Obstacles To Wisdom
As we mentioned in the earlier chapters, everyone has the opportunity to be wise and make use of the good things wisdom provides. To achieve this, he has to see the greatness of Allah and live his life in this world as His proper servant. One who comprehends this is following the most righteous path. Because the only guide that truly guides and shows the believer the right way is the Qur'an. Allah reveals all the things that block the mind and ways to overcome these in the Qur'an.
The mind of someone who obeys Allah's call is freed of all the filthy things that clog it up and it becomes clean and clear. The thing that provides this clarity of mind is the clear logic and ability to think righteously achieved by the Qur'an and having faith. a person's understanding develops more and more as he becomes purified of ignorant people's skewed logic and way of thinking, and the filth this type of life brings, and instead lives by the morals of the Qur'an. As he becomes freed of all ill-mannered habits, he also becomes freed of the restraints on his mind, and so becomes one of the people of wisdom mentioned in the Qur'an. Failing this, his mind will be filled with obstacles and he will knowingly lead himself to ruin.
In this section we will dwell on obstructions to wisdom mentioned in the Qur'an. Also, we will present the solutions to these problems, which again are covered only in the Qur'an.
Shirk - Attrıbuting Partners To Allah
Shirk means attributing partners to Allah and worshipping gods other than Allah. The values a person, who commits shirk, deifies can be making his ideals and passions the purpose of his life, as well as deifying a person or another living thing. If he sees these values as more important than pleasing Allah and if he feels the same or more love towards them, it means he is associating them with Allah.
This is the shirk that is explained in the Qur'an, but most people are unaware of this real meaning of shirk. They link "associating other gods with Allah" with people who worshipped the idols they carved at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (saas). However, in our times thousands of different types of shirk can occur. For a person to say he believes in Allah while at the same time not living his life in order to please Him, not practicing the rituals He prescribed, not living by the morals Allah approves of, but instead spending his time trying to turn his worldly ideals into realities is also a form of shirk. In the same way, forgetting our Creator and Provider, preferring and valuing another being above Him, and, instead of pleasing Allah, using his intellect and spending his time on trying to make this other being happy and love him is also a shirk. It is possible to run into people who associate their spouses, children, mothers, fathers, marriage, school, career, possessions, worldly ambitions, and even themselves with Allah. These people fall into the error of shirk by in a way deifying these concepts or people of whom they think so highly, and orienting all their deeds according to this viewpoint. However, there is no god other than Allah, and to say the opposite would be a lie against Allah and be unappreciative of Allah's greatness.
One who cannot appreciate the power of Allah, Who faultlessly created him and the whole of the universe, is without a doubt in a state of thoughtlessness. Because a person, who associates other gods with Allah, cannot live a happy life in this world and will have to face Allah's punishment in the Hereafter. Allah tells us in the Qur'an that the actions of those who associate partners with Allah will result in nothing:
It has been revealed to you and those before you: "If you associate others with Allah, your actions will come to nothing and you will be among the losers". (Surat az-Zumar: 65)
It is also explained that people who commit shirk will not be forgiven:
Allah does not forgive anything being associated with Him, but He forgives whoever He wills for anything other than that. Anyone who associates something with Allah has committed a terrible crime. (Surat an-Nisa': 48)
In another verse, the Prophet Luqman (as) gives his son advice by reminding him that shirk is a terrible wrong:
Luqman said to his son, counselling him, "My son, do not associate anything with Allah. Associating others with Him is a terrible wrong". (Surah Luqman: 13)
As can be seen in the verse, Allah describes shirk as a wrong. Shirk, as well as committing an offence against Allah, is wronging one's self. Since a person who commits shirk has also fallen into a great error, his life that he has based on faulty thinking is also full of mistakes. In this situation, it is not possible to mention wisdom or the benefits it gives to a person who associates partners with Allah. Because, Allah seals the hearts and blocks the ability to comprehend of those who deny Him and invent a lie against Him, becoming unjustifiably arrogant.
