Miscellaneous Topics

The Battle with Iblis and his Soldiers

The Battle with Iblis and his Soldiers 1

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds, Who created man from clay, and prayers and peace be upon the leader of the pious and the most honorable of mankind, prophet Muhammad.

In one of his writings, Imam Ibnul-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, underlined that people should beware of Satan and his hosts, and highlighted some of his tricks. He said:
“Allah, the Exalted, decreed that Adam and his children will be tried by this Enemy who was empowered to delude them. Therefore Allah supplied humans with defenses to face him, so much as he provided the Enemy with military might to assault them. This struggle is nothing but an instance of actual warfare which extends throughout man’s entire life. The span of life on earth, in comparison to the eternal one, is equal to a single breath of air.
The Almighty has bought of the believers their souls and their wealth in return for paradise: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall kill and be killed. He affirmed that this is a promise binding on Him, a promise which He had made in His holiest of Books, the Torah, the Gospel and the Glorious Qur’an. Allah says that no one is more faithful to his covenant than He Himself, Exalted and Glorified be He.
Subsequently He conveys to those who have died in His way, to rejoice in the good deal they have concluded. The onlookers who might want to know the true value of this bargain can easily figure it out by knowing Who the Purchaser is and the price He will pay; it is Allah. Is there a better win? Is there a more prosperous trade than this one?
Allah reiterated this covenant again when He said, “O You who believe! Shall I guide you to a commerce that will save you from a painful torment. (10) That you believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad SAW), and that you strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives, that will be better for you, if you but know! (11) (If you do so) He will forgive you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow, and pleasant dwelling in Gardens of ‘Adn – Eternity [‘Adn (Edn) Paradise], that is indeed the great success.” [As-Saff 61: 10-12]
{يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا هَلْ أَدُلُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ تِجَارَةٍ تُنجِيكُم مِّنْ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ ﴿١٠﴾ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَتُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنفُسِكُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿١١﴾ يَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَيُدْخِلْكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ وَمَسَاكِنَ طَيِّبَةً فِي جَنَّاتِ عَدْنٍ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ} الصف: 10-12
Tranlsiteration:YaayyuhaallatheenaamanoohaladullukumAAalatijaratintunjeekum min AAathabinaleemin (10) TuminoonabiAllahiwarasoolihiwatujahidoona fee sabeeliAllahibiamwalikumwaanfusikumthalikumkhayrunlakum in kuntumtaAAlamoona (11) Yaghfirlakumthunoobakumwayudkhilkumjannatintajree min tahtihaalanharuwamasakinatayyibatan fee jannatiAAadninthalikaalfawzualAAatheemu
He kept back the Enemy of man from harming his believing slaves. It is true that the believers are the most beloved creatures to Him. On the other hand, jihad is the most beloved of all works to Himself. The people who accomplish it ascend to His highest grades and are to Him the most near.
Allah assigned the leadership of this spiritual jihad to the foremost and most distinguished place to Himself: the heart. The heart is the place which embraces the knowledge of Allah, love for Him, true servitude, absolute certainty and unconditional reliance on the Lord of all. The heart rightfully deserves to master this war. Thus, Allah supplies the heart with hosts of angels who will not refrain from directing it towards the guided way. Allah says,
“For each (person), there are angels in succession, before and behind him. They guard him by the Command of Allah.” [Ar-Ra’d 13:11]
{لَهُ مُعَقِّبَاتٌ مِّنْ بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ يَحْفَظُونَهُ مِن أَمْرِ اللهِ} الرعد: 11
Transliteration:LahumuAAaqqibatun min bayniyadayhiwaminkhalfihiyahfathoonahu min amriAllahi
These angels fortify his faith, protect him, direct him to do good, persuade him to do it, promise him of Allah’s reward and assist him in adhering to patience, repeating the words, ‘An hour’s patience equals everlasting relief.’
Following that, Allah sent further reinforcements to the heart which are the forces from the words revealed by Him. These verbal reinforcements were delivered through prophet Muhammad, prayers and peace of Allah be upon him, and embodied in the Quran. They intensified the hearts impregnability, amplified its readiness and ammunitions.
