Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala introduced Shaytan to us by saying,
إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ فَاتَّخِذُوهُ عَدُوًّا ۚ
“Surely, Shaytan (Satan) is an enemy to you, so take (treat) him as an enemy,” [Fatir 35:6].
There could not be a better introduction than this. Clear, concise and complete. He is an enemy so treat him as an enemy. Expect nothing good from him. While Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala inspires hope and forgiveness, Shaytan whispers failure and doom forever.
This whispering from Shaytan is not a one off thing. He is so determined that he keeps whispering the thought until the poor soul gives in to it. It is this repetitive whispering that we seek refuge from in Surah an-Nas, described as waswasil-khanas.
Waswasah – the whispers of Shaytan is from the root wau-seen-wau-seen and it means ‘to whisper evil, to make evil suggestions or to prompt false things.’ Khanas from the root kha-noon-seen means ‘to retreat, to recede, to drawback, to retire, or to hold back.’ Shaytan vowed that he will come to attack us from before us, behind us, from our right and from our left (see Qur’an 7: 17). This means he is so determined that he is going to try all the ways to trick us. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Shaytan lies in wait for the children of Adam, using all his (devious) ways,” [Ahmad, an-Nasai, Ibn Hibban]. If Shaytan is lying in our wait then we need to make conscientious efforts to save ourselves from this enemy, at all times.
But Shaytan being from the jinns, how do we fight this invisible enemy?
Know the Tactics
First is to know the way this known enemy attacks us. Shaytan’s way of controlling other people is through their minds. He whispers a bad thought, a negative something and we, depending on the level of our emaan, start believing it.
Another tactic is that he beautifies evil for us. How else would a person fall for them? Singing and dancing became art, riba [usury] became interest, insulting others became freedom of speech and losing adab [etiquette] became boldness and confidence. And hence it appears in the Qur’an, “Shaytan made their deeds fair-seeming to them, and turned them away from the (Right) Path, though they were intelligent,” [Al-Ankabut 29: 38].
If Shaytan attacks us through our minds then we need to reflect on what we are feeding our brains. What are we reading? What are we watching? What are we exposing our minds to? Many a times people watch or read horror stories and derive joy from them. Why would a sane mind expose himself to fear and terror? A new trend that has taken over morning shows is to call someone who claims they can talk to the jinns and treat the afflicted. The hostess along with her team pretends there is a presence of another being in the room and makes noises and scares themselves and others. When the devils see that they can overpower mankind through fear they intensify their tactics. And we fall for the trap that Shaytan is powerful than us whereas his complaint to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala was that He favored mankind over him.
In the pre-Islamic days of ignorance, the Arabs upon entering an unknown valley would seek refuge with the greatest jinn of that place. They would say, “I seek refuge with the master (jinn) of this valley from the jinns that myself, my wealth, my children or my animals are harmed in it.” When they sought refuge with them instead of Allah, the jinns would overcome them.
One more tactic is that he engages us in futile matters. For example, look at today’s talk shows and political discussions. How much conversation is being done in comparison to actual work? All we do is talk. Some people, even after switching off their television sets or putting the newspaper aside would continue the discussion with their friends on the Internet, over the phone, at workplace or when visiting others in their home. By talking so much, our mind is away from the action plan or the actual implementation of it.
As the English proverb goes, an empty mind is the devil’s workshop. It means we need to keep ourselves busy. But busy with what? If Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His commandments are of utmost importance in our lives, we will keep away from all that is forbidden and disliked. We will keep ourselves busy with that which pleases Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Being Mindful of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala
With so many distractions surrounding us, how does one remain mindful of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala? Quoting one such example, Ibn al-Qayyim writes in his book Waswasah – Whispering of Shaytan:
“Shaqiq said, ‘Every morning, Satan lies in wait against me in four observatory places: from before me, behind me, my right, and my left, and says: Do not be afraid, for Allah is Most Forgiving, All Merciful. So I recite: And verily, I am indeed forgiving to him who repents, believes and does righteous good deeds, and then remains constant in doing them, [Taha 20: 82]. When Shaytan comes from behind me, he wants to make me worry about the people I will leave behind (when I die), so I recite: And no moving (living) creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah, (Hud 11: 6]. When Shaytan comes to me from my right, he comes to stir my desire for women, so I recite: The Blessed end is for the pious, [Al-Araf 7: 128], and when he comes from my left, he comes to stir all my desires, so I recite: And a barrier will be set between them and that which they desire, [Fatir 35: 54].”
To remind oneself in this way, one must be really well-versed with the Qur’an. Only if Qur’an is a regular part of our life not by mere recitation but also by understanding its meaning and message can we be wary of our actions and the whispering.
One of our admins’ article published in The Intellect magazine, Pakistan.