After the month of Ramadan, we are often left with a feeling of hollowness, a feeling of sadness. One of the reasons for the way we feel this way has to be attributed to the fact that, as per reminder last month, the shaitaan that are locked up for the month are now released for another 11 months until the month of Ramadan revisits us again insh’Allah.
But what does that actually mean? All monotheistic faiths share the common enemy of Shaitaan, Satan, the Devil or Iblees but how to we conceptualise it so that we can avoid falling to his strategy to corrupt us?
The imam reminds us first of ayat 6 of Surat Fatir which is translated to say:
Indeed, Satan is an enemy to you; so take him as an enemy. He only invites his party to be among the companions of the Blaze.
But how does one steer clear of an enemy that is not in clear sight? Just as is in real life, if we cannot see the enemy, the next best thing to do is to know one’s enemy to the best of our ability. To know his characteristics, his traits and his strategies against us.
The imam reminds us of ayat 21 of Sura Al Noor which translates as:
O you who have believed, do not follow the footsteps of Satan. And whoever follows the footsteps of Satan – indeed, he enjoins immorality and wrongdoing. And if not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy, not one of you would have been pure, ever, but Allah purifies whom He wills, and Allah is Hearing and Knowing.
Dear brothers and sisters, if we analyse these reminders, we can see that the first step to steering away from the path of Allah SWT is through immorality and wrongdoing.
This is an interesting point and one we ought to expand further. What does it mean to be immoral or indeed what does it mean to do wrong?
To illustrate this example, let’s look at history that said only a century ago, this country had no rights for the women in society. They couldn’t vote, study or own property on the whole. The laws which made this possible were man-made. Only a century ago, if a man did not dress modestly or have a beard, he was shunned from society or labelled a homosexual which had even stricter penalties.
We all know that these laws are no longer apparent in this country. The point is that if you leave the decision on defining morality and what is right from wrong, to the creation and not the Creator, this is a forever moving standard and unfortunately, from the perspective of Islam’s standards, constantly moving away from the standards set by Allah SWT.
And as Muslims, we need to know this. Our religion is also our deen. Our deen encompasses everything that we do and holds us in a high standard of expectation. Everything from how we conduct ourselves with a newborn child to the way we are buried after death. We have been given instruction from our Creator and therefore our standards are constant and not subject to change to fit in with the current standards of society.
Obviously, we need to work within what the lands permit us to doing. We cannot for example, drive without car insurance just because we believe insurance isn’t permitted, we have scholars that help guide us living in a land governed by UK laws. However, we need to be vocal in both doing what we are still able to do, and delivering our narrative through political and active means, on what is right and shouldn’t be changed.
There is a quote that says “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”. As Muslims we believe he exists and therefore have to agree that this is currently his biggest achievement. By not even knowing he exists, how can one fight off his attack?
Secondly, the primary tactic of Shaitaan is to convince us not to carry out the big sin. None of us, insh’Allah, have the nagging thought right now to commit murder. However, if you watch those documentaries on people like that, they are often attributed to smaller crimes in their earlier lives.
This is a perfect example of how he works. The nagging you will hear in your every day consciousness will be on the smaller sins. This is because as the heart is impacted by the smaller and smaller sins, it becomes weaker and the temptation to do the more serious sins becomes more frequent. Shaitaan plays the long game with each and every one of us and so we are in a constant state of struggle and striving to remain steadfast on the right path.
His ultimate aim is for us to disbelieve Allah SWT or to associate partners with Him and so we need to recognize that this ultimate goal of his is not only within people around us such as atheists but also it is promoted through the means he has now at his disposal.
If you analyse the world around you from his point of view, you will see that there is a tainted message in everything from the latest fashion to the programs we watch to the advertisements we see to the things we are taught.
And so by coming to this realisation, what is it that we should do to counteract his strategy. The reminder concludes with three practical tips that we ought to adhere to.
- Seek the refuge of Allah SWT in all that you do. From starting everything in his name, after all, who will even notice you whisper Bismillah at work to whispering Authoobilla…., the invocation of protection from Shaitaan, we need to acknowledge that all the knowledge in the world is nothing without Allah SWT’s protection.
- Educate yourself in what is permitted and not in our faith. Only by knowing the rights from wrongs, only by being knowledgeable of what is moral or immoral, will you be able to recognise Shaitaans work in the everyday things. As Muslims, we are always students and are taught to never stop learning. Use the God-given intellect we have all been blessed with to arm yourself with knowledge of the path of Allah SWT.
- Understand that his tactic against us is to take us one step at a time away from Allah SWT. Therefore if you feel a standard slipping, aim to bring it back to that standard immediately. For example, missing sunna prayers you once did is difficult to bring back as its part of his strategy. Equally so, if you have set new standards in Ramadan through good habits, don’t let the month coming to an end, cause you to slip backwards.
