Life In The Society Of Ignorance
In the earlier sections, we mentioned that the
main difference between believers and disbelievers is the formers' awareness of
Allah's infinite might. We also talked about how a believer, who is aware of Allah's
existence, must and does orient his entire life to earn the approval of Allah.
One of the most significant characteristics of someone who can appreciate
Allah's might and thus reorients all his deeds to earn Allah's blessing, is his
liberating himself from all beings other than Allah. Having his life focused on
earning His approval and being a servant to Him, he develops a different outlook
on the universe, which he knows is created and controlled by Allah. Since he considers
Allah as the only deity, the false deities surrounding him lose their meaning.
In the Qur'an, this subject is stressed in the story of the Prophet Ibrahim
(as) as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (sas):
...He was a saintly man and a Prophet. Remember when he said to his father, "Father, why
do you worship what can neither hear nor see and is not of any use to you at all?"
(Surah Maryam: 41-42)
Since a believer seeks the pleasure of Allah alone,
prays to Him, and beseeches only Him, he has become "independent" of all created
beings. He does not feel the need to seek other people's pleasure, and does not
pin his hopes on anyone other than Allah. The attainment of true freedom is, in
fact, possible only through having a full grasp of this fact and turning towards
The lives of those lacking true faith, unlike those of the believers,
are subservient to countless false deities. Such people devote their entire lives
to gaining the approval of countless people, and when they seek help, it is from
other people. In reality, however, the creatures a disbeliever idolises in his
mind are nothing but weak "servants," just like himself. Indeed, these beings
are far from fulfilling his desires, much less saving him. Death is, no doubt,
the most obvious fact, revealing that these idolised beings can by no means be
of any help. However, it would be too late to wait for death to grasp the imaginary
nature of these deities.
The deadlock these people face is related in the
Qur'an as follows:
They have taken [other] gods besides
Allah [Alone], hoping that they may be helped. They cannot help them, even though
they are an army mobilised in their support. (Surah Ya Sin: 74-75)
base their entire lives on this very distorted rationale. There emerges from this
another important difference between believers and disbelievers: Believers adopt
the criteria laid down by Allah as their only guidance. They observe the commands
of the Qur'an, the just Book and the Sunnah of the Prophet (saas). Their religion
is Islam, which is explained in detail in the Qur'an and is presented to us through
the exemplary of the life of the Prophet (saas).
People who lead their
lives in a state oblivious of Allah will surely accept the criteria laid down
by the imaginary deities rather than the criteria set forth by Allah. Unlike Islam,
the one and immutable law of Allah, theirs is a polytheistic religion. These people
have various conflicting rules and goals imposed by society. This being the case,
the polytheistic religions they abide by take various forms.
Some of them
aim at money and power, while others desire a prestigious and influential status.
Some aspire to find a "good spouse" and have a "happy family life." This diversity
that engenders different life styles and accordingly different "religions" is,
in fact, based on the failure to grasp Allah's existence and His limits.
man is, by nature, inclined to trust Allah and be a servant to Him. Unable to
fulfil his infinite needs and desires by himself, by nature, he tends to turn
to Allah alone. Accordingly, the nature of man is inclined to recognise Allah
as his Lord:
So, as a pure and natural believer, set your
face firmly towards the faith, Allah's natural pattern on which He made mankind.
There is no changing Allah's creation. That is the true faith-but most people
do not know it. (Surat ar-Rum: 30)
A sincere believer, who is not seized
by the evil desires of his soul but who has faith in Allah, learns how to conduct
himself throughout his life from the book revealed by Allah, and follows the prophets
as his role models. The life of a believer is entirely different from that of
a disbeliever. This aside, from the Qur'an and the sunnah of the Prophet (saas)
a believer learns the facts of which disbelievers are utterly unaware. For example,
Allah has given the glad tidings that for whoever observes his duty to Allah,
He will provide a means of salvation:
… Whoever goes in
fear of Allah-He will give him a way out and provide for him from where he does
not expect. Allah is all-sufficient for one who puts his trust in Him. Allah always
achieves His aim. Allah has set a measure for all things. (Surat at-Talaq: 2-3)
believer who duly acknowledges the power of Allah will dedicate his life to Him,
because he knows that Allah will be enough for "whoever puts his trust in Him."