To be saved from such a situation and become a person who can really think, the individual has to be able to comprehend the greatness of Allah and not worship anything other than Allah. This is the only way the veil can be lifted from his wisdom and his mind can be cleared.
Heedlessness means that a person cannot see, sense, or be aware of the realities around him. As mentioned in the Qur'an, a heedless person's most noticeable trait is his inability to comprehend the numerous proofs of creation, the reason for his being, the closeness of death, the reality of the Hereafter, and similar topics that are vital for him. In one verse of the Qur'an, Allah indicates the situation of heedless people:
Mankind's Reckoning has drawn very close to them, yet they heedlessly turn away. (Surat al-Anbiya': 1)
As mentioned in the verse above, one who lives his life heedlessly acts as if he is unaware of the fast approaching Day of Judgement and as if he will never be accountable for the things he has done. Because, heedlessness is like a state of slumber, which veils the mind, prevents perceptive behaviour and nullifies appropriate decision-making skills. One who is in this state all his life, becomes distant from the truth and because he cannot use his mind, he becomes unable to differentiate right from wrong, and puts himself in situations that will be harmful to him both in this world and the Hereafter.
The cause of heedlessness is a person's remoteness from Allah and his Book, and the failure to live a life of faith. The following is an example Allah gives to describe the situation these people are in:
We created many of the jinn and mankind for Hell. They have hearts they do not understand with. They have eyes they do not see with. They have ears they do not hear with. Such people are like cattle. No, they are even further astray! They are the unaware. (Surat al-A'raf: 179)
The situation such people are in is clearly explained in the Qur'an, but they are not even aware of this reality either. Since one who is oblivious would never see himself as being "oblivious", he would not even admit that there could be any such possibility.
A wise person on the contrary can recognize the state these heedless people are in at first glance. This is because people of wisdom approach events by using the Qur'an as their guide. The Qur'an informs us of the behaviour, the mentality, and the reasoning a heedless person displays. For this reason, a heedless person gives himself away at every turn. As long as this person is in this state of mind, he will manifest his state by his actions and thoughts, even if he has had a good education and is a perfect speaker.
Foremost among the signs that shows a person's heedless state is his judging everything by its outward appearances. The person in question thinks that everything consists of the things he sees. and because of this, he evaluates things wrongly and reaches wrong conclusions. He mostly cannot see the benefits and reasons behind events.
Another major mistake heedlessness brings about is for people to forget the reason for their creation and existence in this world. Such people become blind to the proofs of the existence of Allah Who has created them, and fall into a state of denial without thinking of what they will face in the Hereafter as a result of their actions in this world. This is because these heedless people cannot see the reality and intolerableness of Hellfire with a clear consciousness and do not, by reflecting upon it, fear it. Those who pretend not to understand their mistake in this world, will deeply regret Hell when they are face to face with it. That day the cover of heedlessness will be lifted and they will be given the power to evaluate everything they did throughout their lives with a clear consciousness. But, they will not have the chance to compensate for their heedlessness, which they did not try to correct even though they had been warned to do so many times. It is stated in the verse:
When the True Promise is very close, the eyes of those who have disbelieved will be transfixed and they will cry out: "Alas for us! We were unmindful of this! No, rather we were definitely wrongdoers". (Surat al-Anbiya': 97)
In Surah Qaf, the situation these people, who did not appreciate the numerous blessings Allah gave them and preferred blindness in the world, will face in the Hereafter is explained as:
The Trumpet will be blown. That is the Day of the Threat. Every self will come attended by one who will drive it on and by a witness: One will say "You were heedless of this so We have stripped you of your veil and today your sight is sharp". His inseparable comrade will say, "My testimony is ready to hand". Then a voice will cry: "Hurl into Hell every obdurate unbeliever". (Surah Qaf: 20-24)
