qur'an:
the homosexual practises of the people of Lut, cheating in measure,
weight and calculation-a trait peculiar to the people of Madyan
(Surah Hud: 84), mocking believers, as in the case of the people
of Nuh (Surah Hud: 38), exploitation of people's material wealth
by usury, as practised by the sons of Israel. (Surat an-Nisa': 161)
The members of this section of society, having no quality
other than their love of luxury, display a life of moral deficiency,
while average people can barely earn a living, although they work
hard and decently. These people who spend huge sums of money, far
above the salary of an average person, in a single night cause great
spiritual harm to society at large.
At this point, we need to recall that the Qur'an informs
us about the end of the "chiefs who lead their lives in ease," unless
they repent and are resolute in their renunciation of such a life:
But then when We seize the affluent among them
to punish them, they will suddenly start praying fervently We shall
say: "Do not pray fervently today. You will not receive any help
from Us. (Surat al-Mu'minun: 64-65)
Morals in the Society of Ignorance
The morality of believers described in the Qur'an is
based on fear of Allah and His approval. Since the members of the
society of "ignorance" do not establish their value judgments on
piety, their moral values are also distorted.
Since the society of "ignorance" is unaware of the
infinite power of Allah, its members base their moral understanding
on the criterion best expressed in the words: "What will people
think about it?" Such an understanding permits the commission of
morally unacceptable acts in an environment where no one hears or
witnesses them. Alternatively, this immoral understanding is legitimised
under a new title and form.
For instance, many people in the society of "ignorance"
consider adultery immoral. Some of the individuals who commit adultery
hardly dare to admit it. However, they generally do not avoid committing
it, provided that not a soul witnesses it.
It is possible to observe various forms of this conduct
in the lives of ignorant people.
The Desire to Live Forever
Say: "Death, from which you are fleeing, will certainly
catch up with you. Then you will be returned to the Knower of the
Unseen and the Visible and He will inform you about what you did."
(Surat al-Jumu'a: 8)
Unaware of the existence of Allah and the hereafter,
the members of the society of "ignorance" behave "as if they will
never die." In this society, death continues to be one of the words
that is never pronounced. While making plans, death is ignored outright.
They pile up fortunes as if the life of this world is perpetual.
Since these plans pertain entirely to this world, those who recall
death are labelled "killjoy."
This is one of the most evident indications of
the distorted rationale upon which ignorant unbelievers base their
lives. Since "every soul shall taste
death" (Surah Al 'Imran: 185), a life based
on feigning ignorance of death is surely established on a rotten
foundation. However, man must employ his intellect:
- Since he is granted the desire to live forever, he
must think why his life should be restricted to 60-70 years.
- He should recognise as an unwise rationale, the assumption
that avoidance of the thought of death is a way to keep death at
distance. This is behaving just like an ostrich with its head in
- He should grasp the fact that Allah, Who has shaped
him into a most perfect body out of a sperm, has the might to recreate
him and to give him a new life.
- Finally, he must keep in mind that Allah, Who promised
and asserted in hundreds of verses that He would recreate him after
death, will surely keep His promise.
All of the above will lead him to comprehend that death
is not a form of disappearance, but a transition to the hereafter.
- In this case, he may also understand that fear
of death is senseless. In fact, fear of death will not avail him;
death is inescapable. Everybody will die at a predestined time.
Those who fear death are warned in the Qur'an as follows:
…They are concealing things inside themselves which
they do not disclose to you, saying, "If we had only had a say in
the affair, none of us would have been killed here in this place."
Say, "Even if you had been inside your homes, those people for whom
killing was decreed would have gone out to their place of death."…
(Surah Al 'Imran: 154)
Death, which is a door to the hereafter, brings bliss
and salvation only to those who have spent their lives in compliance
with Allah's good pleasure. For those who turned away from Allah,
on the other hand, death means utter destruction and the beginning
of a horrible disaster. The Qur'an informs us that once death comes,
the regret felt by those who have forgotten Allah-as if they would
never die-will be of no avail:
There is no forgiveness for people who persist
in doing evil until death comes to them and who then say, "Now I
repent," nor for people who die disbelievers. We have prepared for
them a painful punishment. (Surat an-Nisa': 18)
When death comes to a wrongdoer, he says, "My Lord,
send me back again, so that perhaps I may act rightly regarding
the things I failed to do!" No indeed! It is just words he utters.
Before them there shall stand a barrier until the Day they are raised
up. (Surat al-Mu'minun: 99-100)
Everybody who has not devoted his life to Allah will
live to suffer this regret unless Allah wills otherwise.
