The Identities That Develop under The Influence of The Professionsi in Ignorant Societies
The personalities of all who live in a society of ignorance are subject of certain influences. One of these influences is their line of work. Because, a person’s work or profession is an important factor in shaping identity and status in a society. Every individual who lives in a society divorced from the morality of the Qur’an is evaluated according to his profession, social status and degree of prosperity. Although these are not formally recognized, the ranking of all professions, in terms of the respect they command, is nonetheless known to all. For example, the respect commanded by a professor is different than that of an administrator; a doctor’s is greater than a fashion designer’s; and an architect’s is greater than a teacher’s.
For this reason, those in a society of ignorance who are faced with making a decision about what profession to pursue make their choice not only on the basis of what interests them, or what their talents are, but also consider the social status it will bring.
When a person chooses a profession, his sense of identity changes accordingly. If he really wants to “make it” in the society and achieve real status, he will have to take on the identity determined for him by the ignorant societal mores he find himself under.
Almost none of the members of the society find fault with such a change of personality; on the contrary, the more a person behaves according to his new identity, the more respect he receives. The way he dresses, his manner, the way he sits and walks, and his tone of voice are all to be reflective of his profession.
Moreover, he is expected to adopt a particular interpretation of the world around him according to his profession known as “professional ethics,” with which he must conform in order to be successful and advance in the profession he has chosen.
What is being referred to here is not, of course, the ethics or moral rules exhibited by an honest, genuine and industrious person. The professional ethics referred to in the society of the ignorant is a concept that regards illicit earnings, occasional professional pride and obstinacy, or being dishonest, or loss of self-respect as occasion demands, as perfectly legitimate, and has in fact nothing to do with real moral virtue.
Besides, it must also be stated that there are those in a society of ignorance who, for various reasons, do not conform to these rules of behavior. Because of their principles, they may not allow their profession to dictate their sense of identity. Though, such people are but a small minority. The main purpose in describing these character types is not to criticize them specifically, but to show the distorted perception of the greater part of the society divorced from morality of the Qur’an.
Before proceeding on the topic of professions, there is an important matter that must first be considered. In the detailed account to be given in this section, we do not mean to criticize any profession. Indeed, if people are to live together in society, everyone must have a line of work and use his talents to be useful to the rest of society. However, it is important to recognize the error of judging others and ranking them according to their profession. Moreover, it is wrong for a person to alter his personality depending on his profession. People will be judged according to the criteria that Allah has revealed in the Qur’an:
Humanity! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in Allah’s Sight is the one with the most fear of Allah. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Surat al-Hujurat, 13)
We can see from the verse above that individuals will be held responsible for their degree of devotion to Allah. Whether man or woman, young or old, doctor or secretary; that is not the criteria by people will be judged on the Day of Judgment. No matter what a person’s circumstances may be, all must obey the Qur’an. Everyone is responsible for living as Allah has commanded, and developing their personalities according to the morality taught in the Qur’an.
So, in this section, we will draw attention to this error: People forget Allah, the Day of Judgment, Allah’s religion, become overly enamored with this transient world, and develop their own values. In time, they become ever more entrenched in their identities depending on the values they have determined. Before discussing in detail the example of the ignorant person who alters his character according to his profession, it will be useful to consider the basic character of the business man and woman because of their dominance in the society.
The Character of the Working Woman
A working woman in a society abiding by the morality of ignorance receives more respect in society than the housewife. Because according to the criteria set by ignorant societies, they are thought to have higher ideals, and more important responsibilities than housewives. Indeed, the main reason why a woman decides to have a career is to avoid being a housewife, and the negative perception some people attach to it, and, in her own way, to rise to a more respected position in society. For a person possessing such a mentality, being a working woman will, above all, grant her a different identity; it will allow her to stand on her own two feet, which will bring her a greater measure of equality with men.
Indeed, this is exactly what is expected of a working woman in a society of ignorance. For those who live their lives divorced from the morality of religion, the most important thing is the financial independence that wealth offers. For this reason, such people consider an independent woman superior to other women. Their level of morality is not an issue; what is important is their bankbooks, assets, company privileges and reputation.
