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The Indifference of Those Whose
Faith Is Not Assured

It was stated earlier that the faith of everyone who says, "I believe" is not the same. In this section the indifferent state of mind of people who do not have faith in the real sense is examined. A lack of true commitment is something consequential to weakness of faith. Before proceeding with this topic, the reasons for these differences can be clarified by looking at how the Qur’an identifies such people, their viewpoints on religion, and their purposes in life.

Those Whose Faith Is Not Assured

In the Qur’an such people are also called "those in whose hearts is a disease," "hypocrites," "those who hold back" or "those who stay behind." It may be observed that they belong neither completely to the society of ignorance nor to the Islamic society, as stated in the following verses:

"They are neither of you nor of them."110

"...Wavering between them, belonging neither to these [i.e., the believers] nor to those [i.e., the disbelievers]."111

However, it is noteworthy that such people generally live among Muslims. Their appearance, lifestyle and some of their attitudes resemble those of believers. The truth is, however, that they are not really like them because the most distinct characteristic of believers is their sincere devotion to Allah, while these people lack strong faith in their hearts. Although they express belief, they are not believers in the true sense. Of this Allah says the following:

"And of the people are some who say, ‘We believe in Allah and the Last Day,’ but they are not believers. They [think to] deceive Allah and those who believe, but they deceive not except themselves and perceive it not."112

What they state is vastly different from what they conceal within themselves, mainly due to "sickness" in their hearts. This fact is also stated in the Qur’an:

"In their hearts is disease, so Allah has increased their disease; and for them is a painful punishment because they [habitually] used to lie."113

It is not a disease in the physical sense but is of a spiritual nature. One in whose heart is such an illness fails to comprehend faith properly or live by it. Although he sees obvious signs of Allah’s existence, he cannot submit his heart to Him and fails to meticulously observe His limits. He is unable to live by Allah’s religion completely because although his conscience guides him to the right, he is too weak to practice what his tongue confirms. Compared to the blessings of Paradise, he considers worldly benefits much more easily attainable. Hence, he becomes deeply attached to this world and does not adequately value the Hereafter.

Their Presence among Believers

It is surely interesting to note that those in whose hearts is disease prefer to live with believers although they do not share the same ideals. One reason for this preference is that such people desire to benefit from the advantages of religious morality and the peaceful and secure environment believers provide. They find it more comfortable among believers who display virtuous conduct and would rather live in a society of this kind of people not encountered in an ignorant society. While lacking certainty in their hearts, they do not entirely disbelieve, although they cannot integrate completely into the society of ignorance nor into the society of believers. The doubt in their hearts accounts for this dilemma. They find the life of this world more alluring but they also would like to have the blessings Allah promises to believers in this world and the Hereafter. Although they have no certainty of faith, thoughts such as, "What if it is correct?" and "What if those promises are really true?" cause them to hope that in addition to worldly pleasures they can also take advantage of the blessings and bounties that believers attain.

They expect that believers with sincere faith will do the duties that are required in the name of religion while they can take advantage of any worldly benefits resulting from them. However, in case of some hardship or problem they avoid joining them. In the Qur’an the attitude of such people at the time of Prophet Muhammad (saas) illustrates this kind of rationale:

"And indeed, there is among you he who lingers behind; and if disaster strikes you, he says, ‘Allah has favored me in that I was not present with them.’ But if bounty comes to you from Allah, he will surely say, although there had never been between you and him any affection, ‘Oh, I wish I had been with them so I could have attained a great attainment.’"114

"[There are] those who wait [and watch] you. Then if you gain a victory from Allah, they say, ‘Were we not with you?’ But if the disbelievers have a success, they say [to them], ‘Did we not gain the advantage over you, but we protected you from the believers?’ Allah will judge between [all of] you on the Day of Resurrection, and never will Allah give the disbelievers over the believers a way [to overcome them]."115

These people want to take advantage of the benefits believers enjoy, so at times they try to attract their attention and convince believers of their commitment to the religion. However, since the believers have witnessed their indifference and slackness openly displayed up to that point, they cannot succeed in persuading them.

Hypocritical people have such a distorted rationale that they manage to deceive even themselves and think that they can share in the rewards believers will obtain in the next life. In the Qur’an their true position in the Hereafter is described:

"...On the Day the hypocrite men and hypocrite women will say to those who believed, ‘Wait for us that we may acquire some of your light.’ It will be said, ‘Go back behind you and seek light.’116 And a wall will be placed between them with a door, its interior containing mercy, but on the outside of it is torment. They [i.e., the hypocrites] will call to them [i.e., the believers], ‘Were we not with you?’ They will say, ‘Yes, but you afflicted yourselves and waited and doubted, and wishful thinking deluded you until there came the command of Allah. And the Deceiver [i.e., satan] deceived you concerning Allah. So today no ransom will be taken from you or from those who disbelieved. Your refuge is the Fire. It is most worthy of you, and wretched is the destination."117

Such people must realize that unless they have sincere faith in their hearts, their living among believers will be of no use to them before Allah. Because Allah has granted people consciences, wisdom and faculties of judgement, He will question everyone individually and reward or punish him accordingly. One‘s sincere efforts to earn His good pleasure will earn His rewards. Expressing one’s devotion will not suffice because the way one conducts himself must conform to his words. Therefore, those who are negligent deceive themselves by thinking that merely being among believers will help them on the Day of Judgement. The consequence in the Hereafter for those who work only for self-interest rather than for Allah is revealed in a Hadith of His Messenger (saas):

