ARE YOU AWARE YOU ARE LIVING IN A FALSE WORLD?


Reason is the most important distinguishing feature between believers and unbelievers. Reason, an intellectual gift from Allah, is a characteristic of servants who believe in Him. It develops in proportion to an individual's faith and fear of and submission to Him. Fear of Allah and sincere faith endow the individual with an understanding which allows him or her to act in accordance with the good pleasure of Allah at every moment of his or her life. Using their conscience, such people choose to behave in the manner most compatible with the Qur'an, as a result of which they acquire a high standard of behavior which prevails throughout their lives. Allah has revealed this mercy on believers in the Qur'an:


You who believe! If you fear [and respect] Allah, He will give you discrimination and erase your bad actions from you and forgive you. Allah's favor is indeed immense. (Surat al-Anfal, 29)


On the other hand, no matter how clever an unbeliever may be, so long as he lacks faith, he can never possess the reason with which to correctly comprehend the nature of the world in which he lives, nor what he needs to do as a consequence. That is because reason is a very different thing to intelligence; it cannot be acquired by hard work and experience, nor by solving mathematical problems or by occupying one's self in complicated academic processes. Reason is a power of comprehension and understanding which comes about by the will of Allah and belongs only to those who have faith. Allah has revealed in many verses of the Qur'an how deniers lack true reason. Some of these read as follows:
... Those who did not believe invented lies against Allah. Most of them do not use their intellect. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 103)


The likeness of those who do not believe is that of the beast which, call out to it as one may, can hear nothing but a shout and a cry. Deaf-dumb-blind. They do not use their intellect. (Surat al-Baqara, 171)


The worst of beasts in Allah's sight are the deaf and dumb who have no intellect. (Surat al-Anfal, 22)


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One of the principal reasons that unbelievers imagine this world they live in to be real, forget about the Hereafter and seek only to fulfill their earthly desires is that, as revealed in the verses, they have "no intellect." They therefore imagine that their whole lives are restricted to this world. Their narrow-minded perspectives on events and other judgments are nearly all directed towards this world. They see only the superficial aspects of the life of this world, are unable to comprehend its true purpose and spend their lives being totally forgetful of the Hereafter. Allah reveals the following about such people in the Qur'an:


They know an outward aspect of the life of this world but are heedless of the Hereafter. Have they not reflected within themselves? Allah did not create the heavens and the Earth and everything between them except with truth and for a fixed term. Yet many people reject the meeting with their Lord. (Surat ar-Rum, 7-8)


However, the fact is that via the verses of the Qur'an, Allah has provided information about the true face of the life of this world and has warned people not to be seduced by it.


To humanity the love of worldly appetites is painted in glowing colors:

women and children, and heaped-up mounds of gold and silver, and horses with fine markings, and livestock and fertile farmland. All that is merely the enjoyment of the life of this world. The best homecoming is in the presence of Allah. (Surah Al 'Imran, 14)


The life of this world is nothing but a game and a diversion. The Hereafter is better for those who guard against evil. So will you not use your intellect? (Surat al-An'am, 32)


In other verses, Allah has reminded people that they are ignoring the Hereafter, where they will spend their real lives:


No indeed! But you love this fleeting world and you disregard the Hereafter. (Surat al-Qiyama, 20-21)


There can be no doubt that such behavior will inflict eternal losses upon those who do not reflect upon the magnitude of Allah's words.


Imam Ghazali, a worthy Islamic scholar and man of high wisdom, once issued a reminder on this subject, describing how the transitory blessings of this world were dull and worthless compared to those to be granted by Allah in the Hereafter. Ghazali called upon people to seek the good pleasures of the Hereafter:


… In contrast to those peoples' stations, the ranks of the rulers in this world are small and dull-incomparably so. Allah speaks thus of the sultanate of the Hereafter, "Seeing them, you see delight and a great kingdom [sultanate]" (Surat al-Insan, 20).


