There is a phrase in neuroscience which states:
“Neurons that fire together, wire together”
This phrase was first stated by neuropsychologist Donald Hebb in 1949 to describe how neural pathways in the brain are formed and reinforced through repetition. This is how connections are established and preserved in the brain.
An example of this can be demonstrated via behavioral psychology with Pavlov’s dog, where a researcher would ring a bell right before giving a dog a treat. Eventually, the dog learned to associate the ringing of the bell with the treat, such that the dog would physiologically respond by salivating in anticipation of a treat anytime it would hear a bell.
But at the same time that our thought patterns reinforce and strengthen neural connections that are continuously associated with one another, it will also cause the connections that are not utilized to be diminished then eventually severed.
The reason for bringing this up is because there are a couple of verses in the Quran regarding severing what God commanded to be joined.
[2:26] GOD does not shy away from citing any kind of allegory, from the tiny mosquito and greater. As for those who believe, they know that it is the truth from their Lord. As for those who disbelieve, they say, “What did GOD mean by such an allegory?” He misleads many thereby, and guides many thereby. But He never misleads thereby except the wicked,
[2:27] who violate GOD’s covenant after pledging to uphold it, sever what GOD has commanded to be joined, and commit evil. These are the losers.
الَّذِينَ يَنْقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللَّهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ مِيثَاقِهِ وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَا أَمَرَ اللَّهُ بِهِ أَنْ يُوصَلَ وَيُفْسِدُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ
[13:25] As for those who violate GOD’s covenant after pledging to keep it, and sever what GOD has commanded to be joined, and commit evil, they have incurred condemnation; they have incurred the worst destiny.
وَالَّذِينَ يَنْقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللَّهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ مِيثَاقِهِ وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَا أَمَرَ اللَّهُ بِهِ أَنْ يُوصَلَ وَيُفْسِدُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمُ اللَّعْنَةُ وَلَهُمْ سُوءُ الدَّارِ
The root يُوصَلَ / yūṣala, which means to connect or join, comes from the same root as the word for Salat. This is why the Salat is translated in English as the Contact Prayer. This is the mechanism by which we make contact with our Creator. In the following verse, God informs us what is the most important aspect of the Salat.
[29:45] You shall recite what is revealed to you of the scripture, and observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), for the Contact Prayers prohibit evil and vice. But the remembrance of GOD (through Salat) is the most important objective. GOD knows everything you do.
اتْلُ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ
[20:14] “I am GOD; there is no other god beside Me. You shall worship Me alone, and observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) to remember Me.
إِنَّنِي أَنَا اللَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدْنِي وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ لِذِكْرِي
Monotheism is a natural instinct that every human was born with, that is literally hardwired in our brains.
[30:30] Therefore, you shall devote yourself to the religion of strict monotheism. Such is the natural instinct placed into the people by GOD. Such creation of GOD will never change. This is the perfect religion, but most people do not know.
فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا فِطْرَتَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
And when we remember God we are reinforcing these neural connections with our Creator, but what the devil wants us to do is to have us forget about our Creator and thus sever these neural connections we have with Him.
In Quranic Arabic, the word kufar means a disbeliever, but also someone who is unappreciative (2:152, 11:9, 14:7,34, 17:27,67,69). It is the devil’s goal in this world is to make us all unappreciative.
[7:11] We created you, then we shaped you, then we said to the angels, “Fall prostrate before Adam.” They fell prostrate, except Iblees (Satan); he was not with the prostrators. The [7:12] He said, “What prevented you from prostrating when I ordered you?” He said, “I am better than he; You created me from fire, and created him from mud.” [7:13] He said, “Therefore, you must go down, for you are not to be arrogant here. Get out; you are debased.” [7:14] He said, “Grant me a respite, until the Day of Resurrection.” [7:15] He said, “You are granted a respite.” [7:16] He said, “Since You have willed that I go astray, I will skulk for them on Your straight path.
[7:17] “I will come to them from before them, and from behind them, and from their right, and from their left, and You will find that most of them are unappreciative.”
ثُمَّ لَآتِيَنَّهُمْ مِنْ بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَنْ شَمَائِلِهِمْ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ
When the devil makes us forget our Lord and focus on the wrong priorities, then our neural connections with God and being appreciative will be eventually severed, while our connections with this world will be strengthened and reinforced.
