Freeing Oneself from Unawareness
Reading the Qurâ€™an and pondering its verses
The most effective solution to ending oneâ€™s unawareness is to read the Qurâ€™an, Allahâ€™s divine light to guide His servants, and reflect upon its verses. Reading the Qurâ€™an draws people closer to Allah and allows them to grasp something of His supreme knowledge and power. At the same time, it provides the clearest and truest knowledge about what was previously unknown and unconsidered, and also answers questions that had perplexed them in the past. For this reason, those who read the Qurâ€™an sincerely understand it turn to Allah with their hearts satisfied.
Those who take its verses to heart become aware of the errors in their attitudes and ideas. Gradually, they come to understand the importance and seriousness of their past deeds and what drove them to engage in such activities. In short, they finally begin to understand Allahâ€™s supreme knowledge and power, and thus feel their fear, respect, and love for Him start to grow:
This (Qurâ€™an) is a communication to be transmitted to humanity so that people may be warned by it and will know that He is Allah, the One and Only; and so that people of intelligence will pay heed.
This Qurâ€™an guides to the most upright Way and gives good news to the believers who do right actions that they will have a large reward.
Those who read the Qurâ€™an and ponder its verses with sincerity eventually come to see it in the context of its manifestations of Allah. This allows them to remember Him at all times and avoid any type of unawareness. For example, they gradually notice that some of the people around them have characteristics that the Qurâ€™an says belong to deniers. And, due to their awareness of the punishment awaiting such people, these examples become important lessons for them. This way, by Allahâ€™s will, they avoid unawareness and learn how to protect themselves from it. In addition, they realize that the verses in the Qurâ€™an reveal the punishment of Hell and that, apart from Allahâ€™s will, there is no salvation. In the same way, they ponder the eternal beauty and blessings of life in the Garden and strive to win His mercy so that they may enter the Garden. Those who read the Qurâ€™an know that they will be called to account for what they have done and, based on this record, will enter the Garden or Hell. Therefore, aware of this truth, they avoid any type of unawareness and are careful to act in ways that win His approval.
Taking advantage of the opportunities sent by Allah
Allah has created circumstances that enable human beings to recognize His existence and turn to Him. Among these are times of anxiety and difficulty: Do they not see that they are tried once or twice in every year? But still they do not turn back. They do not pay heed (Surat at-Tawba:126). These difficult periods are very useful in causing people to realize their unawareness, for, in such moments, the lower self, which is in a constant state of rebelliousness against Allah, realizes its helplessness. During these times, people bring their consciences to the fore, see their errors, and find ways to avoid them. This important opportunity, provided people act upon it properly, helps them curtail their lower selves by recognizing their own weakness and repenting of their sins. As a result, they feel closer to Allah. They realize that Allahâ€™s power is all-sufficient, that He is the source of all things, and that only He can end this period of testing.
It is He Who conveys you on both land and sea, so that when some of you are on a boat, running before a fair wind, rejoicing at it, and then a violent squall comes upon them and the waves come at them from every side and they realize there is no way of escape, they call upon Allah, making their religion sincerely His: â€œIf You rescue us from this, we will truly be among the thankful.â€ But then, when He rescues them, they become rebellious in the land without any right to do so. O humanity, your rebelliousness is only against yourselves. There is the enjoyment of the life of this world, and then you will return to Us and We will inform you about what you did.
Unaware people can realize that there is no power to help them except Allah only when they feel completely helpless. But when their difficulties end, they forget Him and carry on as before:
When harm touches humanity, he calls upon Us, lying on his side, sitting down, or standing up. Then when We remove the harm from him, he carries on as if he had never called upon Us when the harm first touched him. In that way, We make what they have done appear good to the profligate.
For example, in times of natural disaster, people recognize how powerless they really are, that His knowledge and might are infinite, and that Allah is omnipresent and omniscient. At these times, they are reminded that they should fear and respect Him because He is all-powerful and that they may suffer His wrath at any moment. But earlier, these same people had ignored His commands and prohibitions, putting off their obedience until later. When fear consumes them, their consciences become clear and they recognize the truth. By causing people to see the truth, natural disasters are excellent reminders that, if understood in the proper light, will save them in the Hereafter. But once their discomfort fades, those who do not learn from such warnings allow their traditional unawareness to reassert itself, embrace this transitory world again, and resume their defiance of His commands and prohibitions. In order to escape from this vicious circle, individuals should take advantage of these opportunities by frequently recalling their difficulties and how Allah comforted them.
They must understand that these events are warnings, and thus great blessings, for such displays of Allahâ€™s infinite power open the way for people to cast off their usual unawareness. However, it is wrong to wait for such events to happen in order to escape from unawareness, because Allah gives such warnings all the time: difficult times experienced by relatives and neighbors, natural disasters, wars, and so on. Those individuals who heed these warnings realize that the same thing could happen to them. Using such events to remind themselves just how powerless they really are when confronted with Allahâ€™s supreme might, they try to root out their own unawareness and turn to Him. What happened to the people of â€˜Ad could happen to any people:
(The people of) â€˜Ad were destroyed by a savage howling wind. Allah subjected them to it for seven nights and eight days without a break. You could see the people flattened in their homes, just like the hollow stumps of uprooted palms.
By giving such examples in the Qurâ€™an, Allah expects people to learn from what has happened to others and to think about His infinite power and knowledge. Daily life contains many examples that lead people to remember Allahâ€™s power. But people merely feel sorry and pity when they see powerless individuals; they do not realize that what they see is also a warning to them. All of these examples are warnings and new opportunities for people to pierce the veil of unawareness.