Sherlock Holmes had Professor Moriarty, Spiderman battled the Green Goblin – every fictitious hero has had to face a devilish, scheming enemy in their action-packed lives. The same is true for our real life heroes – Prophets of Allah (swt) have had to face many enemies, including the devil himself – the Shaitan (also known as Iblis).
It is taken for granted that Shaitan’s Waswasa (whispering) would encourage many people to conspire against the prophets, our guides towards the path of Jannah. However, Shaitan himself has also come physically for leading our prophets astray. For example, Shaitan appeared before Prophet Ibrahim (as), as he prepared to sacrifice Ismael (as) on Allah’s (swt) command. Shaitan was stoned for his efforts by both father and son, and the incident was made an important ritual of Hajj – stoning the pillars at Jamarat. On studying Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) Seerah, we find that this evil nemesis and his aides made physical appearances during the Prophet’s (sa) lifetime, too.
It was during the turbulent times in Makkah, shortly before the Prophet’s (sa) Hijrah, that the Kuffar amongst the Quraish gathered to conspire against the Prophet (sa). They had tried verbal persuasion, physical torture, humiliation, starvation, banishment and even promises of wealth and position to lure Prophet Muhammad (sa) away from his mission of spreading the word of Allah (swt), but it was all in naught. At this point in time, Prophet Muhammad (sa) appeared most vulnerable to them, because his strongest supporters – his uncle, Abu Talib and his wife, Kadijah (rta) – had died.
As the Quraish debated on the best means to silence the Prophet (sa) forever, they were interrupted by an old man. He introduced himself as a well-wisher from the tribe of Najd, was curious to hear their talk and hoped for their success on reaching a sound decision. This old man was Iblis himself, and with his smooth talking he was readily admitted into the meeting! In this way he, too, was present when the Quraish plotted the murder of Muhammad (sa). (Ibn Hisham)
Alhumdulillah, Allah (swt) warned the Prophet (sa) of their plans and temporarily blinded the assassins who surrounded his house, as he left Makkah and made his way to Madinah.
Later, Iblis made his appearance when the Quraish prepared to battle the Muslims at Badr. On hearing the fabricated news that the Muslims from Madinah were intercepting a Quraishi caravan returning from Syria, the Quraish swiftly rounded up their men and armaments for war. They rallied other Arab tribes to help as well and then came a moment of hesitation; they were afraid that the tribe of Banu Bakr (their age old enemies) might attack the Quraish’s army from the rear. Should they advance towards Muslims or not?
It was at this crucial point of indecision that Iblis approached them, disguised as Suraqa Ibn Malik Ibn Jusham Al-Mudlaji – chief of Bani Kinana. He boldly promised: “I guarantee that no harm will happen from behind.” Thus reassured, the army of disbelievers charged forward.
It was in the very midst of the battle that Shaitan revealed his true self as a traitor and a liar. The Muslims were rapidly gaining ground on the battlefield and Angels had begun to descend, by Allah’s (swt) command, to aid the Muslim army. Seeing this, Shaitan fled. Indifferent to the pleas of his allies, he deserted the Kuffar’s army and plunged into the sea.
Sheikh Safi-ur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri has recorded these incidents of Shaitan’s interference in our Prophet’s (sa) life in his noteworthy book “Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum” (“The Sealed Nectar”).
Shaitan’s workers amongst the Jinn have also been recorded to have made an effort to entice Prophet Muhammad (sa). It has been recorded by Imam Bukhari that Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated the following words of the Prophet (sa): “Last night, a big demon (Afreet) from the Jinns came to me and wanted to interrupt my prayers (or said something similar), but Allah enabled me to overpower him. I wanted to fasten him to one of the pillars of the Masjid, so that all of you could see him in the morning, but I remembered the statement of my brother Sulaiman (as stated in Quran): ‘My Lord! Forgive me, and bestow on me a kingdom such as shall not belong to any other after me: Verily, you are the Bestower’ (Sad, 38:35).” The sub-narrator Rauh said: “He (the demon) was dismissed humiliated.”
These incidents prove that Shaitan is conniving, and even those most beloved to Allah (swt) are not spared from his plots to misguide. Truly, we are unable to stop his efforts; yet, we are not his helpless prey. Allah (swt) has armed us with Dua and Salah to protect us from Shaitan’s plotting. As we learn from the Seerah of the Prophet (sa) and the lives of the prophets before him, Allah (swt) will protect those who seek His protection, and help those who seek His aid. May Allah (swt) grant us refuge from the evil schemes of the Shaitan. Ameen.