Fears and Obsessions of Ignorance
Ignorant people are unable to grasp the fact that
it is Allah who has absolute power over all things. This is why, starting
from childhood, they develop irrational fears about everything. Later
in life, this fear becomes a permanent source of trouble and difficulty.
Every incident they encounter in life becomes a sheer source of unmitigated
anxiety; they are always rather vulnerable. They fear other people, for
instance. Likewise, random events such as, earthquakes, lightning and
tornadoes strike mortal fear into their hearts.
In the Qur’an, Allah gives the example of those who worship gods other
Allah made this comparison : There are two men;
one has several part-owners, who are always quarrelling, and the other
belongs wholly to one man. Are the two equal? Praise be to Allah! But
most of them do not know. You will die, and they will die; then on the
Day of Resurrection, before your Lord you will dispute with one another.
(Surah Al-Zumar: 29-31)
One can actually make a list of situations feared
by the “people steeped in ignorance with many gods”. These are the situations
they perceive to be a real threat to their well-being. Getting sick, being
fired, going bankrupt, not getting married or not having any children,
together with many obsessions, doubts, fears, images, thoughts or worries
about the future turn their lives into a hellish state. Apart from these,
they have recurrent thoughts and fears which they are unable to control,
even though they realise them to be unnecessary and irrelevant. Superstitions
are among these irrational fears; they fear darkness, for instance, they
avoid black cats or walking under ladders, believing they bring bad luck.
In the following pages we will further examine
various aspects of these fears and the confusion and loss they cause both
in this world and the Hereafter.
Fear of Unfaithfulness
Ignorant people trust nobody, including their immediate family members.
For them, it is quite likely that anyone can betray them one day once
they feel their interests are at stake. Given the fact that they have
not surrendered themselves to Allah like the people who adhere to the
Qur’an, they are right about it.
Indeed, it would be wrong to expect complete
reliability and faithfulness from someone who has no fear of Allah or
belief in the Hereafter, since it is only faith in one’s heart that paves
the way for truthfulness.
One essential measure ignorant people take to
combat the baneful effects of unfaithfulness is “not to put their trust
in anyone.” The lifelong fear of unfaithfulness almost becomes an obsession
for them and manifests itself in popular phrases like, "Don’t even
trust your father.”
Always keeping in mind this phrase, they put
their trust in nobody except themselves; still this is not a deterrent
to the unfaithfulness of the people surrounding them. Every day, newspapers
abound in various cases of unfaithfulness. In business life, partners
cheat one another. It is not surprising to hear that an accountant who
has rendered years of service to a company has defrauded his boss of thousands
of pounds. Sometimes even the sons of a father may attempt to cheat him.
Such cases are not restricted to material issues
only. A woman, for instance, feels free to disclose a secret of her husband
to her friends. Or couples, during their conversations with intimate friends,
talk behind each other's backs. Similarly, though married, they remain
unfaithful to each other.
There are surely countless examples to give.
Frequently encountering these cases, ignorant people feel the constant
fear that one of these calamities might befall them one day.
Fear of Poverty
One significant weakness of the ignorant is their fear of poverty. A
major cause of such a fear is the unenlightened system which rests upon
material wealth. They maintain that, with the help of money, they can
live a full, rewarding and healthier life. Otherwise, they believe they
will be deprived of many essentials of life as well as various benefits,
like social status, which are associated with prosperity.
What is interesting is the existence of wealthy people who also suffer
from this fear and are always under great stress. Often these people go
to great lengths; for instance they avoid spending money, even for essential
needs. They work strenuously, though they have already a sufficient amount
of money that will last for a lifetime. They believe it is prudent to
pile up their money in their bank accounts. This is actually the way they
try to ease their fears about the future.
Nevertheless, their attainments never match
their expectations; while their intention is to have a rewarding life
here in this world, events progress otherwise and they find themselves
in a state of utter boredom that merely unsettles them.
Both fear of poverty and being stingy are the consequence of not putting
one’s trust in Allah. Allah warns man against being seized by this fear:
The devil threatened you with destitution and
enjoined on you lewdness. But Allah promised you forgiveness from Himself
with bounty. Allah is All-Embracing and All-knowing. (Surah Al-Baqarah:
The only way to ease these fears is complete obedience to Allah, since
fear of Allah renders all other fears meaningless. A true believer fully
understands the fact that it is Allah who provides him with all the needs.
Therefore, he never nurses a grievance about such an issue. Knowing that
Allah is most generous to His servants, his mind becomes occupied only
with the remembrance of Allah and never feels fear about the future.