 The Battle with Iblis and his Soldiers 2
Allah Almighty dispatched the mind to endorse and strengthen the heart on its mission. It acts as the heart’s vizier and counselor, provides it with advice and assistance. A heart filled with certainty will have all truths revealed to it with the assistance of the mind. It would be as though one could see with his own eyes the promises which Allah has made to His party, His awliyaa’―the loved and protected of Allah―in the jihad they are implementing against His enemies.
In summation, the Mind administers the affairs of the army which battles against the forces of evil; Knowledge construes the reasons and circumstances underlying these wars; Faith renders the heart affirmation, strength and patience; Certainty causes it to make inroads and strive for sincere purposes.
The striver who conducts this war against the Enemy of man is equipped with all the explicit and implicit weapons he may need. His Eyes are his vanguards, his Ears are for counseling the experienced, his Tongue is his interpreter and his Limbs are his assistants. All that included, the angels and the angel carriers of the throne plea with Allah to forgive him, salvage him from evil and allow him entrance into Jannah. Not only this, Allah will undertake to protect that person Himself. Allah attributed these people to Himself calling them ‘Allah’s party’, and His party is truly the successful, “They are the Party of Allah. Verily, it is the Party of Allah that will be the successful.” [Al-Mujadelah 58:22]
{أُولَئِكَ حِزْبُ اللهِ أَلآ إِنَّ حِزْبَ اللهِ هُمُ المُفْلِحُونَ} سورة المجادلة: 22
He also named them His soldiers and His soldiers are truly the victorious.
Being the Lord of all, Allah was more than well acquainted with the nature of this jihad and therefore He summed it up for the believers in four steps, “O you who believe! Endure and be more patient (than your enemy), and guard your territory by stationing army units permanently at the places from where the enemy can attack you, and fear Allah, so that you may be successful.” [Aal-i-Imraan 3:200]
{يَا أَيُّهَا الّذِينَ آمَنُوا اصْبِرُوا وَصَابِرُوا وَرَابِطُوا واتَّقُوا اللهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ} آل عمران: 200
Jihad could not be executed unless these four requirements are fulfilled. A striver (mujahid) cannot be patient unless he exceeds his enemy in patience. This higher capacity for patience manifests itself in resistance and actual engagement with the enemies on the battlefield. If the enemy’s persistence is strong, the mujahid would have to resort to an alternative plan, it is ribaat, which normally means protecting the frontiers of one’s country from the enemies all day round. Ribaat in our case means guarding the frontiers of one’s Heart, Eyes, Ear, Tongue, Stomach and Limbs. Through these frontier lands the Enemy can creep into the innings of man and corrupt as much as achievable. Leaving a single boarder of these strongholds unguarded is a sufficient opportunity for Satan’s further advancement.
There are great lessons be learned from the companions of the prophet on guarding all the inlets to a place too. They are the best people after prophets and messengers, and the most well-guarded from the intrigues of Satan. They deserted the posts which the prophet had assigned to them during the battle of Uhud, and the enemy found a suitable opening to attack the Muslims. Subsequently the Muslims were defeated.
The three prescriptions which will attain the Muslim success over the enemy cannot be applied without taqwa of Allah. Patience, vying the enemy in patience and guarding the boarders are futile tactics without the observance of taqwa. Take a close look at the innings of yourself and how your armies versus Satan’s army meet inside of you. Watch how at times you overpower and other times you are overpowered.
The king of the infidels drew near dragging his army and soldiers behind. He attempted to capture the Heart, but found it well-fortified, seated on the throne of its kingdom, obeyed by its assistants and troopers. They gather in a circle round their chief, the Heart, fighting to protect it. The road to it is impenetrable, except by way of consorting with one of its commanders or troopers to overthrow it.
The Enemy inquired about the Heart’s most trusted soldier and discovered it was the Soul. He commanded his henchmen to descend on it, first by discovering its most desired thing, its deepest passion, its loved one. He commanded them to promise the Soul these longed for aspirations, raise its hopes for attaining them, inscribe the image of the loved one in its imagination during sleep and wakefulness. The Enemy said to them:
‘If the Soul yearns to and starts to rely on these passions, awaken and ignite its desire for them until they take total possession of it. At this point control the Soul through the leash of desire and drag it here to me with it.
When the Soul’s desires takes hold of the Heart and conspires with you against it, you can gradually seize the borderline strongholds of the Eyes, Ears, Tongue and Limbs in succession. When you invade them siege them. The instant you penetrate their lines to the Heart, it will by then be either lifeless, in captivity or seriously injured, so will not be able to offer any resistance.
