The Virtues of Shaytaan

From the fundamentals of our conviction is the belief in Allah, His Angels, the revealed books, the messengers, the last day, and the decree of Allah. No person can aspire to be among the inhabitants of heaven without having a sound belief in all these areas. Consequently, these are the beliefs that separate believers from non-believers and the blessed ones from the cursed ones.

Interestingly, Shaytaan, the accursed devil, also believes in Allah with certainty. He knows that over the centuries, messengers have been sent delivering the truth. He has witnessed the Angels with his own eyes (for he was amongst them at one point in his life), he believes in the last day (that’s why he asked for respite till the day of resurrection), and he knows that the decree of Allah must come to pass.

In spite of all this, we know through the Quran that Allah has promised to fill the hell fire with him and his followers? Why? Are these not the things Allah demands to see in his servants? Are these not the things for which Allah has promised us paradise? If shaytaan is bound for hell even after all this, then is it not possible for people who claim to be Muslims to look at their deeds more closely.

As for shaytaan, he recognizes the truth but has decided not to follow it. He knows and believes but does not follow up on that belief with the proper actions and sayings. Instead, he follows up that belief with blatant lies and deception.  Allah warns us about him in the Quran by saying; “Surely the Shaytaan is your enemy, so take him for an enemy; he only invites his party that they may be inmates of the burning [fire].”[1]

Just like shaytaan, there are amongst the Muslims those who know all these tenants of faith but have chosen to keep their belief incomplete by not practicing upon its implications. They believe in Allah but do not fear Him. They claim faith but are absent from the masaajids. And they ‘honor’ Ramadan but fail to observe fasting. And they claim to love the Prophet (Peace be upon him) but are heedless of his sunnah. Such Muslims keep lying to themselves in regards to their faith and are under the deception of Shaytaan.

Know that the belief is not solely an act of the heart and tongue, but also of the limbs and actions. Believe & behave like the Prophet (Peace be upon him) & his companions (may Allah be pleased with them). They are the ones whom Allah praised and ordered us to follow in guidance. Their belief was in accordance to the Quran and Sunnah and was evident in their actions and words. Consequently, they are the ones who realized that knowing something is not like believing and believing in something necessitates action.

[1] Quran 35:6

Glimpses of Perfection

Allah is the one who creates and then He chooses from amongst His creation. So He created the earth and chose the location of Kaba to be the most sacred. And He created the months and chose Ramadan to be the most blessed. And He created mankind and chose Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as the pinnacle of humanity. And he created the ummah and chose the companions of his messenger (Peace be upon him) to be the best amongst it.

In the lives of companions we see the clearest reflection of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) they followed. In their submission we find the elevation of mankind, and in their actions we find the tafasir of the Quran. Their speech and action portray a deep understanding of faith, and their examples serve as the benchmark for the whole humanity. They were human beings like us, yet their resolution, sincerity and perseverance in Islam allowed them to overcome obstacles to faith and acquire such a level of piety that Allah praised them through the tongue of his blessed and honorable Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).

“Do not revile my companions. By (Allah) in Whose Hand my soul is!, if any one of you spends gold (piled up) like (mount) ‘Uhud it will not equal a pint of any one of them, nor its half.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari, & Muslim)

It is no secret that the times of tribulation reveal the true nature of the hearts. It is also no secret that our lives, wealth, and family are amongst the dearest things to our souls and thus the hardest obstacles to overcome on the path to faith. Glancing into the lives of the companions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), we are able to witness their courage, honor, and valor as they proved their worth in front of their Lord. In their words, actions, lives, and deaths, there are glimpses of perfect faith for every Muslim to aspire and follow.

They are the sabiqoon that Allah praises in the verse “And those foremost (in faith) will be Foremost (in the Hereafter)[1]”And they are the believers whom Allah promised His pleasure in the verse, “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves. Thou (O Muhammad) seest them bowing and falling prostrate (in worship), seeking bounty from Allah and (His) acceptance. […] Allah hath promised, unto such of them as believe and do good works, forgiveness and immense reward.”[2] And they are the ones who have honored their promise to Allah “Of the believers are men who are true to the covenant which they made with Allah: so of them is he who accomplished his vow, and of them is he who yet waits, and they have not changed in the least.”[3] And they are the ones for whom the Quran was truly a healing and mercy, “We send down in the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe:”[4]

Verily for men and women of such standing, this world becomes a subservient slave. All the matters of this world are put under their control as they have put themselves under the control of their Lord. It is no wonder then that we find in our history bright examples of obedience and in that obedience, the glimpses of perfection of eman.

If such men recited Quran on a person, that person would be healed.[5] If they were to order inanimate objects in regards to something, their order will be obeyed.[6] Their prayer, in itself, would be enough to inspire the light of Islam in the hearts of the non-Muslims, and their belief in the promise of Allah rendered all hardships and pains as the lightest of breeze. They were walking on the face of this earth but living in the hereafter, the sweetness of faith had overcome their sense, and as a result, their hearts had over flown with contentment.

