The happy and joyful movements of a small child amuse people. The hard decisions and reactions to events that are so important to adults, such as economic crises, natural disasters, wars, and oppression, have no meaning for them. As long as they are not hungry or thirsty or have lost a toy, they live in contentment, unaware of what is going on around them. And as long as they are content, they unconsciously go on sleeping, playing, and laughing.
However, although it may not be obvious at first, many people are hardly different from children when it comes to their level of awareness. This characteristic is especially evident in their lack of appreciation for such important matters as Allah’s (God’s) existence and the Hereafter, the purpose of their creation, the certainty of death, and the account they will give to Him in the Hereafter for every action or thought while alive.
Most people live according to their own desires and intentions, unaware of Allah’s commands and prohibitions, even though He informs us of them through clear signs. They only want to enjoy the world’s pleasures, be happy, and satisfy their own egos. They pursue its temporary allurements to the exclusion of all else, working all their lives to get what they want. Their greatest worries are that their efforts be in vain and that they will lose what they already have.
However, this short life and everything pertaining to it will one day come to an end. Unaware of the eternal punishment awaiting all those who lived their lives without making any attempt to please Allah, they head toward the Day of Judgment—a day of great fear and distress for them. But they continue to desire the world’s transitory allurements and worry only about losing them.
This unconscious, insensible, and uninterested attitude, which they insist upon following despite His clear evidences, commands, and warnings, is known as “unawareness.”
Allah has created blessings, including their own bodies and many beautiful things wherever they may look, to remind human beings of His existence. At every moment and in every place, we see that creation is imbued with countless wonders:
In the creation of the heavens and Earth, and the alternation of the night and day, and the ships that sail the seas to people’s benefit, and the water that Allah sends down from the sky–by which He brings the ground to life when it was dead and scatters about in it creatures of every kind–and the varying direction of the winds, and the clouds subservient between heaven and Earth, there are Signs for people who use their intellect. (Surat al-Baqara: 164)
Think of everything that happens and everything you see while you are awake. When you get up and look in the mirror, you see your body regenerated after a long sleep and notice how it continues to function perfectly without your interference. You see your body just as it was yesterday—your symmetrical and esthetically shaped body that started from the division of a single cell and now contains about 100 trillion of them; your body in which hundreds of complex functions occur in a perfect sequence of which you are not even aware.
But most people pay no attention to these facts. When looking in the mirror, all they see is what their face generally looks like or if their hair is combed. They think of nothing except work, school, or what they are going to do that day. Thus they fail to realize that every new day offers them another opportunity to draw closer to Allah. Perhaps this will be their last opportunity to do so, for this might be their last day on Earth. Most people, who cannot appreciate the value of this opportunity, generally busy themselves with trying to please only themselves or others. We can explain this with the following example:
Think of a general knowledge quiz. The winner will win a great deal of money. How will the contestants behave during the contest? Will they look around distractedly instead of listening to the questions and thinking of the answers? Will they criticize the host’s shirt, tone of voice, or hairstyle? Instead of concentrating on the answer, will they think about what they are going to do or wear tomorrow?
Quite the contrary. The contestants would listen carefully to the host and try to use the limited time in the best possible way. They would concentrate on coming up with the answers by being interested in nothing except the matter at hand. If they were to engage in the type of meaningless behavior just cited, then we would think that they are bewildered, have a closed mind, or are irrational; in other words, unaware.
But many people have fallen into a far more serious state of unawareness: a way of life that is completely divorced from Allah’s commands and prohibitions. This condition is caused by their unawareness that He created them only to serve Him.
Unawareness poses a severe threat to everyone who is careless and fails to submit to Allah sincerely. Such people continue to be unaware of their true situation until they begin to sincerely abide by the Qur’an’s commands and prohibitions and do their best to remain aware at all times. Therefore, all readers of this book should acknowledge the possibility that they could have a certain degree of unawareness within themselves and realize that no one is immune to or safe from this insidious danger: Allah says in the Qur’an: “No indeed! Truly humanity is unbridled, seeing himself as self-sufficient” (Surat al-‘Alaq: 6-7). After people set aside their imaginary immunity and accept the Qur’an as their guide, they can analyze their situation, try to correct their errors and mistakes, and eventually overcome their unawareness. The main reason why people persist in their unawareness, thereby allowing it to grow stronger every day, is that they are content with their own supposed perfection.
THE RESULT OF UNAWARENESS
Despite all of Allah’s warnings, unawareness quickly draws those who persist in it toward a horrible, indescribable, and eternal punishment. Allah created this world as a place of testing, and those who leave it without becoming aware will continue their lives eternally among the people of Hell.
As revealed in the Qur’an, their eyes and ears have been sealed and their understanding removed. Their understanding and awareness are like those of animals. And, because they are so by choice, they are even lower than animals:
We created many of the jinn and humanity for Hell. They have hearts with which they do not understand, eyes with which they do not see, and ears with which they do not hear. Such people are like cattle. No, they are even further astray! They are the unaware. (Surat al-A‘raf: 179)
Do you suppose that most of them hear or understand? They are just like cattle. Indeed, they are even further astray! (Surat al-Furqan: 44)
Animals have no awareness. Allah compares unaware people to them, because their animal-like unawareness has caused their hearts to harden. Whatever they see and hear, and all of the admonitions and advice they receive, do not lift them out of that state. As a result, they do not learn anything from what happens to them.
All people without exception are responsible for understanding and living according to the truth. But if they persist in their unawareness, they become less intelligent than other living species and lose those qualities that make them human. The sense, perception, and understanding that Allah gives to everyone so that they can know of His existence and serve Him are closed to these people who are determined to persist in unawareness:
Those are the people whose hearts, hearing, and sight have been sealed up by Allah. They are the unaware. (Surat an-Nahl: 108)
Such individuals can no longer save themselves from living among the people of Hell unless they turn towards Him. Their lack of awareness and confusion will be even greater in Hell:
Those who are blind in this world will be blind in the Hereafter and even further off the Path. (Surat al-Isra’: 72)
The harshness of the punishment and its terror are described in verses as follows:
… the kindled Fire of Allah reaching right into the heart. It is sealed in above them in towering columns. (Surat al-Humaza: 6-9)
People who live in a state of unawareness, who make no effort to escape from this state, and who die without being aware of the Qur’an and His pleasure will be dragged down to Hell.