The only way to safety from Satan is Istiadha
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Abdul Husain Dastghaib
Say thou: 'O my Lord! I seek refuge unto Thee from the (evil) promptings of the satans! I seek refuge unto Thee O my Lord from their access to me. (Sura al-Muminun, 23:97-98)
The fears and hardships that man faces on account of Satan are not hidden from anyone. Everyone knows that Satan is the worst enemy of human beings. He doesn't leave the men alone till their last breath. His only purpose in the world is to see that man doesn't profess faith on Allah (S.w.T.) and the Hereafter. At least, Satan makes every effort to ensure that men veer away from doing good deeds and get attracted to evil acts.
The most important thing is that men make every effort to get rid of Satan and his ilk. But to get rid of such powerful and organized group of enemies is not an easy task. The Holy Qur'an prescribes the one and only remedy for the situation, is Isti'adha. There are clear indications in the Book saying, "Fastaidh billah" (So seek refuge with Allah
, because it is not possible to reach the Truth without doing this.
The King's tent and the ferocious watch-dog
I had cited an example that Satan is like a ferocious dog that lingers at the entrance to the king's tent. Whenever anyone tries to go to the presence of the king, the dog rushes at him with gnawing teeth. This is such a mean janitor that barring the close friends of the king, none other is safe. Only Allah (S.w.T.)'s favorites can reach Him without let or hindrance from this enemy. Anyway, to enter the king's tent we shall have to seek protection from him from the evil dog. There is no other way than seeking Allah (S.w.T.)'s help and protection from the accursed Satan to achieve His nearness! Only Allah (S.w.T.)'s fury can contain the accursed Satan.
Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to seek Allah (S.w.T.)'s protection that with His attention one can get protection from the mischief of Satan. In this regard the Holy Qur'an says: And say: 'O my Lord! I seek refuge in Thee from the evil suggestions of the Shaitans; And I seek refuge in Thee! O my Lord from their presence.' (Sura al-Muminun, 23:97-98)
Particularly in privacy and loneliness, saving oneself from the fears and temptations created by Satan is rather difficult. In such a situation one must call: Ya Ghiyath al-mustaghitheen Ya Malaadh al-laaedheen O listener of the plaint of the plaintiff O provider of succor to the refuge seeker!
'Save me from the machinations of Satan.' If there is no protection of Allah (S.w.T.), one cannot save himself from the onslaught of Satan's deceptions.
Isti'adha should emanate from the heart and not merely from the lips To gauge the reality of Isti'adha, only saying audhu billahi min ash-shaitanir rajeem or saying its translation in one's own language is absolutely insufficient. Isti'adha is a meaningful and spiritual condition that is conveyed by the words noted above. If Isti'adha is prompted from the heart of the person, then only it will be effective. Otherwise, just uttering the words would make one the play-thing of Satan.
The three types of Isti'adha
There are three ways the Isti'adha is done: There are persons who neither have the right spirit of doing Isti'adha nor are they aware of the meaning of the words of Isti'adha. But, all the same, as a force of habit, they utter the words: audhu billahi min ash-shaitanir rajeem. Unless the Isti'adha comes with feelings, understanding and from the heart, it becomes a satanic joke!
There are persons who know the meanings and purport of the words of Isti'adha and are capable of saying them properly, but they haven't the right feelings in their heart and also their actions are in obedience of Satan. Such Isti'adha will be for Satan rather than a submission to Allah (S.w.T.) for His protection against Satan!
There is a third group of persons who say the words of Isti'adha from the depths of their hearts and are fully aware of their meaning, purport and spirit. These persons will be fully aware of the Greatness and Omnipotence of Allah (S.w.T.). The Isti'adha of these persons will always get the accepted by Allah (S.w.T.).
Seeking protection in Allah (S.w.T.)'s obedience
The deity of the sinners and Allah (S.w.T.)'s disobedient persons is always Satan. Such persons might curse Satan a thousand times to make a hypocritical show to others. To put the matter in more precise words, such persons outwardly say 'audhu billahi min ash-shaitanir rajeem (I seek refuge with Allah from the cursed shaytan) but their character is such that they make false allegations against others, use abusive language, trifle with the self-respect of others and reveal others' confidences. Such persons don't refrain from committing any minor or major sin and all the same utter the words of Isti'adha! In practice their Isti'adha becomes 'audhu bish-shaitan min ar-Rahman, that would mean seeking protection of Satan to escape from Allah (S.w.T.) (na'udhu billah!
. On the lips of such persons are the words that in obedience to Allah (S.w.T.) they are seeking His protection, but their actions are all contrary to His Commandments. When the curtains of ignorance are raised from the hearts of such persons, they realize that all the time it was Satan who prompted them to utter the words audhu billah to ridicule their weak faith!
