What are the Reasons that Prevent Thought?
are many factors that hinder people from thinking. A single one, or a
number, or all of them may detain a person from thinking and seeing the
truth. In this respect, it is necessary that everyone identify the factors
that affect them negatively, and be rid of them. Otherwise, one cannot
see the real face of the life of this world, and that might bring great
loss in the hereafter.
In the Qur'an, Allah tells us the situation of those people who are accustomed
to think superficially:
They know an outward aspect of the life of this
world but are heedless of the hereafter. Have they not reflected within
themselves? Allah did not create the heavens and the earth and everything
between them except with truth and for a fixed term. Yet many people reject
the meeting with their Lord. (Surat ar-Rum: 7-8)
Following the Majority Causes Mental Numbness
One of the issues that mislead people most is their belief that what
the "majority" does is right. Man is usually inclined to accept
what he is taught by the people around him, rather than finding the truth
by thinking. He sees that things that seem odd to him at first sight are
most of the time considered ordinary by people, and moreover are not even
noticed by them, and after a while, he too begins to become accustomed
For instance, a great part of the people in his circle does not acknowledge
that they will die one day. They do not even let anybody talk about this
topic in order not to remember death. Seeing this, the person looks around
him and says, "Since everybody is like that, there must be nothing
wrong with my behaving the same way" and begins to live without remembering
death at all. If, however, the people around him had acted with fear of
Allah and struggled with due struggle for the hereafter, most probably
this person too would have changed his attitude.
As another example, on TVs and magazines, hundreds of news items of disasters,
unfairness, injustice, oppression, suicide, homicide, theft and swindle
are covered, and thousands of needy people are mentioned everyday. Yet
many people who read these news items turn the pages of the newspaper
or switch the TV channels with inner calm. In general, people do not think
why there are so many of these kind of news items, or what has to be done
and what kind of precautions have to be taken in order to stop them, or
what they themselves can do about these problems. Neither do people around
them think over those problems. Most people hold others responsible for
these problems, employing such logic as "is it up to me to save the
Indolence is a factor that keeps the majority of people from thinking.
Because of mental indolence, people do everything the way they have always
seen and to which they are used. To give an example from our daily lives,
the way housewives do the cleaning is just how they have seen their mothers
do it. They generally do not think, "how could things be done in
a cleaner and more practical way" nor try to find new methods. Similarly,
when something needs repair, men use the methods they have been taught
since their childhood. They are generally reluctant to practise a new
method that might be more practical and efficient. Such people's styles
of speech are also the same. The way an accountant speaks, for example,
is just the same as all the other accountants he has seen in his life.
Doctors, bankers, salesmen… people from all classes have particular styles
of speech. They do not seek to find the most proper, the best, and the
most favourable way by thinking about it. They just imitate what they
The solutions found to problems also reflect indolence in thinking. For
example, the manager of a building brings to the building's garbage problem
exactly the same solution as the one brought by previous managers. Or
a mayor tries to solve the traffic problem by looking at what preceding
mayors have done. In many cases, because of not thinking he is unable
to find new solutions.
Certainly, the examples cited here are issues from which people suffer
harm in their everyday lives. Yet there are subjects far more important
than those, which, if people fail to think about, may cause them to suffer
great and eternal loss. The cause of this loss is one's failure to think
about the purpose of existence in the world, and disregarding the fact
that death is unavoidable, and that we will definitely meet the day of
reckoning after death. In the Qur'an, Allah invites people to reflect
upon these crucial matters.
Those are the people who have lost their own selves.
What they invented has abandoned them. Without question they will be the
greatest losers in the hereafter. As for those who believe and do right
actions and humble themselves before their Lord, they are the Companions
of the Garden, remaining in it timelessly, forever. The likeness of the
two groups is that of the blind and deaf and the seeing and hearing. Are
they the same as one another? So will you not pay heed? (Surah Hud: 21-24)
Is He Who creates like him who does not create?
So will you not pay heed? (Surat an-Nahl: 17
The Conditioned Response that "Thinking Too Much
is Not Good"
There is a conviction prevalent in society that deep thought is not good.
People warn one another saying "don't think so much, you will lose
your mind". This is surely nothing but a superstition invented by
people who are remote from religion. People should not avoid thinking
but thinking negatively or being carried away by exaggerated scruples
Since those who don't have strong faith in Allah and the hereafter think
without committing themselves to goodness, but instead negatively, then
by their contemplation they achieve outcomes that are not entirely beneficial.
They think, for example, that the life of this world is temporary, and
that one-day they will die, but this causes them to display great pessimism.
