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The Importance Of Conscience In The Qur'an

This book introduces the real concept of conscience that is related in the Qur'an and draws our attention to the kind of understanding, thought, and wisdom that a truly conscientious person has.

Those Who Question And Those Who Ignore

So far, we have talked about how a conscientious man can build an awareness of the existence of Allah, even though he has not been taught anything about it. Someone who realises through his conscience that a creator exists will reach the conclusion that if Allah created such a flawless universe and provided man with a consciousness to comprehend it, then He would not have left him idle. He would definitely have established some sort of communication with these intelligent beings He created, and presented Himself to them. Furthermore, Allah, Who created everything, would definitely have created them for a purpose and let this purpose be known to them.

The person who employs his conscience, will feel a great desire to know about his Creator Who created himself and the entire universe. This desire even becomes the sole purpose of his life. He realises that he is in need of Allah, Who created him out of nothing and gave him life when he was nothing, and that all power lies with Him.

He also realises that Allah creates everything for a purpose. Everything has a duty. The sky is like a ceiling that protects theplanet; cells are there to constitute life; rain brings bounty and the sun is the source of light and heat for the entire world. It is created for such a significant purpose that life would not exist without it. In short, man can see that everything we can and cannot count here is created for a special cause. Man then asks himself, 'If I am created into such a perfect and flawlessly planned world and I will die in a short while, then what is the purpose of my presence here?' And he seeks an answer to this question.

He is not satisfied by the pieces of information he has heard from other people. He wants to know Allah, to learn what He wants from him and the purpose of his creation. He understands through his conscience that information provided by people can be insufficient or misleading. Mostly, the statements of people contradict one another, and are full of inconsistencies. He naturally thinks that the best guide to reach Allah is the book He revealed. Consequently, he takes the Qur'an, the last book Allah sent and which He protected, as his guide.


Those who Ignore the Qur'an do not follow their conscience:

How many people in the world have neither read the Qur'an nor even wondered about it?

Allah sends a book to guide people, warning them that they will be questioned after their death as to whether or not they heeded what was written in it. The result will send them either to paradise or hell. Even if people do not grasp this by referring to their conscience, they hear about it and are aware of it. However, in spite of this, they still do not read the Qur'an. They do not even barely wonder what is written in the book for which they will be held responsible on the Day of Judgement.

For example, a man receives a letter from his office or school in an envelope reading 'most important for your career/education'. He is asked to read this letter and completely fulfil its requirements by a certain date. What will he do? Will he hang it up on the wall without even reading it, just put it in the drawer, or read and disregard what is written in it? Or will he immediately start reading it with great excitement and attention as soon as he received it, and immediately act fully upon its contents?

His wisdom and common sense would definitely tell him to read this message. However, most people, due to the state of heedlessness they are in, do not lift a finger to read the most vital book in existence: the message of Allah to His people.

The fact that people have abandoned the book Allah sent is stated as follows in the Qur'an:

The Messenger says: 'My Lord, my people treat this Qur'an as something to be ignored.' (Surat al-Furqan: 30)

When a messenger comes to them from Allah confirming what is with them, a group of those who have been given the Book disdainfully toss the Book of Allah behind their backs, just as if they did not know. (Surat al-Baqara:101)

In the above verse, the expression 'as if they did not know' points out that although people know, they ignore the book of Allah. Everyone, deep in his conscience, knows that he must read and practise the Qur'an, but the majority ignores it. The reason for this is that people do not follow their conscience.


Conscience And The Qur'an Show Man The Real Purpose Of Life

'...Did you suppose that We created you for amusement and that you would not return to Us?' (Surat al-Mu'minun:115)

Someone who thinks through his conscience will ponder the purpose of his life and during his search for the answer, will naturally turn to the Qur'an, Allah's revelation. When someone intends to read the Qur'an, it is of the utmost importance that his conscience remains open, and that he reads every verse with great sincerity, with the intention to practise and live by them.

