Know thy enemy: Shaytaan(satan)!
When we’re attacked by Shaytaan, it’s not enough to just say: A’oodhu billaahi minash-shaytaanir-rajeem ( translated ‘I seek refuge in Allah’ from shaytaan- the accursed!’) We have to say it begging for Allah’s protection. How many times does it roll off your tongue? Only in your salah or before reciting the Quran? Or do you use this weapon from the Sunnah in more daily life situations? This week we look at how the isti’adhah (“a’oodhu billaahi minash-shaytaanir-rajeem”) can make you more productive!
Know Your Enemy
Our worst enemy is Shaytaan, but we don’t all know how to combat him, nor have we all been trained in how to use the weapon of isti’adhah effectively. Who is Shaytaan? Literally, the word “shaytaan” means “rebellious.” It describes someone who is disrespectful and who seeks to divert people away from the obedience of Alla ‘azza wajal, whether he or she be jinn or human. In general, this term refers to Iblees, who is from the jinn and thus created from fire. Does Shaytaan possess the power to force us into committing sins? Can we defeat Shaytaan? The isti’adhah (or ta’awudh) is one of the most powerful tools given to us by Allaah ‘azza wajal— it’s time we learned how to use it!
Allaah al-Hakeem (the All-Wise) decreed that the father of mankind should be tested and that his children after him should be tested as well. To this end he determined that Shaytaan should remain alive in order to fulfill the aim for which he was created. Also, you, the slave of Allaah ‘azza wajal, will be more perfect in your worship if you struggle against Shaytaan; you can achieve ranks you could never reach without Shaytaan’s existence!
Tricks and Plots of Shaytaan
Allaah al-Musawwir (the Fashioner) gave Shaytaan the ability to flow through your body in a way you can’t understand. Allah’s Messenger said, Shaytaan flows through the sons of Adam like blood. [Mishkaat al- Masaabih] Shaytaan can reach your heart and mind, whispering or tempting you to listen to or to look at haraam things or to commit immoral actions. This is called waswaas. Shaytaan can do no more than call you to misguidance and make it look attractive to you; it’s up to you whether or not you respond to his call! Let’s look at what we can do to fight this waswaas and be more productive in our daily lives and in our ‘ibaadah!
The Ayah of Instruction
The isti’adhah (or ta’awwudh) means seeking refuge in Allaah ‘azza wajal from the accursed Shaytaan, and it’s actually a command from Allah ‘azza wajal given to us in the Quran: And if an evil whisper comes to you from Shaytan, then seek refuge with Allah. [Soorah al-A’raf (7): 200] The isti’adhah is at once a dhikr and a weapon. Most of us go wrong by just saying it without thinking. To seek refuge in a truly productive way, you have to be a warrior!
Be a Warrior!
You have to seek refuge repeatedly until the waswaas goes away. A’oodhu billaah . . . is not only dhikr but is du’aa as well! Abul-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi (rahimahullah) said, Know that the likeness of Iblees with one who is pious is like a man who is sitting with food and meat in front of him, and a dog comes near him. He tells it, ‘Get away!’ and it goes. Then it comes to another man who is weak in faith and every time he tries to shoo the dog away, it does not go. The former is like a pious man whom the Shaytan approaches, and his dhikr is enough to banish him; the latter is like the one who is weak in faith; the Shaytan does not leave him because of his weakness of faith. We seek refuge with Allah from the Shaytan. [Talbees Iblees, p.48] So if you want to save yourself from the Shaytaan and his waswaas, you have to work on strengthening your emaan and with your heart and soul seek the protection of Allah, your Lord, and turn to Him.
What are some situations in which we land into trouble? Most often it is TV, internet, backbiting sittings, mixed gatherings or locations, anger attacks, no mood to wake up for Fajr, no mood to go to an Islamic study circle and many more! Just look into your own life and decide.
How to use it: words AND action!
If you recite A’oodhu billaah, but you don’t change the situation, location or position you are in (as in anger) and if your faith is weak, shaytaan won’t give up. So, it is like a two-step solution at least! The Prophet salalaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for example advised us to make Wudoo if under the spell of anger. Or Allah ‘azza wajal advised us to get up from the sittings where people mock the ayaat of Allah; or lower your gaze if it has mistakenly fallen etc. So couple the isti’adhah with action! If you feel that in spite of reciting A’oodhu billaah, your waswasa is not going away, then keep repeating it. Why? Because he may still be around and feels that you are weak in faith. You have to keep attacking him. Or move to another situation or location. Get out of that TV room or internet site or sitting or location. Start reciting the Qur’an or do something else. If you are under the spell of anger in dispute, go and make Wudoo.
Shaytaan loves us to get angry and have arguments, especially husband and wife. And he likes to steal from our salah (prayer) and our Quran reading by whispering to us so we can’t concentrate and enjoy our prayer or benefit from the message of the Quran. Here are a couple of tips to help you fight the enemy:
1. Next time you feel angry, say A’oodhu billaahi minash-shaytaanir-rajeem! but say it with unshakable belief in Allah, the One who can take your anger away and the One who can dispel Shaytaan. Say it with the strong will to win!
2. The very next time you stand in prayer or start reciting the Quran, say: A’oodhu billaahi minash-shaytaanir-rajeem! begging for Allah’s protection, completely turning your heart and body to your Lord, making Him the center of it all, so that you can truly absorb His words while reciting them and make the goodness of them last!
You can not convince shaytaan to stop, or to become Muslim. You can’t give da’wah to him. You can’t kill him. You can’t even see him. Simultaneously, he is extremely smart in misguiding people and has a huge experience from the time of Adam (as). Every day, according to ahadeeth, Iblees conducts a meeting and guides them towards the worst possible actions that can be taken against humans. But we are not left defenceless against shaytaan. Allah ‘azza wajal says: inna kaydash-shaytaani kaana da’eefa. Verily the plotting of shaytaan is weak. If we take Allah’s refuge wholeheartedly and couple it with action, he stands no chance!
Extra: A Beautiful Description
Why do we have to say A’oodhu billaahi minash-shaytaanir-rajeem before we read the Quran? The Quran is essential for the guidance, knowledge, and goodness of your heart, just as water is essential for plants. The Shaytaan is fire which burns the plants, one after another. The more he feels aware that the seeds of goodness are growing in a heart, the more he strives to corrupt that heart and burn it. You’re commanded to seek refuge with Allah from Shaytaan lest he destroy that which has been achieved through reading the Quran. So you seek refuge in order to gain the benefits of reading the Quran and you seek refuge so that these benefits may be maintained and protected! (From Imam Ibnul-Qayyim –rahimahullah- who explained the reason for seeking refuge with Allah from Shaytaan before recitation in Igaathat al-Lahfaan (1/109). A’oodhu billaahi minash-shaytaanir-rajeem is a weapon of dhikr and a du’aa, a weapon which only works when you say it with heart and soul, turning completely to Allah ‘azza wajal! May Allah subhanahu wa ta’alaa make us of those who seek refuge in Him sincerely and strengthen us through our isti’adhah and may He aid us in defeating the Shaytaan in our daily lives, ameen! I pray you will benefit,
By Khawlah bint Yahya, United Kingdom