Character-types of the Unbelievers - Harun Yahya


... Light has come to you from Allah and a Clear Book. By it, Allah guides those who follow what pleases Him to the ways of peace. He will bring them from the darkness to the light by His permission, and guide them to a straight path. (Qur'an, 5:15-16)



As we stated earlier, members of the societies of ignorance, in accordance with their debased beliefs, lead a life far removed from the Qur'an, causing them all manner of difficulty. The greatest of these difficulties, however, is suffered within themselves. Because of their corrupted understanding, the character they develop causes them discontent and anxiety.

During their childhood, these ignorant persons chose others to model themselves after. And, as they grew up, they try to be like them. The role-models they choose may be a parent, an older sister or brother, a close friend, a neighbor or someone they have seen on television. The personality they want to emulate may lead a very different life and under different circumstances; the quality of the environment the role-model lives and his level of cultivation may also be different. While some may believe that the best life is attained by being rebellious and irresponsible, others, influenced by trends of his environment, may believe that the best attitude is to be aloof and arrogant.

Though, when they finally meet their role model, they realize that their personality is not as they had originally considered. From then on, they spend their lives in search of another way of life to satisfy their expectations - but, without any results. As they become older, and their circumstances and their environment change, so do the personalities they wish to emulate also change. They are influenced by every fashion and novelty; they hope to find the fulfillment they are seeking by imitating these people, trying them one after the other. This search for identity lasts throughout their lives, but they can never find the attitude and contentment that they were created for. That is because, everything they try is always merely a product of their ignorance.

After a certain time, some will settle into a particular identity. But, this is not because they have found their ideal role-model and attained happiness. On the contrary, they realize that their problem cannot be solved within the web of ignorance in which they live, and accept defeat.

In the coming pages, we will present the features of the types of character that pervade the societies of ignorance; we will try to define them, and show the difficulties they suffer. By investigating this important condition, we will come to recognize the tremendous difference that exists between the character of a believer and that of one mired in ignorance. Therefore, however ardently they may try to find a way out, those who live in ignorance are already lost. Their only salvation is, we repeat, to live the moral life of a believer.

But, before we continue, we must recall an important point: The types of character we will describe here represent the members of the societies of ignorance in general. Of course, there will be some exceptions that, for some reason, do not conform to the norm. Such individuals, under particular conditions, may not display any of the qualities predicated by these conditions. Therefore, we cannot say that all individuals in a society of ignorance acquire the character we will describe. We are not referring to these individuals, but only those who reflect the endemic corruption that plagues the societies of ignorance.

The Character of the Female in the Societies of Ignorance

In a society of ignorance, there is a silent, unnamed power that directs the people. From the moment he is born, a member of this society submits himself to this power, and orders his entire life according to its edicts. This power dominates this member of the society of ignorance, to such an extent that he does not depart from its laws, even though they go against his own desires and expectations; and, come what may, he remains loyal to it.

What is this power, then, to which the ignorant are so attached, and which commands them so absolutely?

As we have said, it does not have a name; it is the totality of the laws that the ignorant refer to as "tradition." It is not known who formulated these laws and determined whether or not they were valid. No one, however, would dare to question or alter them. Anyone who attempts to question these traditions is despised, and attempts are made to prevent any who are thought to be violating these laws or disrupting the established order.

Members of this society are firmly devoted to the rules they have adopted; if one wanted to tell them that these rules may be wrong, they would reply that they came down to them from previous generations and, therefore, cannot be abandoned. They do not dare to examine what they do, or why they do it, because their forebears did the same. The Qur'an describes this distorted point of view characteristic of a society of ignorance:

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 character and way of life required of a member of a society of ignorance has been predetermined according to the mould of tradition. Take, for example, a child: No matter how mature he may be, he must act like a child. There are specific expectations as to his behavior, mode of conversation, and other every day matters. Any type of behavior that does not conform to these expectations is regarded as strange.

So, in the same way, the "female character" is defined by the characteristics regarded as acceptable for women in the society. The society of ignorance has accepted a mode of behavior for women, and they are not permitted to venture beyond these parameters, and must develop their own personalities within it. However, the kind of behavior prescribed for women by an ignorant society is rife with corruptions.

Surely, the worst form of corruption is the belief that, because women are physically weaker than men, they must also be weak of character. Girls are brought up from a very early age with this idea instilled in their minds. Women in a society of ignorance accept, without question, this notion imposed on them and, as a result, develop a feeble sense of identity. They believe that they cannot match the power and endurance of a man. They never think of themselves as one who can protect and care for others; since their childhood, they have always been the ones who were protected and looked after. They think it normal for themselves to be emotional, to cry and become angry as they are "weak" in character. This character type has become commonplace and accepted as natural in the societies of ignorance. Women have accepted this model, without considering its validity, and the detriment it causes them, and, thereby, do not recognize the need to reform themselves.

Compared to this convoluted understanding of the society of ignorance, the way revealed by the Qur'an is simpler and far more straightforward. A Muslim does not make any distinction between the character of a man and that of a woman. Therefore, a woman is first of all a Muslim, and then a woman. Her identity is not determined by her sex, but according to the morality proclaimed in the Qur'an. The Qur'an describes only a one type of character. Man or woman, all are held responsible for aspiring to this character. Accordingly, a female believer, who is aware of this, develops fortitude, balance and superior character.

When the character of a Muslim woman and that of a woman which has developed under the sway of ignorance are compared, the superiority of the character molded in the light of the morality described in the Qur'an becomes apparent.

Indeed, the Qur'an is the unique source that all people, regardless of their gender, should refer to, as our Prophet (saas) also indicated in his following tradition:

"The Qur'an is a strong rope of Allah, meaning that it is a reliable means of linking with Allah and a firm charter of guidance. It is the straight path. The Qur'an is the clear truth that keep thoughts from straying." (Tirmidhi)

The Housewife in an Ignorant Society

Among the most prominent types of identities inherited by the society of ignorance from their ancestors is that of the housewife. This identity is known by many in that society, and, no matter what the culture, it is found among the majority of women throughout the world.

This identity is cultivated in every girl, from her childhood on, with the expectation that she will one day certainly have to conform to that model. Certainly, it is their mothers, the person usually closest to them, who provides them with that example. They observe their mothers and other women in the community, and little by little, they begin to adopt the identity in their own minds. The role-model is that of a woman who marries well, who is a good housekeeper, and gives birth to healthy children; she receives visits from relatives and friends, and meets with other women to have tea; she brings up her children, does the shopping, cleans the house, and other domestic duties.