Working women who are aware of these perceptions in their society abiding by the morality of ignorance ambitiously cling to their work. The more successful they are in their profession, the more, they believe, they achieve for themselves. For that end, they will do their utmost to prove themselves to others in their workplace.
Rising to the management level, alongside other men, they regard as a major success. They regard this as a very important opportunity. They can order others around; if some complete a job incorrectly, or are late finishing a project, these women do not hesitate to berate them publicly. On one hand, they do so to try to prove themselves to the men; on the other hand, they are competing with the other women in the company. They will seize any opportunity to advance themselves by pointing out the failings of the other women.
They think they are in gain because they do not have the image of a housewife in society. But their lives are not as different as they imagine. Fundamentally, their character possessing the morality of ignorance has not changed much. The only things different are the environment and the people around them. No longer the housewife concerned about her house and her family, and arguing with her husband or her mother; in her place is a working woman concerned about her work, competing with her fellow workers and proving herself. Otherwise, the gossiping, arguments, jealousies and emotional outbreaks persist. Because the way to escape a life-long anxiety and a somber spiritual state, is not to change one kind of ignorant identity for another; it is only possible by making a change in one’s spirit, according to the teachings of the Qur’an. The character of the working woman adhering to the morality of ignorance ignores this essential fact, and so continues to experience all the trouble and torment of the morality of ignorance.
However, a woman who is a believer is aware of this important truth. In order to reform herself, she does not just make superficial adjustments in her life, but devotes her attention to developing her spirit, and her moral character. For this reason, she is always progressing.
And, unlike the majority of women in a society of ignorance, they do not suffer from complexes. They do not stoop to getting into competition with other women around them, men in their workplaces or other people for material and mundane values. After all, such competition is meaningless. According to the morality of the religion, there is no such thing as superiority or inferiority of the male or female over one another, and therefore no competition between men and women. Both men and women behave in the way that suits to their creation. They do not try to imitate each other, but to conform to the model of a believer described in the Qur’an. It is only the measure of faith and morality that is of any value in the Sight of Allah. And men and women, all believers compete only for good.
The Character of a Working Man
As described in many verses of the Qur’an, in the societies having the morality of ignorance, the majority of working men are consumed with concerns of this earthly life. Their world, their work and their goals are focused on their becoming successful at their jobs. They will discuss little with their family and friends; they either talk about their work, or sit for hours thinking in silence about how they can make more money. Their minds are so occupied with their work that they often forget their moral liabilities towards their spouses, children, families and friends.
Everything people having this morality think about is in connection with their work. Their social relationships are based on what they can profit financially from them. They base their friendships, and even their marriage, in this way. They nurture the relationships they think will bring them gain, and consider it a waste of time to maintain friendships with those who cannot be of any use to them.
At home, and at work, they are tense and stressed. After a bad day, they become extremely irascible, ready to explode if anyone were to so much as even touch them. When someone does not show proper consideration for their mental state, their irritability increases. They especially blame their wives for not being sensitive and understanding about their work.
They are usually very confident and sure of themselves in all they do; they think themselves clever, and do not respect another’s opinion. They are proud of their years of experience, always insisting they know better. It would be impossible to convince them they were wrong about something. Even if they were aware that they have made a mistake, or had a bad idea, they would not apologize; it is very difficult for them to admit to an error.
As stated earlier, the basic reason why they attain this kind of character is their attachment to this world. This attachment has caused them to lose many of their more humane qualities, and made them incapable of thinking about anything other than financial gain. We must here state at the outset that it is normal for a person to desire money, to be successful in his career, and to hope to improve his situation; but, it is a mistake for him to forget about the Afterlife, becoming overly passionate in his desire for the things of this world. On the other hand, one may have great wealth, but he may use it to please Allah or to achieve some high purpose.
There is no such pious intention in a working man of a society of ignorance; on the contrary, he has a passionate attachment to this world. But, the money he so desires is just a transient pleasure of this life. A man may be the richest person in the world, or the most successful in his profession, but he will one day die and leave behind him everything he had gained in the world. The wealth he amassed will be of no use to him when his body lies rotting beneath the earth. Then, he will be called to give account of that which he has done in this world. On the Day of Judgment, he will not be asked how hard he worked to acquire his wealth, or how much he accumulated; he will be asked what he did for Allah to earn His favor. So, all the efforts he had put forth for worldly gain, will have been in vain.
