Iblees is our sworn enemy. He has made a promise to Allah (SWT) that he will misguide us and lead us into the Hellfire, away from Allah’s grace. He is not to be taken lightly. We must be serious when it comes to dealing with Iblees and that includes knowing about him and the tricks he uses to try to misguide us.
The History of Iblees:
It is important to know the history of Iblees so that we can learn not only of the tricks he uses but how he became our sworn enemy, and his personality so that we can protect ourselves.
Iblees was amongst the Jinn-another creation of Allah (SWT) whom He created from smokeless fire. As described in Ibn Kathir’s book Stories of the Prophets, the Jinn made mischief on the Earth. This is the event the angels refer to in Surah Baqarah, “And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know” (2:30). The mischief that the Jinns caused on the Earth led to a battle between the angels and the Jinn, whereupon an army of angels expelled the Jinn to the depths of the seas. This opinion was held by Abdullah ibn Umar (RA) who had that the jinn had existed for about 2000 years before Adam and then shed blood. Therefore, Allah sent on them an army of angels that drove them out to the depths of the seas (Ibn Kathir 5). Iblees then became pious, worshipping Allah so much so that he was ranked amongst the angels.
When Allah (SWT) created Adam (AS) from clay He left him in this state for about 40 years. The angels would pass by in fear. The most afraid was Iblees, who used to pass by the figure of Adam (AS) and hit him. Over time this fear of Iblees eventually developed into hatred. Perhaps Allah (SWT) wanted to test Iblees when He commanded the angles and him to prostrate to Adam in Surah Al-Hijr (15):
I am creating a human being from clay, from molded mud (28). When I have formed him, and breathed into him of My spirit, fall down prostrating before him (29). So the angels prostrated themselves, all together (30). Except for Iblees. He refused to be among those who prostrated themselves (31). He said, “O Iblees, what kept you from being among those who prostrated themselves (32)?” He said, “I am not about to prostrate myself before a human being, whom You created from clay, from molded mud” (33). He said, “Then get out of here, for you are an outcast (34).” “And the curse will be upon you until the Day of Judgment (35).”
Not only did Iblees fail the test but he also refused to acknowledge his mistake and ask Allah (SWT), his Creator, for forgiveness, “[Satan] said, “Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path (7:16). And it is here that Iblees promises to Allah (SWT) that he will misguide the progeny of Adam (AS) until the Day of Judgement. It is also here where the fear Iblees had been harbouring of Adam (AS) culminated into hatred of Adam (AS) and his progeny. Iblees absolutely resented the honours Adam (AS) received from Allah (SWT). Not only was Adam (AS) created by Allah’s (SWT) own hands, he was also given the honour of being prostrated to, by Allah’s command. Iblees did not think it was worthy that a creation made from clay be given such honours, He said, “Never would I prostrate to a human whom You created out of clay from an altered black mud” (15:33). As such, Iblees consciously refused to obey Allah’s command, succumbing to the pride and arrogance that he had built up all those years. For this reason, he was expelled from Paradise and cursed to be amongst the people of the Hellfire.
Before he is thrown out, Iblees asks Allah (SWT) for one more thing, “(Satan said) Give me respite, until the Day they are resurrected.” He (Allah) said, “You are of those given respite.” He said, “Because you have lured me, I will waylay them on Your straight path. Then I will come at them from before them, and from behind them, and from their right, and from their left; and you will not find most of them appreciative” (15:14-17). Here, Iblees makes a promise to Allah (SWT) that he will do everything in his power to misguide Adam (AS) and his progeny from His straight path, i.e., achieving Allah’s pleasure. Iblees’ promise is not to be taken lightly for Iblees knows the grandeur of Allah (SWT), as he was His worshiper. A promise made to Allah the Almighty is no light matter. Iblees is serious about misguiding us just as he misguided our parents Adam (AS) and Hawwa (AS). We need to be just as serious about defeating Iblees as he is about destroying us for eternity.
Iblees is quick in his ability to misguide us. He didn’t waste any time with Adam (AS) and Hawwa (AS):
We said: “O Adam! Dwell you and your wife in the Paradise and both of you freely with pleasure and delight of things therein as wherever you will but come not near this tree or you both will be of the wrongdoers.” Then Satan made them slip therefrom (the Paradise), and got them out from that in which they were. We said: “Get you down all with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be a dwelling place for you and an enjoyment for a time. “Then Adam received from his Lord Words. His Lord pardoned him (accepted his repentance). Verily He is the One Who forgives (accepts repentance), the most Merciful (2:35-37).
Due to the grace of Allah (SWT), Adam and Hawwa (AS) were pardoned and assisted in their life on earth. This story teaches us the guiles of Iblees as well as that the forgiveness of Allah is always available for He was so quick to forgive them.
The Tricks of Iblees
“O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.” (Qur’an 2:208). The Qur’an does not downplay the danger Iblees poses to the believers. Iblees has sworn that his goal is for us to join him in the Hellfire for all of eternity.( May Allah (SWT) protect us!)
