( Hooded figure in dream / How to get rid of Shaitan )
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Some of the Companions of the Messenger came to him and said, ‘We find in our hearts things that none of us dares utter.’ He said, ‘Do you really find that?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘That is clear faith.’ ” (Sahih Muslim – 2/153)
Supernatural beings are an interesting topic of discussion for us. Our inclination towards understanding other life forms is a natural instinct. Allah (subhan wa’taala) has mentioned the existence of angels and devils around us and by default we get affected by their influence.
In my previous article I narrated the incident where I felt the presence of another being in my house (you can read it here). But that was a one-time experience and it definitely doesn’t happen to everyone. However the devil attacks each and every one of us in several ways and he has a pattern. This is not a physical attack because that is easy to detect. This attack is mental in nature. It is subtle and has the most long lasting effect.
Ibn Al-Qayyim (May Allah be pleased with him) says in his book ‘Madarij As-Salikin’ that Iblis tries to misguide humans through 7 ways:
The question – ‘Does Allah really exist ?’ comes to one’s mind during the condition of weak faith. That is ‘Shaitan’ trying to sway us from the right path. Because everything around us gives us the proof of Allah’s existence. I have experienced a situation in my life where people would come to me and talk about how great a religion ‘Christianity’ is. Had it not been for the knowledge that I had about Prophet Isa A.S. (Jesus) – his miraculous birth, his blessed healings and the fact that he will come back to negate all false claims made by Christians, it was possible that they might have won the argument. Subhan Allah.
- Innovations (bid’ah)
While living in a Muslim society where Quran and ‘Sunnah’ are not the bases on which people decide their day-to-day dealings, innovation is a bait that ‘Shaitan’ uses on his victims. This generally happens to those who are not constantly connected to the study of Quran and have a very weak understanding of hadith. They do not understand that mixing weak and false hadith with authentic ones can become dangerous towards maintaining strong faith.
‘You should read Surah Maryam. It helps during pregnancy,’ suggested a colleague when I was expecting my first baby. ‘I understand that reading Quran has its benefits during this period. But there isn’t any hadith stating that Surah Maryam should be read specifically,’ I clarified. She wasn’t happy about this clarification. However, it gave me an insight into how innovation finds its way into our lives.
- Major sins
Some major sins have always been highlighted in all sections of society as being evil and have always been looked down upon. However, the actual definition of a major sin is any act which has been prescribed a punishment by Allah (swt) in the Quran or mentioned by the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him). There are some major sins which are wrongly believed to be minor ones like arrogance, disrespecting parents, severing ties with relatives, lying constantly, hurting Muslims, back biting and slandering people, hoarding in order to increase prices and persistently committing minor sins thereby making them a major one. If a person falls prey to any major sin and doesn’t give up before it’s too late, these will take him away from Allah and closer to hell fire. However, Allah’s mercy is abundant and He will forgive the slave who repents sincerely and turns away from the sin.
“Say: O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Do not despair from the mercy of Allah. Verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, he is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Az-Zumar, Verse 53)
- Minor sins
There are ample of these we easily fall prey to. They are Shaitan’s easy trap. He makes one believe that they aren’t doing anything forbidden and this thought smoothens the road towards committing these sins. I personally believe that if a person doesn’t stop committing these sins or worst, refuses to see them as a sin, it is likely that they might end up on a road away from Allah’s mercy and his guidance. Wasting time, making bad jokes, keeping an eye on other faults, being rude to elders and harsh on children, shouting at others, insulting others and calling others by offensive nicknames and being constantly envious about other people, etc., are just a few of them.
The five prescribed prayers, and from one Friday to another and from Ramadan to other, entails forgiveness for what is in between them as long as you do not commit the major sins. (Muslim / Tirmizi)
These are things which are permissible according to the Islamic law but have no reward. For example, chilling with friends, sleeping, traveling, eating, and so on. ‘Shaitan’ will try to make you overdo what is permissible. We can oversleep and think there is nothing wrong with it. There are people who are always with their cell-phones, who are always chilling with friends, making jokes, laughing, spending excessively, over-eating all the time and it’s not haram but it takes us away from responsibilities and things which are more beneficial. If we are not always critically examining and re-examining the manifestations of our love, ‘Shaitan’ can quite easily trick us into believing our misplaced love for something besides Allah is righteous and justified.
‘Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (May Allah be pleased be him) said, “The best jihad is the jihad against desires.” (Al-Adab Ash-Shar’iya 131)
- Deeds with lesser reward
When ‘shaitan’ fails to sway us through all the above mentioned deeds, he resorts to reducing our good deeds. If two things are in front of us which are both good but one is greater than the other, he will try to make you take the lesser good. He will make you stay away from the greater good. For example, there was a time when I would feel the interest to listen to an Islamic lecture just before sleeping. This reduced on my sleep time and resulted in me getting up late for ‘Fajr’. All praise to Allah’s infinite guidance, I recognised this flaw and immediately curbed the act.
- Unleashing his army from Jinn and humankind
This is Shaitan’s trump card. He unleashes the devils from among the jinn and humankind upon the person he is targeting. When nothing else works, this is the final step. The on-set of difficult, ignorant, tyrant people in one’s life is a sign that this is happening. Here many people fail. Many pious people begin fearing these oppressors rather than putting their trust in Allah (swt). For example, a person sincere in his / her worship starts behaving offensively towards a fellow colleague because his / her superiors expect them to do so. He / she might engage in gossip and many such inappropriate acts which he / she might not indulge in otherwise. While trying to please one’s superiors people end up believing that their sustenance is in their hands. Slowly and gradually, they forget that Allah is the creator and sustainer. Nightmares and blurry hooded figures start appearing in one’s life. These kind of experiences mean that it is time to get closer to Allah (swt) through increase in worship, refraining from any sin or unwanted activities.
‘Shaitan’ always works in this pattern. He keeps shifting between them and just as we think we are doing everything possible to keep him at bay, he attacks. Then, even before we know it a good initial spiritual state starts morphing into a negative outcome. If we turn our attention away from our inward realities and are ignorant of the stratagems of ‘Shaitan’ and his army, we are in danger of becoming deluded by our own sense of self-righteousness, which is in reality merely a veil for a much darker part of ourselves.
As for the one who has successfully recognised these patterns, ‘Shaitan’ has one last trick – The Whispering (Waswasa). He keeps uttering words of lies and deceit into one’s desire and will not give up until a person leaves this world. The only way around this is to be aware of these whisperings and take it as lightly as possible. Do not react to it, turn away from it, and keep busy with other, useful things. If you hate that ‘waswasah’ and reject it time and again, that is a sign of clear faith.
Through daily acts of worship such as prayer, remembrance, recitation of Qur’an, and contemplation – a believer cultivates mindfulness of Allah. This drives ‘Shaitan’ away and brings a person closer to Allah (swt) and his angels. At the end of it all, ‘shaitan’ is very weak and he has no control over Allah’s dutiful servants.
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