Author: Harun Yahya; Mona Abdulhaq (editor)
Publisher: Global Publishing (2003)
Pages: 142 Binding: Paperback
Description from the publisher:
In the Qur'an, conscience has a meaning and importance beyond its common and everyday use. This book introduces the real concept of conscience that is related in the Qur'an and draws our attention to the kind of understanding, thought, and wisdom that a truly conscientious person has. This book will make you recognize the voice of your conscience and accordingly help you to differentiate it from other sources of inspiration.
In this book, we are going to talk about a voice that always inspires justice, good manners, humility,honesty, sincerity, and all that is most righteous. This voice, though you may be unaware of it, is always with you wherever you go.
'To whom does this voice belong?' you may then ask.Well, this voice belongs to you, it is within you, it is the voice of your conscience...
The word 'conscience' is very common and much used.However, the actual meaning of the word, its importance in the deen (religion), how a really conscientious person behaves and what separates him or her from other people are not so well known in general. Conscience is limited to the meaning acknowledged by society. According to popular belief, those who do not, for example, dump rubbish in the streets, who give money to beggars and take care of stray animals are shown as examples of conscientious people.
However, the actual meaning of the word 'conscience' is far more subtle and comprehensive than the meaning attached to it by society. The purpose of this book is to introduce the real meaning of conscience as exemplified in the Qur'an and to draw attention to how a conscientious person thinks, what kind of insight and understanding he or she possesses, and the importance of conscience in life after death. We will provide you with the necessary information to identify the voice of your conscience, and distinguish it from the other voices and suggestions coming from within you. We will also explain some of the things your conscience may make you think and do and how someone who acts upon his conscience can attain the purest state.
The main purpose of this book is not only to inform, but also to call out to people's conscience in order to spur them into action, encourage them to live the rest of their lives by their conscience, and show them how lost they will be if they fail to do so.
Allah's Inspiration To Every Man: Conscience
Conscience is a spiritual quality that bids man good attitude and thought, and helps him think straight and tell right from wrong.
One of the important aspects of conscience is that it is common to all people. In other words, what feels right to the conscience of a man also feels right to the conscience of all others provided that the same conditions prevail. The conscience of one man never falls out with that of another. The reason lies in the source of conscience: it is the inspiration of Allah. Through the conscience, Allah lets us know the best and the most beautiful behaviour and manners which it will please Him for us to adopt.
That conscience is an inspiration from Allah is mentioned in the Qur'an, in Surat ash-Shams:
And the self and what proportioned it and inspired it with depravity or taqwa, he who purifies it has succeeded, he who covers it up has failed. (Surat ash-Shams: 7-10)
In the above verses, Allah declares that He has inspired the self with depravity (to act in a sinful manner, to disobey, to deviate, to lie, to turn away from righteousness, to stir up trouble, to decline in good manners). The opposite is taqwa (awe or fear of Allah which inspires a person to be on guard against wrong action and eager for actions which please Him). It is this very conscience that makes man guard against evil deeds and find the right way.
One of the most important aspects of conscience is that it helps man to find what is right of his own accord. This will be discussed in more detail in forthcoming chapters. Conscience will surely show man what is right, even if nobody else will. However, what matters for man is to take recourse to his own conscience, listen to what it says, and act upon it. For this reason, we can say that conscience is the main component of religion.
Above all, there is one point that must be borne in mind; every man, from the moment of gaining consciousness, is responsible for what Allah inspires him with and what his con-science tells him. From the moment he starts to conceive the events around him and becomes able to judge for himself, he is expected to possess and be able to xercise the ability to hear and distinguish the voice of his conscience, and to have the will to follow it. From this point forward, he will be questioned about the actions he takes in the course of his life. If he follows his conscience, he will be rewarded with an eternal life in Allah's heaven, but if he follows his self, he will meet an eternal sealed vault of fire.
Evidence Of Allah's Existence Can Be Seen Through Conscience
The first thing that a man who follows his conscience will do is to question and explore the things he sees around him. A man who has developed a good sense of perception, will easily see that he lives in a world created flawlessly, contained within a perfect universe.
