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An Important Characteristic of The Ignorant Society:
The Impossibility of their Not Being Convinced of

No matter what his original stance is, given all the evidence, a person of sound mind and clear understanding submits to the truth provided that he finds the evidence convincing. That is because he knows that, as a human being, he is inherently fallible. He further acknowledges that learning is essential to expand one’s horizons. A person of clear understanding, therefore, by no means finds anything humiliating in learning and accordingly changing one’s mind.

There are some people, however, who hold an ingrained prejudice which is almost impossible to eliminate. These people are inclined to approach and evaluate valid evidence with prejudice. The personal experience they acquire over time is shaped within the ignorant system and is of crucial importance to them. Therefore, it is almost impossible to change their viewpoint. These people are known to be stubborn. Rather than being open to new ideas and hence finding the truth, they insist on holding on to traditional beliefs. They never think that they can be erroneous. Furthermore, they think they are wise. Sometimes even concrete evidence fails to change their minds. However, this is not because they are unable to discern between right and wrong, but because they pretend not to understand the truth. In the Qur’an, Allah alludes to this shortcoming in the ignorant in the following verse:

Have you any hope that they will be true to you when a party of them used to listen to the word of Allah, then used to change it, after they had understood it, knowingly? (Surah Al-Baqarah: 75)

It is not possible to convince these people of the truth. All evidence and efforts to make them see the truth would prove to be useless. This insensitivity becomes even more severe when faith is the issue. Allah describes this as follows:

As for the Disbelievers, whether you warn them or not, it is all one for them; they do not believe. (Surah Al-Baqarah: 6)

How is it that evidence makes some people see the truth, while it fails to be convincing for others? What makes them so stubborn and insensitive?

Earlier in this book, we repeatedly mentioned the strong attachment which ignorant people have for this life. This attachment surely explains the motives behind this incomprehensible attitude. Although they clearly see the truth, they follow their vain desires, since they know that they would otherwise have to abandon their ambitions and make earning the good pleasure of Allah the basic purpose of their life. This is actually the last thing they want to do and accordingly they resist it by suppressing the voice of their conscience. These people adhere to the negative side of their soul: such behaviour is to the detriment of man, as explicitly stated in the following verse:

I do not exculpate myself. The (human) soul is prone to evil, save his to whom my Lord has shown mercy. My Lord is Forgiving and Merciful. (Surah Yusuf: 53)

For this reason the soul plays an important role in making a man resist the truth.

Another being who misguides those who have strong ambitions for this life is the Satan. Allah indicates this in the following verse:

He said: Now, because You have sent me astray, I shall certainly lurk in ambush for them on Your Right Path. Then I shall come upon them from before them and from behind them and from their right hands and from their left hands, and You will not find most of them beholden (unto You). (Surah Al-Araf: 16-17)

To convince these people who are led by Satan and the negative side of their souls has been the main struggle of all messengers throughout history. All messengers always summoned man to the right path, the path of Allah, yet their people declined except for a minority. One striking example given in the Qur’an regarding this issue is Prophet Noah and his people. Despite Prophet Noah’s commitment to summon his people to the right path, they persisted in disbelief:

He said: My Lord! I have called unto my people night and day, but all my pleas have only added to their repugnance; And whenever I call to them, so that You may pardon them, they thrust their fingers in their ears and cover themselves with their garments and persist in their refusal and in bearing themselves with insolent pride. I have called to them aloud, I have made public proclamations to them, and I have appealed to them in private. (Surah Al-Nooh: 5-9)

Noah said: My Lord! My people have disobeyed me and followed those the increase in whose wealth and children will only hasten their perdition. (Surah Al-Nooh: 21)

The insincere attitude of ignorant people is revealed in the Qur’an. No matter how strong the evidence provided, they turn their faces away from the truth and show a strong attachment to this life. And then they make up many excuses to justify their defiant attitude. In the Qur’an, Allah gives an account of the issues and situations ignorant people pretend not to understand. These are actually the issues about which they never change their opinion. Allah also mentions the excuses they make and their show of insincerity to the believers.

Before proceeding with this issue, one of the principal methods ignorant people employ to justify their dishonesty will be further clarified.

One of the Teachings of Satan: Demagogy

Ignorant people often resort to demagogy to justify themselves. This is a method by which they maintain their rights, or prestige, by using emotional, dishonest or oblique arguments rather than reason. Apart from these ploys, the way people conduct themselves is also an efficient element of demagogy. Interrupting, shouting and telling lies are well-known methods of demagogy. Disbelievers demonstrate a remarkable capacity for this art. To justify their point of view or to establish superiority over others, they resort to inconceivable methods. The main purpose of all these efforts is to oppose the truth. They make all these efforts to justify themselves and thereby to find a pretext to ease their remorse.

This, however, is not a method developed by the individuals themselves. As in many other issues, Satan guides them. The statement of Satan in the following verses shows that Satan was the first demagogue in history.

(Allah) said: O Iblis! What prevents you from prostrating yourself to one whom I have created with My own hands? Are you haughty?

Or are you one of the high (and mighty) ones?

He replied: I am better than him. You created me from fire, while him You created from clay.

He said: "Go forth from hence, for you are outcast." ( Surah Sad: 75-77)

When he was told to prostrate himself before Adam, Satan arrogantly refused, and offered wicked explanations. This was typical demagogy; his pretext for not following the command of Allah is stated in the following statement of Satan: You created me from fire, while you created him from clay. However his main purpose is to revolt against Allah. The comparison between fire and clay is only a pretext.

The attitude of ignorant people is exactly the same. They first decide to disobey and then find excuses for their disobedience. At this point, they do what Satan did and employ the various methods of demagogy to cover their dishonesty and to comfort themselves.

Satan indoctrinates them by stealth and constantly whispers methods of demagogy to their souls. Meanwhile, the individual struggles to choose between the voice of his common sense whispering the truth and the voice of his soul that speaks for Satan. In this way, Satan approaches man in all circumstances and tempts him.

That is why for ages people all around the world employ exactly the same tactics and methods against religion. This fact is underlined in the Qur’an:

But they say what the ancients said before them. (Surah al-Mumenoon: 81)

However, one point deserves mention here: Satan is a being completely under the control of Allah like all other creatures, such as the djinns, the angels and human beings. Contrary to the commonly held view, Satan is not a separate being, apart from and independent of Allah. He is in the service of Allah to test man in this world. This fact is explained in the following verse:

He said: Then you are of those reprieved till The Appointed Day. He said: My Lord! Because You have sent me astray, I shall truly make pleasant the path of error for them on the earth, and shall mislead them every one. Save such of them as are Your perfectly devoted slaves. He said: This is a right course incumbent upon Me. As for My slaves, you have no power over any of them, save such of the sinners as follow you. (Surah al-Hijr: 36-42)

All through history, many societies have applied the classical methods of demagogy when they were reminded of the commandments of Allah. In this way, they thought they could avoid facing the truth. In the Qur’an, Allah gives an account of this psychology of disbelievers and the type of demagogy they employ, so as not to be convinced of certain truths.

They are Not Convinced of the Closeness of Death

It is not possible to convince ignorant people that death is very close. Though this is a dire reality, the majority of the people strive to forget about the imminence of death. Death inevitably puts an end to this life to which they are so strongly attached. It also reminds people of the Hereafter and their responsibilities towards Allah and the reality of Hell. Therefore, they simply avoid the thought of it by "not thinking.

Ignorant people, who resolutely keep their minds off the thought of death, unreservedly express their distaste for it. Forgetting that it is also a commandment of Allah, they fail to see that it is a predestined event. "Not thinking" simply prevents them from seeing that such attitude is an overt opposition to the will of Allah.

Ignorant people harbour many other irrational convictions regarding death. For instance, according to them, the death of an old and sick person is reasonable. Moreover, they assume dying in bed without suffering is the best thing an old man can experience. However, they cannot stand the sudden death of a young person. At this point they fail to understand that his death is predestined.

Another irrational belief about death suggests that death occurs as a consequence of certain events. For instance, of someone who dies in a traffic accident, they say, He would not have died, if he had not been driving on that busy highway. In the Qur’an the same mentality is underlined in the verse If they had been (here) with us, they would not have died or been killed: (Surah Aal-e Imran: 156) and believers are seriously warned against such a corrupted mentality. That is due to the fact that no death occurs coincidentally. Even before one’s birth, the place and time of death are predetermined. This fact is stated in the following verse:

We have decreed death among you, and We are not to be frustrated, outrun. (Surah Al-Waq˝a: 60)

For ignorant people, the death of a person, especially a member of one’s immediate family, is a highly unexpected incident. Moreover it is frightful. Seeing the body of person with whom one dined a few days ago, terribly crushed in a car, is surely a scene one can never forget during one's lifetime. Watching officers putting his remains in a corpse bag inevitably reminds one of many facts that one is persistently encouraged to forget by the mentality of ignorance.

The person who is now being carried to the morgue in a plastic bag was perhaps a few hours ago enthusiastically talking about his new enterprises or his plans for the weekend. While outlining these plans, the last thing that came to his mind was most probably death. Yet now, his body, reduced only to bones and flesh facing a rapid process of corruption, is being hurriedly carried to the morgue. In the morgue, he will be left in a cooler among the other corpses. In a few days, wrapped in a shroud, his corpse will be put in a grave. The observer is plunged into despair, since such a scene reminds him of the day he will meet his own end.

Nevertheless, the influence of such an event on the human soul lasts only for a short while. Before long, ignorant people return to their old way of living and begin to see death as a quite unlikely incident. As soon as they busy themselves with everyday hassles ñ in their own words when they face the reality of life ó they immediately return to their old habits again as if they were not those people who experienced death at such close quarters only a few days ago. They even make demagogy speeches about death thus attempting to alleviate the seriousness of the matter. They frequently mention the shortness of life, yet never truly think about it. Moreover, they encourage each other not to think about it.

Soon after the grief over an immediate family member’s death becomes bearable, his relatives begin to think about the property they will inherit from him. In this way, they find a way to attach themselves to this life, even when death is the issue.

They are not Convinced of the Qur’an being the Revelation of Allah

The fact that ignorant societies are not convinced that holy books are revealed by Allah has been another of their traits throughout history. The main purpose lying behind this attitude is their unwillingness to adhere to the commandments of Allah. They simply want to forget about the Day of Judgement and the fact that they will be held responsible for all of their behaviour, since they want to live as they like. Therefore, even though they see the truth, they simply ignore it.

The typical attitude of ignorant societies towards the Bible and other holy books has likewise been assumed towards the Qur’an. Our Prophet summoned people to the true path in various ways, yet they insisted on disbelief. Meanwhile, in order to overcome remorse, they employed many methods. One of these methods, which employ demagogy, is stated in the following verses:

Those who disbelieve say: This is nothing but a lie that he has invented, and others have helped him with it, so that they have produced a slander and a lie. And they say: Fables of the men of old which he has had written down: and they are dictated to him morning and evening. (Surah Al-Furqan: 4-5)

Some say these are but muddled dreams; others say he has only invented them. Indeed he is but a poet. Let him bring us a portent, just as those of old (who were Allah’s Messengers) were sent with portents. (Surah Al-Anbiya: 5)

It is evident that, despite being aware of the superiority of the Prophet, ignorant people accused him of sorcery. Moreover, the majority of them claimed that the Qur’an had been written by him. However, they quite definitely know that the Qur’an is a revelation of Allah. Likewise, they know for certain that the Prophet is neither a poet nor a sorcerer. Yet, as stated repeatedly in this section, ignorant people simply use pretexts to attract more people who will comply with their own way of living.

In the Qur’an Allah provides explicit answers to the idle talk of the ignorant:

I swear by all that you can see and all that is hidden from your view, that this is truly the word of an honoured Messenger, It is not the word of a poet: scant is your faith.Nor is it the word of a soothsayer: how little you reflect! This is a Message sent down from the Lord of the Worlds. (Surah Al-Haaqqa: 38-43)

Or do they say: He had invented it? Indeed, they will not believe! Then let them produce a scripture like it, if they are truthful. (Surah Al-Tur: 33-34)

This Qur’an could never have been devised by any besides Allah. Rather it is confirmation of what came before it and an elucidation of the Book which contains no doubt from the Lord of all the worlds. Do they say, He has invented it? Say: Then produce a sura like it and call on anyone you can besides Allah if you are telling the truth. No, the fact is that they have denied something which their knowledge does not embrace and the meaning of which has not yet reached them. In the same way those before them also denied the truth. See the final fate of the wrongdoers! (Surah Yunus: 37-39)

 

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