FURTHER EXAMPLES OF IGNORANT CHARACTER TYPES
The Character-type of the Rich Person
Social environment is a major influence in the development of character
types in a society of ignorance. Each society offers a different social
environment, and this environment develops traits in a character type
that are life-long. A person's personality may vary according to the city,
or even the area of a city, which he lives in.
In discourse typical of the ignorant, a new acquaintance may be first
asked his name, then where he was born and brought up, and then, which
part of the city he lives in. The purpose of this interrogation is to
find out under what circumstances he brought up under, and thereby to
acquire a basic idea of what type of character he ought to be. Because,
the ignorant are very aware of the influence a specific environment can
have on a person's character.
One type of character formed by specific social environments is that
of a rich person. This character-type is that of one who has been brought
up in wealthy surroundings. Compared with other members of the society,
these individuals have benefited from much more favorable circumstances,
not having experienced any difficulty or hardship. They have always had
little problem getting what they want; everything is at their disposal.
When they are hungry, food is put before them; if they make a mess, it
is cleaned up for them; they get what they want immediately; their cars
are bought for them and money is put into their wallets. And, they do
not have to put forth the slightest effort to get any of these things.
However, there are many "behind the scenes" who are required to expend
much physical and spiritual effort to provide them these things. There
are those who work to earn the money, determine their needs, provide what
is required, prepare it and offer it to them. But, the recipients do not
recognize these efforts, and therefore show no gratitude for them.
A fundamental characteristic that attends this ingratitude is a lack
of sympathy. Because they have nothing to worry about, and experience
no difficulties, they have no appreciation for those who live in lesser
Another prominent characteristic is their lack of faithfulness. They
do not appreciate the virtues of others, and therefore see no reason to
be loyal towards them. Such individual tend to be unable to establish
sincere relationships; they rely too heavily on their material wealth,
and think that, even if they were to lose one friend, through it they
could find others. What they regard as important in another person is
not his good character, or the fact that he practices the moral teachings
of the Qur'an; that which is important to them is what material gain he
may be. They do not value friendships on the basis of love and kindness,
and so can never establish real ones. They keep company with others whose
money they want to take advantage of, or with other inconsiderate and
wealthy people like themselves, who also do not know the real meaning
Indeed, it is because of all these vices that they are unable to find
happiness easily. They are used to getting everything easily, and so take
the advantages of their material wealth for granted. And, as stated earlier,
they fail to derive pleasure from good that is spiritual because they
cannot recognize it. Compared to other character-types, their deviance
is more blatant. One who is not accustomed to recognizing such subtleties,
will not appreciate an act of kindness done towards him, and will soon
forget it. For this reason, he becomes one who is hard to satisfy.
Because they are not able to appreciate the good in others, they cannot
experience love or respect for them. It does not enter their minds that
others appreciate that the good in them and love they are ready to show
to be recognized.
Evidently, these people have developed for themselves a type of character
contrary to the values otherwise considered acceptable. But, it must be
pointed out that, even though they were to be exiled from the social milieu,
or lose their wealth, they would continue in their debased morality. Therefore,
this character type does not refer merely who are wealthy. Merely the
fact that they have been brought in such a milieu and under specific circumstances,
is sometimes enough for them to acquire such character traits.
However, being brought up in a wealthy environment is no reason not to
have a good moral character. On the contrary, wealth is a blessing from
Allah. The important thing is to thank Him for these blessings, and to
use them in a way that will please Him. We can see examples of this morality
in the lives of the prophets. The Qur'an tells us that Prophet Sulayman
(as) asked for wealth from Allah so that he could worship Him, and show
gratitude for His blessings:
He (Sulayman) said, "Truly do I love the love of good, with a view to
the glory of my Lord until the Sun disappeared behind its veil." (Surah
Moreover, one who appreciates the blessings that Allah has conferred
upon him will have the breadth of insight to enable him to acknowledge
the good in the others around him. Therefore, such a person, even if he
were to be the wealthiest person in the world, and have everything served
to him on a silver platter, and even if he had never experienced any difficulties
or troubles in his life, he will nonetheless be sympathetic and considerate,
exercising a good conscience. He knows the emotional and material needs
of those who are poor and troubled. He shows a deep sense of compassion
and respect. He knows what friendship is. Because, he is a believer and,
no matter how prosperous he may be, he will never act carelessly or against
his better conscience. He is always looking toward what is good and just,
and searches for ways to win Allah's favor. For this reason, prosperity
does not lead him into moral depravity.
