Heedlessness and Attention
In the Qur’an, Allah gives a detailed account of unbelievers who are devoid of understanding. Allah explains in the Qur’an that the most striking characteristic of unbelievers is the state of “heedlessness” they are in.
Many are the Jinns and men we have made for Hell: They have hearts with which they do not understand, eyes with which they do not see, and ears with which they do not hear. They are like cattle,- nay more misguided: for they are heedless (of warning). (Al-Araf, 179)
Rather than acknowledging what is wrong with his behaviour, the individual who is heedless of Allah’s wishes makes an all-out effort to disregard his misdeeds or to cover them up. This resolute resistance and insistence on following vain desires, and hence not being wary of them lest they lead him astray from what Allah has sent down to living is in fact, a vain attempt to manifest his “so-called” innocence. Making up excuses for one’s mistakes is, by no means, a way of exonerating oneself from faults, as is also evident from the verse that follows: “Indeed, man will be evidence against himself, plead as he may with his excuses.” (Al-Qiyama, 14-15)
Excuses are only futile attempts to hide the decisions taken or actions made under the influence of desires and lusts. The Qur’an especially refers to some of these pretexts:
But when they see some bargain or some amusement, they disperse headlong to it, and leave you (i.e. the Prophet) standing. Say: “The (blessing) from the Presence of Allah is better than any amusement or bargain! and Allah is the Best to provide (for all needs).” (Al-Jumua, 11)
Rather than putting forward pretexts, trying to have a deeper understanding of his misdeeds would free man from the unheeding state he is in. Otherwise, persistance in this attitude will lead man astray.In the Quran Allah states the heedless state of people and the regret they will have in the hereafter;
Closer and closer to mankind comes their reckoning: yet they do not heed and they turn away. (Al-Anbiya, 1)
Unlike the indifferent mood of unbelievers, an absolute alertness, awareness and attention towards the outer world and the things happening around them are displayed by believers.
The attention should essentially be focused on the fact that Allah encompasses everything, that He is aware of everything, and that He will call man to account in the hereafter. A believer who succeeds in devoting his attention to every facet of life becomes extremely aware of and alert to all incidents. Because Allah encompasses everything, and because every incident occurs at His command, nothing happens randomly or without a purpose. Every incident, every development conveys an inner message and a meaning. By giving his undivided attention, man can actually grasp the meaning and wisdom in these occurrences and conceive of the hidden aspects of events. On the contrary, the unbelievers are inattentive to the outer world. Being heedless of the fact that everything on earth serves a purpose, they display indifference towards the happenings around them and remain insensitive to the outer world. Their consideration is motivated solely by self interest; that is why they pay attention only to certain particular aspects of events. In such a frame of mind, they have a poor grasp of the truth and mostly arrive at erroneous conclusions.
Attention has various aspects. Taking lessons from events, being among men of understanding who take heed, perceiving the clear proofs surrounding man, performing a certain act by taking into consideration all the drawbacks, are among the signs of a mindful attitude. In the Qur’an, some particular examples are given of the attentive behaviours of believers. For instance, Moses recognizes the existence of the fire ahead before anyone else. In the same way, when he arrived at the place of the fire, he found it to be a chosen place where Allah communicated to Him. (Ta-Ha, 10-16)
Weariness, indifference or dullness are then the typical characteristics of the unbelievers. Believers, on the other hand, are extremely careful, attentive and alert and also encourage other believers with their enthusiasm.