Satan: Mankind’s Worst Enemy
Unlike the descriptions of the devil in Christian doctrine, Shaytan (Satan:The Devil) is not a fallen angel; rather he is a Jinn (A creation of Allah that was created before humankind from smokeless flame. They are referred to at times as spirit beings, banshees, poltergeists, phantoms and so forth) who can think, reason and has free will.
Allah allowed him to reside amongst the Angels, but because of his pride and arrogance he despairs of ever knowing Allah’s mercy and has vowed not to inhabit the depths of Hell alone. Satan’s wish is to take as many human beings with him to the Hellfire as he can. Make no mistake about it; Satan is mankind’s mortal enemy. He is cunning, crafty and supremely arrogant.
The Qur'an warns us of his enmity over and over
“O children of Adam. Let not Shaytan deceive you...” (Quran 7:27)
“Surely Shaytan is an enemy to you so take him as an enemy...” (Quran 35:6)
“...And whoever takes Shaytan as a protector or helper instead of Allah, has surely suffered a manifest loss.” (Quran 4:119)
It is important to understand that even Satan himself recognises the Oneness of Allah and His right to be worshipped. Allah has informed us that the promises of Satan are nothing but deceptions and lies, and Satan concurs, for he can offer nothing.
“And Shaytan will say when the matter has been decided: "Verily, Allah promised you a promise of truth. And I too promised you, but I betrayed you. I had no authority over you except that I called you, and you responded to me. So do not blame me, but blame yourselves...” (Quran 14:22)
Every act of disobedience that is hated by Allah is loved by Shaytan, he loves immorality and sin. He whispers into the ears of the believers, he disrupts prayer and the remembrance of Allah. One of Islam’s greatest scholars, Ibn ul Qayyim, may God have mercy on him, said: “One of his (Satan’s) plots is that he always bewitches people’s minds until they are deceived, he makes attractive to the mind that which will harm it”.
Satan has wide-ranging experience in the field of deception; he has tricks and temptations and he whispers relentlessly. Satan is able to pinch and poke, implanting thoughts and desires. However Allah has not left humankind defenseless. He has provided us with weapons and one of the greatest is information. Satan is our mortal enemy and in order to combat his tricks and illusions we need to know him well. The long term goal of Satan is to deprive as many people as possible of Paradise and to lead them to Hell. To achieve this aim he has set many short term goals. Being aware of these goals means we are able to arm ourselves with weapons of defence.
Short Term Goals:
1.To cause people to commit the great sin of shirk. Everyone who worships something other than Allah, be it an idol, a statue, the sun, the moon, a person or a principle, is in essence worshipping Satan.[Sh.Omar al Ashqar in The world of the Jinn and Devils.]
2.To encourage people to commit sins and acts of disobedience. When Satan despairs of ever being worshipped he is content with being obeyed in matters that seem insignificant.[At-Tirmidhi, Saheeh Muslim] He loves immorality and sin because it has a direct effect on a person’s religious commitment.
3.To prevent people from doing good deeds. Satan not only causes people to commit sin and acts of disobedience, he is also content with preventing them from doing acts of good. Satan is patient; he lays in wait, filling our minds with doubts, and superstitions. When a person is planning on doing a good deed or action, he whispers to them to avoid it and plants small nagging doubts in their mind.
4.To damage acts of worship. If Satan is not able to prevent people from obeying Allah and performing righteous actions, he strives to corrupt their acts of worship. When a person is praying he whispers and distracts him. Satan’s desire is to prevent a person from taking their reward for praying with kushoo and eventually to lead him or her away from Allah altogether.
5.To cause mental and physical harm. In addition to causing believers to commit acts of shirk, Satan also aims to cause physical and mental harm. For instance he sends bad dreams to cause a person distress and fear. He disturbs people from the time they are born right up until the moment of death. In their final moments, he continues his whispering and harassment to prevent a person from calling on Allah and confirming their belief in God alone.
The means used by Shaytan to misguide people
Making lies and deceptions appear attractive. Shaytan makes falsehood appear in the guise of truth and truth appear in the guise of falsehood. He does this by planting doubts in people’s mind in exactly the same way as he tempted our Father and Mother Adam and Eve. Whispers, doubts and delusions are all part of his bag of tricks. Nowadays we see unlawful activities being practiced by many; they are made to appear attractive and are given names that draw a person towards it. God has given us a great line of defense; once we equip ourselves with the knowledge of the laws of Islam, this will unveil the plots of Satan and make it clear to us his intent.
Tempting people to extremism or negligence. If Satan finds a person is serious and cautious, always trying to do the right thing, he tempts him to strive to excess. He whispers, do not sleep when others sleep, do not break your fast when others do and so on. If Shaytan sees that a person is lazy or prone to look for the easy way he will tempt him to be indifferent or negligent. He encourages procrastination and laziness. To protect oneself from this, one should stay close to the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, may Allah praise him.