As we can see in the verses above, it is great thoughtlessness for a person to knowingly lead his life in a state that results in destruction. The damage to the mind of one who has turned away from the truth, despite the advice he has been given, will negatively affect his life in this world and the Hereafter. It is for this reason that Allah warns people against such dangers and reminds them not to be seized by heedlessness:
Remember your Lord deep in your soul humbly and fearfully, without ostentation, in the morning and in the evening. Do not be one of the unaware. (Surat al-A'raf: 205)
Restrain yourself patiently with those who pray to their Lord morning and evening, seeking His pleasure. Do not turn your eyes from them, desiring the attractions of this world. and do not obey someone whose heart We have made neglectful of Our remembrance and who follows his own whims and desires and whose life has transgressed all bounds. (Surat al-Kahf: 28)
Warn them of the Day of Bitter Regret when our decree shall be fulfiled. But they take no notice. They do not believe. (Surah Maryam: 39)
Allah has enhanced the world with many blessings that are pleasing to humankind. and has informed them that they can use these however they want to. But, along with this He has told them to be thankful for all these blessings and not to forget the Hereafter by being too preoccupied with greed in this world. This is because the life people lead in this world is not their real life. Their real life is the life of the Hereafter that starts with their death and continues till infinity. For this reason, forgetting the Hereafter and remaining engrossed with greed for 70-80 years of worldly life shows great heedlessness.
As a matter of fact, those who forget the Hereafter are deprived of the many beauties of this world and the blessings of the Hereafter. The effects of this deprivation in this world can be firstly seen in their understanding. People, who become passionately attached to this life, cannot properly assess the reason for their creation, their responsibilities towards Allah, and death and life after death, having become unable to think clearly. This situation shows that they are actually in a state of deception, while they think that they are doing the right things.
Because of their distorted value judgements, they think the real meaning of life consists of material things like money, wealth, and property, beauty, reputation, fame, respect, and leaving wealth and a respectable name for those they leave behind. and they spend all their lives trying to gain all these assets whereas, in fact, as our Prophet (as) has also advised, "the best richness is the richness of the soul." (Bukhari)
Yet, such people spend years trying to achieve a respectable position in the eyes of others and search for ways to gain their appreciation, but they do not think for a moment that they need to thank Allah, Who created them and given them life, Who presented them with countless blessings and continual sustenance, and helped them in all their affairs. Or, they spend their days working hard without stopping to rest so as to be richer than everybody else and are always in quest of new projects, but they do not think that it is Allah Who has given them their riches and fail to set aside the time to perform their duties as His servants.
So, as a result of the wrong choice they make, they are deprived of the most valuable blessing given to mankind in this world—the ability to reason. In this state of thoughtlessness, they turn to denial and because of this they lose Heaven and face Hell in the Hereafter. In the Qur'an, Allah explains the situation of "'those who took their religion as a diversion and a game, and were deluded by the life of the world'. Today We will forget them just as they forgot the encounter of this Day and denied Our Signs." (Surat al-A'raf: 51)
It is pointed out that unbelievers "rejoice in the life of the world. Yet the life of the world, compared to the Hereafter, is only fleeting enjoyment." (Surat ar-Ra'd: 26)
What people have to do to rid themselves of this thoughtlessness that leads them to destruction is very simple: if they realize that the blessings they are given in this world are all granted by Allah and if they do not forget that the real reason for their existence is to seek Allah's approval, they will not have any obstacles to block or pressure their minds. Allah's promise to His sincere servants is as follows:
To those who act rightly, male or female, being believers, We will give a good life and We will recompense them according to their noblest deeds. (Surat an-Nahl: 97)
Complying With Satan
