The Characteristics of Idolaters
One of the idolatrous community's main characteristics is bigotry, which the Qur'an defines as limiting and regulating a person's life via man-made prohibitions, principles, and sanctions that are not based upon valid, logical, and rational evidence. In the case of religion, this term refers to those who cast aside religion's true and valid sources and adopt rules and principles based on speculation and conjecture. Such a misguided undertaking is often (and inaccurately) attributed to devout Muslims, although it actually describes idolaters who live by the stipulations, rules, and prohibitions of their distorted faith while proclaiming that they are following the true Islam. Indeed, bigotry is one of the main factors that encourage idolaters to adopt such a superstitious religion, for earthly desires tend toward bigotry as well as many other negative traits.
Idolaters might find it far more attractive to live by and defend such bigotry than to adopt the true path. In their own foolishness they derive an arbitrary mystical pleasure from this. .
Idolaters fill their bigotry-based religions with odd symbols, customs, and rituals so that they can put on a great show. As a result, they become known as very devout individuals who possess considerable degree of fear and respect for Allah and eventually hope to gain great prestige in their community. But this bigotry is actually no more than a superstitious structure designed by them to satisfy themselves, because, for whatever reason, the essence and truth of Allah's religion, or, to put it more clearly, its true contents and framework, are not enough for their distorted mentality. Their perverse minds cannot accept the fact that Islam is easy to live by and is based on reason and clarity; they can feel at ease only if they practice a difficult religion and display this to other people. They are uncomfortable with the idea that it is enough for Allah alone to know what they do, they prefer to follow a religion that will enable other people to observe and comment upon their "piety."
However, it is important to mention that unlike the pre-Islamic idolaters who belonged to the religions revealed before Islam, by Allah's grace these later idolaters have been unable to change even a single word of the Qur'an, Allah's final scripture. Our Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) also revealed that no other scripture will be sent down, that no other religion will come, and that the Qur'an is valid until the Day of Judgment. Allah has protected – and will continue to protect – the Qur'an. Thus, those who sincerely wish to learn what Islam requires in a clear and detailed manner can do so by taking the Qur'an and our Prophet's (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) life style which is entirely compatible with the Qur'an, as their guide.
The idolaters, on the other hand, defend superstitious beliefs that keep people away from the Qur'an. None of the arguments they bring forth for their false beliefs are not compatible with the Qur'an. As Allah tells in the Qur'an, they speak falsehoods based upon their own speculations and conjectures. Harboring various suppositions regarding Allah, they live in a state of insecurity and oppression. Sometimes, they attempt to regain their self-confidence and determination by means of aggression, hypocrisy, mockery, and disregard of others' opinions.
At the same time, these idolaters are ignorant. Since even if they read and memorize countless books, they cannot be enlightened by the Qur'an's and the hadith's radiance or know Allah as they should, as He has revealed Himself in the Qur'an. Such people worship a supposed deity, one that is based upon their superstitious faith and they unwisely ignore the truth in the Qur'an.
Their subsequent ignorance and irrationality are reflected in all that they do. Unable to understand the Qur'an and the hadith, their ignorance, lack of reason that is defined in the Qur'an, and their defective logic constantly cause them to be humiliated before other people. Since they are devoted to a false religion, they cannot defend their belief system in a rational manner.
The idolaters do not turn directly to Allah and establish a sincere closeness to Him because they are hard-hearted and feel no closeness or devotion to Him. Allah's name is on their tongue, but not in their heart. They arbitrarily appoint intermediaries to gain access to Allah and regard obtaining their approval as sufficient. However, all such intermediaries actually move them even further away from Allah and increase their idolatry. Allah reveals in the Qur'an the situation of how these people idolize their false deities supposing them as intercessions and that in essence these have no validity in the Presence of Allah:
Being far removed from the Qur'an means that they are also far removed from its moral values. In their everyday life, behaviors and conversations they follow a model incompatible with the Qur'anic morality and the Sunna. Since they do not read the Qur'an, or read it only with an idolatrous mentality that prevents them from understanding it correctly, they remain deprived of the blessings, knowledge, fine moral values, and spiritual virtues that Allah bestows on the believers in the Qur'an. Leaving its superior virtues aside, the idolaters find all kinds of immorality and fraud far more attractive. In addition, they are quite capable of suppressing their conscience and violating the bounds established by Allah for humanity in order to justify their decisions when placed in a difficult position or when their earthly desires and wishes conflict with Allah's regulations.
