This is one of the most significant causes for the decreases of eemaan, just as knowledge is one of the greatest causes for the increase of eemaan. The knowledgeable Muslim does not prefer the love and enactment of matters that harm him and cause him pain and misery to that which constitutes his benefit, success and rectification.
The ignorant person on the other hand, because of his excess ignorance and deficient knowledge, he may give preference to some of these things over that which contains his success and rectification. This is because the scales with him have been turned upside down and it is because of his feeble perception.
Knowledge lies at the root of all good and ignorance lies at the root of all evil.
The primary reason for love of oppression, transgression, embarking upon obscene acts and committing unlawful deeds is ignorance and the corruption of knowledge, or the corruption of intent, and the corruption of intent traces back to the corruption of knowledge. Hence, ignorance and corruption of knowledge form the main and primary reason for the corruption of actions and weakness of eemaan.
Ibn al-Qayyim writes: “It has been purported that the corruption of intent is caused by the corruption of knowledge. Since, if the person truly knew of the harm and its implications within the detrimental action, he would not have preferred it. This is why when one has knowledge that a particular desirous and delicious food contains poison, he does not dare approach it. Thus, his knowledge of the various types of harm present within the harmful act is weak and his resolve to avoid what he could fall into as a result of committing the act is also weak.
This is why eemaan is in accordance to this. The one who has true eemaan in the Fire in the way he is supposed to have, to the extent as if he is viewing it, will not take the path that leads to it, let alone strive along that path with his might. The one who has true eemaan in Paradise in the way he is supposed to have, his soul will not consent to refrain from seeking it.
This is a matter that a person can see in himself concerning the benefits he strives for or the harms that he tries to deliver himself from in this world.” [Ighaathah al-Lahfaan, 3/133]
Hence, the soul is fond of that which will harm it and not benefit it because of its ignorance of the harmful effects. In this light, one who examines the Noble Qur’aan, will find the greatest indication that ignorance is the cause for sins and obedience.
“…They said, ‘O Moosa, Make for us a deity just as they have deities.’ He said, ‘Verily, you are a people who are ignorant.’ “ [Soorah al-A’raaf (7):138]
“And remember Loot. When he said to his people, ‘Do you approach vile sins while you see (each other). Do you approach men in your lusts rather than women. Rather, you are a people who are ignorant” [Soorah an-Naml (27):54-55]
“Say, ‘Do you order me to worship other than Allaah, O you ignorant people.” [Soorah az-Zumar (39):64]
“And stay in your houses and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance …” [Soorah al-Ahzaab (33):33]
Additionally, there are other texts of this like, which show that the greatest reason for the shirk, kufr, iniquities and embarking on sins that people fall into, is ignorance of Allaah, His names, His attributes and of His reward and punishment.
For this reason, whoever disobeys Allaah and commits some form of sin is an ignorant person, as understood from the Salaf in the explanation of His saying:
“Allaah only accepts the repentance of those who do evil out of ignorance and repent soon afterwards. It is they to whom Allaah will forgive and Allaah is ever All-Knowing, All-Wise” [Soorah an-Nisaa’ (4):17]
And in His saying:
“… Your Lord has written Mercy for Himself, so that, if any of you does evil out of ignorance, and thereafter repents and does righteous good deeds, then surely, He is oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Soorah al-An’aam (6):54]
And His saying:
“Moreover, your Lord is towards those who do evil out of ignorance and afterward repent and do righteous deeds, verily, your Lord thereafter, is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Soorah an-Nahl (16):119]
The meaning of “…out of ignorance…” in these aayaat, i.e., out of the doer’s ignorance of its consequences and obligation of the anger and punishment of Allaah. It is his ignorance of the fact that Allaah sees and observes him and ignorance of the decrease of eemaan that returns to him or its complete disappearance.
Thus, everyone who disobeys Allaah, then he is ignorant in this respect, even if he is aware of the prohibition. Indeed, having knowledge of the prohibition is a condition for it to be regarded as disobedience and punishable. [Tafseer Ibn as-Sa’dee, 2/39]
A group of the Salaf reported this type of understanding on the aayah. At-Tabaree related several of these reports in his tafseer. He relates on Aboo al-‘Aaliyah that he used to mention that the Companions used to say: “Every sin that a slave is afflicted with; it is out of ignorance.”
Qataadah relates: “The Companions assembled and concluded that concerning everything that Allaah is disobeyed with, it is out of ignorance, whether intentionally or not.”
Mujaahid said: “Everyone who disobeys his Lord; he is an ignorant person, until he comes away from his disobedience.”
He also said: “Anyone who commits disobedience of Allaah, that is ignorance on his behalf until he leaves off his disobedience.”
As-Siddee states: “As long as he is disobeying Allaah, then he is an ignorant person.”
Ibn Zayd says: “Every person who commits some form of disobedience of Allaah, then he will always be an ignorant person until he retracts from it.” [Refer to these reports and others in Tafseer at-Tabaree, 3/229 and 5/209; Tafseer al-Baghawee, 1/407; al-Fataawa of Ibn Taymiyyah, 7/22 and Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 1/463]
Hence, ignorance is a dangerous disease and a lethal illness. It draws on the person numerous disastrous calamities and consequences.
If this disease takes command of him and dominates a person, do not even bother to question his devastation. For he will be sinking into the darkness of disobedience and sins, deviating from Allaah’s straight path and giving way to the demands of misconceptions and desires. Unless the mercy of Allaah embraces and emends him with the aid of the heart, the light of vision and key to all good: beneficial knowledge, which produces righteous action. As there is no other cure for this illness besides knowledge.
This disease will not separate from the person except if Allaah teaches him that which will benefit him and inspires him with good conduct.
Therefore, whomever Allaah desires good, He will teach him that which will benefit him, grant him understanding of the religion and enlighten him about what constitutes his success and happiness, so Allaah will lead him away from ignorance. Whenever Allaah does not desire good for a person, He leaves him upon his ignorance.
We ask Allaah to aid our hearts with knowledge and eemaan and that He protects us from ignorance and transgression.