Taking the general population as an example, the most salient characteristic of heedless individuals is their attempt to persuade themselves that their thoughts and actions are justified. Believing that they are not harming others and that their hearts are filled with goodness, they imagine that they deserve what they have. However, Allah says something rather different in the Qurâ€™an:
Do they imagine that, in the wealth and children We extend to them, We are hastening to them with good things? No indeed, but they have no awareness!
It is revealed in the Qurâ€™an that such people believe that they are on the right path, and so satan prevents them from obeying Allahâ€™s commands and prohibitions:
They debar them from the path, yet they still think they are guided.
But your Lord knows best who is best guided on the (right) Path.
Allah gives an instructive example of the state of such individuals in the story of the vineyard owner. We are told in the Qurâ€™an of a conversation between two people, only one of whom is aware:
Make an example for them of two men. To one of them We gave two gardens of grapevines and surrounded them with date palms, putting between them some cultivated land. Both gardens yielded their crops and did not suffer any loss, and We made a river flow right through the middle of them.
He entered his garden and wronged himself by saying: â€œI do not think that this will ever end. I do not think the Hour will ever come. But if I should be sent back to my Lord, I will definitely get something better in return.â€
His companion, with whom he was debating, asked: â€œDo you then not believe in Him Who created you from dust, then from a drop of sperm, and then formed you as a man? He is, however, Allah, my Lord, and I will not associate anyone with my Lord.â€ (His companion replied:) â€œWhy, when you entered your garden, did you not say: â€˜It is as Allah wills, there is no strength but in Himâ€™? Though you see me with less wealth and children than you possess, it may well be that my Lord will give me something better than your garden and send down upon it a fireball from the sky so that the morning finds it a shifting heap of dust or finds its water drained into the ground so that you cannot get at it.
The fruits of his labor were completely destroyed, and he woke up wringing his hands in grief, for everything that he had spent on it was now a ruin, a ruin with all of its trellises fallen in. He exclaimed: â€œOh, if only I had not associated anyone with my Lord!â€ There was no group to come to his aid, besides Allah, and he was not given any help. In that situation, the only protection is from Allah, the Real. He gives the best reward and the best outcome.
The vineyard owner was deceived into thinking that he was on the right path due to his great wealth and many children. His very words demonstrate his unawareness, for his overwhelming pride and arrogance made it impossible for him to conceive of Allahâ€™s power: â€œBut if I should be sent back to my Lord, I will definitely get something better in return.â€, His unawareness is so deep that he thinks he created his garden and therefore will keep it forever. In recompense for his attitude, all of a sudden Allah destroyed his treasured vineyard.
Although they are unaware, some individuals think that they are on the right path and do some good deeds. However, these are not done to gain Allahâ€™s favor but out of custom and habit, or out of a desire to put on appearances or soothe their consciences, or to make someone feel grateful to them. In reality, such deeds may not be of any use in the Hereafter, because they are limited only to those actions that do not conflict with the personâ€™s own interests. Unaware that they may not receive a reward for the deeds they did to curry other peopleâ€™s favor rather than to please Allah, they feel certainly sure that they are on the right path.
These people regard their children, property, and easy and carefree life as signs that they are on the right path. The fact is, however, that Allah allots them a period of time to test them and, due to their actions, gives them no share in the Hereafter:
As for those who desire the life of this world and its finery, We will give them full payment in it for their actions. They will not be deprived here of their due. But such people will have nothing in the Hereafter but the Fire. What they achieved here will come to nothing. What they did will prove to be null and void.
People who deceive themselves in this way gain nothing but a painful death in a state of unawareness and eternal suffering:
Do not let their wealth and their children impress you. Allah merely wants to punish them by them in this world, and for them to die while they are unbelievers.