Fear of Growing Old
Being young and beautiful are the top issues to which the ignorant society
attaches importance. All through his life, it is the main ambition of
man to maintain his health. Yet, it has to be admitted that this often
proves to be a vain effort. Getting old and therefore losing one's looks
and being in poor health are inescapable facts of life and thus important
sources of grief for ignorant people. Women feel free to express their
fear, while men often avoid disclosing what they feel deep inside. The
apparent signs of growing old affect them profoundly. In a way, growing
old puts an end to all extravagant manners. Therefore each day, the signs
of growing old becoming more apparent on their faces and bodies, gives
them more grief. Yet, no matter how hard they try, they can never resist
this natural process.
Life in old age is surely totally different
from what it used to be. Old age is a period of one’s life when one is
perceived as a burden. Those taking care of old people make them feel
that they are a source of trouble. Such an approach creates various feelings
of anxiety in them. They fear being sent to nursing homes or remaining
all alone. There is indeed a reason why they feel this fear, however.
In a society where people have no obedience to Allah, the system is entirely
lacking in mercy and justice. For this reason, what they fear most often
becomes a reality.
Another reason for the fear of growing old is
the fact that it reminds man of death and the end of this life. Each glance
at the mirror signals the shortening of time in this world. This is surely
a torment for an unbeliever. For a man having no faith in the life beyond,
the termination of this life and the decaying of body under the earth
is an end with no return. Since he has staked his all upon this life,
he greatly fears losing it.
Believers, on the other hand, fear neither getting
old nor the weaknesses they are likely to suffer in old age. That is because,
they do not try to gain recognition or social status through good looks.
They are aware that, in the presence of Allah, a believer is praised for
his moral perfection rather than his appearance. Among friends, on the
other hand, they are loved for being close to Allah.
Neither does the close link between old age
and death make believers terrified. For them, the Hereafter is a beginning;
a beginning of an incomparably and unprecedentedly better and fulfilling
life which will last for all eternity. A person who spends his early years
engaging in good deeds to attain Paradise and the good pleasure of Allah
enters old age with joy and happiness.
Fear of Getting Sick
Those who have a deep attachment to this life harbour an inner restlessness
and a great fear that unsettle them when they think about the possibility
of becoming sick. They believe the disease-producing agents — microbes
and viruses — to be separate beings apart from and independent of Allah.
That is why, these microscopic agents become a nightmare for ignorant
Essentially, being sick is being deprived of the favours of this world.
Even influenza is a hindrance to many activities and a waste of some part
of their lifetime, which is already limited. Diseases hinder man from
travelling, entertainment, business… This is surely a major flaw in their
Perceiving diseases as such a misfortune, ill-informed
ignorant people often feel anxiety about becoming sick. However, the viewpoint
of believers about this issue is totally different: primarily, they are
aware that, in one way or another, this life will definitely end one day.
Therefore, if they manage to escape a disease, for instance, they know
that an accident can alter their lives at any moment. Or they never forget
that the natural process of becoming old will sooner or later do irreversible
damage to their health. Apart from this, they keep in mind that, except
by the will of Allah, no virus or bacteria can do any harm to anyone.
Therefore, when they become sick, they know that it is ordained by Allah
for a specific purpose. Submission to Allah provides complete relief from
fear of diseases. Certainly, they take all possible measures to enjoy
good health. But if they do become sick, they show patience and display
moral perfection as the verse below relates:
…And those who keep their treaty when they make
one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and times of stress,
such are they who are sincere. Such are the Allah-fearing. (Surah Al-Baqarah:
The Ignorant Society is in Fear of Death
One of the major shortcomings of the ignorant society is the fear of
death. Yet, while living with this fear and trying to avoid even the thought
of it, they neglect one crucial fact: no matter how hard they struggle,
life slips away second by second. That there is no escape from death is
thus recalled :
Wherever you may be, death will overtake you,
even though you may be in lofty towers. Yet if a happy thing befalls,
them, they say: 'This is from Allah'. And if an evil thing befalls them,
they say: 'This is of your doing (O Muhammad)'. Say (to them): 'All is
from Allah'. What is amiss with these people that they can hardly understand
a word?(Surah Al-Nisa: 78)
Say (to them, O Muhammad): 'The death from which
you shrink will surely overtake you, and afterward you will be returned
to the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, and He will tell you what
you used to do.' (Surah Al-Jumua: 8)
As explained by the verses, death is an unavoidable end. Like all other
people, the richest, the most beautiful or the most respected individual
in the world will die. Nobody, without exception, can escape it. Those
currently living and those who will ever live will also face death on
a predestined day.
Knowing this fact, ignorant people make a great effort to delay this
end and thus try to make more of this life. Death would separates them
from their dearest relatives or friends and reduces all worldly efforts
to insignificance. Moreover, they avoid pronouncing the word ‘death.’
Those who remind others of it are labelled as ‘thoughtless’ and conversations
about death are often interrupted on the pretext that it is not the proper
time or place to talk about it.
