In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we began our journey into Surat Al-A’raf looking for productivity lessons. In Parts 3, 4, and 5, we began the story of Adam and Iblees. We now continue with Part 6 to get more productivity lessons.
The last couple of lessons from Surat Al-A’raf were an “iman rush”. They motivated us to focus on Allah by aiming high, strengthening our determination and working towards rising in Allah ’s Sight.
Now is a suitable time to acquaint ourselves with the force that is extremely determined and focused on not letting us achieve our goal of Allah ’s pleasure.
In fact, this force never gets tired or loses its focus on us. Allah warns us about him, shaytan, and says:
“Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy. [Qur’an: Chapter 6: Verse 142]
Prophet Muhammad said, “For indeed the shaytan flows through one of you as the blood flows.” [The companions] said: “And you?” He said: “And me, but Allah helped me over him, so I am safe.” [Tirmidhi]
Iblees has declared a war against us. He said,
“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].” [Qur’an: Chapter 7: Verse 17]
It is no doubt that this is a war we are fighting daily. It is imperative that we win the war, because the result of losing is an eternal home in the hell fire with Iblees being our companion. Of course, that is something none of us wants!
Sun Tzu, author of the ancient and influential Chinese book on military strategy, says, “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”
In the previous articles, we had started introspecting and working on ourselves to become more like the people who Allah loves. We also looked into Iblees’s character.
Military strategists always want to know how the enemy is planning to attack. This helps them in preparing their counter attack in a better manner.
Allah , in His infinite mercy, has told us Iblees’s plan of action and has also shown us what we need to do to combat him and win. This shows us that we have Allah on our side, alhamdulillah. Allah is ready to help us when we need. On the other hand, Iblees is alone in his war against us. So, from the beginning, we stand to win this. If we lose, it’s because we messed up.
Are you ready to look into Iblees’s plan and Allah ’s awesome counter-plan?
16. Build your fortress. Protect the treasure
What is the first thing to do when you hear of an upcoming attack?
Secure the perimeter and appoint guards at the most vulnerable and precious places.
So, what is the most precious and vulnerable place that we have?
It is the heart.
Prophet Muhammad said, “Verily, there is a piece of flesh in the body, if it is healthy, the whole body is healthy, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. Verily, it is the heart.” [Riyad-Us-Saliheen]
If our heart falls prey to Iblees, then we have lost our advantage in this war.
Let’s look at a few ways we can strengthen the perimeter around our heart:
1. The waking-up routine
Untie the knots that Iblees ties.Prophet Muhammad said, “When any one of you goes to sleep, the devil ties three knots at the back of his neck, sealing every knot with: ‘You have a long night, so sleep’ So if one awakes and mentions Allah , a knot will be loosened. If he performs ablution, two knots are loosened; If he prays, [all] knots will be loosened, and in the morning he will be active and in good spirits. Otherwise, we will be in bad spirits and sluggish in the morning. [Muslim]
2. The morning and evening duas
This is the first line of defense that is laid right at the beginning of the day. The stronger it is laid, the weaker the attack of Iblees.
Ibn al-Qayyim said: “The morning and evening adhkar play the role of a shield; the thicker it is, the more its owner will not be affected. Rather, its strength can reach to such an extent that the arrow shot at it will bounce back to effect the one who shot it.”
And Sheikh Uthaymeen said: “The morning and evening adhkar are a stronger fortress than the wall of Yajooj and Majooj, for the one who says it while his heart is present.
3. The daily duas
These are said before eating, entering the washroom, sleeping, the general habit of saying ‘Bismillah’ before beginning any task, the duas after each obligatory salah, the duas before sleeping…all of this further strengthen the defense that we prepare.
Ibn Salah said: “Whoever maintains the morning and evening adhkar, the adhkar after the prayers, and the adhkar before sleeping will be written among those who remember Allah much’.”
4. The habit of being grateful
If we are not able to see and thank Allah for the immense blessings that Allah has showered upon us, then we are leaving a door open for Iblees to come and attack us. It is as if we are literally inviting him to come and live in our hearts, just like he told Allah he would.
The Qur’an says, “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].” [Qur’an: Chapter 7: Verse 17]
Gratefulness increases the productivity of a person and also his general well-being. Get into the habit of thanking Allah daily for all that has been blessed to you.
17. Be mindful of Allah’s clear commands
Another door that lets Iblees break our defense is the door of doubt. When we are not sure of what is right or wrong and we’re in the grey area, Iblees sneaks in quietly. Keep that door shut and sealed with the Qur’an and sunnah. They include crystal clear guidelines about what to do and what not to do.
For example, didn’t Allah tell Adam ,
“but do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.” [Qur’an: Chapter 7: Verse: 9]
“This” is a CLEAR command.
Access to these commands can be found in the Qur’an and sunnah. Therefore, it is time to get back to the books, get the information we need and use it to strengthen our defense against Iblees.
Every time Iblees sneaks in and tries to tempt us by saying things like
“Indeed, I am to you from among the sincere advisers.” [Qur’an: Chapter 7: Verse: 21]
But we are smarter, are we not? Alhamdulillah that Allah informed us about his plan. We are prepared for his tricks.
18. Run to Allah when you fall
With all the intelligence Allah ingrained in us, we are still human who make mistakes. In spite of all the clear commands we are given, we still make the wrong choices. Adam did it too.
But do you know what the best part is?
Prophet Muhammad said,
“Were you not to commit sins, Allah would create people who would commit sins and ask for forgiveness and He would forgive them”. [Muslim]
So, it is alright to make mistakes. What is not acceptable is to do what Iblees did after committing a sin. He was arrogant and blamed Allah for his mistakes.
We should follow the legacy of our father and mother, Adam [alayhis] and Hawa [alayhas]. They taught us what to do when we sin.
“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.” [Qur’an: Chapter 7: Verse 23]
And it just gets better!
Did you know that Allah loves those who repent?
“Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2: Verse 222]
Truly, what more could we ever want? We have the Most Merciful, Loving and Forgiving Lord, alhamdulillah.
We are truly blessed to be the nation of the Messenger of Allah . Alhamdulillah!
Ibn katheer said, “Wear the ‘coat’ of adhkar so it can protect you from the evils of humans and jinn. And cover your souls with istighfar so it can erase the sins of the night and day.”
And on this happy note, I take your leave to meet next time with more gems from the Qur’an and sunnah. Feel free to comment below and share your thoughts on the defense mechanisms against shaytan that we mentioned above.