Harun Yahya - Ever Thought About The Truth
Ever Thought About The Truth

Does man not see that it is We Who created him from sperm? Yet, behold! He stands forth as an open adversary! And he makes comparisons for Us, and forgets his own origin and Creation. He says, “Who can give life to dry bones and decomposed ones (at that)? Say, “He will give them life Who created them for the first time! For He is Well-versed in every kind of creation.” (Surah Ya Sin: 77-79)

Chapter 1

A New World 

This is the way of Your Lord, leading straight: We have made plain Our revelations for those who receive admonition. (Al-Anaam, 126)

Those who listen to the Word, and follow the best (meaning) in it: those are the ones whom Allah has guided, and those are the ones endowed with understanding. (Az-Zumar, 18)

The principal aim of this book is to induce the reader to make a re-evaluation of matters which he may hither to  have deemed quite insignificant, but which are actually the most important issues in his life. In the process, he shall have to keep his prejudices in abeyance until he has made a re-appraisal of those standards  which till now,  he has accepted as absolute.

We must bear in mind that when one approaches any given situation with prejudices, one is no longer able to make a healthy decision or reach a right conclusion about it. As a matter of fact, when one wants to see something as right, one sees it as right. One perceives a thing as evil since one has already decided beforehand that it is so.

The telling point about these prejudices and presuppositions that they are rarely formed by the individual himself. From the beginning of his life, he is burdened with the countless prejudices that society instills in him. Family, friends and close relations determine his value-judgements the media especially have a great capacity to condition people’s attitudes toward certain subjects. Newspapers and television regularly misrepresent the right as unpleasant, unacceptable and even harmful, while showing the wrong to be good and desirable. 

One who readily accepts these prejudices instilled by society, loses a great part of his personality.  He acts under the influence of conditioning by others, and does not behave with a free will or mind. Others’ predispositions determine his behaviour. He can thus accept only the values that are shown to be true as true. Moreover, when we consider that different societies with different cultural backgrounds happen to believe in different rights and wrongs, we can see that there is not much sense in following the dictates of any given society without questioning its value-judgements. By the same token, what is currently agreed to be wrong and immoral may well be considered acceptable in the future. Eating human flesh is very normal for cannibals, and obeying a crazy leader in a fascist society like Nazi Germany was absolutely right for the people who followed and supported him at that time. The number of examples is legion. What we must stress is that cogitating independently upon society’s conditioning, is conduct which betokens wisdom in the thinker. Such a person is necessarily aware that the “values” imposed by society may be wrong and may lead to ethical dilemmas if adopted. 

Religion - especially today- is one of the most important subjects about which countless prejudices are produced by society.  The influence at least of some part of the media has formed many prejudices about religion, which are hard to overcome.

As a result of these prejudices in our societies, religion has become a concept which most people either do not consider important, or believe they do not need to think about, preferring to stay away from it as far as possible. People who fit this definition cannot be said, however, to have adopted such an attitude consciously. For them, religion is an irrelevant subject that is of no benefit to them. On the contrary, it places some restrictions upon them. One having such a point of view would claim, when asked, that he is a Muslim,  although religion may be one of the less important matters of his life and one of the subjects of which he is quite ignorant.

Indeed, such a person would never have given any serious thought to religion, not even for once in his life. He would probably never have thought seriously about questions like “What is the purpose of life, why do I exist? Why does the concept of ‘religion’ exist?” etc. For him, religion is a matter that generally concerns aged people, that presents some ethical values, but mostly entails many boring, tedious prohibitions and restrictions. He practices some of the religious rituals on religious holidays, and festivals and on some important days like the death of a relative, but he finds only a few of these formal rituals right and necessary and consider certain others as ancient and “outdated”. Although he usually does not deny religion, he tries, as we have mentioned before, to keep away from it as far as possible. 

This wrong perception of religion originates from accepting presuppositions imposed by some part of society without subjecting them to independent scrutiny. However, reasoning and pondering on every aspect of life are very important issues for human beings, the power of reason being what makes them different from animals. In the Qur’an, the ultimate ethical guidebook, the importance of thinking is emphasized in many verses as follows:

“Say: ‘To whom belong the earth and all beings therein? Say, if you know!’ They will say, ‘To Allah!’ Say: ‘Yet will you not receive admonition?’” (Al-Mumenoon, 84-85)

“And We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition?” (Al-Qumar, 17)

“...This is Allah your Lord; therefore serve Him you: will you not receive admonition” (Yunus, 3) “Is He then Who creates like one who cannot create ? Will you not receive admonition?” (An-Nahl, 17)

Those who cannot think about religion independently of society’s conditioning will make two great mistakes. The first of these is not being aware of the real purpose of religion, and therefore  as a result of trying to avoid religion - not being aware of Allah.

The second fault is supposing that religion exists to drag people to an awkward and bigoted position full of pressures, and to impose duties on people, which go against their very nature. One of the principal reasons for the “religion is boring” syndrome is the insistent manner of a group of people- supposedly acting in the name of Allah—who display and promote the aforementioned negativity,  although such an approach has no bearing whatsoever upon true religion. 

Once the individual rectifies the first mistake and starts becoming acquainted with the Creator and the Creator’s attributes, he also rids himself of the superstitions that keep him away from religion. The correction of the first fault brings him a sharpness of mind and a sensitivity which in turn help  him to correct the second fault as well. They give him the ability to separate true religion from false structures disguised as religion. Then the individual will realize that religion is easy to live by and brings real happiness, well being and freedom to  his life.

In short, the society we live in has formed countless prejudices about religion. However, in approaching religion, the basic criterion must be its original references, like the Qur’an, and not peoples’ sayings about religion. 
In the Qur’an, it has been indicated that following the “common run of the people” does not necessarily lead us to Allah’s way.

If you were to follow the common run of those on this earth, they would lead you away from the way of Allah. They follow nothing but conjecture: they do nothing but lie.” (Al-Anaam, 116)

When a person stops “following the herd” and begins to think with his soul, he personally sees the reality emphasized in the Qur’anic verse cited above. He steps into a new world which is quite different from that of the “common run of the people”. This step will drive away from him the darkness, distress, and troubles of his old life and bring to him the countless graces and the deep wisdom of religion.

Before you read through the rest of the book, let us remind you that the word “religion” refers to Islam alone, as "The only true faith in Allah’s sight is Islam." (Al Imran, 19)

Basic Questions

Were they created of nothing, or were they themselves the creators?
Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Surely, they have no firm belief.

Or are the treasures of your Lord with them, or have they control over them? (At-Tur: 35-37)

As mentioned before, the first error a prejudiced person makes is trying to evaluate religion without giving thought to Allah.  Sociologists, for example, who do research on religion, can write thousands of books on how religions arose and how they affected societies sociologically. Yet, in spite of all these great academic studies, they cannot understand religion even to a minute extent when compared with those who lead their lives within the boundaries of religion.

Such people are not capable of comprehending the reality of Allah’s unity, which is the basis of religion. Anyone who decides to learn about Islam needs first to understand the existence of Allah. If he does not believe in Allah, he will simply be investigating the Qur’an and Muslims in terms of his own limited vision of life.

The Qur’an  thus expresses disapproval of such people: “They disbelieve what they cannot grasp, for they have not yet seen its prophecy fulfilled.” (Yunus, 39) Islam is not a man-made ideology about which half-baked ideas and baseless conclusions can be put forth from the outside. The individual can understand what Islam is about only when he understands the existence of Allah and lives his life as enjoined in the Qur’an.

Essentially, the existence of Allah and the reality that there is no deity other than Allah are crystal clear facts. But in “the society of ignorance” where people fail to use their reasoning due to their habit of indifference and indolence, they grow blind and cannot comprehend this reality. As a matter of fact, that is the reason why they were stigmatized as a “society of ignorance” (Jahilliyah).

One of the many Qur'anic verses about pondering on the existence of Allah records the Almighty’s advice to the Prophet on how he should address the ignorant:

“Say: ‘Think, you, if Allah took away your hearing and your sight, and sealed up your hearts, who - a god other than Allah - could restore them to you?’” The same verse goes on to say: “See how We explain the signs by various symbols; yet they turn aside.” (Al-Anaam, 46)

A brief example can help us enrich our views and remove our innate ignorance.

Let’s assume that there is a person from whose memory everything, including the knowledge of his self-being and his body, has been wiped out. If he found himself on a place like earth, what would he feel like? He would undoubtedly be so amazed and so astonished as to lose his mind out of curiosity. The first thing he would notice would probably be his body. He would not be aware that his body in fact belonged to him in the first place, thinking of it as an external object, like the other things in the scene. Then it would be very interesting for him to be able to control his body parts and make them do what he wanted them to do. He would probably try to figure out the use of his arm by moving it up and down for a while.

He would find very suitable surroundings for his body, the reason for the existence of which would still be unknown to him. There would be safe ground to stand on, a clear image to view, beautiful fragrances to smell, various animals, a proper air temperature exactly suitable to the body, an atmosphere suitable for breathing, and thousands of other sensitive balances. Edible fruits to satisfy his hunger, pure and clear water to cool his parched throat and many more things.

For a moment, let us put ourselves in his position and reflect for a while. In a place like this, would we just go and enjoy ourselves, or be wise enough to ask ourselves some very crucial questions? Would we try to understand who we were, why we were there, what the reason for our existence was, what the reason for the existence of the present order was or, would we simply ignore these questions and be concerned with how much we enjoyed our lives?  Would not the first questions come to our minds be as follows:

Who am I?

Who has created me, who has created this perfect body of mine?

Who has created this great order which surrounds me?

What does He, who created everything, want from me? What does He want to show  me?

Even an individual with a weak mind would think that there is nothing more important than finding answers to these questions. Someone who pays no attention to them, preferring rather to spend his life in fulfilling his physical needs, amusing himself during the day and sleeping at nights, would undoubtedly be a creature of no understanding at all. Someone must have created his body and his surroundings, and they must have come into being all of a sudden. Once he was created, every second of the rest of his life must also have been dependent on that Superior Being, who had initially created him. What could be more important than knowing about this Superior Being, who obviously possesses a great power?

Let us continue with our example and assume that he reaches a city after walking through the land for a while. There are various types of people there, most of whom are pretty vulgar, ambitious and insincere. And almost nobody is thinking about his Owner or the place he is living in. Although everyone has a job, an aim or an ideology, the people of the city cannot bring good order to the city, with which everyone would be content.

Let’s assume he meets some people whom the denizens of the city dislike, and towards whom they feel rage and enmity. As to what these people are like, he sees that they are significantly different from the others in many ways. He feels that, as human beings, they are amiable reasonable, and trustworthy. They look humble and they speak in a clear, moderate and sensible manner. He can easily see that there is nothing wrong with them, so he becomes confused and has doubts as to why the citizenry think otherwise.

Let’s assume he starts a conversation with them and they tell him: “We have a different view of life and think differently from other people because we are aware that there is an Owner of this place and everything in it. We are also aware that His power is above everything and He has created this place and everything else to test and educate us until the day comes when we will leave this place. We have a book which we have received from Him, and we are leading our lives in accordance with this book.”

In such a situation, he might not be a hundred per cent sure whether these people were really telling the truth or not. But he would probably understand that what they were talking about was quite important. He would feel there was nothing more important than obtaining further information about these people at that moment, and he would be extremely curious about the book they were talking about, would he not?

The only thing that stops us from being as sensible as the person in this example is our having been on this earth for a longer period of time. We have experienced a growth process instead of coming into being as an adult all of a sudden, like the person in the story. Consequently, we have to admit that most of us are in a position similar to that of the town people in the example due to our disregard of such questions in our lives. What we should further bear in mind is that almost none of the people in this city actually thought about the questions cited above, found some consistent answers on their own, and finally turned away from the Superior Being, Who created them. In fact, most of them did not even go through these steps, but simply pushed these questions aside and stopped thinking about them, because of their “collective ignorance”.

Are we aware of the fact that the “society of ignorance” we are living in prevents us from answering those crucial questions mentioned above by keeping us occupied with questions like: “What shall I eat tonight, which dress should I wear tomorrow?” or “What is she thinking about me, what should I say to him?”? Unfortunately, this shows nothing but abysmal ignorance although we claim to be living in the “information age”.

Now, you have a chance! Think about the complete ignorance you might have been exposed to by such a “society of ignorance” and ask yourselves the following question, which so far you might not have thought over, or might have brushed aside with insufficient explanations: How did I come into existence?

In order to be able to answer this question, it would be useful to start with the physical beginning of our existence and think about that extraordinary event - “birth”.

The brief history of birth can be summarized as follows:
Sperms are produced literally ‘outside’ of a man’s body. The reason for this is the fact that sperm production can occur only in a suitable environment with a temperature of about 35 degrees Celsius, which is two degrees below the average body temperature. Male testicles are the only body parts with this temperature, as they are rightly placed outside of the body. To bring the temperature to the required level, another mechanism is activated. The skin covering the testicles shrinks when it is cold and sweats when it is hot to keep the temperature of this area stable. Approximately a thousand sperms are produced per minute, and they have a special design that eases their long journey from the man’s testicles to the woman’s egg. A sperm comprises a head, a neck and a tail by the use of which a fish-like movement towards the mother’s uterus takes place.

The head part, which carries the genetic code of the future human being, is covered with a special protective armour. The benefit of this armour is noticed at the entrance of the mother’s uterus. This place is very acidic to protect the mother from microbes and other alien particles like sperms, but by the use of this armour, most sperms manage to stay alive.

Not only sperms are ejaculated to the uterus. Semen is a mixture that consists of many other liquids. These liquids contain sugar that supplies energy to the sperms. Semen, which is a base in its chemical form, neutralizes the acidic environment at the entrance of the uterus and creates a safe environment for sperms. It also makes the environment slippery so that sperms can move along easily. Sperms make a difficult journey inside the body of the mother until they reach the egg. No matter how hard they try to survive, only a thousand sperms out of 200-300 million can make it to the egg.

In the light of this brief information, let’s try to find the answers to some questions that cross our minds: How can a sperm make itself so suitable for entry into the mother’s uterus, about which it knows nothing beforehand? How can a sperm be produced in the male body in a way that it can survive and find its way to the egg in the female uterus in spite of the protective mechanisms of the female body, about which the sperm had no previous idea? How can this happen?

Since a sperm lacks the ability to adapt itself to an unknown environment in advance, the only possible answer to these questions is that it is actually created that way.

Let’s continue with the brief story of birth:
An egg is about half the size of a salt grain. The place where an egg and a sperm meet is called the Fallopian tube. The egg secretes a special fluid that leads the sperms to the egg. As they come closer to the egg, their protective armour is melted by another fluid secreted by the egg. As a result, solvent enzyme sachets appear on the cover of the sperms’ heads. By the use of these enzymes, the sperm that is to fertilize the egg, penetrates the membrane of the egg. When the sperms surround the egg, they race one another to enter to the egg. Mostly, only one sperm fertilizes the egg and from that time on, there is no possibility for another sperm to enter it. Before fertilization, the electric charge of the sperms and the egg are opposite, therefore they attract each other. However, after the entrance of the first sperm, the electrical charge of the egg changes, acquiring a pushing effect on the rest of the sperms.

Finally, the DNA of the male present in the sperm combines with the DNA of the female. At this moment, there forms a new cell (the zygote), that is, a new human being inside the mother’s womb.

After considering this bit of information, a new question comes to our minds: How is it that an egg is prepared to welcome a sperm as if it “knew” that it would meet the sperm? How can this happen? The only possible answer to this question is that the egg is created to be suitable to the sperm by the will of a Creator who has also created the sperms and controls both the sperm and the egg.

The extraordinary nature of birth does not finish with all this. The fertilized egg clings on to the womb by its special knobbly surface. The small protuberances on the surface of the egg jut out and penetrate deep into the mother’s womb like the roots of plants in the ground. The zygote starts to develop through hormones secreted by the mother. The egg keeps receiving nutrition provided by the mother.

With time, the cells divide and grow in number by the two-four-eight-sixteen model. In the beginning, all cells that are formed by the division of old ones have the same properties as each other. Then, all of a sudden, newly formed cells somehow start differentiating, showing separate characteristics, as they are to form different organs of the fetus. The science of today still lacks the competence to give a satisfactory answer to the question of why and how exactly this differentiation of cells takes place and how they form different organs with such  perfect organization.

As time passes, a drastic change takes place in the jelly-like fetus. Relatively rough bones start to form inside that soft structure, all of them surprisingly, in their proper places. What’s amazing here, is that while all the cells carry exactly the same characteristics at the beginning, through the differentiating process, some of them turn out to be eye cells sensitive to light, others become nerve cells that perceive heat while yet others form those cells that detect sound vibrations.

Finally the fetus’ construction is completed and a new baby is born into the world. At this stage, it is 100 million times bigger and 6 billion times heavier than its initial form when it was a fertilized egg.

This “brief history” mentioned above concerns us, because it is the story of how we came into being. For us, what can be more important than finding the ultimate Cause and Owner of that great, extraordinary and complex event of our existence? When we glance at this short history, we come across many other questions to which science, which is under the influence of materialism, has not yet found any answers.

But there are still many questions that need to be answered. One of these is: How can cells of the same structure start to gather in groups and form different organs of the body while they multiply?

Actually, there is no answer to these questions about birth other than accepting the presence of a Creator. It would be a great mistake to think that all of these complex operations occur on their own or by chance. How can cells agree to form “human organs”? Let’s think about this a little further. Let’s assume that there are two wise adults who come together and decide to work on an engineering project. Even between these two persons, some misunderstandings will unavoidably occur and this will put the success of the project at risk. Then, how can thousands and millions of cells work together to form an absolutely perfect organization without any mishap? Who would dare to say an answer to this question: “It may be possible by chance”? Some atheist “scientists” of today explain this marvellous occurrence as the “magic of nature”. What does this mean? Who or what is nature? Has not nature also been created?

Another attempt to answer this question might be to refer to the mother and the father—which would be meaningless. The role of parents in this event is in fact, negligible. Neither mother nor the father is aware what goes on within them in the production of gender cells, fertilization and development of fetus. The exact date of birth is unknown to mother who has no control over delivery. In spite of this, mother and father are seen as the “origin of one’s life”? But are they so?

The mother and father are very important to their child, as they play a role in his existence. On the other hand, one never, or only rarely, thinks about ones  real Creator. Is not the real Creator, who has the ultimate power and control ones everything including birth, life and death, worth more love and respect? His existence is clear and the existence of any other thing without Him is not possible. No one but Allah can create anyone or any matter on his own, while He neither begets nor is begotten as is stated in the third verse of Al-Ikhlas 3.

The creation is explained in the Qur’an as follows;

“We created man from a quintessence (of clay);
Then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest, firmly fixed;
Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (fetus) lump; then We made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the noblest of Creators!” (Al-Mumenoon, 12-14)

This being so, it is clear that there is no difference between ourselves and that man in the story, who was “suddenly” created and become curious about who had created him and everything around him. Of course, he found himself as an adult and without any parents who gave birth to him and raised him. But now that we also know that our coming into existence can in no way be explained by parents, we can consider our situation similar to that of the man in the story.

In such a situation, the most important thing to do is to search exclusively for the truth, to listen to those who claim they have knowledge and evidence about the truth and then to think over what we have been told. Take the man in the story again. As we know, he meets some people in the city who tell him that they can make known to him the Creator Who has created him and everything around and that there is a book from Him. What do you think he would do? Would he listen to them, or would he simply turn away from them and prefer to be involved with such ordinary, everyday  questions like:

“What shall I wear tonight, what shall I say to him?” That are daily repeated and will one day become meaningless when death comes to him. Which one of these two choices is the more rational, logical and conscientious? You, without doubt, know the correct answer for this man. But, what about yourself?

What leads up to the event of creation is specifically described in certain other verses of the Qur'an;

“Does man think that he will be left uncontrolled, without purpose?
Was he not a drop of sperm emitted in lowly form?
Then he became a leech-like clot; then Allah made and fashioned him in due proportion.
And of him He made two sexes, male and female.
Has not He, the same, the power to give life to the dead?” (Al-Qiyama, 36-40)

“Allah  created you from dust; then from a sperm-drop; then He made you in pairs. No female conceives, or lays down her load, but with His knowledge. No man is long-lived, nor is a part cut off from his life, but  in accordance with His Decree. All this is easy to Allah.” (Fatir, 11)

The human is a being created by Allah and as a created entity, he cannot change this fact. He cannot bring any other explanation to his own existence. Since he has been created, he would not be left uncontrolled and irresponsible as emphasized in the above verses. There is, of course, a purpose for creation. Where  then will he find the answer?

There is only one answer to this question and that is in the book that Allah has sent down to him.

Pondering On The Qur'an

We have only ever sent before you men who were given Revelation – ask the People of the Reminder if you do not know – who brought Clear Signs and Revealed Books. And We have sent down the Reminder to you so that you can make clear to mankind what has been sent down to them so that hopefully they will reflect. (An-Nahl, 43-44)

What do you know about the Qur’an?
In most of the Middle Eastern countries where Muslims are in the majority, most of the people who can be considered as “average citizens” would give this answer: “The Qur’an is the holy book of our religion.” Yet, they know very little about the content of the Qur’an, about what is written in its pages.

In fact, the Qur’an is used for many purposes which are far removed from its true revealed purpose. It is usually hung on the walls of houses within a decorative cover and read usually by elder people from time to time. People read it in Arabic, but as they only know how to read Arabic letters without understanding the meaning,  most of the time they have no idea what they have been reading about, as so have no grasp of the content of the Qur’an.

The Qur’an is also supposed to afford some very interesting benefits to people. After reading it and performing some weird rituals like breathing hard on another person’s face, the readers and his close relatives are believed to be protected from a possible future “accident or misfortune”. The Qur’an is credited with being some sort of amulet that includes talismanic words which protect people against bad luck. The Qur’an is also believed to have a frightening power: it smites people if they tell lies! At graveyards it is read out for the deceased without anyone knowing what is being read. It can even be used for telling fortunes.

In short, in most of the countries where Muslims are in the majority, only a small percentage of people know the content of the Qur’an and ponder on the Qur’an as required. As a result, people who are ignorant of the real message of the Qur’an, attribute different meanings to it. Many people believe some traditions to have their origin in the Qur’an, although they may be contradictory to the very nature of the Qur’anic message. For example, there are many people who believe that a blue bead, which is believed to possess the  power to avert the devil’s eye, is recommended in the Qur’an.

Then what is the true nature of the Qur’an? The answer must be derived from the Qur’an itself, as that is where the truth is to be found.

“Here is a Message for mankind: Let them take warning from it, and let them know that He is no other than the One Allah: let men of understanding take heed.” (Ibrahim, 52)

“And We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember:  but will any take heed?” (Al-Qamar, 32)

“There is, in their stories, instruction for men endued with understanding. It is not a tale invented, but a confirmation of what went before it,- a detailed exposition of all things, and a guide and a mercy to any such as believe.” (Yusuf, 111)

“This is the Book; in it is certain and unmistakable guidance for those who fear Allah.” (Baqara, 2)

These verses and many others emphasize that the real purpose of the revelation of the Qur’an is to encourage people to ponder on such crucial issues as the creation and purpose of life, to make them know about Allah Who has created them, and to guide them to the right way. The Qur’an is a book that is needed by people with an open mind and soul.

Many rituals, believed to have originated from the Qur’an, are widely practiced, but in fact are not from the Qur’an. On the contrary, they conflict with the Qur’anic message. This shows us that there is a huge difference between the true religion as explained in the Qur’an and the concept of religion generally prevalent. This difference has been caused by abandoning the real source, the Qur’an. Of this the Qur’an says;

“The Messenger says, 'My Lord, my people treat this Qur'an as something to be ignored” (Al-Furqan, 30)

Therefore, what is needed in the first place is to correct this wrong point of view about the Qur’an and make people understand that the Qur’an is not a book which is addressed only to the apostle but to all people who consider themselves Muslims. Any person who utters this well-known statement: “I’m a Muslim, alhamdulillah” must read the Qur’an and try to understand the meaning of the verses. In the Qur’an, the importance of learning verses and reciting them is especially emphasized.

“And recite what is rehearsed to you in your homes, of the Signs of Allah and His wisdom: for Allah understands the finest mysteries and is well-acquainted with them” (Al-Ahzab, 33)

Because of not doing what is ordered in the Qur’an, and not learning the religion from its original source, countless prejudices which stem from traditions, have been introduced into religion. The verses of the Qur’an strongly emphasize that, in order to understand religion, there is no need to look for any source other than the Qur’an:

“Say: ‘Shall I seek for any judge other than Allah? - when He it is Who has sent to you the Book, explained in detail.’ They know full well, those to whom We have given the Book, that it hath been sent down from your Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt.” (Al-Anaam, 114)

“What is the matter with you? How do you judge you? Will you not then receive admonition? Or have you a manifest authority? Then bring your Book of authority if you be truthful!” (As-Saaffat 154-157)

Of course, learning the Qur’an is only an introductory step, since application should follow it. Some people believe that the Qur’an addresses only Muslims of the 7th century, while others think that only a small number of the verses address people other than the Muslims of the 7th century. One of such a mentality is satisfied just with reading the Qur’an and thinks he has fulfilled his religious duties by so doing. However, it is not only a matter of learning what is in the Qur’an, but also putting it into practice, fulfilling the duties ordered in the Qur’an, adopting the moral standards explained in the Qur’an, in short applying the Qur’an to one’s own everyday life.

Those who claim that the Qur’an has become outdated and needs to be revised to be in accordance with this new age, cannot grasp the fact that the Qur’an is not confined by chains of time, but covers all ages and societies, as it has been revealed by Allah, Who has knowledge of everything, past and future. When anyone reads the Qur’an with a sincere heart and an open mind, he sees that the models of people and societies described in the Qur’an existed in every age in history, including that of today, and that the Qur’an explains the current state of people and societies. All the disorder, perversion and mistakes of a society which has strayed from true religious values have been clearly stated in the Qur’an. The reactions of the people of these societies towards religion have been described with detailed character analyses. These descriptions and analyses are relevant in all respects to the world of today, thus demonstrating the “sociological miracle” of the Qur’an.

What is interesting here, is that such inconsistent views as: “Society is in a state  of continuous progress, whereas religion is static” have also been diagnosed in the Qur’an as arising from a deficiency of comprehension. We should keep in mind that unbelievers, who lived thousands of years before the Qur’an, also interpreted religion as “tales of the ancients” (An-Nahl, 24)

When an individual starts reading the Qur’an and tries to implement it in his daily life, he can be considered to be on his way to becoming a real Muslim as described in the scriputures. With amazement, he begins to see how the Qur’an covers every moment of his life. Many events that a person experience have been mentioned in the Qur’an and the reactions of a Muslim which would befit those  occasions have also been explained in detail.

Being satisfied with reading and knowing the Qur’an without practicing it, may have certain displeasing consequences. Allah describes the Jews as the kind of people who behave in this way  and likens them to “a donkey which carries huge tomes” without any understanding of them:

“Those who were charged with the obligations of the Mosaic Law, but who subsequently failed in those obligations, are like a donkey which carries huge tomes without understanding them. Evil is the example of people who falsify the Signs of Allah: and Allah does not guide people who do wrong.” (Al-Jumua, 5)  

Religion as Described in the Qur'an and the Religion of our Fathers

When they do anything that is shameful, they say: “We found our fathers doing so”; and “Allah commanded us thus”: Say: “No, indeed, Allah never commands what is shameful: would you say of Allah what You do not, know?” (Al-Araf, 28)

It is impossible to imagine that true religion can exist wherever the Qur’an is abandoned. Therefore, a very clear distinction must be made between the religion of the Qur’an and those traditions which are wrongly considered to be a part of true religion.

The concept of religion requires special attention. Religion, that is, Islam, is purely and simply the implementation of the Qur’an. Whatever “religion” is considered to be nothing but a series of traditions handed down from the time of our forefathers is certainly not Islam.

Today, many people consider themselves religious, although they do not know much about the Qur’an. This shows us how the situation has deteriorated. Religion may continue to be a heritage  from our forefathers, but trying to perpetuate such heritage has no value in the sight of Allah. In many societies where people are either Buddhists, Jewish or idolaters who live in an African clan and worship totems, they do what they do simply as a matter of tradition. Therefore, none of their practices amount to true religion. For most of the people following one of those “religions,” the aim is not to seek the pleasure of Allah but, to try to live in conformity with society, satisfying their nostalgia by keeping their traditions alive and driving some personal interest from their religion.

Most people have developed a concept of religion, not by looking at its original sources, but by looking at their forefathers, so that their traditions of impressions about religion are, in fact, impressions about tradition.

As for tradition, it has a very large repertoire. This repertoire includes, many meaningless superstitions, invented stories, about saints false sayings and practices attributed to the prophets and the saints, unreasonable explanations of supernatural events, all of which are thought of as amounting to true religion.

In fact, many people who learn these traditions from their family and the society they live in, realize that these traditions stand on slippery ground and are full of countless sophistries. But because they do not want to put themselves out to search for the truth and the true nature of the religion, these people either choose to accept religion the way it is, or as mentioned in the beginning, stay away from it as far as possible. As a matter of fact, the very existence of those sophistries attributed to the true religion pave the way for justifying their escape from religion.

So, in order to understand the nature of true religion, what we should do in the first place is to refer to the Qur’an as a basic source of religion, ponder upon it and try to understand the scriptures as for as we are able. This is not something difficult to figure out. We should remember the fact that even non-believers directly refer to the Qur’an when they want to know something about Islam. Can you think of any better reference than the Qur’an as the original source of religion, which has been revealed by Allah to explain His divine system? Of course, certain other references should also be taken into account, but one should not forget that their actual value is to back up the Qur’an and lead us to refer to it in our attempts to understand religion.

People who build religion upon superstitions instead of the Qur’an are mentioned with disapproval;

"“What is the matter with you that you should judge so ill?
Or have you a book that promises you whatever you choose?” (Al-Qalam, 36-37)

Religion should be the most important topic for a Muslim. He should know how to distinguish true religion from other systems, and should take as a duty the quest for the correct form of religion:

“...Now those who submit their wills - they have sought out the path of right conduct” (Al-Jinn, 14)  

True Believers and Impostors

Say: “To whom belong the earth and all beings therein? Tell me, if you know!” They will say, “To Allah!” Say: “Yet will you not receive admonition?” Say: “Who is the Lord of the seven heavens, and the Lord of the Throne (of Glory) Supreme?”   They will reply, “They belong to Allah.” Say: “Will you not then be filled with awe?” Say: “Who is it in whose hands is the governance of all things,- who protects all, but is not protected by anyone? Tell me,  if you know.” They will say, Allah.” Say: “Then how are you deluded?” We have sent them the Truth: but they indeed practise falsehood! (Al-Mumenoon, 84-90)

Let’s turn back to our example given in the beginning. We had mentioned a group of people in the city, who were very different from the others in every way, and towards whom all other city dwellers had a hostile attitude. We had explained, moreover,  that, this group of people had a book which had been conveyed to them by the Owner of that city and everything else, as a guide. These people are called  Muslim in the Qur’an. They are the believers.

However, what we witness is that these people are not well-liked by the other people in the city. We had mentioned that the society of this city was a ‘society of ignorance’. But, it does not mean that this society is irreligious. On the contrary, people of the society of ignorance consider themselves very religious people. However the religion they are associated with is not the true religion. It is a religion of tradition, a religion full of baseless and even perverted beliefs and practices which have their roots in the religion of their fathers. They think they follow the right religion and try to keep it alive with insistence. The Qur’an alludes to this characteristic in the following verse;

“When they are told to follow the Revelation that Allah has sent down, they say: ‘No, we shall follow the ways that we found our fathers following’. What! Even if it is Satan beckoning them to the Penalty of the Blazing Fire?” (Luqman, 21)

One of the most important characteristics of a society of ignorance is that its members defend their tradition in the name of Allah. As a matter of fact, this is an insincere defence for they are actually not concerned with Allah. While they–especially the leaders and the leading groups of the town–never stop praising Allah, they turn away from Him if religion conflicts with their interests — to the point of swearing by Allah even while committing the greatest offense of killing the Messenger.

“There were in the city nine men of a family, who made mischief in the land, and would not reform. They said: ‘Swear a mutual oath by Allah that we shall make a secret night attack on him and his people, and that we shall then say to his heir when he seeks vengeance: We were not present at the slaughter of his people, and we are positively telling the truth.“ (Al-Naml, 48-49)

There is also such a group in the society of ignorance who know the Qur’an and promise to follow its religion, but who prefer the “vanities of this world” and turn away from religion. In spite of all this hypocrisy, they represent themselves as “perfect Muslims”.

“After them succeeded an evil generation. They inherited the Book, but they chose for themselves the vanities of this world: saying Everything will be forgiven us.’ And if similar vanities came their way, they would again indulge in them. Was not the covenant of the Book taken from them, that they would not ascribe to Allah anything but the truth? And they have studied what is in the Book. But best for the righteous is the home in the Hereafter. Will you not understand?” (Al-Araf, 169)

In such as case, it takes more careful observation to understand if an individual or a group of people is truly Muslim or not. Because, as is clearly stated in the above verse, talking non-stop about religion does not necessarily show that the speaker is a real Muslim believer. One might think that such people hardly exist that they are very few in number. However, they are legion and in many verses of the Qur’an, their existence is openly mentioned.

“Of the people there are some who say: ‘We believe in Allah and the Last Day? But they do not really believe.
Vain would they deceive Allah and those who believe, but they only deceive themselves, and do not realize!
In their hearts is a disease; and Allah has increased their disease: grievous is the penalty they will incur, because they are false to themselves.” (Al-Baqara, 8-10)

Other verses, warn us that when these “counterfeit religious people” are asked certain questions, they answer by “using the words of a believer.”

“Say: ‘Who is it that sustains you in life from the sky and from the earth? Who is it that has power over hearing and sight? And who is it that brings out the living from the dead and the dead from the living? Who is it that rules and regulates all affairs?’ They will soon reply, ‘Allah.’ Say, ‘Will you not then show piety to Him? Such is Allah, your real Cherisher and Sustainer: apart from truth, what remains but error? How then are you turned away?’” (Yunus, 31-32)

“If you ask them who created them, they will certainly say, ‘Allah? How then are they diverted away from the Truth?” (Az-Zukhruf, 87)

All of these verses show us that the criterion for being a real believer is different from that “religious” criterion of a society of ignorance. In a society of ignorance, one who says, ‘I’m a Muslim, alhamdulillah,’ is considered to be a true Muslim. Yet when we consider the criterion of the Qur’an, we see that this is not adequate evidence. In the next chapter, we will be examining the characteristics of a true Muslim in detail.

Believers as Described in the Qur'an

True believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His revelation, find their faith strengthened, and put all their trust in their Lord (Al-Anfal, 2)

... He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the faith of your father Abraham. It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this Revelation... (Al-Hajj, 78)

Who speaks better than one who calls men to Allah, does what is right, and says, “I am of those who bow in Islam”? (Fussilat, 33)

Islam has a single principle: worshipping only Allah. In Islam, the realization of this principle in life should be paramount. All other things not based on this principle are not Islam but some form of “religion of ignorance”.

This reality expressed with such brevity, actually has a deeper meaning, much deeper, in fact than many people imagine. This is because the members of the society of ignorance already consider themselves believers and think of themselves as not worshipping anything other than Allah. And because they surely do not worship a statue while they are praying - an act which is usually performed exclusively at Bairams or on Fridays - then they imagine they have the right to think that they are worshipping only Allah.

However, the reality is quite other. This misapprehension arises from the fact that “worshipping” is understood only as prostrating oneself in front of a being that is to be served. This limited meaning of worshipping causes neglect of other religious duties and failure to adopt a Qur’anic morality. However, the real meaning of worshipping should be derived from the Qur’an. In other words, its meaning should be comprehended according to its description in the Qur’an, rather than its wrong portrayal by the society of ignorance.

“I have created Jinns and men, only  that they may serve Me.” (Adh-Dhariyat 56)

As the above verse asserts, humans and Jinns are created to “serve Allah”. It is certain that a believer is one who fits this definition. In accordance with his purpose of creation and his nature, a believer serves Allah alone, and, as mentioned in the verse, does nothing but worship Him. If we approach this verse with the understanding of the society of ignorance, should we conclude that a believer must stay in a position of self-prostration until the end of his life? Can this be the case?

Of course not. When we take a close look at the Qur’an, we see that worship of Allah includes all duties and responsibilities commanded in the Qur’an and all activities performed to gain the pleasure of Allah. How to serve Allah, and how to worship Him can be understood only by reference to the Qur’an:

“Say: ‘Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are all for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds.’” (Al-Anaam, 162)

As this verse indicates, the principle of worshipping Allah is not confined to praying, but overarches all of life and also death. A Muslim is one who spends all of his life in the way of Allah. As a result of this, he shall earn the good pleasure of Allah, His mercy and everlasting gardens in the hereafter–something that cannot be understood by anyone who is distant from Islam.

On the other hand, leading one’s life to attain ends other than Allah’s favour, is the same as  “ascribing partners to Him”, or in other words, “setting up partners with Him”. These ends might be anything. They might be any desire to have wealth, a career, property, and women and sons,  at the cost, as has been indicated in the Qur’an, of losing favour with Allah. When anyone so behaves giving a higher value to such objectives, in reality, he associates partners with Allah. This is the greatest sin one can commit. Throughout the ages, the prophets have urged people to stop attributing partners to Allah. The only purpose of these people in so doing was to come by different kinds of worldly gains.

Bearing this in mind, one can also see how meaningless is the claim of dialectical materialism, which says that a process of evolution of polytheism to monotheism has taken place down the ages. According to the Qur’an, however, all societies of ignorance, which may exist at any time and at any place, have attributed partners to Allah. Consequently, today, a great part of the world population consists of the followers of some form of polytheistic religion. In this polytheistic world, exclusively, it is the societies of true believers who practice “the religion of worshipping only Allah”.

The only thing a believer must declare is: “Men! If you are in doubt as to my religion, behold!  I do not worship what you worship, other than Allah! I worship Allah - Who will take your souls at the time of your death: I am commanded to be in the ranks of the Believers.’” (Yunus, 104)

Then, how should the believer worship Allah? How should he live his life in Allah’s way? Should he go to spend all his life in a dervish lodge, or in a house of contemplation to undergo severe suffering through staying away from all worldly entities of life, including even those for survival? Or should he adopt a motionless, stable way of life as a withdrawn person? No. He is to live his life according to the model described in the Qur’an, not according to the definition of the religion concocted by the ignorant.

Since he knows that Allah sees him, what other people think about him will trouble him. Since he knows he is not obliged to show himself as a religious person to others, he will not experience the distress of fulfilling the requirements of a false definition of the religious, which is not from the Qur’an.

He lives for Allah only, works only for Him. He misses no opportunity to use his capabilities, including his physical strength, in Allah’s cause. This is not a way which is full of difficulties, or which deprives the individual of all the pleasures of life, contrary to the belief of most people who do not know anything about Islam. Indeed, one who worships Allah is the most independent, the most peaceful, happy and cheerful. Once rid of all the fake deities which enslaved him, such questions as “What do people think about me?”, “What can I do, if that person does not like me?”, “What happens if I get fired?” No longer trouble him. Once rid of all the yokes laid upon him by those incapable, helpless, cruel, unreasonable gods, he can dedicate himself to the only God, the Mighty, the Wise, the knower of all things, the Compassionate, the Merciful and Powerful Allah. He “has grasped indeed the firmest hand to hold.”

“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clearly from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, one that never breaks. Allah hears and knows all things.” (Al-Baqara, 256)

The Qur’an thus expresses the Prophet’s “freeing people from their chains and yokes”:

“Those who follow the Messenger, the Ummi, whom they find mentioned in their own scriptures,- in the law and the Gospel- he commands them to do what is just and forbids them to do what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good and pure and prohibits what is bad and impure; He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him, who will prosper.” (Al-Araf, 157)

Allah defines the believers as follows:

“For Muslim men and women,- for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast and deny themselves, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise,- for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.” (Al-Ahzab, 35)

The Muslim has an intimate and close connection with Allah. Allah is his only comrade, helper and God. The Prophet Abraham’s intimate liaison with Allah is made explicit in the following dialogue with his father and his people:

“He said: ‘Do you then see whom you have been worshipping, You and your fathers before you? For they are enemies to me; not so the Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds, Who created me; it is He Who guides me; Who gives me food and drink, And when I am ill, it is He Who cures me; Who will cause me to die, and then bring me back to life again;
And Who, I hope, will forgive me my faults on the day of Judgment.
O my Lord! Bestow wisdom on me, and join me with the righteous Grant me honorable mention on the tongue of truth among the latest generations. Make me one of the inheritors of the Garden of Bliss. Forgive my father, for he is among those astray. Do not disgrace me on the Day when men will be raised up- the Day in which neither wealth nor sons will avail. “ (Al-Shuara, 75-88)

The example of the comparison made between the person who feels the comfort of serving Allah only and the person who ascribes partners to God, and therefore serves too many gods, is given in the Qur’an as follows:

“Allah puts forth the  parable of a man having many masters who are always at variance with each other, and a man belonging entirely to one master: are those two equal in comparison? Praise be to Allah! But most of them have no knowledge.” (Az-Zumar, 29)

One of the most important characteristics of a believer is his avoidance of arrogance and haughtiness. A true believer never deifies himself. He knows his weaknesses and asks Allah to forgive him. He knows he needs to seek refuge with Allah in his every act, and in every part of his life. Because he is aware of his weaknesses, he does not have too high an opinion of himself. Therefore, he is not spiritually hampered by his self-created ego-boundaries and he improves himself with the help of Allah. He makes the effort to attain the believer model as described in the Qur’an. His humility can be seen in all his activities.

“And the servants of Allah, the Most Gracious, are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, ‘Peace!’” (Al-Furquan, 63)

One of the biggest problem of a disbeliever is his being conceited, and deifying himself. The Qur’an asks us to consider the fate of those who reject the truth because of their conceit,  although their souls confirm it:

“And they rejected those Signs in iniquity and arrogance, though their souls were convinced of their truth: so see what was the end of those who acted corruptly.” (Al-Naml, 14)

The believer’s major purpose in life in this world is to struggle for his religion. He will fight against all the obstacles he encounters in Allah’s cause. The biggest obstacle is the greediness and low desires of his soul, in other words his own self (nafs). All through his life, he will oppose his own self whenever it offers alternative which are against Allah’s will. His own self will try to lead him astray turning him away from Allah’s way by the use of countless tricks and obstacles such as fear, hopelessness, and slackness. However, a believer will overcome all of this through his eagerness, affection, determination, courage and patience. He will never digress from the right path because this is the path of Allah, his sole guardian, sole protector and sole supporter.

He does not struggle only for himself. He is the caliph of Allah on this earth, and the earth has been entrusted to him. Therefore, he will  fight with wisdom against those transgressors who oppress people, tyrannize over them and try to prevent them from treading the path of Allah. In Qur’anic terms, he will bring Allah’s salvation and justice to “those men, women and children who, being weak, are ill-treated and oppressed.” The people on this earth will receive to Allah’s justice through the efforts of these caliphs.

Only such societies as are governed by practitioner’s of the moral principles and orders of the Qur’an can attain  to real justice. A believer is one who deals with people justly and leads them to the truth for the pleasure of Allah. Those unbelievers who desire to govern society expect to obtain such worldly benefits as money, reputation and position; real justice can never be had during their period of leadership. But true believers shoulder the mission of ‘practicing justice’ all over the world. This is possible only by disseminating the morality of the Qur’an among people.

“Of those We have created those are some who direct others with truth. And dispense justice therewith.” (Al-Araf, 181)

The Qur’an also emphasizes the contrast between the believers and the mischief-makers on earth.

“Shall We treat those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, the same as those who create mischief on earth?  Shall We treat those who guard against evil, the same as those who turn aside from the right?” (Sad, 28)

Believers struggle to save the world from calamity. The Qur’an indicates this strong characteristic of the believers as below.

Many of the prophets fought in Allah’s way, and with them fought large bands of godly men? They never lost heart if they met with disaster on the path of Allah,  nor did they weaken in will nor give in. And Allah loves those who are firm and steadfast. All that they said was: ‘Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and anything We may have done that transgressed our duty: make us firm of foot and help us against those that resist Faith.’ And Allah gave them a reward in this world, and the excellent reward of the Hereafter, for Allah Loves those who do good. O you who believe! If you obey the Unbelievers, they will drive you back on your heels, and you will turn back from Faith to your own loss.” (Al Imran, 147-149)

A later verse from the same chapter shows how intrepid the true believers are:

“Men said to them: ‘A great army is gathering against you: fear them,’ But it only increased their Faith. They said: ‘For us Allah suffices, and He is the best disposer of affairs.’” (Al Imran 173)

A believer shoulders the mission of inviting people to Allah’s religion. “Commanding what is just, and forbidding what is evil” is his foremost duty.

“True believers, men and women, are each others protectors: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they say their regularly  prayers, practice charity, without fail  and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, and Wise” (Al-Tawba, 71)

One of the salient characteristics of a believer, which makes him different from the fake devotee, is that when he delivers the Qur’anic message to people, he does not expect to gain anything from it. His goal is not earning money, wealth and position, but the pleasure of Allah. He looks for his reward only on the path of Allah.

“But if you turn back, consider: no reward have I asked of you: my reward is only due from Allah, and I have been commanded to be of those who submit to Allah’s will in Islam.” (Jonah, 72)

“Those were the prophets who received Allah’s guidance: Follow the guidance they received and say: ‘No reward for this do I ask of you. This is no less than a message for all the nations.’” (Al-Anaam, 90)

The true believer is on an exalted plane of morality. He has an easygoing, tolerant, forgiving personality. Since he is not unduly swayed by events, he shows a mature reaction and behaves with wisdom, keeping his feelings well under control. He is self- sacrificing, helpful and kind.

“Those who patiently persevere, seeking the countenance of their Lord; say regular prayers; spend out of the gifts. We have bestowed upon them for their sustenance, secretly and openly; and ward off evil with good: for such there is the final attainment of the eternal home.” (Al-Rad, 22)

A similar divine reward awaits those “who give alms freely, whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon all men;- for Allah loves those who do good,” (Al Imran, 134) who “hold to forgiveness; command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant,” (Al-Araf, 199) and who “feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive” (Al-Insan, 8)

Of course, the believer will make mistakes; after all he is a human being. But as soon as he realizes his mistakes, he will correct them and pray Allah to forgive his faults. None of his faults make him hopeless, because he is sure of Allah’s help and seeks refuge in His boundless mercy. The Qur’an states this as below:

“And those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls, earnestly bring Allah to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins,—and who can forgive sins except Allah?—and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in the wrong they have done.” (Al Imran, 135)

The believer’s only friends are Allah and the servants of Allah, other believers. He considers people only according to their faith (imaan). He will not feel any affection for others because of their race, career, family ties, or the profit he derives from them. The only criterion which makes them worth his love is their high degree of righteousness. His closest friend is no longer a friend if he turns out to be an enemy to Allah. On the other hand any believer who dedicates himself to Allah is a close brother to him, even if they might  have nothing in common in terms of a family relationship, social status or financial opportunities. He likes for the pleasure of Allah, he hates for the pleasure of Allah.

He is a man of understanding. He trusts in Allah. Because he puts his trust in Him, he is saved from fears, anxiety and sorrows of our worldly affairs. Since he is an “open-minded” person, he can think big and he can easily fathom the complex sides of events. His reason has been enforced by wisdom and knowledge.

He is a caliph on earth, who bears aloft the spirit of Allah. He is aware that he will be staying in this world for only a short time. During this short period, he will be tested and educated.  Then he will be ready for his real home in the Hereafter. His life in this world is full of glory and honour as a caliph of Allah. No one can overcome him. They may kill him; yet this is the biggest reward for him, since this is by no means an end for him: being killed on the path of Allah is a great honour.

Questioning Ourselves

O you who believe! Fear Allah, and let every soul look to what provision He has sent forth for the morrow. Yes, fear Allah: for Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. And do not be like those who forgot Allah so that He made them forget their own souls! Such are the rebellious transgressors! (Hashr, 18-19)

The Qur’an describes the believers as explained in the previous pages. The believers whom Allah is pleased with and whom Allah allows into heaven, are such as are mentioned above. But what about ourselves?  Have we ever asked ourselves how much we resemble them?

The model of the believer as described in the Qur’an shows us that saying “alhamdulillah, I’m a Muslim” and performing some simple acts of worship may not be enough in the eyes of Allah. A true believer does not pay lip service but tries hard to persevere in the way of Allah. The Qur’an explains the position of those “serving Allah on the verge of true faith” as below:

“There are among men some who serve Allah, as it were, on the verge of true faith: if good fortune befalls them, they are well content; but if an ordeal befalls them, they turn upon their heels: they lose both this world and the Hereafter: that is a loss for all to see!” (Al-Hajj, 11)

Another verse explains what is meant by worthy activities in the path of Allah:

“It is not righteousness if you turn your faces towards the east or west; but it is righteousness to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend your wealth, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which you have made; and to be firm and patient, in suffering and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the Allah-fearing” (Al-Baqara, 177)

Obviously, it would be quite meaningless to deceive ourselves by such thoughts as: ‘My heart is pure, I do not have any bad habits and I do not do any evil to anyone. Undoubtedly Allah loves me’. Allah wants people to serve Him, and not just be a pure-hearted person who does not do any harm to anyone. No matter how pure one’s heart is, if one does not obey the commands of Allah and fulfill one’s religious duties, one will not please Allah. Besides, no one can have a pure heart without true faith. Because, only true faith frees a person from such evils as jealousy, passion for the world, selfishness, self-interest, showing a lack of sympathy for others, etc. One should keep in mind that these flaws cannot be removed from our souls unless we are sedulous in our duties to Allah.

The Model of a Person Living in a Society Distant From Religion

They say: “What is there but our life in this world? We live and die, and nothing but time can destroy us.” But of that they have no knowledge: they merely conjecture. (Al-Jathiya, 24)

Yet there is among men such a one as disputes about Allah, without Knowledge, without Guidance, and without a Book of Enlightenment. (Al-Hajj, 8)

In spite of all these positive characteristics of the believers, there may still be people who are uninterested in religion. In order to understand the reason for this, we have to investigate their prejudices and impressions of Islam and Muslims. Here, we are not referring to atheists but to people distant to religion. In fact, we are not entirely unfamiliar with this model at all, because it is actually a product of the society we are living in. 

As we mentioned at the beginning, one of the most important characteristics of a person who fits into this model is his behaving in accordance with the conditioning of that society. All his manners are acquired by following the majority. This will also shape his point of view about religion.

All his religious thoughts are shaped by his environment. He has few opinions on the Qur’an, and maybe he has not read it even once in his life. Therefore, his only source of information about Islam and Muslims is the baseless practices of his grand parents and  are just stories about Islam which are just hearsay. He thinks any activities carried out in the name of Islam, are a part of the real Islam.

At school, if his biology teacher is an evolutionist, or if his philosophy teacher is an atheist, he does not resist those ideas and readily accepts them to be true. He begins to think that he has been greatly enlightened. And he thinks he has found the truth and gone beyond the simple matters of life.

As mentioned before, section of the media try to show certain perverted persons as devotees and some perverted ideas as Islamic. They also represent believers as aggressive, fanatic, primitive, passive and isolated people. Through this systematic, discriminatory propaganda of the media, he thinks he has acquired an adequate knowledge of Islam. He is such a learned person that among his friends he does not hesitate to give expression off-the-cuff ideas and to make judgements about Islam. When he comes across his kind of men, the kind who agree with him, he gets even more sure of himself and of his ideas.

Wrong, distorted, unreasonable religious practices, which do not reflect the real Islam in any way, do not direct him towards searching for the truth. He does not bother to find out if there is actually a real religion. And after all why should he put himself out? He has more important things to attend to, such as school, work or taking care of his family.  He does not want to accept the onus of discovering the reality. With the aid of materialistic media, he just suppresses the urgings of his soul to think about Allah and religion. Why should he bother to delve into the issue and further? If there is a system relating to Allah, which obligate people to practice it, how is he supposed to deal with his worldly matters? He wrongly thinks Islam will add to his troubles. His mind is so cloudy that he cannot even think that his escaping from reality will not free him from his responsibilities.

The situation of such people, who are in such a psychological state, is described in the following Qur’anic verse:

“Others they keep away from it, and themselves they keep away; but they only destroy their own souls, though they do not perceive it. (Al-Anaam, 26)

The irreligious attitude of the society in which he lives is his biggest support. The irreligious way of life adopted by members of “high society”, politicians, writers and other famous and important persons, who are mostly known to be enlightened intellectuals, affects him deeply. After all,  “high society” must go by the most appropriate norms of behaviour and he should be in conformity with the society he is living in.

By keeping away from religion, he thinks he becomes a modern and contemporary person. Being an irreligious person might make him feel guilty, but he comforts himself by thinking that there are many other people who share this guilt with him—as if this reduced the seriousness of his guilt. He thinks “committing an offense as a group reduces individual responsibility”.

But, when he dies, he will be all alone. No one will be with him when he shall have to account for his actions. There won’t be any help from those famous, enlightened people and members of high society:

“They will all be marshalled before Allah together: then the weak will say to those who were arrogant: We but followed you; can you then protect us all from the wrath of Allah?’ They will reply, ‘If we had received the Guidance of Allah, we should have given it to you: to us it makes no difference now whether we rage, or bear these torments with patience: for ourselves there is no way of escape.’”  (Ibrahim, 21)

“And behold! You come to us bare and alone, as We created you for the first time: you have left behind you all he favours which We bestowed on you: We do not see with you your intercessors whom you thought to be partners in your affairs: so now all relations between you have been cut off, and your fancies have left you in the lurch!” (Al-Anaam, 94)

Since he misunderstands the meaning of the concept of ‘being elect’, he takes wrong persons as models for himself. According to the society of ignorance, to be an elect person, some special qualifications are required, like possessing wealth and fame. But these are irrelevant to Islamic criteria of prominence.  He is not aware of the fact that being an elect person can be achieved only by being a pious believer who has been brought near to Allah.

“And commemorate Our Servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, possessors of Power and Vision. Truly, We chose them for the special purpose of proclaiming the Message of the Hereafter. They were, in Our sight, truly, of the company of the Elect and the Good.” (Sad, 45-47)

Society demands a great deal from him in terms of personal qualifications and sacrifices. First of all, he needs to achieve “status” and “prestige” in society in accordance with those irreligious criteria. Otherwise, ‘what will people think of him?’ Gradually, he learns more effective ways of “showing off” so as to leave a “good” impression on people. For him, the only thing that matters is “other peoples’ impression of  him”. He is too preoccupied with how others think about him. And he does not seem to care about seeking the Good Pleasure of Allah. He claims to seek the pleasure of Allah, but when you look at his actions, you see that the only thing he cares about is currying favour.

Society also educates people about the nature of their relationship with the opposite sex. One of the most favourite slogans is “defend women’s rights and show respect for women”. But, in fact, women are used as an instrument of exploitation.

The logic of “dating with someone” is imposed as the only solution to certain social problems experienced by young people. This practice is encouraged without considering if it is an appropriate thing to do in terms of religious bounds. Term such as “flirt”, “boy friend”, “girl friend” and other similar experience  have become standard items in the modern vocabulary. Young girls are given the ‘holy’ mission of satisfying the needs of men. Attempts are made to denigrate the concepts of honour and chastity through the systematic, hidden or open propaganda of the media, which become embedded in the subconscious. 13-14 year old girls can be labeled as “lesbian” if they do not have dates with boys. If a young man resists going to a brothel, he can also be labeled either as impotent or homosexual.  Those who try to keep their chastity may find themselves isolated from society. In this way, social pressure is applied. If they do not act according to religion-free social rules, public opinion will compel them to change their ways and in the face of this pressure their self-discipline crumble.

Thus conditioned, the young person starts to see sexual relationships outside marriage as lawful. Next comes the shaping of our views about homosexuals. With systematic propaganda the ordinary man is induced to believe in the normality of homosexuality: “Being a homosexual is a personal choice, which should be considered very natural.” When you consider it normal, you are considered to be an open-minded, modern and notable person. In order to be such a person, you have to overcome your “old-fashioned” way of thinking and “improve” yourself. The more you accept any sort of “immorality” as legitimate, the more you become a “modern”, “notable” person! Who can resist becoming such a person? In fact, a true believer does!

Let’s take a further look at some other characteristics of this system. It uses “marriage” —originally an institution of mutual respect and love with no expectation of profit as an instrument of mutual exploitation. In this system, the role of a wife is rearing the children, washing the clothes and dishes, cooking and providing sexual satisfaction for her husband. After “finding a husband” one of the most important goals for a young girl, she tries to “bind” her husband to herself by having a child as soon as possible in order to “guarantee” her future. The role of a husband, on the other hand, is working for a living and earning money for his “dearest” wife’s needs in payment for her “services”. This is nothing but a mutual life contract based on personal interests and social rules. This kind of marriage is not actually very different from an agreement made for any kind of temporary service. The only difference is in the duration of the validity of the agreement. This marriage is calculated to last for a longer time, maybe for a lifetime. Neither partner want to accept this truth, but when they see there is no love and respect in their relationship, but only role playing, they admit the true nature of their marriage to be a “reality of life”. When one spouse reneges on fulfilling his/her duties as this agreement requires, their marriage shatters.

There is the  concept of “marriage by logic.” It means that couples may get married if certain standards are met by the two parties, although love and sincere intimacy are not involved. Love is something temporary anyway and it is to die sooner or later. So, there’s no need to be in love with the person you marry. As may easily be understood, in this kind of marriages the common sharing point is not love, but money, and mutual benefits. Even sexuality, after a period of time, is considered to be a boring act, since spouses get used to each other. And even love has a distorted meaning when it is involved in the relationship. It is based on certain materialistic criteria. Young girls easily fall in love with those “cool guys” with “red sports cars”. Their being irreligious person does not really matter. Since no morality as described in true religion is involved, the ensuing rooted in iniquity.

It is obvious that in these marriages, concepts such as loyalty and fidelity do not have any importance. The increasing number of cheating partners is a natural result of this system. They begin to cheat on each other after a period of time and many of them maintain their forbidden relationships secretly. Some “modern” people, on the other hand, do this within the knowledge of their spouses, and are proud of their “honesty” towards them. The “modern marriage system”, which is entirely different from the one described in Islam, is promoted and shown to be the ideal one. This system is used as a doorway to “free sex”, widely practiced by certain “modern” groups of society, who are doing their utmost to make this a permanent concept.

Actually, the irreligious way of life, introduced as modernism, is not an independent philosophy at all. It is a thought system which is promoted to destroy religious values and to establish a social system in opposition to them. It has the effect of preventing people from carrying out their religious duties. The rules of this thought system apply not only to marriage but also to many aspects of life. The system either attempts to destroy certain concepts like chastity and loyalty, or distort the meaning of others incorporating them in its own system in order to mislead people. Characteristics like honesty, courage, and being brave in the way of Allah are some of those virtues  which are highly praised in the Qur’an. Fighting against the unjust, determination to the extent of sacrificing one’s life in the way of Allah, fearing nothing but Allah are also among the most important characteristics of the believers. But this system describes courage as indulging in the most extreme perversions, honesty as engaging openly in immoral activities, and determination as being firm in maintaining and promoting one’s irreligious values.

When we look at the situation of youngsters, we see that such concepts as “courage” and “decisiveness” are associated with  certain personality distortions like rudeness, disrespectfulness, bullying, attacking human rights, being opportunist, abusing people, aggressiveness, arrogance and overestimating oneself. The “rebel”, the “tough guy” and the “macho guy” are represented to youngsters as if these were ideal personality types. Indiscreetness and garrulity are praised as signs of being a “straightforward” person.

Allah warns us about the untrustworthiness of people with the above mentioned characteristics.

“Do not heed such a despicable type of person as is ready with oaths, a slanderer, spreading calumnies, Habitually hindering all good, transgressing beyond all bounds, deep in sin, violent and cruel and with all that, base-born. Though he may possess wealth and numerous sons, when our revelations are recited to him, he cries ‘Tales of the ancients’!”  (Al-Qualam, 10-15)

For a young girl, having free sex and defending lesbianism are represented as acts of  “courage”, and confessing her unfaithfulness to her husband is regarded as a mark of “honesty”. “Respect” is a feeling of appreciation which has to be shown for all kinds of perversions.

As a consequence of all this distorted logic, the concept of “loving someone” takes on a different meaning. The degree of love is in direct proportion to how much one can show off in the relationship and how much material benefit one can derive from it. Love is based on certain deliberately created images. Many young girls fall for a ‘romantic rebel’ only because of his image. Under the influence of this image factor, they look with sympathy upon people, who are really quite ordinary and possess very few qualities. On the other hand, they are ready to criticize those devoted, respectful believers with many praiseworthy traits, if they mistakenly commit even the slightest error. While the image of being a believer has a little value, the useless rebel quite bereft of positive characteristics, attracts much more attention.

The society the individual lives in, forms his value-judgement and shapes his thoughts and feelings to such an extent that he eventually gives no thought to the purpose of life, his existence, religion and Allah. Since the system imposes countless duties upon him, he has in any case, no time to think on such issues. First of all, he needs to be the captain who saves his ship, thus earning his status in society. In order to reach this goal, he shall have to manipulate and abuse people.

Life is a struggle. Big fish swallow smaller fish. Elimination of the weak is a “law of nature”. So he must play the game accordance to his own rules. He does not care about others having the same mentality, so long as they do not use it against him.

But once things do not work out as he plans and he fails in his attempts to gain some “status” in society, the mentality he favoured so far, turns out to be a threat to his existence. He finds himself in the ranks of those upon whom he used to look down. His so-called friends, who in fact did not care about him but only about what he seemed to be till that point, now disappear one by one and leave him all alone. Once he loses his business, wealth, health and status, or anything considered to be one of the main criteria for love or give loving anyone or giving him any importance, all friends turn away from him. He now sees that it is only Allah he can trust and ask for help. It is only Allah in whom he can seek refuge.

 It is the Who enables them to traverse the land and sea;  they embark and set sail with a favourable wind, at which they rejoice; then comes a stormy wind and the waves come to them from all sides, and they think they are being overwhelmed: they pray to Allah, with all fervor saying, ‘If you deliver us from this, we shall truly show our gratitude!’” (Jonah, 22)

But as soon as Allah answers his prayers and things start to go well for him, like those whom Allah delivered from being shipwrecked, he again turns away from Allah, as if he was not the one who desperately asked for help and promised to be a true servant if his prayers were answered.

“But when he delivers them, behold! They transgress insolently throughout the earth in defiance of right! O mankind! Your insolence is against your own souls. Take your enjoyment of the life of the present but in the end, to Us you shall return, and We shall show you the truth of all that you did.” (Jonah, 23)

He again starts to evaluate things with his distorted materialistic mentality. He considers what he has been through as a mere experience of life and claims he was saved from that undesirable situation through his own efforts. Things should be considered realistically, not in terms of religion or metaphysics. Everything is over anyway. Now it is time to return to the game. This time he will be more careful to play it by his own rules. After all, he is now more experienced.

“If We give man a taste of Our Mercy, and then withdraw it from him, behold! He is in despair and falls to blaspheming. But if We give him a taste of Our favours after adversity has touched him, he is sure to say, ‘All evil has departed from me’ and behold! He becomes exultant and boastful.” (Hud, 9-10)

His deviance is now more firmly established. During the rest of his life, he will be tested and he will encounter similar troubles again. These will all provide new opportunities for him to turn to Allah. And it would be good for him if he learnt his lesson and found the straight path with the aid of Allah. But if he resists and turns away, these chances will only cause his deviance to become the more ingrained.

The worst of all is, if his life ends before he sees the warning in these tests and carries out his duties to Allah. Then it will be too late, because he has been given enough chances and he has already proven what kind of a person he has been during his lifetime. He has used up all his chances. The situation of such people is stated in the Qur’an as follows;

“If you could only see them they are confronted with the Fire! They will say: ‘Would that we were but sent back! Then we would not reject the signs of our Lord, but would be amongst those who believe!’ Indeed, what they concealed before will become manifest to them. But if they were sent back, they would certainly return to the things they were forbidden, for they are indeed liars.” (Al-Anaam, 27-28)

In other verses of the Qur’an, the unbelievers’ similar position is emphasized and they are advised to turn to Allah during their lifetime in this world.

“For any whom Allah leaves astray, there is no protector thereafter. And you will see the Wrong-doers, when in sight of the Penalty, say: ‘Is there any way to effect a return?’

And you will see them brought forward to the Penalty, in a humble frame of mind because of their disgrace, and looking with a stealthy glance. And the Believers will say: ‘Great indeed is the loss of those who have given to perdition their own souls and all their kindred on the Day of Judgment.’ Truly, the wrong-doers shall suffer everlasting torment;  And they have no  protectors to help them, other than Allah. And for any whom Allah leaves to stray, there is no way to the Goal.

Obey your Lord, before there comes a Day which no one can put off against the will of Allah! That Day there will be no place of refuge for you nor will there be any room for denial of your sins!” (Al-Shura, 44-47)  

Transition to Qur'anic Morality From That of the Irreligious Society

But if any have done wrong and have thereafter substituted good to take the place of evil, truly, I am Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful. (Al-Naml, 11)

And thus have We, by Our Command, sent inspiration to you: when you knew nothing of Revelation or Faith; but We have made the Qur’an a Light, wherewith We guide such of Our servants as We will; and surely you will guide men to the Straight Way. (Al-Shura, 52)

For they have been guided (in this life) to the purest of speeches; they have been guided to the Path of Him Who is Worthy of (all) Praise. (Al-Hajj, 24)

Every person, throughout his life, has a chance of getting rid of what society has instilled in him and turning to Allah’s way. According to the way of Allah, no one will depart from this world before he is invited to the religion of Allah by a Warner. Every person who is responsible for his acts, will be invited to Islam and he will be asked to make a choice of his free will.

“Whoever receives guidance, receives it for his own benefit: but whoever goes astray does so to his own loss. No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another: nor do We punish a native until We have sent a messenger to give warning.” (Al-Isra, 15)

Those who receive this invitation, give different responses. The Qur’an explains their reaction in detail. The best reaction is that of the real Believers when they express their acceptance by saying, “We hear and we obey.”

“The answer of the Believers, when summoned to Allah and His Messenger, in order that He may judge between them, is no other than this: they say, ‘We hear and we obey’: it is such as these that will attain felicity.” (Al-Nur, 51)

Nevertheless not everybody’s reaction is as ideal as this. The Qur’an also mentions those who deny their religion with pride and even hold Muslims as enemies, when they are invited to accept what Allah has revealed.

“Woe to each sinful dealer in falsehoods! He hears the Signs of Allah recited to him, yet is obstinate and lofty, as if he had not heard them: then announce to him a grievous penalty!: When he learns something of Our Signs, he takes them in jest: for such there will be a humiliating penalty.” (Al-Jathiya, 7-9)

Others, on the other hand, are more ambiguous in their reactions The soul of such individual tells him what is right and wrong, but another, inner voice keeps on instilling in him the determination not to turn away from the irreligious society. He tries to make this legitimate through by defense mechanisms.  He tries in several ways to escape from reality. Since he cannot say, “Believers are telling me the truth, but I do not accept and practice what they tell me to do because of my own weakness and pride,” he tries to find faults in religion itself and in the believers in order to reassure to comfort himself.

When such a person meets a true believer who is sincere towards Allah, he approaches him with suspicion and prejudice. When he sees that this believer is not of the “traditional” mould, he claims him to be a person who “is interpreting religion according to his own desires and using religion for his own benefit.” What is interesting is that this accusation has even been directed against the prophets;

“The unbelieving elders of his people said: ‘He is no more than a man like yourselves: his wish is to assert his superiority over you: if Allah had wished to send messengers, He could have sent down angels; never did we hear such a thing as he says, among our ancestors of old.’”  (Al-Mumenoon, 24)

“Would you now forbid us to worship the gods our fathers worshipped? But we are really in  serious doubt as to the faith to which you call us.” (Hud, 62)

All of a sudden, he decides to be  a great voluntary defender of the distorted understanding of the religion of ignorance. He objects to the way believers live, since they have given up the distortions of religion which stem from the wrong practices of their ancestors, and have been living out their religion as defined in the Qur’an. He asks the real Muslim: “What is it that you claim? That everyone  is doing wrong, and only you are doing right,? ”Are you the only ones who happened to realize the true meaning of religion?” “You claim you are wiser than most of the believers on earth and have found the true way?” However, according to the Qur’an, the truth is not measured by the number of people who believe it to be true. On the contrary, the Qur’an warns us that most of the people will not be on the right path:

“...These are the signs (or verses) of the Book: that which has been revealed to you from you Lord is the Truth; but most men do not believe. (Al-Rad, 1)

While some of the prophets had a numerous following (like the Prophet Moses,  the Prophet Solomon, the Prophet Mohammed), other prophets were followed only by a small number of believers and sometimes not even by a single person, as is mentioned in the Qur’an. However, the number of the believers did not change the reality, and all prophets conveyed Allah’s message to their people. They fulfilled their duties and were rewarded with the highest gardens in the  hereafter, regardless of the number of believers that followed them.

The Qur’an clarifies the position of the people who interrogate the believers, making distorted inferences;

“Do you not see those who turn in friendship to people with whom Allah is angry? They belong neither to you nor to them, and they swear to falsehood knowingly.” (Al-Mujadila, 14)

“(They are) distracted in mind being sincerely for neither one group nor for another. Allah leaves them straying,- never will you find the way.” (An-Nisa, 143)

This kind of person tries to find deficiencies in the explanations of the real religion based on the Qur’an. Although he does not know much about the Qur’an, he enters into disputes and produces examples to defend his distorted logic. (These examples are called  “comparisons” by the Qur’an) In fact, his claims are quite baseless and without consistency, and are put forward as a way of escape.

"See how they make comparative judgements about you. They are misguided and cannot find the way." (Al-Furqan, 9)

The best-known comparisons do not exceed four or five. For example, “Why is the eating of the flesh of swine forbidden by religion?” Is one of the most frequent questions asked. The person who asks this question is well aware that swine feeds on its own excreta, causes a parasite disease and is therefore harmful to human health. He nevertheless feels disgusted when these facts are mentioned. However, his actual aim is not to get some reasonable answer but to confuse minds. The fate of such people is described in the Qur’an:

“But those who strive against Our Signs, to frustrate them,- they will be Companions of the Fire.” (Al-Hajj, 51)

“Those who would hinder men from the path of Allah and would seek in it something crooked: it was they who denied the Hereafter!” (Hud, 19)

Even if these comparisons are proven to be nonsense, further comparisons are made up instantly, since the real aim is not to be informed or have suspicions allayed but to search for deficiencies. If he considers the given answers with a sincere heart, he will be convinced and have to accept how reasonable they are. However, he avoids this. Because he does not want to make a change in his plans and in his way of life to conform to a new set of criteria. As a result, he thrusts his fingers into his ears so as not to hear the reality as it is explained in the Qur’an;

“And every time I have called on them, to seek your pardon, they have only thrust their fingers into their ears, covered themselves up with their garments, grown obstinate, and given themselves up to arrogance” (Nooh, 7)

Those who refuse to accept advice are compared with asses:

“Then what is the matter with them that they turn away from admonition?- As if they were frightened asses, fleeing from a lion!” (Al-Muddaththir, 49-51)

We are again informed by the Qur’an that those people who turn away from Islam, hiding behind primitive reactions, excuses and distortions are described as wrong-doers and unjust:

“Who does greater wrong than one who invents a falsehood against Allah, even as he is being called to Islam? Allah does not guide those who do wrong.” (As-Saff, 7)

If he is shrewd, he takes this invitation as a challenge and tries to prove his “vigilance” and “shrewdness”. Nobody can “dupe” him after all. He approaches Muslims in a paranoid and hostile manner. Since he thinks people are keenly attentive only to their own interest only, just like himself, he cannot understand the sincere and self-sacrificing efforts of Muslims for the cause of Allah. He tries to explain the unity and solidarity of believers by putting forward ignorant points of view. “There is something behind all this,” he says and he thinks that by being suspicious, he is being wise.

“When they meet those who believe, they say: ‘We believe’ but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say: ‘We are really with you: we were only jesting.’ Allah will throw back their mockery on them, and give them rope in their trespasses; so that they will wander like the blind.” (Baqara, 14-15)

In fact, his insincere, prejudiced, hostile manners towards Muslims are not a unique attitude disorder special to himself. Historically, all ignorant people have used the very same tactics and acted in the same manner. Throughout the ages, mentality, methods and comparisons have remained unchanged.

“On the contrary, they say things similar to what the ancients said.” (Al-Mumenoon, 81)

They either reject revelations or try to distort their meaning to make them serve their own interests. They suggest criteria other than those included in the Qur’an.

“What is the matter with you that you judge so ill?
Or have you a book through which you learn-that you shall have, through it, whatever you choose?
Or have we sworn a  covenant with you —binding till the Day of Judgment,—that you shall have whatever you shall demand?” (Al-Qalam, 36-39)

When he numbers among the ignorant, he hardly remembers his being a Muslim. He never considers whether or not his actions, attitudes, relationships with others, or his way of life conform to Qur’anic criteria. However, when he meets a sincere Muslim, he suddenly remembers that he is a Muslim. And what is more, that he is a “very” religious one. He starts uttering clichés to prove how religious a person he is. “I am a Muslim, alhamdulillah” “I never skip prayers at eids” “ I never use alcohol while fasting in the month Ramadan”. Statements of this kind are in fact reflections of his psychological state  as he tries to hide his real personality.

Some “shrewd” people go a step further and act as if they were the  most religious of all. They compare themselves with those who engage in distorted forms of religion and declare, “My heart is pure, I am a more religious person than most of those religious-looking people.” They say, “Allah knows who is on the right path” and object to other people making any comment on their irreligious way of life, no matter how openly they are involved in unlawful activities like “usury” and “adultery”. Surely Allah knows who are on the right path and who are not, but He guides us to the right path by stating in the Qur’an that being a true believer is only possible by being in possession of the characteristics of the believers as explained in the Qur’an. As the criteria of the Qur’an are very clear, a one who claims superiority for himself without having any knowledge of the Qur’an does nothing but dishonour himself.

One of the biggest errors of such people is that they wrongly assume that they can deceive others. However, real believers can easily diagnose such people, with their understanding and the ability given by Allah together with the knowledge provided by the Qur’an. Besides, Allah, Who “knows well all the secrets of the heart” (Al Imran, 119) sees them and knows them better than they do themselves. Such people believe that they can deceive Allah just as they deceive other people. On the Day of Judgement, no excuses from them will be accepted before Allah.

The World and the Hereafter

Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: women and sons; heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world’s life; but in nearness to Allah is the best of the goals.

Say: “Shall I give you glad tidings of things far better than those? For the righteous are Gardens in close proximity to their Lord, with rivers flowing beneath; therein is their eternal home; with companions pure and holy; and the good pleasure of Allah.” Allah is watching over His servants. (Al Imran, 14-15)

Essentially all attempts to seek in religion something crooked, stem from a lack of  understanding of the reality of the Hereafter.

As is stated in the Qur’an, Allah has created the World as a temporary home for us. It is for putting believers to the test, having them purified, letting them become worthy of heaven and bearing witness against the unbelievers.

However, members of the society of ignorance disregard this reality and hold on to the World alone as if it will never end. That is the reasoning that shapes the mentality of the society of ignorance which we have tried to explain throughout this book. “Life is short, so get a life”, “We come to this world only once, so enjoy it.” Statements of this kind are actually simple reflections of this mentality which urge people to live their lives without considering their religious duties and the hereafter. You should enjoy your life while you are alive. You can try anything for fun and for your benefit because in the society of ignorance, as long as you benefit from something, there is nothing wrong with it. From that standpoint, everything is legitimate.

The society of ignorance is in a state of deep ignorance. It is clear that death is an unavoidable end and that it will come sooner or later to everyone on earth. Yet, the ignorant disregard this fact and keep it out of the agenda as much as possible. They sedulously avoid thinking about it and prevent people from talking about it. Everybody leads his life as if he will never die, although most people do not deny the existence of Allah. When they are asked, they claim they do believe in the afterlife as well, as it is a prerequisite of being a Muslim. However, their actions prove just the opposite. That is because of their lack of faith in the hereafter:

“As to these, they love the fleeting life, and put away behind them a Day that will be hard.” (Al-Insan, 27)

“You will indeed find them, of all people, most greedy of life,-even more than the idolaters: Each one of them wishes He could be given a life of a thousand years: but the grant of such life will not save him from (due) punishment. For Allah sees well all that they do.” (Al-Baqara, 96)

“Ah indeed! Are they in doubt concerning the Meeting with their Lord? Ah indeed! It is He that doth encompasses all things!” (Fussilat, 54)

Since they think their death will be an ultimate end for their being, their desire to live forever is fulfilled in another way. Most of the ignorant want to leave behind them  something to make people remember them after their death. They think, by doing so, they will be living in people’s minds. They are unaware of how unreasonable this way of thinking is. Instead of doing some good deeds for their afterlife, they try to make a “name” for themselves in the world so as to be “unforgettable” after their death, none of which activity will bring them any benefit.

“Behold, their brother Hud said to them: ‘Will you not fear Allah?

I am to you a messenger worthy of all trust:

So fear Allah and obey me. I ask no reward of you for it: my reward is only from the Lord of the Worlds.
Do you build a landmark on every high place to amuse yourselves?

And do you raise up for yourselves fine buildings in the hope of living in them for ever?’” (Al-Shuara, 124-129)

“......who piles up wealth and lays it by,  thinking that his wealth would make him last for ever!” (Al-Humaza, 2-3)

Belief in the Hereafter is a kind of consolation to repress the pain death causes during the life of this world. Even the most religious ones make superstition of it. They choose to believe in it “just in case”. They believe they guarantee their entry to the Gardens in the hereafter. What is interesting is that those who approach the hereafter in such a way, claim that they are “people of the Gardens.” The person mentioned in the chapter Al-Kahf symbolizes this general point of view of the society of ignorance:

“Set forth to them the parable of two men: for one of them We provided two gardens of grape-vines and surrounded them with date palms; in between the two We placed corn-fields.
Each of those gardens brought forth its produce, and did not fail in the least therein: in the midst of them We caused a river to flow.
When their ones had gathered in his harvest, he said to his  companion, in the course of a mutual argument: ‘I have more wealth  than you, and more honour and power in my following of men.
He went into his garden in a state of mind unjust to his soul. He said, ‘Surely this will never perish!
Nor do I believe that the Hour of Judgment will ever come: Even if I am brought back to my Lord, I shall surely find there something better in exchange.’
His companion said to him, in the course of the argument with him: ‘Do you deny Him Who created you out of dust, then out of a sperm-drop, then fashioned you into a man?
I think for my part that He is Allah, My Lord. and none shall I associate with my Lord.
Why did you not, as you went into your garden, say: ‘Allah’s will be done! There is no power but with Allah!’ If you see me less than you in wealth and sons, it may be that my Lord will give me something better than your garden, and that He will send  down on your garden thunderbolts by way of reckoning from heaven, making it but slippery sand!
Or the water of the garden will run off underground so that you will never be able to find it.’
So his fruits (and enjoyment) were destroyed, and he wrung his hands over all that he had spent on his property, which had now tumbled to pieces to its very foundations, and he could only say, ‘Woe is me! Would that I had never ascribed partners to my Lord and Cherisher!’
He had no one to help him against Allah, nor was he able to deliver himself.
In such ordeals the only protection comes from Allah, the True One. He is the Best to reward, and the Best to give success.” (Al-Kahf, 32-44)

In another chapter of the Qur’an, we see another example of a person with such a mentality. When he says “If I am brought back to my Lord.” He, in fact, confesses his disbelief in the hereafter;

“When we give him a taste of our Mercy after some adversity has touched him, he is sure to say, ‘This is due to my own merit: I do not think that the Hour of Judgment will ever come; but if I am brought back to my Lord, He will surely reward me well. But We will show the Unbelievers the truth of all that they did, and We shall give them the taste of a severe Penalty.” (Fussilat, 50)

It is in fact hard to understand why people of the society of ignorance persist in their blindness. If someone believes in Allah, then he inevitably comes to the conclusion that the hereafter must also exist. Allah creates the  human being, lets him live his life, gives him countless blessings and shows him great compassion and mercy. So, why should He want to annihilate him at a certain age?

Let’s remember an example given by a great Islamic scholar on this subject: Can a mother execute her child after bringing him up all through the years? In fact, a mother cares  a lot about her child and she feels a great deal of compassion towards him. She does not even think about doing him any harm, let alone wanting to hurt him. When these feelings have been given to her by Allah as the ultimate owner of compassion and any concept we know of good, how can anyone believe that Allah annihilates the human beings whom He creates and endows with all kinds of blessings, especially when those people are thankful to Him and choose to be His servants?

Perhaps we could have a reason to think that death was an end, if good people lived endlessly on the earth while evil ones died. However, as mentioned in the verse: “Every soul shall have a taste of death” (Al-Anbiya 35) Allah ends one’s life after allowing him to live for a certain period of time. “ Did We not give you long enough life so that he that would should receive admonition? And (moreover) the warner came to you.” (Al-Fatr, 37) This period of time is sufficient for each one of us to make a choice.

During this period of time, people should realize that their souls are immortal. Allah has made us want various things and He has given us all that we want and need. Allah has created us in such a way that we feel hunger and He has bestowed  upon us in plenty the foods of the earth. Having given us the feeling of thirst He created water resources for humans when he created the earth. Then, in the same way, will not Allah let us live forever, as He has made us desire to live forever? Allah has created the human being as His caliph on the earth and pressed all other created things, like the sun, the stars and the earth into his service. After all that perfect creation on the part of Allah, it would be unreasonable to think that He allows mankind to live on the earth for a period of time and then ends his life forever. In short, when we pass away, we do not become lost in “nothingness”, but step into our real lives.

It is very obvious to the thinking person that life in this world is temporary and simply a sample of the real life. All the beauties in the world are temporary and have many deficiencies. The most good-looking human being can keep his good appearance only for one or two decades.  As he gets older and older, his physical appearance changes, his skin becomes puckered, his body loses its shape and he starts to suffer many kinds of illnesses related to aging. It is not necessary to get older to witness the shortcomings of the life of this world. His body mechanisms are built with many weaknesses. If he does not take a shower for a few days, he starts to stink. No matter how attractive he is, he has to use the lavatory as every human being does and has to deal with this kind of weaknesses in himself every single day all through out his life.

Since people are used to all of this, they are usually not aware that these weaknesses have been given to them on purpose. They consider the presence of these weaknesses very normal and never think that there could be any alternative. However, Allah’s creation is perfect. When we look at the creation of the universe, the earth, nature and all living creatures from complex organisms to single celled structures, we clearly see that there is a perfect order and design in everything. So, if Allah had willed, people would not have had any of the above mentioned. But all these deficiencies are to remind people of the fact that they stand in need of Allah. They are also to remind people that, the life in this world is only an example of the real life in the hereafter, which is free of all deficiencies.

“Know  that the life of this world is but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying, in rivalry among yourselves, riches and children. It is like the plants that flourish after rain, delighting the hearts of the tillers;  but soon they withers; you will see them grow yellow; then  become dry and crumble away. But in the Hereafter there is as severe Penalty for the devotees of wrong. And Forgiveness from Allah and His Good Pleasure for the devotees of Allah. And what is the life of this world, but the goods and chattels of deception?” (Al-Hadid, 20)

Then, one may ask, “What is the real life like?” It  is known to all that, there will be two different abodes in the hereafter, one for the believers, Paradise, and the other for the unbelievers, Hell. However, the society of ignorance has not stopped short of producing tales about Paradise, and Hell. Therefore, we again need to refer to the Qur’an to understand the true nature of the hereafter.

Paradise: Real Home of the Believers

Be foremost in seeking Forgiveness from your Lord, and a Garden of Bliss, as vast as heaven and earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His messengers: that is the Grace of Allah, which He bestows on whom he pleases: and Allah is the Lord of Grace abounding. (Al-Hadid, 21)

There will be for them therein all that they wish,- and more besides in Our Presence. (Qaf, 35)

The eternal home of the believers is Paradise. Allah will reward them by leading them into the gardens, where they will dwell forever. Paradise is a place where believers will find whatever they want and even more than what they want, for the beauties of Paradise are beyond their imagination.

Yet the common perception of Paradise is significantly different from what is described in the Qur’an. According to the traditional point of view, Paradise is an improved version of the East, especially where Arab culture prevailed, again, according to this view, Paradise is a place lacking technology place where people mostly enjoy its natural beauties, trees, streams, etc. As to the chalets of Paradise, they are thought to be similar to those chalets of 17th century Middle Eastern Culture, Ottoman culture for example. People usually visualize clothing in Paradise to be a somewhat modernized version of baggy trousers, robes in religious style and turban. They imagine a “houri” whose beauty is highly praised in the Qur’an, to be very beautiful, yet their conception of this beauty is limited to the standards of traditional Ottoman harems, or to some other standards, depending on the country they are from, or the cultural background they have.

All these wrong assumptions stem from the flawed mentality of those who consider the eastern world
as a creation of Allah and the western world as something apart from His creation. While they try to avoid certain low moral standards of the western world, they also try to ignore its  good parts, as if the technology, luxury and western style of aesthetics were not owned by Allah; Who is the owner of everything. What this twisted logic claims, in fact, is that Allah exists in Mecca but not in Los Angeles. Even most of the Muslims who live in the western world are convinced that Paradise will be in oriental style.

The reality is not like that, however? “...Allah has power over all things, encompassing all things in His Knowledge.” (Al-Talaq, 12) and He is “...the Lord of all points in the East and the West.” (Al-Maarij, 40) So, Paradise cannot be bereft of any of the beauties of this world, regardless of whether they belong to the East or to the West. Otherwise, Paradise would not be Paradise. The houses in Paradise will be much better than the most beautiful palaces of this world. The praised beauties of paradisiacal garments will be much more elegant and aesthetic than those of French or Italian fashion houses. The women in Paradise will not necessarily look like oriental dancers but they will be much more beautiful and attractive than any of the top models and cover girls, since their beauty as described in the Qur’an and Islamic literature is unparalleled.

Not all Islamic concepts are necessarily oriental. When anyone reads the Qur’an without giving it close attention, he may first get an impression that technology does not exist in the gardens of Paradise. That is because the Qur’an which was revealed 1400 years ago, describes Paradise in such a way as can be understood by people of all ages. Then Qur’an is universal and applies to all ages. It does not, of course, “directly” refer to any technological aspect of Paradise, since people of different ages, including ourselves, may not know of those technologies. On the other hand, we have been given to understand that we will be rewarded with anything we want: “There will be there all that your souls could desire, all that your eyes could delight in: and you shall abide therein forever.” (Az-Zukhruf, 71) In another verse, it is stated that Paradise offers more than we want:“There will be for them therein all that they wish,- and more besides in Our Presence.”(Qaf, 35) Therefore, everything including technology as well will be available in Paradise, as long as the inhabitants of Paradise so wish it.

The chapter of Ar-Rahman describes Paradise as below;

“But for such as fear the time when they will stand before the Judgment Seat of their Lord, there will be two Gardens. Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?
Containing all kinds (of trees and delights). Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?
In (each) there will be a spring flowing freely. Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?
In them will be fruits of every kind, in pairs. Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?
They will recline on carpets, whose inner linings will be of rich brocade: the fruit of the Gardens will be near and easy of reach. Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?
In them will be maidens, chaste, restraining their glances, whom no man or Jinn before them has touched. Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?
Maidens as fair as rubies and coral. Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?
Is there any reward for good - other than good?  Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?
And besides these two, there are two other Gardens. Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?
Dark-green in colour (from plentiful watering). Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?
A gushing fountain shall flow in each. Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?
In them will be fruits, and dates and pomegranates. Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?
In them will be fair Companions, good, and beautiful. Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?
Companions restrained as to their glances, in (goodly) pavillions. Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?
Whom no man or Jinn before them has touched. Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?
They shall recline on green cushions and rich, beautiful carpets. Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny? 
Blessed be the name of you Lord, full of Majesty, Bounty and Honour.” (Ar-Rahman, 46-78)

Other verses : Paradise is described in a number of;

“And when you gaze upon that scene, you will behold a kingdom which is blissful and magnificent.” (Al-Insan, 20)

“Reclining in the Garden on raised thrones, they will feel neither the sun’s excessive heat nor the moon’s excessive cold.” (Al-Insan, 13)

“There they shall hear no word of vanity” (Al-Ghashiya, 11)

“And beside them will be chaste women, restraining their glances, with big eyes (of wonder and beauty), as if they were (delicate) eggs closely guarded.” (As-Saffat, 48-49)

“And they will say: ‘Praise be to Allah, Who has removed from us (all) sorrow: for our Lord is indeed Oft-Forgiving and Ready to appreciate service: Who has, out of His Bounty, settled us in a Home that will last: no toil nor sense of weariness shall touch us therein.’” (Al-Fatr, 34, 35)

“But it is for those who fear their Lord, that lofty mansions, one above another, have been built: beneath them flow rivers of delight: such is the Promise of Allah: never does Allah fail in His promise.” (Az-Zumar, 20)

Allah welcomes his servants as below:

“(To the righteous soul it will be said:) ‘O serene soul’ Come back to your Lord, joyful yourself and pleasing to Him! Enter, then, among My devotees! Yes, enter My Heaven!’” (Al-Fajr, 27-30)  

Hell-Made Ready for the Unbelievers

Leave to Me the creature whom I created bare and alone! To whom I granted resources in abundance, and sons to be by his side!
To whom I made life smooth and comfortable! Yet is he greedy
that I should add yet more.
By no means! For to Our Signs he has been refractory! Soon I will visit him mounting calamities! For he thought and he plotted;
Woe to him! How he plotted.
Yes, woe to him! How he plotted!
Then he looked round;
Then he frowned and he scowled;
Then he turned back and was haughty;
Then said he: “This is nothing but magic, derived from of old.
This is nothing but the word of a mortal!”
Soon I will cast him into Hell-Fire!
And what will explain to you what Hell-Fire is? Permit nothing to endure, and leaves nothing alone!
It burns  the skin of man. (Al-Muddaththir, 11-29)

For as many beauties and blessings as there are in Paradise, there is an equal amount of  ugliness and torment in Hell. Those who have denied Allah as their Creator are punished  endlessly in Hell. The following verses of the Qur’an tell us about those who deserve Hell:

“If anyone contends with the Messenger even after guidance has been plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than that becoming to men of Faith, We shall leave him in the path he has chosen, and consign him to Hell: an evil refuge.” (An-Nisa, 115)

Avoid those who take their religion to be mere play and amusement, and are deceived by the life of this world. But proclaim to them this truth: that every soul delivers itself to ruin by its own acts: it will find for itself no protector or intercessor except Allah: it may offer every ransom, (or reparation), but none will be accepted: such is the end of those who deliver themselves to ruin by their own acts: they shall have only boiling water to drink and shall be sternly punished: for they persisted in rejecting Allah.” (Al-Anaam, 70)

“And there are those who bury gold and silver and do not spend it in the way of Allah: announce to them a most grievous penalty. The Day will come when heat will be produced out of that wealth in the fire of Hell, and their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs,  will be branded with it. They will be told: This is the treasure which you buried for yourselves: taste you then, the treasures you buried’” (Al-Tawba, 34-35)

“When it is said to them, ‘Fear Allah’, they are led by arrogance to more crime. Hell shall be enough for them, an evil bed indeed to lie on!” (Al-Baqara, 206)

The common characteristic of unbelievers who deserve to be cast into Hell is their rejection of religion when they have been invited to accept it:

“The Trumpet will be sounded, and all who are in the heavens and on the earth will swoon, except such as it will please Allah to exempt. Then a second trumpet will be sounded, when, behold, they will rise and look around them!

And the Earth will shine with the Glory of its Lord: the Record of Deeds will be laid open; the prophets and the witnesses will be brought forward and all shall be judged with fairness; and they will not be wronged in the least.
And every soul will be paid back in full according to its Deeds; and Allah knows best all that they do.
The Unbelievers will be led to Hell in hordes. When they arrive there its gates will be opened. And its keepers will say, ‘Did not messengers come to you from among yourselves, proclaiming to you the revelations of your Lord, and fore warning you of the Meeting of this Day?  The answer will be: ‘True’ And thus the promised scourge will smite the unbelievers! They will be told: ‘Enter you the gates of Hell, to dwell therein forever: and evil is this Abode of the Arrogant!’” (Az-Zumar, 68-72)

According to the Qur’an, the denizens of Hell did not take the penalty of Allah seriously while they were still in this World. At that time they  thought that if there were a Hell to which they were to be sent, they would stay there for only a limited period of time. And then, they would be released and would enter Paradise. This is a prevalent view among the members of the society of ignorance. They believe if they are ever to be punished for their sins, they will stay in Hell only, temporarily, and after they have paid for their misdeeds in the world, they will be allowed to enter Paradise. However, the Qur’an informs us that the penalty in Hell will be endless and that there will be no hope of the unbelievers ever entering Paradise.

“And they say: ‘The Fire shall not touch us, except for a few but for a few days,’ Say: ‘Have you taken a promise from Allah, for He never breaks His promise? Or do you assert about Allah what you do not know?’” (Al Baqara, 80)

“Do but consider those who have been given a portion of the Book? They are invited to accept the Book of Allah, to settle their disputes, but some of them turn back and decline the arbitration. This is because they say: ‘The Fire shall not touch us except for a few days; In their religion they are deceived by their own lies. But how will they fare when We gather them together upon a day about which there is no doubt, and each soul will be given just what it has earned, without favour or injustice?” (Al Imran, 23-25)

Other verses of the Qur’an explain the horror in Hell as follows:

”No good friend will ask about his friend even though they can see each other. To redeem himself from the Penalty of that Day, the sinner will gladly sacrifice his children His wife and his brother, His kindred who sheltered him, And all the people on earth, - if that could deliver him: By no means! For the Fire of Hell Shall pluck out his being right from the skull! It shall claim all those who turn their backs and turn away their faces from the Right,  And collect wealth and hide it covetously!” (Al-Maarij, 10-18)

“They shall groan with anguish and be bereft of heaving,” (Al-Anbiya, 100)

“In front of such a one is Hell, and he is given, for drink, boiling fetid water. In gulps he will sip it, but never will he be near swallowing it: death will come to him from every quarter, yet will he not die. Harrowing  torment awaits him.” (Ibrahim, 16-17)

“And you will see the sinners on that day bound together in fetters; Their garments of liquid pitch, and their faces covered with Fire.” (Ibrahim, 49-50)

Truly, the tree of Zaqqum Will be the food of the sinful,
Like molten brass; it will boil in their insides,
Like the boiling of scalding water.
A voice will cry: “Seize him and drag him into the midst of the Blazing Fire!
Then pour over his head the Penalty of Boiling Water,
‘Taste this! Truly you were mighty and full of honour!’” (Ad-Dukhan, 43-49)

All those descriptions devised for Paradise and Hell are absolute facts. Allah, who has created the world and the life in this world, has revealed the Qur’an and has let us know that He will also create the afterlife.

The question asked of the people of Hell will be: “Did not messengers come to you from among yourselves, reciting to you the revelations of your Lord, and warning you of the Meeting of this Day?” (Az-Zumar, 71)

And for those who have rejected the invitation, there will be a “grievous penalty”:

“So he gave nothing in charity, nor did he pray!
But on the contrary, he rejected Truth and turned away!

And then went off to his family, swaggering.
Well have you deserved this doom
Well have you deserved it.” (Al-Qiyama, 31-35)