He who reads the Qur'an will find the answer for the purpose of his creation. In the Qur'an, this purpose is stated asfollows:

I only created jinn and man to worship Me. I do not require any provision from them and I do not require them to nourish Me. Truly Allah, He is the Provider, the Possessor of Strength, the Sure. (Surat adh-Dhariyat: 56-58)

The purpose of man's life on this earth is his being tested:

He Who created death and life to test which of you is best in action. He is the Almighty, the Ever- Forgiving. (Surat al-Mulk: 62)

We made everything on the earth adornment for it so that we could test them to see whose actions are the best. (Surat al-Kahf: 7)

We created man from a mingled drop to test him, and We made him hearing and seeing. We guided him on the Way, whether he is grateful or ungrateful. (Surat al-Insan: 2-3)

He who reads the above verses will understand that Allah created life to test man. He will immediately think about his own life, as well as the life of others. Most of the people around him are constantly rushing and struggling for the life of this world. They have very detailed plans, all concerning worldly things: the school they will go to, the job they will get, their marriage, their children, the house they will live in, the car they will buy, how high their salary is, where to spend the new year, what presents they will get on their birthday, their retirement, the holidays they will go on, etc. Everyone has such plans and goals in mind, though interestingly enough, no one takes the time to think of the real purpose of their presence in the world. The conscientious man witnesses this behaviour and understands it for what it is: heedlessness and folly.

It is Allah Who created man, gave him life and lets him live on. Allah made the purpose of creation very clear: 'To be a slave to Him.' The only thing that will make man happy is to bow in submission to Allah in accordance with the purpose of his creation, and to dedicate everything he owns to Him in order to gain His approval. Yet most people, as if they do not know this fact at all and as if they have come into this world only to enjoy it, live on heedlessly and greedily. On the other hand, a man thinking with his conscience sees that the majority of people are falling into a dangerous state of negligence. Thus he comes to realise that other people cannot be a reference for him, and that his following other people, saying, 'Most of them do this,' will prevent him from following the book of Allah and taking the Qur'an as his only guide.


Believing In The Hereafter With Certainty

The man who comes to realise that he was brought into this world to be tested by Allah, will then move on to another stage of thought. If we are tested in this life, then death cannot be the end. There must also be a result to this test. However, there is no result in the life of this world. Amongst all the people who have lived in the past, there were tyrants, dissolute people and murderers, as well as the messengers of Allah and other people of very high conscience who dedicated their whole lives to Allah. There were also poor and miserable people who were subjected to oppression. Those in the past are now all dead and gone; both the good and the bad are buried in their graves. Today, there is nothing left of them but some skeletal remains. Allah, the Owner of Eternal Justice, would not let the life of this world be resolved in this way.

In short, man's conscience will tell him that Allah's Eternal Conscience will pay every man in full for what he has done. Since the accounts are not completely settled in this world, then there must be a place to where this is deferred.

People who think through their conscience will also find the answer in the Qur'an. Allah states in the Qur'an that He has deferred the settling of the accounts until after death, when everyone will be fully paid for the things they have done in this world:

Each and every one of you will return to Him. Allah's promise is true. He brings creation out of nothing and then regenerates it so that he can repay with justice those who believe and did right actions. Those who disbelieve will have a drink of scalding water and a painful punishment because they disbelieved. (Surah Jonah: 4)

Your Lord will pay each of them in full for his actions. He is aware of what they do. (Surah Hud: 111)

Those who refer to the Qur'an through their conscience understand that everything they do is known by Allah, and every good and bad act will be repaid. No action is overlooked, as many people may wrongly assume. Allah makes known in the Qur'an the day of account and the real life that awaits everyone after their account is settled.

