Allah wants people to order every moment of their lives according to the Qur'an's edicts, commands and prohibitions. The Qur'an is a guide that lets human beings distinguish between right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate behavior, and those acts that please Allah and those that don't. For these reasons, Allah commands people in Surat al-An'am, to follow this holy book:
And this is a Book We have sent down and blessed, so follow it and fear Allah so that hopefully you will gain mercy. (Surat al-An'am, 155)
But the majority does not organize its lives according to the edicts of the Qur'an or its moral precepts. They do not even consider that they should follow a book containing Allah's commandments. They do not understand how important religious morality and the Qur'an are, for their entire lives. They think that religion can offer occasional guidance in some limited areas of life. Apart from times of worry and distress, moments of great danger, serious pain, discomfort and insurmountable fear-and at the hour of death-they see no need to turn to Allah. They fail to grasp that everyone must live a life according to the dictates of religious morality. For this reason, they prefer to lead their whole lives as far away from religion as possible, not even discussing it among themselves. They even avoid mentioning the name of Allah.
For a person to live his life, however, he definitely needs the commands of Allah and the moral qualities revealed in the Qur'an. It is good and easy for us to live according to the moral teachings in the book of our Lord and Creator. Without this morality, a healthy society is unthinkable; because laws decreed with no regard for human nature (that is, the character that human beings were created with), will have a detrimental effect on both individuals and on society and bring about social degradation. Relations between humans will deteriorate, and society will be plunged into chaos. As a result, war, confusion and oppression will be unavoidable throughout the world. Individuals divorced from religion, trying to follow the dictates of their own ignorant systems, will be overwhelmed by spiritual and physical distress.
Today, despite all this rampant negativity, some individuals-not including sincere believers-continue to insist that along with religion, there are also the "facts of life." This philosophy is based on rejecting the absolute necessity of religious morality in human life. According to such distorted thinking, to follow the rules of religious morality is practically impossible. These people fear that were religion allowed into daily life, they would be deprived of all kinds of worldly blessings and lead a life of monotony. They think that living a life of religious morality will prevent them from enjoying life. Of course, this idea has nothing to do with reality. Religious morality creates the most comfortable social life in which the individual human spirit will be the most content and the most productive. Those who adopt this high morality and escape the "facts of life" deception possess the soundest mood in their society. They will take pleasure in the beauties of life and play a major role in bringing about a society of peace, tolerance, and self-sacrifice.
But those divorced from religious morality think of practicing virtue as a sign of weakness and naiveté. For example, they believe that, no matter how much a person sacrifices himself for another, he will always get selfishness and unfairness in return-and therefore, it would be silly to act in such a way. They regard any self-sacrificial act as well-intentioned but ignorant-a person doing a good deed for someone else free of charge and getting no acknowledgement for what he has done. In real life, as far as they are concerned, one should return selfishness for selfishness, grudge for grudge, hostility for hostility and enmity for enmity.
Ignorant society regards it as silly to be kind and make amends with anyone who constantly does you wrong, and to forgive that person for the bad things he has done. In response to such moral virtue, people in that society would belittle the good person, asking, "How gullible can you be? If that were me, he'd soon get what's coming to him!" According to the "facts of life" espoused by those who ignore the moral teachings of the Qur'an, it is right to exchange evil for evil. This way of thinking is commended in ignorant religions, which assert that no enemy can ever be a friend; no matter how much good one person does for another, underlying enmity still remains. The only one who loses is whoever does the favor. Society holds the well-intentioned to be a weak person who doesn't realize when he is being abused.
People with this distorted way of thinking believe that they have to embrace "the facts of life" even more tightly to keep themselves from falling into traps. They fear that they have to pay close attention to what people are thinking and to how they react. These individuals lay great importance on what others say; assuming that the more they get others to like them, the better will be their place in society. They think that once society likes them, they should absolutely resort to every sort of unseemly behavior on the way to attaining their worldly ambitions.
In the Qur'an, however, Allah says that He wants human beings to be sincere in seeking His pleasure only and not to consider what other people might say. Our Lord commands His servants' moral character to be the opposite to that of the ignorant people we have been describing. In the sight of Allah, a good person is one who returns good for a wrong committed against him. Moreover, this kind of behavior is an important step on the way to creating friendship out of enmity. In the Qur'an, Allah tells us of this happy result:
A good action and a bad action are not the same. Repel the bad with something better and, if there is enmity between you and someone else, he will be like a bosom friend. (Surah Fussilat, 34)
Practicing the Qur'an's moral teachings is the only way to salvation; this is true in forgiving others for the wrongs they have committed and in everything else we do. The real purpose of life is to be a servant who wins Allah's favor; who does good without hope for reward, sacrifices himself for others and gives of himself freely. He is just, patient, determined to urge goodness and dissuade from evil, and totally and unconditionally given to winning the favor of Allah. But ignorant people who do not espouse the Qur'an's moral teachings spend their whole lives in conflict, strife and unhappiness, and they think that such are the facts of life. They cannot imagine living a quiet life of moral virtue, free from falsehood, opportunism, insincerity and hypocrisy. They believe that the world is a place where only the strong survive. They ignore the reality of the eternal world to come; they live their lives only in relation to the short life in this world. They reject religious morality, saying, "Whatever I do in this world is for profit." Caught in this false world of man-made rules, they actually regard some human beings as deities and feel enslaved to them. As a result, they are bound to suffer for not obeying Allah's commands; they will live a life of degradation in this world, and their pains will be much more severe in
the world to come. The Qur'an tells us about their state:
When those who associated others with Allah see those they associated, they will say, "Our Lord, these are our partner gods, the ones we called upon apart from You." But they will fling their words back in their faces: "You are truly liars!" On that Day they will offer their submission to Allah and the things they invented will abandon them. As for those who disbelieved and barred access to the way of Allah, We will heap punishment on top of their punishment because of the corruption they brought about. (Surat an-Nahl, 86-88)
Then they will be asked, "Where are those besides Allah you associated with Him?" and they will reply, "They have forsaken us. Or rather we were not calling to anything at all before." That is how Allah misguides the disbelievers. "That is because you exulted on the Earth, without any right to do so; and strutted about. Enter the gates of Hell, remaining in it timelessly, for ever. How evil is the abode of the arrogant!" (Surah Ghafir, 73-76)