By Shawana A. Aziz
To achieve his goal of dragging mankind with him into Hell, Satan first lures mankind into committing Shirk (ascribing partners to God, the Almighty) and Kufr (disbelief) through invoking the dead, practicing magic, etc., because Shirk is the greatest sin. Anyone who dies upon Shirk will not be forgiven, nor will he ever be taken out of Hell-fire.
So, if Satan overwhelms the son of Adam by causing him to commit Shirk, then he is satisfied and pleased.
Like when Satan says to man, ‘Disbelieve in Allah.’ But when (man) disbelieves in Allah, Satan says, ‘I am free of you, I fear Allah… (Al-Hashr 59:16)
If he cannot manage to deceive people into committing Shirk and Kufr, he does not give up. He causes people to follow bid`ah (innovation in the religion) like innovative celebrations such as celebrating the night of Al-Israa’ wa Al-Miraj (the Prophet’s night journey to Jerusalem then to heavens), celebrating 15th Sha`ban, etc. and other actions that have no basis in the religion.
Sufyan Ath-Thawri said, “Bid`ah is dearer to Satan than sin, for, one may repent from sin, but not from bid`ah.”
One who sins, knows that he is disobeying Allah and some time, he may turn to Allah and seek forgiveness and be pardoned. But he, who practices Bid`ah, deems his action to be a form of worship to Allah and thus, never even thinks of repentance!
Say (O Muhammad), ‘Shall We tell you the greatest losers in respect to (their) deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good by their deeds!’ (Al-Kahf 18:104)
It means that they performed deeds that were not in accordance with the prescribed way and thus not acceptable.
If Satan fails at causing people to follow innovations, he will move on to calling them to major sins like abandoning prayers particularly, if the person is a respected personality, because huge number of people will follow his example.
If the believer keeps steadfast, Satan is still not discouraged, he calls them to minor sins. It is recorded in Sunan At-Tirmidhi, “Satan has despaired of ever being worshiped in this land of yours, but he will be obeyed in matters that you think of as insignificant, and he will be content with that.”
“The Satan will be content with that,” because even minor sins can have devastating effect on one’s Hereafter. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) warned us concerning minor sins by giving an example of how a great fire can be kindled by means of small wooden sticks collected in a place. Similarly, minor sins if allowed to accumulate, might destroy the sinner. He (peace be upon him) said, “Beware of the insignificant sins, like a people who stayed (abode) in a valley, then this one brought a stick, that one brought a stick and others brought sticks too, until they cooked their bread (meal). Verily, the person who commits these (minor) sins will be seized by these sins and be destroyed.” (Ahmad)
If the believer still emerges safe from his traps, Satan seeks to keep him occupied with permissible matters, like sleeping, eating, pursuing worldly affairs, etc. Spending time and effort in these will neither earn him reward nor bring punishment. He will, however, miss the rewards he would have gained if he had spent his time in performing good deeds.
If the believing slave is still not deceived and manages his time well, Satan keeps him busy with less virtuous deeds instead of what is more preferable and rewarding in order for him to miss the reward of the best and most virtuous deed.
If after employing all kinds of temptations and deceptive arguments, Satan still does not succeed in diverting the son of Adam from his religious commitments, he resorts to corrupt his acts of worship and deprive him from the rewards. He stirs up doubts and makes the person anxious and uncertain. In Sahh Al-Bukhari, it is narrated from Abu Hurairah (a companion of the Prophet) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “When the call to prayer is pronounced, the Satan runs away breaking wind loudly, so that he will not hear the adhan (call to prayer). When the call to prayer ends, he comes back, but when the iqamah (call to start the prayer) starts, he runs away. And when the prayer begins, he comes back until he whispers into the heart of the person, and says to him, ‘Remember such and such, remember such and such – things that he did not remember before the prayer until he does not know how many raka`ahs (unit of the prayer) he has prayed.” (Al-Bukhari)
Such whispering of Satan are the weakest of his tricks. The companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) once complained that they experienced whispers which they disliked and would never want to speak of. The Prophet commented, “Praise be to Allah, Who has reduced his tricks to whispers.” (Abu Dawud)
If the person still remains undefeated, Satan’s next step is to harm the person, for example, by causing him to be persecuted, or by distorting his reputation. By this trick, Satan intends to discourage the person from his religious commitment. How many scholars have been tortured or killed in prison because of their commitment to Islam!
Source: Taken with modifications from the author’s “Exposing Shaytaan”