This is expressed in the following Quranic verse:
said, "My sons!… in no way can I save you from the might of Allah, for judgement
comes from no one but Allah. In Him I put my trust, and in Him alone let the faithful
put their trust." (Surah Yusuf: 67)
A believer who grasps this fact will
see that his duty in this world is solely to fulfil Allah's commands. This is
his duty and his "profession." He is merely responsible for striving in the way
of Allah. He asks Allah for everything, because it is Allah Who gives everything
to him. Man's purpose of creation is thus recorded in the Qur'an:
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)
it is unlikely that a believer, who displays the morals praised in the Qur'an,
can have "fear of the future" in his heart. This fear is peculiar to those who
perceive life as a struggle among millions of independent false deities. Unaware
that all events take place under Allah's control, in compliance with destiny,
they assume that they need to put up a struggle to survive. They believe that
they will benefit by "stepping on others" and "abusing them" to achieve their
own ends and satisfy their personal interests. Indeed, their thinking matches
what they receive…
Said Nursi explains how man fails to understand that
his real duty is to be a servant to Allah and adds:
"… They unwisely concluded
that life is a struggle."
This rationale, subscribed to by those who do
not live according to the values of the Qur'an, is one of the fundamental tenets
of their religion. It is due to the rationale in question that these people always
suffer feelings of distress and tension:
- The majority of these people,
unlike believers, are selfish, self-seeking people whose only concern is to benefit
- They lack the delicate disposition that develops with self-sacrifice.
Their love is based on gaining advantage; they love a person not because of his
good values or attributes but because it is in their interest to love him.
Those whom they consider to be their loved ones, too, approach them with the same
rationale, which creates a relationship bereft of loyalty. They always feel concerned
about the potential unfaithfulness of their partners, since they know that at
any time they may find others who are wealthier or more beautiful…
are consumed by jealousy, a trait that prevents them from taking pleasure in beauties
and blessings. For example, instead of taking pleasure in someone's beauty and
saying "How beautifully Allah has created him or her," they feel restless and
ask, "Why am I not as good looking and beautiful as him or her?"
do not feel grateful to Allah or are not contented with their blessings. With
such a disposition, they always want to possess more. This insatiable desire becomes
a constant source of uneasiness.
- Unable to accept their feebleness and
weaknesses, they do not ask for help from Allah. They assume they will get rid
of their weaknesses if they turn away from Allah haughtily without asking Him
for help. However, this is not the way to get rid of their weaknesses. At this
time too, they turn to others and pin their hopes on them. Yet those they turn
to are also weak individuals who only think about their own benefit. Moreover,
they are far from being merciful and compassionate. This being the case, they
often feel "depressed," and lose their spirit through a failure to satisfy their
- They lack forgiveness and tolerance. For this reason, even
a minor disagreement among them is likely to develop into a clash or conflict.
Most of the time, each party makes it a matter of pride to refuse to accept being
the one in the wrong. For this reason, they often feel distressed.
do not believe that they live in a world under Allah's protection and control,
but rather in a ruthless jungle where they have to "defeat" others to survive.
According to their misguided idea, they assume they have to develop a tough, aggressive
and egoist character to be able to survive in this "jungle." Indeed, their attitude
matches what they encounter. They are either, as the society of ignorance calls
it, swallowed up, as in the example of the "small fish," or they grow into a "big
and cruel" fish and swallow others.
