Apathy: Lack of interest or concern especially in matters of general importance or appeal; Indifference, lack of emotions; impassiveness
Apathy Condemned [4:97] Those whose lives are terminated by the angels, while in a state of wronging their souls, the angels will ask them, "What was the matter with you?" They will say, "We were oppressed on earth." They will say, "Was GOD's earth not spacious enough for you to emigrate therein?" For these, the final abode is Hell, and a miserable destiny.
The Believers are Fearless
[4:75] Why should you not fight in the cause of GOD when weak men, women, and children are imploring: "Our Lord, deliver us from this community whose people are oppressive, and be You our Lord and Master."
[4:76] Those who believe are fighting for the cause of GOD, while those who disbelieve are fighting for the cause of tyranny. Therefore, you shall fight the devil's allies; the devil's power is nil.
Apathy is a trait that the Quran extensively condemns in the strongest manner and language. While the Quran gives us a fully detailed analysis of this condemned character through straightforward commands and by setting numerous examples, we often get confused and fail many tests when we are expected to take a firm stand. To fully examine this abhorred character we need to shed light on the following crucial terms:
Reflection: To think seriously.To express carefully considered thoughts.
Hesitate: To be slow to act, speak, or decide. To pause in uncertainty, waver.
Sedentary: Attached to a surface and not moving freely.
Preoccupied: To occupy completely the mind or attention of, engross.
God almighty encourages us to be reflective creatures (3:19, 16:44, 6:126) and discourages us from being hesitant (57:14). If a person is reflecting, then one is in a state of mental concentration and careful consideration. If a person is hesitating, then one is slow to act, speak, or decide, which in most of the time results in a neutral presence/pause. When comparing the definitions, it appears that the actions one chooses in life can be mistaken as either hesitant or reflective. But one must be careful that they are not behaving hesitantly and confusing the characteristic of taking endless time to act on a situation with the similar characteristic of contemplation, which is used in reflection wheen encountering God’s tests.
The consequence of our hesitance to the point of failing to take a firm, righteous stand is what the Quran characterizes as CONDEMNED APATHY
The Worst Losers
[57:13] On that day, the hypocrite men and women will say to those who believed, "Please allow us to absorb some of your light." It will be said, "Go back behind you, and seek light." A barrier will be set up between them, whose gate separates mercy on the inner side, from retribution on the outer side.
[57:14] They will call upon them, "Were we not with you?" They will answer, "Yes, but you cheated your souls, hesitated, doubted, and became misled by wishful thinking, until GOD's judgment came. You were diverted from GOD by illusions.
[57:15] "Therefore, today no ransom can be taken from you, nor from those who disbelieved. Your abode is the fire; it is your lord, and miserable abode."
God uses the example of the SEDENTARY in the Quran to describe those who hesitate until they wrong their souls and fall into apathy. When we are true believers in God, we strive with our lives in His cause without hesitating, otherwise our hearts will be sealed and we will not be able to comprehend.
[9:86] When a sura is revealed, stating: "Believe in GOD, and strive with His messenger," even the strong among them say, "Let us stay behind!"
[9:87] They chose to be with the sedentary. Consequently, their hearts were sealed, and thus, they cannot comprehend.
[9:95] They will swear by GOD to you, when you return to them, that you may disregard them. Do disregard them. They are polluted, and their destiny is Hell, as a requital for the sins they have earned.
[9:96] They swear to you, that you may pardon them. Even if you pardon them, GOD does not pardon such wicked people.
Fear, doubt, and hardship trigger our hesitation and compromises. However, it is God's system that He will test us through our fear, doubt, and hardships.
[4:143] They waver in between, neither belonging to this group, nor that group. Whomever GOD sends astray, you will never find a way to guide him.
[9:45] The only people who wish to be excused are those who do not really believe in GOD and the Last Day. Their hearts are full of doubt, and their doubts cause them to waver.
[9:46] Had they really wanted to mobilize, they would have prepared for it thoroughly. But GOD disliked their participation, so He discouraged them; they were told, "Stay behind with those who are staying behind."
[9:47] Had they mobilized with you, they would have created confusion, and would have caused disputes and divisions among you. Some of you were apt to listen to them. GOD is fully aware of the transgressors.
[9:48] They sought to spread confusion among you in the past, and confounded matters for you. However, the truth ultimately prevails, and GOD's plan is carried out, in spite of them.
[9:49] Some of them would say, "Give me permission (to stay behind); do not impose such a hardship on me." In fact, they have thus incurred a terrible hardship; Hell is surrounding the disbelievers.
God also informs us that those who are PREOCCUPIED with earthly illusions do hesitate and trap themselves into apathy. To create excuses when required to serve in the cause of God is a form of preoccupation since the mind of an individual becomes completely engrossed in convincing himself and others that he is excused. As a result, one becomes among the sedentary and also the heedless.
[48:11] The sedentary Arabs who stay behind will say, "We have been preoccupied with our money and our families, so ask forgiveness for us!" They utter with their tongues what is not in their hearts. Say, "Who can protect you from GOD, if He willed any adversity for you, or if He willed any blessing for you?" GOD is fully Cognizant of everything you do.
God's System Does Not Change [9:69] Some of those before you were stronger than you, and possessed more money and children. They became preoccupied with their material possessions. Similarly, you have become preoccupied with your material possessions, just like those before you have become preoccupied. You have become totally heedless, just as they were heedless. Such are the people who nullify their works, both in this world and in the Hereafter; they are the losers.