The life of this world is a temporary test ground and the real life is in the hereafter, in paradise or hell. After death, everyone will be questioned on a day determined by Allah about their actions. Those who lived according to Allah's wishes, will forever live in Jannah - the most marvellous abode possible for a human being. As for the others, they will forever live in hell where the most extreme forms of pain and distress prevail.

It is a fact communicated in the Qur'an and also through conscience and wisdom that the real life will begin after death, and everyone will meet different circumstances in the hereafter according to his or her conduct in this world. It does not suit people's purposes to follow their conscience in a life which they spend in joking and playing around, and by rote, without giving a thought to it at all. Everyone pursues plans they will benefit from in the life of this world, but none of these plans concern death or the hereafter. Death, however, is a reality far more absolute than all of these planned events. People, however, never take death into consideration. They try to live their lives as if they will never die.

What may then be the reason that the majority of people live by ignoring this important fact?

To answer this question, you must take a moment to think; how many times in your entire life have you thought about death? Have you ever thought that one day you will die, all your loved ones who buried you under the earth will then leave your grave and get on with their daily lives, and everything you ever had will be gone upon your death? Have you ever visualised how death takes place? Your flesh will rot under the soil, but what will your soul experience?

Man has a soul and the soul does not disappear. After man dies, a new life starts for his soul, but has he ever happened to wonder what kind of a new life awaits him? Like the majority of people, he, too, may have never thought about such things. This is because thinking about them makes people feel horrified. They try to avoid these facts as much as possible. When this subject is brought up, they try to dismiss its impact on them with jokes or flippant remarks.

Why, then, do almost all people try so strongly to escape this reality which is certain to happen one day? Will ignoring prevent it from happening? Of course it will not. The reason people avoid thinking about death and the hereafter is that itprods their conscience into action, reminding them that they are answerable to Allah and that they will give an account of their actions after death. At the moment the conscience awakes, everything that has been done until then loses its importance, and man comes to realise the subjects that are really important. When he thinks that he will die one day, what importance are the things he has done in the life of this world? Initially, it may perhaps be difficult for him to grasp this, but thinking of the exact moment of death in fine detail, will help him understand all the truths.

Death may come to you when you least expect it, and most likely you will have no chance to make any preparations. It could be now or in a few moments, or at a similar moment a few years hence.


Real conscience Is felt at the moment the angels of death and the fire of hell are seen

You may have seen someone die, but what you have seen is the death of the body. There is also the experience that the soul goes through during death, which can only be witnessed by the person undergoing it. Onlookers will only see the dying of the body, which may appear very peaceful in the case of someone dying naturally in his bed, or indeed agonising in the case of a victim of a car accident or disease. However, the death of the soul, that is, what it goes through during death is very different from what it seems to be.

If the person who dies is a believer, then his soul is taken with ease and he is given the glad tidings by two angels that he will start his marvellous eternal life. This person is neither frightened nor grievous, for he possesses the immeasurable joy of knowing that he will be in happiness and peace for eternity.

This fact is stated in the Qur'an as follows:

Those the angels take in a virtuous state. They say, 'Peace be upon you! Enter the Garden for what you did.' (Surat an-Nahl: 32)

The greatest terror will not upset them and the angels will welcome them: 'This is your Day, the one that you were promised.' (Surat al-Anbiya': 103)

In the case of a man who has not lived his life in accordance with Allah's approval, no matter how his body dies, what his soul experiences will be the beginning of a life full of torment. Allah warns these people in the Qur'an:

How will it be when the angels take them in death, beating their faces and their backs? (Surah Muhammad: 27)

For these reasons, trying to visualise the moment of death in your mind's eye will cause you to behave with one hundred percent sincerity and conscientiousness.