These young girls know nothing about the world, and believe this occupation to be the ideal for a woman. And, in the future, without questioning, that is the life they will choose.

The primary concern of a housewife in an ignorant society is herself, her family, children and future plans for them. For a middle-income family, these plans include a private home, for which they do not have to pay rent, and being able to pay electricity and water bills, and their children's school expenses; one day they may even be able to own a car and buy new furnishings for the house. Even a housewife who lives in better conditions limits her ideals in the same way. Such people make plans with regards to their homes, families and children. The most important considerations that give their life meaning are living in a beautiful house, having their children study in a good school, and buying a car for the family, that they can show off.

Certainly, it is not a blameworthy thing for a person to be interested in their home. But it is not right for a person's whole world, including their ideals, joys, habits, worries and expectations to be confined within four walls, and to forget their real purpose of life, as it is revealed in the Qur'an.

Another great mistake ignorant women make is not setting ideals for themselves beyond these few ordinary pleasures. If their lives were established on higher spiritual ideals, even if they lived in the same conditions, they would not be content to be confined to such an identity. The best example of this can be the pious woman.

A person who believes in Allah, whether man or a woman, has high ideals and broad horizons. A woman with a believer's character takes responsibility, not only for her house, family and relatives, but for the whole world. When necessary, she may live within four walls doing her housework, and organize meetings with her friends, but her thoughts, goals and responsibilities are never be limited to that. She would never let herself be an insignificant person concerning herself with minor issues. From where she is, she seeks solutions to the world's problems, develops ideas, and bridges impasses.

An ignorant housewife, who conforms to the model determined for her by society, never desiring to venture beyond it, leads her life within the parameters drawn for her. One of the main reasons being that she thinks there is only one place for her to be in this world, and neglects to consider that the day is coming when she will be called to account before Allah. Indeed, one who does not think about what happens beyond death spends his life struggling to maximize the benefits that it has to offer. Our Prophet (saas) has indicated the importance of thinking about death: "Speak a lot about death. Because this removes a man from the world. And makes him free of sin." (Ahmad Diya'al-Din al-Kamushkhanawi, Ramuz al-Ahadith, Vol 1, 80/16) One who fails to keep himself occupied with the remembrance of death strives only to live without overstepping the limits set by those around him. They seek not the favor of Allah, but the approval of others. The result is a backward and ignorant way of life. The basic principles on which this way of life is founded are clear.

Why Do They Yearn to Be Housewives?

When you mention the word "housewife," everyone immediately brings a specific picture to mind. They think of a person who cleans and tidies up the house, does her husband's and children's laundry, thinks about what to have for supper, and spends most of her day in the kitchen preparing meals… This is the stereotypical image.

Indeed, for many, such a routine would be considered boring and tiresome. But, in spite of this, a great many ignorant women aspire to one day living such a life.

So, why is it that they find such a life so attractive? Is it because it is tradition? Or, is it because they think they will find if fulfilling?

All the above reasons may be true. But they are not the only reasons. These reasons depend on the person and their circumstances. But, generally speaking, most of these women can be categorized according to several traits they share in common.

One of the most important reasons they aspire to be housewives is that most young girls believe that they will be freer when they are married. After having lived for years under their family's control, and according to the rules imposed upon them, they think that marriage is the easiest and the shortest way out. For this reason, they often marry the first suitable man that comes along. Nevertheless, while ignorant women want to marry, they are also aware of the difficulties that come with marriage. But they are willing to ignore these difficulties with the hope that they will be able to live by their own rules.

After they are married, they will not be interfered with; they will work when they feel like it; they will go where they please, and be accountable to no one. But, of course, this is all just a pipe dream. Real life happens in quite a different way than they expect. In marriage, women enter into a situation where they are often burdened with more material and personal responsibilities than they had to deal with before. Besides, they cannot be free to live according to their own rules, because, based on the norms that govern ignorant societies, the master of the house is the man, and he commands the woman according to his rules and beliefs. So, nothing changes; the husband takes on the role her family once did.

There is another important reason for a woman's desire to become a housewife: The material means that marriage provide. Especially for girls of middle-income families, marriage is considered the primary opportunity to improve their circumstances. For this reason, young women are often advised by their families to marry accordingly. And so, often the only criterion a young girl considers in marriage is wealth. Rather than marrying one she admires for his standards of morality and character, she chooses a man who will offer her a prosperous future, or a better life than she had known with her family. In return, she is prepared, if necessary, to get up early every morning for the rest of her life, cook meals, do the laundry and housekeep.

We can see that it is because of that which they expect to gain from being a housewife that so many ignorant women choose this lot. They think they can escape family pressures, raise their standard of living, and secure their future; in addition, they believe they will also help their families and relatives to benefit from their improved circumstances. At first, being a housewife may appear attractive, because of the many benefits it would appear to offer, but later in life it becomes monotonous, until they are finally filled with regret.

The Personality of the Housewife in the Ignorant Society

Although they may vary in level of education or quality of moral characters; and although where they live and their means may be different, the identity of all women in a society of ignorance is much the same.

As stated earlier, they are influenced from the outset by the expectations placed upon them by the society. From the time of their childhood, they may have observed thousands of housewives and, whether they know it or not, have recorded their observations subconsciously. And, when they find themselves in similar circumstances, they conduct themselves unaware of the influence they have acquired and which, in a sense, they allow to determine their identity. For this reason, the character of the average housewife is composed of the same basic aspects. They all lead their lives according to their early observations and experiences. Even the ideal of a young woman, who has studied at university, and though she has a network of friends, may become an entirely different personality after she marries. The week before her marriage she may have been a lively and outgoing person but, suddenly, when she takes on the role of housewife, she may assume an identity that her former friends not longer recognize.

It is the corrupted notion of marriage in a society of ignorance that makes them adopt such a personality. This is important to keep in mind as we examine the personality of the housewife. In the formation of this identity, which we will explore in detail in the following pages, the fact that marriage is "ignorant marriage," that is, that it is a component of the society of ignorance, is of important significance.