These laws apply to almost all societies
where people do not experience true faith, and behave according to the mistaken
morality described above. The Qur'an calls these societies "ignorant and behavent,"
because they are entirely unaware of Allah and the hereafter.
tells us that the Prophet Musa (as) described the sons of Israel, a tribe that
never exercised wisdom or submitted themselves to Allah, as ignorant:
led the tribe of Israel across the sea and they came upon some people who were
devoting themselves to some idols which they had. They said, "Musa, give us a
god just as these people have gods." He said, "You are indeed an ignorant people.
What these people are doing is destined for destruction.
What they are doing is purposeless." He said, "Should I seek something other than
Allah as a deity for you when He has favoured you over all other beings?" (Surat
However, as mentioned earlier, "the society of ignorance"
is not of a uniform nature. Though generally called "ignorant," there may be different
sections in a given society, all displaying varying characteristics. The society
is commonly segmented according to the degree they have attained the criteria-economic
power being the foremost-set by the society itself.
The Criterion by which to Appraise People in the Society
take "taqwa" (awe or fear of Allah which inspires the individual to be on guard
against wrong actions and eager for ones which please Him) as the only criterion
by which to appraise people. As the Prophet (saas) said, they know that "the most
perfect man in his faith among the believers is the one whose behaviour is most
excellent." (Tirmidhi) In ignorant societies, however, which are made up of people
with no faith, "money" is considered the main criterion by which to form an opinion
This being the case, many distorted rationales appear in ignorant
- A rich person, albeit indecent and corrupted, is paid respect.
- Due to this rule laid down by society, one who is "rich but indecent"
believes himself actually to be an "estimable" person.
- Because society
attaches so much importance to "money," the poor lack self-confidence. This attitude
of the poor becomes most obvious when they are among the rich. A poor person may
well recognise that he is superior to the rich man next to him because the latter
is depraved. However, under the influence of ideas instilled by society, he is
unable to overcome his feelings of inadequacy.
- In the society of ignorance,
where the possession of "money" is a highly estimable criterion, moral degeneration
prevails. Such corruption appears in various forms, such as bribery, abuse of
authority or forgery, and is almost totally incorporated into daily life. Since
the successful amassing of money is the most important value, all methods rendering
the making of money possible, no matter how immoral and unjust they may be, are
The story of Qarun in the Qur'an best describes the "money-oriented"
stance of the society of ignorance:
Qarun was one of the
people of Musa but he lorded it over them. We gave him such treasures that their
very keys would have been too heavy a weight for a band of strong men. When his
people said to him, "Do not gloat. Allah does not love people who gloat. Seek
the abode of the hereafter with what Allah has given you, without forgetting your
share in this world. And do good as Allah has been good to you. And do not seek
to cause corruption in the land. Allah does not love corrupters." he said: "I
have only been given these riches because of the knowledge I have." Did he not
know that before him Allah had destroyed generations with far greater strength
than his and far more possessions? The evil-doers will not be questioned about
their sins. He went out among his people in all his finery. Those who desired
the life of the world said: "Oh! If only we had the same as Qarun has been given!
What immense good fortune he possesses." But those who had been given knowledge
said: "Woe to you! Allah's reward is better for those who have faith and act rightly.
But only the steadfast will attain it." We caused the earth to swallow up both
him and his house. There was no group to come to his aid, besides Allah, nor was
he able to defend himself. Those who had longed to take his place the day before
began to say: "Allah gives abundantly to whom He will, and sparingly to whom He
pleases. If Allah had not shown great kindness to us, we would have been swallowed
up as well. Ah! Truly the disbelievers are not successful." As for the abode of
the hereafter, We shall grant it to those who do not seek to exalt themselves
in this world or to cause corruption in it. The successful outcome is for those
who fear Allah. (Surat al-Qasas: 76-83)
As can be understood from the verses,
Qarun and those who envied him were representative of a typical society of ignorance.
They failed to comprehend that Allah is the owner of everything and that Allah
bestows possessions upon whoever He wishes. Qarun thought that the wealth he possessed
had been given to him because of his superiority. But this was not so.
Because Allah creates every being, He is the real owner of everything. In this
sense, one who owns something may be considered as a "trustee," temporarily taking
care of a possession which actually belongs to Allah.
