Allah created life and death for a particular reason. He communicated this to man by sending Books which clearly differentiated between rightful and wrongful actions. This purpose of life is stated in the following verse:
He created Death and Life, that He might try which of you is best in deed: He is Exalted in Might and Oft-Forgiving. (Surah Al-Mulk: 2)
The essence of this purpose is to honour Allah with the honour that is due to Him, to observe the limits set by Him, to have an understanding of the temporary nature of this world and to reorient all the deeds and conduct of one’s life in the light of the will of the Creator.
The individual who conducts himself responsibly towards his Creator will attain grace, comfort, security and also peace in this world. The most appropriate type of life, meeting all needs of the human soul is related in the Qur’an. Being heedful of following the commands of the Qur’an, he can turn his life into the very image of Heaven.
Whoever does what is right, man or woman, and has Faith, to him will We surely give a new life, a life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such people their reward according to the best of their actions. (Surah Al-Nahl: 97)
In the aforementioned verse, Allah gives the glad tidings to the believers that those complying with the commandments of the Qur’an will attain a joyous life, thereby conveying an important mystery of life to human beings. Fame, prosperity or good looks never promise a rewarding and ineffably peaceful life unless the individual adheres to the moral principles of the Qur’an.
This actually constitutes the main objective of this book; to provide a vivid illustration of the trouble and unrest one experiences unceasingly in the course of one’s life, where one leads a life other than that deemed proper by Allah, and the joyous life one can attain by complete obedience to Allah’s commandments...
Allah defines the way of living prior to the advent of the Prophet Muhammad as ignorance, or the period of ignorance.
The word ignorance, as used in the Qur’an, conveys quite a different meaning from its normally accepted connotations. In its common use, ignorant means illiterate, uneducated or having no manners. Ignorance in the Qur’anic sense, however, defines a state of mind in which a person is completely unaware of the purpose of his existence in this life, the attributes of his Creator and the information revealed in the Divine
Book sent to him regarding his eternal life. The term, hence, refers to the state of unconsciousness and the particular way of living which is a mere consequence of this type of ignorance. Surely, lack of comprehension of one’s Creator, the world one lives in and the system surrounding one, is the most extreme form of ignorance. Nothing, neither the modern way of living a person adopts, nor the foreign languages he speaks, nor the shelves of books he reads or his good manners can compensate for this ignorance.
The ignorant society is a society where such an unawareness and ignorance prevail. The concept of the ignorant society, however, does not necessarily apply merely to the people who lived before the Qur’an was revealed. Rather, the term refers to all people who swerved from the moral manners and the way of living enjoined by the Qur’an after it was revealed. Thus the definition of the term is quite extensive.
The basic rationale underlying the ignorant society amounts to people forming their own personal ideas of right and wrong upon which they base their entire lives. What consequences ensue from such a stance? The answer is simple: the development of an apathetic attitude towards the most crucial subject of one’s life: the life beyond death. Such an attitude, however, is the most detrimental to man’s eternal life as well as to any hope of a rewarding and peaceful life in this world. The sole reason for this is that the moral system prevailing in the ignorant societies is firmly established on the basis of a rather crude understanding. The fundamental goal of life is more or less alike for every individual: to attain the best standard of living throughout a life which is limited to an average of 60-70 years...
Surely this is an ideal so lacking in vision that it inevitably causes man to drift into a small world. Such a world embraces the type of people, who are narrow in outlook and limited in their thinking. These people display simple and primitive attitudes and pay too much attention to petty details. That is entirely due to the fact that this ideal neglects concerns like why and how man has been created. Finding out the truth beyond life, taking into account the life after death and getting prepared for it, are totally disregarded in this type of ideal.
For a member of the ignorant society, life is a competition, or a struggle to maintain one’s existence in the most favourable way; the main goals are being successful and powerful. To this end, the individual builds a self-centred consciousness. Once he gains prosperity, he develops an even stronger attachment to money and material prosperity. Moreover, a desirable status once attained is followed by the desire for a more favoured status. This ambition enslaves man so deeply that he cannot arrive at a genuine understanding of the ignorance he falls into and thus he never succeeds in breaking free of it.
Only a comparison to the way of living, thought and moral values encouraged by the Qur’an would reveal the primitive and unsound nature of this life.
The purpose of this book is to proceed further with this comparison and to demonstrate to what extent the crude understanding has the members of the ignorant society in its grip. Furthermore, this book thoroughly examines the moral values of this crude understanding and introduces the way of living, chosen and enjoined by Allah, as the only solution to eliminate this mentality.
Allah addresses the people of the ignorant society in the following verse:
Do they then seek after a judgment of (the days of) ignorance? But who, for a people whose faith is assured, can give better judgment than Allah?(Surah Al-Maeda: 50)