Let us ponder for a moment the environment and the conditions that we are living in. We live in a world subtly planned and designed with all possible details. Even the systems in the human body alone are overwhelming in their perfection. While reading this book, your heart beats constantly without fail, your skin renews itself, your lungs clean the air you inhale, your liver drains your blood, and millions of proteins are synthesised in your cells each second in order to secure the permanence of life. Man lives unaware of thousands of other activities taking place within him, even not realising how some of them take place.
And beyond there is the sun, millions of miles away from our planet, which provides the light, heat and energy that we need. The distance between the sun and the world is so finely adjusted that this source of energy neither scorches the earth, nor freezes it to death.
When we look at the sky, we learn that apart from its aesthetic appeal, the air mass surrounding the earth also protects man and all beings from possible external threats. Had the atmosphere not existed, there would not be a single living thing on the earth.
The man who considers these things one by one, will sooner or later question how he himself and the universe he lives in came into existence and how they are maintained. When he investigates it, two alternative explanations will present themselves.
One of these explanations tells us that the whole universe, planets, stars and all living things came into existence on their own as a result of a series of coincidences. It claims that freely floating atoms, which are the smallest units of matter, came together by chance to form cells, humans, animals, plants, stars, and all the flawless and extremely complex structures and systems which surround and amaze us.
The second alternative tells us that everything we see is created by a creator who has superior wisdom and power over everything; that nothing could possibly have come into existence by mere chance and that all the systems around us are planned and designed by a creator. This creator is Allah.
We must refer to our own conscience to decide. Is it possible that such perfect and detailed systems could be formed by accident and yet work in such perfect harmony?
Everyone who refers to his conscience can grasp that everything in the universe has a creator, and this creator is exalted in wisdom and has power over everything. Everything around us bears the evident signs of Allah. The perfect balance and harmony of the universe and the living beings within it, is the most powerful indication of a supreme consciousness. The evidence is plain, simple and indisputable. Our conscience has no choice but to acknowledge that all is the work of Allah, the one and only Creator.
However, someone who does not refer to his own conscience cannot have the same awareness. This awareness is achieved through wisdom, and wisdom is a spiritual quality that comes about only when one follows one's conscience. Any attitude displayed in accordance with conscience helps build up and develop wisdom. Here, however, special attention must be paid to the definition of wisdom. Contrary to its common use, wisdom is a different concept to intelligence. A man, no matter how intelligent and knowledgeable he is, will still be unwise if he does not refer to his conscience, and is unable to see or comprehend the facts that he comes across.
An example can elucidate the difference between intelligence and the wisdom attained through conscience. A scientist may carry out very detailed research about the cell for years. He may even be the best in his field. However, if he is lacking in wisdom and conscience, he will only retain fragments of knowledge. He will not be able to fit these fragments together to form a whole. In other words, he will not be able to draw correct conclusions from this body of information.
A man with wisdom and conscience, however, perceives the miraculous aspects and perfect details of a cell, and acknowledges the hand of a creator, a designer with a superior wisdom. If a man thinks with his conscience he will arrive at this conclusion: the power that creates a cell with such perfection must also be the creator of all the other living and non-living beings.
In the Qur'an, there is the example of Prophet Ibrahim (AS), who found Allah through listening to his conscience:
When night covered him he saw a star and said, 'This is my Lord!' Then when it set he said, 'I do not love what sets.' Then when he saw the moon come up he said, 'This is my Lord!' Then when it set he said, 'If my Lord does not guide me, I will be one of the misguided people.' Then when he saw the sun come up he said, 'This is my Lord! This is greater!' Then when it set he said, 'My people, I am free of what you associate with Allah! I have turned my face to Him Who brought the heavens and earth into being, a pure natural believer. Never shall I give partners to Allah.(Surat Al-An'am: 76-79)
How Prophet Ibrahim found Allah through wisdom can be seen in the verses above. Through his conscience, he realised that all the things he saw around him could only be beings that are created, and that the Creator is far superior to the created beings. Anyone who refers to his conscience will see this fact even if there is no one to tell him about it. Everyone who thinks sincerely, without involving his passions, and only by employing his conscience, can comprehend the existence and glory of Allah. If someone refuses to see the bare facts before his eyes, and acts as if they do not exist, then this man will become degraded despite his intelligence. The reason a person who knows the right in his conscience does not want to accept it is because this fact conflicts with his personal interests. A man's acceptance of Allah's existence means his acceptance of a being far superior to him to whom he must submit, whom he desperately needs, and to whom he is answerable.