- Blessings bestowed
upon people are given to them not because they are superior or because they possess
something important. These blessings are given to man as a favour or as a trial.
What is expected of him in return is not to grow "arrogant" but to be "grateful"
to Allah. If one fails to understand this, the property he owns brings him neither
happiness nor salvation in this world and in the hereafter.
is not given so that one can "hoard" it and be parsimonious. Allah gives property
to man so that he may use it in Allah's way. The end of those who do otherwise
is stated in the Qur'an as follows:
Those who are miserly
with the bounty Allah has given them should not suppose that that is better for
them. No indeed, it is worse for them! What they were mean with will be hung around
their necks on the Day of Rising. Allah is the inheritor of the heavens and the
earth and Allah is aware of what you do. (Surah Al 'Imran: 180)
spending the wealth bestowed upon him by Allah, the individual must use it wisely
to attain the approval of Allah, without fearing the exhaustion of his resources.
In the Qur'an, Allah draws attention to this danger and reminds us that Satan
threatens man with "poverty" (Surat al-Baqara: 268) It is further stated that
Allah repays whatever is spent in His way. The relevant verse about this issue
is as follows:
Say: "My Lord gives abundantly to whom He
wills or sparingly to whom He pleases. But anything you expend will be repaid
by Him. He is the Best of Providers." (Surah Saba': 39)
The story of Qarun
in fact reveals a general attribute of the society of ignorance. A closer examination
of the story reveals that Qarun could actually be representative of a character
in the society of ignorance that embodies rich and prestigious people.
the relevant verses, reference is also made to those who envy Qarun. These people
have the very same ignorant rationale as Qarun and fail to understand that the
real owner of property is Allah. So, they attach great importance to Qarun and
Those who can distance themselves from the inculcations of
society are the true believers:
- Because the criterion of believers was
not money but faith and because they knew all property belonged to Allah, they
realised that it was unwise to envy Qarun. Furthermore, they understood that he
was certainly in a pitiable position.
- Unlike the members of the society
of ignorance, they did not say: "Allah gives abundantly to whom He wills, or sparingly
to whom he pleases" after Qarun's death, but comprehended this fact right at the
A similar situation is related in the story of "the owners of
the vineyards." The distinction between a man who is given plenty of blessings
and property, as is in the case of Qarun, and a believer, who believes in Allah
and observes his duty to Him, is related in the Qur'an as follows:
them this parable. Once there were two men, to one of whom We gave two gardens
of grape-vines and surrounded them with date-palms, putting between them some
cultivated land. Both gardens yielded their crops and did not suffer any loss,
and We made a river flow right through the middle of them. He was a man of wealth
and property and he said to his companion, which conversing with him, "I have
more wealth than you and my clan is mightier than yours." He entered his garden
and wronged himself by saying, "I do not think that this will ever end. I do not
think the Hour of Doom will ever come. But if I should be sent back to my Lord,
I will definitely get something better in return." His companion, with whom he
was conversing, said to him, "Do you then disbelieve in Him Who created you from
dust, then from a drop of sperm, and then formed you as a man? He is, however,
Allah, my Lord, and I will not associate anyone with my Lord. Why, when you entered
your garden, did you not say, "It is as Allah wills, there is no strength but
in Allah"? Though you see me with less wealth and children than you possess, it
may well be that my Lord will give me something better than your garden and send
down on it a fireball from the sky so that morning finds it a shifting heap of
dust, or morning finds its water drained into the earth so that you cannot get
The fruits of his labour were completely destroyed
and he woke up wringing his hands in grief, rueing everything that he had spent
on it. It was total ruin with all its trellises fallen in.
said, "Oh, if only I had not associated anyone with my Lord!" There was no group
to come to his aid, besides Allah, and he was unable to defend himself. In that
situation the only protection is from Allah, the Truth. He gives the best reward
and the best outcome. (Surat al-Kahf: 32-44)
The Leaders of the Societies in Which the Possession
of Money is the Criterion
almost every story in the Qur'an, Allah mentions a group of people to whom Muslims
convey His message. However, instead of reforming them, the communication of the
true religion makes these people grow arrogant and oppress believers. The Qur'an
gives an account of the attributes of this group of people that appear in almost
all stories of prophets.