"Whoever makes others hear [of his good deeds] – Allah will make his [true intention] heard; and whoever makes a show [of his deeds] – Allah will expose him."118

The Indifference of Those In Whose Hearts Is Disease

"And of the people is he who worships Allah on an edge. If he is touched by good, he is reassured by it; but if he is struck by trial, he turns on his face [to the other direction]. He has lost the world and the Hereafter. That is what is the manifest loss."119

This verse reveals the diseased conception of "enthusiasm" held by people who do not hold fast to religion. They seem very zealous as long as personal interests are not affected. However, when there is a conflict of interest, they lose their enthusiasm and excitement. Since they do not believe with certainty, such a situation will allow them to overlook many Islamic obligations. They forget that Allah created this world as a place of trial, that Allah will test man through many occurrences, which seem either good or bad, and that only those who are steadfast will be rewarded. The disease in their hearts causes them to harbor doubts about Allah’s support. Instead of putting their trust in Allah, they fall into despair and begin to entertain unjust thoughts about Him. Thus, the disease concealed in their hearts surfaces. In the Qur’an, Allah describes the way they lose their zeal abruptly in the face of trials and begin to doubt Allah’s promise:

"And [remember] when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is disease said, ‘Allah and His Messenger did not promise us except delusion."120

This attitude is surely a result of deficiency in their faith. Such people fail to understand that everything they encounter was created purposely to test them. Those in whose hearts is disease differ from sincere believers by the attitude they assume toward such trials. Believers become more zealous and peaceful by putting their trust in Allah no matter what befalls them and knowing that Allah’s help is always near.

Their Lingering Behind

People displaying hypocritical tendencies adopt a rationale that is completely different from that of believers and very distant from that of the Qur’an. Due to the defect in their belief, their rationale is based not on gaining the acceptance of Allah but merely on pleasing themselves and deriving personal benefit. For this reason they consider engaging in Islamic work as a futile effort. Since their faith in the Hereafter is rather cloudy, they assume that efforts made for the Hereafter may not bring adequate benefit in return for all their work and exhaustion. Hence, they find it more profitable to spend their time in attaining immediate worldly gains instead of benefits for Islam. Fearing gullibility, they hang back preferring "moderation," as stated in the Qur’an:

"And indeed, there is among you he who lingers behind."121

In short, they are unenthusiastic about any matters, which will not provide them with obvious worldly benefits.

When they meet a situation that demands effort for the sake of the needy, the oppressed or the believers, they hold back. Constantly offering excuses, they try to make it seem insurpassably difficult. Since they do not live by religion, they lack the motivation and energy to solve a problem or to complete a good work. They display reluctance either by suddenly withdrawing and leaving believers in the lurch or by working apathetically.

However, if the same indifferent person is offered a proposal for a prestigious position in a company with a high salary and if he is further promised that he will become a shareholder provided he displays excellent performance, his attitude will be quite different. No doubt, considering the advantages of such a position, he will display remarkable enthusiasm and excellence in his work and rapidly develop satisfactory solutions to trying problems. There is a great contrast between the reluctance of these people when expected to work for the sake of Islam and the enthusiasm they display when their own interests are at stake. Their preference of worldly benefits over Allah’s pleasure accounts for the fluctuating attitude.

Lingering Behind Is Not Advantageous but Foolishness

Certainly, the reluctance of those with diseased hearts exposes how great a deception they are living. Failure to strive for Allah’s good pleasure is a loss because any effort put forth for the cause of Allah brings the greatest benefit possible. Each effort one puts forth with sincerity will grant him the approval of Allah. Allah promises the best to His servants with whom He is pleased, both in this world and in the Hereafter. A pious believer is not eager because he expects an immediate recompense in this world. Knowing that Allah is well pleased with his efforts is enough for him. Allah, the owner of eternal justice, love, mercy and grace, is most ready to appreciate services rendered for His cause, and states that any effort, even as little as a mustard-seed or an atom, is not wasted:

"Indeed, Allah does not do injustice, [even] as much as an atom’s weight; while if there is a good deed, He multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward"122

For those who do good in this world is good; and the home of the Hereafter is better. And how excellent is the home of the righteous."123

"[And Luqman said], ‘O my son, indeed if a deed should be the weight of a mustard seed and should be within a rock or anywhere in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Indeed, Allah is Subtle and Acquainted.’"124

It is most unwise to be reluctant in undertaking good deeds because the more seriously one exerts effort, the greater reward he receives both in this world and the next. Similarly, the more he avoids, the more he will lose.

 

NOTES

110.Surah al-Mujadilah, 58:14.

111. Surah an-Nisa’, 4:143.

112. Surah al-Baqarah, 2:8-9.

113.Surah al-Baqarah, 2:10.

114.Surah an-Nisa’, 4:72-73.

115. Surah an-Nisa’, 4:141.

116. To where light was acquired, i.e., in the worldly life.

117. Surah al-hadeed, 57:13-15.

118.Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

119. Surah al-hajj, 22:11.

120. Surah al-Ahzab, 33:12.

121. Surah an-Nisa’, 4:72.

122.Surah an-Nisa’, 4:40.

123. Surah an-Nahl, 16:30.

124. Surah Luqman, 31:16.

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