The society of the ignorant is made up of people dominated by an idea revealed in the Qur’an in the words “They do not measure Allah with His true measure…”(Surat al-An‘am, 91) and “made Him into something to cast disdainfully behind your backs” (Surah Hud, 92). Although some members of that society like to regard themselves as civilized, their failure to properly appreciate Allah and to accept and believe in the Hereafter and their unwillingness to think about and understand the purpose behind their own creation actually make them ignorant.
In addition to the members of that society having a great many logical misconceptions, another of their distinguishing features is they way they plan their lives as if they will never die.
Say: ‘Death, from which you are fleeing, will certainly catch up with you. Then you will be returned to the Knower of the Unseen and the Visible and He will inform you about what you did.’ (Surat-al-Jumu‘a, 8)
In the society of the ignorant death is a matter that everyone knows about but that nobody speaks of or even wishes to mention. Almost all plans are made by ignoring death. Since all plans are made without bearing death in mind it is regarded as bad form even to speak of that inevitable end.
Ignoring the fact of death is just one of the distorted perspectives held by members of the society of the ignorant on a great many matters. Since everyone must eventually die, as stipulated in the Qur’an in the words “Every self will taste death.” (Surah Al ‘Imran,185), a life planned and lived without including death in one’s calculations is of course one built on a major error. This is a truth that everyone can easily see with a little sincere reflection.
Do We Think about These Things?
* How our Lord blessed you by creating you from nothing, how every human being will live until the appointed time and will inevitably die, and how refusal to think about death represents no escape from it,
* How Our Lord’s promise to resurrect people after death has been revealed in hundreds of verses of the Qur’an and how Allah will certainly keep that promise,
* How death is not the end, but a gateway to the Hereafter and eternal life?
It is obvious that when all these things are borne in mind, fear of death is meaningless. There is no point in fearing death, since nobody has ever been able to avoid it, and nobody ever will… When that moment, which is set out in the destinies of all human beings, arrives, they will inevitably die, and no matter what they do they will be unable to prolong their lives by even a minute. It is also revealed in the Qur’an that those who fear death will never be able to escape it:
…They are concealing things inside themselves which they do not disclose to you, saying, ‘If we had only had a say in the affair, none of us would have been killed here in this place.’ Say, ‘Even if you had been inside your homes, those people for whom killing was decreed would have gone out to their place of death… (Surah Al ‘Imran, 154)
Death is a doorway leading to the Hereafter. Yet this door is also one of glad tidings opening onto happiness and salvation for those who lead their lives in a manner compatible with Allah’s approval. For those with no faith in Allah, however, death is the beginning of certain ruin and disaster that will last for all time. Our Lord has revealed in the Qur’an how the repentance of those who forget Him and live as if they will never die will be meaningless:
There is no repentance for people who persist in doing evil until death comes to them and who then say, ‘Now I repent,’ nor for people who die disbelievers. We have prepared for them a painful punishment. (Surat-an-Nisa, 18)
When death comes to one of them, he says, ‘My Lord, send me back again so that perhaps I may act rightly regarding the things I failed to do!’ No indeed! It is just words he utters. Before them there is an interspace until the Day they are raised up. (Surat al-Muminun, 99-100)
Anyone who fails to devote himself to obtaining Allah’s approval will, unless Allah wishes otherwise, experience that same regret. Therefore, since life is very short, since it is followed by an eternal life, and since that eternal life is to be obtained by seeking Allah’s approval in the life of this world; IN THAT CASE, people must think more about the true life that will begin after death more than about their brief and transitory lives in this world, and must act accordingly. Therefore, believers who grasp this concept have “purified their sincerity through sincere remembrance of the Abode.” (Surah Sâd, 46)
It is meaningless to passionately devote oneself to the treasures and opportunities to be obtained in this world. Nobody can take his property, attractiveness, power, family or fame with him into the Hereafter. None of these can accompany one into the grave. All that enters the grave is a corpse wrapped in a shroud, and even that will soon rot into the earth.
The only thing from this world that can be taken into the Hereafter is good works and observances performed for Allah’s approval. All blessings temporarily bestowed on a person in this world (such as health, beauty, fortune etc.) will be eternal in the Hereafter and bestowed to humanity once more in an even more beauteous form.
Those who fail to comprehend this and avoid using the blessings given them for the sake of Allah’s approval and who behave in what appears to them to be a clever manner are actually endangering their own eternal lives, which represents stupidity, not cleverness at all. One verse on the subject states:
Here you are then: people who are called upon to spend in the Way of Allah and then some of you are tight-fisted! But whoever is tight-fisted is only tight-fisted to himself. Allah is Rich and you are poor. If you turn away, He will replace you with a people other than yourselves and they will not be like you. (Surah Muhammad, 38)
How Those Who Seek to Immortalize Themselves Are Wasting Their Time
Those who fail to grasp all this and who devoted to this world with a greedy passion seek to immortalize themselves. The Qur’an refers to those who possess such a flawed conception and describes how they resort to various means in order to achieve this. Some of the verses in question are:
(Hud said to his people,) ‘Do you build a tower on every hilltop, just to amuse yourselves, and construct great fortresses, hoping to live for ever… (Surat ash-Shu‘ara’, 128-129)
Know that the life of this world is merely a game and a diversion and ostentation and a cause of boasting among yourselves and trying to outdo one another in wealth and children: like the plant-growth after rain which delights the cultivators, but then it withers and you see it turning yellow, and then it becomes broken stubble. In the hereafter there is terrible punishment but also forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure. The life of this world is nothing but the enjoyment of delusion. (Surat al-Hadid, 20)
There is of course nothing wrong in people producing attractive works or wishing to raise auspicious individuals. But in an ignorant system in which people live by the ignorant moral values under discussion here, people wish to leave a permanent name behind them in this world not for the sake of Allah’s approval, but in order to supposedly satisfy their own pride.
What those who devote their lives to the life of this world and to a desire to live for ever actually lose is a great joy that they can never taste. That is the joyous excitement bestowed by acting in the light of Allah’s approval and by the hope of His love, friendship and closeness.
Allah’s Approval: The Key to Eternal Salvation
Believers are people who have understood that Allah is the ruler of all things and that death is not an end, but rather a stage of transition to the true life (the Hereafter). Believers are people who know that Allah has true dominion over death and the true life after it, and who turn to Him at all times. They do not regard money, rank and station or physical beauty as a means to salvation in this system created by Allah, because all these are temporary adornments in this brief world. It is solely the approval and mercy of Allah that will lead people to happiness and salvation in this world and in the Hereafter, created by Allah out of nothing. Allah will only lead those who abide by His approval to the true path.
By it, Allah guides those who follow what pleases Him to the ways of Peace. He will bring them from the darkness to the light by His permission, and guide them to a straight path. (Surat al-Ma’ida, 16)