Another one of their characteristics is parsimony. In one verse Allah reveals that the believers use whatever money is left after meeting their needs to care for other people. Idolaters, on the other hand, spend only a very small amount – and even that is usually dispensed for show. Accumulating possessions and wealth is one of their greatest passions. Indeed, this is far more pleasing to them than spending what they have in Allah's way. Since they lack true faith and thus have no trust in or submission to Allah, they are always afraid of what the future will bring.
Idolaters constantly invest for their future. Of course such an activity is allowed; however, it must not become an all-consuming passion, for such an attitude indicates a lack of true submission to Allah as well as a deficiency in one's faith and understanding of Him as the Sole Provider.
In addition, idolaters are characterized by envy, greed, selfishness, and other moral vices. Having no sense of true aesthetics, art, and beauty, they behave in a very coarse manner toward others and mindlessly try to portray this as a sign of their superiority.
The idolaters are also consumed by fear especially against the sincere Muslims, the cause of which they cannot identify. The feeling of fear is created by Allah as they are ascribing equals to Him. Allah reveals this in the Qur'an:
Furthermore, they are also unhappy and pessimistic because troubles, difficulties, woes, and sorrows never leave them alone as they ascribe equals to Allah. This is the beginning (in this world) of the punishment and humiliation they will face in the Hereafter. Besides this, they subconsciously feel an unwise rebel against Allah. However they refuse to give up their false religions, upon which they have based all of their various lifestyles, family structures, surroundings, and social and business relationships. Therefore, it does not suit them at all to abandon this way of life.
One of the idolaters' most important features is "the idolaters are unclean" (Surat al-Tawba: 28). This is an indication that they are both physically and spiritually unclean. Their bodies, clothes, and surroundings are so dirty as to endanger their health. They literally have no conception of proper cleanliness. Since their dietary habits are based on superstitions and man-made beliefs, they sometimes manifest physical or mental impairments stemming an unbalanced diet.
The idolaters' mental health is also unsound, for their resulting negative and unhealthy lifestyle can affect their mental development and cerebral functions. This applies to their powers of judgment as well, which makes their speech and behavior unbalanced and inconsistent, far removed from rationality. Prone to ups and downs, they may suddenly become highly excited, experience rapid mood swings from depression to aggression, or speak in an uncomfortable, high, and impaired tone of voice.
Yet they fail to properly grasp the wicked situation they are in, for in the Qur'an Allah relates that He will assign the one, who shuts his eyes to His remembrance, a satan, and that he will assume himself to be guided on the true path. The related verses read:
When idolaters are told of this, they usually either cannot or refuse to comprehend it because they are not sincere in matters of religion. Even if they read books and articles on the subject, they will be unaware of the fact that they are not approaching the subject directly; if they do realize this, they will pretend not to. Even if all of these descriptions fit them to the letter, they will still refuse to accept it and will look for idolatry elsewhere.
However, those people who are sincere in their faith but fell into such misunderstanding initially, through ignorance, can still apply to their consciences when they learn the true facts. If they return to the true path they can be saved, if Allah wills, through sincere repentance. It may be hoped that people who join the idolaters out of ignorance and who do not have a truly idolater character themselves may attain Allah's true path as a result of their sincerity and good intentions. One goal of this book is to reach such people and enable them to see their errors and deficiencies, to make them aware of the darkness that surrounds them, and to encourage them to repent and enter Allah's pure religion.
Unless Allah lifts the veil over a person's eyes, ears, and heart, one cannot expect the conscience of a true idolater to begin working and the person concerned to achieve salvation. The reason why an idolater fails to realize the truth and believes that it does not apply to him or her, despite reading this book, is one of Allah's miracles. Naturally, the best and hoped for outcome is for such people to attain salvation. It must not be forgotten that all hearts are in the hands of Allah and that by His will He will guide those who sincerely draw close to Him, repent, realize the reality of their situation, and seek salvation only from Him. Therefore, one has to guard against succumbing to idolatry. One way to do this is to consider the possibility right from the start that Allah exists, what this fact means, and, with this in mind, review the beliefs and worldview of one's society, as well as one's personal beliefs, worldview, and opinion of Islam. There is no shame in recognizing and correcting one's faults; on the contrary, this is a sign of sincerity and a proof of one's fear for and respect of Allah.
As we have seen thus far, rejecting the Qur'an and the Sunna of our Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) and adhering to superstitious and misguided rites, practices, and beliefs, lead one to strife and idolatry rather than to the true path. For that reason, the only solution is to tightly embrace the way of our Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), the way of the Qur'an.