This is because, conscientiously, they are aware that the life they pass
without following the commands of Allah prepares a wretched end for them
in the hereafter. Some, on the other hand, are pessimistic because they
believe that they will totally vanish after death.
A wise person who believes in Allah and the hereafter draws completely
different conclusions when he reflects on the fact that the life of this
world is temporary. First of all, his realisation that the world is temporary
causes him to engage in zealous struggle for his real and eternal life
in the hereafter. Since he knows that this life will sooner or later end,
he does not become carried away by the ambition for worldly passions and
interests. He is extremely resigned. Nothing in this temporary life annoys
him. He always cherishes the hope of attaining an eternal and pleasant
life. He also greatly enjoys worldly blessings and beauty. Allah has created
the world incomplete and flawed in order to test people. The intelligent
person thinks that if there is so much beauty, which is pleasing to man
even in this incomplete and flawed world, then the beauty of paradise
should be unimaginably more attractive. He hopes to see in the hereafter
the "originals" of every beauty he views here. And he comprehends
all of these by thinking deeply.
Therefore, it would be a great loss to worry about "what if I become
pessimistic by finally seeing the truth", and hence, avoid thinking.
For a person who always entertains hope by virtue of his faith in Allah,
and who thinks positively, there is nothing that leads to pessimism.
Avoiding the Responsibilities that Thinking Brings
Most people think that they might be able to evade various responsibilities
by avoiding thinking and setting their brain to work on certain issues.
By doing so in the world, they succeed in holding themselves aloof from
many subjects. One of the greatest ways in which people are deceived,
however, is in their supposition that they can escape their responsibilities
to their Lord by not thinking. This is the main reason why people do not
think about death and life after death. If man thinks that he will die
one day and remembers that there is an eternal life after death, he will
necessarily have to strive strenuously for his life after death. He, however,
deceives himself, supposing that he is saved from such responsibility
when he does not think of the existence of the hereafter. This is a great
self-deception, and if man does not attain the truth in this world by
thinking, he will understand, with death, that there is no escape for
The stupor of death will come in truth. (And it
is said unto him): "That is what you were trying to evade! The trumpet
is blown. That is the day of the threat." (Surah Qaf: 19-20)
Not Thinking Because of Being Swept Away by the
Flow of Daily Life
TThe majority of people spend their whole lives in a "rush".
When they reach a certain age, they have to work and look after themselves
and their families. They call this "the struggle for life" and
complain that they have no time for anything as they have to rush around
in this struggle. In this so-called "shortage of time", thinking
is one of the things for which they cannot spare any time. Therefore,
they are swept away wherever the flow of their daily lives takes them.
In this way of life, they become insensitive to events taking place around
The aim of man, however, should not be to consume time, rushing from
one place to another. The main issue is to be able to see the real face
of this world and assume a way of living accordingly. No one's sole purpose
is earning money, going to work, studying at university or purchasing
a house. Surely, man may need to do those things in the course of his
life, yet there is a subject that he should always bear in mind while
doing them: the purpose of his existence in this world is to be a slave
of Allah, to work for Allah's pleasure, His mercy and paradise. All works
other than this purpose can serve only as a "means" helping
man to attain his true purpose. Adopting the means to certain ends as
the real purposes is a serious deception with which satan misleads man.
Someone who lives without thinking may easily take these means as his
real purpose. We can cite an example from our daily lives. It is undoubtedly
a good act for one to work and produce beneficial things for society.
A person who believes in Allah performs such an act eagerly and expects
a reward from Allah both in the world and in the hereafter. If a person,
on the other hand, does the same thing without remembering Allah and only
for worldly interests such as status and people's appreciation, he is
making a mistake. He has made something, which he should use as a means
of earning the pleasure of Allah, his purpose. And he will regret this
when he faces realities in the hereafter. In a verse, Allah refers to
those who indulge in this manner in the life of this world as follows:
Like those before you who had greater strength
than you and more wealth and children. They enjoyed their portion; so
enjoy your portion as those before you enjoyed theirs. You have plunged
into defamation as they plunged into it. The actions of such people come
to nothing in this world or the hereafter. They are the lost. (Surat at-Tawba:
Looking at Everything with "The Eye of Habit" And
Therefore Seeing No Need to Reflect Thereon
When people come across certain things for the first time, they may
understand the extraordinary nature of them and this may spur them to
further inspect what they see. After a while, however, they develop a
habitual resistance to those things and they no longer impress them. In
particular, an object or happening they meet everyday becomes "ordinary"
For instance, it makes a great impression on some prospective doctors
the first time they see a corpse, or the first time one of their patients
dies. This makes them ponder deeply. It may be that all of a sudden they
face the lifeless, almost stuff-like body of a person, who was, just a
few minutes ago, full of life, laughing, making plans, talking, taking
pleasure, eyes sparkling with life. The first time a cadaver is laid down
in front of them for autopsy, they think over everything they see in that
corpse: that the body decays so fast, that a repugnant smell comes out
of it, that the hair once so pleasant to look at become so unpleasant
that one doesn't want to touch it, are all subjects they think about.