Allah speaks of the vanity of such efforts in the Qur’an:
Say: “Shall I inform you of the greatest losers in their actions? People whose efforts in the life of this world are misguided while they suppose that they are doing good.” Those are the people who reject their Lord’s Signs and the meeting with Him. Their actions will come to nothing and, on the Day of Rising, We will not assign them any weight. (Surat al-Kahf, 103-105)
The Character-types of Managers and Directors
In societies divorced from religion, you can find several different types of characters in a single workplace. Every one of these character-types is influenced by the position he has been given, and determined by his responsibilities, salary and rank in relation to other workers. One of the characters shaped by these factors is that of a manager. Those who are of this kind of character are of a disposition regarded as otherwise quite normal for a person in their circumstances, but which is the product of a corrupt way of thinking; they can be two characters at once, changing according to the particular situation. They show one of side of this character to those who are their superiors; and show the other to those who are their inferiors.
When they are with their boss, people having this morality in ignorant societies are humble and submissive; they treat him with deference, sometimes bending over backwards to please him. They do everything he wants immediately, being careful not to make the least mistake. The boss, on the other hand, has the right to say anything he wants to his subordinates and, if necessary, to berate them. Managers do not mind being treated in this way, and regard it as the boss’s right to criticize them. They do everything they can to get the boss to like them, and to get on his good side. They will even fulfill menial tasks outside of work to gain his favor. The purpose of all this self-sacrifice is definite: The boss is the one who pays their salary, and exercises the final authority in the workplace. Therefore, all the manager’s wages and benefits are determined by him. Gaining support and sympathy from the boss is extremely important for the manager’s career and future. For this reason, a person with such morality will not hesitate to compromise his honor and integrity.
It will be useful at this point to make an important distinction: It is good for people to respect and esteem those who are in a higher position or senior to them or to fulfill their requests. But, in doing so they must seek the pleasure of Allah, acknowledging that person’s level of morality, and not seek any material benefit from him.
But, people in a society of ignorance do not acknowledge the level of morality of another. They respect a rich man even if he is morally weak. They try to oppress those who work with them, with no regard for their moral qualities, because their criteria by which they judge others is not based on earning the pleasure of Allah. According to the distorted way of thinking of a society of ignorance, these individuals regard themselves as superior to those they oppress, and they think they have the right to treat them badly. Now, this manager, who was so meek and mild when the boss was present, becomes arrogant, over-confident, a “do what you’re told” dictator. He is very harsh and uncompromising towards those under him. He barks out orders, and if a problem arises, he does not hesitate to publicly berate the person responsible, because these people he deems to be of no advantage to him. Besides, he wants to inflict the arrogance on those under him as the boss inflicts on him. In this way, he hopes to deny the meek character he shows when the boss is around.
The contradiction in these two different character sides is generally regarded as normal in the workplace and in a society of ignorance. This is the way the system works: according to this false system, the owner of the company can treat a manager any way he wants; a manager can do the same to a secretary and a secretary can do it to the janitor. The reverse is also true; everyone behaves as best he can towards a superior, and is careful to do what is expected of him. But when the superior is absent, the others do not hesitate to express their hatred of him. The respect they show is false.
This moral system is evidently corrupt. These people know how to behave respectfully, but they do not feel they have to behave in such a way towards each other, because there is no material benefit to be derived from it. Not only this vice not considered controversial, but it is not even noticed in the corruption of a society of ignorance. However, according to the Qur’an, one who behaves this way has no conscience. Without being in an expectation of a mundane benefit, a human being is responsible for behaving as well as his conscience will allow under all circumstances, and Allah has commanded all to be tolerant and humble.
