Ibn e Mubarak, the great Muslim scholar, tells an incident about an old wise man in one of his books. The old man was on his death bed. The people went to him to seek a great piece of life like he had been giving them his entire life. He said to them two words; “Anzartukum Sawfa!” I warn you against Sawfa!
What is Sawfa?
Is that, maybe, another name for Satan? Or maybe it was a serial killer back then that he was warning against. Actually it is none of these two. Sawfa is the Arabic word for “I will!”
Reality of “I will”
When we are doing something wrong and disobeying Allah (swt), we want to repent. But then we say to ourselves, “I will repent, but not now… Tomorrow… Next week…I am doing this for the last time…”
This is one of the best games that Shaytan plays with us. He uses this trick for one of the two reasons:
- To stop us from doing a good deed
- To stop us from leaving a bad deed.
He keeps on telling us to postpone our good deeds. Not now… a little bit later… Just a little bit later. Just commit this sin for the last time… you will repent tomorrow…
For the record, Shaytan uses this trick especially with the people who have Taqwa (fear of Allah (swt)) in their hearts. You see, the non-believers don’t bother if they’re committing sin, at all. Believers want to leave the sin, but they tend to procrastinate; hoping for Mercy and Forgiveness from their Lord later. And, such an attitude is a trap from the Shaytan, in which we easily fall into. Astaghfirullah.
For instance- for sisters struggling with Hijab, he may go something like this:
‘You will start wearing your Hijab right after this party… After completing your F.Sc; not before your marriage dear. No man will propose the Hijabi version of you!”
The result maybe that coffin becomes her first Hijab.
For students, he may (he definitely will) come round with something like this:
“This is just a regular class test… You won’t cheat in the Finals… You won’t cheat even one MCQ in the next paper. But for now you really need to copy this long question in any way possible… You’ve cheated in every exam, what’s the big deal if you cheat once more?”
Resulting into a degree earned totally by cheating.
To a writer he may whisper:
“This sure is a wonderful idea to write on (Meanwhile, trying his best to make you forget that idea) – but you really need to complete that homework of yours first; you will write after dinner, you need to get some sleep. You are tired; you’ll write tomorrow, you’ll write when you get free time, maybe next week or summer vacations.”
In this way, the writer will keep on postponing, and eventually, the idea will get old and lose its ingredients. And the chances are that idea will never get in black and white.
Long term effects of Shaytan’s devious trick
1. You will never be able to do a postponed good deed- the charity that you thought of giving, the idea that you thought to write on; you will forget it and lose the Ajr forever and ever.
2. Because if you fall into his trap eventually, one of the two things will happen;
- Either you die before doing that good deed or leaving that bad deed
- You will continue living your life with that sin.
It is because that particular sin would have become a regular habit of yours. It will become such an integral part of your life that you won’t be able to give it up. Then the worst thing happens… “I can’t!” You will tell yourself that you can’t give that sin up. Hopelessness! Shaytan is the hopeless case from the mercy of Allah (swt), and that is exactly what he wants for you too! He will make you believe that you can’t leave that sin. He will make you fall into the pits of hopelessness and depression- you can’t possibly live a peaceful life while indulging in sins and making your Creator unhappy!
Ibn Al Qayyim (ra) said: “There is nothing more beloved to Shaytan than a depressed believer.” (Tareeq ul Hijratain)
Your mistake was that you didn’t make Tauba right after you sinned. You kept on telling yourself ‘Sawfa! I will! Later!’
All of us sin. It is a fact. On the authority of Anas bin Malik, our beloved prophet (sa) said: “All sons of Adam (as) are sinners. But the best of those sinners are those who repent” (Ibn Majah)
Allah (swt) says in the Quran, “And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says: “Now I repent.”- nor of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful torment.” (An Nisa 4:18)
So dear readers, take that brave step now. If you are committing a particular sin, or are far away from Allah (swt), make Tauba to Allah (swt) and repent from it, right now, before turning over to the next page. Otherwise, you will keep on telling yourself; “I will repent tomorrow… I will…” And, there may be no tomorrow for you. Similarly, if there is a good deed that you’ve been postponing from so long, do it now.
This is the net of Sawfa- net of ‘I will’ laid by Shaytan that we need to recognize, and fight against. Pleasure of Allah (swt) and Jannah are worth fighting for!