What Kind of Moral Values Does a Person Possess Who Does Not Fear Allah?
The quality of uprightness is only achievable by fearing Allah and adhering absolutely to His commands. For a person to possess and maintain an upright character, a strong love of Allah is needed together with a profound fear of Allah. With regard to fearing Allah as is due is to Him, this is only made possible by constantly bearing in mind and reflecting on Allah’s greatness, glory and grandeur, His high rank, infinite knowledge and power, and His unrestricted and unconditional sovereignty over all His servants, as well as having an absolute belief in Allah’s promises, threats, the Day of Judgment and the intensity of its ordeals and the fearful and eternal punishment of Hell. This belief will make way for a strengthened fear of Allah. This fear will also ensure that one’s attitude, behavior, movements and conversations, are in accordance and harmony with the moral standards which Allah approves of. A person who fears Allah will be in a constant state of vigilance when it comes to protecting His boundaries.
With regards to people who do not fear Allah, they are able to display any attitude, regardless of Allah’s displeasure. Someone who has forgotten they will be accountable to Allah has no need or reason to be honest; to serve others, to be just and honorable, in short, to display good moral conduct. They are motivated exclusively by individual ambition and personal benefit. To consider benefiting others is irrelevant to them.
There is nothing people such as this would not do for their own advantage. Because of their inability to acknowledge Allah’s power, the prospect of Allah’s punishment does not serve as an incentive to amend their ways. Since they have no fear of Allah or His punishment, they do not adhere to any limits, they ignore Allah’s prohibitions, displaying an oppressive attitude towards people, and going to excess in everything negative. Because they do not reflect on Allah’s might and His ability to avenge, they transgress Allah’s boundaries without a second thought.
It is for these reasons that those people who do not fear Allah are open to committing every possible sin and moral degradation. They do not adhere to Allah’s religion and through their oppressive behavior, they deter other people from religion; they cannot stand to see the implementation of religious standards of morality. Without a doubt, the oppression practiced by these people will be responded to in kind in the Hereafter. Allah informs us in the Qur’an of these people and their demise:
Those who disbelieve and bar access to the Way of Allah have gone very far astray. Allah will not forgive those who disbelieve and do wrong or guide them on any path except the path of Hell, remaining in it timelessly, for ever and ever. That is easy for Allah. (Surat an-Nisa’: 167-169)
Below, we will examine the distorted characteristics and peculiarities of the wrongdoers mentioned in the Qur’an who have no fear of Allah.
Their similarity to satan: Unconsciousness
Those people who, despite being fully aware of Allah’s existence and power, do not behave in a manner which pleases Allah, and who in reality do not fear Him, share certain traits with Satan. People who are constantly under the suggestion and influence of Satan are almost bound to share a similar mentality and spirit. The clearest indication of this similarity is their state of blind denial. That is to say, they automatically display distorted and imbalanced reactions and attitudes that are detrimental to them, rather than acknowledge what is obvious and behave accordingly. The best example of this distorted behavior is seen in Satan’s challenging attitude towards Allah. This incident is narrated in the Qur’an as an example for all humanity.
Allah created the angels and the jinn before creating Adam (as), the first man and prophet. They were engaged in constant praise and glorification of Allah. Then, Allah created Adam (as) and ordered the angels to prostrate themselves before him. The angels readily obeyed Allah’s command and prostrated before Adam (as). However, Satan (Iblis), who was present with the angels, although he was one of the jinn, revolted against Allah’s command and became rebellious towards Him. This is because Satan believed he was far superior to Prophet Adam (as). The Qur’an relates:
He [Allah] said, “Iblis, what prevented you prostrating to what I created with My own Hands? Were you overcome by arrogance or are you one of the exalted?” (Surah Sad: 75)
To which Satan replies:
“… I am better than him. You created me from fire but You created him from clay.” (Surah Sad: 76)
Satan’s bold disobedience towards Allah’s order resulted in Allah cursing him and condemning him to the eternal punishments of Hell. Without a doubt, Satan’s rebelliousness arises out of an incomprehensible state of spiritual contradiction. He has personally witnessed Allah’s existence. Indeed, he spoke directly with Allah. He had certain knowledge of Allah’s attributes, His power and the eternal punishment of Hell.
