THE FATE OF THOSE WHO DO NOT FOLLOW THE GOOD WORD
He who has fear will be reminded; but the most miserable will shun it, those who will roast in the Greatest Fire and then neither die nor live in it. (Surat al-A`la, 10-13)
Those who are called through the good word, admonished by the light of the Qur'an, warned of the Day of Judgment, and reminded that they will be called to give an account of every deed they had done, are then responsible themselves for adhering to the straight path. Unless they do so, inevitably, they will face a deep regret, and ultimately punishment. For, one who has been duly warned has been made aware of what is right and wrong, and, thereby, will be held responsible for living by the ideals imparted to him.
However, throughout history, the great majority of people disregarded the responsibilities placed upon them. As we mentioned earlier, they ignored Allah's verses, as if they had never heard them. In the words of the Qur'an, they "... have forgotten a good portion of what they were reminded of." (Surat al-Ma´ida, 13)
If people were to follow those who summon them to Allah's religion, and the morality of the Qur'an, Allah would grant them a good life, both in this world, and in the world to come. However, they insist on not submitting themselves to our Lord, Who is continuously granting blessings, and instead feign ignorance about warnings. However, the purpose of man's existence is to serve Allah. The one who denies this purpose, and fails to listen to those warnings made to him, is doomed to a life filled with trouble and difficulty, likewise, both in this world, and in the world to come. For, true happiness and peace of mind can only be attained by living a life that is in compliance with one's nature. That is, he should not set out to do anything that will only distress him or lead him to regret.
If one were to fail to adhere to the path shown to him by Allah in the Qur'an, it would distress him. Essentially, neither his material wealth, nor any other thing of value in this world, can save him from spiritual torment, and bring him true happiness. Whether it is evident to him or not, he will suffer from abandoning the religion with which Allah is pleased, and of following his earthly desires. Allah informs us in the Qur'an that those who do not abide by the Qur'an, but persist in wickedness, cannot be judged in the same way as those who have faith and engage in good. Such people will be repaid for what they did, both in this world, and the next to come:
This is clear insight for mankind and guidance and mercy for people with certainty. Or do those who perpetrate evil deeds suppose that We will make them like those who have faith and do right actions, so that their lives and deaths will be the same? How bad their judgement is! (Surat al-Jathiyya, 20-21)
Surely, it is effectively impossible to lead a good life in societies composed of such people. In several verses, Allah warns of great impending punishment those nations who have not heeded the warnings, but turned away from the good word, and refused to follow that which is pleasing to Him. Examples of these verses are as follows:
"Our people, respond to Allah's caller and believe in Him. He will forgive you some of your wrong actions and save you from a painful punishment. Those who do not respond to Allah's caller cannot thwart Allah on earth and have no protectors apart from Him. Such people are clearly misguided." (Surat al-Ahqaf, 31-32)
When Our Signs are recited to such a person, he turns away arrogantly as if he had not heard, as if there was a great weight in his ears. So give him news of a painful punishment. (Surah Luqman, 7)
The great majority of those who do not answer the call made to them in this world, but insist on remaining in denial, will only comprehend the significance of that call when they are confronted with the Day of Judgment, when they will regret not having followed the good word in the life of the world. Clearly, however, it will then be of no avail to them; this reality is related in a verse as follows:
What are they awaiting but for the Hour to come upon them suddenly?Its Signs have already come. What good will their Reminder be to them when it does arrive? (Surah Muhammad, 18)
As Allah informs us in the Qur'an, there is no escape from His punishment once one is doomed to it. Those who live their lives heedlessly will feel great regret when they will meet angels of death, already then recognizing their error. At that moment, none will any longer be self-satisfied in the kind of life he had led, pleased for not having obeyed the good word, and followed the whims and vain desires of his lower-self. Whether he were an atheist, or an avowed enemy of the religion, still, he would not then dare to think such things, for these people will witness the reality of what they disregarded during their lives, and feel an immense regret for not having listened those warnings they received. By the time they meet the angels of death, they will fully grasp the futility of all they preferred in the life of this world. Their lot in the Hereafter is related in the Qur'an as follows:
On the Day they see the angels, there will be no good news that Day for the evildoers. They will say, "There is an absolute ban." We will advance on the actions they have done and make them scattered specks of dust. (Surat al-Furqan, 22-23)
It should also be remembered that, everyone possesses insight into what is right and what is wrong. Those who turn from the call they receive, pretend not to have heard the admonitions and reminders made to them, actually know that their only recourse is to comply with this call. However, these people do not have faith, because they falsely deem the Hereafter and the Day of Judgment to be remote. They follow their personal whims and vain desires, and, thus, simply refuse to listen to Allah's verses. Indeed, the latter part of the above verse informs us of the ultimate regret to be felt by those who do not follow the good word, despite their knowing the truth:
The Day when a wrongdoer will bite his hands and say, "Alas for me! If only I had gone the way of the Messenger!""Alas for me! If only I had not taken so-and-so for a friend!""He led me astray from the Reminder after it came to me." Satan always leaves man in the lurch. (Surat al-Furqan, 27-29)
For those who had been caused great regret with the appearance of the angels of death, what is related in the above verse is only the beginning. Throughout their lives, they had preferred their own whims and desires, friends, possessions, business, careers and prestige over Allah's good pleasure, and never obeyed the summoning of the believers. On the Day of Judgment, however, they will be held accountable for everything they had selected over Allah's good pleasure:
They will be told, "Call on your partner-gods!" They will call on them but they will not respond to them. They will see the punishment. Oh if only they had been guided!On the Day when He summons them He will say, "How did you respond to the Messengers?"That Day the facts will be unclear to them and they will not be able to question one another. (Surat al-Qasas, 64-66)
Those who do not answer the call of messengers and believers, and insist on disbelief, will fall into great despair on the Day of Judgment. However, this despondency of theirs is not comparable to any such misery they will know in this world; it will be utterly unbearable. There is always a way out from difficulties and problems faced in this world; ultimately, the severest hardship and suffering is merely temporary. However, for those disbelievers who will taste the eternal punishment of the Hereafter, there will be no way out, or even the dimmest hope of salvation.
