What comes to your mind when you read the title ‘Deadly Delusions’?
Deadly specifies something being fatal, lethal, or even poisonous. Delusion refers to an illusion, a mirage or a hallucination; something that doesn’t exist and is a deception. Together, deadly delusions imply fatal deceptions that are prone to destroy someone.
Let’s try to understand the strategies of the one causing these deadly delusions in our lives through the words of The Most Wise, the Creator. I am assuming, by now, you would’ve guessed who the source of this fatal deception is. Yes, it is our mutual enemy, Shaitan (Satan).
To warn us against him Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) explains the story of Adam in many places in the Quran.
As Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) warns us in Surah Al Araf, ayah 11-25:
“And We have certainly created you, (O Mankind), and given you (human) form. Then We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam”; so they prostrated, except for Ibless. He was not of those who prostrated. [Allah] said, “What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you?” [Satan] said, “I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay.”[Allah] said, “Descend from Paradise, for it is not for you to be arrogant therein. So get out; indeed, you are of the debased. [Satan] said, “Reprieve me until the Day they are resurrected.” [Allah] said, “Indeed, you are of those reprieved.” [Satan] said, “Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path. Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful [to You].” [Allah] said, “Get out of Paradise, reproached and expelled. Whoever follows you among them – I will surely fill Hell with you, all together.” And “O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat from wherever you will but do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.” But Satan whispered to them to make apparent to them that which was concealed from them of their private parts. He said, “Your Lord did not forbid you this tree except that you become angels or become of the immortal.” And he swore [by Allah] to them, “Indeed, I am to you from among the sincere advisors.” So he made them fall, through deception. And when they tasted of the tree, their private parts became apparent to them, and they began to fasten together over themselves from the leaves of Paradise. And their Lord called to them, “Did I not forbid you from that tree and tell you that Satan is to you a clear enemy?” They said, “Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers.” [Allah] said, “Descend, being to one another enemies. And for you on the earth is a place of settlement and enjoyment for a time.” He said, “Therein you will live, and therein you will die, and from it you will be brought forth.”
The ayahs clearly explain the deceptive nature of Shaitan and his resolution to destroy every one of us. The sole purpose of his cursed existence is to cause us eternal loss in akhira.
Would we sit back and relax and hope for the best if we were told that a well equipped army was marching ahead to destroy us? We’d be crazy to do so. This situation is worse than that, for Allah has revealed to us:
“…Indeed, he sees you, he(Satan) and his tribe, from where you do not see them. Indeed, We have made the devils allies to those who do not believe”.
It requires being well prepared and ready to defeat such a cunning and secret enemy and his cursed army. The first step however, is to know our enemy well and to be aware of his meticulously planned strategies, which Allah (subhanu wa ta’ala) out of His Infinite Mercy and Utmost Love for us, has revealed in the above mentioned ayahs.
So what did Shaitan mean when he said ‘Then I will come to them from before them, from behind them and on their right and on their left’? Let’s analyze this to understand the nature of our enemy’s deception better.
Attack from the front
Attack from the front implies that he (Shaitan) would attempt to beautify our bad deeds and make them seem good. He would justify them for us so that we do not feel a sense of regret or remorse over them. For example, some people organize charity concerts and feel that they have done a good deed. However, in reality sadaqa (charity) given from haram earnings is not accepted by Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).
Attack from behind
Attack from behind implies that when the son of Adam is heedless of the remembrance of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) then Shaitan whispers to him, in the form of Waswaas (evil whispers by Shaitan to instigate someone to sin) and due to his heedlessness, the son of Adam fails to see his sins. As a result, he would neither acknowledge his sins nor repent.
Allah warned us of this in Quran in the following words:
‘And whoever is blinded from remembrance of the Most Merciful – Allah appoints for him a devil, and he is to him a companion. And indeed, they (i.e. the devils) avert them from the way (of guidance) while they think that they are (rightly) guided’. (43:36-37)
This means that Shaitan could come to a heedless, ignorant person when he wants to do charity and make him become discouraged by the fear of poverty.
Attack from the left
It refers to trivialising one’s own sins, not considering sins to be worth repentance, or acknowledging bad deeds as sins. It also includes trying to put the blame of our mistakes on others. We should try and learn to acknowledge our sins, repent and mend our ways because repentance brings us close to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).
Attack from the right
He tries to make our small good deeds seem like big achievements. By this strategy Shaitan makes us indulge in riya (showing off).
The good news is that there are two directions from where Shaitan cannot approach us; from above and below us. Above, is where we direct ourselves to make dua and below is where we prostrate, so these are the two directions through which we can establish a strong bond with Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and as a result strengthen our iman (faith) and ‘amal (deeds).
Thus, the way to fight this cunning enemy is by seeking closeness to our Creator through obedience to Him in accordance with the true guidance sent by Him, inshaAllah.
Inspired by a Lecture by Dr. Farhat Hashmi.