Do not withdraw from these borderline ports. Do not allow a battalion to penetrate your heavy lines around the Heart and dislocate you. It they beat you, spare no effort to obstruct and weaken them so that they fail to reach the Heart; and if they ever reach it, they would be miserably enervated to do it any good.
Once you have captured these borderline ports, redirect the port of the Eye to use its glancing for casual watching and amusement, not for learning lessons. If the Eye, just once, takes a glance that wakens the conscience, immediately follow it up with inadvertent lustful and desiring looks to wipe out its effect. Such glances are more easily committed to memory and are more magnetic to the soul.
Keep a vigil eye on the borderline port of the Eye for it is your course to achieving your goals. I did not corrupt the son of Adam through a device better than looking. It is the seed which I use to sow desire into the heart, then I nourish it with the ‘water of hope’ to keep the heart preoccupied with it. I constantly promise it of achieving its desire. In time, desire will be the bridles with which the heart will be manipulated.
Be careful not to treat the borderline port of the Eye with inadvertence. Try your utmost to ruin it. Beautify the unlawful look to him saying, ‘It is only a look! Taking a look at this lead you to praise the creation of your Lord and contemplate His masterful making. This figure has not been fashioned except to be looked at and that Allah’s existence would be ascertained through watching it. Your eyes were not created for nothing; this figure was not created for nothing.’
After you have taken all the necessary preparations for securing the Eye port, turn to the borderline port of the Ear. Do not allow the entry of things which will spoil your plan. Admit falsities, for attention can be effortlessly drawn to them and the soul accepts them easily. Pick the sweetest words, dripping with honey, enchanting as magic, alloy them with the soul’s desire, throw the bait and if the Ear rises to it, feed it more. Supply more and more of all that which more rigorously excites the Ear.
Take the necessary precautions to block out the words of Allah, those of His messenger and sincere advisers. But if you fail to obstruct them, try to hinder the son of Adam from contemplating and understanding them, by either reversing the message they are meant to convey or by disfiguring them. Rouse in him a feeling that these words are seriously unbearable for the soul and place a heavy burden on it.
You can also make them visible as issues of minor significance compared to other things which should preoccupy people’s attention and win their liking. Let the human being be brainwashed into thinking that standing for the truth will make people desert him and, sometimes cause them to be hostile toward him. Let him accept the idea that he should do only what sits with people well.’
The enemies of man will spare no effort to sugarcoat falsehood to him and distort truth.
One can have a glimpse of how such a scheme is run, observed in real life. Ponder how the human siblings of the devils act toward good, how they present the ones who enjoin good and forbid evil as intrusive nitpickers who sow the seeds of sedition and cause peaceful people to suffer.
By and large, Satan’s orders to fortify the borderline port of the Ear are mainly meant to admit all that which causes harm, bar all that which brings benefit or ruin its positive effect if it ever succeeds in breaking through the city walls.
Man’s Enemy gives further instructions to his subordinates:
‘Keep a watchful eye on the borderline port of the Tongue, for it is man’s main stronghold. Furnish it with harmful discourse and hold back rewarding ones, such as the remembrance of Allah, asking Him for forgiveness, reciting the Qur’an, advising people and offering useful knowledge. Concentrate on obtaining two feats while guarding this port:
Firstly, make earnest attempts to make it an utterer of falsehood. The human who utters falsehood is truly a brother, serviceman and a principal assistant of yours.
Secondly, persist in your efforts in making it refrain from speaking the truth, because the one who suppresses the truth in himself is a mute brother of yours, as much as the previous plan makes him a vocal brother of yours. Probably, the second kind of brothers is of more use to you. Have you not heard this maxim said before: ‘The one who speaks mischief is a talking devil, and the one who abstains from saying the truth is a mute devil’?
The sons of Adam will take up positions to protect this port, which will lead them to speak the truth and refrain from falsehood. Contest this with your utmost effort and beautify in every way the speaking of falsehood. Further, cast in their hearts fear from speaking the truth. Know well that the port of the Tongue was the factor which helped me in annihilating the sons of Adam and turned them on their faces in hellfire. How many a murdered, captive and injured I have gained to myself by way of this port.