Consider that life is too short, that there is a real
eternal life after the life of this world, and that one is entitled
to attain eternal life, provided that he earns the approval of Allah
in this world;
- We must concern ourselves with the real life,
due to begin after death, more than with the life of this world,
which is short and worthless next to the eternal abundance promised.
That is why, believers who conceive of this fact are of those whose
"sincerity has been purified through earnest
remembrance of the Abode." (Surah Sad: 46)
- It is senseless to be deceived by the insignificance
and deceptive allure of the world and become deeply attached to
it. Neither possessions, nor beauty, neither power, family, nor
fame can accompany a person to his grave. What is left in the grave
is only a body wrapped in a shroud, which undergoes a rapid process
of decay after burial.
- What will be taken to the hereafter are the good
deeds and acts of worship done to earn the approval of Allah. There,
the temporary blessings of this world (health, beauty, wealth and
so on) will, in their most perfect forms, be given back to man for
- One who fails to comprehend this fact and, remaining
niggardly avoids spending his wealth in Allah's way, eventually
ruins his eternal life in the hereafter and does harm to his own
Here you are then: people who are called upon to
spend in the Way of Allah and then some of you are ungenerous! But
whoever is ungenerous to the cause is ungenerous to himself. Allah
is Rich and you are poor. If you turn away, He will replace you
with a people other than yourselves and they will not be like you.
(Surah Muhammad: 38)
Those who fail to grasp this and become deeply attached
to this world strive to attain a so-called "immortality," for which
reason they desire to "leave something in this world by which people
may remember them." This desire appears in various forms:
- Some try to leave "works of art" behind, so
that "their name may live on." About this attitude, the Qur'an says:
Will you build a tower on every hilltop, just to
amuse yourselves, and construct great fortresses, hoping to live
for ever? (Surat ash-Shu'ara': 128-129)
- This rationale best expresses itself in the desire
to "raise children." Those who place no hope in the hereafter wish
to have children who will carry the family name into the future.
This is mainly the reason why families prefer sons.
It is stated in another verse that the desire to "have
children" is merely part of the temporal pomp of this world:
Know that the life of the world is merely a game
and a diversion, ostentation and a cause of boasting among yourselves
and trying to outdo one another in wealth and children: like the
plant-growth after rain which delights the cultivators, but then
it withers and you see it turning yellow, and then it becomes broken
stubble. In the hereafter there is terrible punishment but also
the forgiveness of Allah and His approval. The life of this world
is nothing but the enjoyment of delusion. (Surat al-Hadid: 20)
Of course, it is most agreeable for people to desire
to raise children with good morals. However, in the twisted system
of the society of ignorance, the cause of this desire is not to
please Allah but to satisfy their arrogance and to leave a permanent
mark behind them in this world.
However, when we refer to the Qur'an, we witness the
attitude of true believers; they ask for children from Allah only
if this is necessary for the pleasure of Allah. Most of the prophets
lived their lives without children since they did not have such
an opportunity during their time and age and only asked for children
from Allah when they grew too old and needed someone who would continue
to communicate the message of Allah and advocate His religion.
Therefore, "having children" is necessary only
if it complies with Allah's good pleasure. It is a great mistake
to do this simply out of an instinctive wish to "outdo one another"
and to continue their family names in the way that unbelievers do.
The Understanding of Religion in the Society of
Such people as are described above, who fail
to give Allah due appreciation and thus are "ignorant," have interpreted
religion in accordance with their distorted rationale and beliefs.
The resultant understanding of religion shows apparent deviations
from the original religion as set forth in the Qur'an. The Qur'an
defines the religion brought by the Prophet Muhammad (saas) as a
religion that "relieves people of their
heavy loads and the chains which were around them." (Surat al-A'raf:
157) and as the religion that "contains
no difficulties in it":
…He has selected you and not placed any constraint
upon you in the observance of your religion-the religion of your
forefather Ibrahim. In this, as in former scriptures he named you
Muslims… (Surat al-Hajj: 78)
In the Qur'an, Allah has summoned people to reflect
and, recognising the erroneous beliefs and methods they hold, to
turn to the lifestyle deemed to be appropriate by Allah.
The society of ignorance, however, feigning not to
see the explicit and comprehensible message of the Qur'an, has,
in the name of Islam, fabricated a religion bogged down in bigotry.
