Monday, July 19, 2010

Footsteps of Shaytaan

O you who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and do not follow the footsteps of Satan, for he is to you an avowed enemy. (2: 208)

So we’ve probably all heard this Quran ayah many times before, but recently something hit me when I read this ayah again.

As we can see it says “do not follow the footsteps of Satan.” When we remember the words of Shaytaan to Allah:

"Then will I assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left: Nor wilt thou find, in most of them, gratitude (for thy mercies)." [15:17]

Thus Shaytaan will find any way to guide us and mislead us. So one trick of Shaytaan is to not blatantly whisper “Go do xyz sin” rather he will lead you gradually towards that sin i.e. you will follow his footsteps towards that sin. So what exactly do I mean by this?

Ok as an example (I’m going to get a lot of flack for pointing this out, but whatever :P) , let’s mention the gender relations between guys and girls. So we may say “salaam” to a certain brother or a sister with pure intentions (that’s ok). However, what happens sometimes is Shaytaan whispers to us and says “ask for his/her email/screenname, etc.” (got to email her) And then you ask her for her number (got to ask her for notes). And then you ask her to meet you somewhere for a project (got to do school work). And then you start chilling outside of an MSA atmosphere. And as you see these are all ways Shaytaan tricks us to lead us down into temptation and sin. These are the footsteps we follow and don’t realize until it’s too late.I’m not saying we can’t work with others in a halaal manner, but often times it reaches that point where it becomes questionable.

We’ve all done this to a certain degree and we’re all guilty. Maybe not this specific scenario, but we have fallen into sin similarly. For others it may have been cheating on a test, justifying lying, etc.

I’ve heard so many excuses for some actions, one of which was “it’s ok we’re liberal” or one was “only God can judge.” People will come up with every excuse to justify their action and will be around those who support them in their sin or disobedience. Think about it… you won’t hang out with pious people and feel compelled to back bite or slander people. But you will feel more comfortable with those who are backbiting and slandering as you are. Those people will not keep you in check or call you out for your backbiting. People’s egos sometimes are far too strong for them to receive naseeha (sincere advice) from others or perhaps they may be having trouble overcoming that sin. Therefore it’s crucial for them to find better company to pull them away from that sin and also pull them up spiritually and increase their imaan. Sometimes giving naseeha to someone who is not ready can backfire and cause more harm than good if not done in a positive manner.

That was just one example, extreme maybe, but it’s a scenario that happens frequently. As for other examples, there are plenty. We just need to do some soul-searching and self-evaluation to see that we ourselves justify. It’s a slippery slope from when you initially make the haraam seem more halaal.

Another further example is when we can’t control our tongues when we keep company with the wrong people. Certain groups of friends may engage in backbiting, slander, or mockery of other people and you either join in or keep silent. Most of us join in and end up accumulating sins—very rarely do we step in to tell our friends or family to refrain from this. We may be the best of Muslims and pray, fast, pay zakah, even stay up all night in prayer but one sin such as backbiting might eat up those good deeds immediately, thus negating all of our good deeds.

We sometimes become lax in the commandments of Allah and find short cuts to fulfill some commandments. We pray salah late or in a rush, we sin and say “Allah is Merciful” and have this arrogance that somehow we are entitled to jannah, we lie, cheat, and hurt our own brothers and sisters (Islamically and biologically), fathers, mothers and relatives and think that in the end that we will be forgiven. Little sins eventually build up and will become a huge burden on the heart of a Muslim. We claim to be Muslim yet we neglect foundational commandments of Allah and His Messenger. How can we claim to be Muslim when we neglect to tell the truth, treat our own families and friends harshly, and commit the most heinous of sins with no remorse. The Prophet SAW’s character was the reason many turned to Islam and heart’s were inclined to the Truth. If we neglect to purify our character and continually justify smaller sins then who is to say we won’t justify the larger sins? Who is to say our smaller sins won’t lead us to Hell?

It’s a scary thought if we think about it. We’re essentially representatives of Islam and most importantly of the Prophet SAW and his message and if we are not acting in accordance to his teachings and the commandments of Allah then we are not adequately representing Islam in its truest form and are doing a great disservice and dishonor to the sacrifice of the Prophet SAW and his efforts to give us the beautiful gift of Islam.

Let’s not be those mentioned in this ayah:

And others have confessed their faults, they have mingled a good deed and evil one; maybe Allah will turn to them (mercifully); surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (9:102)

We need to check our intentions as well as our actions when we approach any situation. Because what we may think may be innocent may actually turn out to be completely haraam or dangerous for us spiritually. Once you justify that sin or bad deed it leads to further bigger sins and problems for you spiritually and it can lead to diseases of the heart which are often hard to cure. Small sins will essentially chip away at our imaan and ultimately fall into Shaytaan’s trap and move farther away from Allah.

We should never say that “Allah is all Merciful and will forgive us” thus sin and do everything against Allah’s commandments and disobey the orders of His Messenger (SAW). If even the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet SAW) trembled and were fearful of whether they’d be permitted into Paradise and forgiven for the smallest of their sins where does that put us in relation to them and their fear? Has our fear of Allah left our hearts? I speak to myself first and foremost when I say that we need to check our intentions, be careful of our actions, and lastly and most importantly ensure we are not following the footsteps of Shaytaan, rather we should follow the footsteps of the Prophet SAW.

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