Continuing on with the theme-based approach of Juz 25, 26 and 27, this episode explores the concept of the shayatin or the devils by focusing on the role they have on our lives and our minds. The aim here is to deconstruct the many misconceptions we have regarding the shayatin’s presence over us through Quranic verses, recognising the capacities in which they exist to misconstrue our thoughts and misguide us from the right path. In building a better awareness of this, we can thus move towards seeking protection from shaytaan through the remembrance of Allah (swt).
Inna Hadha Al-Qur'ana Yahdee li-latee hiya aqwamu wa yubashshir Al-mu'mineen al-lathi ya'malun al-salihat anna lahum Ajran Kabira (17:9) [Indeed, this Qur'an guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward (17:9)].
Juz 26. 'A'udhu billahi min al-shaytan al-rajim Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim. I begin in the name of Allah, compassionate to all, merciful to each. Assalamu alaykum and welcome to the 26th episode in this podcast series titled: "Journeying Our Eyes Through the Qur'an, Exploring 30 Juz in 30 Days". Today, InshaAllah, we will continue our journey through the pages of the Qur'an and the discussions that we started yesterday, which means another topic from juz 25, 26 and 27.
For today's topic, we will discuss the idea of the Shayateen or the Devils. And what type of role it is that they play in our lives and more specifically, our minds. There are many misconceptions when it comes to what this role is, that these devils play in our lives. We all know the story of Iblis commonly known as Shaytan, especially in terms of his role in trying to misguide prophets, starting from Prophet Adam, alayhi as-salam, and going on forward.
He also tries to misguide those who are God-conscious and in the Qur'an Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has noted him as an open and manifest enemy. In Surat al Zukhruf versus 36 to 40 we read the following.
Wa mai ya'shu 'an dhikri ar-Rahmani nuqaiyid lahoo Shaitanan fahuwa lahoo qareen (43:36). Wa innahum la yasuddoo nahum 'ani is-sabeeli wa yahsaboona annahum muhtadoon (43:37). Hatta idhaa ja'ana qala yaa laita bainee wa bainaka bu'dal mashriqaini fabi'sal qareen (43:38). Wa lai yanfa'akumul Yawma idh dhalamtum annakum fil 'azaabi mushtarikoon (43:39). Afa anta tusmi'u thumma aw tahdil 'umya wa man kana fee dalaalin mubeen (43:40).
We assign a devil to be the companion of him who turns a blind eye to the remembrance of the All beneficent (43:36). Indeed, they barred them from the way of Allah while they suppose that they are really guided (43:37). When he comes to Us, he will say, I wish there had been between me and you the distance between the East and the West. Would an evil companion you are (43:38). Today that will be of no avail to you. As you did wrong, so will you share in the punishment? (43:39). Can you then make the deaf hear or guide the blind and those who are in manifest error? (43:40).
Later in verse 62 Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala says the following: Wa laa yasuddannakum ush-Shaitaanu innahoo lakum 'aduwwun mubeen (43:62). Do not let Shaytan bar you from the way of Allah. Indeed, he is your manifest enemy (43:62).
From these verses, we can tell a few things, but a question remains what role do these devils play in our lives and in our minds when the verses say that, for example, Shaytan blocks us or bars us? Yasuddannakum (43:62), what does that mean? Although it's not from this specific juz there is a verse from Surat al-Anaam that sheds a little more light on this concept, which we'll take a look at now.
Wa kadhaalika ja'alnaa likulli nabiyyin 'aduwwan Shayaateena al-insi wa al-jinni yoohee ba'duhum ila ba'din zukhrufa al-qawli ghurooraa, wa law shaaa'a Rabbuka maa fa'aloohu fazarhum wa maa yaftaroon (6:112). Likewise, We have assigned for every prophet an enemy- human and jinn devils, inspiring one another with fancy words in order to deceive but had your Lord willed, they would not have done it. So leave them to their fabrications (6:112).
From this verse in Surat al Anaam it says that there are Shayateen from among both human beings and the jinns, and that they inspire one another with fancy words. Or, as the verse says, zukhrufa al-qawl (6:112), this is with the intention of deception. Herein lies the power that the Shayateen have over us as human beings, and that is nothing but convincing or manipulative speech.
When we speak about the whisperings of the devils, the word used is Waswasa, which literally means whisperings. What this means is that maybe these whisperings can appear in our thoughts and in our minds, and that might be what's different between the human and the Shayateen. But a good way to think about this is as though they're like a bad friend. But you pick up calls from them every day. A bad friend can be a bad influence on you, but they can't force you to do anything. All they can do is convince you with fancy words, manipulative speech and ways of explaining things which make reality seem a little different from what it really is. That's the role that these devils play.