A human being possesses nothing of his own that would raise his stature among those around him. Rank and status come only from Allah. He bestows upon those of His servants He chooses, and raises the stature of those whom He wishes to raise. When He wishes, He can reverse the situation; He has the power to take back every blessings He has conferred. For this reason, a human being must always act humbly before Allah. In the Qur’an, Allah reminds us of this truth:
Do not strut arrogantly about the Earth. You will certainly never split the earth apart nor will you ever rival the mountains in height. (Surat al-Isra’, 37)
A believer lives aware of this reality. No matter who he has to deal with in this world, he is never boastful and does not forget that he is responsible to Allah. For this reason, he does not believe that such alternating and insincere behavior is acceptable, and adopts in all times and in all places a moral character pleasing to Allah. No matter what the rank or position of another, he always acts towards that person with respect and courtesy. He does not expect a reward for his politeness; on the contrary, he expects recompense only from Allah for every good he performs. He severs Allah, and works to win His favor.
The Character of the Secretary
In a society of ignorance, some professions are considered more noble and some more ordinary than others. The job of a secretary is regarded as more ordinary than many other jobs. One of the main reasons for this is that secretaries are merely someone else‘s assistants. For this reason, in a society of ignorance if you ask secretaries what they do for a living, they will often make themselves appear more qualified by saying that they work as personal assistants. Because being a secretary does not command a lot of respect in some circles of the society, they boast about their employers and the assistance they give them. However, it should satisfy a person that he works at a legitimate business and that he earns money by legal means. No one ought to be attributed superior status, as in the ignorant society, or need to be regarded with respect by those around them. What makes an individual worthy of good in this world and the next are what he has done to win the favor of Allah.
As stated earlier, morality based on ignorance offers a totally different and erroneous way of interpreting reality. Secretaries who adopt this erroneous value system revere their employers. Their employers consider themselves their benefactors and think that they have all kinds of rights over them. Secretaries do not take it personally when their boss treats them badly, orders them around or makes them do all sorts of jobs; in fact, it actually pleases them. They do much more than is expected of them, and try their best to make their boss happy. Because, in a sense, their boss is their future. They consider their boss to be the only one who can improve their prospects, expand their network of acquaintances, and bail them out of difficulties.
Actually, most of the tasks secretaries do are not defined in their job description; in a society of ignorance, they have to do everything they are told to do. Their bosses take advantage of this and work them very hard. When they become irritated during the day, they shout at their secretaries who do not say a word in response; they just smile in return. But, at the first chance they get, they criticize them behind their backs.
As well, secretaries behave the same way towards other employees as their bosses behave towards them. They will surely find someone else in the workplace to order around and put to work, these usually being the janitors.
Those who work as secretaries for high-level bosses act especially arrogant towards other employees, because they see themselves as the person closest to him. According to the mentality of ignorance, the secretary to the boss of a major company occupies a high position. All the managers are obliged to go through the secretary if they want to see the boss. Most often, they ask the secretary what kind of mood he is in. These secretaries take advantage of their position by constantly ordering other people around and speaking harshly to lower-level personnel.
In such a character living in a society of ignorance, we can discern types of ignorant behavior such as lying, ignoring bad habits, being hypocritical and criticizing others behind their back. They do all this to get one person to like them and for the advantages that they believe they will derive from it.
However, the only power that can benefit human beings in this world and the next is the power of Allah. Those who try to ingratiate themselves with others, and to make themselves liked, forget that Allah is the only One whose pleasure has to be earned. They forget that Allah exists. But a believer is one who strives only to win Allah’s favor. Believers never make the mistake of exaggerating the importance of other human beings, or attributing to them any real power; and, they never entertain the hope of gaining anything from them. They are aware that their fate is in the hands of Allah.
The Character of the Doctor
In today’s society doctors are the most respected professionals. Indeed, to work to promote the health of others is a serious undertaking and requires a self-sacrificial spirit. But, in societies divorced from the morality of the Qur’an, the way people regard doctors and the character doctors develop out of this are somewhat different.
Firstly, some people mistakenly believe that their lives are in the hands of their doctors. For this reason, they look at them for help. Most families want their children to be doctors and instill this idea in them. For this reason, almost every child says that he wants to be a doctor when he grows up. Of course, it is good for a family to want their children to have a useful profession for humanity but, in a society of ignorance, the main purpose of a family that directs their children to this profession is to win adulation from their community. Another reason is that, when a family member gets sick, their children who are doctors will be able to look after them and this gives them a sense of security. And besides this, doctors make the best candidates for marriage.