Iblees will stop at nothing to destroy us for eternity. He knows human nature as demonstrated in this hadith, “When Allah created Adam, He left him for a while as long as He waned him to. Iblees went around him, and when he found him hollow he knew he was a creature who could not restrain (itself)” (Muslim 2611 and Ahmed 3/152). Iblees knows that humans are hasty and he often uses this as a way to knock us off the Straight Path. This is one of the reasons, sabr (patience) is such an important trait for a Muslim to develop.
Iblees will make you lazy so that you skip out on performing good deeds. Another trick of Iblees is to exploit our sincere intentions when we are performing good deeds. He will often whisper worldly benefits that we have to gain from doing such-an-such act (i.e., volunteering at the masjid, MSA, pursuing Islamic Studies, etc.). Examples of such whispers are, “xyz act will look good on your resume”, “fasting will make you lose weight”, “people will think I’m so knowledgeable”, “If I do this at the masjid that brother/sister will notice me”, etc. If such statements are going through your mind you must renew your intention. When we perform a deed it must be solely to gain the pleasure of Allah (SWT), and there should not be any other reason why we perform it. Of course, Iblees then will make you feel that you are not sincere enough in your intention to perform any good deeds, so it is super important to keep a balance. Thoughts will come into your mind-Iblees is relentless. This is why it is important to renew your intention every step of the way. This not only ensures sincerity but also makes a lot of the harder good deeds easier to perform.
Imam Suhaib Webb in a lecture spoke about the strategies Iblees uses to destroy us (Lesser of Two Good Deeds, Virtual Mosque) They are:
1. To make someone a kaafir (someone who is given the message and he rejects it). This is the ultimate goal of Iblees as it guarantees the Hellfire. There are several ways Iblees goes about doing this, from whispering questions about Allah (SWT) and Islam that do no benefit in being answered, and by twisting our understanding of the Qur’an.
2. To make someone commit al bid’ah (innovation). The Prophet (SAW) said, “The best of the speech is embodied in the Book of Allah, and the best of the guidance is the guidance given by Muhammad. And the most evil affairs are their innovations; and every innovation is error” (Muslim 867). Bid’ah is to introduce something to the religion. Iblees may make you think that this is not a big deal, especially if what you are inventing is a good deed. However, the act of adding or subtracting from the religion is something that Allah (SWT) has condemned the nations before us for doing. In addition, adding something to the religion whether it is good or bad is to reject the statement of Allah (SWT) when He says in the Qur’an, “This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion” (5:3). Here Allah declares that Islam is perfect and complete, leaving no room for addit
ion or subtraction by others. In this way, bid’ah is not something to be taken lightly as Islam has been made perfect and complete by Allah (SWT) Himself. So do not let the Shaytan trick you into thinking anything else.
3. To make someone commit major sins. Iblees will incite us to commit major sins, both physically as well as spiritually. He will create jealousy, hatred, arrogance, etc. in our hearts towards other people. Or he will try to rationalize why committing xyz sin is okay because we can repent later. However, Allah (SWT) only accepts the repentance of those who are sincere, and deciding to repent after consciously committing a sin is not very sincere.
4. To make someone commit minor sins. Beware for Iblees is patient-he will take his time in destroying us for all of eternity. He begins by convincing us to indulge in minor sins until the point where committing a major sin isn’t much of a big deal. Even if we protect ourselves from committing a major sin, the small sins that we committed will catch up to us on the Day of Judgement, ultimately ruining us. So it is important to keep away from even the minor sins. Iblees will cause us to be negligent-he will incite us to delay a good deed (i.e., Hajj, Zakah, Sadaqah, etc) until it is too late.
5. Wasting time doing things that are permissible. This is something that most of us will fall into, especially in the age of Youtube and Netflix. What’s wrong with binge watching a few documentaries? There may be nothing wrong with it, but will it benefit you in the Hereafter? The Prophet (SAW) said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing good” (Sahih Bukhari 6412). It is important to strike a balance when it comes to leisure.
6. To choose to do the lesser of two good deeds. Here Iblees, knowing you will perform good deeds, tries to get you to perform the deed with lesser reward.
7. An all out attack. This means that if Iblees cannot trick you into falling into the other six categories, he will instruct his army of Jinn to go against you. This doesn’t mean that you will be possessed or anything. Rather the Jinn are instructed to go around inciting those around you to dislike you for no apparent reason. They will say negative things about you simply because you are on the truth. We see this is with scholars today who are constantly attacked by Muslims. This trick is meant to cause you to waver off the deen. This is why it is so important to always be sincere in your intention and to renew it constantly. Because by reminding ourselves why we are doing this (i.e., to attain the pleasure of Allah) this trick, by the help of Allah (SWT) will not affect us so much.
Now that we are aware of some of Shaytan’s tricks, it is up to us to remain vigilant and recognise when we are being fooled by Shaytan. None of us can attain guidance unless Allah (SWT) wills so I ask Allah (SWT) to keep us steadfast on His Deen, to protect us from the tricks of Shaytan, to remain upon His Deen until death, and for us to attain the Everlasting peace and grace of Allah (SWT). Ameen.