The lifestyles and life goals of the millions of people who live in non-religious communities are very similar to one another. Even if they seem different at first glance, they are still really the same at the end of the day because even if the conditions in which they live differ, their desires, passions, ambitions, plans, ideals and aspirations for the life of the world are practically identical.
The years during which a person's character begins to take shape are the childhood years. During these years children live very carefree lives in ignorance of the world. Then they face school life and the teenage years. During these years ambition is limited to the typical desire to have a wide circle of friends, to be popular at school, to wear designer clothes and to put on a show for people. Then school finishes and careers begin. During working life a person tries to better himself in his own profession, make more money and achieve promotion. He devotes all his time and energies to this. At the same time he tries to find and marry a good wife and produce a family. In his own eyes, the only important thing in the world is the establishment of a happy home. In short, he is born, he is educated, he enters working life, he tries to the best of his ability to earn money and respect and later he marries off his children and becomes a grandfather… And he lives with such limited worldly aims and ideals.
The years pass quickly and then all of a sudden, he faces the greatest and most inescapable truth of life. The time of death comes. Whatever his age at the time, he departs from the world.
Until that moment he has thought of death very little or not at all. He has seen a number of people around him die but he has always regarded his own death as something far off. Throughout his life he has failed even to grasp the idea of death because his mind has been so occupied with worldly things that the thought of death has not managed to cross it. For this reason, he is far removed from essential considerations such as Allah's good pleasure and the Garden and the Fire. He has been unable to understand the true purpose of life by reflecting upon such realities. Throughout his time in the world he has pursued aims, plans and ideals very different from those that are really important. He has worked very hard for worldly things but is totally unprepared for the Hereafter.
While in this condition, he meets with death when he least expects it, unprepared and confused like someone who suddenly awakes from sleep. Feeling regret at last, he wants to turn back but it is now too late. Allah describes the situation of this person and those like him in Surat as-Sajda:
Say: "The Angel of Death, who has been given charge of you, will take you back and then you will be sent back to your Lord." If only you could see the evildoers hanging their heads in shame before their Lord: "Our Lord, we have seen and we have heard, so send us back again and we will act rightly. Truly we now have certainty." (Surat as-Sajda: 11-12)
So, how does a person wind up in this position? How does he manage to avoid reality until the time comes when he feels a regret for which there is no cure? How does he manage to ignore the purpose for which he is placed in the world?
There are various defense mechanisms which people use to ignore the truths of life and to console themselves by doing so. One of these, perhaps the most effective, is self-deception. A person who deceives himself believes he can evade all realities, including death and all responsibilities. In fact self-deception is not a solution. On the contrary, failure to understand the true purpose of existence in this world sets a person on a path that leads straight to Hell. What a person really needs to accomplish is to avoid deceiving himself by ignoring the truth and take the maximum possible advantage of the period that Allah has allotted to him in the world.
Now, think about all this in terms of yourself. Up to now you may have lived along the lines described above. You may have failed to think about the true purpose of life, you may have put aside your responsibilities towards Allah, Who created you, and you may have deceived yourself. If you do not want to meet death suddenly while in this state and to be faced with eternal regret, you should read what this book has to say and think very seriously about it because in this book we point out the matters about which people deceive themselves and the truths which they ignore.
Do not forget that waking up and seeing the truth at the moment of death does nobody any good. Allah has given us a clear warning about this:
Give from what We have provided for you before death comes to one of you and he says, "My Lord, if only You would give me a little more time so that I can give charity and be one of the righteous!" Allah will not give anyone more time, once their time has come. Allah is aware of what you do. (Surat al-Munafiqun: 10-11)