The wise person is he who studies his enemies’ strategies and takes the precautions and measures to defeat them. Your Lord has warned, “Indeed Satan is an enemy to you, so take him as an enemy…” Qur’an 35:6
History of Satan (Iblis)
Satan was created from smokeless fire. Though he was not an angel, he was present amongst them in Heaven due to his obedience to Allah (God). When Allah created Prophet Adam (peace be upon him), He commanded those in Heaven to prostrate before Adam, but Satan refused out of pride and arrogance, saying, “I am better than him [Adam], You created me from fire, and created him from clay.” Qur’an 7:12
Allah cursed Satan and banished him from Heaven. Satan requested an opportunity to mislead mankind, and Allah granted this request.
“[Satan] said, ‘Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them [mankind] 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].’ ”Qur’an 7:16-17
The Traps of Satan
Disbelief in the Oneness of God
The foundation of Islam is the belief in the Oneness of God – having no partner, equal, son or rivals. Conversely, the greatest sin is to ascribe partners or equals with Allah.
Directing worship to other than God (e.g. prostrating or supplicating to other than God).
Delegating some of God’s attributes to other objects or beings (e.g. idols/lucky charms).
Claiming that God has a son, mother or any other partner.
Thus, tempting mankind into disbelief is Satan’s main focus. However, if Satan cannot mislead people to commit clear acts of disbelief, he resorts to more subtle means, such as the belief in superstitions, good luck charms, astrology and fortune telling. Such beliefs contradict the fact that Allah alone has power and knowledge over all things, and is the Only One Who can bring benefit or harm.
Innovation in the Religion
“…I have perfected for you your religion…”Qur’an 5:3
Satan will lure a person to invent wrong beliefs and practices into Islam which were neither ordained by God nor the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In fact, the belief that Islam is incomplete or imperfectly revealed by God, thus requiring innovation, is considered disbelief; because it is a rejection of what Allah has revealed.
Many innovations are implemented with the same meticulous care as a religious observance, and viewed as being just as significant as what God revealed. Herein lays danger, as the people who follow innovations believe their acts are accepted, although in reality they are committing a sin. These innovators will feel no need for repentance, as they do not recognise their wrong doing.
Neglecting Obligatory Deeds
“…Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing…”Qur’an 29:45
Satan wants to “…avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer.” Qur’an 5:91
Allah has made certain actions obligatory on every Muslim, the most regular of which is the five daily prayers. Therefore, Satan seeks to make us neglectful of prayers so that we fall further into sin.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) explained to us how idol worship originated, which highlights the gradual and patient approach of Satan. After a group of righteous people died, Satan inspired those around them to erect statues in their honour and as reminder of their righteousness. When that generation passed away and the people had forgotten why the statues were erected, Satan deceived them into believing that their forefathers used to worship them, and that through them, the rains were brought forth. People then began worshipping these statues.
This gradual deception is used in many ways. For example, Satan tricks people into committing forbidden sexual acts: it begins with a look, which leads to a thought, then a smile, then a seemingly innocent conversation, then seclusion and eventually, the sin itself.
Similarly, in desiring to make people cease their obligatory religious acts, Satan initially convinces people to give up their optional acts of worship, which leads them to become lazy with the obligatory ones. He also tries to trivialise small sins, which eventually leads them down a slippery slope to major sins.
Beautifying Evil Deeds
“…And Satan made attractive to them that which they were doing.”Qur’an 6:43
Satan presents sins to people in a favourable light, such as how he deceived Adam and Eve into eating from the tree.
Satan whispered to Adam, saying, “ ‘O Adam! Shall I lead you to the Tree of Eternity and to a kingdom that will never waste away?’ ” Qur’an 20:120
“ ‘Your Lord did not forbid you this tree except that you become angels or become of the immortal… Indeed, I am to you from among the sincere advisors.’ So he made them fall, through deception. And when they tasted of the tree… their Lord called to them, ‘Did I not forbid you from that tree and tell you that Satan is to you a clear enemy?’ ” Qur’an 7:20-22
Although Adam was surrounded by many permissible foods, Satan convinced him to eat from the tree which was forbidden. Similarly, Satan tricks people into forbidden acts instead of those which are permitted, such as fornication over marriage, music over the Qur’an, haram income over halal, and into the small percentage of prohibited food and drink over the vast majority that is wholesome and pure.
“Satan promises them and arouses desire in them. But Satan does not promise them except delusion.”Qur’an 4:120
Every human has desires and temptations. Satan plays on this and convinces man to indulge in instant gratification without considering the consequences. This inevitably leads to regret and humiliation, either in this life or on the Day of Judgement.
If Satan cannot trap someone into sinning, he keeps them busy with trivial acts which have no benefit. Instead of using our time wisely, fulfilling our priorities and reaching high goals, Satan occupies us with useless actions.
How to Defeat Satan
“Indeed, Satan is an enemy to you; so take him as an enemy…”Qur’an 35:6
The first step is to recognise Satan as our enemy: if you know your enemy, you can defeat him. Satan’s power consists principally in his ability to deceive, so we need to understand his cunning tactics and approach, in order to better protect ourselves.
Seek Help with Allah
To ask Allah for His protection and to rely on Him alone for help, is a tool in defeating Satan. Surah Al-Falaq and An-Nas of the Qu’ran may be used to regularly seek protection from Satan and we should recite them. We must realise that as long as we are alive, Satan will never give up attempting to mislead us. We must always be on our guard and constantly ask Allah for guidance and protection.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “He who repents from sin is like one without sin.” Ibn Majah
If we succumb to Satan’s plots, by the Grace and Mercy of Allah we still have the opportunity to rectify our mistakes by acknowledging our wrongdoings and repenting to Allah.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Satan said to the Lord of Glory, ‘By Your Glory O Lord, I will keep trying to misguide Your slaves so long as their souls are in their bodies.’ The Lord said, ‘By My Glory and Majesty, I will continue to forgive them so long as they ask My forgiveness.’ ” Ahmad
For repentance to be accepted, it must be sincere, with the intention of never committing that same sin again.
Avoid Sinful Environments
When Allah forbade Adam from one particular tree, He did not say, “do not eat from this tree” but rather, “do not come close to this tree.” Qur’an 2:35. We must therefore distance ourselves from anything that may lead to committing sin.
Keep Good Companionship
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) advised, “A person is on the path of his close friend, so be careful whom you befriend.” Tirmithee
The company you keep strongly influences your decisions and actions. Good companions will remind you about Allah and encourage you to do good, whereas bad company will lead you into the arms of Satan.
Do Good Deeds
Keeping busy with religious deeds, especially prayer, is an excellent means of defeating Satan. If one occupies their time with good, they are less likely to be influenced by Satan’s tricks.
“And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Satan, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is Hearing and Knowing.”Qur’an 7:200
The battle against Satan can only be won if we are aware of his traps, and if we apply the strategies to defeat him. On the Day of Judgement, Satan will confess to his sins and mischief. He will declare before all of creation that Allah is the One who tells the truth and that he (Satan) is a liar.
We ask Allah the Almighty, by His most beautiful Names and sublime Attributes, to forgive our sins and grant us refuge from the traps of Satan.