The similarity in reprehensible morality between satan and all those who shun fearful awareness of Allah originates within them. To have clear knowledge of the existence of Allah, and still manage to deny Him and rebel against His authority, represents a truly astounding feat. Given satan's direct and certain knowledge, one would expect him to have attained the ultimate degree of faith and fear of Allah. By the same token, one would also expect him to have a level of constant awareness to match, giving rise to unparalleled respect and obedience to Allah. Instead, satan displays an ugly boldness and daring. Recognition of Allah's existence and admitting His infinite might and wisdom while on the other hand engaging in a deliberate revolt against Him is a perversion that can not be explained by clear consciousness. In the verse below the Qur'an describes the situation of such people:
Say: “Who provides for you out of heaven and Earth? Who controls hearing and sight? Who brings forth the living from the dead and the dead from the living? Who directs the whole affair?” They will say, “Allah.” Say, “So will you not guard against evil?” (Surah Yunus: 31)
Another verse reveals their spiritual state and their lack of awareness as follows:
The likeness of those who disbelieve is that of the beast which, call out to it as one may, can hear nothing but a shout and a cry. Deaf–dumb–blind. They do not use their intellect.(Surat al-Baqara: 171)
Another topic these people unthinkingly deny is the resurrection. For a person who knows he was created from nothing and knows for sure he will eventually die, to ask how he will be resurrected, is without a doubt, bewildering and amazing. The Qur’an refers to The Day of Resurrection and describes the incredulous reaction of the people who deny it:
If you are surprised at their blindness, what could be more surprising than their words: “What, when we are turned to dust, shall we then be created all anew?” These are the people who reject their Lord. Such people have iron collars round their necks. Such people are the Companions of the Fire, remaining in it timelessly, for ever. (Surat ar-Ra‘d: 5)
Their pride and arrogance
When he is told to fear Allah, he is seized by pride which drives him to wrongdoing. Hell will be enough for him! What an evil resting-place! (Surat al-Baqara: 206)
The most identifiable feature of those people who do not fear Allah is their state of vacuous pride and arrogance. What lies behind this is the person seeing himself as being independent of Allah and attributing to himself characteristics which belong only to Allah. This is quite absurd, since mankind is weak and has many limitations. No matter how high and mighty he may consider himself, he will eventually get tired, get hungry, get thirsty, become sleepy, suffer headaches and other illnesses, his body will deteriorate as he gets older, and eventually he will die and his body will perish.
It is not possible for people to become arrogant and overweening so long as they remain aware that it is Allah Who created everything from nothing, and Who has provided us with all of the characteristics and the potential we possess, and that He is able to withdraw everything He has provided us with whenever He wishes, and that all living things are temporary and only His existence is eternal. However, only those people who forget their limitations and whose corrupted intellects fail to comprehend these matters would ever attempt to be so bold. This was the case with Qarun, whose behavior Allah has related in the Qur’an as an example to all mankind.
The reason behind Qarun’s hubris and his inability to fear Allah, was his wealth. He had forgotten that all wealth belongs to Allah and if He wished He could reclaim this wealth. Instead, he imagined that these treasures had been acquired by him as a result of his own abilities.
Qarun was one of the people of Musa but he lorded it over them. We gave him treasures, the keys alone to which were a heavy weight for a party of strong men. When his people said to him, “Do not gloat. Allah does not love people who gloat.” “Seek the abode of the Hereafter with what Allah has given you, without forgetting your portion of this world. And do good as Allah has been good to you. And do not seek to cause corruption in the Earth. Allah does not love corrupters.” He said, “I have only been given it because of knowledge I have.” Did he not know that before him Allah had destroyed generations with far greater strength than his and far more possessions? The evildoers will not be questioned about their sins. (Surat al-Qasas: 76-78)
As a repayment for his behavior, Qarun was punished whilst still on Earth to serve as an example to like-minded people. If, as he asserted, he was in possession of matchless strength and power, he would doubtless have saved himself from this punishment. However, neither his knowledge, his treasuries, his community or his high esteem was able to save him from Allah’s punishment.
We caused the Earth to swallow up both him and his house. There was no group to come to his aid, besides Allah, and he was not someone who is helped. Those who had longed to take his place the day before woke up saying, “Allah expands the provision of any of His servants He wills or restricts it. If Allah had not shown great kindness to us, we would have been swallowed up as well. Ah! Truly the disbelievers are not successful.” (Surat al-Qasas: 81-82)
The tragic demise of Qarun constitutes an open and clear example to those who do not possess any fear of Allah, and who are caught up with being haughty. A pleasant destination in the Hereafter however, is reserved for those sincere people who are not arrogant:
That abode of the Hereafter—We grant it to those who do not seek to exalt themselves in the Earth or to cause corruption in it. The successful outcome is for the righteous [who guard against evil].(Surat al-Qasas: 83)
Their envy and aggression
The haughtiness of those people who are completely lacking in fear of Allah is nurtured and cherished to such an extent by them that they imagine that everything is theirs for the taking. For this reason, they are envious of other people’s privileges. As an example of this attitude the Qur’an relates the incident which transpired between the Prophet Adam’s (as) two sons:
Recite to them the true report of Adam’s two sons when they offered a sacrifice and it was accepted from one of them but not accepted from the other. The one said, “I shall kill you.” The other said, “Allah only accepts from the righteous [who fear Him]. Even if you do raise your hand against me to kill me, I am not going to raise my hand against you to kill you. Truly I fear Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. I want you to take on both my wrongdoing and your wrongdoing and so become one of the Companions of the Fire. That is the repayment of the wrongdoers.” So his lower self persuaded him to kill his brother, and he killed him and became one of the lost. (Surat al-Ma’ida: 27-30)
A person who fears Allah would be cautious and guard himself against his own inner passions. Apart from this, there is no other fear which requires the profound alteration of one’s own character in a positive way. The brother who did not fear Allah succumbed to the unbridled passions of the self. As a result of the jealousy and anger over the fact that his sacrifice was not accepted, and the sense of rivalry he felt towards his brother, he ended up threatening to kill him and subsequently carried out the threat. This case serves as a warning of how dangerous it can be to turn away from fear of Allah, and to abandon oneself to the urges of the lower self.
