We Muslims know that Shaytan aka Satan is our biggest enemy as mentioned, “Indeed, Satan is an enemy to you; so take him as an enemy…” (Qur’an 35:6). For as long as we are alive Shaytan will try to lure us into evil and will do his best to destroy us at every opportunity he gets. His sole intention is to deceive us and to misguide us from the truth.
But how do we defeat our enemy, the Shaytan without understanding his tricks and strategies?
As the famous proverb by Sun Tzu goes, “Know yourself, know your enemy, and you shall win a hundred battles without loss”. Here are some of the classic traps of Shaytan that young Muslims will encounter and must watch out for-
- “Allah Knows what is in my heart” – I am simply following my heart and listening to my inner voice and I am not hurting anyone so I think it should be fine –As Muslims this is exactly what we are not supposed to do – become a slave to our desires rather become a slave of Allah. Most of the times we fail to realize that our actions are a direct result of what is in our hearts. Whom are we trying to deceive? That little inner voice could very well be the whisperings of Shaytaan. “Nor follow thou the lusts (of thy heart), for they will mislead thee from the Path of Allah. For those who wander astray from the Path of Allah, is a Penalty Grievous, for that they forget the Day of Account. (Quran 38:26)
- “I am young now so I could do this now and repent later when I get older” – How could we be so sure that we will live long enough to repent? What if we die whilst sinning or in a state of disobedience to our Lord? Who has guaranteed us time and opportunity for repentance? If we repent right now it might very well be accepted but if we continue to sin and keep procrastinating and fall for the tricks of Shaytan, it could be quite possible that we could lose the very thought of repentance and drown ourselves completely in sins until our hearts get hardened. One of the ways to soften our hearts is by repenting and constantly remembering Allah (SWT) as is mentioned “Is it not time for the believers to humble their hearts to the remembrance of God and the Truth that has been revealed, and not to be like those who received the Scripture before them, whose time was extended but whose hearts hardened and many of whom were lawbreakers? (Quran 57:16 )
- “ I love this person and so what if He/She is a non-Muslim, he/she could always revert to Islam, may be Allah will guide him/her and make this a blessed union “- This is how gullible youngsters fall into Haram relationships, yes it is very much possible that Allah could guide a non-Muslim to Islam. But until then, whether the person is Muslim or not any relationship of such nature would be considered as Haram. It would be foolish of us to think that we could transform the other person whilst we continue to be in a forbidden relationship and lose our own spiritual footing.
- “As long as I am a good human being, I am helping people and being considerate I am a good Muslim “- This is the classic one and all of us start believing and adopting this principle at some point in our lives- First of all as Muslims our only motivation should be to do things that please Allah (SWT) and not entire humanity. We fail to understand that when we please Allah (SWT), we consequently please and serve the entire humanity. A good Muslim who practices all the tenets of Islam will no doubt also be a kind, compassionate and loving human being.
- “This life is short and the world is meant for enjoyment, you have to live in the present and in the moment and not bother about what happens tomorrow” – This is one of the biggest challenge that we as a community are experiencing today. We are living in the world of consumerism where everyone is looking for instant gratification and success. Most products and brands out there try to incite the youth with taglines such as “Life is short, so enjoy it and live it to the fullest”. This is another trick of Shaytaan, “I will mislead them and I will create in them false desires…” (Quran, 4:119). As the leading scholars state, Islam doesn’t restrict us from enjoying this Dunya but it reminds us that we must seek only that which is Halal and do it in moderation, “But seek, with that (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of lawful enjoyment in this world.” (Quran 28:77)
- “Take the easy way out, why do we have to wait and make things hard for us” – Another tactic that Satan employs to dissuade us from adopting the Halal way is by luring us to take the easy way out or embrace the haram route. Most of the difficulties in our lives can be solved with a lot of patience and Tawakkul in Allah (SWT) however Shaytan creates this doubt in our hearts and makes us question our decision to follow the halal option. He tries to create this sense of urgency in us and also fills our head with all possible negatives scenarios so that we start losing faith in our Duas and gradually stop relying on Allah (SWT). Consequently, we give up and end up following Shaytan’s much promoted trail to “Instant success and happiness”- (i.e. Nothing but guaranteed doom in this world and the hereafter). The Quran states that “Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality, while Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty. And Allah is all-Encompassing and knowing.” (Quran , 2:268)
- “I have committed so many sins, I might as well sin more and transgress as no matter what I do I am surely going to end up in hell”– None of us are free from sins, we all commit sins be it minor or major. As stated in the hadith, “Every son of Adam is a sinner, but the best of sinners are those who repent often”, (At-Tirmidhi). This is one of the biggest deceptions of Shaytan, he makes us believe that we have sinned so much that there is no turning back for us and that there would be no point in seeking repentance. He make us feel like failures in front of Allah (SWT) and puts this feeling of shame and depression in our hearts. For instance, one of us might have committed a sin such as missing a prayer or maybe doing something haram, and might intend to conquer the guilt by following it up with something good such as praying or giving charity. But the devil will whisper and make us believe that we are being hypocrites and since we just sinned a few minutes or hours or days ago, our prayers or good deeds will be futile and Allah (SWT) will never accept any good from us. In fact, based on this illusion he will entice us to commit more sins and will strive his best to keep us away from any good deed. Without doubt we all commit sins on a regular basis, but then what matters is that we seek repentance for them immediately and if possible implement this beautiful hadith, “ Have taqwa (fear) of Allah wherever you may be, and follow up a bad deed with a good deed which will wipe it out, and behave well towards the people.”(At-Tirmidhi).
Our goal is not to become sinless but to make sure that we stay away from sinning as much as possible. We pray that Allah (SWT) protects us from the influence of Shaytan and his army and helps us stay steadfast on the straight path. Also remember, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful. (Quran 39:53). So let us sincerely and persistently seek forgiveness from Allah (SWT) and seek protection from the evil one and his misguiding ways.
P.S- The above list is based on my personal experience and is no way comprehensive. Please feel free to include similar scenarios from your own life in the comments below.