Look at the following example of one such man; Abdullah ibn Hudhafah (May Allah be pleased with him).

“In the nineteenth year after the Hijrah, ‘Umar dispatched an army to fight against the Byzantines. In it was Abdullah ibn Hudhafah As-Sahmi. News of the Muslim force reached the Byzantine emperor, Heraclius. He had heard of their sincerity of faith, and their willingness to sacrifice their lives in the way of Allah and His Prophet. He gave orders to his men to bring to him any Muslim captives they might take alive.

Allah willed that Abdullah ibn Hudhafah should fall captive to the Byzantines and he was brought before the Emperor. The Emperor looked at Abdullah for a long time. Suddenly he said, “I shall make a proposal to you.” “What is it?” asked Abdullah. “I suggest that you become a Christian. If you do this, you will be set free and I shall grant you a safe refuge.” The prisoner’s reaction was furious: “Death is preferable to me a thousand times to what you ask me to do.” “I see that you are a bold man. However, if you respond positively to what I propose to you, I will give you a share in my authority and swear you in as my aide.” The prisoner, shackled in his chains, smiled and said, “By Allah, if you give me all that you possess and all that the Arabs have in exchange for giving up the religion of Muhammad, I shall not do so.” “Then I shall kill you.” “Do what you want,” answered Abdullah. The emperor then had him put on a cross and ordered his soldiers to throw spears at him, first near his hands and then near his feet, all the while telling him to accept Christianity or at least give up his religion. This he refused over and over again to do. The emperor then had him taken down from the wooden cross. He called for a great pot to be brought. This was filled with oil which was then heated under a fierce fire. He then had two other Muslim prisoners brought and had one of them thrown into the boiling oil. The prisoner’s flesh sizzled and soon his bones could be seen. The emperor turned to Abdullah and invited him to Christianity. This was the most terrible test that Abdullah had had to face up till now. But he remained firm and the emperor gave up trying. He then ordered that Abdullah too be thrown into the pot. As he was being taken away he began to shed tears. The emperor thought that he had at last been broken and had him brought back to him. He once more suggested that Abdullah become a Christian but to his astonishment, Abdullah refused. “Damn you! Why did you weep then?” shouted the emperor. “I cried,” said Abdullah, “because I said to myself ‘You will now be thrown into this pot and your soul will depart’. What I really desired then was to have as many souls as the number of hairs on my body and to have all of them thrown into this pot for the sake of Allah.” The tyrant then said, “Will you kiss my head? I will then set you free?” “And all the Muslim prisoners also?” asked Abdullah. This the emperor agreed to do and Abdullah said to himself, “One of the enemies of Allah! I shall kiss his head and he shall set me and all other Muslim prisoners free. There can be no blame on me for doing this.” He then went up to the emperor and kissed his forehead. All the Muslim prisoners were released and handed over to Abdullah. Abdullah ibn Hudhafah eventually came to ‘Umar ibn al Khattab and told him what had happened. ‘Umar was greatly pleased and when he looked at the prisoners he said, “Every Muslim has a duty to kiss the head of Abdullah ibn Khudhafah and I shall start.” Umar then got up and kissed the head of Abdullah ibn Hudhafah.” Source: “Companions of The Prophet”, Vol.1 by Abdul Wahid Hamid

Another companion of the Prophet (Peace be upon him); Khubaib Ibn Adiy (May Allah be pleased with him), left us with another shining example of the definition of Eman. This great companion was caught by the Mushrikeen of Makkah and hung on the cross. While on the cross his body was being pierced by spears and swords and he was then asked, “Would you not rather wish that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) be in your place while you are safe and sound with your family ?” Khubaib answered, “By God ! I would not like to be safe with my wife and children with the joys of the whole world while the Messenger of (Peace be upon him) is being hurt even with the prick of a thorn” Such was the firmness of the men surrounding the Prophet (Peace be upon him), such was their resolution, understanding, and love for their Prophet (Peace be upon him) and their faith.

They were the ones who, in their life and in their death, dedicated themselves to the propagation of Islam. An amazing hadith narrated in Bukhari (No. 2647) attests to this fact. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) sent some companions to give the message of Islam to a people, “…While one of them was conveying to them the message of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, they [the disbelievers] made a gesture to one of their men and he attacked him and stabbed him through. He [the companion] said, ‘Allah is greater! By the Lord of the Ka’ba, I have won!’ [and died]”.

A non-Muslim who was witnessing all this could not understand how a person who has been killed in such a way is saying such a statement out of happiness. That non-Muslim continued inquiring about this case until it led him to truth of Islam. It was then he realized that for a true Muslim, no joy is greater than the joy of dying upon Islam, and no death is more honorable than dying in the path of Allah.

