Deviant Beliefs of Ignorant People
Contrary to the commonly held view, ignorant people are not totally unaware of religion. Most of them acknowledge the existence of Allah, the All-Powerful, Who created themselves and the entire universe. Yet despite this, they develop a deviant understanding of religion. In many verses of the Qur’an, Allah relates that people cannot comprehend the existence of Allah, since they do not ponder upon His creation:
If indeed you ask them who has created the heavens and the earth and subjected the sun and the moon (to His Law), they will certainly reply, Allah. How are they then diverted from the truth? (Surah Al-Ankaboot: 61)
If you ask them, who created them, they will certainly say, Allah: How then can they turn away from the Truth? (Surah Al-Zukhruf: 87)
Say (to them, O Muhammad): Who provided for you from the sky and the earth? Who has endowed you with hearing and sight? Who brought forth the living from the dead and brought forth the dead from the living? Who has ordained all things? They will say: Allah. Then say: Will you not then carry out your duty to Him? (Surah Yunus: 31)
The main reason why these people stray from their Creator’s path is the strong attachment they have for this life. Due to this attachment, they simply disregard the facts and deceive themselves by some flimsy reasoning. If they pondered profoundly, they would realise that they should remain as Allah’s devoted slaves all through their lives. If they ever trusted Allah, they would comprehend the existence of the life beyond and know that they should prepare themselves for it. However, they strongly resist doing so since such an attitude calls for devotion to the next life rather than to this one. In such a situation, the course adopted by ignorant people is not to think about it.
At this point, perverted beliefs regarding religion come to their rescue. These beliefs help the unen-lightened to avoid having a guilty conscience. Despite the variety of these beliefs, the rationale laying the ground for them is one and one only: to avoid being a slave of Allah.
Each of these perverted beliefs is explained in detail in the Qur’an, the last surviving guide to the true path for humanity revealed 1400 years ago. These perverted beliefs, which will be explained in the following pages, will not save human beings from an eternal punishment, though they may well serve to deceive them in this life. On the Day of Reckoning everybody will be judged according to his deeds and nobody will have the chance to conceal his wrongful actions. By virtue of the divine judgement, those adhering to the right path will be rewarded with Paradise for all eternity. Wrongdoers, they will have everything to regret and will face a fearsome end:
If you could see them when they are set before the Fire. They will say: Oh, would that we might return! Then we would not deny the revelations of our Lord but we would be of the believers! (Surah Al-Anaam: 27)
Again and again those who disbelieve will, wish that they had bowed to Allah’s will in Islam. (Surah Al-Hijr: 2)
They Think What the Majority Thinks is True
One of the perverted beliefs prevalent among ignorant people has it that what is accepted to be right by the majority is valid and true. What deceives them is often the same rationale: Since so many people do it, they should have a point. If these principles are shaped within a highly respected group of elite people, then the influence of these principles is felt even more profoundly among ignorant people. In this case, the latter raise no doubts whatsoever about the validity of these principles, which then serve them as life-guides ever after.
However, being accepted as true by the majority by no means legitimises these views. This is surely a dangerous trap to avoid for those whose faith in the Qur’an is not firm. Allah warns believers against adhering to the path of the majority:
If you obeyed the greater part of mankind, they would lead you away from Allah's path. They follow nothing but idle fancies and preach nothing but falsehoods. Allah knows best the men who stray from His path, and the best knows the rightly guided. (Surah Al-Anaam: 116)
Complying with this warning, believers follow only the commandments of the Qur’an and their own consciences. Ignorant individuals, however, seek refuge in the power of the majority in this world. They hope, too, that in the Hereafter following the majority would serve as a proper pretext for not conducting themselves responsibly towards their Creator. However, that is only wishful thinking. Those who neglect their religion in this world shall remain all alone and helpless in the Hereafter:
And no friend will ask after a friend. (Surah Al-Maarij: 10)
On that day, all excuses made up for avoiding Hell will prove to be invalid. The rationale behind the statements: Everyone was doing the same, or I assumed the majority to be true, will not save one from torment:
On that day their excuses will not profit those who did injustice, nor will they be allowed to make amends. (Surah Al-Rum: 57)
As Allah makes clear in the verse:
That which is revealed to you from your Lord is the truth but most men do not believe. (Surah Al-Rad: 1)
What the majority imposes prevails as long as they are not in compliance with the commandments of the Qur’an. Those who have faith in the Qur’an have always been in a minority throughout history.
They Think They will Perish After Death
Ignorant people believe only in what they perceive through their five senses. This materialistic approach lays the groundwork of the denial of the life beyond. Yet such a denial is nothing but a poor excuse they invent for their disbelief. Every man bestowed with the faculty of thinking conceives that there is technically no difference whatsoever between the creation of this life and the Hereafter. That man came into existence from nothingness proves that everything’s existence is consequent upon the exercise of Allah's will.
Nevertheless, people bent on remaining ignorant simply treat this reality as though it did not exist. In the Qur’an, Allah deplores the excuses they make up to support their denial:
Man answers us back with arguments, having forgotten the fact of his own creation, saying: Who will revive these bones when they have rotted away? Say: He will revive them Who produced them at first, for He has knowledge of every creature. (Surah Ya-Seen: 78-79)
And they say: When we are lost in the earth, how can we then be re-created? But they are disbelievers in the meeting with their Lord. (Surah Al-Sajda: 10)
Surely there is a reason for their denial. After all, renouncing the existence of the life beyond justifies their attachment to this life. Acceptance of the resurrection is committing oneself to the notion that one will be summoned to account for one’s good and wicked deeds on the Day of Judgement. This fact is surely unacceptable in terms of their inherently groundless system.
A person attesting to the existence of the life beyond also has to acknowledge that he should prepare himself for it. However, due to the unbridled ambitions of ignorant people, this is rather a difficult thing to do. Therefore, the only solution provided by their primitive rationale is a denial of the Hereafter.
Nevertheless, such an approach is to the detriment of the ignorant; as a consequence, they live troubled lives and deserve unceasing torment in the Hereafter. It is apparent then that denial of the life beyond is by no means in man's best interests. On the contrary, it entails great loss both in this life and beyond.
They Expect a Miracle to Happen Before They Believe
Before believing, some people expect supernatural events to happen. However, this is only a method of evading the truth and, throughout history; it has been employed by all communities who were resolute in their disbelief. These people who simply demanded that messengers show miracles are mentioned in the Qur’an:
Those who do not look for a meeting with Us say: Why are angels not sent down to us and why do we not see our Lord! (Surah Al-Furqan: 21)
We have set forth for mankind in this Qur’an all manner of arguments, but most of them persist in disbelief.
They say: We will not put our faith in you till you cause a spring to gush forth from the earth for us; or you have a garden of date-palms and grapes, and cause rivers to gush forth therein abundantly; or you cause the heaven to fall upon us piecemeal, as you have threatened to do or bring down Allah and the angels in our midst as a warrant; or you build a house of gold; or you ascend to heaven, and even then we will put no faith in your ascension till you bring down for us a book that we can read. Say (O Muhammad): Glory be to my Lord! Am I anything but a human messenger? (Surah Al-Isra: 89-93)
And those who have no knowledge say: Why does Allah not speak to us, or some sign come to us? The same demand was made by those before them. Their hearts are all alike. We have made clear our revelations for those people who are steadfast in faith. (Surah Al-Baqarah: 118)
As the verses relate, those who expect Allah's messengers to show miracles have always been disbelievers. They want miracles because, deep in their hearts, they know that messengers have had bestowed upon them what is right and true. Yet, to avoid this fact, they simply make up excuses to deny. This dishonest attitude is related in the following verse:
And they swear a solemn oath by Allah that if there come to them a portent they will believe in it. Say: Portents are with Allah. And how can you tell that if a sign be given them, they will indeed believe in it? (Surah Al-Anaam: 109)
They Believe Allah is Up in the Beavens
Ignorant people have various perverted beliefs about religion, since they base their decisions about what is right and wrong upon their primitive rationale rather than on the Qur’an. Mostly they gather these beliefs from their parents or other people immediately surrounding them, who influence them deeply during their early years. Yet these beliefs, especially the ones regarding the existence of Allah, misguide them all through their lives.
Many people, who in fact do not really deny the existence of Allah but have a wrong perception of Him, share the basic mistake of those who deny Allah. They do not deny creation, but have superstitious beliefs about where Allah is. Most of them think that Allah is up in the sky. They imagine that Allah is behind a very distant planet and interferes with worldly affairs only once in a while. Or, perhaps, that He does not intervene at all: He created the universe and then left it to itself and people are left to determine their fates for themselves. Still others have heard that in the Qur’an it is written that Allah is everywhere, but they cannot perceive what exactly this means. They think that Allah surrounds everything like radio waves or like an invisible, intangible gas. For some, on the other hand, Allah evokes the image of an old wise man.
However, those who interpret and evaluate all happenings according to the Qur’an have an accurate grasp of Allah. Such people understand that the entire universe has a single Sovereign, that He changes the entire physical world, including all human beings, as He pleases, and that He is not confined to a particular place and time. They know that even a dust particle, invisible to the naked eye, is under His control. Allah’s existence encompasses all things and reason apprehends this. As the verse suggests:
Allah is nearer to man than his jugular vein. (Surah Qaf, 16) Just as He has created this all-pervading order, He is the One Who also maintains it incessantly. He encompasses all things and all places as stated in the Qur’an:
To Allah belong the East and the West, and wherever you turn, there is Allah’s Countenance. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing. (Surah Al-Baqarah: 115)
To Allah belong whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Allah ever surrounded all things. (Surah Al-Nisa: 126)
They Think it is Sufficient to Practise Regular Acts of Worship in the Latter Years of Life
Chasing vain pursuits, ignorant people spend their lives doing nothing for the life beyond. However, the fact that they fail to give due consideration to the Hereafter gives them an inner restlessness. Now and then, such a spirit prompts them to remorse. Yet, at this point, they feel the urge to ease this feeling by some pretexts like: It is still too early to give in myself up to religion, or now I have set my mind on a list of priorities, yet one day I will take my religion seriously. The one day mentioned here, however, is the latter years of one’s life, when one feels death to be very close.
These people delay commitment to their religion to the last years of their lives. They believe adulthood should be spent in making the most of one’s life. Otherwise they think their lives would be spent in vain. Besides, due to the physical disability accompanying old age, it would be difficult to enjoy life. Therefore, only in the latter years do they decide to show commitment to their religion. Meanwhile, they feel the inner pain of not following the true path.
This stance receives support among ignorant people. However, if it is only old age which can bring such a change of course, the sincerity of these people becomes highly questionable. After all, this is not the honest way of conducting oneself: never allowing concern for the Hereafter to take hold of one’s mind in one’s young days, and never sparing time for the remembrance of Allah until one has reached extreme old age. Even so, they expect their wrong actions to be forgiven.
No doubt, it is all possible to turn at times to Allah in repentance. Allah forgives anyone who sees the right path and mends his ways sincerely. The relevant verse about repentance is as follows:
Forgiveness is only incumbent on Allah toward those who do evil in ignorance (and) then turn quickly (in repentance) to Him. Allah will pardon them. Allah is All-Knowing and Wise. Forgiveness is not for those who do ill-deeds until, when death attended upon one of them, he said: I repent now; nor yet for those who die while they are disbelievers. For such We have prepared a painful doom. (Surah Al-Nisa: 17-18)
Those who are set astray by such perverted beliefs should acknowledge that they may have no time left to grow old and repent for the wrong actions they engaged in their young days. Their lives may end abruptly, giving them no chance to repent. In this case, one would have deep regrets. This fact is recalled in many verses:
Could you but see when the guilty hang their heads before their Lord, (and say): Our Lord! We have now seen and heard, so send us back; we will do right, now we are sure. (Surah Al-Sajda: 12)
If you could see them when they are set before the Fire and say: Oh, would that we might return! Then we would not deny the revelations of our Lord, but would be of the believers! (Surah Al-Anaam: 27)
They Think They Will be Forgiven Under Any Circumstances
Though basically having faith, the majority of the people raise doubts about the existence of the Hereafter. They avoid thinking seriously about the Day of Judgement, since thinking draws them to the recognition of death and the life beyond. The probability of the existence of life beyond death is an incentive to them to make up excuses since they know that they shall have to account, in the presence of Allah, for all the wrong actions they have committed during their lives in this world. Alternatively, they realise that they will ultimately be doomed to an eternal life of torment in Hell. At this point, they alternate between complying with the commandments of Allah and finding a way to ease their remorse at being strongly attached to this life.