Such people are truly racing towards good things, and they are the first
to reach them. (Surat al-Muminun, 61)
The Character-type of the "Nouveau Riche"
Those called "nouveau riche" in a society of ignorance are usually people
in the middle income bracket, who have become suddenly rich, either as
the result of an inheritance or some other fortuitous cause. Among them
are those who are divorced from religion, and who want to appear superior
in the eyes of others; nor do they give thanks to Allah for the blessings
they have received. When speaking they continually make reference to how
rich they are, how they spend money without keeping track of it, what
they have bought and where they have been on vacation. If they buy clothing,
it will be from a designer label. They will have their pictures taken
in all the prestigious locations they have visited, and display them conspicuously
in the house. Whether they enjoy it or not, they do what rich people are
known for, trying in all cases to imitate their way of life. For example,
to give the impression that they know a foreign language, or that they
have just come from abroad, they will use foreign words in their conversations,
even though they do not know what they mean. Rather, they tend to show
their ignorance by using words out of place. They want to appear to be
cultivated but only embarrass themselves. They wear clothing that does
not suit them, just to be seen wearing the latest styles.
They are unable to be critical of themselves. That is, they cannot see
themselves through the eyes of others. They cannot see how ridiculous
they look, or what suits them or is more becoming for them. They go out
of their way to imitate what the wealthy are known to do.
It is clear that it is Allah Who has provided their new-found wealth.
Perhaps, until that time, they had often prayed that Allah would increase
them in wealth and possessions. But, when their prayers are answered,
they immediately forget their former circumstances, and the prayers they
have made. The Qur'an describes those who persist in their greed after
they have already been conferred with blessings:
When We grant blessing to a man, he turns away and draws aside but when
any evil touches him, he is full of endless prayers! (Surah Fussilat,
They resort to various methods to ingratiate themselves to the wealthy,
but this just makes them despised. Actually, their attempts have only
sunk them into a trap. Instead of seeking to win Allah's favor, they try
to make others like them. But, for this, Allah has prepared for them a
dire reward. They will lose not only the love of Allah, but also the estimation
of other people.
The Character-type of the Intellectual
That which is recognized in society as "intellectualism" are non-religious,
though they influence a significant segment of a society of ignorance.
Its basic purpose is to promote faithless lifestyle and to make it dominant
in the society. But, most, especially the young, are unaware of this agenda;
they want to become "intellectuals" because they think it will bring them
This milieu is usually located in the university setting. However, there
is also a common notion that those lovers of the "fine arts" also fall
into this category. For this reason, one who behaved quite otherwise in
high school, changes as soon as he enters a university program such as
Fine Arts in university. He begins to dress differently, changes his hairstyle,
and assumes the air of an intellectual in his habits and tastes. The ignorant
society he lives has instilled in him the idea that all successful artists
act this way.
From then on, they are prepared to do everything to meet up to these
expectations. They spend their days in cafes where "intellectuals" meet,
in dark and dingy places filled with cigarette smoke, or in bars having
"intellectual" conversations. They believe themselves to represent the
enlightened and progressive segment of society, and dream up schemes to
"save the world." But, all their pretense is nothing but irrational, futile
and incessant prattle. For them, the important thing is to be "radical,"
and lead a life accordingly, in order that they can stand out from others.