A satanic book to refute Satan
It is said that a scholar of some repute thought of writing a book to warn the people about the treacherous and mean acts of Satan. During the same period a pious person met Satan in a state of apocalyptic revelation. He told to Satan, "O accursed creature! The time has come for your exposure! Such-and-such a maulana is very soon writing a book about your nefarious acts!" Satan smiled derisively and said, "You are involved in a misunderstanding! This book is being written at my suggestion!" The pious person asked, "How is it possible?" Satan replied, "I had put doubts in the heart of the scholar that he is a person of high repute and he should make a show of his erudition. The person doesn't realize that although he has titled the book as 'Refutation of Satan', but his real intent is to make a show of his erudition and achieve name and fame!"
In this way Satan tempts people to curse him and make them involuntarily utter 'aaudhu billahi min ash-shaitanir rajeem'.
Politics of the imperialist forces
The imperialist regimes maintain their agents in their settlements who are their instruments for attainment of the imperialistic ends. At certain times, for the sake of their political compulsions, they instruct the agents to criticize and abuse them, their imperialistic masters! All this is done as a camouflage for their nefarious political reality.
How wonderful is Satan's politics! He has the distinction of being the first politician ever! Satan can no doubt be called the mentor and leader of politicians of all times. Politics, in other words, means working behind the backs of the people. Satan, in this way, fools everyone and doesn't leave behind any footprints. The evil acts are committed by people at Satan's provocation, but they never realize that he is behind their actions!
Isti'adha is for escape from sins
"O Allah! Give us courage to keep away from Satan, prevent ourselves from sinning and avoid committing crimes." This Isti'adha with Allah (S.w.T.) keeps us away from sins and reins our tongues from abusive and harmful talk. Instead of using abusive language in anger, we should rather say audhu billa at such times of provocation! It is always advisable to seek Allah (S.w.T.)'s protection and help against the machinations of Satan. In other words, the meaning of audhu billah is: audhu bi ta'a-at illah min ta'-at ish-shaitan I seek refuge in the obedience to Allah (S.w.T.) from the obedience to Satan Keeping the hand in the tiger's mouth and trying to escape from it with one's feet If a person keeps his hands in the mouth of a tiger and cries that he is very scared of the tiger and seeks the safety of an invincible fort to save himself from the animal attacking him! This is like the person who keeps crying for protection from Satan but is, in fact, submissive to and under his evil spell.
As long as a person uses foul language, he is the follower and slave of Satan. In this condition his cursing Satan will be a stark lie. One should seek Allah (S.w.T.)'s forgiveness (istighfar) for the Isti'adha that he had done hypocritically!
The Isti'adha of a foul-mouthed person, in the eyes of Gnostics ('Urafa) is tantamount to saying audhubish-shaitan, because he sometimes says audhu and at others la hawla..., but his actions prove his falsehood.
If a tiger is chasing you, you will try to run into a fortified place of safety rather than going near it and putting your hands into its mouth and keep shouting for help. Similar is the reality of Isti'adha. It is seeking Allah (S.w.T.)'s succor against Satan in His strong fortification!
A true dream and Satan's treachery
A disciple of Shaikh Ansari has said that when he was studying under him, one night he saw the accursed Satan in a dream. Satan was carrying some bridles in his hand. He asked Satan, "why are you holding these bridles in your hand?' He replied, "I put them in the necks of people and drag them! Yesterday I put a bridle around the neck of one Shaikh Murtada Ansari and dragged him out of his house into the lane. But he escaped from me from the middle of the lane and returned home!"
When he awoke in the morning, he went to the Shaikh and related to him the dream. The Shaikh said, "Satan has told you the truth. The accursed one did try to tempt me with his glib talk. In fact, at home we needed certain things and I had no money handy at the time. I thought that from the Sahm e Imam I had with me a copy of the Holy Qur'an. I thought that I would sell it and use the money for my need as a loan to be reimbursed later. I took the copy of the Qur'an and went into the lane. Whilst buying my needs a thought came to me why I was doing such a thing. I felt penitent, returned home and put back the copy of the Qur'an in its original place". 
Some other persons have related the same incident in the following manner: When the Shaikh's disciple saw the bridles in the hands of Satan, he noticed that one of the bridles was very strong and thick. When he asked the accursed Satan the reason for his carrying the bridles, he replied that they were for putting around the necks of people and dragging them. The person also asked, "For what purpose is the stronger and thicker bridle?" Satan replied, "This is for your mentor, Shaikh Ansari. Yesterday I put it round his neck and dragged him into the bazಮ But he managed to free himself and escaped." The person asked, "Which one of the bridles is for me?" Satan replied, "For you there is no need of a bridle. You can become my victim only with my sweet talk!"
 This incidence is quoted from the biography of the Shaikh Ansari, 'Seerat wa Shakhsiyat' pages 88-89.