In one of his verses, Allah, by saying, "You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace [Islam]. Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. He is your outright enemy" (Surat al-Baqara: 208) calls upon people to keep away from complying with Satan and following in his footsteps. Because, as is stated in the verse, Satan is the enemy of human beings. He wants to divert people from the right path and in doing so cause them to face harm in this world and the next. One strategy he resorts to in achieving his aim is to occupy people's minds with groundless suspicions, and unfounded and illogical issues, so that he can prevent them from thinking straight and behaving rationally. Such attempts on the part of Satan are explained thus in the Qur'an:
[Satan said:] "I will lead them astray and fill them with false hopes…" (Surat an-Nisa': 119)
Satan, in pursuit of his aim, continues to whisper "varnished falsehoods" to people till the end of their lives and tries to prevent them from using their reason. He strives to make them forget Allah's infinite power and to distance them from the Qur'an. But, it shouldn't be forgotten that Satan does not possess any strength of his own. Allah created him as He did all of creation. Satan also submitted to Allah; he cannot do anything without Allah's permission. Allah tells us that He reprieved Satan till Judgement Day to test people, see which ones would comply with him and turn away from the truth and which ones would show loyalty to Allah by not being fooled by Satan's ploys:
He [Satan] said: "My Lord, grant me a reprieve until the Day of Resurrection". He [Allah] said: "You are among the reprieved until the Appointed Day". Satan replied: "I swear by your might, that I will mislead all of them except for Your chosen servants". (Surah Sad: 79-83)
At the same time Allah in His verse: "… Satan's scheming is always feeble" (Surat an-Nisa': 76) draws attention to the fact that Satan's traps and his innuendoes are based on extremely unsound logic. Also, according to the previous verse, He informs us that Satan has no effect on sincere believers. As is declared in another verse: "He only has authority over those who take him as a friend and associate others with Allah". (Surat an-Nahl: 100)
In the Qur'an, the line to be taken by believers against Satan's unfounded allegations is thus prescribed:
If Satan tempts you, seek refuge in Allah. He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. As for those who believe, when they are troubled by visitors from Satan, they have but to remember and they shall immediately see the light. (Surat al-A'raf: 200-201)
As long as they do not take refuge with Allah, those who listen to Satan's whispers will not be able to see the truth and will lead a life without reason. Allah has informed them that Satan will set up cunning traps but that these traps will be flimsy. and as we saw from the verses above, He has told people how to escape from these traps. a wise person immediately accepts the word of Allah and finds the right path. Those with frail understanding lead themselves to destruction by allowing themselves to be fooled by Satan's deceits. They disregard Allah's verses and, instead of Heaven, accept the life of Hell to which Satan drags them.
Another very important factor that clouds people's minds is their distrust of Allah, in other words not submitting to the fate Allah has decreed for them. One who doesn't trust Allah has forgotten that Allah has infinite wisdom and controls every situation and every creature in the universe. and because of this, as with all the other factors that veil the mind, he cannot analyse things clearly or fully see realities.
However, Allah watches over and protects all beings. Whether they are aware of this or not, Allah creates events according to a decree and with these events He tests people. So, Allah creates every event a person faces throughout his life with a motive and for a good reason. This is how Allah warns people on this matter:
Allah alone has knowledge of what the heavens and the earth conceal; to Him all things shall be returned. So worship Him and put your trust in Him. Your Lord is not unaware of what you do. (Surah Hud: 123)
… It may be that you hate something when it is good for you and it may be that you love something when it is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know. (Surat al-Baqara: 216)
One who believes these verses and comprehends that behind every incident there is a hidden motive and benefit for him, is one who has trust in Allah. Even if he faces a situation, which at first sight seems to his disadvantage, he knows that this will bring him good in this world and in the next and he acts on this knowledge. Because he evaluates incidents with full trust in Allah, his reasoning and judgement are in perfect shape, and as a result he can make sensible evaluations. On the other hand, one who has no faith in Allah forgets that Allah creates events in order to test him and so becomes totally distant from rationalism.