And remember that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in this verse of the Qur'an mentions both jinns and human beings as devils, or as Shayateen. This is why on the day of judgment, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala quotes Shaytan many times the head of all the Shayateen. And what Shaytan does in these quotes is continuously absolve himself of any responsibility. He says things like the following, which is noted in Surat al Hashr:
Kamathali ish-Shaytaani idhqaala lil insaani akfur falammaa kafara qala innee bareee'um minka inneee akhaafu Allaha Rabb al-'alameen (59:16). Like the devil when he says to the human being disbelieve, but when he has disbelieved, he says, I'm innocent of you. I fear God, the Lord of the Worlds (59:16). And in Surah Qaf Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala also says the following:
Qaala qareenuhoo Rabbana maaa atghaituhoo wa laakin kana fee dalaalin ba'eed (50:27). His companion will say, our Lord, I did not incite him to rebel against you, but he was himself an extreme error (50:27). From this verse, we see that Shaytan and the Devils disassociate themselves from our actions, they see things and they talk things and they whisper things to us, but they are only influential to those who allow themselves to be influenced by the devils. Understanding the nature of Shaytan's influence on us is crucial so that we do not feel disempowered or somehow out of control.
However, this doesn't mean that we shouldn't minimize the reality of the various ways in which Shaytan tries to misguide us, the ways in which he tries to influence us from every angle and recognizing our weaknesses and using them. After the creation of Adam, alayhi as-salam, Iblis is quoted to have said the following in Surat al A'raaf:
Thumma la aatiyannahum mim baini aideehim wa min khalfihim wa 'an aimaanihim wa 'an shamaaa'ilihim wa laa tajidu aksarahum shaakireen (7:17). Then I will come at them from before them and from behind them and from the right and from their left. And you will not find most of them appreciative (7:17). The efforts of Shaytan should be recognized and understood. The more we let him in, the more he has control over us in the sense that he becomes more and more influential, and one of our Awliya and this is what we need to be careful of, are we allowing him to influence us?
Who are we allowing to influence us? His ways are tricky and often he pulls us in step by step in what is known in the Qur'an as the 'Khutuwaat of Shaytan' (24:21), or the footsteps of Shaytan. Sometimes we think that the jinns of the Shayateen have more power over us than they actually do, and we become scared or terrified of various Jinn stories. But it's not just jinns who are Shayateen. There are stories told to us in the Qur'an of jinns who are Shayateen, but there are also jinns who are believers, as is quoted in Surah Jinn.
They are also held accountable by Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala and are addressed in the Qur'an, for example in Surah al Rahman. Jinns are not intrinsically evil and not all Jinns are Shayateen. In the same way that not all humans are evil and not all humans are Shayateen. But the things with jinns is that they communicate in a slightly different way through whisperings into our mind versus voices into our ears.
Understanding and thinking about it like this can help us control the influences that are on us and also not to freak out if we have negative or unwanted thoughts. Keeping in mind that we can keep these voices and these whisperings in their place and we can become better at identifying and keeping Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in mind as this is our best source of protection. As it says in Surah al Mujadilah:
Istahwadha 'alaihimu ash-shaitaanu fa ansaahum Dhikr Allah, ulaaa'ika hizbu ash-shaitaaan, alaaa innaa hizba ash-shaitaani humu al-khaasiroon (58:19). Shaytan has prevailed upon them, so he has caused them to forget the remembrance of Allah. They are Shaytan's confederates. Look, indeed it is Shaytan's confederates, who are the losers? (58:19)
What this verse says is that the reason Shaytan has been able to be successful is through causing us to forget the remembrance of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala which makes sense then why we're told to actually seek protection with Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala from Shaytan, to remember Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala when these influences come our way, as it says in Surat al A'raaf . Wa immaa yanzaghannaka min ash-Shaitaani nazghun fasta'idh bil-Lah, innahoo Samee'un Aleem (7:200). And when a suggestion from Shaytan comes to you or assails you, take refuge with God. He's hearing and knowing (7:200).
And so to close today's episode, we end by seeking refuge with Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala from the Shayateen, and we pray that we are able to remember Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in the best of ways. We ask Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala for the help and the strength to stand against all temptations and whisperings, and that as this month closes and comes to an end, that we also address the caprices and the evils of our own souls.
Wa Al-Hamdulil-Lahi Rabbi Al-Alameen, wa salla Allahu alaa nabiyyina Muhammadin, wa alihi, al-tayibeen, al-tahireen. Wa as-salamu alaykum, wa rahmatullahi, wa baraktu.
Rabbana La tuzigh Qulubana (3:8) [Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate (3:8)]