Some of the characteristics of this distorted religion are as follows:
- The religion introduced in the Qur'an summons people
to serve Allah alone and thus liberate themselves from the yoke
of all other beings. Accordingly, since he is not obliged to seek
other people's pleasure, man is only responsible for seeking Allah's
approval. The people of the society of ignorance, however, have
developed an understanding of religion not as a way to seek Allah's
pleasure and hence liberate themselves, but as a social institution.
This conceives of religion as a factor applying social pressure
to people. Owing to this perception, this false religion has lapsed
into a form, which is primarily concerned with "what people would
say,"-an understanding far removed from true religion.
- Having such misconceptions about religion,
the society of ignorance has to a great extent identified religion
with tradition. Local customs and beliefs and cultural factors have
been incorporated into the religion, and "being pious" has deteriorated
into "adherence to one's forefathers' customs." The religion brought
by the Qur'an and embodied in the exemplary life of the Prophet
(saas), however, bears no similarity whatsoever to these. In the
Qur'an, Allah commands man to take His limits and the sunnah of
the Prophet (saas) as a measure and nothing else. Throughout history,
the prophets had to struggle with those who attempted to deny the
truth by quoting the beliefs inherited from their forefathers. The
morality they displayed is indicated in the verse below:
When they are told, "Follow what Allah has sent
down to you," they say, "We are following what we found our fathers
doing." What, even though their fathers did not understand a thing
and were not guided! (Surat al-Baqara: 170)
The same theme is repeated in Surat al-Ma'ida: 104;
Surat al-An'am: 91; Surat al-A'raf: 28 and in many other verses
- The members of the society of ignorance, who perceive
religion as a social institution and identify it with traditions,
have in consequence distanced religion from rationality. However,
as the Qur'an informs us, being a Muslim entails being wise. Believers
are always summoned to think, to enquire and thus see the verses
of Allah. Faith and wisdom are interrelated; as a consequence of
exercising wisdom one attains faith, and faith grows ever more profound
as one continues to exercise wisdom. The society of ignorance, however,
believes faith to consist of "beliefs" alone. They perceive blind
adherence to traditional knowledge as faith, whereas wisdom is the
key to having a grasp of Allah's existence and His attributes. That
is why faith in Allah in the society of ignorance is of a rather
weak nature. In order not to shake this anti-Qura'anic, feeble faith,
they have developed an irrational stance which implies that, "pondering
too much over religious issues may be harmful to one's faith."
- This rationale, stemming from ignorance, sees no
harm in introducing new principles to religion and making unlawful
what is lawful.
The Qur'an frequently draws attention to this
"prohibitive" rationale that disturbs many people:
Say: "Who has forbidden the fine clothing Allah
has produced for His servants and the good kinds of provision?"
Say: "On the Day of Rising such things will be exclusively for those
who had faith during their life in the world." In this way We make
the Signs clear for people who know.
Say: "My Lord has forbidden indecency, both open
and hidden, and wrong action, and unrightful tyranny, and associating
anything with Allah for which He has sent down no authority, and
saying things about Allah you do not know." (Surat al-A'raf: 32-33)
What is the matter with you that you do not eat
that which has been consecrated in the name of Allah, when He has
made clear to you what He has made unlawful for you, except when
you are forced to eat it? Many people lead others astray through
their whims and desires unchecked by any knowledge. Your Lord knows
best those who overstep the limits. (Surat al-An'am: 119)
You who believe! Do not make unlawful the good
things Allah has made lawful for you, and do not overstep the limits.
Allah does not love people who overstep the limits. (Surat al-Ma'ida:
- As a result of this degeneration caused by the society
of ignorance, Islam is being presented as "a religion peculiar to
the Bedouins (nomadic Arabs)." Yet the facts are otherwise. Prophets
have always been the most civilised people of their time. They were
cultured and enlightened people with refined aesthetic values. With
his palace, which is known to have been an architectural masterpiece
abounding in many exquisite places, the Prophet Sulayman (as) is
one of the most outstanding examples cited in the Qur'an.
Being a Muslim means not being attached to traditional
culture or taking pleasure in nostalgic values. It is certainly
not being "oriental" or being attached to only one culture, either.
Being a Muslim is to be a servant to Allah and to be grateful for
the blessings granted by Him. It means striving to know Allah, drawing
nearer to Him and becoming a human being with a noble character.
A true Muslim is one who seeks the approval of his
Creator, Allah, the Almighty, and who has distanced himself from
any material or spiritual expectation other than earning His approval.
This is the definition of a Muslim.