They aim to express a certain "mood" in their paintings, sculptures, books
and music, however, when you look at the work they produce, you can see
that, under the guise of "intellectualism," most of them express the same
shallowness. They have no real understanding of high art, or of the depth
of beauty and truth it can express; usually their art reveals their somber,
melancholic and confused state of mind.
The films they watch, and the books they read, all must reflect this
"intellectualism"; or they can't enjoy them. To look like "intellectuals,"
they will wander around with a book in their hands, that they have supposedly
read. Though, they have not really read it; nevertheless, they try to
gain prestige by repeating a few sentences that they have memorized from
They memorize certain phrases they have gleaned from the philosophers,
using them as often as they can in their cafés. If you ask them, they
will say that they have studied all philosophical movements, and even
pretend to be experts on their subjects. However, they usually do not
have any in-depth knowledge in any such field.
Their obsession with being "non-conformists" is the reason for which
they develop strange ideas with regard to morality. They insist that family
and marriage are unnecessary, and that a life lived without respect for
bounds of decency is a sign of modernity and civilization.
Their confused state of mind dominates their whole lives. They enjoy
dark and dingy places, chaos and disorder. Their own dwelling also reflect
their errant notions; fast-food containers are scattered everywhere, books
are piled on top of another, living amid filth.
But, generally speaking, they do not fully enjoy their lives. Unbelief
is a delusion permitted by Allah from which man can derive no pleasure
and joy. They aspire to a society where there are no rules, where all
can infringe upon the rights of others, in which there is no order or
limits, and in which there is an absence of the humane and moral qualities
that religion brings. They only harm themselves in the end by that which
they promote. Even just a brief experience of that which they desire would
ultimately cause them harm.
The only thing that can bring honor and edify human beings is the true
religion that Allah revealed for them to live by. It is only by living
according to this religion that human beings can achieve contentment.
Concerning All the Character-types of Ignorance
Since the beginning of this book, we have examined the character types,
moral qualities, personalities, worldviews and habits that dominate a
society of ignorance. Among them we found nothing that was positive or
well-balanced, and nothing that could contribute to real contentment.
Because, all of these character types derive from a system devoid of religion.
Allah has created human beings who are able to attain happiness only by
living a life of faith based on religious morality. If thousands more
character types were to be developed, as long as they were to be apart
from religion, the result would be the same-distress, chaos and confusion.
In the Qur'an, Allah provides examples of the condition of human beings
who are apart from religion:
Those are the people who have sold guidance for misguidance. Their trade
has brought no profit; they are not guided. Their likeness is that of
people who light a fire, and then when it has lit up all around them,
Allah removes their light and leaves them in darkness, unable to see.
Deaf, dumb, blind. They will not return. Or that of a storm-cloud in the
sky, full of darkness, thunder and lightning. They put their fingers in
their ears against the thunderclaps, fearful of death. Allah encompasses
the disbelievers. The lightning all but takes away their sight. Whenever
they have light, they walk in it but whenever darkness covers them, they
halt. If Allah wished, He could take away their hearing and their sight.
Allah has power over all things. Humanity! Worship your Lord, Who created
you and those before you, so that hopefully you will fear Allah. (Surat
In these examples, Allah provides an important account of why the ignorant
will be at loss. They were given the opportunity to follow the right path,
but they chose another way, disbelief. They made their choice based on
certain worldly expectations, but they have been unable to find the true
happiness by the means they have chosen.
On the contrary, their choices have rendered them spiritually deaf, blind
and dumb. For this reason, although they are lost, they cannot turn away
from what they have chosen.
Allah uses the example of lightning to explain their state; every time
lightening flashes it illuminates the surroundings. The travelers move
on but immediately the surroundings become buried again in darkness, and
they are confounded. So, the ignorant are deceived by thinking that they
can manage alone this brief journey they have set out on. However, as
stated in the Qur'an, salvation comes only by turning to Allah, serving
Him and living by that which He wills.