Under the influence of all such factors, this specific identity is formed according to all the corrupting influences of the ignorant system. We must also add that a society of ignorance does not regard these distortions as unusual, nor does it regard the identities it produce as undesirable. On the contrary, they consider them normal and legitimate. It is the society in which they live that determines the character of individuals, and so it is to be expected that they would tolerate and accept the expectations placed upon them and that they should comply by them.

Display of Emotion

A trait considered feminine among ignorant women is their emotionality, though such behavior is totally at odds with the moral teachings of the Qur'an. And, according to the expectations of a culture of ignorance, a woman must be meek and needs to be protected and looked after by a man.

Whenever she is confronted by some difficulty, she immediately becomes overly emotional. And, she does not regard such a response as weakness, but makes an exhibition of her emotions, thinking that it will make others feel sorry for her. This mode of behavior is encouraged by the community. In an ignorant system, people feel sympathy for one overcome by emotion, and the person exhibiting her feelings usually attracts the attention she wants.

In addition, there is a more powerful emotion that ignorant women tend to display; it takes hold of her whole character, but it is not just pretense, and its purpose is beyond merely attracting attention. It is a kind of emotionalism that pervades every aspect of her life; it derives from unhappiness and not submitting to Allah or her fate. So, because of this emotionalism, she becomes irrational, unable to arrive at intelligent decisions or to act prudently. She sees everything in negatively, considers herself victim of some injustice; and, therefore, deludes herself with false scenarios, sinking further into a spiritual quagmire. What she expected from marriage did not materialize; the initial exhilaration, love and respect disappeared. Such disappointment led to her despondence. Her behavior becomes an external manifestation of her condition; her eyes are constantly brimming with tears, she is melancholic and sorrowful. If she does not receive a compliment on a meal she has carefully prepared, or no one notices her new outfit, or if she does not immediately get she is after, she becomes overly emotional. A misspoken word, a joking remark, or sometimes, just the wrong word will fix in her mind, and lead her to become emotional. She will remember the offense throughout the day, and let it become something in her mind that was never intended of it. But, the guilty person was probably not even aware of what he had done. Nevertheless, an ignorant woman who has let emotionalism become a part of her character loses the ability of judgment to recognize the fact.

As a result, another dominant feature among ignorant women is their tendency to weep. Everything that happens in their home may be an occasion for sorrow and weeping. Financial difficulties in the family, difficulties in raising the children, soap operas, or many other factors, may provide the excuse for them to yield to this side of their character. This sort of woman is so mired in her emotionalism that she will find any excuse to cry and be miserable, even if there isn't one. For example, if one of the characters on a television series dies she will cry afterwards for several minutes. Or, if she hears a song she had enjoyed with a friend many years ago, she will suddenly become emotional and begin to cry. Examples like these are many.

Women who harbor these ignorant tendencies may experience both spiritual and physical breakdowns. This is the recompense Allah has given them for choosing ignorance instead of the moral teachings of the Qur'an. Allah has said in the Qur'an that only those who remember Him, submit to Him and prepare themselves for the Afterlife, will lead a good life in this world and find peace in their hearts. But, characters such as those we have described here have forgotten Allah, by Whose eternal power they were created, and, for this reason, have fallen into melancholy. Women who continually find something to be miserable about and cry for, in this world, should remember that they may be doomed to lead a life of endless misery in the Afterlife, because they had been ungrateful for all the blessings conferred by Allah upon human beings.

They Are Easily Offended

One of the most definite features of a housewife's character is the ease with which she takes offense. These women harbor many subconscious fears, and are afraid of being neglected, abandoned or deceived. Recognizing that members of the society of ignorance are not trustworthy, they are in constant fear of betrayal. So, they interpret every thing that happens, and every word they hear, in this perspective.

If her husband or her children forget a wedding anniversary, birthday or another special occasion, it provides an opportunity for them to become overly sensitive and emotional. They will try to find a hidden meaning behind the slightest oversight, and feel a deep fear of being unappreciated or neglected. This psychological condition creates tension and often leads heated arguments.

However, a woman who is a believer does not have this defect in her character. Above all, in compliance with Allah's command, she is not suspicious about others or that which happens. If someone says something or acts in a way she does not understand, she will try to sort it out in her mind; she will try to understand that person's intention and act accordingly. But, she never takes offense because of something she does not understand, or suppose the meaning of a word spoken. She knows that the moral teaching of the Qur'an does not allow one to be touchy. Moreover, because a female believer's marriage and friendships are within the community of other Muslims, confusion does not arise to such eruptions. Because, it is the responsibility of believers to speak the truth clearly and correctly. Allah forbids believers from using in their conversation the off-color innuendo and tasteless humor that is characteristic of the morality of a society of ignorance. We can see that a woman who is a believer makes her life conform to the Qur'an, and so is content and secure, and untouched by moral defects.


Ignorant women often speak about the conditions they live in and their unhappiness (brought about by their selves). This tendency though, is also reflected in the men around them. After all, women regard this kind of behavior as appropriate to a housewife. In their opinion, spending the whole day making meals, cleaning the house saps their energy, and, for them, it is to be expected that they should complain. They believe that complaining is their right, and that those around ought to tolerate it. They believe that they, more than others, know the monotony of their marriage. Some men think that complaining is the only way their wives can vent their tensions, and so they accept their behavior to a certain point. But, it must be noted that these women knowingly chose this life themselves. Nevertheless, they never cease in their incessant complaining.

This habit of often complaining, as is found among housewives, and which they regard as their right, manifests itself at every minute of the day. They become so accustomed to complaining about everything, great or small, that they even complain to themselves when they are alone in the house. Such a woman tidies up the house grudgingly and, if a member of the family contributes to the mess, she assaults him with words of reproach. She will even complain to the first person who comes along, even a complete stranger.

This habit of complaining makes one argumentative. The most insignificant matter is magnified and a quarrel ensues; even for minor issues, the women become contrary and stubbornly insistent. They take every word the wrong way, and respond with an opposite assertion. These women live with a lot of anxiety because of their tense irritability. Their most common complaints are of headaches, stomach aches, and insomnia; and, ultimately, they begin to show early signs of aging.

All this is the result of the corrupt society in which they live. There is only one way out of this disturbed spiritual state brought on by their lack of faith and trust in Allah: To submit to the moral teachings of the Qur'an, and to live a life pleasing to Allah. Other than that, there are no other options.

