22. UNDERSTANDING THE ENEMY
Allah has advised us that Shaitan is your enemy, so make him your enemy. If you knew that you had an enemy lurking round every corner, just biding his time to destroy you, would you be able to rest or relax? If you knew that the moment you let your guard down, the enemy will ambush you, what would you do? You would exercise constant vigilance and take whatever precautions necessary.
What if this enemy never rests or takes a break? You would double your efforts in order to protect yourself adequately.
Shaitan does not commit direct physical attacks. His methods are less obvious: deception and trickery. From the realms of the unseen, he constantly toys with your mind and distorts your perception of things. He creates smoke and mirrors for you, manipulates your emotions, moods, appetite; creating friction with those close to you and influencing you to be close to those bad for you. He works by infusing you with self-doubt, distrust and paranoia.
He leads you into a state of heedlessness by inflating your ego such that you become arrogant over everyone else, including Allah. His assaults are relentless, and he has the advantage. He is invisible, never takes a rest and his knowledge is far superior to yours, because he has been around for millennia longer than you have.
This is why Allah warns us to be alert and vigilant, and to make him your enemy. We need to be armed all the time with the correct tools. The weapon of a mu’min is the journey of Islam, salat, good deed, his own iman, zikrullah, reading the Qu’ran, remembering the journey of this life and that this life is short. We are not living forever, we are here for a period of time and then we are leaving. The mu’min remembers that this is not a life of bounty and enjoyment because the real bounty and enjoyment is going to jannah. Shaitan’s job is to make you forget all this, and he keeps decorating your life until you forget the promise of Allah.
Once Shaitan defeats us within, he distracts us with external conditions. He makes us distressed about every situation, causing us to find fault and complain about our husbands, wives, finances, traffic jams, weather, and everything under the sun. He makes us forget that we are not allowed to complain about anyone. He keeps instigating sour feelings between each other, to cause rifts and divisions. He plants suspicion, discontentment and hateful thoughts between spouses to make marriages acrimonious. These ill feelings escalate, and the couples find themselves fighting for ridiculous reasons, even leading to a breakdown in the marriage.
Understanding the tactics employed by Shaitan enables the Muslim and the mu’min to always be one step ahead of Shaitan. Not many of us are, in fact, Umar RA is the only human being whom Shaitan had no control over. It is well know that when he saw Umar RA approaching, Shaitan would leave and walk the opposite direction! Umar RA did not possess any superpowers – he got his strength from Allah, due to his piety and forthrightness, borne of his slavery, devotion and obedience to Allah. The closer you get to Allah, the more power and strength you are granted, and the more victorious you will be.
A Path of Thorns.
This journey is one of hardship. It is not a bed of roses, it is more of a road strewn with thorns, an obstacle course to determine if you deserve the prize. Hardship combined with what you dislike is presented to you time and again, but hidden in the depths of such hardship is your victory, only if you comprehend it.
When Allah takes from you or gives you calamity, it is to elevate you and give you victory and bounty. The ultimate victory is where Allah is pleased with you and awards you jannah. If one is patient with Allah in time of calamity, amidst all the hardship, the reward is jannah, for Allah is always with the patient one.
We are constantly being tried under both circumstances: when Allah gives to us and when Allah takes away from us. When Allah takes from us, we need to bear the loss with patience and trust in the promise of Allah. When Allah gives to us, we should use the bounty for sabeelillah in order to be a winner. If we hoard the bounties, not acknowledging its original owner, and become obsessed with such bounties, using them as your toys and entertainment, we will be defeated. Understand that you are being tested, regardless of which side of the coin you are looking at.
The Companions used to love the cycle of hardship and the deficiencies more than the ease and gifts. When placed under hardship, it was obvious to them that Allah had cut off their means and backed them into a corner as a trial to elevate them. When Allah gave, they feared that such gifts would mesmerize them away from Allah, causing their spiritual downfall. They were less confident about passing their trial of ease.
For this reason, the Companions used to spend their money immediately. Any bounty of Allah that landed in their hands would quickly be disseminated amongst the poor, before greed, arrogance or temptation had the opportunity to overpower their senses.
This sacrifice was not limited to monetary gifts alone. The early Muslim women even supplicated for their husbands to be accepted while on the path of Allah or when going for hajj, as martyrdom and an elevated status in jannah was more beloved to these women than to be reunited with their beloved husbands on earth.
Taking away is a trial, giving is a trial. If you give back what Allah gives you, it is a gift. The closer to Allah, the more the trial of taking increases, and the more the trial of giving increases. If you still continue giving to Allah, you are on the right track. Now you are victorious in taking and giving.
What happens if we slack and enter into a comfort zone with our status? It is a defeat, because we have forgotten our original journey of the soul and of death, and relaxation indicates that we are not working for this journey.