So how does one draw the righteous boundary between acting hesitantly, committing apathy and reflecting on the series of tests in his life, and what can one do to correct his actions if he is hesitating? The Quran spells out the answers for these questions through many verses and examples. The following verses are just a few great examples that we all should examine carefully so we can have a solid basis and understanding of our obligations as striving believers. The theme of all these verses is one: ACT and MOBILIZE to maintain righteousness and to attain salvation:
- Moses urged his people to mobilize and use God's spacious land to worship Him freely. The same concept is repeated in 39:10, 29:56
[7:128] Moses said to his people, "Seek GOD's help, and steadfastly persevere. The earth belongs to GOD, and He grants it to whomever He chooses from among His servants. The ultimate victory belongs to the righteous."
[7:129] They said, "We were persecuted before you came to us, and after you came to us." He said, "Your Lord will annihilate your enemy and establish you on earth, then He will see how you behave."
- If God is the ONE who guides (2:272), should we still act to preach and promote the truth and guide with it? Yes, we have to. 2:272 doesn't promote apathy, but it simply teaches us that while exhorting one another to uphold the truth, the results of our sincere efforts are in God's hands.
God is the Only One Who Guides [2:272] You are not responsible for guiding anyone. GOD is the only one who guides whoever chooses (to be guided). ...
[7:181] Among our creations, there are those who guide with the truth, and the truth renders them righteous.
[4:84] You shall fight for the cause of GOD; you are responsible only for your own soul, and exhort the believers to do the same. GOD will neutralize the power of those who disbelieve. GOD is much more powerful, and much more effective.
[103:3] Except those who believe and lead a righteous life, and exhort one another to uphold the truth, and exhort one another to be steadfast.
[6:51] And preach with this (Quran) to those who reverence the summoning before their Lord - they have none beside Him as a Lord and Master, nor an intercessor - that they may attain salvation.
- In the light of many verses in the Quran, we are required to condemn evil and advocate righteousness. This should never get confused with what is emphasized in 5:105 ( worrying about our own necks) and similar verses which are often misinterpreted as an invitation to passiveness and apathy! 5:105 is simply establishing a divine law in the Quran, which is every soul is paid only for what it earns.
[5:105] O you who believe, you should worry only about your own necks. If the others go astray, they cannot hurt you, as long as you are guided. To GOD is your ultimate destiny, all of you, then He will inform you of everything you had done.
[3:104] Let there be a community of you who invite to what is good, advocate righteousness, and forbid evil. These are the winners.
[5:79] They did not enjoin one another from committing evil. Miserable indeed is what they did.
[5:80] You would see many of them allying themselves with those who disbelieve. Miserable indeed is what their hands have sent forth on behalf of their souls. GOD is angry with them and, consequently, they will abide forever in retribution.
[5:81] Had they believed in GOD, and the prophet, and in what was revealed to him herein, they would not have befriended them. But many of them are evil.
- Changing our conditions and reforming cannot be accomplished with an apathetic attitude!
[13:11] Shifts (of angels) take turns, staying with each one of you - they are in front of you and behind you. They stay with you, and guard you in accordance with GOD's commands. Thus, GOD does not change the condition of any people unless they themselves make the decision to change. If GOD wills any hardship for any people, no force can stop it. For they have none beside Him as Lord and Master.
- Should we focus on pursuing peace (49:10) with our friends and allies, trade in God's commands for the sake of social functions and harmony? We should never overlook the fact that real peace is only achieved by advocating God's laws (49:9) and can never be established on a weak foundation such as apathy.
[6:70] You shall disregard those who take their religion in vain, as if it is a social function, and are totally absorbed in this worldly life. Remind with this (Quran), lest a soul may suffer the consequences of its evil earnings. ....
[47:35] Therefore, you shall not waver and surrender in pursuit of peace, for you are guaranteed victory, and GOD is with you. He will never waste your efforts.
Reconcile The Believers [49:9] If two groups of believers fought with each other, you shall reconcile them. If one group aggresses against the other, you shall fight the aggressing group until they submit to GOD's command. Once they submit, you shall reconcile the two groups equitably. You shall maintain justice; GOD loves those who are just.
[25:52] Therefore, do not obey the disbelievers, and strive against them with this, a great striving.
By examining all the above reminders, we can easily conclude that apathy hurts our souls and our communities. Our souls regress and become heedless when we slow down, hesitate, or fail to support God's truth and act appropriately in the right time and for the right cause. With the same token of our apathy, those who are transgressing around us are deprived from hearing a firm, loud and righteous voice addressing their aggression and unrighteousness. They too lose their souls and indulge deeper into their aggression. Ultimately, this weakens the foothold of any community. The hesitance and the apathetic attitude when addressing/dealing with unrighteous behavior is indeed one of the most divisive and destructive epidemic in any community.
Let us pray that if called to serve and strive in the cause of God, that we will always REFLECT, DECIDE AND ACT based on His commands. Let's pray that we always PERSEVERE in promoting His truth, and HOLD FAST to His rope, with no wavering or apathy, so we stay united and maintain our strength.
[3:200] O you who believe, you shall be steadfast, you shall persevere, you shall be united, you shall observe GOD, that you may succeed.
Believers are United [3:103] You shall hold fast to the rope of GOD, all of you, and do not be divided. Recall GOD's blessings upon you - you used to be enemies and He reconciled your hearts. By His grace, you became brethren. You were at the brink of a pit of fire, and He saved you therefrom. GOD thus explains His revelations for you, that you may be guided.
[61:4] GOD loves those who fight in His cause united in one column, like the bricks in one wall.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.