Most often, ignorant women look for a solution by visiting some type of specialist or another, trying every new medication, therapy, going on holiday for a rest, or may even try to escape by ending their marriage. But, these remedies do not go to the root of the problem. As long as they do not alter their morality and become devoted to our Lord with a sincere heart, there will be no change to their way of life, even though in actuality they would have had nothing to complain about, no one to grumble at or another house to live in.

However, compared to all the base forms of behavior typical of the women of the ignorant societies, the comportment of a woman of faith is reflective of a character that is positive in outlook and well-balanced. For example, she realizes that complaining is a bad habit. She does not forget that, even if things appear to be going badly, there is a reason for it in the sight of Allah. So, no matter what comes her way, she sees no reason to be discontent or anxious. Even in her most difficult moments, she shows to those around her a tolerant, forgiving and compassionate character. And, even if she must criticize someone, in accordance with the dictates of her conscience, and by observing the Prophet's (saas) warning, "Whoever is not merciful towards people, will not be treated mercifully by Allah." (Ibn Ahmad Hanbal), she does so with language that is appropriate. Also, as the Qur'an commands, she knows that in this way outcome will be more positive. This is the behavior required of believers, as revealed in the Qur'an:

Make allowances for people, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant. (Surat al-A'raf, 199)

Do you do not see how Allah makes a metaphor of a good word: A good tree whose roots are firm and whose branches are in heaven? (Surah Ibrahim, 24)

Say to My servants that they should only say the best. Satan wants to stir up trouble between them. Satan is an outright enemy to man. (Surat al-Isra', 53)

Jealousy and Mistrust

Jealousy exercises an important influence in an ignorant society, where it is not regarded as a negative trait. Such a society tries to present jealousy as a mark of love and devotion. If an individual is not jealous of the one he loves, he thinks it is not real love. According to this way of thinking, in order for an individual to be sure that his partner loves him, the partner must love him exclusively.

But this idea is completely wrong. Because, ultimately, love is a profound feeling and a superior moral trait. For an individual to be jealous in a loving relationship is contrary to the teaching of the Qur'an. A person shows his love to the one he loves through his faithfulness, devotion and tenderness, and by speaking and acting appropriately towards the object of his affection. This creates the idea in the mind of the other person that he or she is really loved. It is very selfish for an individual to want to be loved exclusively.

In societies of ignorance, jealousy, especially in married life, causes much anxiety. A woman of such a tendency, who hears of the love her husband has for his mother, father, sisters, friends and even his children, may become a cause of misery for her. Such women do not want their husbands to love anyone else more than, or even as much, as he loves them.

A second type of jealousy that such housewives experience comes from the fact that they are aware of the corrupted perception of marriage in ignorant society. There is no genuine love or faithfulness in any union that is not based on the love and fear of Allah, and on seeking His pleasure. It is because ignorant women are aware of this that they expect being deceived at any moment, and live in fear of being neglected. For this reason, they regard everything that happens with suspicion, becoming overwhelmed with tense feelings and jealousy.

Instead of improving the situation, their behavior makes things worse, and often makes even the problem itself worse. They try to send their partner a message with their erratic behavior, contrariety and irascibility. They tend to derive complicated insinuations from the most trivial circumstances, and then form definite conclusions on the basis of the scenarios they imagine. But, this behavior only makes their lives more miserable. Moreover, contrary to the desired results, they succeed only in driving their partner farther away from them. Because living with a person without knowing when the next outburst will occur, and what kind of false conclusion she will jump to, makes for a very unhappy co-existence. For this reason, the obsessive jealousy of housewives usually ends with the breakup of the marriage.

However, the solution is very simple. The Qur'an informs us that everyone has feelings of jealousy, but these feelings have to be eliminated:

… people are prone to selfish greed. If you do good and fear Allah, Allah is aware of what you do. (Surat an-Nisa', 128)

For this reason, a believer, who dutifully practices the moral teachings of the Qur'an, does not harbor jealousy. The mutual faithfulness and trust that comes from the fear of Allah prevents any such tension from occurring.

The Habits of a Housewife

When the term "housewife" is mentioned, a specific stereotype enters the mind of all those in a society of ignorance. Because, the system that fosters this kind of character has, in a way, become entrenched. Of course, there are some housewives who do not conform to the mould for one reason or another. But, what is described here is the model of a housewife that is widely recognized in society.

In ignorant societies, the life typical of a housewife is one filled every day with monotony. Usually, her days are taken up with basic duties, such as tidying up the rooms of other family members, doing the laundry, preparing meals, shopping and other chores that need to be done around the house. Of course, everyone must do such things. But, the mistake they make is disregarding the problems pervading this world, forgetting the Afterlife, one's responsibilities towards Allah, and instead performing their duties in the expectation of some worldly gain. They base their whole lives, their thoughts, and plans, on the work they do and, instead of seeking the favor of Allah Who created them, they try to find satisfaction in trivial goals of their daily lives.

In addition, during all this activity, there are several habits, usually shared by all housewives, in which they tend persist. These they think will improve their lives and alleviate their anxiety and thus they fill their spare time with them. However, when considered carefully, it becomes evident that all such habits only mire them in what is a very ordinary and mundane life.

The most common of these habits are:


One of the most common traits of housewives in a society of ignorance is their love of gossiping. Even if they do not have the time or the occasion, they will surely find some bit of time for gossip. We can see them devoted to it in doorways with their neighbors, on the telephone for hours with their friends, and sometimes at tea and coffee parties. They derive a great deal of pleasure from gossiping, because they can humiliate a person who has criticized them, and make themselves look superior. For this reason, even if there is a more useful or pleasant topic to be discussed at a meeting of friends, they will insist on bringing the conversation around to gossiping. Anyone can become the fodder for their gossip: Their neighbors, friends, relatives, spouses, television stars or even a complete stranger passing in the street.

But, it is not right to say something behind someone's back that he would not appreciate. If there is some matter a person should be criticized for, and if there is any benefit in it, the best thing to do is to inform the person in question. But if the matter is discussed by everyone, and the person being criticized is not informed, it cannot be said that there is any underlying good intention or intelligent purpose. Moreover, the individuals doing the gossiping are aware that the same thing would certainly happen to them because it is a common practice of ignorant societies. But they would certainly detest it. When they hear that other people have been talking about them, they are very upset by it. But, though fraught with such over-sensitivity, they will nevertheless behave terribly towards others without caring whether they are hurting anyone.