This way of looking at doctors in a society of ignorance begins as soon as a student enters a faculty of medicine. The students who navigate the corridors with their white lab coats have only one model in mind. According to the model they are taught, doctors are above all sure of themselves and think they know everything. When they talk to patients they use phrases containing medical terms which the sick person cannot understand. Of course, these doctors know that their patients cannot understand this language but they continue to use it thinking that this is the way a doctor speaks. In the societies living by the morality of ignorance, after they start practicing, the majority of doctors have only a few goals left; they want to be a famous specialist or a professor, to have a luxury office and earn as much money as possible.
The greatest suggestion that people are indoctrinated with in some societies is the error that people’s lives are in the hands of their doctors. It is this subconscious suggestion that underlies the respect and awe in which doctors are held in such a society. Members of ignorant society who are totally unaware of the Might and Power of Allah, Who created them from a drop of water and feeds them, are deceived to perceive doctors as beings with superhuman powers (surely Allah is beyond that). For this reason, they feel ignorantly that they are of less value than doctors and that, as we said before, doctors are their only hope for recovering from an illness. However, Allah warns human beings that they are only servants:
Those you call on besides Allah are servants just like yourselves. Call on them and let them respond to you if you are telling the truth. (Surat al-A‘raf, 194)
Of course, it is right for a person to go to a doctor and follow his advice. But, in doing this, that person must not forget that it is Allah Who restores them to health. It is only He Who knows where and when an individual will die. Allah has set the time of everyone’s death and all people approach that day without knowing when it will come. Many people make the great error of ignoring this reality; they forget to pray to Allah and look to their doctors for help. And because so much is expected of them, doctors, who are far removed from the morality of the religion, develop certain arrogance.
The difference between how some doctors act in their private offices and how they behave while working in a hospital well illustrates the distorted values of ignorant society. Because the office is private, the patients that come there are usually well-off. An ignorant person’s love of money requires him to act politely to those who are financially comfortable and some doctors are overly polite to those who come to their offices. The patient who comes to the doctor’s office has chosen him and if that patient does not like the treatment he gets, he may pay his bill and go to another doctor.
There is another aspect to this discussion; doctors’ attitude to those patients who have no money. In a society of ignorance it is accepted that those who have no money are always treated without respect and some doctors who work in hospitals are very good at treating such patients in compliance with this flawed mentality. The patients that doctors have to deal with in hospitals are most often poor. For this reason, the doctors acting in compliance with the rationale of ignorance regard themselves as the most important people in the hospital. Due to the same flawed rationale, they do not often look at their patient in the face because they think that the sick person is of no value. Even most of the hospital personnel have the same point of view. They ignore someone asking for directions or for a doctor’s name. They get established in their environment, become used to its sights and forget about mercy and compassion. Even as patients are entering the door of the hospital, they encounter the irritable attitude of security guards who treat them badly.
In the societies living by the morality of ignorance, majority of doctors work in a hospital more or less to earn their salary. After working there for years, they have at most a waiting room and a treatment room that doubles as an office. This is the ideal of a great many doctors. No doubt, helping people is something to appreciate. However, for the character of a doctor in a society of ignorance in the basis of such diligent efforts lie mundane expectations such as ranks, status and fame. The fact is, however, no matter what one’s profession may be, what will make a person honorable, respected and esteemed will be his efforts to win Allah’s good pleasure, love and the infinite life in the Hereafter and his awareness of his weaknesses.
We should keep in mind that, no matter what their profession may be, after living in this world for a short time, every person will come face to face with the next world. After his death it will not matter how many patients a doctor has treated, whether or not he knew his medical terms well enough or what title he earned; he will be asked what he did to earn Allah’s favor. In societies divorced from the morality of religion, most doctors are not aware of these realities because they are living under the strong influence of ideas instilled in their minds by the ignorant society they live in. It is very important for them to win society’s approval and be respected in its eyes.
