Heedlessness of Man
Man is a forgetful creature. When he is in trouble, he says, “Allah”. When he is comfortable, he does not remember Allah; he leads his life in heedlessness. The Quran narrates it as follows:
"When trouble toucheth a man, he crieth unto Us (in all postures)? lying down on his side, or sitting or standing. But when We have solved his trouble, he passeth on his way as if he had never cried to Us for a trouble that touched him!" (Yunus, 12)
"When We bestow favors on man he turns away, and gets himself remote on his side (instead of coming to Us); and when evil seizes him (he comes) full of prolonged prayer!" (Fussilat, 51)
"When We give men a taste of Mercy, they exult thereat: and when some evil afflicts them because of what their (own) hands have sent forth, behold they are in despair! See they not that Allah enlarges the provision and restricts it, to whomsoever He pleases? Verily in that are Signs for those who believe." (Rum suresi, 36-37)
Allah is both Basit (Reliever) and Qabid (Constrictor); that is, He lets things both expand and constrict. As a manifestation of it, He gives sustenance abundantly to whomever He wants and gives sustenance scarcely to whomever He wants. Or he takes back what he gave before, through a disaster like an earthquake, flood, etc. He gives someone whom He gave scarcely in the past abundantly. They are all the necessities of the tough testing and trial on the earth. Thanking is expected from man when he lives comfortably. He is expected to be patient when he is in poverty. However, most people get spoiled when they are comfortable and complain when they are in poverty.
When people undergo a misfortune, they usually fall in despair. Actually, the state of misfortune is not permanent. Allah brings the day after the night and spring after winter; after hard times, Allah usually gives relief as it is stated in the following verse of the Quran: "Verily with every difficulty there is relief."(al-Inshirah, 5)
For instance, people who have been deeply affected by an earthquake think that they are finished and that nobody will live in that city any longer. However, after a few years, life returns to normal. Those painful days are forgotten. People start to get spoiled again when they become comfortable. The Quran narrates that weakness of man as follows:
"He it is Who enableth you to traverse through land and sea; so that ye even board ships? they sail with them with a favourable wind and they rejoice thereat; then comes a stormy wind and the waves come to them from all sides, and they think they are being overwhelmed: they cry unto Allah, sincerely offering (their) duty unto Him, saying "If Thou dost deliver us from this, we shall truly show our gratitude!" But when He delivereth them Behold! they transgress insolently through the earth in defiance of right! O mankind! your insolence is against your own souls? an enjoyment of the life of the Present: in the end to Us is your return, and We shall show you the truth of all that ye did. “(Yunus, 22-23)
As it is seen, the beginning of the verse is a direct addressing. Then, the people on the ship are mentioned as third person. In a sense, the first part of the verse embarked them on the ship and the second part made them watch themselves.
On such hard days, a person takes shelter in his Lord sincerely. I listened to something from a teacher-writer. He asked his atheist neighbor what he did during the earthquake on the 17th of August. His atheist neighbor made the following sincere confession: "I said all the prayers that I remembered. I found out that I knew so many prayers!"
However, not everybody can keep that state. The state of alertness during the time of misfortune is replaced by heedlessness, rebellion and even polytheism as comfortable days start. The Quran mentions it as follows:
"When trouble touches men they cry to their Lord turning back to Him in repentance: but when He gives them a taste of Mercy as from Himself, behold. some of them pay part-worship to other gods besides their Lord.? (As if) to show their ingratitude for the (favours) We have bestowed on them! Then enjoy (your brief day); but soon will ye know (your folly). "."(ar-Rum, 33-34)
Some people who are transferred from poverty to affluence show different forms of polytheism. For instance, without remembering Allah, they say that their affluence originates from their intelligence. Or they say, “if such and such a person had not helped us, we would not have overcome that difficulty.” Or they say, “luck helped us.” An open or hidden polytheism is seen in all of the states mentioned above. A believer should feel the divine practices behind the curtain of reasons with his consciousness originating from his belief and should thank Allah.
There is a saying, “the memory of man has the disease of forgetfulness.” That is, man is forgetful. He forgets about the exemplary things that he undergoes; he forgets about the exemplary events in the history and becomes heedless. When those events happen, people come to their senses but as the time passes, the effect of the events increases and the following generations think, “they are normal events” and ignore the exemplary aspects of the events. For instance, let us have a look at the following verses:
"Whenever We sent a prophet to a town, We took up its people in suffering and adversity, in order that they might call in humility. Then We changed their suffering into prosperity, until they grew and multiplied, and began to say: "Our fathers (too) were touched by suffering and affluence."...Behold! We took them to account of a sudden, while they realized not (their peril)." (al-Araf, 94-95)
"Before thee We sent (Messengers) to many nations, and We afflicted the nations with suffering and adversity that they might learn humility. When the suffering reached them from Us, why then did they not learn humility? On the contrary, their hearts became hardened, and Satan made their (sinful) acts seem alluring to them. But when they forget the warning they had received, We opened to them the gates of all (good) things, until, in the midst of their enjoyment of Our gifts, on a sudden, We called them to account, when lo! they were plunged in despair!" (al-Anam, 42-44)
In those two verses, it is stated that hard days should eliminate the hardening of the hearts. When the solid iron is put into strong fire, it softens and even becomes liquid. Similarly, on days like that the heart of man becomes softened. However, the hearts of many people continue to remain as heart due to the tricks of Satan.
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- Surah 51. Adh-Dhariyat (The Winnowing Winds)