Living an unaware life

Updated 10 September 2015
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Living an unaware life

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 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.
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.” (Qur’an, 2:164)
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.
This is indeed a 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 article 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” (Qur’an, 96:6-7). 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.
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: “Do you suppose that most of them hear or understand? They are just like cattle. Indeed, they are even further astray!” (Qur’an, 25:44)
“Those are the people whose hearts, hearing, and sight have been sealed up by Allah. They are the unaware.” (Qur’an, 16:108)
Clearly satan uses unawareness, without any regard for conditions or surroundings, to tempt everyone to follow their egos’ desires. But this unawareness stalks only those who are content to live in such a state. Individuals of good conscience, who are not content to remain unaware and be friends of satan, always have a way out: Always remembering and turning to Him, fearing and respecting Him, and seeking His favor at all times. These dispel unawareness and raise people to an elevated level of awareness, wisdom, and faith. And this is the best, most comfortable, and surest way to attain eternal happiness. So, it is never too late to turn to Allah in true sincerity and hope for His mercy.

The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.