Every deed done in accordance with the teaching of the Qur’an is directed towards winning Allah’s approval and, no matter what their profession may be,believers exhibit high moral standards. Believers are the best supporters and helpers of those in their community who are sick, weak and helpless. This behavior comes from their adherence to the Qur’an and their unwavering dedication to the morality that Allah has commanded. A person who embraces the Qur’an knows that medical knowledge can only be gained by the will of Allah and that He has created everything that brings healing. He sees clearly that, if it were not according to Allah’s will, he would not do what he does or know what he knows. He never forgets that he may become ill at any time and that, if that happened, he would have no helper or healer other than Allah.
The prayer of the Prophet Ibrahim (as) related in the Qur’an in this regard is a fine example of the high moral standards that everyone should take as an example:
He Who created me and guides me;
He Who gives me food and gives me drink;
and when I am ill, it is He Who heals me;
He Who will cause my death, then give me life;
He Who I sincerely hope will forgive my mistakes on the Day of Reckoning.(Surat ash-Shu‘ara’, 78-82)
A Nurse’s Character
It must first be made clear that there are many nurses who work devotedly day and night caring for their patients, despite their inadequate salary. However, we will discuss here those nurses who abide by the morality which is far removed from the true religion. Such persons have become calloused to their patients’ problems, because of the numerous hours they are required to spend under adverse conditions caring for the sick. Some have lost all feeling for their patients and, instead of treating them with understanding and compassion, behave harshly towards them, often forcing them to wait for their care. It is not unusual for a nurse to even criticize or chastise a patient. Such individuals think that most patients are mere hypochondriacs, that they exaggerate their illnesses, and may even withhold the help that patients ask for.
Aware that the sick are helpless and in need of their assistance, nurses, who are ignorant of the morality of the Qur’an, behave arrogantly towards them. They look down on the patients, humiliate them and sometimes even berate them. They are in a position of being needed and, as far as they are concerned, “important people” ought to act haughtily towards ordinary people.
And, the way these people living by these wicked morals treat one another is not different from the way they treat their patients. They will behave towards others according to their station; for example, they show great respect towards the head nurse, but belittle other nurses.
Just as the lives of some housewives living by the morality of ignorance are confined within the four walls of her house, similarly, nurses confine much of their world to the hospital. They think quite highly of themselves in their situation. They think it to be themselves who heal people, not realizing that they are only the means. However, if they were themselves sick, they would not able to cure themselves, and therefore should recognize that they cannot prevent illness from themselves. However, majority of them are obstinate in this false belief. In the Qur’an, Allah tells us that no one other than He has the power to cause good or harm.
If you ask them, “Who created the heavens and the Earth?” they will say, “Allah.” Say: “So what do you think? If Allah desires harm for me, can those you call upon besides Allah remove His harm? Or if He desires mercy for me, can they withhold His mercy?” Say: “Allah is enough for me. All those who truly trust put their trust in Him.” (Surat az-Zumar, 38)
Allah has revealed to us that we should trust only in Him. As discussed earlier, from the Prophet Ibrahim’s (as) prayer related in the Qur’an, believers should learn to trust only in Allah and look for assistance from Him alone. They sincerely believe that Allah ordains both good and harm and, apart from Him, there is no other power that can prevent such things from happening. They do not forget that Allah created every cure, as well as all doctors and nurses in the world, as the means for healing people.
The Character of Merchants
A large number of individuals in society are grouped under the heading of merchants. This group includes a wide spectrum of occupations, from shopkeepers to small businesses and street vendors. In the societies where people abide by the morality of ignorance, people who are called as merchants share some common features like many other groups of professions.
As with many other characters of ignorance, that which most influences the character of the merchants in the society of ignorance is, again, the values of materialism. Majority of these individuals tend to be middle-income earners, and are of character types dedicated to acquiring wealth no matter what because they live by the values of ignorance and fail to abide by the Qur’an. That is because it is only possible for them to earn respect and to gain a name for themselves if they become wealthy. This is due to the fact that, in a society of ignorance, being wealthy is more highly valued than morality. When it comes to money, it makes no difference how ignorant, or impolite a person is. Material means may always open all sorts of means.
For this reason, the majority of merchants living by the criteria set by the ignorance seek ways to earn money and their whole being becomes consumed with the desire to make money.