In the Qur'an, this segment of society is defined
with phrases such as "arrogant chiefs of the people," "those who led lives of
ease," "those persisting in immense wrongdoing" and "those who were unjustly proud
in the land." Their common quality is their employment of power and possessions
to revolt against Allah and to make mischief on earth. In the Qur'an, "the leaders"
are described in Surah Saba':
We never sent a warner into
any city without the affluent people in it saying, "We reject what you have been
sent with." They also said, "We have more wealth and children. We are not going
to be punished." (Surah Saba': 34-35)
- The "possessions and children" given
to these people added to their arrogance and denial of Allah:
'Ad were arrogant and unjust in the land, without any right, saying, "Who has
greater strength than us?" Did they not see that Allah, Who created them, had
greater strength than them? But they renounced Our Signs. (Surah Fussilat: 15)
This segment of society harbour a deep-seated enmity against those who believe
in Allah. Similarly, believers often receive the strongest reaction from these
people "who lead lives of ease." These people, averse to submitting to Allah and
using their possessions in His way, nurture resentment and hatred of believers.
Due to the hatred they felt for believers, some of them even tried to "do away
The ruling circle of those of his people who
were arrogant said, "We will drive you out of our city, Shu'ayb, you and those
who believe along with you, unless you return to our religion." He said, "What,
even though we detest it?" (Surat al-A'raf: 88)
Examples of such people,
who are extensively referred to in the Qur'an, also exist in today's societies.
Once we consider the main qualities of "those who lead lives of ease,"
as mentioned in the Qur'an, the subject becomes self-explanatory, because there
are striking parallels between the qualities of "those who lead lives of ease"
and of some members of a certain segment of society who have adopted the values
of the ignorant. This segment of society is called "high society" almost everywhere
in the world
The life led by some of the members of this community who
enjoy a standard of living far above the average, is quite degenerate.(Of course,
there are those with good manners as well as those with bad manners in this section
of society). Parties extending from private bars to homes, shows based on a crude
understanding of entertainment, young people ruined by drug-abuse, moral failings
that irreparably disqualify individuals from being decent and reliable, excessive
drinking, extravagant spending, etc., are presented as "natural" in this unbridled
social ambience… In this sense, in the guise of the sophisticated concepts of
modernism or freedom, all forms of outrage, perversion and immorality are imposed
Some of the members of this community display all the characteristics
of the perverted societies mentioned in the Qur'an: the homosexual practises of
the people of Lut, cheating in measure, weight and calculation-a trait peculiar
to the people of Madyan (Surah Hud: 84), mocking believers, as in the case of
the people of Nuh (Surah Hud: 38), exploitation of people's material wealth by
usury, as practised by the sons of Israel. (Surat an-Nisa': 161)
of this section of society, having no quality other than their love of luxury,
display a life of moral deficiency, while average people can barely earn a living,
although they work hard and decently. These people who spend huge sums of money,
far above the salary of an average person, in a single night cause great spiritual
harm to society at large.
At this point, we need to recall that the Qur'an
informs us about the end of the "chiefs who lead their lives in ease," unless
they repent and are resolute in their renunciation of such a life:
then when We seize the affluent among them to punish them, they will suddenly
start praying fervently We shall say: "Do not pray fervently today. You will not
receive any help from Us. (Surat al-Mu'minun: 64-65)
Morals in the Society of Ignorance
The morality of believers described in the Qur'an
is based on fear of Allah and His approval. Since the members of the society of
"ignorance" do not establish their value judgments on piety, their moral values
are also distorted.
