The Reasons for Unawareness
Not Listening to One’s Conscience
The conscience is a guide that, by Allah’s inspiration, always points to the right path:
And (I swear by) the self and what proportioned it and inspired it with depravity or a sense of duty. One who purifies it has succeeded; one who covers it up has failed. (Surat ash-Shams: 7-10)
Depravity is the desire to fulfill the ego’s desires and passions even if it means doing what is forbidden or illegal. Allah constantly inspires, through one’s conscience, a warning against depravity. Constantly obeying this voice cleanses and purifies people from sin and leads them to salvation and happiness. Those who follow their ego first fall into the depths of unawareness and then advance on the road to perdition:
And they repudiated them (Our Signs) wrongly and haughtily, despite their own certainty about them. (Surat an-Naml: 14)
The conscience constantly warns people against the ego’s limitless desires and urges them to follow the right path. Unaware people do not heed this warning, thinking that it will make them unhappy because it conflicts with the desires of their egos. And so they try to silence this divine warning, not realizing that its source, Allah, is calling them to the true path of eternal happiness.
The unawareness into which people fall as a result of ignoring this voice grows worse as they indulge in so much immorality (e.g., limitless sin and wickedness) that the ensuing rebelliousness, sin, and depravity cause their egos to begin deteriorating. They are now so profoundly unaware that they want to live in this state of wickedness forever:
Yet humanity still wants to deny what is ahead of him, asking: “So when is the Day of Rising?” But when the eyesight is dazzled, the Moon is eclipsed, and the Sun and Moon are fused together, on that Day humanity will ask: “To where can I run?” No indeed! There will be no safe place. On that Day, the only resting place will be your Lord. (Surat al-Qiyama: 5-12)
People who do not listen to this divine voice are in a great fall, for the resulting unawareness, which has alienated them from Him, brings with it a level of suffering far beyond our imagination: the burning pit of Hell.
Destiny means that, whether living or non-living, every thing’s, condition and experiences are determined beforehand by Allah. This is true of every creature, from a tiny mosquito to an elephant; from a tiny new-born fish in the ocean and microscopic creatures in every part of the world to all living things in the vast universe.
Nobody can choose even one of their physical attributes (e.g, their complexion, eye color, or height) or their parents. Given that they cannot determine such basic things, how can they possibly determine the course of their own lives? As revealed in the Qur’an: “We have created all things in due measure” (Surat al-Qamar: 49)
Anyone who is aware of this should seek Allah’s mercy and favor when they use their possessions and experience anything. In fact, the Qur’an is the only guide that shows people how to do this. No human being, whether a powerful businessman or a tribesman, and no other creature, whether an animal living in the depths of the oceans or an insect in a primeval forest, can alter or escape the fate determined for them by Allah:
You do not engage in any matter, recite any of the Qur’an, or do any action without Our witnessing you while you are occupied with it. Not even the smallest speck eludes your Lord, either on Earth or in heaven. Nor is there anything smaller than that, or larger than that, which is not in a Clear Book. (Surah Yunus: 61)
We are told in the Qur’an that every moment and experience through which a person passes is determined by destiny. Those who ignore the facts revealed in the Qur’an think that they live in this vast universe, among billions of other people, due to blind and unconscious chance. So, they regard themselves as creatures who are free to do whatever they want. Under the illusion that they are autonomous and independent of Allah, they plunge into deep unawareness.
Forgetting that Death may Come at Any Moment
People usually meet their death at unexpected times and places, for:
And no self knows what it will earn tomorrow and in what land it will die. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Surah Luqman: 34)
The moment of a person’s death is determined by destiny even before he or she is born. Allah reveals in the Qur’an:
It is He Who created you from clay and then decreed a fixed term, and another fixed term is specified with Him. (Surat al-An‘am: 2)
The fact that people do not know when they will die is one of the factors that draw them toward unawareness. If people who are aware of the Hereafter’s punishments knew when they would die, they would not remain heedless of Allah’s commands, be distracted by this world, or forget that they will be called to account in the Hereafter.
Not knowing the time of one’s death is a secret of the trials of this world. Believers who know this prepare for the Hereafter as if they expect to die at any moment. They obey all of Allah’s commands and prohibitions with complete sincerity for as long as they live.