We can explain the great difference between these two people with an example. Let's say that a factory goes on fire and the owner of the factory forgets that this situation is controlled by Allah and doesn't think that there must be a benefit in this situation for him, so he begins to distrust Allah. And, one who doesn't trust Allah cannot think straight or take the necessary precautions or in any other way, act sensibly. For example, not being calm and composed can cause the otherwise extinguishable fire to grow. He loses time by being panic and grief-stricken and making a fuss instead of putting out the fire, saving his property, or calling the fire brigade. After the fire, instead of taking measures against future fires so that it won't ever happen again, he occupies himself with useless thoughts, such as "how and why did it happen, I wish it had not happened, or if I had done so-and-so it wouldn't have happened".
One, who trusts Allah, never becomes hopeless or sad, even if he loses everything he has. This person knows that Allah can take away a blessing He gave and that He does this to test people's trust in Him. With a clear consciousness, he tries to take care of the damage as soon as possible and takes the most swift and sensible precautions. He doesn't waste his time in panicking, worrying, or losing hope. Furthermore, without losing any time after such an event, he tries to make up for the damage by taking the most effective precautions possible so that it will not recur.
When it comes to the property he has lost, because he knows that the only owner of wealth is Allah, he is peaceful and at ease. He trusts Allah with all his heart and he prays for Him to give him more than what he has lost. and he is happy to know that he will be rewarded much more for his trust in Allah in the Hereafter.
Our Prophet (saas) explained this issue in the following example, "If you put your whole trust in Allah, as you ought, He most certainly will satisfy your needs, as He satisfies those of the birds. They come out hungry in the morning, but return full to their nests." (Tirmidhi)
Sentimentality and Romanticism
Romanticism is a way of life to which ignorant people see no objection; rather it is a way of life they like and encourage. They believe that, by looking at things romantically, life is enriched, as it is made much more colourful and interesting. For this reason, many movies, novels, and poems are given a romantic edge and romanticists try to make people believe that romanticism has a unique charm. However, the effect this has on people is to block their minds and prevent them from thinking logically and in a balanced way. This is because, romanticism totally disfavours reason. It is a way of life that leads people to ignore realities, live in a fantasy world, and think emotionally instead of reasonably.
One who submits himself to his emotions rather than his reason, who allows his emotions to guide him, can neither think realistically nor act logically. Let's consider the individual who has given himself up to jealousy—an attitude considered unacceptable by the teachings of the Quran. He will make aggressive outbursts as he can no longer analyse the situation he is in nor can he evaluate others rationally. In like manner, someone who lets his anger get the better of him cannot think clearly and may do something he will later regret.
Similarly, one who becomes depressed as a result of romanticism is totally distanced from rational thinking. As a result of the state he is in, he can see only the negative sides of things and becomes plunged in melancholy.
The foul behaviour that is evinced as a result of romanticism all have one point in common: they are the result of being far from Allah's religion and His book. This distance leads a person into absolute loss, because it is not possible for him to advance, achieve anything useful, or prevent something harmful where the ability to reason has been lost as a result of not obeying Allah's commands.
The destruction that lies behind the suicides, drug abuse, assault, or murders that occupy a large portion of the global news media is caused by romanticism and by being over-emotional. People become so apt to ignore the path of reason that they can easily destroy their own or others' lives or property. All the reasons they give to justify themselves have emotional factors at the root. For example, there are people who become upset at a harmless joke and kill as a result. Or, there are students who cannot get into a university, even though they have studied for months, and who try to commit suicide. Such people as cannot break away from their ambitions and who are so averse to reasonable conduct that they cannot even see other opportunities ahead of them, can make such irrational decisions under the influence of their emotions and then act upon these decisions.
Every step one takes under the influence of romanticism and with no reason being brought to bear will bring about an absolute loss. That is because romanticism is a belief of ignorant people that distances them from religion, and in turn from the real meaning of life. This way of life, which leads the individual into a life of hardship, is completely opposite to the way of thinking and morals laid down in the Qur'an by Allah.