However, Allah has forbidden human beings from gossiping. He explains to us in the Qur'an that gossiping is not part of a good moral character, and if there is something wrong, He commands that the offending person be told by "enjoining the good and forbidding the evil":

You who believe! Avoid most suspicion. Indeed some suspicion is a crime. And do not spy and do not backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat his brother's dead flesh? No, you would hate it. And fear Allah. Allah is Ever-Returning, Most Merciful. (Surat al-Hujurat, 12)

So, according to this command of the Qur'an, believers never criticize another person behind their back. They know that one of the greatest signs of real love and friendship is to act in such a way as to be of benefit to another person both in this life and the next. If they see a person behaving incorrectly, they will immediately tell them, and urge them to make up for their mistake. This is the basis of real friendship and loyalty. But, in a society of ignorance, the dearest relationships, like marriage, are not based on sound foundations, and, because they do not rest on mutual love and respect, this negative tendency is then widespread.

Meeting with Friends

One habit that most housewives could not live without is what they call their "day out," when they meet together with friends for a meal. At such gatherings, it is sufficient to lift their spirits merely to receive a compliment about a cake they baked, but, if their husbands do not give them permission to attend one of these meetings, they would stay miserable for weeks. This demonstrates just how petty and narrow is their world. The kind of conversation, and other things that happen during this kind of meeting, is far from being of any use to them for the Afterlife. In fact, such meetings usually draw them towards this world. Instead of reminding them about the world to come, the greatness of Allah Who created all things, and to live according to the moral standards commanded in the Qur'an, these meetings are full of idle chatter, arguments and banal criticisms. They do not judge what is good about each other according to the Qur'an; on the contrary, their praise for one another is based on the values of this world. They do not judge others according to how well they practice the moral teachings of the Qur'an.

Usually, among the more important topics of the type gossip we mentioned earlier is what happened on the last episode of a television soap opera, and sharing recipes.

However, if the same meeting were composed of individuals that feared Allah, and were making their preparations for the Afterlife, then their conversation would instead be edifying and beneficial for everyone. Believers are commanded in the Qur'an to refrain from idle talk, and non-productive activities, but to spend every moment towards doing something useful and thinking about how they may be helpful to others. This is emphasized in the following verses:

Those who turn away from worthless talk. (Surat al-Muminun, 3)

Those who do not bear false witness and who, when they pass by worthless talk, pass by with dignity. (Surat al-Furqan, 72)

When they hear worthless talk they turn away from it and say, "We have our actions and you have your actions. Peace be upon you. We do not desire the company of the ignorant." (Surat al-Qasas, 55)

Watching Television

A great part of a housewife's life in a society of ignorance is spent in front of the television. But, it is not only they who enjoy this habit; their husbands and children also spend hours watching television, it being one of the favorite forms of entertainment of a society of ignorance. However, what they watch is most often of no value. The most important thing for them is to pass the time and enjoy some brief relief from the anxieties they suffer in their lives. Regardless of whatever else they might be doing, throughout the day, housewives leave the television on. Especially when the soap operas come on, then they are glued to the screen. The romance featured in these soap operas gives them particular enjoyment. For this reason, their daily schedule is organized around the times when these soap operas are broadcast, and if they have to go anywhere, they ensure that they record the episode on videocassette. If they can't, then as soon as they finish what they are doing, they eagerly find out the latest developments that took place on the program from friends or neighbors.

Even if they were offered better quality programming, with more intelligent content so as to broaden their horizons, these women, being far removed from the morality of the true religion, would still not give up their soap operas. Because these programs reflect their aspirations, pleasures and their outlook on life so well.

Of course, there would be nothing wrong with watching television, if there were better programming; then people could learn Islamic values from it. But, it is wrong as it stands, because of its mindless content, leaving a person heedless of the existence of Allah and the Hereafter. Especially, it is wrong if the housewife cannot tear herself away from watching television to do something more important or useful. These women could do something positive, but never do, nor are they uncomfortable about it, because their lack of sense of purpose and their self-image as housewife is so ingrained.

On the Telephone

A woman in a society of ignorance spends most of her day on the telephone. She calls her friends, one after the other, to learn the latest news and gossip. She relates what has been going on in her family, the arguments she had with her husband, what she bought at the store, who came to visit, and what they talked about. These telephone conversations go on for hours but, generally, they accomplish nothing fruitful.

Believers, on the contrary, as we saw in previous sections, avoid all kind of idle talk and futile activities. They never allow themselves to debase their level of conversation just to pass the time and overcome boredom. If they have to, they can spend much time on the telephone, but to discuss an important matter. If there were no such need, they would not talk on the phone just out of habit; they would instead engage in more useful and educational pursuits.

The Character of the "Society" Woman

The character of a woman brought up in the segment of the society which is called, "high society" is still no different from that of a housewife. Their characteristics and habits are similar. But the circumstance and possibilities afforded such people, being better disposed of by financial means, are different from those of the middle-income housewife. This difference results in different habits among them.

Some of these women are overwhelmed with anxiety about fitting in to their milieu. For this reason, they behave according to the expectations of those around them, rather than according to their own desires, disposition or inclinations. The expectations of this segment of the society are usually based on money and pretense. Therefore, those women who adopt this lifestyle spend their days in "high society" doing the "in-things," trying their best to fit in to that way of life. The world of such women is one of pretence and putting on airs; to this end she will go to holiday resorts, wear clothes considered "high fashion," gossip at a spa or high-class beauty salon, meet her friends for lunch in an expensive restaurant, or buy things imported from abroad.

Outwardly, these women seem to have sophisticated lives but, in fact, their lives are just as monotonous as the other members of the society of ignorance.

They do much less housework and looking after children throughout the day, compared to other housewives. Usually, they do not occupy themselves with such responsibilities, but hire a maid or nanny. Having someone to bring up their children and look after their house, and they can devote all their attention solely to leading a life of luxury. All this eventually causes them to become dissatisfied and draws them into a moral abyss. As soon as they acquire something they want, they no longer desire it anymore. Instead, some other objects attract their attention, which they then pursue. They are wealthy in material possessions, but they can never achieve spiritual happiness. They cannot attain trust, love or respect, either in their marriages or in their friendships.

