Due to the imminent arrival of Ramadan, I thought it would be beneficial to talk about the approaches that Satan uses against us, at every moment of our lives to get us away from the remembrance of Allah (Zikrullah). Insha-Allah, this can be for all of us - myself first - a humble reminder and contribute to our spiritual preparation for the month of Ramadan, the aim being, of course, that when the time comes, Insha-Allah, we maximize the best of these blessed days.
We can read in the Holy Quran the following words which Allah addressed to Satan:
“Excite with your voice whoever you can among them, and assault them with your cavalry and your infantry, and become a partner in their wealth and their children and make promises to them." But Satan promises them nothing but deceit. As for My (believing) servants, you have no power over them. And your Lord is sufficient to protect them!” (17: 65-66)
This verse contains information relative to the main routes used by Satan and his allies to exert power over the human being and thus mislead him from the Straight Path. They often act:
- Through what man perceives through his sense organs, as mentioned in the verse in question: “Excite with your voice…”
- Through the negative impact of his acts of disobedience: “…assault them with your cavalry and your infantry…”; verily, all those who acts in disobedience to Allah make up the cavalry and infantry of Satan.
- Via natural impulses that inhabit him, those innate qualities that make his character and the feelings he develops from his own individual or his surroundings: “...become a partner in their wealth and their children…”
- Via suggestions addressed directly to his conscience and mind: “...make promises to them…”
Satan can thus infiltrate and access the human heart by internal or external ways, exposed or concealed. Hence the need for the believer to exercise constantly for increased vigilance with respect to the multiple assaults of his sworn enemy, whom the Quran mentions the words thereof, in these terms:
“‘Because You have put me in error’, said (Satan), ‘I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path., then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful (to You).’” (7: 17-18).
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had clearly warned his Companions (ra) about it. Abdullah Ibn Masud (ra) narrates:
“The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) drew a line for us and said, ‘This is the path of Allah.’
Then he drew several other lines to the right and to left of the straight line. Then, he said, “These are diverse paths, and there is a Satan at every other path beckoning towards himself.”
Then, the Prophet read this verse from the Quran (6:154): “(Allah has enjoined), ‘This is My straight path; so follow it, and do not follow other ways: that will lead you away from His path.’ That is what He enjoins upon you, so that you may guard yourselves.” (Musnad Ahmad).
It is not without a valid reason that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that those who ventures too close to the limits set by Allah, that they are more liable to transgress and fall into the forbidden.
Despite the fact that you thought that you were religious and close to Allah, but Satan may sow doubt in you and make you deviate from the right path. It would be appropriate here to recall some of the internal doors - in the sense that they are related to human feelings and impulses - those most frequently used by Satan to get to impregnate the human heart with his evil influence.
- Anger: Man’s violent nature can indeed bring him to lose of his self-control, and thus giving Satan the golden opportunity to use him and provoke him to do all that he (Satan) pleases.
- Desire: If not controlled, it can lead man to commit very serious sins, from a vicious look to fornication, and also having illicit thoughts and fantasies. Satan can cunningly use a single wretched way to bamboozle your mind to a point where he makes you testify against the truth of Allah for fear of creatures and also makes you do bad deeds on a whim or out of anger or by passion, and so the nafs (passion/ego) surpasses the spirituality that is in you.
- Jealousy and Greed/Envy: Two inclinations that can absolutely blind and deafen those who are affected by them and make them forget their sense of responsibility. It was really jealousy and envy that brought about the loss and the curse of Iblis, when they prevented him from serving and obeying Adam (as). And this is what one might consider to be some greed which played a decisive role in the mistake of Adam (as) and his wife, which pushed them to eat from the one tree which Allah had clearly forbidden them to approach.
- The excessive love of material things, fear of poverty and avarice: Satan uses these feelings to influence man, by developing and maintaining constantly in him a way of life purely based on materialistic criteria. Man thus comes to waste all his precious life to run after goals which he will never achieve - because it will not be possible for him to satisfy all his material desires in this very world.
To illustrate this sad reality, one can cite the example of the person who obtains suddenly, without expecting it, a thousand rupees: Often in such cases, as an immediate response, his heart is found assailed by the desire to satisfy multiple material desires, each of which requires at least an amount equivalent to that which he obtained. Thus, the sum he received is suddenly not at all enough for him and he feels the need to have even more money! Therefore, this person, who a few moments ago only had a serene heart and who felt no need for any particular material comfort suddenly finds himself in a spiral of needs which he just has to fulfil! And if he is not careful about this kind of spiral of material needs and does not rid himself of it, therefore the desire to satisfy his new and supposed needs will monopolize all his time and shall not even leave him enough time to fulfil his real duties – that is, those which he has towards his Creator and towards those people who surrounds him.
- The burning desire to always please people - not the Creator: Such ambition has the direct consequence of developing in the heart of the one who carries it, very serious spiritual diseases such as ostentation. The people whom he seeks to please is thus comparable to deities: Indeed, all his actions as well as his behaviour and attitude are constantly guided by the desire that animates it, with all the adverse consequences this implies – the least of which is that he will sink into the vilest of flatteries (moudahana), daring not anymore to acquit himself of his Muslim duty to enjoin good and prevent evil, for fear of offending those he reveres so much.
- Hastiness: The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) clearly stated that “Haste is from Satan…” (Tirmidhi). Whoever does not take the time to think before acting decreases (partially or totally) the control of reason which impacts on his decisions: It is not surprisingly, therefore, that he becomes a prey of choice for satanic suggestions.
- The desire to denigrate one’s opponents and sectarianism: The spirit of contradiction is a disposition present in most people, but however at different scales. It is precisely this personality trait that Satan often happens to exploit in a perverse and vicious way: Thus, on issues related, in one way or another, to religious aspects, Satan gives the illusion to man that the critics that he formulates towards others are quite fair and that they contribute to establish justice. Result: Rather than becoming aware of his own weaknesses and thinking of repenting for his own misdeeds and sins, he derives from his sectarian attitude and his constant denial of others a sense of accomplishment.
- Commitment to topics of controversy and differences: This is also a way employed by Satan to divert man from what is essential, that is, from his personal reform for better submission to Allah. It is not without reason that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had stated the enormous merit related to the abandonment/settlement of dispute, even when one is right.
These are some of the main “internal” accesses used by Satan to exert his evil influence on the human heart. It is incumbent upon us now, to redouble our vigilance and make our best to block these “ways” used by Satan, and we can do this by multiplying the spiritual reform exercises and good works, but above all by imploring for the help and assistance of Allah.
May Allah preserve us against the incentives of Satan and keep us on the right path and give us the opportunity to always act well, remaining committed to the teachings of Islam and following the model of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Ameen.
- Friday Sermon of 12 June 2015 ~(24 Shabaan 1436 Hijri) delivered by the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.