Elevate the goods of the Hereafter, which Allah has described as such a great sultanate! Full well you know that the world and those things in it are few and worthless. Life is short, the span of the blessings of this world is short and very brief. Yet we muster our souls and possessions to acquire that very little and enjoy it for so short a time. Some of us achieve this, and others fail but envy those who do. They never look to see how they endanger their souls and possessions to acquire this. (Imam Ghazali, Minhajul Abidin, p. 319)


REAL LIFE LIES IN THE HEREAFTER


It is through the guidance of the Qur'an that people learn the purpose behind their creation. They understand how they should serve Allah and they appreciate the truths about life itself. As set out in the preceding pages, we are informed in the Qur'an that "the true life" is that of the Hereafter. As revealed in the verses, therefore, the world we are living in at present is merely a "diversion," "a place of trial." When a person crosses over to the life of the Hereafter, all that will remain of this world will be brief memories in his or her mind. Compared to the Hereafter, the life of this world resembles "the blink of an eye," as in the following example:


Imagine that you are sitting happily by the banks of a river one lovely spring day. Imagine that a light breeze makes the air cool and refreshing. Can you hear the delightful sound of the bubbling waters? Can you see the wonderful flowers, each more lovely than the last? Imagine that you are talking to a dear friend as you enjoy these beauties; imagine you are smelling the pure scent of the flowers on the air and listening to the sweet chirping of the birds. Imagine that as you are enjoying all these sensations you then wake up and find yourself lying in bed. In such a case, you would realize that everything you imagined to be real was in fact nothing but a dream: a figment of your imagination, which suddenly evaporated.


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Let us now imagine the same situation after you have woken up. Let us assume that you really are talking to a dear friend, enjoying all those sights and sounds by the banks of a sublime river.


If someone were to ask "which of the two would you prefer?" after you had experienced both, you would of course say, "the one after I had woken up." The reason is that what goes on in our dreams remains in our dreams and benefits a person nothing in real life. Nobody can seriously feel sorrow at what he or she has lost in a dream since he or she knows that these have no effect on real life. No matter how much delight a person takes in a dream, this can never give as much pleasure as when he or she is awake and in the real world.


In the same way, the life of this world is dream-like, very short and transitory when compared to the Hereafter. Like returning from the world of the imagination to the real world on awakening from a dream, the life of this world which seems so real now will shortly come to an end and your real, eternal life will begin in the Hereafter. This is how the Qur'an describes how people realize that they stayed only a short time in the life of this world:


He will say: "How many years did you tarry on the Earth?" They will say: "We tarried there for a day or part of a day. Ask those able to count!" He will say: "You only tarried there for a little while if you did but know!" (Surat al-Muminun, 112-114)


In another verse, Allah has warned people by revealing that rather like the harvest which sprouts with the rain but then turns dry and brittle, the life of this world is a place of deception and will inevitably one day come to an end:
Know that the life of this world is merely a game and a diversion and ostentation and a cause of boasting among yourselves and trying to outdo one another in wealth and children: like the plant-growth after rain which delights the cultivators, but then it withers and you see it turning yellow, and then it becomes broken stubble. In the Hereafter there is terrible punishment but also forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure. The life of this world is nothing but the enjoyment of delusion. (Surat al-Hadid, 20)


That being the case, to ignore this reality and to become embroiled in transient blessings of this world, and then to suffer the inevitable turmoil, would be an error of the most grievous nature. Believers know that the blessings of this world are a gift from Allah and must be used as means with which to attain His approval. In return for this godly approach, Allah makes everything that believers do auspicious and rewards them with eternal Paradise in the life of the Hereafter.


Those who make do with this world and who are unable to see its true face make little or no effort to attain the Afterlife. Since they imagine the world they live in to be real, they unwisely make all their plans with it in mind. Although Allah sometimes bestows blessings on them in the light of His wisdom, a severe loss still awaits them in the Afterlife, where they will experience their real lives. Allah has revealed the situation of these people, in the life of this world and that of the Hereafter, in the Qur'an:


If anyone desires to cultivate the Hereafter, We will increase him in his cultivation. If anyone desires to cultivate this world, We will give him some of it but he will have no share in the Hereafter. (Surat ash-Shura, 20)


... Say: "Enjoy your unbelief for a little while. You are among the Companions of the Fire." (Surat az-Zumar, 8)


No indeed! We have given these people enjoyment, as We did their fathers, until life seemed long and good to them. Do they not see how We come to the land eroding it from its extremities? Or are they the victors? (Surat al-Anbiya', 44)


Leave them to eat and enjoy themselves. Let false hope divert them. They will soon know. (Surat al-Hijr, 3)


People should pay attention to these reminders in order to stay clear of such a fate in the Hereafter.