Surely there is no harm in making effort to acquire financial gains. However meanwhile, he should keep in mind that it is Allah Who is the actual owner of wealth and possessions, that Allah renders whoever He wills well-off or poor, and that there is wisdom in this. He should be contented with what Allah grants, and demand wealth merely to earn Allah’s good pleasure and approval. Besides, he should put his possessions, which are again Allah’s blessings, into best use in the path of Allah. When this is not the case, a person may develop a selfish and self-seeking character. For this reason, the character of merchant in the society of ignorance lacks any high ideals, or any broader concerns for the lot of humanity. Their sole aim is to become rich. They usually become overly opportunistic; and, the more they can exploit others, the more clever they think they are.
As a result, as would be expected, many regard merchants as being a form of occupation for the dishonest and fraudsters. Of course, among them you could find honest individuals, who adopt the morality of Islam, and follow the commands of the Qur’an; it is certainly not necessary for merchants to compromise their morals. The fraud and dishonesty expected of them is the result of the absence of religion in an ignorant society. For example, many merchants in such a society would not hesitate to sell damaged merchandise without properly informing the client. And, because their conscience does not bother them to do such a thing, they make it a regular mode of operation. They buy defective goods and sell them to customers at the normal price. The other merchants in the area know what these people are doing, but turn a blind eye because they regard it as a requisite of business practice. For some of them, their idea of a customer is a one they can swindle. However, Allah has commanded in the Qur’an that all should be honest in business:
Give full measure when you measure and weigh with a level balance. That is better and gives the best result. (Surat al-Isra’, 35)
He said, “He has wronged you by asking for your ewe to add to his ewes. Truly many partners are unjust to one another—except those who believe and do right actions, and how few they are!”... (Surah Sâd, 24)
Throughout the history of these societies of ignorance, there have been those who refuse to obey Allah’s commands; they act unjustly and consistently cheat others. Allah has warned them through His messengers. Allah informs us in the Qur’an of the warnings offered by the Prophet Shu’ayb (as) to his people:
And to Madyan their brother Shu‘ayb. He said, “My people, worship Allah! You have no god apart from Him. Do not give short measure and short weight. I see you prospering and I fear for you the punishment of an all-encompassing Day. My people! Give full measure and full weight with justice; do not diminish people’s goods; and do not go about the Earth, corrupting it. What endures with Allah is better for you if you are believers. I am not set over you as your keeper.” (Surah Hud, 84-86)
But, in general, because of their moral turpitude, members of a society of ignorance have failed to heed these warnings. For this reason, they experience anxiety in this world, and will be called to render account of their actions in the world to come. In the society of ignorance people with such characters will tend to be unscrupulous when it comes to making a profit. Such a tendency is also discernible among clerks. In compliance with the morality pervasive in the society of ignorance, they will resort to anything in order to sell something to customers. They will go on at great length, lying to convince a customer to buy an outfit that is otherwise unattractive on him or her.
They respect most those rich businessmen, and are, in their own way, honored to have the opportunity to serve them.
As is the case with some people in a society of ignorance, they are aware of the teachings of Islam. However, in spite of this, they disregard its commands and prohibitions, devoting themselves solely to the pursuit of profit.
In addition, they are highly ambitious, and will go to all sorts of extremes to earn money. However, they are not disposed to obeying the commands of Allah, Who has created them and provided them everything they have gained. In several verses of the Qur’an, He has warned them, and all others of a similar disposition, about becoming so caught up in this world that they forget the one to come.
You who believe! Do not let your wealth or children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. Whoever does that is lost. (Surat al-Munafiqun, 9)
Say: “If your fathers or your sons or your brothers or your wives or your tribe, or any wealth you have acquired, or any business you fear may slump, or any house which pleases you, are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and struggling in His Way, then wait until Allah brings about His command. Allah does not guide people who are deviators.” (Surat at-Tawba, 24)
But, the difference of believers and their superiority in the Sight of Allah is right at this point. Although they too would have to devote much of their day to working to earn money, they do so to win Allah’s favor, and spend it in His cause. Moreover, no matter what they do, they never neglect their prayers, or forget to remember the Afterlife. In compliance with the command of Allah, they always treat others justly, as they deserve to be treated, never infringing on their God-given rights. In the Qur’an, Allah relates to us the virtue of this character:
Not distracted by trade or commerce from the remembrance of Allah and the establishment of prayer and the payment of alms; fearing a day when all hearts and eyes will be in turmoil. (Surat an-Nur, 37)
The Character-type of the Public Servant
According to the ignorant way of thinking, public servants are of a specific different character-type, so one should be able to recognize them right away. What gives them away is not what they do as part of their occupation; it is their manners and expression on their face.
