What is the situation of those who are unaware of Islam

This information is given on the sixtyth and sixty-first pages of the work “Faysalü’t-Tefrika Beyne’l-İslâm ve’z-Zendeka” by İmam-ı Gazali, translated by Süleyman Uludağ under the name “Tolerance in Islam” .

What is the situation of those who do not know about Islam? What does it mean to be unaware of Islam?

First of all, we think it would be useful to start the topic by reminding this truth. Only Allah Almighty has the right to call to account and to punish. Creatures have no right to ask Him questions or account.

The sole owner and sole ruler of the public property is Allah Almighty. Of course, the Sultan of Eternity and Eternity can dispose of his property as he wishes. But all the actions of the All-Wise and All-Compassionate One are wise, merciful and just. No one can be more compassionate and merciful to His creatures than Him. That person whom those who ask the above question apparently feel sorry for, but actually want to put forward as an excuse for their own sins, is a servant of God Almighty. His interest in us is only in terms of humanity. It is Allah Almighty who, with His mercy and grace, transformed him from a drop of water in his mother’s womb into a human form, bestowed on him intelligence, and equipped him with all the material and spiritual devices necessary to benefit from the world. If so, no one can be more compassionate towards that man than his Merciful Creator.

This truth should not be overlooked when examining issues related to fate and justice . Each person has a different world in this world, with different living conditions, different problems faced by individuals, families and relatives, different problems in terms of livelihood, and finally the unique social structure of the country they live in. The results of this divine division, the wisdom of which we do not fully know, but whose justice we do not doubt, will be exhibited in the afterlife, on the day of supreme justice, and as stated in the Surah Zilzal, every atom of good and every atom of evil will be accounted for there.

While many situations that are thought to be beneficial in this world will become a great burden for the servant there due to the weight of his responsibility, many events that seem to be trouble and hardship will be a means of forgiveness of sins there – provided that he is patient.

Hashir Square awaits people as a supreme court of justice, where the rights of even animals, both from humans and each other, will be taken into account, and where even the rights of an unbeliever towards a Muslim will be taken into account. The Absolute Just One , who weighs even the small rights of animals to each other with a delicate scale whose nature we do not know , will of course judge humans with his absolute justice.

Some people’s misgivings about Destiny and Divine justice come from not thinking about this day of justice. Without thinking about that day, it is of course impossible for us to properly understand the manifestation of Divine justice in the testing conditions of the servants in this world, which is, in one respect, the middle of the road.

It should not be overlooked that on that day of justice, when even the slightest bit of evil will be taken into account, those who slander Divine justice will also be brought to account. Instead of objecting to issues that are not understood, leaning in with curiosity and learning is a must of reason and wisdom. It is also a kind of worship. For example, as a result of believing that the All-Wise Creator has not created anything in the human body without wisdom or uselessness, medical science has researched and discovered the condition of each member, bone, nerve and gland and brought it to its current level. If a doctor accepts a limb as useless for which he does not know what it is used for, he will declare his ignorance. His not understanding cannot be evidence of the uselessness of that organ. Likewise, a person who believes in the justice of Allah, the Absolutely Just, is obliged to believe that Divine justice is manifested in every situation. He should seek answers to the questions that come to his mind within this understanding.
God Almighty says in the Holy Quran:

“Allah only offers a person what he can afford…” (Baqara, 2/286.)

By saying this, He clearly states that He does not offer His servants burdens that they cannot bear. Just as there are burdens that a person’s body cannot bear or his possessions are not enough, there are truths that his mind cannot reach alone. All of these are within the truth that people are not burdened with burdens that they cannot bear. Let’s explain the subject with some examples:

– A person who is too sick to stand performs his prayer sitting.

– If a patient is unable to sit or move, his prayer will be postponed.

– The fast of a person who forgets to eat during Ramadan will not be broken.

– A person who is forced to eat something haram will not be held responsible.

– It is not obligatory for a poor Muslim to go on pilgrimage and pay alms.

Examples can be multiplied… These are proofs that God Almighty is Just and that He does not impose burdens on people that they cannot bear.