The rationale of ignorance indisputably imposes the second alternative. Ignorant people deceive themselves into thinking that they will be forgiven no matter how irresponsibly they conduct themselves towards their Creator. Seeking refuge in the mercy of Allah, they assume that Allah will in any case bestow His mercy upon them and forgive their ungratefulness, wrong actions and disbelief.
The same attitude evinced by others also misguides a person. They comfort and support each other saying We will be forgiven anyhow. Allah expresses disapproval of this indoctrination of ignorance in the Qur’an:
And a generation has succeeded them who inherited the Scripture. They grasp the goods of this low life (as the price of evil-doing) and say: It will be forgiven us. And if there came to them (again) the offer of the like, they would accept it (and would sin again).
Has not the covenant of the Scripture been taken on their behalf that they should not say anything about Allah save the truth? And they have studied that which is therein. And the abode of the Hereafter is better for those who ward off (evil). Have you then no sense? (Surah Al-Araf: 169)
However, as stated in the Qur’an, this understanding of the ignorant society has by no means any validity in the sight of Allah and on the Day of Judgment. Allah is surely Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Yet this is valid only for those who immediately comprehend their wrongful actions and repent, and not for those who devise cunning plans to avade divine retribution. Allah describes really sincere believers as:
Those who, when they do an evil thing or wrong themselves, remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins ó Who forgives sins save Allah alone? - and will not knowingly repeat (the wrong) they did. The reward of such will be forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide for ever ó a bountiful reward for those who do good works!" ( Surah Aal-e Imran: 135-136)
They Think They Deserve Paradise
To have good intentions deep in one’s heart is a phrase that best describes a method commonly employed by ignorant people to ease their remorse. Though this is a way of expressly straying from the Creatorís path, ignorant people assume that they deserve an eternal reward just because of this so-called purity of heart. They assume themselves to be good since they cause no harm to anyone. Given this mentality, they see no hindrance to attaining Paradise ó if they ever meet the Hereafter. However, in terms of the Qur’an, such a conviction is completely groundless. This is merely a superstitious belief as stated in the following verse:
And indeed, if We show him to taste mercy after some hurt that had affected him, he will say: This is my own; and I do not think that the Hour of Doom will ever come. And even if I am brought back to my Lord, He will surely reward me well. But We shall certainly tell those who disbelieve (all) that they did, and truly We shall make them taste hard punishment. (Surah Fussilat: 50)
Indeed, these people fail to demonstrate sincere faith. They even raise doubts about the existence of the Day of Judgement. This is actually a sub-conscious psychological method to cope with remorse: if there is the probability of resurrection, they comfort themselves with the conviction that they will be rewarded for all eternity in Paradise rather than being meted out harsh punishment.
One to whom Allah gives the glad tidings of an eternal reward displays particular attributes. He loves Allah very much and fears Him. Such a person is mindful of the commandments of Allah. He expresses his gratefulness to Him, turns to Him and repents to Him. He always seeks Allah’s guidance and illumination by engaging in good deeds. Allah avers that only those who demonstrate commitment to His way will be rewarded.
As we have seen, a purified heart is not a Qur’anic notion. It is a method invented by ignorant people to escape their divine responsibilities and ease the fear of eternal punishment. Moreover, the grounds for such reasoning are unknown. The criteria it rests upon surely change from one individual to another. For instance, a person may justify theft, stating that he engages in it, not because he wants or likes it, but because he is in need of it. This is surely a failure of reasoning.