The devil also made another claim when he stated:
[7:16] He said, “Since You have willed that I go astray, I will skulk for them on Your straight path.
(١٦) قَالَ فَبِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ
But this is an inaccurate statement because blaming God for sending him astray is like blaming God if we choose to stick our hand into a fire because fire is designed to burn. God created a system by which if we knowingly break God’s commandments then we will suffer the consequences. So one could blame God for creating the system that way, but not for choosing not to abide by the system that God created.
Similarly, God created a system by which the purpose of this life is to bring out our true convictions, and one mechanism of this is that whatever we choose to believe God created our minds such that it will reinforce that belief.
[19:75] Say, “Those who choose to go astray, the Most Gracious will lead them on, until they see what is promised for them—either the retribution or the Hour. That is when they find out who really is worse off, and weaker in power.”
قُلْ مَنْ كَانَ فِي الضَّلَالَةِ فَلْيَمْدُدْ لَهُ الرَّحْمَٰنُ مَدًّا حَتَّىٰ إِذَا رَأَوْا مَا يُوعَدُونَ إِمَّا الْعَذَابَ وَإِمَّا السَّاعَةَ فَسَيَعْلَمُونَ مَنْ هُوَ شَرٌّ مَكَانًا وَأَضْعَفُ جُنْدًا
The root م د د means to stretch or extend, but it also means to reinforce.
[19:76] GOD augments the guidance of those who choose to be guided. For the good deeds are eternally rewarded by your Lord, and bring far better returns.
وَيَزِيدُ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ اهْتَدَوْا هُدًى وَالْبَاقِيَاتُ الصَّالِحَاتُ خَيْرٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّكَ ثَوَابًا وَخَيْرٌ مَرَدًّا
So if individuals choose to forget God by not remembering Him and instead focus on the vanities of this world or cling to the allure of idols and thus turning unappreciative of God, then their consequence is that their connection with God will be severed and not reinforced and joined.
When we believe in God we are constantly thinking about Him. When we see something beautiful like a sunset we say Subhanallah, “God be glorified”. When we say we are going to do something in the future, we say “Inshallah”, “if God willed”. When we see something that makes us happy we say “Mashallah”, “what God willed”.
One of the names of the Quran is Al-Zikr. The word zikr has multiple meanings it can mean to mention, commemorate, or remember. When we read the Quran we are constantly remembering all the blessings from God. We are making connections with the things we experience in this world with the lessons put forth in the Quran from our Creator. This process of reading, reciting, and reflecting on the Quran strengthens our bond with God and helps us better understand His attributes, which in turn creates more opportunities to remember Him.
God informs us in 2:62 and 5:69, the minimum requirement to make it back to His Kingdom in the Hereafter.
[2:62] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالنَّصَارَىٰ وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
Notice that the first two items are just related to belief; to believe in God and believe in the Hereafter. These two beliefs are essential in order to be able to lead a righteous life. The reason these two items are so important is that if we forget these items not only are we goign to be incapable of leading a righteous life, but also we are forgetting who we are.
[7:51] Those who do not take their religion seriously, and are totally preoccupied with this worldly life, we forget them on that day, because they forgot that day, and because they spurned our revelations.
الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا دِينَهُمْ لَهْوًا وَلَعِبًا وَغَرَّتْهُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا فَالْيَوْمَ نَنْسَاهُمْ كَمَا نَسُوا لِقَاءَ يَوْمِهِمْ هَٰذَا وَمَا كَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا يَجْحَدُونَ
If a person lives in this world for 100 years we consider that as a long life, but when compared to all of eternity of the Hereafter even a 1,000 years is nothing. When we forget the Hereafter in order to focus on the few years we are on this planet then we are forgetting about ourselves in the future for the insignificant temporary benefits of today.
[59:18] O you who believe, you shall reverence GOD, and let every soul examine what it has sent ahead for tomorrow. You shall reverence GOD; GOD is fully Cognizant of everything you do. [59:19] Do not be like those who forgot GOD, so He made them forget themselves. These are the wicked.
وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ نَسُوا اللَّهَ فَأَنْسَاهُمْ أَنْفُسَهُمْ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