Shaitan and the Pious Worshipper
In the tribe of Bani Israel, there once lived a pious worshipper. One day, the people informed him that at a certain location, there existed a tree that was being worshipped by a tribe. When he heard this, the man flew into a rage, picked up his axe and set out to cut down the tree.
Iblees, appearing before him in the form of an old man, asked, “Where are you headed for?” He replied, “I intend to cut down the tree, which is being worshipped so that the people worship Allah instead.” Iblees means the ‘carnal soul’, while the pious worshipper alludes to the ‘pure innate and soul’.
“Hold yourself till you hear what I have to say,” said Iblees to him.
The worshipper urged him to carry on.
Iblees continued, “God has His own Prophets and if it had been essential to cut down the tree, He would have sent them to perform the task.”
However, the worshipper did not agree with Iblees and continued on his way.
“There is no way I shall let you do it,” said Iblees angrily, and he began to wrestle with the man. In the ensuing contest, the pious worshipper hurled Iblees onto the ground.
“Wait! I have something else to say to you”, pleaded Iblees. “Listen! You are a poor man. If you could possess some wealth by means of which you could give alms to the other worshippers it would be much better than cutting the tree. If you refrain from cutting the tree, I shall place two dinars beneath your pillow everyday.”
The pious person said thoughtfully, “If you speak the truth, I shall give one dinar in charity while the other dinar I shall put to my use. This is better than cutting down the tree; in any case, I have neither been ordered to perform this task nor am I a Prophet to burden myself with unnecessary grief and anxiety.”
Thus, he acceded to the request of Shaitan who left him alone.
For two days, he received the two dinars and utilized them, but on the third day, there was no sign of the money. Upset and distressed, he picked up his axe and set out to cut down the tree.
On the way, he encountered Shaitan, who asked him: “Where are you headed for?”
“I am going to cut that tree.”
“There is no way you are going to do it,” said Shaitan.
Once again they began to contest, but this time Iblees overcame him and hurling him to the ground, ordered, “Turn back or I shall sever your head from your body.”
The pious man said, “Leave me alone and I shall return, but tell me, how was it that I had managed to overcome you on the previous occasion?”
Iblees answered, “On that occasion, you had set out only for Allah and you were sincere in your intention as a result of which, Allah subjugated me for you, but this time you were angry for your own self and for your dinars and so I could overpower you.”(Namunah-e-Ma’arif, vol. 1, pg. 54; Ihyaa al-U’loom, vol. 4, pg. 380; Riyadh al-Hikaayaat, pg. 140).