In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 168 – 169
In the previous ayaat, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala refuted beliefs held by the Mushrikeen [polytheists], He now addresses the ill effects of some of their pagan practices.
One of these was to release animals dedicated to their idols, whom they treated as sacred, refusing to derive any benefit from them. They took it to be unlawful. Straying further on, they even took this act of theirs as obedience of the divine will, a source of pleasing their Creator through the intercession of their idols.
It is in this background that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed these ayaat and gave us the right guidance. He says,
The meaning of the root word halla [حَلَا] (in halalan tayyiban) is ‘to open a knot’. It means by making something halal, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has opened a knot for us or the restriction has been removed.
The word tayyib [طَيِّبًا] means ‘good’ as inclusive of the clean and the pure and covers the twin aspects of being lawful, permissible or halal and being naturally desirable.
The word khutuwaat [خُطُوَاتِ] is the plural form of khutwah which is the distance between the two feet when striding. Here the khutuwaat of Shaytan means Satanic deeds.
After Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala stated that there is no deity worthy of worship except Him and that He Alone created the creation, He stated that He is the Sustainer for all His creation. It is His favor that He has allowed us to eat many of the pure lawful things on the earth that do not cause harm to the body or the mind. A lot of us complain that everything is forbidden in Islam. However, if one makes an honest evaluation then the things which are impermissible can be counted on the finger tips, everything else is permissible. But Shaytan makes us believe that we have only limited choices in the world.
Therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala warns us to not follow the footsteps of Shaytan. In the name of fitness and dieting, we cannot forbid the permissible food items. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam have taught us to eat in moderation. Fasting, though a form of worship, also helps in detoxing our bodies. If we follow the Sunnah of eating and drinking, there is no reason why we should be obese or unwell.
Today, Science is proving that eating real food in comparison to processed, ready-to-cook, and convenient food is a better choice. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala taught us many years ago that we should eat the halal and tayyib – food that is not only permissible to eat but also has real health benefits such as milk, dates, figs, olives and honey.
Shaytan – an open and a known enemy of mankind – using his treacherous methods to misguide mankind, prohibits them from consuming that which is permissible and instead commands them to commit acts which are impermissible such as dedicating food to idols or taking someone else’s name over food other than Allah’s.
These ayaat as stated earlier were revealed about Arab pagans who spared the milk of a she-camel [Baheerah] for the idols. No human being was allowed to drink its milk. This was a kind of wastage of Allah’s blessings. A stone idol has no need of food or drink, but human beings do. Depriving human beings of lawful food and dedicating it to a stone idol was nothing other than a Satanic deed.
Another of their misdeed was to let loose a she-camel Sa’ibah for the idols and not carry anything on it. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us in the Qur’an that He created cattle for us, for our benefit. We make clothing and shoes from their skin. We drink their milk and eat their meat. As for the bigger animals such as camels, they are to be used as a means of transport and carrying loads. If man leaves his animal free and carries heavy load on his back, would such a person be called clever? Hence, it was another of Shaytan’s tricks to inspire the Arab pagans to leave Sa’ibah for free pasture for the idols.
Next was Waseelah, a she-camel set free for idols because it gave birth to a she-camel at its first delivery and then again gave birth to a she-camel at its second delivery, and all of the other things that Shaytan made attractive to them during the time of Jahiliyyah [days of ignorance]. Muslim recorded that Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
وَإِنِّي خَلَقْتُ عِبَادِي حُنَفَاءَ، فَجَاءَتْهُمُ الشَّيَاطِينُ فَاجْتَالَتْهُمْ عَنْ دِينِهِمْ، وَحَرَّمَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ مَا أَحْلَلْتُ لَهُم
“I have created My servants Hunafa [pure or upright], but the devils came to them and led them astray from their (true) religion and prohibited them from what I allowed for them.”
Shaytan is An Open Enemy to Mankind
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us that Shaytan is an open enemy to us [عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ], he has led many astray. This is such an important topic that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has warned us about him in multiple places throughout the Qur’an. For example,
إِنَّ الشَّيْطَـنَ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ فَاتَّخِذُوهُ عَدُوّاً إِنَّمَا يَدْعُو حِزْبَهُ لِيَكُونُواْ مِنْ أَصْحَـبِ السَّعِيرِ
“Surely, Shaytan is an enemy to you, so take (treat) him as an enemy. He only invites his Hizb [followers] that they may become the dwellers of the blazing Fire.” [Al-Fatir 35:6]
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us that He is an enemy so TAKE him as an enemy. An enemy does not wish any good for its opponent. Its only intention is to destroy the other. Therefore, we should not treat Shaytan lightly or expect any good from him.
At another place Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
أَفَتَتَّخِذُونَهُ وَذُرِّيَّتَهُ أَوْلِيَآءَ مِن دُونِى وَهُمْ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ بِئْسَ لِلظَّـلِمِينَ بَدَلاً
“Will you then take him (Iblees) and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me while they are enemies to you? What an evil is the exchange for the Zalimeen [polytheists, and wrongdoers, etc.]!” [Al-Kahf 18:50]
Commenting on, “…and follow not the footsteps of Shaytan…” Qatadah and As-Suddi said that every act of disobedience to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is among the footsteps of Satan.
REFLECTION: If every disobedience is a Satanic act then to whom are we showing servitude? Is it Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala or Shaytan? When we intentionally miss a prayer, listen to or watch that which is forbidden, hang around bad company, then who are we showing loyalty to? May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala make us conscious Muslims wary of Satanic attacks, ameen. We should make it a habit to recite the Dua’s of protection every morning and when retiring to bed at night.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “He (Satan) commands you only what is evil and Fahsha [sinful], and that you should say about Allah what you know not.” Remember, all of us were born on Fitrah [the natural discourse]. When someone strays away from the Right Path it is not that that person is bad but rather he became a victim of Shaytan. It is Shaytan who causes separation between spouses, feuds between families and immorality. He inspires mankind to commit evil. And if someone does not guard himself against the whisperings of the Shaytan by establishing a strong bond with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then such a person is an easy prey.
Another of Shaytan’s tricks is to inspire mankind to speak negative about one’s self, about others and Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Many deniers of Islam, in the heat of an argument, utter words that they don’t mean. Whenever you are engaged in a discussion with another person (whether Muslim or non-Muslim) remember to not lose your cool. Whatever the other person says is because of his lack of knowledge and failure to recognize Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Our duty is to watch our tongues and look at the ‘real’ enemy [Shaytan] than the person arguing with us. Also do not forget to recite the words of remembrance to make Shaytan flee from the place.
Innovations in Deen are also a Satanic deed. He inspired people to forms of worship that were not taught by the messengers and prophets.
We should remember that straying away from the Right Path is not the only trick of Shaytan but arrogance, jealousy, malice are also from this clear enemy of mankind. Therefore, we must keep our hearts checked.
Another trick of Shaytan is to make mankind lose hope. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us that we will err. He knows that we are bound to make mistakes which is why one of His attributes is At-Tawwab [the Most Forgiving]. After committing a sin Shaytan makes us believe that we are doomed forever and there is no point in returning. At such a time, we should remind ourselves of the vastness of Allah’s forgiveness. While Shaytan is waiting for us to be doomed, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is waiting for us to shed one tear of sincere regret and return to Him in repentance. Depression, fear and anxiety are also from Shaytan because he does not want us to live a productive life. When you feel your emaan is low or fear is taking over remember Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala guide us to the truth, make us firm on this path, make us a source of khair [goodness] for others and not allow us to become those who spread corruption on earth, aameen.
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