Allah Almighty, with his absolute justice, has limited the responsibilities of his servants not only with their physical and financial conditions, but also with their conditions and their ability to comprehend the truths of faith and to be aware of Islamic rules. In other words, God Almighty did not impose burdens on the minds of the people that they could not bear. It is also necessary to know this truth:

Since people’s main duty in this world is to believe in God Almighty and obey Him, even the lowest level of mind has been given the ability to perceive the existence of the Noble Creator. Even though worldly affairs cannot be seen properly with a small mind, it can be known that this universe has a creator. On the other hand, although the loss of one hand hinders his worldly affairs to some extent, the same person will not feel any deficiency in knowing Allah even if he loses both hands and both feet. After perceiving the sultan of this universe with his mind, he worships Him as much as his physical condition allows.

Allahu Almighty, the Absolutely Just, has granted every human being enough intelligence to pass the test of this world, and has exempted mentally ill people and children who have not reached the sinn-i offering from the test.

After these explanations, let’s come to the fatwa aspect of the issue:

The issue was how to equate a person born in a remote corner of the world or in a town under captivity with a person born in an Islamic country, and how justice could be explained in the testing conditions of these two individuals. First, let’s state this: According to Maturidi , the imam of the Hanafis in faith, the person whose situation is described above is obliged to know that only he and this world have a creator. Since he cannot reach other truths of faith and Islamic rules with his mind, he is not responsible for them. According to Imam Ash’ari, who is the imam of the majority of Shafi’is in faith , such a person is a man of salvation even if he does not believe in Allah. However, the majority of Islamic theological scholars adopted the first view.

Let us present the late Ömer Nasuhî Bilmen’s statements on this subject, first in his own words, and then by simplifying them:

“Even those who live in the time of interregnum and who have not attained prophethood are obliged to believe in Allah Almighty. Because their mental powers and their sound nature motivate them to tawhid and ma’rifatullah. However, these are shariah. They are not responsible for the provisions, because such provisions cannot be comprehended by reason unless they are communicated by the Divine Enlightenment.”

“Interregnum means cessation. It is called the time when the divine revelation ceases and the divine revelation ceases. It refers to the time between Hazrat Isa and Hatem-ul Anbiyâ. People living in such a time are called interregnum. Even those who were born after the Bi’set-i Nebeviyye, but who were not blessed with Islam because they lived in an unknown continent or in an unknown continent of the earth, are considered as the people of interregnum.”

“Therefore, since they are excused in this respect, they are not responsible for the religious rules such as prayer and fasting. However, there is a disagreement about whether faith in Allah Almighty should be obligatory for them or not. According to Ash’ariya, the abstract mind and the evil eye of ma’rifetullah are not sufficient. Probably, the obligation of belief in Allah Almighty is established by the Shari’ah. The people of the interregnum do not deserve to suffer punishment. As a matter of fact,   ” We do not punish a nation unless we send a Messenger.” (Isra, 17/15) The Qur’an also states this, but Māturidiyya Eimma says: Believing in Allah Almighty is a matter of nature. Everyone can mentally perceive the beauty of Tawhid-i Bari. Wherever and at whatever time a person is, he always looks at it. While he sees thousands of creation’s curses that strike his senses, it cannot be tolerated that he cannot rationally infer them to the body of the mighty soul… The purpose of the torment inscribed in the verse is the torment of this world, not the torment of the hereafter, or the suffering of non-comprehension to which this verse refers. It belongs to the state of non-existence of the morality of the Sharia, which is not possible. Otherwise, it does not include the abandonment of ma’rifetullah, which is possible to be learned mentally. Therefore, no wise person can be excused regarding ma’rifetullah.”

” According to some scholars, the people of interregnum are divided into three groups: The first is those who confirm the Divine unity with their minds and eyes even though they live in the time of interregnum, these are the people of heaven. The second is those who associate partners with God Almighty, these are the people. The third is those who are heedless and have lost the idea of ​​Divinity. The disagreement is about this part.

Simplified form of the above expressions:

“Even those who lived during the interregnum and did not receive the voice of a prophet are obliged to believe in God Almighty. Because their minds and uncorrupted nature lead them to know God and believe in his unity. However, they are not responsible for other religious provisions. Because , such rulings cannot be understood by reason unless they are conveyed by the prophets.”