After those they think this: the composition of everyone's body is the
same and everyone will meet the same end, that is, they too will become
Yet, after seeing a couple of cadavers or losing a couple of patients,
these people develop a habitual resistance to certain things. They begin
to treat cadavers, and even patients, as if they are objects.
Surely, this situation does not hold true for doctors alone. For the
majority of people, the same situation applies in many areas of their
lives. For example, when a person who lives in difficulty is granted a
pleasant life-style, he understands that everything he possesses is a
blessing for him. That his bed is more comfortable, his house has a beautiful
view, he can buy everything he wants, he can heat his house in winter
as he wishes, he can easily move by car, and many other things are all
blessings for this person. Thinking of his old state, he rejoices at each
of these. Yet someone who possesses these means from birth may not think
so much about their worth. So, his appreciation of these blessings does
not become possible unless he thinks over them.
For a man who ponders, on the other hand, it makes no difference whether
he possesses these blessings from birth or attained them afterwards. He
never looks at his possessions in a habitual way. He knows that anything
he owns has been created by Allah and Allah may take them back from him
if He wills. For example, believers say the following prayer when they
mount their riding beasts, that is, their vehicles:
So that you might sit firmly on their backs and
remember your Lord's blessing while you are seated on them, saying, "Glory
be to Him who has subjected this to us. We could never have done it by
ourselves. Indeed we are returning to our Lord!" (Surat az-Zukhruf:
In another verse, it is said that when believers enter their gardens,
they remember Allah and say, "It is as Allah wills, there is no strength
but in Allah" (Surat al-Kahf: 39). Whenever they enter their gardens,
they think that Allah has created and sustains this garden. On the other
hand, a man who does not think may be impressed the first time he sees
a beautiful garden, but then it becomes an ordinary place for him. His
admiration fades for the beauty therein. Some people do not realise these
blessings at all since they do not think. They take these blessings as
"usual" and "something that already had to exist".
Therefore, they cannot derive pleasure from their beauty.
Conclusion: It is Imperative for Man to Eliminate
All the Factors That Hold Him Back From Thinking
As we said earlier, that the majority of people do not think and live
heedless of truth cannot be sufficient excuse for one not thinking. Each
person is an independent individual responsible to Allah by himself alone.
It is very important to bear in mind that Allah tests people in the life
of this world. The indifference of others, their being people who do not
think, reason, and see the truth is, most of the time, a part of this
test. A person who thinks sincerely does not say "most of the people
do not reflect, and are unaware of all these, so why should I alone think?"
On the contrary, he takes warning by thinking about the heedlessness of
these people, and takes refuge in Allah in order not be one of them. It
is clear that the situation of these people cannot be an excuse for him.
In the Qur'an, Allah informs us in many of His verses that most people
are heedless and do not believe:
Yet no faith will the greater part of mankind have,
however ardently you desire it. (Surah Yusuf: 103)
Alif Lam Mim Ra. Those are the signs of the Book.
And what has been sent down to you from your Lord is the truth. But most
people do not believe. (Surat ar-Ra'd: 1)
They swear by Allah with their most earnest oaths
that Allah will not raise up those who die, when, on the contrary, it
is a binding promise on Him; but most people do not know it. (Surat an-Nahl:
We have variegated it for them so they might pay
heed but most people begrudge aught save ingratitude. (Surat al-Furqan:
In other verse, Allah announces the end of those who have gone astray
by following the majority, failed to obey the commands of Allah by forgetting
the purpose of their creation:
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)
For this reason, every person should, by getting rid of the reasons preventing
him from thinking, sincerely and honestly think over every event and creature
that Allah creates and draw a lesson and warning from his reflections.
In the next chapter, we will be discussing what man may reflect on about
certain events and creatures he may come across in his daily life. Our
purpose is to have these subjects provide the readers of this book with
a guidance and help them spend the rest of their lives as people who "think
and draw warnings from what they reflect on".