How to Confront the Devil?
The issue of confronting the devil is one of the most intricate ones facing man. This is because this fierce enemy combines three attributes, which are: Invisibility, viciousness and experience. On one hand, he and his tribe watch us from a position where we cannot see him. It is like two armies having unequal access to resources. On the other hand, he olds a deep-seated envy to humans, the creation of whose ancestor Adam, coincided with the beginning of his eternal agony. This is why he harbours such intense hatred and desire to extirpate the human kind by leading them towards hell. His long experience in misguiding men included the prophets but without much luck! However, how would we, the poor and weak creatures do in the face of this challenge?
The Qur'an discusses in a unique way the issue of the devil in sixty different verses. It relates how he challenged Allah to lead astray His whole creation ‘excepting the purified’. Nevertheless, who are those? They are the ones whom Allah chose for Himself and encircled with His love and protection. The Qur'an cites the expression “I will surely bring his descendants under my sway (Arabic le attakhithanna) ” implies that the devil is making a beast out of the human by placing a bridle under his palate to lead him as a beast. Is there any disdain worse than this?
The Qur'an warns of ‘Satan’s footsteps’ i.e. the stepwise approach the devil employs to misguide man starting with the smaller sins up to the major the ones. An example of this is the gradual involvement in illicit relationships with women. It starts by a look, followed by a smile, a greeting, a chat and a date, which results in doing the forbidden.
We must be familiar with the tools the devil uses to enlist his aides. The Qur'an cites intoxicants and gambling as an example, “Satan’s plan is but to excite enmity and hatred between you, with wine and arrow-shuffling”. The licentious satellite channels and internet sites are modern examples. Falling into these traps only cause's remorse-supposing one repents-or eternal disgrace if one is to continue disobedience. Looking at these tools as traps set by the devil will make one fearful of the consequences instead of enjoying the temporary pleasure, which yields nothing but compunction and torment.
The Qur'an relates an example of someone who was overwhelmed by the devil. The mere thought of it is enough to frighten the devoted believer. “ And recite to them the story of the man to whom We sent our signs, but he passed them by, so Satan followed him up and he went astray”. (‘Our signs’ is interpreted as the internal miracles and the spiritual triumphs). But, “He inclined to earth and followed his own vain desires. His similitude is that of a dog, if you attack him, he lolls out his tongue and or if you leave him alone, he still lolls out his tongue”. Isn’t this enough warning that we should not totally confide in the apparent righteousness but rather rely on the test of time in revealing the consistency and genuineness of the qualities?
The Qur'an cites usury as a means by which Satan manipulates man turning him into a lunatic! Ponder Allah’s saying, “Those who devour usury will not stand except as stands one whom Satan by his touch has driven to madness”. The usurer, being joyful of his illicit gain, must keep in mind that there will come a day when the evilness of his work becomes obvious but it will be too late for him to repent! Compare this to every evil work with Allah even if it seems good with people.
The idea that Satan shares with some people their wealth and children is a frightening one. This idea was interpreted in two ways: First, the illegitimate children who were conceived in an evil atmosphere of vain desires and sin. The second, the legitimate children whose parents had not brought up to be righteous so they became like the ones from the first group, those whom Satan has a share in! It is obvious that a partner will always claim his share especial if he was evil and greedy like the damned Satan.
There are some places in which feels he can freely roam around, like the marketplace, the idol countries and where the two sexes mix. This is why the believer must be well prepared before going into those places. Another example of those places is the gatherings of the heedless and sinful people of whom the Qur'an says, “If Satan ever makes you forget, then after recollection, sit not thou in the company of those who do wrong”.
The purpose of the above is not to cause despair but rather to display a gloomy picture, which should make every one think of the following: First, man must consistently remind himself of this creature’s enmity and that he would not let go of man even if man forsakes him. Secondly, man must explore his weak points through which the devil might enter. Examples of these are; love for women, wealth and fame, and rage. And thirdly, man must seek refuge with Allah who can, if He wills, turn Satan away from His servants as He turned the Satan away from heaven by filling it with ‘stern guards and flaming fire’ as said in the Qur'an. Shall we then sincerely and humbly seek refuge with Allah by reciting the designated daily supplications, as the Prophet (S.A.W.) used to do?