“Interregnum means cessation, it is the time when the divine revelation was interrupted by the interruption of sending the prophets. It is especially used for the time between the Prophet Jesus (pbuh) and the last Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). People of such a time are called people living in the period of interregnum.”

“Even the Hulus, who were born after our Prophet was sent as a prophet, but to whom the voice of Islam did not reach because they lived alone, on the top of a mountain, or in an unknown part of the earth, are like people who lived during the interregnum.”

“Therefore, since they are considered excused in this respect, they are not responsible for religious rules such as prayer and fasting. However, there is a disagreement as to whether believing in God Almighty is obligatory for them or not . According to Ash’ariya, just reason and thought are not sufficient to know Allah. . The necessity of believing in Allah is proven by religion. People of the interregnum will not be put into hell for not believing. As a matter of fact,  the verse “We do not punish a nation unless we send a Messenger” expresses this. But the Imams of Maturidiyyah say: Believing in God is a necessity of creation. Everyone can understand with his mind that Allah is one… Wherever and at whatever time a person is, he always sees thousands of works created with wisdom and artistry that strike his alert mind, and the existence of their Almighty Creator. Not being able to find a way with reason cannot be considered permissible… What is meant by the punishment that will not be suffered in the verse is the punishment in this world, not the punishment in the hereafter. Or, the situation of not causing punishment that this verse expresses belongs to the situation of not fulfilling the religious provisions that are impossible to understand. Otherwise, it does not mean abandoning knowing God, which can be learned through reason.”

“Therefore, no intelligent person is excused when it comes to knowing Allah. According to some scholars, the people of the interregnum are divided into three groups: The first is those who accepted the unity of Allah with their minds and ideas, even though they lived in the interregnum period. These are the people of heaven. The second is the people of the interregnum. Those who associate partners with Allah are destined for hell. Thirdly, they are those who are heedless and neglect the idea of ​​Divinity, and this is where the disagreement is.

Master Bediuzzaman Said Nursi says the following about the people of interregnum:

“The people of the interregnum are the people of the najat. All the same, they have no objections from the calligraphers in the details. According to Imam-i Shafi’i and Imam-i Ash’ari, even if he blasphemes and does not follow the method of belief, he is still the people of the najat. Because the divine offer is made through revelation, and even the gift assumes the offer through perception. If heedlessness and the influence of time have obscured the religions of the righteous prophets, he will be rewarded if he obeys the time of interregnum. It will not be punished because it cannot be a proof because it remains hidden.” (Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, Letters, p. 385)

Let’s try to explain these expressions by simplifying them:

“All scholars agree that the people of interregnum will not be punished for their mistakes in the details of the religion. According to Imam-i Shafi’i and Imam-i Ash’ari, even if they do not believe and become blasphemers, they will not be held responsible for that. Because, they will not be held responsible. Ownership is only realized by sending a prophet. In addition, the fact that a prophet was sent and the nature of the prophet’s duty must be known so that responsibility can be the subject of discussion. If the guidance of the prophets remains secret and is not understood due to reasons such as the passage of time and heedlessness, those who are not aware of them. They are considered interregnum and will not be punished.”

A question may come to mind here:

“What will be the situation of those who heard about the name and duty of the Prophet (pbuh) but were informed about it in a negative way?”

In response to this question, let’s take a look at the following classification of Imam-i Ghazali. In this classification, Imam-i Ghazali discusses the situation of the Christians living at that time and the Turks who had not yet become Muslims and says the following:

“According to my belief, God willing, God Almighty will include many of the Greeks, Christians and Turks of our time under the scope of Divine Mercy. What I mean by these is the Greeks and Turks who live in distant countries and have not received the invitation of Islam. These are three parts:

  1. Those who have never heard the name of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
  2. Hz. Those who have heard the name, attributes and miracles of the Prophet (pbuh). These are people who live in places neighboring Islamic countries or among Muslims; they are infidels and heretics.
  3. This is the group located between two degrees. Hz. Although they have heard the name of the Prophet (pbuh), they have not heard about his qualities and characteristics. More precisely, these are Hz. Ever since the Prophet (pbuh) was a child, he had said, “A liar whose name is Muhammad – God forbid! – has claimed to be a prophet.” They recognized it as: Just like our children hear that a liar whose name is al-Muqaffa claimed that Allah sent him as a prophet and challenged him with his prophethood as a liar. In my opinion, their situation is similar to that of those in the first group. Because these are Hz. They heard the name of the Prophet (pbuh) along with the opposite qualities he possessed. This does not encourage people to think and research in order to search for the truth.” [İmam-ı Gazali, Tolerance in Islam (Translation: Süleyman Uludağ), p. 60-61.]

Today, it is possible to come across people who fall into the third group in the classification of Hazrat Imam Ghazali, both in the Christian world and in the iron curtain countries. Just as there are many people in a remote corner of the Christian world, far from social life and deprived of the opportunity to find the True Religion, there are many oppressed people in captivity camps behind the iron curtain, unaware of the existence of the free world. It is obvious that it is difficult for them to find the true religion of Islam, given their living conditions and opportunities. The treatment of such people by Allah Almighty, whose wisdom is infinite and whose mercy encompasses everything, will of course be proportionate to the conditions they are in.

It is also known to everyone that the responsibility of the subversion committees, who deceitfully operate against absolute belief, especially the religion of Islam, with the aim of denying divinity behind the curtain of a regime, cannot be the same as those of the heedless and oppressed.

Regarding this issue, we find it useful to quote the following statements of Bediüzzaman Said Nursi about the oppressed Christians:

“In the end times, since religion and the religion of Muhammad (PBUH) have reached the level of interregnum, a veil of indifference has come over them. And since in the end times, the true religion of Prophet Jesus (PBUH) will rule and come shoulder to shoulder with Islam. Of course, now, The oppressed Christians who remained in the darkness like the interregnum and the disasters they suffered can be said to be a kind of martyrdom about them, especially the elderly and the victims of calamities, the poor and the weak, who suffered under the force and violence of the great tyrants. Of course, I have heard from the truth that although that calamity is atonement for the sins of the debauchery and disbelief of civilization and the perversion and blasphemy of philosophy, it is a hundred times worse for them. As for those who struggle to preserve religion, the sacred things of the heavens and human rights, the spiritual and otherworldly (afterlife) results of that sacrifice are so great that they make that calamity a source of honor for them and endear them to it. ” (Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, Kastamonu Lahikası, p. 103.)

The above statements are a summary of the views of Ahl al-Sunnah scholars on this subject. For this reason, we found the explanations presented above to be sufficient and did not quote from other sources. Those who want detailed information on the subject can look at other theological books, especially Abdurrahman Cezerî’s work called “Mezâhib-i Erbaa” and Aliyyü’l-Karî’s works called “Şerhu’l-Emâli ve Şerh alel-Fıkhi’l-Ekber”. .

Now let’s briefly focus on another aspect of the aforementioned question:

There is no provision in Islam that a person born in an Islamic country will definitely be a person of heaven. Those who study the history of Islam know that, in the Age of Bliss, the Jews who were next door neighbors of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did not accept Islam and continued their lives as Jews. Although Islam experienced its most vibrant period during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), there were still polytheists and infidels in Mecca that day. If a person born in Mecca had to become a Muslim, Abu Lahab, the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), would also have to become a Muslim.

As it is known, Hz. He was an idolater of Nimrod, the father of Abraham (AS), and was one of the unbelievers. Lot’s wife and Noah’s wife and son did not believe. On the other hand. While Pharaoh denied Allah and claimed divinity, Hz. Moses (AS) grew up in his palace, even in his arms. Pharaoh’s wife was also a believer in God.

This means that a servant who seeks his Lord and turns to Him will attain the light of guidance, even if he is in the arms of Pharaoh. If a servant is blind to the truth, even being the son of a prophet or the father of a prophet cannot save him from disaster. Today, while thousands of mosques, minarets, call to prayers, Islamic customs and traditions, and even tombstones in Islamic countries inculcate and explain Islam, aren’t there still many people who are far from Islam and unaware of Allah?


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