Someone who does not fear Allah will, when feeling personally affronted, not hesitate to cause both physical and spiritual harm to those who have offended him. At the same time jealousy is a fundamental characteristic of Satan. When Satan was expelled from the presence of Allah, he displayed all the hatred and jealousy he felt towards Prophet Adam (as) and promised with all his might that he would drag into Hell all his future descendants. However, this promise is only applicable to Satan’s associates and friends. For those believers however, who fear Allah and are mindful of their actions, this will have no effect whatsoever.
To be “self-sufficient” means that one has no need of anything, that one is without weakness or deficiency, and that one is accountable to no one. These attributes belong only to Allah. Human beings and other living creatures are inherently weak and constantly in need. They are subject to Allah’s purposes in the creation and are at every moment entirely dependent on Him for life and sustenance. However, as we have pointed out above, people who do not fear Allah are blinded to their own incapacities due to their closed minds and corrupted intelligence. It would never occur to them that they could be either deficient or at fault. Furthermore, because they are absolutely sure of themselves, they are never hesitant or anxious about committing wrong actions. Allah refers to this frame of mind in the Qur’an as being “unbridled.”
No indeed! Truly man is unbridled seeing himself as self-sufficient. (Surat al-`Alaq: 6-7)
As well as these people seeing themselves as totally independent, they also see themselves as exempt from the calamitous consequences of their actions. For this reason, they persist in their reckless boldness. The greater Allah’s generosity to them, the more reckless they become. They do not realize that Allah is merely testing them, so that the longer they continue in this unbridled fashion, the greater the punishment they will be subjected to in Hell.
Do not let their wealth and their children impress you. Allah merely wants to punish them by them in this world, and for them to expire while they are disbelievers.(Surat at-Tawba: 85)
Because they are not aware of this reality, they mistake the opportunities and resources Allah has allowed them to enjoy as protection from His punishment. For example, they think a sturdy and luxurious car will protect them from accidents, injury or even death. They think a sound and strong building will protect them from earthquakes, catastrophes, or attacks. Of course, a person may choose to live in a sound building as a precaution, however, even the world’s most sound building will crumble when the time comes.
Such people also think that taking every conceivable preventative measure regarding their health and physical being will render them immune to affliction. However, this is an absolutely endless struggle. Even a single virus is sufficient to carry Allah’s punishment to these people. Similarly, the eruption of the tiniest blood vessel in the brain could be the beginning of the eternal punishment these people will endure. No other person and no other power can protect someone from Allah’s punishment. Allah declares in the Qur’an: “… anyone who has My anger unleashed on him has plunged to his ruin.” (Surah Ta Ha: 81)
Those without fear of Allah do not even accept the inevitability of death. For these people, the death of a young person close to them, or even the unexpected death of important individuals or people in the public eye, is viewed as shocking and senseless. To have to see a previously healthy and able-bodied person become unrecognizable comes as a serious blow to people who would prefer to forget about death.
Likewise, for them to see a friend who they may have been with only a couple of days previously, found by the side of a road in an unrecognizable state, having been hit by a car, and then having to witness this body being put into a black body bag, zipped up from head to toe, will bring to mind many things they are trying to forget. To see someone of their own age, lifestyle and mindset, lying on the road with a crowd gathered around the body, would fill their hearts with the dreaded realization that they are totally unprepared for their own death and the Hereafter. A couple of days before they would have been showing off their “designer” clothing together and pursuing their professional ambitions, while claiming not to have any time for religion and cracking jokes about the Hereafter. All of a sudden, confronted with the sight of their erstwhile friend, they find themselves in quite a different state of mind. The emergency personnel will gather up for disposal his broken glasses, which were thrown to the ground, his damaged shoes and the fashionable accessories he was wearing. His once proud body will be taken immediately to a hospital mortuary to prevent decomposition and left there with other bodies. What was once a human being will, within a couple of days, be wrapped in a white cloth and placed into a hole in the ground.