Even though they have whatever they want, they are not content. The moral degeneration of the environment in which they live is reflected in their own lives. Lying, fraud, deceit and all sorts of other moral deficiencies are regarded by them as normal. There will come a point, however, where this corruption will turn on them. For instance, while they are themselves gossiping, others are talking about them. Every detail of their private lives, and even unfounded hearsay, becomes the subject of rumors. A secret they share with a friend soon becomes the headline in a magazine. They approach others with feigned affection, and false friendship, and they are approached in the same way by others. They can never enjoy real genuine friendship. They rarely have intimate conversations, to share their sincere feelings. They have no experience of loyalty, either in their friendships or in their marriages; they do not trust even their husbands. This life they have chosen for themselves, as in other roles in a society of ignorance, is the product of an environment far removed from religion. For this reason, these women find themselves at a significant impasse. But, in spite of the fact that they have lived their entire lives in anxiety, they are unable to recognize the contentment the religion and a good moral life can provide. They seek the solution to their predicament in the corrupt social system they live in, but their efforts are futile; they are digging themselves deeper and deeper into a rut.

This is all because they have turned their backs to the Qur'an. Because they do not live in the way that Allah, their Creator, has commanded, they will never be able to find peace of mind. As is stated in the Qur'an, "... Only in the remembrance of Allah can the heart find peace." (Surat Ar-Ra'd, 28) their hearts will never find ease, and they will never escape from their anxiety and misery. They have fallen into this condition because they chose a lifestyle that does not suit the purpose of their creation. If they had lived a life pleasing to Allah, and kept to the moral precepts that He has commanded, they would certainly have enjoyed the reward that comes from living a good life. In the Qur'an, Allah has promised:

When those who fear Allah are asked, "What has your Lord sent down?" their reply is, "Good!" There is good in the world for those who do good, and the abode of the Hereafter is even better. How wonderful is the abode of those who guard against evil. (Surat an-Nahl, 30)

If these women had chosen their friends and their husbands from among believers, they would not have had to live with such insecurity. They would have been able to enjoy a society of individuals who are trustworthy, loyal, honest and sincere, and would not have experienced the insecurity and fears plaguing a society of ignorance. In a community where the moral teachings of the Qur'an are adhered to, every believer is eager to live a good moral life, and to receive the reward that comes from it.

Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and We will recompense them according to the best of what they did. (Surat an-Nahl, 97)

The Character of the Male in a Society of Ignorance

The customs of a society of ignorance also have their influence on the perception of the role of male. Although a definition of this identity is not written, nearly every member of the society of ignorance knows its features well. Even before children are born into a family, the parents have already imagined how they will instill this character into a baby if it happens to be a boy. Above all, in such a society, having a male child brings a great deal of pride.

The foremost quality of a man, as far as they are concerned, is that he be of strong character and superior to women. These expectations lead of course to a stronger personality in a man than a woman. Other factors in the society help to support this notion of male superiority. Women often acquiesce to this perception. In such a society, there is none superior to the male. This creates the idea that male self-sufficiency is absolute. For this reason, men are generally not open to suggestions and criticism from anyone else, particularly women.

In addition, every man feels he must conform to what the society expects of him, and so expends every effort not to depart from the mould he has been put into. In a society of ignorance, it is considered very humiliating for a man not to be able to do what is expected of him. He is expected to be strong and brave, from his childhood into old age, and may not show the slightest weakness, submission or anything else that does not accord with the male character. So, he is bound not to let his weakness be seen, even when he is sick or suffering for whatever reason. Because showing weakness is regarded as a feminine quality in a society of ignorance, it is not fitting for a man to appear helpless.

It must also be noted that the strength, bravery and other traits expected of a man in society are not negative characteristics; they are actually all good and positive. But, that which is valued as superior by a society that does not live according to the moral teachings of the Qur'an often becomes a matter for arrogance and pride. The Qur'an warns people against this vice:

Do not avert your face from people out of haughtiness and do not strut about arrogantly on the Earth. Allah does not love anyone who is vain or boastful. (Surat al-Luqman, 18)

For this reason, these qualities in ignorant men are not exercised towards positive ends, but become negative because of their tendency for arrogance. A type of character is produced who is certain of its own superiority, arrogant, and unwilling to respect the ideas of equals.

Various Examples of the Male Character in a Society of Ignorance

What we have said so far describes the aspects of the male character in a society of ignorance. There are many other types of male characters whose basic characteristics are formed by their families, their community, living conditions and other such factors. We could describe them briefly as follows:

Some men who have adopted for themselves a character opposite to the type mentioned in the last section are called "henpecked" in a society of ignorance. They do not have the kind of character expected by a society of ignorance, that is, a character that asserts its own superiority; but are overly submissive and unable to stand up for themselves. These individuals do not conform to the mould outlined for them according to the stereotype created by the society of ignorance. Instead of being assertive, they prefer to be dominated by women, or others, and suffer a great deal of humiliation from a society of ignorance. They are regarded as weak and having no personality.

Another kind of character to be seen in a society of ignorance is the "macho man." These individuals believe that men are definitely superior, and women are definitely inferior. They regard women as men's possessions, like any piece of merchandise, and decide when they will treat them well, and when they should treat them badly. They think that their boorish behavior, course manners and crude language make them appear "masculine." They are convinced that it is someone like them that women want to marry, that their behavior makes them attractive.

In a society of ignorance, there is also a male character type called the "party animals." Their favorite entertainment is hanging around in bars, drinking too much and carousing. They do the same thing almost every night, with their regular group of friends, who share the same outlook. The reason why they are called "party animals" in a society of ignorance is because they are always "partying." During these festivities, which last late into the night, hardly one intelligent or significant topic is discussed. Under the influence of alcohol, men talk for hours about something that is totally inane, philosophizing about it, and offering one another lessons on life. Often, something will end an argument, at some point late in the evening, where those around them have difficulty controlling them and quieting them down. Such individuals will also reflect in their every-day life the aspects of the character type that they display in at night. Usually, they will ask for others not to bother them, putting forward the excuse that they are "hung-over," or still under the influence of alcohol they consumed the night before.

What we have here described are only a few of the male character types to be found in a society of ignorance; there are hundreds of others. Because it is not founded on the Qur'an, a society of ignorance produces these kinds of character, all of which have a corrupted in understanding. When considered carefully however, we may recognize that men who live this kind of life cannot, in any real sense, find fulfillment in their lives.

