Unawareness, as briefly defined in the introduction, is the condition of those people who are either unaware of Allahâ€™s existence and the Hereafter, or, if they are aware, do not have the requisite sense of responsibility. As a result, they are unaware and careless. Sometimes, believers can become temporarily unaware due to a transient forgetfulness or distraction. In the case of unbelievers or those who ascribe equals to Allah, this can be a life-long condition that affects every aspect of life.
Many people do not wonder why they were created; rather, they dally in the desires of their egos and therefore lead empty and useless lives. Following the logic of â€œliving for the moment,â€ they seek to attain only the best and to enjoy as many of the worldâ€™s pleasures as they can. For them, what counts is making the best of their time, imagining that â€œwe only have one life.â€ Thus, they try to fill their allotted days with as much pleasure and enjoyment as possible. They know they are going to die, and yet they are unaware of the eternal punishment awaiting them in Hell. And because they cannot conceive of Allahâ€™s supreme power, they underestimate just how severe this punishment will be. (For details, see Harun Yahyaâ€™s Death, Resurrection, Hell). Some of the related verses areas follows:
If only you could see those who do wrong at the time when they see the punishment, that truly all strength belongs to Allah , and that He is severe in punishment.
That Day no one will punish as He punishes, and no one will shackle as He shackles.
When they are flung into it (Hell), they will hear it gasping harshly as it seethes. It all but bursts with rage. Each time a group is flung into it, its custodians will ask them: â€œDid no warner come to you?â€
Hell will suffice as a Searing Blaze! As for those who reject Our Signs, We will roast them in a Fire. Every time their skins are burned off, We will replace them with new skins so that they can taste the punishment. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise.
Most unaware individuals know of Allahâ€™s existence but do not have an accurate knowledge of Islam. Therefore, they do not submit to Him. As a result, their lack of absolute trust in Him causes them to experience deep pain and sorrow when confronted with difficult and distressing situations. The smallest anxiety is enough to upset their lives, and they are known for their pessimism, unhappiness, and depression.
They pass long periods doing useless and meaningless things, which they call â€œbeing busy.â€ But this â€œuseless busyness,â€ which makes them feel so important and indispensable, is just an empty distraction that fans the flames of their unawareness. In the Qurâ€™an, Allah describes these vain distractions:
It may be that those who are unbelievers will wish that they had been Muslims. Leave them to eat and enjoy themselves. Let false hope divert them. They will soon know.
Unawareness is like an insidious disease that engulfs those who have forgotten Allah and the Hereafter, that anesthetizes the mind and shrouds the intelligence. This drowsy unawareness prevents them from understanding the realities that assail and await them. Despite their power to see and hear, such people can no longer accurately interpret and judge what they see and hear. In fact, it shrouds their minds to such an extent that they spend all of their time trying to satisfy the endless desires of their egos. They can think of nothing else, for they have already transformed their desires and passions into deities:
Have you seen him who has taken his whims and desires to be his deity? Will you, then, be his guardian? Do you suppose that most of them hear or understand? They are just like cattle. Indeed, they are even further astray!
One important aspect of unawareness is its ability to alienate people from reality and cause them to live in a dream world. For example, young people always think of the future and may feel happy thinking that their dreams will come true. As they get older, their dreams become more restricted and they try to relive them through souvenirs and reminders. Older people can easily find many memories to share with their loved ones, and retelling their memories lets them relive the excitement or sorrow of that moment.
With their minds fully occupied by dreams and memories, they have no room for those realities that deserve their full attention: the Hereafter, the Garden, and Hell. They are not connected to Allah, either in what they think or feel, and conceive of reality as just an unwanted, indistinct, dark space between dreams and memories. When reality somehow finds its way into their minds, they immediately stop thinking about it and return to their daydreams.
Unawareness can be compared to how people with poor eyesight see the world through an indistinct haze. They cannot see anything clearly or in detail until they put on their glasses. Only after doing that will they become aware of how little they could see without their glasses. Perhaps they had not seen anything at all.
Unaware people also have a similar (but more serious) type of conception deficiency: they cannot properly appreciate Allahâ€™s existence, splendor, and honor. But when they approach Him with a true heart, pray to Him, contemplate Him, and respect the boundaries He has set for humanity, He may remove this deficiency so that they can obtain a clear understanding of reality.