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Ignorance is usually referred to in Arabic and thus, most Islamic literature as Jahiliyyah. Jahiliyyah usually refers to "ignorance of divine guidance" or "the state of ignorance of the guidance from God" or "Days of Ignorance" referring to the condition in which Arabs found themselves in pre-Islamic Era. It also means in a more comprehensive form "lack of knowledge" or "act foolishly". The root of the term jahiliyyah is the I-form of the verb jahila. Thus, the people of such behaviours and characteristics are termed the people of ignorance.

In the Quran, the term jahiliyyah and the obvious characteristics of its people have been stated in several places in the Qur'an. Some of these are:

Translated as: "Then, following the distress, He sent down security for you. Slumber overtook a party among you, while another party was thinking about themselves, thinking false thoughts about Allah – the thought of Ignorance. They said, "Have we any share in the affair?" Say (O Muhammad): "Indeed, the affair belongs wholly to Allah." They hide within themselves what they dare not reveal to you, saying: "If we had a share in the affair, none of us would have been killed here." Say: "Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was degreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death," but that Allah might test what is in your breasts; and to purify that which was in your hearts and Allah is All-Knower of what is in your breasts." (Al Imran: 154)

Translated as: "Do they then desire the judgment of the days of ignorance? And who is better in judgment than Allah for a people who have firm faith?" (Al-Ma'idah: 50)

Meaning: "And Remain in your houses, and do not display yourselves like the case of the times of ignorance, and perform salat and give zakat and obey Allah and His messenger (PBUH). Allah wishes only to remove evil deeds and sins from you, O members of the family of the prophet (PBUH) and to purify you with a thorough purification." (Al-Ahzab: 33)

Translated as: "When those who disbelieve had put in their hearts pride and haughtiness – the pride and haughtiness of the time of ignorance, - then Allah sent down His calmness and tranquility upon His Messenger (PBUH) and upon the believers, and made them stick to the word of piety; and they were well entitled to it and worthy of it. And Allah is ever All-Knower of everything." (Al-Fath: 26)Translated as: "And the faithful slaves of Allah the Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness." (Al-Furqan: 63)

Meaning: "Say (O Muhammad!): "Do you order me to worship other than Allah? O you ignorant people!" (Az-Zumar: 64)

From the above cited verses from the Qur'an the meaning of ignorance and people of ignorance becomes very clear as in the Qur'an. These people do not only behave in manners that looked stupid and foolish, but they also at the same time coincide with what was prevalent in the times before Islam. Therefore, both meanings can be conjoined in the inference of Jahiliyyah in the Qur'anic context.

Nonetheless, the causes of such behavours as understood from the above verses can be summarized as result of:

·        Lack of fear of Allah.

·        Disbelief, be it outward or internal.

·        Disobedience of Allah's directives.

·        Self-centeredness.

These qualities lead to one to behave like the ignorant or become worth being qualified as ignorant himself.

When such characters are displayed by a person they leave behind in him huge effects. These effects, if the characters are not checked on time, could lead to great consequences. Some of these effects as clearly inferred from the above verses are:

·        Ill thoughts about Allah the Most Merciful.

·        Complete and total hypocrisy.

·        Baseless fear of the unknown.

·        Partiality in dealings as a result of tribalism and the like.

·        Immoralities of different kinds, such as improper dressing and so on.

·        Refusal to observe what Allah has made compulsory like salat and zakat.

·        Outright disobedience of Allah and His messenger.

These and much more could be found as causes and effects of ignorance in the Qur'an. The main fact here is that turning away from the words and commandments of Allah and His messenger will certainly lead one to behaving like the people of ignorance. And when he behaves like that, he can end up out rightly disobeying Allah and even disbelieving in Him. May Allah guide and protect everyone of us from disbelief and disobedience.

 

 

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