Man’s mental process is inclined to disregard what he does not like
or want. He is even inclined to deny the existence of things he avoids
confronting. This tendency seems to be most apparent when death is the
issue. He shuns issues like diseases or old age, which remind him of death.
His fear is so great that even seeing the doctor makes him restless. He
fears being diagnosed with a fatal disease. At times, such anxiety even
dissuades him from seeing the doctor. Naturally, funerals are the events
which cause the deepest concern. The act of placing an immediate family
member or a dearest friend in the grave inevitably reminds one of the
time one will encounter one’s own death.
This fear, however, brings them nothing positive.
They fear losing the life of this world. Yet, though they live long, they
spend all these years subject to this fear. This is really a misfortune
from Allah for those who persist in this superstitious fear and do not
replace it with the fear of Allah.
In the ignorant society, almost everybody is obsessed by superstitious
beliefs. As the word ‘superstition’ also suggests, such a belief is one
which someone knows is irrational, but which nevertheless he insists on
hanging to. However, this is a quite a natural phenomenon for someone
who is not acquainted with the Qur’an, and thus is not familiar with religion.
One of the most important aspects of superstitious
beliefs is that they are handed down from one generation to the next.
No matter how irrational or groundless they may be, the majority of the
societies have incorporated these beliefs into their way of living.
Furthermore, most societies accept these beliefs
as rules and they painstakingly stick to them. They never walk under a
ladder, for instance, believing that it brings bad luck. Seeing a black
cat is also a sign of bad luck. They knock on wood to avoid an undesirable
event. Countless such rules, which evoke a deep fear, are formulated by
ignorant people. If they fail to observe these rules, they feel anxious
about being hit by a disaster.
The major mistake these people make is actually
to forget that each and every event occurs only by the will of Allah.
Accordingly, neither a ladder nor a black cat has any individual power
to bring bad luck. However, people whose minds are in darkness became
obsessed by the ‘pseudo-fears’ they themselves have invented.
The Obsession with Bad Luck
In an unenlightened society superstitious beliefs are to a great extent
associated with bad luck. These beliefs have a deep influence on the daily
lives of ignorant people. A number, a colour or even a person may be assumed
to be cursed. It is almost universally accepted that the number thirteen
equates with bad luck. Similarly, except for those who accept the Qur’anic
way of life, all people around the world will take a different path in
order to avoid black cats.
Ill-informed people also have fears about themselves,
with which they have difficulty in coming to terms. For instance, they
never wear a garment again if they have it on at the time of an accident.
Alternatively, in such a case they hastily sell their cars.
The fear of being cursed is so strong among
the ignorant that important decisions about their lives, even their friendships,
are shaped by it. It is entirely possible that such an irrational fear
might pave the way to putting an end to a long-lasting friendship, for
instance. However, not until they do not give up these fears, can they
can ever free themselves from these obsessions. Therefore, the solution
is not to escape from them but to eradicate them. The only way to attain
this, however, is by abandoning all beliefs rooted in ignorance and putting
one's trust in Allah.
Phobic anxiety or phobic fear is an irrational fear which the individual
in question knows is unnecessary and out of proportion to the demands
of the situation concerned, but which, nevertheless, he is unable to overcome.
It occurs without logic in situations which ordinarily should not cause
fear. Despite being a mental problem, however, ignorant people accept
those suffering from phobic anxiety or phobic fear as normal people rather
than patients who need treatment. Medical dictionaries list between 250
and 300 phobias. Indeed, the ignorant can become phobic about anything.
It is not rare for a person to have a list of situations which cause phobic
distress for him.
Some of the fears may be rational for all people.
Yet, the fears of phobic individuals are quite extreme. A person with
a phobic fear of snakes, for instance, screams, jumps on the sofa or faints
at the sight of a snake on television or newspaper. Some associate enclosed
places with a grave or a place under earth and hence develop agoraphobia,
the fear of enclosed places. This is, in fact, a manifestation of the
fear of death. In their minds, they equate darkness with disasters and
hence feel restless even at home, a place where they should normally feel
secure. They attribute a power to darkness, assume it to be separate and
apart from Allah, and believe that it is the source of all evil. In darkness,
they feel terrified, assuming that unseen forces lie in wait to assault
or to kill them.
There is one main reason why these people feel
terrified with no rational and apparent reason: they do not trust Allah
and ascribe partners to Him. In the Qur’an, Allah relates that groundless
fear is a temptation of evil and that there is neither fear nor grief
for true believers who fear Allah.
It is only the devil who would make (men) fear
his partisans. But do not fear them; fear Me, if you are true believers.(Surah
Aal-e Imran: 175)
But whoever surrenders himself to Allah while
doing good, his reward is with his Lord; and no fear shall overtake them,
neither shall they grieve.(Surah Al-Baqarah: 112)