These were the men who removed all obstacles to faith from their hearts, so their hearts became obedient to the words of Allah and his messenger. But as for us, we have erected countless barriers between our religion and our hearts. So, we recite the same Quran but it is not Shifa (cure) for our sick. And we perform the same Hajj but it is not an expiation of our sins. We make promises and then turn our backs, and we welcome with open hearts the comfort of this world while knowingly destroying any hopes of such in the hereafter. We know the truth, yet are content with lies. We know death is certain, yet treat it as doubtful. We call ourselves Muslims when we are far away from Islam. And we claim to love the messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), yet find it inconvenient to follow him in life and death.

[1] Quran 56:10

[2] Quran 48:29

[3] Quran 33:23

[4] Quran 17:82

[5] Narrated by Abu Said: Some of the companions of the Prophet went on a journey till they reached some of the ‘Arab tribes (at night). They asked the latter to treat them as their guests but they refused. The chief of that tribe was then bitten by a snake (or stung by a scorpion) and they tried their best to cure him but in vain. Some of them said (to the others), “Nothing has benefited him, will you go to the people who resided here at night, it may be that some of them might possess something (as treatment),” They went to the group of the companions (of the Prophet ) and said, “Our chief has been bitten by a snake (or stung by a scorpion) and we have tried everything but he has not benefitted. Have you got anything (useful)?” One of them replied, “Yes, by Allah! I can recite a ruqya, but as you have refused to accept us as your guests, I will not recite the ruqya for you unless you fix for us some wages for it.” They agrees to pay them a flock of sheep. One of them then went and recited (Suratul-Fatiha): ‘All the praises are for the Lord of the Worlds’ and puffed over the chief who became all right as if he was released from a chain, and got up and started walking, showing no signs of sickness. They paid them what they agreed to pay. Some of them (i.e. the companions) then suggested to divide their earnings among themselves, but the one who performed the recitation said, “Do not divide them till we go to the Prophet and narrate the whole story to him, and wait for his order.” So, they went to Allah’s Apostle and narrated the story. Allah’s Apostle asked, “How did you come to know that Surat-ul-Fatiha was recited as ruqya?” Then he added, “You have done the right thing. Divide (what you have earned) and assign a share for me as well.” The Prophet smiled thereupon.  (Book #36, Hadith #476)

[6] The Coptic Christians of Egypt used to sacrifice a girl in the name of the river Nile so that the river would not dry up. When the Muslims conquered Egypt, this practice was stopped, however that year, the river dried up. At that time, Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) sent the following letter addressed to the River itself. “From the servant of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala) and Commander of the Muslims to the River of the Nile of Egypt. O Nile, if you flow of your own will, then do not flow. But if your flow is controlled by Allah, the Almighty, we pray to Him to keep you flowing.” The letter was thrown into the river bed, and since then the water has not dried up in the Nile river.

State of the Heart

Our scholars mention a feeling of absolute contentment that resides in their hearts but remains impossible to convey through words. Hence we find them calm and composed upon the greatest of afflictions and during the gloomiest of times. It is as if they glance into their hearts and find within their souls the assurance of Allah through the words of our Prophet (Peace be upon him); “Strange is the case of the believer. If good comes to him, he is thankful to Allah and that is good for him. If evil befalls him, he endures patiently and that is better for him.”[1] Consequently, they are the ones who believe with their life that if something reached them, it was not going to escape them, and if something escaped them, it was not going to reach them.[2]

Verily, if the kings were to realize the state of such hearts, they would give away their kingdoms in hopes of achieving a small portion of such a feeling. However, such a fruit is not bought or sold but rather sowed in the heart and nourished through the continuous submission to Allah and his messenger (Peace be upon him). Only through this servitude of the heart can the person purify it from the greed of this world and the calamities that surround its news.

Allah has raised the status of the heart and honored it by choosing it as the platform of revelation and making it a container of His remembrance. The noble Quran attests to this fact through its verse, “…for surely he [Angel Gabriel] revealed it to your heart by Allah’s command.”[3] And at another place the Quran links the prosperity of a soul with the purification of the heart by saying “But those will prosper who purify themselves.”[4], and it calls such hearts as ‘Qalbun Saleem’ (Sound heart).[5]

Only when the heart is clean from the desires of this world and protected from ills of greed, envy, pride and the likes, can the carrier of that heart feel a blessing within. And once this light is planted within the soul, the heart becomes fulfilled and satisfied in terms of the worldly affairs, but thirsty and yearning in matters of the hereafter. So, you will not find such a person willing to trade this light for the benefit of this life, for he knows that his possession is greater than the world and everything in it. For verily, his possession is the pleasure of his Lord in this world and expectation of reward and mercy in the next.

[1] Sahih Muslim

[2] “On the authority of Abdullah bin Abbas, who said : One day I was behind the prophet and he said to me: “Young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice] : Be mindful of Allah, and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of Allah; if you seek help, seek help of Allah. Know that if the Nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that Allah had already prescribed for you, and that if they gather together to harm you with anything, they would harm you only with something Allah had already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” (Tirmidhi)

[3] Quran 2:97

[4] Quran 87:14

[5] ‘But only he (will prosper) that brings to Allah a sound heart’ [Quran 26:89]