Reminder Benefits Only Those Who Fear Allah
In the life of this world, Allah grants people a life long enough to take lessons from the many reminders He offers them. Essentially, there are many things that happen to a person in the course of his life that are to be regarded as reminders. For example, deaths being reported in the news or those we witness ourselves, should be taken as warnings. By these examples, Allah reminds us that we too may also meet our deaths at any moment. Likewise, physical weaknesses we cannot forestall are also reminders from our Lord. As mentioned earlier, Allah creates these weaknesses in man to make him understand that this world is not worthy of being devoted to. In addition, the loss of certain blessings or some disaster may also be a reminder from Allah. Though a person may be very beautiful or wealthy, by the Will of Allah, it may take only an instant for him or her to lose his beauty or possessions.
Never forget that any of these instances are simply reminders from Allah to His servants as a mercy, and that we must reflect upon them, and proceed along the straight path to which He summons us. However, as stated in the Qur'an, while these reminders benefit believers, they only upset those who are arrogant towards Allah:
Remind, then, if the reminder benefits. He who has fear will be reminded; but the most miserable will shun it. (Surat al-A'la, 9-11)
Again, never forget that Allah has sent the Qur'an to mankind as a guide, a warning and reminder, as stated in the Qur'an:
We have made things clear in this Qur'an so that they might pay heed, but it only makes them run away the more! (Surat al-Isra', 41)
There are many verses in the Qur'an which relate the fact that many reminders and warnings are given to people. Therefore, whoever ignores and turns away from them deserves to be punished. This is made clear in the Qur'an as follows:
As a reminder. We were never unjust. (Surat ash-Shu'ara', 209)
He warned them of Our onslaught but they dismissed the warnings. (Surat al-Qamar, 36)
Never forget that all the reminders you receive are actually coming from Allah. Allah has informed His servants, by way of His messengers and books, about His commands, and has made them know how they may conduct themselves in order to please Him. Allah has charged believers with the task of enjoining the good, forbidding the wrong and reminding of the truth. Therefore, every reminder a believer receives is important. The Qur'an advises people to enjoin good and forbid evil and to remind one another of their responsibilities. In this manner, Allah's messengers warned their people in order to save them from the eternal torment:
Mankind was a single community. Then Allah sent out Prophets bringing good news and giving warning, and with them He sent down the Book with truth to decide between people regarding their differences. Only those who were given it differed about it, after the Clear Signs had come to them, envying one another. Then, by His permission, Allah guided those who believed to the truth of that about which they had differed. Allah guides whoever He wills to a straight path. (Surat al-Baqara, 213)
People of the Book! Our Messenger has come to you, making things clear to you, after a period with no Messengers, lest you should say, "No one came to us bringing good news or warning." Someone has come to you bringing good news and a warning. Allah has power over all things. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 19)
The Qur'an repeatedly stresses the importance of obedience to messengers. That is because, once the messenger clearly conveys the message of the Book and the religion to his people, there remains no longer any excuse they can make to Allah:
Messengers bringing good news and giving warning, so that people will have no argument against Allah after the coming of the Messengers. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. (Surat an-Nisa', 165)
Prophet Nuh's summoning his people to the religion, their insistence on rejecting it, and the terrible end they suffered, are all related in the Qur'an as lessons to be retained by the generations that followed after them:
We sent Nuh to his people: "Warn your people before a painful punishment comes to them." He said, "My people, I am a clear warner to you. Worship Allah, heed Him and obey me. He will forgive you your wrong actions and defer you until a specified time. When Allah's time comes it cannot be deferred, if you only knew." He said, "My Lord, I have called my people night and day but my calling has only made them more evasive. Indeed, every time I called them to Your forgiveness, they put their fingers in their ears, wrapped themselves up in their clothes and were overweeningly arrogant. Then I called them openly. Then I addressed them publicly and addressed them privately. I said, 'Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Truly He is Endlessly Forgiving.'" (Surah Nuh, 1-10)