Here is a bequest I grant you so keep it to the letter. Let one of you plant an evil word on the tongue of a human being, then another one of you be prepared by the side of the hearer enticing him to applaud this word greatly and ask the first one to repeat it. Thus, you shall consort against human beings in every possible way, attack them from all directions and lie in wait for them in every corner. You must have heard me taking oaths to Allah and say,
“(Iblis) said: “Because You have sent me astray, surely I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path. (16) Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You).”” [Al-A’raaf 7:16-17]
{قَالَ فَبِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ ﴿١٦﴾ ثُمَّ لَآتِيَنَّهُم مِّن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَن شَمَائِلِهِمْ ۖ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ}الأعراف: 16- 17
Transliteration:QalafabimaaghwaytaneelaaqAAudannalahumsiratakaalmustaqeema (16) Thummalaatiyannahum min bayniaydeehimwaminkhalfihimwaAAanaymanihimwaAAanshamailihimwalatajiduaktharahumshakireena
See? I lurk in ambush for man in every place he may go; if I miss him here, I meet him there, until I finally get what I want from him, or part of it at least.
The prophet who was sent to them warned them of my methods. He said to them, “Satan waylaid the son of Adam in all his paths insinuating evil, and in the path of Islam. Then he said to him: ‘Would you turn to Islam and leave your religion and that of your forefathers?’ The Son of Adam failed Satan and turned to Islam.Then he waylaid in his road to hijrah saying, ‘Would you migrate and forsake your earth and sky?’ The son of Adam failed him and migrated.Then he waylaid him on his path to jihad saying, ‘Would you strive in Allah’s way and die so that your wealth is apportioned between inheritors and your wife be married?” [Reported by Ibn Habban, Authentic]
»إن الشيطان قعد لابن آدم بأطرقه ، فقعد له بطريق الإسلام فقال له: أتسلم وتذر دينك ودين آبائك وأباء أبيك؟ قال: فعصاه فأسلم، ثم قعد له بطريق الهجرة فقال: أتهاجر وتذر أرضك وسماءك وإنما مثل المهاجر كمثل الفرس في الطول، قال: فعصاه فهاجر، ثم قعد له بطريق الجهاد فقال: هو جهد النفس والمال فتقاتل فتنكح المرأة ويقسم المال…« رواه ابن حبان، صحيح
Therefore, waylay humans in all paths of good. If one of them goes in pursuit of giving charity, lie in ambush for him and insinuate to him saying, ‘Would you give charity and land up like this panhandler and be one and the same?’
Take an example from the reply which I have incited a person to give when a beggar asked him for money. He replied, ‘This is our money. We give it to you and then we become like you.’
Lie in wait for man on the road to hajj saying, ‘The road to hajj is dangerous and filled with hardships. The travelers of this road expose themselves to damage that could be done to one’s soul or body.’ Go, lie in all roads leading to good to set people against them and remind them of the trouble these roads incur.
Simultaneously, waylay humans on the road to sin; beautify sin in their eyes and endear it to their hearts. The best assistance you may get for achieving this will be through women. Let women be your starting point to luring men.
Continue your war on all the frontier strongholds alike. Closely stick to your posts at the frontier lands of the Limbs. Hold them back from doing anything which could spoil your schemes.
The best tactic which will enable you to preserve your posts at the frontiers is establishing good ties with the type of self which commands to evil acts. Offer to and seek assistance in it. Together with it launch a war on the self at peace. It is essential to break its will and dissolve its powers. The way to achieving this is by keeping it at a distance from its usual influences that incite it with good. By the time this task is performed, and when evil influences are drawn nearer to it, the soul at peace will yield to your commands. This instance will be the most opportune moment to swoop down with your onslaught. Spread! Go and drag the Heart out of its stronghold, dethrone it from its kingdom. Assign the Soul that is wont to command evil instead as monarch over the kingdom of the Heart. It will rule by your word and will not impose the laws you abhor. Your counseling will be welcome and never turned down.
If you detect the Heart’s yearning to regain possession of its kingdom you must implement a secure plan against it. Your best plan is to wed the Heart and the Soul―which you have vanquished earlier― to each other. Make the Soul appear so pretty, a most desired bride. Then entice the Heart to experience the overwhelming sweetness of closeness to the Soul. Allow it to enjoy the marriage to such a pretty bride after having tasted the bitterness of wars and the aches and pains of plots and strikes.