Making false promises. Quran stresses this evil ploy several times with great emphasis. “Shaytan makes promises to them, and arouses in them false desires; and Shaytan's promises are nothing but deceptions.”(Quran 4:120) Satan fills people’s heads with vain desires and wishes and keeps them busy working on false dreams and rewards. This distracts them from the more important things and working for the Hereafter. He calls humankind to sin and transgression yet he claims to be giving sincere advice.
Gradually misleading people. Satan makes minor sins appear to be nothing until they are piled high upon one another. Whenever Satan tricks a person into committing a sin, he leads him straight on to another sin, and then another and each time the sins become greater until finally he causes a person to commit the greatest sin of all, disbelieving in Allah, or ascribing partners to Him.
Causing people to forget what is in their best interest. Human beings are forgetful. It is a trait that in all of us and Our creator knows this very well. “And indeed We made a covenant with Adam before, but he forgot, and We found on his part no firm will-power.” (Quran 20:115) Satan takes this a step further by whispering until a person forgets exactly what is good for him and what things will lead to sin. One example where this could happen is where the religion of Allah is being mocked in a light-hearted way. Allah cautions us not to take part in such conversations. He says:
“And when you see those who engage in a false conversation about Our Verses (of the Quran) by mocking at them, stay away from them till they turn to another topic. And if Satan causes you to forget, then after the remembrance sit not you in the company of the wrongdoing people.” (Quran 6:68)
Making people afraid of his allies. Another way Satan misguides people is to make them afraid of his (Satan’s) troops and allies. He has surrounded himself with evil minions, jinn and human beings. He instills the thoughts that they are powerful and fearsome, and if not obeyed they can harm us.
“It is only Shaytan that suggests to you the fear of his supporters and friends; so fear them not, but fear Me, if you are (true) believers.” (Quran3:175)
Satan misguides a person through what he loves and desires. Satan finds out what we love or desire and uses it against us. He also passes this information on to his helpers and they attack us with the very things we are attached to. How often are our prayers disturbed by thoughts of our children or spouse? Are we guilty of shopping and delaying our prayer? Satan senses what we like and then sets about to twist our thoughts.
By instilling doubts. Satan does not want anyone to turn to Allah in repentance, regretting (past mistakes) and turning towards what is right and good.Instead he wants to divert people away from Allah by using many kinds of temptations and baseless arguments. He instills doubts to make a person feel anxious and uncertain.
Through alcohol, gambling, idolatry, witchcraft and fortunetelling. Although Allah warns us against these practices, human beings are weak and Satan takes advantage of this by making these practices look attractive or worthwhile. He encourages people to engage in these practices because they can easily lead to evil consequences and bad results. People may engage in this sort of behavior thinking it will be fun or interesting and they soon find that the consequences are neither of those things. Gambling is a serious addiction that destroys wealth and lives; alcohol makes people behave like fools and encourages one to engage in risky behaviour; idolatry is fraught with evil consequences, the worst being the sin of worshipping something other than Allah; believing in witchcraft and fortunetelling is a sign of irrational thinking and an irrational person has no control over himself. He could easily be led into evil situations that pull him further and further away from Allah.
“Oh you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), and gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah], and Al-Azlam are an abomination of Shaytan’s handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful.” (Quran 5:90)
Encouraging negligence.If the believer adheres firmly to the straight path and calls on Allah to protect himself, Shaytan is prevented from leading him astray or misguiding him.However, if he is negligent or lazy Shaytan takes full advantage to attack while the believer’s defenses are down.Immersing oneself in all the aspects of Islam is the way to be safe from Shaytan. Being negligent about our Islamic obligations keeps one away from the constant flow of Allah’s mercy. When a person grows strong in Islam and his faith is firmly entrenched in his heart, Shaytan is the one who is afraid.
Shaytan- sometimes spelled shaitan or shaytaan.It is the word used in Islam and the Arabic language to denote the devil or Satan, the personification of evil.
Al-Azlam - is the practice of casting featherless arrows to predict situations. It was prevalent in pre Islamic Arabia (includes such things as drawing lots, and trying to predict the future
Jinn - A creation of Allah that was created before humankind from smokeless flame. They are referred to at times as spirit beings, banshees, poltergeists, phantoms and so forth.
Shirk - a word that implies ascribing partners to Allah, or ascribing divine attributes to other than Allah, or believing that the source of power, harm and blessings comes from another besides Allah.
Kushoo - the act of being completely solemn, submissive and humble towards Allah during the prayer.