It is not possible to encompass one of Iblees’ evils, let alone all of them. Since Iblees’ evil is of six types, Iblees remains behind the son of Adam until he gets him to do one or more of these six evils.
The first evil is the evil of kufr and shirk and enmity to Allah and His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). If he gains this from the son of Adam, his moaning is eased, and he rests from his ordeal with this man. Further, this is the first thing Iblees wants from the worshipper (al-‘Abd). If Iblees gains this, he makes this person part of his army, one of his soldiers, and he appoints him as a deputy or agent against other human beings. Then, this person becomes one of the deputies or callers of Iblees.
If he despairs of enticing him with the first evil, and if this person is one of those for whom it was written that he would be a Muslim in his mother’s womb, Iblees tries the second class of evil.
This is bid’ah (innovation). Iblees loves Bid’ah more than debauchery and disobedience because the harm of Bid’ah is in the essence of the religion. Moreover, it is an unrepentable sin and is against the call of the messengers and is a call to a message different from the one conveyed by Ar-Rasool. Bid’ah is a gate to Kufr and Shirk. Therefore, if Iblees gains the performance of Bid’ah from a person and makes him one of the people of Bid’ah, he also becomes one of his agents and a caller of his.
If Iblees fails and is unable to trap Al-‘Abd at this class, and if he is one of those who were granted by Allah the gift of As-Sunnah and hatred of the people of Bid’ah and error, he proceeds to the third class of evil, which is the class of major sins in their various forms.
Iblees is very covetous of letting a person fall into major sin, especially if he is a scholar who is followed. Iblees is covetous of that, so that he may repel people from him and spread his sins and disobedience amongst the people. He uses some people as his agents to spread this person’s sins under the false pretence that this will help them to get closer to Allaah. But in fact this person is the deputy of Iblees without knowing it. For those who would like abomination to be spread amongst the believers there is a great torment in this life and in the Hereafter especially if they take charge of spreading about enormities, not out of advice, but by obeying Iblees and being his agent. All this is to repel people from the Scholar and from his benefit.
Furthermore, the sins of this person (scholar), even if they reach the sky, are less to Allah than the sins of those who would like to spread his sins about. The scholar’s sins are wrongdoing to himself. If he seeks forgiveness from Allah and repents, Allah will accept his repentance, and He will change his bad deeds to good deeds. However, the sin of those who spread about abominations are doing wrong to the believers by looking for their mistakes and by intending to expose them. Allah is in close observation, and He knows about this ambuscade. Nothing hidden in the chest or soul is hidden to Allah.
If Iblees is unable to snare Al-‘Abd at this degree he moves him to the fourth class, or the minor sins. These sins may ruin a person if they accumulate. That is why Ar-Rasool (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, Be aware of the minor sins, because the simile of the minor sin is like the people who went to a desert. Then he (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) mentioned a Hadeeth the meaning of which is that every one of them brought a stick of wood until they had kindled a huge fire (just as the minor sins add up little by little until they become a major sin). The person continues taking the matter of minor sins easily until he considers them inconsequential. Therefore, a person who commits major sins but fears their effect is in a better condition than he is.
If the Al-‘Abd has prevented Iblees from trapping him at this level, he moves him to the fifth level. The fifth level is to occupy him with permissible things that do not gain him reward or punishment. However, the punishment of this level is caused by passing the reward missed by being occupied with these deeds.
If Al-‘Abd has kept Iblees from succeeding at this level, and if he is careful about his time, being covetous with it, knows the value of moments, and knows the value of what comes of comfort or torment, Iblees transfers him to the sixth level. The sixth class is to occupy him with deeds of lesser reward to keep virtue away from him and to prevent him from attaining the reward of the favoured deed.
Therefore, he orders him to do a good action with less reward if that includes leaving a better action. Very few people are aware of this. Because if a person feels a strong urge to some kind of obedience, he does not doubt that it is true obedience and that he is getting closer to Allah. He never thinks that this call is from Iblees because he believes that Iblees never calls one to do good. Therefore, he thinks that this call is from Allah.. Actually he is excused because he never knew that Iblees would call one to seventy doors of good deeds either to get him to one door of evil or to let a better deed than these seventy deeds pass away from him.
This cannot be known except by a light from Allah, a light he instils in the heart of Al-‘Abd. The source of this type of knowledge is following the way of Ar-Rasool (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and taking care of the levels of deeds with Allah, the deeds of His favoured ones, the deeds more pleasing to Him, and those more beneficial to Al-‘Abd, and deeds that have more Naseehah (guidance) from Allah, His Rasool, His Book, and His believing worshippers. No one has this type of knowledge except the inheritors of Ar-Rasool (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), his deputies in the Ummah, and his successors on earth. In addition, most of the creation is screened from this. This call does not come to their hearts. Allah gives His favour to whomever He wills from among His worshippers.
If Al-‘Abd prevents Iblees from trapping him at any of these six levels, and if it becomes difficult for Iblees, he empowers his party of jinn and human beings with different kinds of harm, imputing disbelief to him, calling him midguided and an innovator, warning people against him, and intending to weaken him and to disturb his heart. Iblees, by using this method, tries to confuse this person’s thinking and tries to prevent people from benefiting from him.
Therefore Iblees expends his utmost effort to empower the defenders of falsehood, from human beings and from jinn, against him. Then the believer is at war until death. Whenever he gives up, he is hurt or is taken captive. Hence the believer is in Jihad until he meets with Allah.
Finally, I hope you take note of this chapter and think about its great benefit. Moreover, make this knowledge your balance to weigh people and deeds. This shows you some universal realities and the level of people. Allah is the one from whom I seek aid, and on Him I depend.
Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim