The Moral Values of Ignorance
In a society steeped in ignorance, there is a single type of human character. Though changing in details from one person to another, the attributes of this character are fundamentally the same. The main reason why ignorant people have this common character is evident: their disbelief in Allah and the Hereafter.
It is quite pointless to expect someone, who feels no fear of Allah, to conduct himself honestly and responsibly. That is simply because these people assume that Allah is unaware of what is in their minds or whatever they do in secret.
In this section, we will further analyse the reprehensible moral values indoctrinated by the primitive rationale of ignorance. Yet, one point needs to be clarified before going into details: the characteristics that will be mentioned below do exist in every man’s soul. Allah informs man in the Qur’an that these are inspired in the soul for man’s essential trial on earth:
By the soul and the proportion and order given to it; and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right; truly he succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it! (Surah Al-Shams: 7-10)
Only men of understanding endued with faith do not allow themselves be led astray by the negative commandments of their soul. They demonstrate a very strong commitment to purifying their souls. Ignorant people, who never ponder on the Day of Judgment, naturally find no reason to condemn reprehensible moral values and replace them with values deemed to be righteous in the presence of Allah.
There is another point that deserves mention: among ignorant people, there may be some who, for certain reasons, discard the above-mentioned reprehensible qualities. It may well be that these people, for personal benefit or other reasons, avoid conducting themselves as ignorance commands. However, it should be well understood that these people conduct themselves responsibly not because they fear Allah. In other words, they do not restrain themselves from indulging in the ignorant way of conduct because they are God-fearing. This is rather an important point, since a person who feels no fear for Allah may well abruptly change his attitude once changing conditions contradict his interests. An apparently generous and tender person may, therefore, suddenly turn out to be mean and rude. Feeling no fear for Allah, he is prone to evil and apt to commit misdeeds at any time.
In brief, all individuals of the ignorant society may not display the attitudes described in the following pages. However, there is no reason to believe that they will never change their minds and suddenly start to behave ignorantly. The fact that one has no fear for Allah makes him open to the inculcation of ignorance. On the contrary, adherence to Qur’anic principles, firmly based on fear of Allah, never allows for indoctrination of any kind and makes man committed to His Will. In this section, some aspects of the reprehensible aspects of ignorance will be described:
People consider laziness as having rather limited connotations. Mostly they never accept the idea that they, too, may be lazy. Laziness is only attributed to people who are relatively less sensitive to the undertaking of any responsibility as compared to the rest of the individuals in a society. This aside, what is meant by laziness here is a behavioural disorder, having serious negative consequences, both spiritual and material, on society. Ignorant people are very likely to have this disorder.
There is one major harm laziness does to man: it is to put him into an idle state of mind. However, what imbues a man with the virtue of being a human being is his ability to think. If he never employs this ability, he becomes a mere mechanical being, completely bereft of wisdom and insight. Reduced to this level, the individual adheres to a rather static lifestyle, bound by given rules and principles. Making something different for the betterment of life becomes almost impossible for such a person. Rather than being scrupulous and committed to improving the current conditions, it is perceived as being easier to comply with the status quo without judging or questioning.
The influence of slothfulness over conscience and willpower is observable in all dimensions of life. Those who find pondering a burden never seek answers to some of the most essential questions such as: Why do we exist in this world? Though acknowledging the importance of these issues, they prefer other people to cogitate on their behalf. This state of mind may even at some point jeopardize a person’s spiritual and material well-being.
He fails, for instance, to take measures to maintain perfect health. For instance, he delays seeing the doctor when he is suffering from a serious illness. Moreover, he makes every effort to avoid undergoing the treatment advised by his doctor. Laziness keeps him away from enjoying himself, or having a good time. Rather than enjoy himself, he watches others enjoying themselves, since this does not require any effort. Having the opportunity to prepare a comfortable place for himself, he prefers to live in an uncomfortable one, only because he finds it difficult to think.
Rather than cook healthy food, ignorant people prefer fast food, just because it is easy to obtain. They find it difficult to read and widen their horizons, and hence always confine themselves to a narrow way of thinking. They are very willing to earn a lot of money, yet rather than concentrate on honest ways of making money, they try effortless and illegal ways. Where they face a serious difficulty, they prefer suicide which is the easiest way out. Infinite examples can be given on this subject; the main idea here, however, is the ultimate aim of ignorant people to survive by making the minimum effort.
The best way to do this is to allow the status quo to perpetuate itself. This is why productivity and creativity continuously decline in ignorant societies. As well as on the personal level, such a regression takes place on the social level as a whole. No sooner does something gain popularity in one country than it also becomes fashionable in others. Songs, movies, commercials or propaganda methods are immediately copied. The main rationale lying behind this is surely laziness, the lack of commitment to innovation.
As we have seen, laziness is one of the important behavioural disorders which ignorant people suffer from. However, it is interesting that this behaviour is never condemned in society; rather it is accepted as a normal trait. People who are involved in this system are not even aware of the detriment it brings into their lives and the beauties they miss. Therefore, they find no reason to change this situation.
Adherence to Qur’anic principles removes all these features which are peculiar to the ignorant. What makes a person take action is his belief in Allah and the Hereafter; this causes him to make serious efforts to engage in good deeds. For such a person there is no time to lose in this world. Every passing moment brings an opportunity to do good deeds. He has important targets to achieve. Therefore, rather than being lazy, he tries to be productive and demonstrates a relentless dedication to work. Allah states in the Qur’an that this is the type of person He appreciates:
Vie with one another for forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden as vast as the heavens and the earth, which is in store for those who believe in Allah and His messengers. Such is the bounty of Allah, which He bestows upon whom He will. Allah is of Infinite Bounty. (Surah Al-Hadid: 21)
And whoever desires the Hereafter and strives for it with the effort necessary, being a believer for such, their effort shall find favour (with their Lord). (Surah Al-Isra: 19)
One of the basic features of the ignorant society is jealousy. One, having no belief in the Hereafter, embraces this world ambitiously. He desires to take advantage of all the opportunities this world offers and to satisfy the infinite passions he has. This ambition is felt so intensely that he always wants to be the best in every aspect of life. Such a target inevitably makes him perceive the people surrounding him as potential rivals. This standpoint, the main basis of jealousy, shapes almost the whole life of a person from his birth. He learns the competition rules by heart and puts them into practice with no difficulty. At some point in his life, this passion reaches such extremes that he can’t accept others being superior to him or simply can’t stand others being successful.
Ignorant people with such an outlook devote all their energies to excelling in their professional lives or in any other aspect of social life. They should be married to the most beautiful woman or to the most handsome man. The most gorgeous house, the most luxurious furniture, the best car, the most successful children, the best quality clothes should always belong to them. They should be the ones travelling to the most beautiful places in the world. This outlook ultimately leads to a vital competition for ignorant people. Out of jealousy, they don’t want others to prosper. This surely demonstrates a flawed mentality, since the beauty, wealth or relatively better living standards of others is not an impediment to one’s own improvement.
The flawed rationale of the ignorant society is not only limited to these examples. Being jealous is accepted as being a greatly appreciated characteristic in public. Those who claim not to be jealous are believed to be somewhat abnormal and extraordinary. According to what the convictions of ignorance demand, relationships should be driven by jealousy. If an ignorant individual, for instance, has someone he really loves, he feels he must not allow anybody else to approach him, to feel attachment to him or to become a good friend of his; he should remain that person’s one and only friend. However, an individual may be loved by more than one person. The love of one by no means affects the love of another. On the contrary, if that particular individual has a remarkable personality, it is natural that many people would like to love him.
Never feeling content with what they have, those who suffer from jealousy cannot attain real happiness. The existence of better things around them always make them feel restless and depressed. This is a rational explanation of the harm which can be done by jealousy. Rather than adhering to such a difficult and troublesome system, it is much more convenient to comply with what is revealed by Allah and purge the mind of jealousy, envy and greed and keep away from temptation. The soul of man is prone to jealousy, yet it is quite possible and, in fact, easy to rid oneself of this feeling through wisdom and conscience. This fact is explained in the Qur’an as follows:
Greed is ever present in the minds (of men). But if you do good and keep from evil, Allah is ever informed of what you do. (Surah Al-Nisa: 128)
Allah commands man to purify his soul of jealousy and replace it with a totally different attitude, giving priority to the wishes and needs of other people rather than one’s own soul. This is indeed a self-sacrificing attitude. In a number of verses in the Qur’an, the actions of a spirit completely purified of jealousy are indicated:
They give food, despite their love for it, to the poor and orphans and captives.(Surah Al-Insan: 8)
Those who, despite their love for it, give away their wealth to their relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to travellers and beggars and to set slaves free. (Surah Al-Baqarah: 177)
Muslims give everything ó even the things to which they attach much importance ó to others, and while doing so, they are never diverted by any kind of ambition or jealousy. Following the moral principles of the Qur’an will certainly remove all the grief from one’s heart and will enable one to attain the good pleasure of Allah.
Ignorant people are often possessed by delusions of grandeur, due to the favours given to them by Allah. One who is contaminated with this evil called arrogance soon sees himself as the wisest or the most talented man on earth.
Moreover, the possession of money, status or beauty is not essential for one to be arrogant; once an individual sees his intelligence as superior to that of others, he may well be caught up in ignorant self-confidence. An arrogant person believes that all people surrounding him are incapable whereas he, himself, is very gifted and therefore impressive.
In time, these convictions become the underlying philosophy of all behaviour. In this state of mind, arrogant people disregard all advice or criticism that might help them to think more clearly. They often humiliate other people by frequently expressing their dislike for them and their ideas. Furthermore, they carry the conviction that, as other people’s mistakes become apparent, so does their own perfection.
Such a misapprehension is actually detrimental to man. Arrogance blurs the mind to such an extent that one can never realise to what degree. While, due to a lack of proper understanding, everybody surrounding him almost pities him, he believes himself to be a remarkable person. He further believes that he is a person who earns the respect of others. However, contrary to what he believes, such an attitude displayed with the mere intention of appearing superior makes one inferior in the eyes of other people; people of this sort are merely disliked, disrespected and are ultimately left alone in society.
An arrogant person can never make an intimate friend; lacking in wholeheartedness and modesty, he displays no respect for others. Such manners inevitably cause uneasiness among the people surrounding him. Not only for the people around him, but also for the person himself, arrogance is surely a major source of trouble. First of all, a person claiming superiority over others should always be cautious; he should never make mistakes. Otherwise, he may lose the so-called respect he has earned in the eyes of other people. Such an attitude certainly requires painstaking efforts. He cannot express himself freely or treat people as he likes; he has to consider all the consequences of any behaviour that is likely to tarnish his image. If a particular kind of behaviour fits in with his image, or has an improving effect on it, he decides to indulge in it. If not, he simply remains quiet. He can neither laugh, enjoy himself nor participate in an intimate conversation as he would like to do. This meticulous attention to such details eventually reveals itself in his body and on his face in the form of spasms. Such an appearance renders the expression on a face, albeit very pretty, ugly and meaningless. Furthermore, despite the fact that the human soul was created as a social being with a natural enjoyment of companionship, an arrogant person remains distant and cool towards people, and thus never experiences a close relationship. Such a manner is, however, both meaningless and detrimental to the human soul. Man is only a servant of Allah, inherently weak and dependent on his Creator for all his needs. He has no control over the shape of his body or his talents. These are all shaped under the control of Allah.
Arrogance creates a mentally unhealthy person, unable even to have a grasp of the greatness of Allah. He cannot think that he himself is merely one of the billions of living things on this planet. The capacity of an arrogant person to think becomes so limited that he cannot comprehend that he can never create something similar to the creation of Allah. Nor can he ever think that he is vulnerable to the diseases caused by viruses and microbes, all invisible to the naked eye. Considering these facts, to avoid being the servant of Allah is incomprehensible for a wise man. The harm caused by arrogance to the human soul is quite apparent. However, the destruction it brings is not restricted only to this world. Allah proclaims that, in the Hereafter, those having conducted themselves arrogantly will face a bitter punishment.
Enter the gates of Hell, remaining in it timelessly, for ever. How evil is the abode of the arrogant! (Surah An-Nahl: 29)
And when it is said to him: Be careful of your duty to Allah, pride carried him off to sin. Hell will settle his account, an evil resting-place. (Surah Al-Baqarah: 206)
There is no reason for a person whose mind has no complete grasp of the Hereafter to be forgiving and tolerant. The rationale commanding him merely suggests that this life is short and temporary, and thus one has to make the most of it. Under such circumstances, personal interests should be guarded resolutely and a good lesson should be given to those who are a hindrance to the furtherance of these interests. This rationale further commands that a person should never forget any misbehaviour. With a sense of grievance, he should always occupy his mind with the remembrance of unjust conduct towards him and make plans to take his revenge as soon as possible.
Nursing grievances almost becomes a habit with such a person; sometimes a minor mistake is not forgotten for decades. Mostly, misbehaviour is really quite minor; so minor that it is not recalled by the perpetrator. Yet the "supposer" believes that a wicked intention lies behind the mistake. In the ignorant society, the passion to take revenge often results in undesirable incidents like injury or murder.
However, such an attitude does the most harm to the person himself. He feels anxious and believes that the people around him feel enmity towards him. He evaluates every incident in the light of this baseless distrust. Devoting all his energy and skills to following the negative inspirations of his soul, such a person eventually becomes bereft of creativity and productivity. Moreover, he is set adrift by hatred and grief, and totally loses his joy in life.
Nevertheless, the joy that forgiveness and tolerance gives to man is incomparably greater than any satisfaction arising from being in a furious state of mind, ó the consequence of hatred and the desire to take revenge. Forgiving people, contrary to how it is perceived in the ignorant society, is a virtue and is conduct worth praising. In the Qur’an, forgiveness is praised thus:
Keep to forgiveness (O Muhammad), and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant. (Surah Al-Araf: 199)
Let evil be rewarded with like evil. But whoever pardons and seeks reconcilement, his wage is the affair of Allah. He does to love the wrong-doers. (Surah Al-Shura: 40)
Contrary to this gloomy life of ignorance, the principles of the Qur’an offer a very warm environment. This is also shown to be a characteristic of Heaven. Hence it reminds us that forgiveness is conduct of the highest virtue:
And We shall remove from their hearts any lurking sense of injury. Beneath them will be rivers flowing, and they shall say: Praise be to Allah, who has guided us to this (felicity): never could we have found guidance, had it not been for the guidance of Allah: indeed it was the truth, that the Messengers of our Lord brought to us. And they shall hear the cry: Behold! the Garden before you! You have been made its inheritors, for your deeds (of righteousness).(Surah Al-Araf: 43)
Being Displeased and Bored
Those adhering to "moral principles" grounded in ignorance have one attribute in common: being bored and depressed. Such people constantly express complaints. What is more, those who have nothing wrong with them try to find something they can complain about. In the ignorant society, this has become an absolutely natural habit, like eating or drinking. Besides, it is readily accepted by society since it is the habit of so many people.
From the moment one wakes up in the morning, anything can be the subject of complaint. Not having had a sound sleep, hot weather or the loud noise neighbours make may well be the cause of that day’s complaint. Ignorant people relentlessly complain about traffic jams, the grim life in a big city, the ill-natured people all around, being tired, having a monotonous life, bad neighbours, not being understood by other people and many other things one can imagine. If there is no reason to complain, the habitual complainant finds pseudo-reasons to complain; if a woman, she complains because she is a woman. If she is dark, she expresses displeasure because she is not blonde or blue-eyed.There is no end to these reasons... this is a state of mind and people display reluctance to change it.
In this state of mind, ignorant people never feel happy with anything. Never staying positive about life and seeing the good side of things, they never feel contented, even if they have the best of everything.Though endowed with infinite favours, man feels unsatisfied and shows ingratitude. This is mentioned in the Qur’an in the following words:
He gives you all you ask of Him, and if you reckoned up the favours of Allah, you could not count them. Man is truly a wrong-doer, an ingrate.(Surah Ibrahim: 34)
This primitive rationale stemming from ignorance dulls people's senses and causes them to remain apathetic towards the favours surrounding them.
The moral principles of Islam, the system best meeting the spiritual and physical needs of man, has just the contrary effect. A believer, perceiving every detail of creation surrounding him as a kindness and gift of Allah, unceasingly shows his gratitude to Him. He evaluates every incident positively and finds the goodness in it. Furthermore, he devotes all his abilities to refurbishment. Hence, he will be rewarded by Allah with more favours. Allah states in the Qur’an that those who complain and thus show ungratefulness to Him will be deprived of all these favours.
And remember! your Lord declared: If you are grateful, I will bestow more favours upon you. But if you show ingratitude, truly My punishment shall be terrible indeed.(Surah Ibrahim: 7)
A person, who does not adhere to religious principles, believes that every incident takes place by pure chance. He attributes everything to good luck or bad luck. A desperate state of mind is the inevitable consequence of this spirit; doubtless, luck is not something to rely on or to invest hopes and dreams in.
This state of mind is actually a misfortune befalling the ignorant. This is a natural consequence of not having a thorough grasp of the extent of Allah’s Power and not understanding that everything is predestined by Him. A believer never loses hope and always stays positive about life, since he firmly believes there is no single incident that does not occur under the control of Allah. There is one and only one Power who creates everything, living and non-living, and who controls them every moment; this is the Power of Allah. A person who is well aware of this fact understands that nothing is impossible and that everything can change in a moment by the Will of Allah. It is therefore very natural that a person, having no faith in Allah and believing in coincidences cannot overcome despair. This is actually a state of mind, a mere consequence of his standpoint.
Ignorant people are inherently prone to see a mundane event as a sinister steamroller that would flatten their lives. Therefore, they are never on good terms with life. They entirely abandon themselves to negative convictions and conceive almost all circumstances to be ripe for tragedy. They are disgruntled to an extreme degree. From the very beginning, they approach problems with a defeatist attitude. Always carrying the conviction that nothing will be all right, they believe their lives will be full of misery. They always see their prospects as being grim. For instance, they assume that they will not go on to a brilliant academic career. Even if they manage to earn a graduate degree, their fear in this occasion will be of not making a remarkable career. They are also apprehensive about their marriages. They have deep misgivings about marriage, children, their children’s education and all plans regarding the future. Their unfathomable misgivings go to great lengths indeed. For instance, they give themselves up to such thoughts as how once they die, they will be soon forgotten and there will be no one visiting their graves. This desperate mood is recounted in the Qur’an thus:
And when We make life pleasant for man, he turns away and is averse; and when ill touches him he is in despair. (Surah Isra: 83)
Man does not weary of asking for good (things), but if adversity touches him, he gives up all hope (and) is lost in despair. (Surah Fussilat: 49)
The ignorant are also known as disaster-mongers. They always predict the worst and so lead other people also to despair. For instance, just when their friends are about to board a plane, they talk about the dangers of travelling by plane. Or, rather than wish others well in a new investment, they express concern about the declining market situation and the chances of being unsuccessful.
These are doubtless only a few examples. Yet what deserves mention here is the system ignorance introduces: people who adhere to the morals of ignorance not only suffer themselves but also become a major cause of unrest for others. This is surely a predictable outcome of any system rooted in ignorance. What is more interesting is that ignorant people knowingly give their seal of approval to a system that creates trouble and restlessness both in this world and the Hereafter.
The moral values of religion give man a much more elevated standpoint, in no way comparable to this ignorant rationale. Knowing the Power of Allah makes people hopeful and happy, both in this world and after. That is due to the fact that they comply with the commandments of Allah:
Do not despair of the solace from Allah. No one despairs of solace from Allah except for the disbelievers.( Surah Yusuf: 87)
The word indifference expresses the unconcerned and insensitive attitude people assume towards events. Misled by ignorance, people conceive indifference to be perfectly sound behaviour. After all, they have been born into a society of ignorant people who habitually display this manner. However an objective outlook, entirely purified of the misapprehensions of ignorance, asserts just the contrary: being unconcerned is surely not as innocent a standpoint as it sounds; the reality is, indifference is a state in which the conscience is numbed.
A person who wants to have a clear conscience has to be ready at all times to undertake any responsibility he meets. This is no doubt a burden for those who have no faith in the Hereafter. Therefore, in order to avoid having to carry out tasks, they make this state of mind the fundamental philosophy of their existence. In such a state, the individual primarily does not shoulder his own responsibilities. The people around him have to do so on his behalf.
No less than the person himself, the people surrounding him also suffer from this attitude. Such a person makes promises, but never keeps them due to his inconsiderate attitude. Likewise, he borrows money, but never gives it back; not because he has no money, but because he simply forgets it. Sometimes his inconsiderate manners go to great lengths and become a threat to his health as well as to the health of others. He neglects taking a vital drug, for instance. Or, he leaves his toddler alone on the beach, never considering that he may drown. One can observe thousands of similar examples in daily life.
For instance, encountering a severely wounded person in a traffic accident, what a person of clear conscience does is to take him to the hospital, no matter how great a hurry he is in. However, a person who remains indifferent just glances at such a scene and keeps on driving. Or, he simply thinks that someone else would come and help the wounded person.
As we have seen, "being indifferent" is another way of saying lacking in conscience. In such a mood, due to insensitiveness, the indifferent person simply disregards many issues and does not suffer the slightest pangs of conscience. Moreover, he inwardly thinks for himself as the smartest man on earth. Such an attitude causes an irreplaceable loss to one’s eternal life; he loses all the opportunities in this world to attain the good pleasure of Allah.
A believer, on the other hand, who displays considerate behaviour, does the best for his eternal life. His sensitivity also makes it possible for him to lead a comfortable life in this world.
Attachment to this life and craving for possessions cause ignorant people to go all out to attain their worldly goals. A person aiming to make the most of this life surely shows no hesitation in displaying a greedy attitude. Life is short, he thinks, and rather than engage in good deeds to attain the eternal life, he believes it to be wise to make the most of this life. With this goal in mind, he takes every opportunity to have more of everything.
This structure, though obviously seen in all sections of the ignorant society, is said to apply only to a particular section of it. In this context, it is widely believed that only some people are prone to greediness. Yet the facts are otherwise. Being one of the prevalent characteristics of the morality of ignorance, greediness reveals the standpoint of the people and the ignorant society in the clearest way.
Be they wealthy or poor, ignorant people, indoctrinated with a philosophy based on worldly benefits, are driven by greed. For instance, at social gatherings, and parties, they overeat and drink too much, even when they are not hungry. At work, they make dozens of unnecessary telephone calls just because they are free. Or, they browse for hours in shopping malls and pricey boutiques to buy goods they don’t really need. This is indeed a deep-rooted disease influencing relations even among immediate family members. A woman, for instance, demands that her husband dedicate himself ambitiously to his work, so that she can maintain her expensive tastes. Ambition and greediness dominate society to the extent that it numbs the ignorant into becoming burglars or swindlers.This morality, making a man greedy for every kind of trifle, is perceived by ignorant people as a sign of smartness. Yet it obviously degrades him.
Being sincere and honest is much easier and more enjoyable than using low cunning to attain certain goals. A faithful person takes the benefit of all the favours in this world in the best way. He knows that all favours belong to Allah and that He rewards man unceasingly if He Wills. Hence, he neither feels ambitious nor becomes greedy. Such an attitude rewards man with nobility and respectability, and, more importantly, the approval of Allah.
In the ignorant society one man cares for another only when he believes that he is someone from whom he can derive benefits. Otherwise, there is no reason why a person should devote all his energy to the care of another. Occasionally, there may be some instances for his doing someone a favour; yet ignorance demands that this should not be adopted as a principle. Due to this viewpoint, ignorant people become inconsiderate and egoistic. A deep sense of egoism is implanted in children by their parents when they are still very young. Children refusing to share their favourite toys, food or beloved family members are the initial signs of this attitude. In the latter years of life this negative attitude is buttressed by inhumane and thoughtless manners.
An egoistic person thinks only about himself. The needs and problems of others never bother him. Sitting next to a hungry person, he enjoys his meal, never thinking to share it. When he is sick, he looks after himself very well, yet fails to care for some other person when he is sick. He pretends not to see his friend dripping wet in the rain on the street, thinking that seats of his car would get wet if he offered him a lift. He just side-steps someone falling next to him.
Ignorant people also display inhumane behaviour when conditions call for prompt action. For instance, they refuse to donate blood for a wounded person who urgently needs it.In religion, however, egoism, selfishness and inhumanity are replaced by mercy and considerate behaviour. Whenever there is need, a believer comes to help. A call for help is immediately responded to. Nor does a believer ever give trouble to the opposite side. A striking example of such conduct is recounted in the Qur’an as follows:
They give food, despite their love for it, to the poor and orphans and captives: We feed you only out of desire for the Face of Allah. We do not want any repayment from you or any thanks. Truly we fear from our Lord a glowering, calamitous Day. (Surah Al-Insan 8-10)
In the ignorant society, only the people who really make a nuisance of themselves are referred to as difficult people. People who stir up a dispute or provoke a conflict in daily life are wholly excluded from this description. However, tolerant and seemingly quiet people also show intolerance and become bad-tempered in particular situations. There are definitely some people they dislike and whom they cannot get along with. However, the rationale of ignorance accepts such an attitude to be perfectly reasonable and normal.
In family life, unceasing quarrels among family members are also regarded as ordinary. Impudent manners are played down or even covered up by using expressions like these are family problems, or this happens in every family. The same mentality holds true for relations among friends. They say, for instance, just because we have a few disagreements, this does not mean we are not friends. There is constant disagreement between teachers and students in school, bosses and employees, employees and other employees at work. Drivers, for instance, dispute with other drivers in traffic. There is dissension among neighbours, relatives, in brief, among all those in social contact with each other.
Mostly these arguments rest on ridiculous bases. Even if there is nothing to argue about, they invent one. For instance, a man sees the absence of his favourite dish at supper as a good reason to argue with his wife. A woman, unable to convince her husband to take a stroll, may well pick a quarrel. Every moment of daily life is a source of unrest and discussion for ignorant people; the noise neighbours make, a crying child, a barking dog, a car occupying the private parking lot, a honking horn, or a low increase in salary, in brief, everything...
These people who become tense over even minor situations do not see anything wrong with this or the unbearable environment they live in. Sometimes spending too much time together with a person becomes a good reason for an argument. They become bored with each other, and even their acceptable wishes become upsetting. This relationship in time becomes intolerable. What is more interesting is that they are well aware of the fact that a change in circumstances and people would not alter this situation. Wherever they go and whatever they do, intolerance is always a factor.
At this point the following question arises: What are the underlying reasons for this intolerance?
In ignorant societies, all members believe that they are absolutely right. Not displaying tolerance, they never think of being gentle to someone who is harsh. Instead, they remain contentious and create more tension.
Yet the Qur’an is quite clear on this point and those adhering to the Qur’an see what is right and immediately follow it. Consequently, the conflicting opinions of individuals are replaced by what is commanded by Allah in the Qur’an. The commandments of Allah provide solutions to problems. Hence, rather than contradictions and problems, solutions are inevitably forthcoming. One who is totally obedient to the moral principles of the Qur’an respects and loves people. Adherence to the Qur’an demands being thoughtful and respectful to the opinions of others. With such an attitude, no trouble arises. While ignorant people constantly bother each other over minor issues, believers live a life of adhering to the Qur’an. Therefore, in a society of believers nothing happens to trouble people and make them restless.
One of the characteristics of a person who sticks to the principles of the morality of the Qur’an is that he does not indulge in idle talk. No doubt, such an avoidance offers much gratification, both spiritual and material. Rather than joining in a conversation that is pointless, a believer spends his time on important and beneficial tasks. In that way, he also avoids the numbing effect of idle talk.
On the contrary, ignorant people have the incorrigible habit of killing time in long and unwise conversations. The underlying reason for this irrational tendency is to free their minds from the serious problems of daily life. However, the obstinate and arrogant attitude they assume in conversations generally changes a frank talk into a heated argument. Mostly, they argue for hours about a subject they know little about and generally arrive at nothing conclusive. During these arguments they try to impose their opinions on others. Sometimes they become so obstinate that they don’t change this attitude even when they are talking to an expert. In their small world, they know more than a doctor and are wiser than a philosopher.
The comments they make in these arguments commonly rely on assumptions or hearsay. This is also a characteristic for which people are never taken to task in the ignorant society. These people are only referred to as a little bit stubborn or people of fixed ideas. Furthermore, these are thought to be personal characteristics particular to that person.
However, the fundamental reason for people getting into heated arguments is the fact that their souls are inclined to contention. Allah addresses this characteristic in the Qur’an:
...but man is, in most things, contentious. (Surah Al-Kahf: 54)
People may argue to defend their standpoint. However, what is striking about them is the agitated style they use in their arguments. The most prominent feature is the tone of voice they use. Ignorant individuals assume that if they shout loudly and drown out the voice of the other speaker, they will emerge victorious. Therefore, they speak in a high-pitched tone. In the charged atmosphere which this creates, contention also affects the arguers physically. Their agitation becomes apparent from their blushing or the swelling of the veins on the neck. Their faces turn wild with anger, which gives an ugly expression to their features. They cannot keep calm; they try to intimidate the other side. They interrupt each other, or rather, speak at the same time, not paying attention to anyone. If one side remains calm, then the other provokes him, trying to involve him in an argument. They free themselves from this tense mood and find relief only when their opponents give up.
Believers, on the other hand, never experience such a state of mind. They acknowledge that there are always some people of superior understanding and never insist on maintaining their convictions when they are told the truth. If they are not knowledgeable about a subject, they simply refrain from expressing opinions. Likewise, they shun baseless conversations and take no notice of hearsay. With such an attitude, believers from the very outset make a point of not engaging in an argument. Their talks never reach a deadlock. They find complete relief and peace in providing solutions to problems, and resolving conflicts. If they don’t have any information about an issue, rather than stating their opinion and involving themselves in an argument, they prefer to gather information in order to arrive at a healthy conclusion. This is also what is advised by Allah in the Qur’an:
…and over every lord of knowledge there is one more knowing… (Surah Yusuf: 76)
Are those who know the equal of those who do not? But only men of understanding will pay heed. (Surah Al-Zumar: 9)
Hypocrisy and Pretension
In the ignorant society, what bothers people most is the hypocritical and insincere type of behaviour displayed. What is interesting, however, is the fact that those who complain about it are likewise hypocrites themselves. This is surely a clear manifestation of the cruelty of the system created by the ignorant.
Hypocrisy is displaying two separate characters; one displayed outwardly and the other hidden inside. The one for the outer world, embodies the bogus aspects of the character artificially shown to others. The inner one harbours the deep, real thoughts. Surprisingly, in the ignorant society, everybody knows this fact and acknowledges it. Allah relates one of the features of hypocrites in the Qur’an:
…They speak with their tongues that which is not in their hearts. (Surah Al-Fath: 11)
Nevertheless, everybody knows when and where people reveal their true opinions. While gossiping, for instance, people express their sincere thoughts about others. However, even at that moment people do not conduct themselves completely honestly since they still hide their inner thoughts about the person they are speaking to at that moment. Most probably, their personal opinion about that person will be later disclosed to somebody else.
Similarly, ignorant people reveal their inner thoughts when they believe their interests are at stake. For instance, people cannot help hiding their true feelings when they are furiously arguing with somebody.Hypocrites also continuously deceive others and never conduct themselves honestly in order to hide their real faces and inner thoughts. The weapon they often employ for this end is pretension. Rather than being sincere and being the way they are, they try to give an imitation of sincerity. Yet since they fail to do this also, they conduct themselves in a wholly unnatural manner.
It is evident that in an environment where people are pretentious, true love and respect can never be attained. Ignorant people are also aware of this fact and quite disturbed by it, yet, because of their crude way of thinking, they still foster this system. It is really difficult and troublesome for a person to try to act like someone else believing in a totally different system and set of values.
Being honest and conducting oneself as a single person, both deep inside and outwardly, brings great relief to the individual who then becomes reliable and truthful, respected and loved by everybody. Honesty and truthfulness are the rewards of the morality of Islam to the human soul. Complying with the commandments of Allah brings relief and peace of mind, since one does not have to behave like something one is not. It eliminates the superstitions of ignorance and offers an easy life to believers. Contrary to the gloomy environments of ignorance, Islam makes it possible to have sincere and warm relations and hence a life to be content with.
Rather than negative behaviour that should be eliminated, mocking is considered a way to have fun or to have a good time in the society of ignorance. Therefore, it is socially acceptable and never considered a misdeed. The members of the ignorant society assume that they can attain superiority by degrading others.People mock others not only by words but also by sophisticated methods like gestures, mimicry, body language or other covert ways of communication.
How these sophisticated methods are transferred from one generation to another and how every member of the ignorant society is knowledgeable about them remains indeed a mystery. There is neither a book nor a school to instruct youngsters about these refined ways to mock. Yet everybody knows what meanings lie behind a piece of mimicry or a gesture. No one openly speaks about mockery, although it is widely known and insidiously used.
In the ignorant society, everything can be a subject of mockery. There is no limit to it. Disabled people, the mispronunciation of a word, the physical make-up of an individual or even sneezing and sobbing can be made a mockery of. According to the ignorant society stumbling and falling is something to laugh at for hours on end. A person who is laughed at for this reason feels humiliated. For this reason, even if it hurts a lot, he pretends that it does not hurt.. Furthermore, to imply that he is not bothered by being mocked, he too laughs at himself.
People always feel anxiety about the possibility of looking ridiculous because of their failures or appearance. For instance, someone stammering does not feel comfortable even talking to his closest friend. Therefore, he mostly remains quiet. In such an environment, everyone has to be cautious about being ridiculed.
Mocking is not specific to a particular section of society, however. It is widespread in high society, in ghettos, at work, in schools, in brief, everywhere where the "moral values" of ignorance are prevalent. It does not change according to culture or the level of civilisation. Quite conclusively, it makes life troublesome with the individual required at every moment to pay attention and make efforts to avoid being mocked.
People adopting the moral values of the Qur’an, however, never annoy others. Believers know that weaknesses are specially created for human beings by Allah. This fact establishes the grounds of communication among people. Accordingly, instead of contempt, mercy is shown to the disabled, to sufferers or to anybody who has a weakness. Allah enjoins careful attention to this fact in the following verse:
O you who believe! Let not a man deride another man who may be better than he (is), let not a woman deride another woman who may be better than she is; neither defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. It is an evil thing to be called by a bad name after embracing the true faith. Those who do not repent are evil-doers.(Surah Al-Hujraat: 11)
What deserves specific mention here is that being in the mood to make fun of everything may well distract a person’s attention from religion, death or the Day of Judgment. Of the sceptics who assume the same attitude the Quran says:
What they say. 'When we are turned to bones and dust, shall we be restored to life?' Say: You shall, whether you turn to stone or iron, or any other substance which you may think unlikely to be given life.' Then they will say: Who shall bring us back (to life)? Say: "He Who created you at first. Then they will shake their heads at you, and say: When will this be? Say: It will perhaps be soon." ( Surah Al-Isra: 49-51)
A person who mocks people should, however, keep in mind that he will face a bitter end for all eternity:
Then evil was the consequence to those who dealt in evil, because they denied the revelations of Allah and made a mockery of them. (Surah Al-Rum: 10)
Emotionalism and Being Romantic
In the ignorant society, emotionalism and being romantic are recognised to be essentially humane behaviour and a reality of life. People who are not emotional are regarded as ruthless and somewhat odd. Being romantic is associated with a certain idealized image tinged with magic and beauty.
Yet emotionalism is a state in which a person remains completely under the influence of his emotions and surrenders himself entirely to his instincts. Bereft of thinking faculties, such a person fails to make sound judgements. Nobody, not even he himself, can predict how his emotions will affect his decisions. An emotional person is simply at the mercy of his feelings. During the course of events, he fails to take into consideration the latter stages or the detrimental consequences of a decision and he becomes aware of his mistakes only when everything is over and done with. He takes sudden and thoughtless action. His mood also changes abruptly; he feels plunged into gloom or despair at one moment, while he is seized by jealousy at another. He feels easily offended and becomes furious. His life is like a roller-coaster.
This is actually an attitude distressing to those who seek emotional satisfaction in their relations. Not knowing what kind of moods other people experience, they always wait for a good time to communicate. In this way, their life is spent in meeting the emotional expectations of others. Meanwhile, they expect the same from others. Though they dislike the trouble it gives, to one’s astonishment, ignorant people enjoy the grief and gloomy moods brought by emotionalism. Furthermore, they find a life bereft of emotionalism too monotonous and gloomy to live. This is actually a pretext to cover up their unsound behaviour, and to make this behaviour socially acceptable.
This emotional state of mind inevitably creates mentally unstable people. Being constantly under the influence of melancholy, nothing gives them pleasure. In an environment where everybody has something to enjoy, they inevitably find something to grieve over. Sometimes they try to further intensify their grief by imaginary scenarios made up in their own minds. For this reason, even though they try to look good, they feel an unceasing restlessness deep inside. Rather than living in peace, they live in trouble and anguish.
In a romantic world, people remain under the influence of events for a prolonged period of time. For instance, they cannot easily escape from the influence of the bad incidents they encounter, and are not emotionally strong enough to eliminate their negative effects. Rather, they find such incidents to be a good reason to become emotional.
Wisdom is the only basis on which to take pleasure from life, to succeed and lead a life in peace. This understanding is only attained by complying with the commandments of Allah. Adherence to the Qur’an eliminates emotionalism and provides a positive perspective enabling man to resolve problems rather than exaggerating and turning them into a source of trouble.
The urge to shed tears is one of the troubles emotionalism brings. This urge rests on no rational grounds, however. There is simply no reason for it. Ignorant people, especially women, believe that crying is simply a fundamental need like eating, drinking or sleeping. The same superstition maintains that if a person does not do so, he is likely to develop various diseases out of grief and trouble. Therefore, ignorant people rely on weeping as a relief provider.
Over and above this, the negative and desperate outlook of ignorant people is a factor prompting them to cry. With this outlook, they always find a reason to do so. Rather than solve problems or eliminate the likely causes that may lead one to grief, they prefer only to weep. They have a strong interest in letting themselves go and like to have this experience whenever they find a "proper" reason.
This belief is held by all sections of the ignorant society, especially by women, due to their intensive conditioning by society. In most cultures, the image of the male is associated with not crying. Contrary to this image, women are encouraged to cry. It is an ignorant conviction maintains that since women are physically weaker than men, they should also be weak spiritually. Therefore, ignorant people expect a woman to be strongly influenced by events and to remain so for a prolonged period of time. Women, in turn, readily adopt such a model and show no objection to such inculcation by society.
Crying is never perceived as a sign of helplessness or a weak-willed personality in the ignorant society. Nobody blames a person for breaking down. Rather, in daily life people are encouraged to relieve their feelings in this way by TV-series, movies and magazines. People feel sympathy for people in dramatic scenes who show their happiness, love and pain by shedding tears. Crying is so common in the ignorant society that people will indulge in it, even for unnecessary things. They do cry while listening to the news on TV or watching a dramatic movie. They even cry when they are happy. At graduation ceremonies, weddings etc. it has become almost conventional to weep.
People who are instructed about the benefits of crying very soon realise that it is also a strong weapon to use in particular situations. Indeed, it is an insincere way of attaining goals that cannot be otherwise accomplished. That is because crying speaks directly to the emotions and evokes the feelings of mercy in the ignorant society. Therefore it is an efficient method of abusing the feelings of other people. It is an established fact that when crying is involved, ignorant people mostly accept proposals they would normally decline.
From experience, criers become well aware of the benefits this behaviour offers. Starting from early childhood, each member of the ignorant society resorts to it maybe hundreds of times and each time he contrives to get what he wants. Such experience gives an unyielding determination to use this weapon; to justify a particular kind of behaviour, to seem innocent, sincere etc., or sometimes just to attract attention.
However, the Qur’an relates that crying is a misfortune befalling man rather than a favour given to him. This is further explained in the following verse:
Let them laugh a little: much will they weep in recompense for the (evil) that they do. (Surah Al-Tawba: 82)
In the Qur’an it is clearly stated that the people of Hell will not be able to attain happiness, peace and quietness even if they want to. Therefore, it is surely not wise to emulate the people of Hell in this world. In many sections of the Qur’an, it is repeated that wretchedness is only an attribute of ignorant people:
The admonition will be received by those who fear Allah, but it will be avoided by those most unfortunate ones who will enter the great Fire. (Surah Al-Ala: 10-11)
Therefore, I have warned you of the flaming Fire, which only the most wretched must endure. (Surah Al-Lail: 14-15)
On the day when it comes, (the Day of Resumation), no soul will speak except by His permission; some among them will be wretched, others glad. (Surah Hud: 105)
One of the manifestations of emotionalism is being offended easily. As the word emotionalism suggests, the factors dominating the behaviour of a highly strung person are his feelings. When the emotions rule, no room remains for wisdom. In this case, it becomes almost impossible for the emotional individual to deal with issues with a sound rationale. This is actually the reason for being easily offended.
A person perceiving events with an irrational bent of mind assumes everything to revolve around himself. He assumes that everyone talks about him and makes plans against him. This tendency which especially governs the behaviour of all members of the ignorant society becomes almost an obsession for some. As a person grows old this tendency becomes remarkably observable. Related or unrelated, elderly people take everything as an offence. Furthermore, they generate imaginary scenarios; they may be cared for very well, but they assume that their children do not love them and want to send them to a nursing home. They further presume that they are perceived as a burden by their children.
This is, in fact, a natural outcome of the insecure environment the morals of ignorance creates. The way the members of the ignorant society conduct themselves can indeed be easily perceived as offensive. Merciless, hypocritical and vindictive behaviour is surely very disturbing, especially when one considers the probability that such behaviour may be intentional. Yet these explanations do not justify the misconduct of being easily offended. However, this is important in the sense that it reveals the rotten base the morals of ignorance rest upon. An elderly person staying with his son and grandchildren feels offended, but there are surely reasons why he feels so. Old people are generally perceived as a burden in the house and disliked. However these feelings are only implied, and never directly stated.
Once ignorant people adopt this emotional character, they live with it until they die. Moreover, they suffer greatly from the negative side of this character. In an environment where everybody treats each other in an intimate and friendly manner, those who are offended easily never live in real happiness and peace. When all others are enjoying themselves, they sit all alone in a corner. As we have seen, every aspect of ignorance creates dreadful environments.
On the other hand, in adherence to the Qur’an, people develop a transparent character. In other words, they say what they think. If there is something they dislike, they express it explicitly and never try to imply it with looks, gestures or attitude. Besides, since they are surrounded with people who are also endowed with these morals, nobody feels offended by the attitude of others. In the Qur’an, Allah commands man to enjoin right conduct and forbid evil. Such an approach completely eliminates undesirable situations likely to result from emotionalism.
Ignorant people very frequently tell lies. Almost all social relations are based on deceit.
An honest and sincere person never lowers himself to tell lies. On the other hand, a person who establishes his life on the rules introduced by a hypocritical system must inevitably employ dishonest methods to attain success. Lying is one of these dishonest methods which is extensively employed. Once a person believes it to be a workable method, he starts to resort to it constantly and almost makes a lifestyle out of it. His tongue and mind get quite used to the idea of lying, so that he indulges in this practice whenever he faces a tough problem. In the ignorant society this is a habit which meets with societal approval, as long as it does not have detrimental consequences. Even telling lies to one’s closest friend is regarded as normal. Only when these lies start to pose a threat to material or spiritual well-being and especially personal interests, do sufferers begin to express their distaste for it. In brief, though lying is extensively employed, it also causes grave suffering in the ignorant society. Yet, the suffering it will cause in the Hereafter will be much more serious.
Allah warns man against this mischief by His injunction: shun lying speech. (Surah al-Hajj: 30). He explains the nature of people who tell lies in another verse: Only they invent falsehood who do not believe Allah’s revelations, and (only) they are the liars.(Surah Al-Nahl: 105)
In the society of believers, however, any grounds for lying are completely eliminated. For instance ignorant people lie because they simply want to cover up their mistakes or indiscretion or just to make a good impression on others. They tell lies in order to deceive people to gain benefits, in brief to attain any kind of worldly gain. A believer, on the other hand, corrects his mistakes and makes up for them rather then trying to cover them up. He does not develop friendship with people whom he dislikes. His friends are only those who seek the good pleasure of Allah and hence conduct themselves honestly and responsibly towards Allah. Therefore, there are no grounds whatsoever for a believer to lie. He does not approach people in expectation of benefits. He is frank about his life; he actually has nothing to hide and hence does not feel the necessity to lie. Therefore, a believer lives in the comfort of being truthful all through his life.
In order to achieve a goal, ignorant people will stoop to anything, even though they are aware that it is morally wrong. This is basically the reason why shallow manners are quite common. Contrary to the prevalent belief that shallow manners are particular to a certain section of society, they commonly match the behaviour of all members of the ignorant society. People generally believe that such behaviour is specific to uncultured, uneducated people. However, these manners are the consequence of one fundamental flaw in reasoning. Therefore, regardless of intelligence, culture or education, all people adhering to the principles of ignorance display these manners.
Shallow manners, in reality, signal all sorts of attitudes and behaviour stemming from the morals of ignorance. Once having fallen to this level, the individual shows a natural tendency to demonstrate all the primitive behaviour of ignorance. Provided that misconduct serves his purposes well, a person coming from the ignorant society does not show the slightest hesitation about telling lies, showing greediness, or being jealous or selfish. The main reason prompting the ignorant person to conduct himself so meanly is the fact that, in pursuit of worldly gains, he all too quickly allows himself to leave off right and noble behaviour and embrace the low principles of ignorance all too quickly.
Like all characteristics of ignorance, shallow manners are also indoctrinated in early childhood years. Don’t share your candy with other children, or don’t trust even your father are the typical pieces of advice parents give to their children when they are still very young. Given such an outlook, ignorant people inevitably base their moral principles on superficial reasoning utterly bereft of noble and virtuous values. Later in life they demonstrate "improved" versions of this mean behaviour which is lacking in breadth of thought.
For instance, in business life, a company director who is always mean to his subordinates ó who when he gives orders, shouts at the employees, displays a totally different character when the owner of the company visits the office. When the boss arrives, the director suddenly becomes a poor fellow, ready to obey any order given by his boss. Meanwhile, he becomes kind towards his subordinates. He does anything to flatter his boss. To this end, he dares to do inconceivable things. Such people surely take the risk of being degraded or humiliated in society. Yet, they never feel offended.
It is interesting that these people are well-educated and have college degrees. Yet the desire to be promoted makes them conduct themselves in such a degrading manner. They believe that this is a reality of life. Although they know that it is a mean way of conducting oneself, they see it as an essential part of getting promotion in business life. Surely it is not their bosses they respect but their money and status.
The same approach is observed also at home. Let’s take the attitude of ignorant people towards unwanted visitors as an example. A visit by such an unwanted friend is avoided by lies on the telephone. If a visitor comes unannounced, they just remain still in the house, making no noise, waiting for him to leave. They see playing host to a guest as a burden and express the distaste they feel for it openly. Despite all efforts to the contrary, if they still have to entertain someone, they start talking behind his back as soon as he leaves. They know full well that it is immoral to talk as an intimate friend to someone’s face and then to gossip behind his back, yet they cannot help indulging in such low behaviour.
In daily life, various other examples can be given pertaining to this shallow rationale. It is, for instance, ordinary behaviour for ignorant people to rush into a bus, pushing aside other people, to get the seat next to the window. Or in a bus they do not give up their seats to old or sick people who have to travel standing. Though they are not hungry and can afford good food, they greedily eat something just because it is being distributed free. Similarly, in the shopping malls, where free samples of goods are distributed, they wait in queues several times to get more samples. Worse, they make it a habit to jump a queue. They think such behaviour is a sign of smartness and label as 'stupid' those who are decent enough not to behave in this worthless manner.
Surely, what they call smartness is merely being selfish and protecting their own interests. The people they call stupid, on the other hand, are those noble people who do not allow themselves become degraded. A person adhering to the moral principles presented by the Qur’an conducts himself in the most honourable way. No matter how compelling the conditions may be, he never stoops to anything degrading to himself or to others.
One striking feature of all sections of the ignorant society, from the people of the ghettos to the members of high society, is the fact that they yearn for things they cannot attain. In contradiction to the commonly held view, such yearning is not a feature peculiar to specific sections of society. Rather, it is an attribute prevalent in all social strata. However, finding this to be somewhat degrading, people generally avoid acknowledging that they have a tendency to yearn for things they cannot have and simply attribute this shortcoming to others.
As with every other issue, the ideal model is determined not by the people themselves but by the ignorant society. The features that are essential to attain a certain level of distinctionin the society are well known to everybody: to be well-educated, to be fluent in a few foreign languages, to travel abroad frequently, to go to popular cafes or restaurants, to be fashion-conscious, to possess luxury cars and to have prestigious credit cards. These are the factors that make you appear to be someone of importance in society. This is also the way of living ignorant people yearning for. (Incidentally, we need hardly mention that being well-educated and the ability to speak a few foreign languages are personal assets. Yet, it is a mistake to use one's capabilities simply to show off.)
For the majority of people, however, the attainment of a high standard life-style is inconceivable. This is actually the point where yearning for the lives of other people starts. Those unable to attain such a life try to earn respect among those better endowed by at least pretending to be like them.
Those who follow the guidance of the Qur’an, however, are aware that all the things, everything people yearn for in this life are not perpetual. This fact, which will be grasped by some people only when they attain the Hereafter, is well understood by believers. Therefore believers never yearn for a lifestyle other than that projected as being good by the Qur’an. Even if they are the wealthiest or the wisest people in the world, they do not use their gifts to impress others. Knowing that wealth and power are given by Allah as gifts, they put these things to good use and feel grateful to their Creator. Allah, in the following verse, makes it clear that the only things of value in the presence of Allah is the fear of Allah.
O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. The noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah is All-Knowing and Aware. (Surah Al-Hujraat: 13)