However, for most of them this fear will be short lived. Within a short period they will revert to their previous mentality, seeing death as something that affects everyone but themselves. Despite seeing people around them dying, in spite of knowing that the Hereafter awaits them, in spite of the ageing of their own bodies and the step-by-step approach of the end, they do not fear Allah, and so refuse to think about death at all. For this reason, instead of using whatever little time they may have left to alter their ways and conform to Allah’s guidance, they choose to pursue an ever-increasing level of heedlessness.
Lives full of fears and anxieties
For people who do not believe in or fear Allah the entire world is made up of chaos and coincidences. They think that everything happens by chance and that the events that occur around them are without rhyme or reason. Under such circumstances it is impossible to experience any lasting sense of true peace and tranquility, since at any moment they could be faced with some arbitrary misfortune. He has endless anxieties and fears regarding the future. For example, he could fall sick with an unexpected illness, lose all his wealth, or perhaps an unexpected catastrophe could befall him or his loved ones. Because he imagines all events such as these happen willy-nilly, he never feels free of anxiety and apprehension over the possibility of them happening to him. What is more, the situation is made all the worse by the knowledge that the whole affair is entirely beyond his control, leaving him with an increased sense of helplessness and hopelessness.
Only someone who fears Allah will not succumb to these kinds of fear. Fear of Allah and belief in Him displaces all these other fears. To know that Allah is the Owner and Creator of everything, and that no event occurs except under the control and divine providence of Allah, knowing that Allah will protect and look after those who believe and trust in Him, leads to freedom from all sorts of fears and illusory needs. The Qur’an declares:
Allah has made a metaphor for them of a man owned by several partners in dispute with one another and another man wholly owned by a single man. Are they the same? Praise be to Allah! The fact is that most of them do not know. (Surat az-Zumar: 29)
People who do not believe in Allah and who subsequently do not fear Him, will experience a multitude of different fears with respect to other things and other people. They never think about being answerable to Allah for their actions but are keenly aware of their accountability to their superiors at work, their spouses, their mothers, their fathers and many other such people.
When the sense of fear, which should only be directed to Allah, is directed towards His creation instead, it reduces those concerned to an undignified position since the only being truly worthy of being feared is Allah. He is the owner of all strength and power and everything is subject to His will and control. Nothing comes into being except by His will and knowledge. Without His consent, nothing can harm anyone. Hence, there is no other being apart from Allah that should be feared.
As we observed earlier, people who fear other people rather than Allah do so because they see them as possessing strength and power that is independent of Allah. They make the enormous mistake of rejecting Allah and seeking assistance from His creation instead. As a result, not only do they not receive the assistance they seek, but their entire lives are blighted by damaging exposure to the ignorance, capriciousness and other human failings of those they have relied on in preference to Allah.
Allah has ordered those who have faith not to fear other people but only to fear Him:
… Do not be afraid of people, be afraid of Me. And do not sell My Signs for a paltry price… (Surat al-Ma’ida: 44)
... You should not fear them but rather fear Me—and so that I can complete My blessing to you so that hopefully you will be guided. (Surat al-Baqara: 150)
Their unscrupulousness and ingratitude
There are many examples in the Qur’an of the ungratefulness of those who do not fear Allah. However, perhaps the most telling of them concerns the Children of Israel and their unscrupulousness and ingratitude towards Allah and His messengers.
The Children of Israel were bestowed with blessings never before granted to any other people. They were shown innumerable miracles and despite having prophets emerge from amongst them, there remained rebellious elements who were unmoved by any of this. The Prophet Musa (Moses) (as) patiently attempted to educate them, but they did not arrive at true obedience to Allah and true belief. When they witnessed Allah’s wrath, they sought His forgiveness, and when His wrath abated, they reverted to their wrongdoing, even adopting other gods apart from Him. Whilst their prophets were engaged in difficult struggles with the disbelievers, the hypocrites amongst the Children of Israel were more interested in securing their own advantages and personal gains, and were never really sincere in the fulfilment of their obligations to Allah and His religion.
In a gross display of ingratitude, they abandoned their prophet, Musa (as), leaving him alone at the most critical stage of his struggle, concentrating instead on their own wellbeing and livelihoods. Then, as if this was not enough, they also displayed the most insolent and ungrateful attitude towards him.
They said, “We will never enter it, Musa, as long as they are there. So you and your Lord go and fight. We will stay sitting here.” (Surat al-Ma’ida: 24)
It can be seen clearly from this that people such as these do not possess fear of Allah, therefore, when they are faced with anything that conflicts with their own interests they immediately become rebellious. In spite of the protection they received from Allah and His messengers against the oppression of their most aggressive enemy, the Egyptian Pharaoh, in spite of the countless blessings and the constant invitations to faith and eternal salvation, all of this was forgotten in an instant.