Make a comparison for the Heart between the joy of reconciliation and the bitterness of war. You will thus be driving it slyly to letting war lay down its burden. Educate the Heart about war; it is not just a day that passes on, it is a continuous occurrence which usually ends in death. Tell it that its powers will fail to conduct a war of unpredictable length.
O Sons! Seek help with two splendid soldiers who will secure your win. The first is inadvertence. Cause the hearts of men to be inadvertent toward Allah and the Last Day. This is the best method by which you can achieve your purpose. An oblivious heart is surely an easier prey.
The second soldier is desire. Overwhelm the Heart with desire, and make it seem charmingly beautiful to the Eye. Assault men with these two soldiers for they will settle your goals. Human’s following desires will bring about inadvertence, and likewise, their inadvertence will lead to following desires. This accomplished, start pairing the advertent ones together.
Now that there are more than one of the inadvertent, exploit them in defeating those who remember Allah, since one will not defeat five. If there are two inadvertent persons, and you count the two devils assigned to them as well, you will have four soldiers of evil side by side with the devil who accompanies the dhakir. This makes the soldiers of evil five against one person. After that, if you witness a gathering of men who are doing what causes your ill-being―like remembering Allah, reviewing His commands and prohibitions and studying His religion―and you fail to dismiss them, use their fellow human beings who are of evil disposition. Make the latter approach the dhakirs (who are in state of remembrance of Allah) and cast them into a state of confusion. Prepare well all the accomplices who will execute your plans and send them forth to their missions. Let the starting point be desire. Help every person to fulfill his heart’s desire and lust. Even though Allah ordered them to be patient with you being their enemies, to vie with you in patience and to protect their borderline ports against your assaults, I beseech you to do the same to them. You will sometimes encounter opportunities for more likeliness of success; they are the moments when desire and anger are at the helm. There are not better opportunities than these to entrap them.
You must know that among humans there are those whose desires can take hold of them, while anger could not; insinuate evil to them by stirring up their lusts; and there are others who lose all control when angry. For such, soldier on with offering them desire as well, because if they cannot control their temper, they are more likely to lose self-control when faced with desires. Conveniently, create situations where anger and desire are combined against them, that each one of them may trick humans to falling into the trap of the other.
You may know how productive these two weapons are when you know what I have done: I brought Adam and his wife out of paradise through desire and kindled the flames of animosity between their sons through rage. Rage severed their kinship ties and caused one of them to slay the other. Rage is a burning ember and desire is a fierce blazing fire in man’s heart. Let not that fire be put down; let not man do ablution, pray or remember his Lord.
Yes, never allow the son of Adam to perform ablution and prayer in his anger. They will extinguish all the flames of anger and lust. Their prophet instructed them to do this and said, “Anger is a burning ember in the heart of a son of Adam. Do you not see the red glow of his eyes and the swelling of the veins in his neck? Therefore, whoever senses something of this beginning should kneel to the floor” [Reported by At-Tirmidhi, Hassan (good)]
«…ألا وإن الغضب جمرة في قلب ابن آدم أما رأيتم إلى حمرة عينيه وانتفاخ أوداجه فمن أحس بشيء من ذلك فليلصق بالأرض…» رواه الترمذي وحسنه
Turn men’s attention from these instructions, dump them into a state of forgetfulness, and use the soldiers of rage and lust. Remember that your most efficient weapons in your war against them are inadvertence and the following of one’s desire. The fiercest weapons and strongest fortresses of man are remembrance of Allah and countering lust and unlawful desire. If you come to see a human who combats his whims, flee from his shadow and approach him not.’
Sins are weapons which the human willingly offers to his enemies. He enables them to sway him using arms that he has voluntarily offered them himself. This is such an intelligible thing to do. A poet once said:
Enemies defeat not the ignorant … Much as he defeats himself
The discourse of Ibnul-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, had ended here, and was presented after slight adaptation.
O Allah! Preserve us from the devils of humans and jinn, preserve us from the front and from behind and on our right and on our left and from above, and we take refuge with You lest we be swallowed up by the earth. May Allah send His peace and blessings upon prophet Muhammad, his household and companions.
From a book by Imam ibn Qayyim al-Jawzeyya