Since the society of "ignorance" is unaware of the infinite
power of Allah, its members base their moral understanding on the criterion best
expressed in the words: "What will people think about it?" Such an understanding
permits the commission of morally unacceptable acts in an environment where no
one hears or witnesses them. Alternatively, this immoral understanding is legitimised
under a new title and form.
For instance, many people in the society of
"ignorance" consider adultery immoral. Some of the individuals who commit adultery
hardly dare to admit it. However, they generally do not avoid committing it, provided
that not a soul witnesses it.
It is possible to observe various forms of
this conduct in the lives of ignorant people.
The Desire to Live Forever
Say: "Death, from which you are fleeing,
will certainly catch up with you. Then you will be returned to the Knower of the
Unseen and the Visible and He will inform you about what you did." (Surat al-Jumu'a:
Unaware of the existence of Allah and the hereafter, the members of the
society of "ignorance" behave "as if they will never die." In this society, death
continues to be one of the words that is never pronounced. While making plans,
death is ignored outright. They pile up fortunes as if the life of this world
is perpetual. Since these plans pertain entirely to this world, those who recall
death are labelled "killjoy."
This is one of the most evident indications
of the distorted rationale upon which ignorant unbelievers base their lives. Since
"every soul shall taste death" (Surah Al 'Imran: 185),
a life based on feigning ignorance of death is surely established on a rotten
foundation. However, man must employ his intellect:
- Since he is granted
the desire to live forever, he must think why his life should be restricted to
- He should recognise as an unwise rationale, the assumption
that avoidance of the thought of death is a way to keep death at distance. This
is behaving just like an ostrich with its head in the sand.
- He should
grasp the fact that Allah, Who has shaped him into a most perfect body out of
a sperm, has the might to recreate him and to give him a new life.
he must keep in mind that Allah, Who promised and asserted in hundreds of verses
that He would recreate him after death, will surely keep His promise.
of the above will lead him to comprehend that death is not a form of disappearance,
but a transition to the hereafter.
- In this case, he may also understand
that fear of death is senseless. In fact, fear of death will not avail him; death
is inescapable. Everybody will die at a predestined time. Those who fear death
are warned in the Qur'an as follows:
…They are concealing
things inside themselves which they do not disclose to you, saying, "If we had
only had a say in the affair, none of us would have been killed here in this place."
Say, "Even if you had been inside your homes, those people for whom killing was
decreed would have gone out to their place of death."… (Surah Al 'Imran: 154)
which is a door to the hereafter, brings bliss and salvation only to those who
have spent their lives in compliance with Allah's good pleasure. For those who
turned away from Allah, on the other hand, death means utter destruction and the
beginning of a horrible disaster. The Qur'an informs us that once death comes,
the regret felt by those who have forgotten Allah-as if they would never die-will
be of no avail:
There is no forgiveness for people who
persist in doing evil until death comes to them and who then say, "Now I repent,"
nor for people who die disbelievers. We have prepared for them a painful punishment.
(Surat an-Nisa': 18)
When death comes to a wrongdoer, he
says, "My Lord, send me back again, so that perhaps I may act rightly regarding
the things I failed to do!" No indeed! It is just words he utters. Before them
there shall stand a barrier until the Day they are raised up. (Surat al-Mu'minun:
Everybody who has not devoted his life to Allah will live to suffer
this regret unless Allah wills otherwise.
Consider that life is too short,
that there is a real eternal life after the life of this world, and that one is
entitled to attain eternal life, provided that he earns the approval of Allah
in this world;
- We must concern ourselves with the real life, due to begin
after death, more than with the life of this world, which is short and worthless
next to the eternal abundance promised. That is why, believers who conceive of
this fact are of those whose "sincerity has been purified
through earnest remembrance of the Abode." (Surah Sad: 46)
- It is
senseless to be deceived by the insignificance and deceptive allure of the world
and become deeply attached to it. Neither possessions, nor beauty, neither power,
family, nor fame can accompany a person to his grave. What is left in the grave
is only a body wrapped in a shroud, which undergoes a rapid process of decay after
- What will be taken to the hereafter are the good deeds and acts
of worship done to earn the approval of Allah. There, the temporary blessings
of this world (health, beauty, wealth and so on) will, in their most perfect forms,
be given back to man for all eternity.
