Never Plead Ignorance
about The Voice of Your Conscience
During the course of life, man is tested in his reactions to the incidents he encounters and in his inner thoughts. During this trial we encounter two alternatives: we either listen to the voice of our divine guide, our conscience, or we conform to the lowest form of our selves, which initially always lead to wrong. Allah draws attention to these two voices in the following verses:
And the self and what proportioned it and inspired it with depravity or taqwa. (Surat ash-Shams: 7-8)
The unregenerate self, which is the lowest form of the human self (nafs) turns to rebellion, evil and disobedience of Allah's commands. It actually obeys evil prompting man to disregard attaining the good pleasure of Allah and to be committed to his own desires. The evil does this stealthily. If a person does not listen to the voice of his conscience, he will simply be deceived by evil whisperings of his self.
However, in every circumstance, the conscience never remains quiet until one breathes his last. Despite the stealthy inculcation of the evil, the conscience commands us to do virtuous and blessed deeds.
Surely this is a matchless system and a great favour Allah grants man. No matter which incident man encounters in life, no matter where he goes or what origin he has, he possesses a guide to the truth. Always keep in mind that you possess a guide to the truth. Never pretend that you don't understand this inner voice.
Furthermore, conscience is not an inspiration peculiar only to believers. It exists in every individual, including disbelievers. However, that believers always comply with the voice of their conscience makes them different. Disbelievers, on the other hand, satisfy their own desires despite what their consciences tell them. Allah draws attention to this subject in a story about Ibrahim. In the Qur'an, Allah relates the following dialog between Ibrahim and his people which occurred after Ibrahim broke the idols, which his people worshipped, except the biggest one:
They said, "Did you this to our gods, Ibrahim?" He said: "No, this one, the biggest of them, did it. Ask them if they are able to speak!" They consulted among themselves and said, "It is you yourselves who are wrongdoers." But then they relapsed back into their disbelief: "You know full well these idols cannot talk." (Surat al-Anbiya: 62-65)
The people who uttered these words were actually the ones who decided to cast Ibrahim to the fire. Even these people, so cruel in attempting to kill a prophet who was assigned the duty of guiding them to the truth, had consciences telling them the truth. Yet as the verse suggests, "they were blind and deaf" (Surat al-Ma'idah: 71), they pretended not to understand the truth.
Like every other man, you have both a conscience and an evil who misleads you. You also hear the voices of your conscience and your evil. If you want to attain the good pleasure of Allah and truthfulness, don't pretend that you don't hear the voice of your conscience.
A person may feel concerned that he is not able to distinguish these two voices. Yet, keep in mind that conscience does not fail to see the truth for a moment; it instantly tells the truth. However, as one hears this voice, the evil immediately tries to mislead the self. The self makes various excuses. The evil strives to thwart one from doing what one's conscience whispers. In other words, encountering an incident, what one initially hears is the voice of the conscience. All the excuses we make against following this voice are the voice of one's self. At the moment you hear this voice of the conscience, don't pretend you don't grasp that this voice, calling you to the good pleasure of Allah, is your conscience.
If one ignores the voice of the conscience, in time, one becomes almost a slave of the self, becoming prone to any kind of wickedness. Since such an attitude is merely an expression of one's own preference, one fails this test, and loses the blessed eternal life – unless Allah wills otherwise – whose loss is eternal deprivation. Man bears the sole responsibility of being a slave of Allah, which can only be achieved by acting by the Book and by following one's conscience. Allah calls the end of those who pretend not to understand this fact 'failure' in the following verse:
He who purifies it has succeeded, he who covers it up has failed. (Surat ash-Shams: 9-10)
Surely almost every one has experienced the inner pain that regret gives. The main cause of this feeling is not following the commands of conscience, which is also a divine warning to man. In some circumstances, this pain is not relieved until one amends one's misdeeds or changes one's flawed preferences; it simply turns into spiritual torture. So, do not pretend you don't grasp it, when you are full of remorse. This is surely a sign of a misdeed you have done; your conscience has already told you what you did wrong and where you did it. Take this chance to compensate for your misdeeds in this world, while there is still a chance. In the Hereafter, the regret you will feel will be unbearable and will remain with you for all eternity, unless it is for the forgiveness of Allah and His mercy.
Even though your self thinks of it as a difficult task or it is unwilling to follow the conscience, don't pretend that you don't grasp your conscience is guiding you to the truth. Be certain that Allah has infinite conscience; if you persist in following the Qur'an and are alert to what your conscience commands, then Allah will bountifully reward you for all your deeds, even for the ones that may seem insignificant to you. Meanwhile, surely those who remain heedless of the Book and about their consciences will not be treated the same in the presence of Allah.
Everyday you wake up to a new day. Getting out of bed, you wash your face, prepare and, most probably, rush somewhere. Like everyone else, you, too, hasten not to be late to school or work and soon find yourself engrossed with everyday routines. In the rapid flow of the day, in school or at work, you struggle to learn something or to meet a deadline, and in the blink of an eye, you notice that it has almost become evening. When you arrive home in the evening, you do your daily housework. Sometimes, just for a change, you visit your friends, go to movies and then return home to sleep. The next morning you start the same vicious circle all over again.
During these daily routines, is it possible that you remain indifferent to other important things in life? In the daily rush of your life, is it possible that you forget, don't notice or pretend not to grasp some important things?
The answer of almost everyone should be "Yes". Because most of the people fail to think or wonder about many details pertaining to their lives. You can start by thinking the following:
While you are in your room reading this book, are you aware that some astonishing incidents are happening? For instance, have you ever thought that you are now moving at 1,670 kilometres an hour through space?
Alternatively, have you ever thought that the room you are in right now occupies a tiny space in the universe, just as if it were a dust particle?
Or, are you, as a human being – the only being endowed with the faculty of thinking – aware of the perfect order existing in the universe?
There are surely hundreds of similar questions you could ask yourself. The purpose in mentioning these questions is to unveil – albeit slightly – the covering over the human mind, which is already obscured by daily tasks, and help to expand its horizons. Our intention here is to reflect on some crucial issues.
Now, consider the following:
"What is the significance of these questions for my life? Is it really important to think about them while I have hundreds of things to accomplish? My final examinations… the meeting that will be held in late afternoon… don't they have priority?"
These thoughts reflect a common mistake some people make. No doubt, plans pertaining to one's education, home or future are important. Yet there are some issues which are more important. Primarily, a person should reflect on the purpose of his existence in this world, on what exists beyond this life, on how this magnificent planet on which he lives came into existence, and on Who is the Creator of all living things, including him.
If one thinks earnestly without pretending not to grasp the facts one comes across, one would arrive at a single conclusion:
In the immense universe, an astonishing variety of plants and animals, all beings – animate or inanimate – and more importantly man himself, are parts of the flawless creation of Allah, the Almighty. Man doesn't see the Creator, yet, pondering on the countless pieces of evidence surrounding him will make him comprehend Allah's existence and His attributes. In his efforts, his sincerity will provide him with a way to understanding our Creator's commandments and the ways to attaining His good pleasure. Allah relates in the Qur'an:
Eyesight cannot perceive Him but He perceives eyesight. He is the All-Penetrating, the All-Aware. Clear insights have come to you from your Lord. Whoever sees clearly, does so to his own benefit. Whoever is blind, it is to his own detriment. I am not here as your keeper. (Surat al-An'am: 103-104)
You also reflect on this fact and never pretend you don't grasp the superior creation of Allah.