Let us give a well-known example of how a covered conscience can deceive a man, in spite of his intelligence and knowledge. Francis Crick is one of the two scientists who discovered the structure of DNA during the 1950's. This was undoubtedly one of the major discoveries in the history of science; it required some painstaking work, considerable accumulated knowledge and, no doubt, intelligence. As a result of all the work he did, this 'scientist' was awarded the Nobel Prize.
During his research, Francis Crick became so amazed at the structure of the cell and its hidden design that, despite being an ardent evolutionist, he mentioned the following in his book:
An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going. (1)
When Crick, who believed in evolution and the idea that life came about as a result of coincidences, saw the details in the cell, he wrote the above lines and stated that a cell could not possibly be formed by coincidence, but could only be a miracle. Evolutionists, however, do not believe in any explanation other than coincidence, for it would require them to accept the existence of Allah. Crick was so impressed with the perfection and intactness of the cell that despite advocating a different ideology, he had to confess his amazement. However, Crick could not follow his conscience for long and said that he could not accept the existence of Allah, so this whole design, which requires a superior wisdom and can by no means be explained by coincidences, was created not by Allah, but by 'aliens'. In other words, it was the aliens, not Allah, who created life. Aliens had brought the first DNA sample to the world and thus life had started! This is a typical example of what happens when a man, no matter how intelligent and knowledgeable he may be, imprisons and represses his conscience. This Nobel prize-awarded 'scientist' had covered his mind to such an extent that he did not even stop to think how an alien, who allegedly formed such a superior structure, was itself created.
A renowned American biochemistry professor Michael J. Behe explains, without using the word conscience itself, the situation of those scientists who cover their conscience:
Over the past four decades modern biochemistry has uncovered the secrets of the cell. The progress has been hard won. It has required tens of thousands of people to dedicate the better parts of their lives to the tedious work of the laboratory...
The result of these cumulative efforts to investigate the cell - to investigate life at the molecular level - is a loud, clear, piercing cry of "design!" The result is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science... This triumph of science should evoke cries of "Eureka!" from ten thousand throats, should occasion much hand-slapping and high-fiving, and perhaps even be an excuse to take a day off.
But no bottles have been uncorked, no hands slapped. Instead, a curious embarrassed silence surrounds the stark complexity of the cell. When the subject comes up in public, feet start to shuffle, and breathing gets a bit labored. In private people are a bit more relaxed;many explicitly admit the obvious but then stare at the ground, shake their heads, and let it go at that.
Why does the scientific community not greedily embrace its startling discovery? Why is the observation of design handled with intellectual gloves? The dilemma is that while one side of the elephant is labeled intelligent design, the other side might be labeled God. (2)
The signs of Allah's existence are very clear and manifest for all to see. It is an evident truth that the Creator of the design prevailing across the universe is Allah. Some of those who reject the existence of Allah do so not because they really do not believe in Him, but because they want to avoid the moral code they would have to observe as believers. Everyone knows the existence and eternal power of Allah in his conscience. However, someone who acknowledges the existence of Allah and perceives His power, also knows that he will be answerable to Him, and that he must obey His rules and live for Him. He who insists on rejecting despite his awareness of these facts, does so because accepting this great fact is not in compliance with his interests and the feeling of superiority inside him. In the Qur'an, these people are described in Surat an-Naml:
They repudiated them wrongly and haughtily, in spite of their own certainty about them. See the final fate of the corrupters. (Surat an-Naml, 14)
Events that took place between Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his people told in the Qur'an, provide a very good example. The people of Prophet Ibrahim worshipped idols. It is important to note here that in the Qur'an, the term 'idols' implies all the powers people believe in other than Allah. It would be incorrect to think of idol-worshippers only as those who worship statues.As in the example of evolutionists, to look upon atoms, time and coincidence as the causes of life would simply mean to take atoms, time and coincidence as gods. However, neither time nor coincidence can possibly have enough power to create life. Only Allah can possess such power. According to the incident mentioned above, Prophet Ibrahim destroyed the idols to show his people that the idols they worshipped were just objects having no power over anything. It is thus described by Allah in the Qur'an:
He said, 'Far from it! Your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, He Who brought them into being. I am one of those who bear witness to that. By Allah, I will devise some scheme against your idols when your backs are turned.