The rationale that dictates the way these people with the morality of ignorance act is the fact that they have a secure job and determined salary. Therefore, even if they make some special effort, they gain nothing in salary, position or respect. They think that, if they take on an extra task, they will have merely extended themselves out for nothing. In any case, in a society of ignorance, it is considered foolish for them to make any extra effort if there is someone else to do it. They do not care how they behave towards their clients, because they would regard as doing something extra.
For that reason, most public servants possessing the morality of ignorance show little concern for those around them. They do only what they are told, and if anything is asked of them beyond that, they either ignore it or pass it on to someone else. When someone asks them a question, they may not even look at the person, or they may look at them without answering, nod their head and continue what they were doing. They feel no qualms about treating people harshly. This aloofness of the public servants abiding by the moral values of ignorance is well known. They have no respect for others and, because they do not want to be bothered, they will keep people waiting in line for hours without an excuse, and wandering about the office. They see no reason to be considerate, polite or tolerant towards people. No matter how they behave, they will continue to receive the same salary. In any case, as far as they are concerned, they will never see those people again anyway. For this reason, they perform all their tasks methodically; speak little, hardly smile, think little, and just fulfill what is expected of them. However, one who abides by the moral commands of Allah would never behave this way. He or she takes an interest in everyone, and is always respectful and polite. They will do all they can to help a person in difficulty and, even if they cannot be of assistance at that time, they will at least be supportive to the individual.
Another character trait of the public servant is that he conforms to a stereotype; that is, he always behaves the same way, and his responses to things are always predictable. His every-day life, the people he speaks with, that which he talks about, his habits and tastes, are all according to this stereotype. He still dresses as he did when he was young, wearing the same hairstyle. He is narrow-minded and does not want to interfere with the status quo. He cannot be persuaded to take on new methods of doing things, even though they may be better. He persists in old-fashioned ways, though it wastes much time. Still, he will not abandon his old habits.
It can be seen from these explanations that majority of public servants possessing the morality of ignorance exhibit a laxness in character not only in their moral make-up but also in their social lives. As long as he sees nothing to gain, he will not alter his behavior. However, the job of a public servant is to serve the public. A public servant, who practices the morality of Islam, will serve those who come to him with respect. He will never cause them difficulty or waste their time. He knows that anything he does of good will not be for nothing. For him, his work is an act of worship, in which his intention is to earn Allah’s favor, by maintaining the best level of morality he can. All his good works are kept in a book in the Presence of Allah, to be opened on the Day of Judgment.
In the Qur’an, the Prophet Luqman (as) reminds his son of this truth:
My son, even if something weighs as little as a mustard-seed and is inside a rock or anywhere else in the heavens or Earth, Allah will bring it out. Allah is All-Pervading, All-Aware. (Surah Luqman, 16)
The following are other verses where Allah reminds us of the same:
Say: “Servants of Mine who believe! Fear your Lord. For those who do good in the world there is good and Allah’s earth is spacious. The steadfast will be paid their wages in full without any reckoning.” (Surat az-Zumar, 10)
... If anyone does a good action, We will increase the good of it for him. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Thankful.” (Surat ash-Shura, 23)
Not so! All who submit themselves completely to Allah and are good-doers will find their reward with their Lord. They will feel no fear and will know no sorrow. (Surat al-Baqara, 112)
Allah does not wrong anyone by so much as the smallest speck. And if there is a good deed Allah will multiply it and pay out an immense reward direct from Him. (Surat an-Nisa’, 40)
Those who produce a good action will receive ten like it. But those who produce a bad action will only be repaid with its equivalent and they will not be wronged. (Surat al-An‘am, 160)
Certainly, human beings will have to expend much effort to behave appropriately, but the reward they will receive, as we ought to understand from these verses, will be a life in this world, eternal Paradise and thus Allah’s good pleasure.