After having been questioned in Allah's presence, those who turned their faces from warnings made in this world, and failed to take advantage of their opportunity to have become a beloved servant of Allah, will be sent to Hell, a place of eternal punishment. As the verse informs us, before they enter Hell, fear will seize the hearts of disbelivers when they see the extent of punishment they will suffer. Once they are cast into the fire, they will converse with its custodians as is described here:
When they are flung into it they will hear it gasping harshly as it seethes.It all but bursts with rage. Each time a group is flung into it its custodians will question them: "Did no warner come to you?"They will say, "Yes indeed, a warner did come to us but we denied him and said, 'Allah has sent nothing down.You are just greatly misguided.' "They will say, "If only we had really listened and used our intellect, we would not have been Companions of the Blaze."Then they will acknowledge their wrong actions. Away with the Companions of the Blaze! (Surat al-Mulk, 7-11)
While they were in this world, the disbelievers failed to consider in advance that they would meet that day, and wasted their lives being heedless of the reminders given them, out of arrogance and pride. Once they meet the punishment, on the other hand, they will plead to return to the world, to engage in good deeds, to obey what they were called to, that is, to follow the good word. Allah will respond to their plea as follows:
They will shout out in it, "Our Lord! Take us out! We will act rightly, differently from the way we used to act!" Did We not let you live long enough for anyone who was going to pay heed to pay heed? And did not the warner come to you? Taste it then! There is no helper for the wrongdoers. (Surah Fatir, 37)
The Qur'an also reveals that this insufferable punishment will not even abate for an instant. The punishment of the Fire will be so severe that the disbelievers will pray for the alleviation of it for even a single day:
Those in the Fire will say to the custodians of Hell, "Call on your Lord to make the punishment less for us for just one day." They will ask, "Did your Messengers not bring you the Clear Signs?" They will answer, "Yes." They will say, "Then you call!" But the calling of the disbelievers only goes astray. (Surah Ghafir, 49-50)
However, the mourning, calling out and pleading of the disbelievers will be to no avail, for, as the verse informs, each person is granted sufficient time in the life of this world to take notice.
Those who do not follow what they are invited to in this world, and persist in denial, will be taken from one form of punishment to another. Aside from the unbearable pain they suffer physically, seeing in Paradise those believers who had summoned them to the religion, benefiting from its eternal blessings, adds to their regret. Their distress reaches such dimensions that they would choose to be annihilated. But, this wish is not granted:
The evildoers will remain timelessly, for ever, in the punishment of Hell. It will not be eased for them. They will be crushed there by despair. We have not wronged them; it was they who were wrongdoers. They will call out [addressing the keeper of Hell], "Malik! Let your Lord put an end to us!" He will say, "You will stay the way you are." We brought you the truth but most of you hated the truth. (Surat az-Zukhruf, 74-78)
When they are flung into a narrow place in it, shackled together in chains, they will cry out there for destruction. [They will be told] "Do not cry out today for just one destruction, cry out for many destructions!" (Surat al-Furqan, 13-14)
We have to remember that each reminder, each warning and notice given comes actually from Allah. Allah summons people to His religion through His messengers and faithful servants. Again, through the believers, He enjoins what is right and forbids what is wrong, and through the Book He sent down to mankind, He grants them the criterion to distinguish between right and wrong. If they fail to obey this summons, the moment they meet death will be too late to then grasp the truth of these facts and take action:
When they saw Our violent force, they said, "We believe in Allah alone and reject what we associated with Him." But when they saw Our violent force their faith was of no use to them. That is the pattern Allah has always followed with His servants. Then and there the disbelievers were lost. (Surah Ghafir, 84-85)