Barsisa the Worshipper

We should remember that guidance is a gift from Allah, and the same way that He chooses to guide whoever He wants, He can also snatch that guidance away in the blink of an eye if we do not cherish the guidance that He has granted us and thank him for it, and protect ourselves from the corruption of Shaitan.

The traps of Shaitan

Shaitan will never instigate you to commit a crime, but he will disguise it in a series of smaller steps which seem harmless. This was illustrated in the story of Yusuf AS, where his brothers, while plotting what how to get rid of him, explored several options. At first they wanted to kill him, but then realised that it was not acceptable on their conscience. So instead, they decided to lure him away from his father, and drop him at the bottom of the well. This was as good as killing him had he not been rescued by a passing caravan, but they could then say that they did not actually kill him.

Similarly, when Shaitan wants us to commit a sin, he will not ask us to do it directly. For example, if the goal is to prevent us from making salat, he would put excuses in our minds to delay our salat (with distractions that are in themselves harmless, such as household chores or reading a book) until the time for salat has passed. Once we have stepped into this labyrinth of distraction and self deceit, it becomes easy for Shaitan to disguise evil deeds as being attractive and permissible, for example, since we have already missed the previous salat anyway, then there's no harm in delaying the next salat. On a wider level, Shaitan will also disguise deeds which are obviously evil under attractive banners which one justifies to himself to continue with his evil or obscene actions: human rights, following your heart, protecting yourself and other excuses which actually obscure the truth.

The promise of Shaitan and the promise of Allah

Allah promises forgiveness and provision, whereas Shaitan promises us poverty and evil. However, only the patient can get to benefit from Allah's promise, whether in this life and the next. Most of us seek instant gratification, quick fix solutions and short cuts, whether correct or not, which is why the promises of Shaitan are more appealing unless we are strong in faith. For example, Barsisa wanted to escape his execution, no matter the cost. If he had repented, and Allah accepted his repentance, his execution would have been irrelevant because he would have earned a good place in the Hereafter. Shaitan makes us forget the goal, which is why he is constantly laying traps to deviate the believers.

Yet, with all the insidious tricks of Shaitan, his power of us is merely to persuade. The Qur'an advises us that "no doubt, the guile of Shaitan is feeble" (An Nisa 76). Shaitan can plant thoughts in our heads, but has no authority over us to force us to implement those thoughts. This is why, to a believer, the whisperings of Shaitan are powerless over him.

The Qur'an has plenty of detail of how to protect oneself against Shaitan, and gives the criteria of the people who will remain under the protection of Allah in this world and the next.

At the end, when you face Allah, Shaitan will claim innocence of your actions. This is mentioned several times in the Qur'an – which means that when you are judged by Allah, Shaitan will not be there to support or defend you in any way.

No one is exempted

As human beings, we are all subject to the whisperings and persuasions of Shaitan. Barsisa was supremely pious and yet Shaitan's unceasing whisperings finally caused him to take a series of wrong turns in life. No matter what your status in life and degree of knowledge, you are vulnerable to the evil whisperings of Shaitan. Hence, even if you have religious knowledge, that knowledge is not of any worth unless you put in in practice. This includes to constantly beg Allah for protection against the wretched Shaitan. The Qur'an and Hadith give us many examples of how we can fall outside the influence of Shaitan and under the protection of Allah.

One must also not be arrogant in his piety. Everyone is prone to making mistakes, for we are not angels. Human beings were not created perfect, and are subject to constant challenges to either stay on the right path or to deviate from it. Our defence against Shaitan comes from obeying Allah and trusting ourselves to Him in overcoming any deception that Shaitan plants in our eyes and minds. When people forget this, they tend to become arrogant and stop seeking the protection of Allah. At this point, Allah will withdraw the person's spiritual vision and guidance, making the evil seem attractive an innocent, and making it impossible to discern between the right and the wrong.

May Allah protect us from falling into the traps of our most evil enemy, ameen.

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