The Character of Elderly Men

No matter what kind of character he adopts, when he becomes older, a man in an ignorant society settles into the standard set for him. But, before addressing this issue, we must first note one important point: The type of elderly man we will discuss in this section reflect the corruption that results from living a life distant from the religion. We will see the corruption brought about in a man's character by not living a life pleasing to Allah, by refusing to think in his later years about the life of the Hereafter, and by being overly attached to this world.

Of course, there are degrees of these features found in one person or another, and the defective morality that we are about to discuss may be evidenced only partly by some individuals and more entirely by others. Essentially, what is important for our topic is the moral degeneracy caused by the absence of religion.

Once a woman in an ignorant society will have married off her children, and acquired grandchildren, she will take on the character typical of an old woman. Also, when men retire or become too old to work, they will tend to stay at home. Even those men who feel physically and spiritually fit are influenced by the rest of the society to think that they must behave as older men do. Their wives have grown old, as have all their friends. Acquaintances have retired and behave as old men. Their children are married, and then grow farther and farther apart from their parents, because they have to deal with their own problems.

Such individuals often pass their days watching television or napping. For a housewife, of course, such behavior is merely a continuation of much of what she had been used to. Their grumbling and irrationality increase steadily. Although both husband and wife live together under the same conditions, the responsibilities for looking after the house still fall to the woman, which makes her behavior even more contrary. Because the men now have nothing to do, they become bored sitting in the house all day with nothing to occupy themselves.

They do the same things every day, their lives becoming dreadfully monotonous. They hope for their children to break this monotony who are immersed in their own lives. Occasionally, they visit their children on week-ends, but only stay for a few hours, which is not enough to rescue them from the tedium of their lives.

Sometimes, they visit friends, among whom the topic of conversation is usually limited to their children and their illnesses. They talk about the doctors they go to, the new treatments they are receiving and the medicines they take; and they give one another advice about health matters.

In spite of all this weakness and helplessness, they maintain the kind of character and expectations that a society of ignorance has imposed on them. They have lived in an ignorant society for years, and they see clearly that there is nothing to be gained, and no happiness to be had from it. The fact that they still long for the life of ignorance, even when death is so close, is a typical feature of the character of an elderly person who lives in a society removed from religion.

Also, these individuals are living in such an error that will cause them great harm. Basically, what they must do is turn to Allah, the Creator of all that exists. They may not have done this at an earlier age, but from the moment they realize that they will be called to account before Allah, and that their death is near approaching, they must at least advance a degree of awareness, and try to gain Allah's pleasure by repenting of their past lives. The lives they have lived until then, apart from the religion, their anxieties, illnesses and other problems, must become the means for them to take heed.

In general, however, in the kind of ignorant society we have been describing, the aged do not do so; on the contrary, they become more rebellious, and act as if they did not understand what was being said. Now, we will summarize the main features of the character of an older person.

They Are Easily Offended and Seek to Make Others Feel Sorry for Them

Most elderly people are materially and psychologically dependent on others, usually their children, grandchildren or other relatives. Those they depend on are often not too well disposed towards old people; they may be regarded as good people, but, they usually regard the elderly in their care as an annoying nuisance. Old people usually do not have the means or the ability to live on their own in a separate dwelling. But, their relatives do not want to take them into their own homes on a long-term basis because of the care they require.

Actually, it is not wrong to say that the elderly, who have led their entire lives far removed from the morality of the religion, are responsible for the situation in which they find themselves. They have also adopted an errant morality and lived their lives removed from Allah and His religion. And, they raised their children and grandchildren to adopt the same moral outlook. Instead of instilling in them the nobler morality that Allah has commanded, they have taught them the morality of ignorance. As a result, this has returned to plague them in their later years. And their children, who live in a society of ignorance, will often abuse them or abandon them without blinking an eye. Or, if the children agree to have their parents stay with them, they may not treat them well because they have been forced to take them in.

The parents are aware of the way their children feel towards them, and this gives rise to one of the major character traits of the elderly-they are irascible. They know that their presence is not appreciated by those they have been taken in by, and so try as much as they can not to bother other members of the household. Nevertheless, they conceal the thought that they are being treated unjustly because they have spent their whole lives looking after their children, bringing them up well, and trying to make them happy. But, in return for all of their self-sacrifice, all they get is rejection. Actually, in one sense, they did these things thinking they would be an investment for their old age, when they would need to be looked after themselves by their children. But, the recompense they hoped for turned out quite different from what they expected. Therefore, they consider themselves to have been treated unjustly, and are easily offended.

As an outward expression of their discontent, they often speak with the insinuation that they are making the other people in the house uncomfortable. Most often, they cannot enjoy a pleasurable conversation with others because they find a hidden meaning in everything that is said, offering ambiguous responses to hide their resentment. They say reproachfully, "Don't worry, I won't be a burden." When they are offered something to eat, they either refuse or take very little; at times, they think that the other people in the house are hiding food from them and they sneak food from the cupboard when no one is watching. Or, when someone offers them a room to relax in, they surprise everyone by saying, "There's no need; I'll just curl up at the end of the sofa." They get angry about the slightest remark, collecting their things feigning to get ready to leave. But they have no other place to go. They behave in such a way only to make others feel sorry for them. Even when someone buys them a present they find something to take offense at. They think either that their present was cheap, or that it was a last minute effort when everyone else had been bought for.

When guests come to visit, they try to give the impression that their relatives do not want them in the house, and that they are being abused and are left uncared for. When they are asked how they are feeling, they will go on about how miserable they are. In this way, they think they will be pitied, garner sympathy and that people will take more interest in them. Then again, perhaps the guests may be impressed that what they are saying is true. This may anger the other members of the household who will then be even less inclined to look after their elderly relatives.

They Try to Get People to Take An Interest in Them

In a society of ignorance, the elderly, both men and women, attempt to make other people take an interest in them. The main reason for this is the corruptive influence of the society. They understand love, not in relation to faith or morality, but in terms of what they can get out of it, this being why their love and interest in others goes only so far. Therefore, those elderly who are no longer in a position to offer anything to anyone try various other means to get the love and attention they want. They do so not by acting in a way that would get others to love them, but through the inappropriate methods encouraged by the society of ignorance. But, these methods do not inspire love in others; on the contrary, their amoral efforts bring just the opposite results.