' He broke them in piece, except for the biggest one, so that they would have it to consult!
They said, 'Who has done this to our gods? He is definitely one of the wrongdoers!' They said, 'We heard a young man mentioning them. They call him Ibrahim.' They said, 'Bring him before the people's eyes so that they can be witnesses.' They said, 'Did you do this to our gods, Ibrahim?' He said, 'No, this one, the biggest of them, did it. Ask them if they are able to speak!' (Surat al-Anbiya': 56-63)
Thus the unbelievers saw that the idols they had been worshipping could not answer their calls. They were impotent effigies lacking even the power to defend themselves, let alone create anything; so they turned to their conscience:
Then they turned to themselves and said (to the idols), 'It is you yourselves who are wrongdoers.' (Surat al-Anbiya': 64)
However, it was not long before they were restored to their old state. They haughtily and arrogantly denied what they had found in their conscience
But then they relapsed back into their disbelief: 'You known full well these idols cannot talk.' He said, 'Do you then worship, instead of Allah, what cannot help or harm you in any way? Shame on you and what you worship besides Allah! Will you not use your intellect? (Surat al-Anbiya': 65-67)
Their conscience having been exposed, the unbelievers fall into dismay, and strongly resist what their conscience has accepted. In order not to accept the truth, they feel an intense hatred against those who make the truth clear to them, and they even risk trying to murder the messengers to safeguard their false beliefs:
They said, 'Burn him and support your gods if you are resolved to do something.' (Surat al-Anbiya': 68)
The above situation applies not only to a certain section of society, but to many people at large. A man may be a distinguished scientist, with many discoveries to his name. He may be a successful businessman or an artist; he may also be rich, cultivated and intelligent. However, instead of employing his conscience to think of Allah, glorify His power and art, and thank Him for giving him the chance to see and understand these things, he only becomes proud and boastful of his intelligence and discoveries, and the money he has earned. He never thinks that none of these will be of any use to him after he dies.
Even the names of many people who were famous in their time for their discoveries, their wealth or the great states they governed, have long been forgotten. Even if they are remembered, it is of no benefit to a person who is dead. Those people paid no attention to the commandments of Allah, nor did they acknowledge His power or appreciate the favours He bestowed upon them. Such people went astray because their hearts were sealed and their consciences covered. In the Qur'an, Allah describes those who transgress in pursuit of their own interests and passions:
Have you seen him who takes his whims and desires to be his god - whom Allah has misguided knowingly, sealing up his hearing and his heart and placing a blindfold over his eyes? Who then will guide him after Allah? So will you not pay heed? They say, 'There is nothing but our existence in the life of this world. We die and we live and nothing destroys us except for time.' They have no knowledge of that. They are only conjecturing. (Surat al-Jathiyya: 23-24)
As can be seen in the above verses, those who put aside their conscience in pursuit of their own self and transgress because of the qualities they possess, are described as 'deaf and blind'. That their hearts are sealed tells us that they have no comprehension, that is, they can neither use their wisdom, nor distinguish between right and wrong. The only reason they get into such a state is because they do not use their conscience.
(1) Francis Crick, Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981, p88.
(2) Michael J. Behe, darwin's Black Box, New York: Free Press 1996, pp. 232-233