They said, "Nuh, you have argued with us and argued much so bring us what you have promised us if you are telling the truth." He said, "Allah will bring it to you if He wills and you will not be able to prevent it. My counsel will not benefit you, for all my desire to counsel you, if Allah desires to lead you into error. He is your Lord and you will return to Him." Or do they say, "He has invented it"? Say: "If I have invented it the crime will be laid at my door, but I am innocent of the crimes which you commit." It was revealed to Nuh: "None of your people are going to believe except for those who already believe, so do not be distressed at what they do." (Surah Hud, 32-36)
Another example related in the Qu'ran is that of the tribe of Israel, who failed to heed the reminders sent to them or to redress their wrongdoings. For that reason, their hearts grew hard, and were deprived of compassion:
Allah made a covenant with the tribe of Israel and We raised up twelve leaders from among them. Allah said, "I am with you. If you establish prayer and pay alms, and believe in My Messengers and respect and support them, and make a generous loan to Allah, I will erase your wrong actions from you and admit you into Gardens with rivers flowing under them. Any of you who disbelieve after that have gone astray from the right way." But because of their breaking of their covenant, We have cursed them and made their hearts hard. They distort the true meaning of words and have forgotten a good portion of what they were reminded of. You will never cease to come upon some act of treachery on their part, except for a few of them. Yet pardon them, and overlook. Allah loves good-doers. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 12-13)
In the Qur'an, Allah relates of the various methods employed by messengers and truthful believers who followed them to guide their people to Allah's religion. Important stages in the history of past civilizations are narrated in the Qur'an, the only guide of the path of truth delineated for the human beings, so that the succeeding generations could draw lessons:
What are they waiting for but the same fate as those who passed away before them? Say: "Wait, I will be among the people waiting with you." (Surah Yunus, 102)
Never forget that these reminders benefit only those who fear Allah, whereas those without such fear cannot reflect upon nor draw lessons from them. Allah relates this condition of the rejecters as follows:
As for those who are disbelievers, it makes no difference to them whether you warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe. Allah has sealed up their hearts and hearing and over their eyes is a blindfold. They will have a terrible punishment. (Surat al-Baqara, 6-7)
To turn away from the warnings of our Lord, and to forget those deeds one has done, is actually "a great wrong." Thus, Allah has obscured their understanding and deprived them of His blessings. That is because they are the ones who will never be guided:
Who could do greater wrong than someone who is reminded of the Signs of his Lord and then turns away from them, forgetting all that he has done before? We have placed covers on their hearts, preventing them from understanding it, and heaviness in their ears. Though you call them to guidance, they will nonetheless never be guided. (Surat al-Kahf, 57)
Still however, Allah has sent reminders to them by way of the Qur'an, in the chance that they may heed them because, the punishment they will face will be beyond what they could image. Never forget that the situation of those who insist on not heeding the reminders of Allah will be as follows:
Then when they forgot what they had been reminded of, We rescued those who had forbidden the evil and seized those who did wrong with a harsh punishment because they were deviators. (Surat al-A'raf, 165)
Allah, Who has made the commandments of the Qur'an obligatory upon us, wishes no difficulty for His servants. On the contrary, He makes His servants' lives easy here in this world, as well as giving them the glad tidings of Paradise, an infinitely beautiful abode they will soon enter. Allah, the All-Compassionate and Merciful, also promises to forgive the wrongdoings of His servants who pray to Him. This being the case, what is incumbent upon man is to fear Allah and to worship Him as is His due:
Turn to your Lord and submit to Him before punishment comes upon you, for then you cannot be helped. Follow the best that has been sent down to you from your Lord before the punishment comes upon you suddenly when you are not expecting it; lest anyone should say, "Alas for me for neglecting what Allah was due, and being one of the scoffers!" (Surat az-Zumar, 54-56)
Actually, whether or not a person heeds these warnings and conducts himself responsibly towards His Creator, or neglects and forgets every reminder he receives, the fact remains that we are all rushing towards that moment when every soul will be called to give account of his or her deeds. Allah, Who never errs or forgets, will gather all people for reckoning:
... You will be returned to the Knower of the Unseen and the Visible and He will inform you regarding what you did. (Surat at-Tawba, 105)
This being the case, never forget that a reminder that you hear may be your last warning from your Lord, your last chance. If you do not want to suffer the eternal torment, remember that the only way to be saved from punishment is to repent and to become a true servant to Allah.
