By Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan – Founder and CEO, Bayyinah
He is rejected! In the Quran, Allah (swt) mentions Shaitan and his devilish ways at many instances. But there is this one particular instance where his intentions are highlighted in the most prominent fashion.
Allah (swt) mentions Iblees’ words in the Quran: “I swear to you Allah, I will absolutely misguide them.” Here, the term ‘misguide’ should be taken as ‘confuse’. Shaitan will try to make us choose between Allah’s (swt) guidance and his whispers. He will confuse us by telling us that Allah (swt) is the Most Merciful. His mercy is divine, so it is alright to live a little loosely. He will tell lies on behalf of Allah (swt) Himself!
You will get confused and believe the lies of Shaitan that would lead you further away from what Allah (swt) has actually guided.
Or he might come to you and mislead you by telling that you are such a lost cause! No matter how much you pray or fast, you are ultimately going to rot in Hell. So why go through the trouble? Go and loosen up. Party a little.
One must remember here that the way Shaitan comes for me is different than the way he comes for someone else. He studies each and every individual’s life, their temptations, their experiences, and their friends, and he attacks accordingly, the way one studies a football team, their defences, and reflexes.
You try to get into a good habit and he will look for your weaknesses and slips. For instance, one tries to develop the habit of sleeping early, and Shaitan will whisper: “Oh, there is a new show on Netflix. You can stay up a little longer!” So one tends to slip, thinking: “Yes, maybe a little longer won’t matter. I can delay Isha prayers for a while.” This is how he manipulates you. This is how he plays with you by giving you false hopes. You start filling yourself with hope that the sin you commit is not such a major one. You will get away with it.
He will keep coming. He will keep tempting you with your desires and weaknesses to the point of you becoming so obsessed with it that you will do anything to get it. Once he makes you obsessed with a particular desire, he will make his final attack. He now whispers no more; rather, he commands! He will make you believe your life is incomplete without this particular thing and then he will make it easy for you to say ‘I don’t care’.
By the time we are ready to dive into our desires, they have become greater than Allah (swt)! It is no longer ‘Allahu Akbar’. You can pray muttering ‘Allahu Akbar’, but those are mere words now. They do not mean anything to you. Then you become like the people described by Allah (swt) in Surah Al-Jathiyah:
“Have you seen him who takes his own lust (vain desires) as his ilah (god), and Allah knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart, and put a cover on his sight? Who then will guide him after Allah? Will you not then remember?” (Al-Jathiyah 45:23)
Notice how Allah (swt) mentions this about a person, who is bestowed with knowledge. Shaitan was blessed with knowledge. His desire was self-recognition, which he turned into his god. For him, it is not even the knowledge of the unseen. He has seen the angels. He has seen heaven and hell. He had a direct conversation with Allah (swt)! He had seen all the prophets, but that did not stop him from getting astray.
In this holy month of Ramadan, you might increase your knowledge about Allah (swt). You might get a chance to know the prophets better. May be you will learn something you did not know. Your Ilm may increase. Your knowledge of Allah (swt) may increase. But beware, just because knowledge increases, it does not necessarily mean that guidance increases with it. Shaitan, as mentioned earlier, has plenty of knowledge. After knowing all of that, he still disobeys. This tells us that if someone falls into the temptations of Shaitan, even knowledge does not help him. It just would not matter. There are two dimensions of knowledge: knowledge that stays in the mind, and knowledge that stays in the heart. What Allah (swt) wants is the later.
Allah (swt) has provided us with keys to prevent the attacks of Shaitan. One of the fundamental keys is our gratitude – we have to think constantly of everything Allah (swt) has done for us. Remember that Shaitan will always remind you of things that Allah (swt) did not do for you. And when you begin thinking about what Allah (swt) is not doing, then ‘Allahu Akbar’ goes away and what you want takes precedence.
So at the end of Ramadan, Allah (swt) reminds us to be grateful – not to complain about what Allah (swt) has not done for us but rather focus on what He has blessed us with: “And if you would count the graces of Allah, never could you be able to count them. Truly! Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (An-Nahl 16:18)
If you are regularly mindful of Allah’s (swt) favours, you will be able to retain the greatness of Allah (swt). But if the gratitude is not there and gets replaced with complaining, then it opens the doors for Shaitan. When we say ‘I deserve better from Allah (swt)’, we are actually following the footsteps of Shaitan. It does not have to be the Sajdah to Adam (as) – he will make you do your own form of rebellion.
The believer primarily obeys Allah (swt) not because of fear but due to gratitude. This is why the Holy Quran begins with ‘Alhumdulillah’. And after we say ‘Alhumdulillah’, we accept Him as Rabb!
The core lesson we take out of Ramadan is that we have to be mentally prepared for the difficult times ahead. As soon as the Eid comes, Shaitan will hit us hard. For some of us, the biggest disobedience we do to Allah (swt) is at Eid! You are invited to Eid parties where would you see people backbiting about others dressing, others kids’ behaviour or maybe communities and laughing and making fun. You make plans ahead for movies and other sins for Eid. What are you doing? What are you celebrating? The connection to the Quran, repentance to Allah (swt), or disobedience to the Almighty?
Make Eid a time to be grateful. Buy your children gifts. Buy your children better gifts to give to those children who do not have any! Make them grateful of what they have and make them people of giving. True gratitude is when we become people of Sadaqah. May Allah (swt) allow us to reap all the fruits of this beautiful month and stay on the righteous path of gratitude. Ameen.
Transcribed by Asma Hamza – Freelance writer