Unaware people live according to the desires of their egos. They know they will die, but cannot grasp the fact that death is an awakening in the Hereafter either to eternal Paradise or endless Hell. They think of it as only an eternal separation from the things and people they loved. This is why they are so passionate about what and whom they love and so uncomfortable when the subject of death is mentioned or crosses their minds. Just thinking about it depresses them and makes them worry that their lives will change. Since they do not consider that death may be right around the corner and do not reflect on its reality, they ignore Allah’s commands and prohibitions, or at least postpone thinking about them, by telling themselves that they still have a lot of time to pray and will start doing so when they are older. But they really have no idea how much time they have left. They go merrily on their way, only to find that death comes suddenly, before they start living in compliance with Allah’s commandments. The moment the heedless people meet death, which they regard as remote and far off, is described in the Qur’an as follows:
If those who do not believe only knew of the time when they will not be able to keep the Fire away from their faces or their backs! And they will receive no help! No, it (death) will come upon them suddenly, confounding them, taking them completely by surprise, and they will not be able to ward it off. They will be granted no reprieve. (Surat al-Anbiya’: 39-40)
From this verse, we can clearly see that death does not listen to excuses and that the appointed time approaches quickly. Nothing can prevent its coming. Allah tells this in the Qur’an:
Say: “Death, from which you are fleeing, will certainly catch up with you. Then you will be returned to the Knower of the Unseen and the Visible, and He will inform you about what you did.” (Surat al-Jumu‘ah: 8)
A person may die at any moment; forgetting this fact or trying to escape it is a sign that a person is unaware and that he is being sucked into the whirlpool of unawareness. It is a certain fact that unawareness may lead to eternal suffering.
Not Thinking About The Account One will Give
People who are unaware also forget that they will be called to account in Allah’s sight in the Hereafter. No matter if they die alone or among many others, when the angel of death takes their souls, all of their relationships with the world and those around them are severed. When they are resurrected and go to give their accounts, each person is alone in the vast multitude, for no one will take any notice of anyone else. This solitude is not like any earthly isolation. The moment of reckoning will be the most difficult moment that an unaware person will ever face. The resulting solitude comes from the realization that it is now time to account for all that they have done, that they are completely isolated from other people, and that they are powerless in His presence. They are physically and emotionally exposed; bereft of their power, possessions, titles, position, and renown; and apart from all those to whom they were close. In other words, they are totally alone in Allah’s presence:
Each of them will come to Him on the Day of Resurrection all alone. (Surah Maryam: 95)
Unaware people who do not see any immediate consequences for what they do here think that the same applies in the Hereafter. Due to this error, they persuade their friends to ignore Allah’s commands and prohibitions or to put off their obedience until later, sayings things like “you only live once,” “don’t worry about it,” or “I’ll take full responsibility for it.” Such expressions clearly betray their lack of awareness, for just as a person comes into this world but once, he or she will also descend into Hell but once and suffer endless punishment there. Such people regard this punishment lightly and claim that they will take the sins of others upon themselves. This shows even more how far away they are from understanding His supreme knowledge and power:
No burden-bearer can bear another’s burden. If someone weighed down calls for help to bear his load, none of it will be borne for him, even by his next of kin. You can only warn those who fear (and respect) their Lord in the Unseen and perform prayer. Whoever is purified is purified for himself alone. Allah is your final destination. (Surah Fatir: 18)
(Has he not been informed) that no burden-bearer can bear another’s burden? (Surat an-Najm: 38)
In the Hereafter, all people will receive a just and perfect recompense for their deeds. There will be no friends or relatives to take responsibility for their errors or help them out, as there were while they were alive. Indeed, they now begin to hate all of the friends they once respected, blaming them for making them unaware of these truths:
On that Day the closest friends will be enemies to each other–except for those who guard against evil. (Surat az-Zukhruf: 67)
… the Day when friends will be of no use at all to each other, and they will not be helped. (Surat ad-Dukhan: 41)
The false friendships of this world cease and actually turn into hostility in the Hereafter, for they were formed for some advantage and without regard for Allah’s consent. While they were in the world, they made friends not with people who directed their hearts toward Allah and were loved by Him, but with insincere, unaware individuals who turned their backs on Him and denied His existence. Actually, it is quite common for the best of friends to become enemies when there is a conflict between that friendship and their own advantage. As we are told in the Qur’an, friendships that last a lifetime even though the parties harm one another by leading each other into unawareness will turn into hostility in Allah’s presence. This hostility begins once they gradually begin to become aware of suffering as their veil of unawareness is lifted from them. Allah reveals their sincere confessions:
(They will say:) “And now we have no one to intercede for us.” (The Companions of the Fire will say:) “We do not have a single loyal friend. If only we could have another chance, then we would be among the believers!” (Surat ash-Shu‘ara’: 100-102)
When they are called to account, in deep sorrow, unbelievers express that they are all alone. The believers, with whom they made fun of while they were in the world are not around. When they come face to face with the truth they took so lightly, they long to return and be among the sincere believers:
It may be that those who are unbelievers will wish that they had been Muslims. (Surat al-Hijr: 2)
But there is now no way back.