One of the means by which the elderly aim to attract attention is to speak constantly about their health problems, telling others about how much pain they suffer, and how difficult their lives are. In this way, they hope to make others feel sorry for them. In their condition, they complain about their illnesses, because they do not trust in Allah, or give thanks. In order to move others with their stories, they stretch the truth. They think that, if they appear ill, they will gain more attention, and others will be more tolerant towards them. In fact, though their situation moves others to pity, it also makes them angry, because they know that these elderly persons are exaggerating. They know that the only thing they want is attention, and that, though they give it to them, it is still not enough. The elderly, who exhibit this morality of ignorance want all the time to be the center of attention.

For this reason, they at times sit in a corner pouting and refusing to eat or speak. They want someone to ask them what the matter is, but pretend not to want anyone's attention. When asked, they say nothing is the matter, thus trying the patience of other people. Sometimes they will go to a remote corner of the house, and stay there for hours hoping to arouse the curiosity of others. They will sit with a handkerchief in their hands weeping, and when someone asks them what is wrong, they will sob and say they are lonely or that no one loves them. Then the others will say, "But we're here," and give them some love and attention.

If the elderly persons are not satisfied with any of this, they will try to express their concerns to the others. They will resort to innuendo, using catch-phrases popular in the society of ignorance. For example, if no one is showing them any interest, they will say such things as, "I'm not going to stay where I'm not wanted," "If I had a place to go I wouldn't be troubling you," or "Send me to a nursing home, you'll be happier." They say these things only to get the others to take more interest in them.

However, if they used all the energy they spend using these tactics instead towards behaving properly, they would get the love and attention they desired. But, trying to get what they want by resorting to inappropriate methods will never allow them attain their wishes.

They Won't Listen to Anyone

The elderly who reject the morality of the religion share another interesting characteristic well-known by society-they won't listen to anyone. No matter what the issue, they only want to do things in their own way. They never trust what another person says, and look for some evil intent in everything that said. For example, when they are told they should not eat a certain food because it is bad for their health, they think it a lie invented to keep them from eating it. For this reason, when one gives them advice, they don't listen; they become angry, thinking that others want to refuse them a meal.

But, there are still more such examples; sometimes their behavior can reach the point where it becomes a concern. For example, they will want to treat their own health problems, and refuse to see a doctor. Or, they refuse to take medicine a doctor has prescribed for them, choosing instead some old remedy that are familiar with; or, they may make some concoction of their own. They trust their own knowledge and experience completely, believing that young know nothing.

They Do Not Think About What They Are Doing

These elderly individuals live their entire lives distant from the religion; they hide behind their perception as old, trying to find some excuse to act thoughtlessly - another bad habit in the society of ignorance. They believe they can excuse their moral deficiency by their age. Whatever the case may be, the society of ignorance accepts these deficiencies as typical of old people. They will try to pass over an elderly person's eccentricities by saying, "Excuse him, he's old; he doesn't know what he is saying." However, that elderly person is completely aware of what he has done, and has probably done it deliberately. When their personal interest is at stake, they understand all too well what is owed to them; they know when they are not getting their due, or when a mistake has been made not in their favor. In any case, much of their tactlessness is often deliberate.

They know very well when to use talk insinuatingly, and whom to say it to. They use these tactics at almost every chance they get. They know how to have a normal, straight-forward conversation, but rarely do so.

For example, if one were to ask them what is their illness, they will reply coily, "I haven't eaten any meat for a long time," or "My bedroom is very cold," or "Because I'm very tired."

At times, they will pursue minor forms of revenge. For example, when guests come to visit, they will bring up a subject that will embarrass the other members of the house, will speak the most inappropriate things for all to hear, although they know that it will hurt the people around. Then, they will hide behind their age, pretending they did not know they had said anything unkind, and pass over the matter with an apology. But, they knew exactly what they were doing. They know that the best way for them to take revenge on someone who is angry with them is to humiliate that person with their lack of tact.

They Long for This World

The elderly in a society of ignorance know well the helplessness and difficulty that old age brings but, in spite of their recognition of the fact, they do not take the lesson from it, and do not temper their attachment to the life of this world. Even though they have come so near to their death, they keep the thought far from their minds. They see their friends dying one after the other, but still act as if death will not come upon them. Rather, they save to secure their future. They fear some day having none to take care of them, or of running out of money, and therefore store food, clothing and funds. But, though they are afraid of finding themselves in dire circumstances, they never think about the Afterlife. They do not consider there to be any need to prepare for the world to come. However, a human being's true existence is in the next world. That is the one he should prepare for. On this matter, the Qur'an tells us:

The life of this world is nothing but a game and a diversion. The Hereafter is better for those who fear Allah. So will you not use your intellect? (Surat al-An'am, 32)

Believers, who believe this truth with certainty, will experience old age in a very different way. They have already lived their lives in the hope of gaining Allah's favor. The further time passes, the more eager they are to meet the Hereafter and, by the will of Allah, to live their lives in the eternity of Paradise. Due to their hopeful expectation, they are joyful, contented and morally upright. They do not cause problems for those around them; on the contrary, they help to solve those problems, telling others about the moral teachings of the Qur'an, and helping them attain the kind of character that will be pleasing to Allah. Even if they become physically feeble, they remain mentally active, and try to be of benefit to their community.

This moral uprightness gains for them great love and respect from their community. Because they teach moral rectitude to those around them, and are morally upright themselves, they are always treated with respect. Believers are enjoined to be respectful towards those who are advanced in years. In the Qur'an, Allah says:

Your Lord has decreed that you should worship none but Him, and that you should show kindness to your parents. Whether one or both of them reach old age with you, do not say "Ugh!" to them out of irritation and do not be harsh with them but speak to them with gentleness and generosity. Take them under your wing, out of mercy, with due humility and say: "Lord, show mercy to them as they did in looking after me when I was small." (Surat al-Isra', 23-34)

We have instructed man to honor his parents … (Surat al-'Ankabut, 8)

We have instructed man concerning his parents. Bearing him caused his mother great debility and the period of his weaning was two years: "Give thanks to Me and to your parents. I am your final destination." (Surah Luqman, 14)

Worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him. Be good to your parents and relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to neighbors who are related to you and neighbors who are not related to you, and to companions and travelers and your slaves. Allah does not love anyone vain or boastful. (Surat an-Nisa', 36)