Dear brothers and sisters, our enemy is back with a vengeance after Ramadan. Lets arm ourselves with the protection of Allah SWT and our deen to ensure he does not make up for lost time last month!Read More
Allah SWT speaks of an interaction with Shaytaan in the Glorious Quran in ayats 16 and 17 from the same Sura. Translated it says:
[Satan] said, “Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path.
Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful [to You].”
Dear brothers and sisters, if you ponder over these ayats, you can feel the determined nature of his in leading us astray. Not only can we be certain that he will lay wait in the straight path for us in order to lead us astray, but he is also promising a concerted effort of coming at us from all directions so that we may be led astray. And the final chilling note from him is that he will be successful with the majority as they will not be grateful to Allah SWT.
We need to remind ourselves of this mission statement from the real enemy of our lives and keep this at the forefront of our thinking.
This leads us on to the actual passages for todays reminder. Translated, these ayats from the Glorious Quran say:
O Children of Adam! Indeed We have sent down to you a garment which covers your shame and provides protection and adornment. But the finest of all is the garment of piety. That is one of the signs of Allah so that they may take heed.
Children of Adam! Let not Satan deceive you in the manner he deceived your parents out of Paradise, pulling off from them their clothing to reveal to them their shame. He and his host surely see you from whence you do not see them. We have made Satans the guardians of those who do not believe.
And when such people commit an indecent act they say: ‘We found our fathers doing that, and Allah has enjoined it on us. Say: ‘Surely Allah never enjoins any indecency. Do you say things regarding Allah that you do not know?’
We conclude then with 5 lessons we can take from these ayats:
- Allah SWT has sent down clothing. This is after clothing was removed from Prophet Adam (peace be upon him). This tells us tha, unlike the Christian narrative, mankind is not born in sin and nor are we a cursed creature. That punishment was for then and the slate is wiped clean when we are born.
- Clothes have been given to us to look good. It’s a source of adornment. So we reject the extreme view that they are merely to cover our private parts. No, they are sent for us to look the business, there is no harm in that. And the beautiful thing about that fact is that the next time we go shopping for the best garments in the Boxing Day sales, if we remind ourselves that Allah SWT wants us to look good then in essence, we are remembering Allah SWT and thus performing zikr by buying those clothes, subhanAllah!
- Despite the finest clothes, they pale into comparison with the garment of piety. This is the garment of the heart. And what enables us to cover the heart? Consciousness of Allah SWT or taqwa. And this, then follows that by having taqwa, we will remember Allah SWT when wearing our clothes and thus buying clothes that are modest, decent and a cover as a covering should be.
- Recognition that Shaytaan is an enemy. One point worth mentioning here is that we don’t see Adam and Huwa (Eve) as our parents. We see them as some historical figures. But Allah SWT is telling us here that we see them with the same reverence and respect as our own parents. And by doing that, with the ayat telling us how Shaytan stripped our parents of their clothing, it conjures the type of emotion needed when understanding how much of an enemy Shaytaan is to us.
The ayat follows this up with a warning that him and his tribe, others who follow him in being our enemy, are watching us when we can’t see him. This tells us that we are in danger of being manipulated, deceived, hoodwinked by an enemy that we cannot even see. Or worse still, we see but we don’t recognise as the enemy.
This is a potent warning. Just look around at our role model in this day and age. Look at the people dictating fashion for example. Fashion that is to a point which we are embarrassed to dress our kids in sometimes. Fashion that is ridiculing the commandment of our Lord.
And when we speak of decency, it’s not just about covering but the method of covering. Islam is about being modest and so we need to remember that sometimes being covered doesn’t mean being decent. Skin-tight clothing or transparent clothing is an example of this as is decency of character. The key here is as mentioned in the ayat, by being conscious of Allah SWT in everyday life, it will inevitably lead to decency in what we say, do and of course, wear.
- And finally, it is about knowing that the path to Allah SWT can have the unlikeliest of obstacles. The final ayat outlines this perfectly. A practical example can be when we try to do something for the sake of Allah SWT and our own family calls us out for doing so. Telling us that we are being extreme in dressing modestly for example or for wearing a hijab or for keeping a beard. The lesson here is one of perseverance for the sake of Allah SWT, a recognition of the difficulty we may face from our nearest and dearest and a lesson on patience as we must strive to do what’s right without speaking harshly to those who disagree with us.
Dear brothers and sisters, it is not enough to call ourselves Muslim and be done with it. We have in Shaytan a committed enemy and a leader of an army with one aim and that is to send us astray. Whether it is in the form of what we wear or our conduct in life, we must live our lives with our eyes wide open and recognise that our enemy will be hidden from us but all the while attempting to keep us away from the path set by Allah SWT.Read More