- One who fails to comprehend this
fact and, remaining niggardly avoids spending his wealth in Allah's way, eventually
ruins his eternal life in the hereafter and does harm to his own soul:
you are then: people who are called upon to spend in the Way of Allah and then
some of you are ungenerous! But whoever is ungenerous to the cause is ungenerous
to himself. Allah is Rich and you are poor. If you turn away, He will replace
you with a people other than yourselves and they will not be like you. (Surah
Those who fail to grasp this and become deeply attached to
this world strive to attain a so-called "immortality," for which reason they desire
to "leave something in this world by which people may remember them." This desire
appears in various forms:
- Some try to leave "works of art" behind, so
that "their name may live on." About this attitude, the Qur'an says:
you build a tower on every hilltop, just to amuse yourselves, and construct great
fortresses, hoping to live for ever? (Surat ash-Shu'ara': 128-129)
rationale best expresses itself in the desire to "raise children." Those who place
no hope in the hereafter wish to have children who will carry the family name
into the future. This is mainly the reason why families prefer sons.
is stated in another verse that the desire to "have children" is merely part of
the temporal pomp of this world:
Know that the life of the
world is merely a game and a diversion, ostentation and a cause of boasting among
yourselves and trying to outdo one another in wealth and children: like the plant-growth
after rain which delights the cultivators, but then it withers and you see it
turning yellow, and then it becomes broken stubble. In the hereafter there is
terrible punishment but also the forgiveness of Allah and His approval. The life
of this world is nothing but the enjoyment of delusion. (Surat al-Hadid: 20)
course, it is most agreeable for people to desire to raise children with good
morals. However, in the twisted system of the society of ignorance, the cause
of this desire is not to please Allah but to satisfy their arrogance and to leave
a permanent mark behind them in this world.
However, when we refer to the
Qur'an, we witness the attitude of true believers; they ask for children from
Allah only if this is necessary for the pleasure of Allah. Most of the prophets
lived their lives without children since they did not have such an opportunity
during their time and age and only asked for children from Allah when they grew
too old and needed someone who would continue to communicate the message of Allah
and advocate His religion.
Therefore, "having children" is necessary only
if it complies with Allah's good pleasure. It is a great mistake to do this simply
out of an instinctive wish to "outdo one another" and to continue their family
names in the way that unbelievers do.
The Understanding of Religion in the Society of Ignorance
Such people as are described above,
who fail to give Allah due appreciation and thus are "ignorant," have interpreted
religion in accordance with their distorted rationale and beliefs. The resultant
understanding of religion shows apparent deviations from the original religion
as set forth in the Qur'an. The Qur'an defines the religion brought by the Prophet
Muhammad (saas) as a religion that "relieves people of their
heavy loads and the chains which were around them." (Surat al-A'raf: 157)
and as the religion that "contains no difficulties in it":
has selected you and not placed any constraint upon you in the observance of your
religion-the religion of your forefather Ibrahim. In this, as in former scriptures
he named you Muslims… (Surat al-Hajj: 78)
In the Qur'an, Allah has summoned
people to reflect and, recognising the erroneous beliefs and methods they hold,
to turn to the lifestyle deemed to be appropriate by Allah.
of ignorance, however, feigning not to see the explicit and comprehensible message
of the Qur'an, has, in the name of Islam, fabricated a religion bogged down in
bigotry. Some of the characteristics of this distorted religion are as follows:
- The religion introduced in the Qur'an summons people to serve Allah alone
and thus liberate themselves from the yoke of all other beings. Accordingly, since
he is not obliged to seek other people's pleasure, man is only responsible for
seeking Allah's approval. The people of the society of ignorance, however, have
developed an understanding of religion not as a way to seek Allah's pleasure and
hence liberate themselves, but as a social institution. This conceives of religion
as a factor applying social pressure to people. Owing to this perception, this
false religion has lapsed into a form, which is primarily concerned with "what
people would say,"-an understanding far removed from true religion.