Then we can conclude thus: the system of ignorance rests entirely upon dishonesty and is by no means acceptable by the Qur’an. The criteria by which people earn the Paradise are explicit: to fear nobody but Allah, to love Allah and to observe His limits. In the Qur’an Allah states:
And the Garden no longer distant, is brought near for those who kept from evil. (And it is said): This is what you were promised. (It is) for every penitent and heedful one, who feared the Beneficent though He is unseen, and came before Him with a contrite heart. Enter it in peace. This is the day of immortality. (Surah Qaf: 31-34)
They Believe They will Attain the Garden After being Punished Temporarily in Hell
People who adhere to their own values always find comfort in the wishful thinking that any wrong actions will be punished temporarily in Hell. Moreover, this rationale encourages one to transgress, since it suggests that eternal life in the Garden will follow this period of torment. Such a mentality unwittingly eases fears of the grievous penalty at the end of life. However, the irrationality of this mindset is thus described in the Qur’an:
That is because they say: The Fire will not touch us save for a certain number of days. Their own lies have deceived them regarding their religion. (Surah Aal-e Imran: 24)
It is apparent that this is a scenario which brings relief to the heart. Ignorant people accept that they have sins, yet they find them to be minor and not a hindrance to attaining Paradise. Though having the opportunity to repent and change their ways, they are unlikely to depart from their own stance.
This is surely a manifestation of the poor grasp they have of Hell. Hell, where disbelievers will remain for all eternity, is specially created to give pain to the human body and soul. That is solely because the disbelievers are guilty of great wrong and Allah’s justice entails their punishment.
Being ungrateful and rebellious to the Creator, the One who gives man a soul, is the greatest wrong that can be committed in the whole universe. Therefore, in the Hereafter there is grievous punishment for such a deadly sin. That is the purpose Hell serves. Man is created to be a slave of Allah. If he denies the main purpose of his creation, then he surely receives what he deserves. Allah states the following:
And they say: The Fire (of punishment) will not touch us save for a certain number of days. Say: Have you received a covenant from Allah ó truly Allah will not break His covenant ó or do you assert about Allah that which you do not know? Truly whoever has committed evil and become eugrossed in sin are the heirs of the Fire; they will abide therein forever. (Surah Al-Baqarah: 80-81)
A person can easily deceive himself in this world. Yet, the Hereafter will be the place where all the facts about him will be disclosed. What is more important, it is surely a place of no return.
They Believe Only a Limited Number of People will be Punished in Hell
There is one another rationale which lays the ground for ignorant thinking. They assume Hell to be a place of limited capacity. Compared with the number of people that have ever lived on earth throughout the ages, they find it unlikely that all these people can be punished. Consequently, they find it unlikely that they will be the ones who will be exposed to torment, since there are many other guilty people who deserve it more.
However this reasoning is totally wrong. Those who carry such a conviction do not truly grasp the power of Allah. Surely Allah has the power to gather all men of all ages in Hell, a place of huge dimensions beyond the grasp of the human mind. The following verse gives an idea of Hell:
On the day when We say to Hell: Are you filled? and it answers: Can there be more to come? (Surah Qaf: 30)
Ah, what will convey to you what that burning is! - It leaves nothing; it spares no one.It shrivels the man. (Surah Al-Muddaththir: 27-29)
One who fears Allah and who believes without doubt in the Hereafter, knows for certain that he will be resurrected and judged along with his soul. This judgement is the ultimate justice of Allah. Therefore, those heedless of Allah’s commandments in this world will not be saved from torment in Hell. In the Qur’an, the absolute justice of Allah is explained thus:
Have you not seen those who praise themselves for purity? Allah purifies whom He will, and they will not be wronged in the slightest degree. (Surah Al-Nisa: 49)
On that day Allah will pay them their just due, and they will know that Allah, He is the Manifest Truth. (Surah Al-Noor: 25)