Death may come to you while driving, or doing something that you do routinely. Suddenly the sight in front of you will change and you will meet two angels of death. Angels of death may assume a horrifying appearance to those who have not lived their lives in accordance with Allah's good pleasure and ignored death and the hereafter. In the Qur'an, it is told that they stretch out their hands to the person whose life they have come to take away, pull him close to themselves and declare to him a degrading, endless torment, while beating his face and back. Separation of the soul from the body causes great pain. At that point, the man realises what is to happen next. This moment is described in Surat al-Qiyama:

Faces that Day will be glowering, realising thata back-breaking blow has fallen. No indeed! When it reaches the gullet and he hears the words, 'Who can heal him now?' And he knows it is indeed the final parting, and one leg is entwined with the other: That Day he will be driven to your Lord. He neither affirmed the truth nor did pray. But rather denied the truth and turned away. (Surat al- Qiyama: 24-32)

You too will certainly experience the moment of death. What will become important, and what will become meaningless to you? What will you regret having done or not having done? Whose advice will you wish you had taken? Whom will you wish you had never met? How concerned will you be about the details of your job? Of what importance is a dress you will wear to a party, or other people's opinions about your appearance, in comparison to the fact of the hereafter?

Those who answer these questions in full sincerity can come to terms with what their conscience tells them. If a person has not heeded Allah's good pleasure throughout his life and has not done his best to gain Allah's approval, the greatest feeling he will experience in addition to the fear he will feel at the moment of death, will be an irrecoverable remorse. Statements of remorse such as 'I wish I hadn't listened to such and such a person, I wish I had kept regular prayers, I wish I had lived for Allah,' etc. will keep crossing his mind.

Meanwhile, the impact of the moment of death will become more intense, for these two angels will drag man to hell, as they humiliate him. Before entering hell, everyone is questioned one by one and they see why they are to enter hell. At this moment, man will feel unspeakable horror because all the things he has done and thought in his entire life will be displayed to him one by one. The thoughts he supposed no one knew, and many other events even he himself had forgotten will be brought in front of him.

That Day people will emerge segregated to see the results of their actions. Whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it. Whoever oes an atom's weight of evil will see it. (Surat az-Zilzala: 6-8)

Think what will make you feel regret when your entire life in this world is brought right in front of you in such a manner. For what kind of things will you say 'I wish I had not done it' or 'I wish I had done it'? The irreparable regret on that day is expressed in a verse in the Qur'an:

That is the True Day. So whoever wills should take the way back to his Lord. We have warned you of an imminent punishment on the Day when a man will see what he has done and the unbeliever will say: 'Oh, if only I were dust!' (Surat an-Naba': 39-40)

Furthermore, people will feel great anger and repugnance against themselves for what they have done in the life of this world. Yet, the anger and resentment that Allah will feel for them will be even greater:

The unbelievers will be addressed: 'Allah's hatred of you, when you were called to faith but then chose to refuse, is even greater than your hatred of yourselves.' (Surah Ghafir: 10)

In the Qur'an, it is said that regret and remembrance on that day will be of no use. By that time, everything will have ended; no longer will it be possible to make up for what has been done in the past. The gates of hell will be locked behind man forever:

That Day Hell is produced, that Day man will remember; but how will the remembrance help him? He will say, 'Oh! If only I had prepared in advance for this life of mine!' That Day no one will punish as He punishes and no one will shackle as He shackles. (Surat al-Fajr: 23-26)

All men, even the most astray ones, will be able to see very clearly everything that their conscience tells them at the moment of death and while giving account, but since return is no longer possible, they will not be able to correct their situation by following their conscience. The purpose of this book is to reveal to people their conscience while there is still time, and to invite them to live a life by which they can make up for their past and feel no regret in the hereafter.

The difference between people who always follow their conscience and people who do not, is the power of faith the conscientious people have in Allah and the hereafter. A conscientious man always acts as if he is being questioned on the brink of hell. By example, Allah tells us about some of his messengers, who always remembered the hereafter:

And remember Our slaves Ibrahim, Ishaq, and Ya'qub, men of true strength and inner sight. We purified their sincerity through sincere remembrance of the Abode. (Surah Sad: 45- 46)