Do not be like those who forgot Allah so He made them forget themselves. Such people are the deviators. (Surat al-Hashr, 19)
You will remember what I say to you. I consign my affair completely to Allah. Truly Allah sees His servants. (Surah Ghafir, 44)
What you have been reminded of in this book are the facts that a person who believes in Allah does not have the permission or opportunity to choose to be neglectful. Because, this is a choice whose outcome will be an eternal life either in Paradise or in Hell. For this reason, a person who fears Allah, and is certain about the hereafter, strictly avoids anything that is likely to place the outcome of his eternal life at risk. For the same reason, he welcomes whatever advice and reminders that will be beneficial for his life in the hereafter. Being proud or arrogant, on the other hand, are attitudes peculiar to disbelievers. Aware that every reminder is intended to save him from the Fire, a believer reflects humbly upon them.
Imagining oneself along the ramparts, as mentioned in the Qur'an, is the true criteria on which one's sincerity in his conduct is based. The rampart is the place where a soul—uncertain yet of where it will be placed, although he can actually see Paradise and Hell, respectively—waits to hear Allah's judgment over him. The relevant verses of the Qur'an are as follows:
There will be a dividing wall between them and on the ramparts there will be men who recognize everyone by their mark. They will call out to the people of the Garden: "Peace be upon you!" They will not enter it for all their ardent desire to do so. When they turn their eyes towards the Companions of the Fire, they will say, "Our Lord, do not place us with the people of the wrongdoers!" (Surat al-A'raf, 46-47)
Image yourself along the ramparts, somewhere between Paradise and Hell: how could you possibly forget something likely to land you in Hell, while you are there on the brink of it? By the same token, could you ignore a reminder likely to put at risk your attainment of Paradise, while it is so close? Or, would you become upset when somebody reminds you about it? Rather, you would feel grateful to the person for the reminder.
This criteria on which sincerity is determined also holds true for the scales of justice that will be set up to measure the people's deeds on the Day of Judgment. On that day, every soul will be in need of every good deed on its behalf, even if it were no more than the weight of a grain. Similarly, he will want to be far removed from any of his wrongdoings, even if it were no more than the weight of a grain. The scales will be so sensitive that even the weight of a single grain on one pan could make a difference concerning one's after-life.
Therefore, enjoining good and forbidding evil, summoning people to the path of Allah, and warning people about the Day of Judgment, are great blessings for man, who is prone to be forgetful. The reason why the people of Hell are decreed Hell is related in the Qur'an as follows:
Those who took their religion as a diversion and a game, and were deluded by the life of the world. Today We will forget them just as they forgot the encounter of this Day and denied Our Signs. (Surat al-A'raf, 51)
It tends to be that people pay attention most to issues for which they will receive some sort of profit. For example, if a person is offered a huge sum of money if he completes a task by the end of the day, we can imagine attentively and eagerly he will pursue it. Likewise, he would be acutely alert and attentive if he knew his neglect or failure to accomplish the task would entail severe punishment.
The eagerness of the believers, and their vigilance against neglect, result from their unswerving faith in the hereafter, and in the existence of Paradise and Hell. This is why believers abide by this truth all through their lives, and are destined eventually enter Paradise "for what they did before in days gone by." (Surat al-Haqqa: 24)
This being the case, always bear in mind the situation of the people who fearfully wait on the ramparts. Never forget that that time and place described in the Qur'an are more certain than the reality in which you are living right at this moment, and that all reminders made to you are to summon you to salvation and eternal life in Paradise.