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The Deception of Shaytān and Nafs


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By Shaykhul-Hadīth, Hadrat Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat dāmat barakātuhum


Shaytān and nafs are the arch-enemies of mankind. However, majority of the people are found to be unmindful of them and remain unaware of the level of harm they are capable of inflicting. Their deception is very discreet, often going unnoticed by the individual; resulting in him not admitting to the evil that is within him. People can be deceived by Shaytān and nafs to such an extent that many a time they begin to see more good in themselves than evil, in stark contrast to reality.

How Shaytān Deceives People

Shaytān uses various methods to deceive people and deviate them from the straight path. Initially, he tries his best to keep people away from obedience to Allāh ta‘ālā. He creates obstacles in their compulsory devotions like salāh, hajj, etc. and diverts them towards unlawful acts, like consuming drugs or alcohol, engaging in adultery, theft, etc.

However, when a person remains steadfast and refrains from disobeying Allāh ta‘ālā, Shaytān resorts to another method which is even more deceptive. The individual now may not be committing the more obvious sins, such as those mentioned above, but he is made to indulge in less obvious ones, which can be even more detrimental. For instance, as the person proceeds towards the masjid to perform salāh with jamā‘ah, he may indulge in numerous sins before and after the salāh, such as casting glances at non-mahram women, backbiting, slandering, riyā (ostentation), pride, etc. However, later his attention will only go towards the good deed he has performed and not the many misdeeds that have been committed; thus Shaytān will make him feel that he has accomplished a great task.

Now this person in reality is semi-religious, but assumes himself to be completely religious. And due to this, he will not feel the need to repent. He will continue to fulfil a few religious obligations which amount to only a small fraction of the whole Dīn without repenting for the vast majority he is neglecting. This will result in his misdeeds outweighing his good deeds on the Day of Qiyāmah.

The Essential Branches of Islām

Allāh ta‘ālā instructs us in the Qur’ān to follow the Dīn in its entirety:

O you who believe, enter into Islām fully. (2:208)

In order for us to fulfil this command of Allāh ta‘ālā, we must be aware that first and foremost, sound belief is necessary. ‘Aqā’id (beliefs) are the foundation of Islām and one’s salvation is dependant on them. If there is deficiency in them, all good deeds will lose their value. It is like a fraudulent passport, which despite displaying a genuine visa will be of no use for immigration purposes.

After ‘aqā’id, adherence to the following four branches is necessary:

1. ‘Ibādāt (devotions) – This branch encompasses all acts of worship such as salāh, zakāh, hajj and sawm.

2. Mu‘āmalāt (mutual dealings and transactions) – This branch is one of the most neglected ones. How many people are aware of the rules and injunctions regarding renting, borrowing, buying and selling? We may be fully aware of the various sunnah and fard acts of wudū, yet unaware of the basic rules pertaining to buying a house or selling a car? Many a time a transaction is void due to not meeting certain conditions, yet people are unaware of this.

3. Mu‘āsharah (social conduct) – This category involves preventing people from causing inconvenience or harm to others by their behaviour. How many of us are aware that causing inconvenience to someone is impermissible? Just as learning and practising the rules and injunctions of wudū is compulsory, to learn how to behave with others is also compulsory. One should not cause the least inconvenience to anyone.

4. Husnul-akhlāq (good character) – This aspect encourages moral behaviour within every individual of the society. Like the previous branches, this branch also has its obligatory acts that need to be fulfilled, and prohibited acts that need to be avoided. Humility, for instance, will fall under the obligatory acts, whilst pride and arrogance will fall under the prohibited.

How much Dīn is in Our Lives?

If carefully observed, we will realise that the latter three branches; mu’āmalāt, mu’āsharah and husnul-akhlāq, are absent in our lives, which means that the greater part of Dīn does not even exist in our lives. This leaves us with only the branch of ‘ibadah remaining. With regards to ‘ibādah, if it is closely examined, it will be discovered that even in this branch which people, by and large, claim to be implementing, there are countless shortcomings and deficiencies. Numerous examples can be cited concerning the incorrect practices in this regard. For example, how many of us are aware of the rules of ‘udhiyah (qurbānī)? Ninety percent of the Muslims do not know when it is wājib (incumbent). Many of us have the misconception that it is wājib per household. For instance, a family of five members, upon whom ‘udhiyah was wājib, have for a number of years been performing only one between them. Thus, if we start delving into the deficiencies we could possibly be left with nothing.

If we take stock of our lives, we will find that the majority of us realise their ignorance in regards to Dīn, yet tend to overlook it and remain complacent. This is usually because we begin to compare ourselves with other less practising individuals, or we become so content with the positive side of our lives that we do not pay any attention to rectifying the negative side. Similarly, when we hear other praising the apparent good in our lives, we tend to turn a blind eye to our shortcomings. This is similar to the story of a man who owned an extremely defective horse. The numerous flaws within the horse made the man decide to sell it. When the man’s agent began to advertise the horse in the market by enumerating whatever little good it had, the owner, standing nearby, became highly impressed and decided to keep the horse. Such is our example. This is all due to Shaytān and nafs deceiving us.

Importance of Seeking Knowledge

Let us fulfil the command of Allāh ta‘ālā and follow the Dīn in its totality. In order to do this, we will have to acquire knowledge by reading books written by erudite and god-fearing ‘ulamā and sitting in the company of the people of ‘ilm.

It is also necessary to keep in touch with the ‘ulamā for guidance regarding one’s day to day matters. One should also allocate time solely for the purpose of sitting in the company of pious ‘ulamā, through which one will find his mind directed towards issues that otherwise would have been overlooked. It should be kept in mind that in order to live our lives in accordance with the Qur’ān and Sunnah, it is imperative to seek knowledge from those who have devoted their lives in learning and teaching the Qur’ān and Sunnah.

Sayyidunā Luqmān ‘alayhis salām once instructed his son:

Hold fast to the gatherings of the ‘Ulamā. (At-Tabarānī)

When one adopts the company of the ‘Ulamā with sincerity and zeal, Allāh ta‘ālā bestows him with religious knowledge by inspiring the ‘ulamā to say those things which are his spiritual needs. Many a time, an ‘ālim is approached by those who attend his gatherings and told that they had spoken on the very subject that was of concern to them (the attendees). Therefore, if the company of the ‘ulamā is adopted with sincerity and zeal, Allāh ta‘ālā will show one the light through which he will be able to see right from wrong and eventually find safety from the deceptions of Shaytān and nafs.

Let us resolve to follow the whole Dīn of Allāh ta‘ālā and exert every effort in combatting Shaytān and nafs.

May Allāh ta‘ālā grant us the tawfīq to follow His Dīn in its totality. Āmīn.

© Riyādul Jannah (Vol. 30 No. 9, Sep 2021)

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