such misconceptions about religion, the society of ignorance has to a great extent
identified religion with tradition. Local customs and beliefs and cultural factors
have been incorporated into the religion, and "being pious" has deteriorated into
"adherence to one's forefathers' customs." The religion brought by the Qur'an
and embodied in the exemplary life of the Prophet (saas), however, bears no similarity
whatsoever to these. In the Qur'an, Allah commands man to take His limits and
the sunnah of the Prophet (saas) as a measure and nothing else. Throughout history,
the prophets had to struggle with those who attempted to deny the truth by quoting
the beliefs inherited from their forefathers. The morality they displayed is indicated
in the verse below:
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 same theme is repeated in Surat al-Ma'ida: 104;
Surat al-An'am: 91; Surat al-A'raf: 28 and in many other verses as well.
The members of the society of ignorance, who perceive religion as a social institution
and identify it with traditions, have in consequence distanced religion from rationality.
However, as the Qur'an informs us, being a Muslim entails being wise. Believers
are always summoned to think, to enquire and thus see the verses of Allah. Faith
and wisdom are interrelated; as a consequence of exercising wisdom one attains
faith, and faith grows ever more profound as one continues to exercise wisdom.
The society of ignorance, however, believes faith to consist of "beliefs" alone.
They perceive blind adherence to traditional knowledge as faith, whereas wisdom
is the key to having a grasp of Allah's existence and His attributes. That is
why faith in Allah in the society of ignorance is of a rather weak nature. In
order not to shake this anti-Qura'anic, feeble faith, they have developed an irrational
stance which implies that, "pondering too much over religious issues may be harmful
to one's faith."
- This rationale, stemming from ignorance, sees no harm
in introducing new principles to religion and making unlawful what is lawful.
Qur'an frequently draws attention to this "prohibitive" rationale that disturbs
Say: "Who has forbidden the fine clothing
Allah has produced for His servants and the good kinds of provision?" Say: "On
the Day of Rising such things will be exclusively for those who had faith during
their life in the world." In this way We make the Signs clear for people who know.
"My Lord has forbidden indecency, both open and hidden, and wrong action, and
unrightful tyranny, and associating anything with Allah for which He has sent
down no authority, and saying things about Allah you do not know." (Surat al-A'raf:
What is the matter with you that you do not eat that
which has been consecrated in the name of Allah, when He has made clear to you
what He has made unlawful for you, except when you are forced to eat it? Many
people lead others astray through their whims and desires unchecked by any knowledge.
Your Lord knows best those who overstep the limits. (Surat al-An'am: 119)
who believe! Do not make unlawful the good things Allah has made lawful for you,
and do not overstep the limits. Allah does not love people who overstep the limits.
(Surat al-Ma'ida: 87)
- As a result of this degeneration caused by the society
of ignorance, Islam is being presented as "a religion peculiar to the Bedouins
(nomadic Arabs)." Yet the facts are otherwise. Prophets have always been the most
civilised people of their time. They were cultured and enlightened people with
refined aesthetic values. With his palace, which is known to have been an architectural
masterpiece abounding in many exquisite places, the Prophet Sulayman (as) is one
of the most outstanding examples cited in the Qur'an.
Being a Muslim means
not being attached to traditional culture or taking pleasure in nostalgic values.
It is certainly not being "oriental" or being attached to only one culture, either.
Being a Muslim is to be a servant to Allah and to be grateful for the blessings
granted by Him. It means striving to know Allah, drawing nearer to Him and becoming
a human being with a noble character.
A true Muslim is one who seeks the
approval of his Creator, Allah, the Almighty, and who has distanced himself from
any material or spiritual expectation other than earning His approval.
is the definition of a Muslim.