Satan Strives to Lead You Astray *
By Harun Yahya
Muslim Thinker — Turkey
Satan will employ different methods for different people, and will target people’s weaknesses in order to lead them astray. Throughout history, Satan has approached each person with a different tactic. He ensures that a person who is already distant from religion distances himself still further by making the life of this world seem alluring to him. He makes him forget about the Day of Judgment and thus manages to keep him far from the true religion all through his life.
All the while, Satan does not neglect to approach the believers. In order to hinder believers from worshiping Allah sincerely, he strives to stop them from engaging in deeds done to earn Allah’s consent. He endeavors to weaken their values. He tempts believers into succumbing to arrogance, selfishness, forgetfulness, carelessness, conceit, and irascibility, disguising the true nature of their evil.
In order to distract them, Satan preoccupy people with long-term plans and aspirations to keep their minds busy. He strives to prevent them from keeping their minds occupied with the remembrance of Allah. For this purpose, he makes people immerse themselves in everyday problems or inspires them with excuses to justify their negligence in remembering Allah.
Believers who are submissive to Allah, who remember Him night and day, who are aware that everything takes place under His control, and who sincerely turn toward the Lord, are less susceptible to the influence of Satan. As the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also said, “When a group of people assemble for the remembrance of Allah, (Allah’s) mercy envelops them, and tranquility descends upon them.’’ Satan especially strives to make people neglect remembrance of Allah. Indeed, he has a particular influence over those who do not fear Allah:
[Satan has gained mastery over them and made them forget the remembrance of Allah. Such people are the party of Satan. No indeed! It is the party of Satan who are the losers.] (Al-Mujadilah 58:19)
Disbelievers are the people who have taken Satan as their friend and adopted his system. With such a mindset, adherence to Satan and the hatred and hostility they feel for one another become unavoidable. However, Satan also strives to stir up hatred among believers. In doing so, he aims to weaken the believers’ will and deter them from obeying Allah. Allah has warned His servants against this danger and shown them the ways to avoid it:
[Say to My servants that they should only say the best. Satan wants to stir up trouble between them. Satan is an outright enemy to man.] (Al-Israa’ 17:53)
Contrary to the common perception, Satan is not a being that appears now and then. He follows you wherever you go, or in whatever you do. He is resolved to this struggle so long as you live.
A person who forgets the existence of Satan is apt to misidentify his temptations. Therefore, he may be easily deceived into believing that these temptations are his own thoughts. He may simply fail to grasp that this cunning inner voice is the voice of Satan. However, true believers are granted the wisdom and insight to distinguish the voice of Satan from that of their conscience. Allah has informed them how to protect themselves from the whispers and provocations of Satan:
[If an evil impulse from Satan provokes you, seek refuge in Allah. He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. As for those who perform their duty, when they are bothered by visitors from Satan, they remember and immediately see clearly.] (Al-A`raf 7:200-201)
One of the most effective methods that Satan frequently resorts to in order to lead people astray is to make them “forget.” Satan’s main strategy, therefore, is to make people forget about their responsibilities to Allah. He strives to hinder good deeds by making us forget that Allah encompasses us from all around, that we are subject to fate, and that we will die and have to give an account of our actions in Allah’s presence.
Satan does not want people to be thankful to Allah. That is why he tries to make them forget that everything around us is a favor from Allah. By making the life of this world seem alluring, and making them forget the existence of the Hereafter, he strives to deceive people. He endeavors to make people forget that there is an absolute good in everything that happens, and especially in unexpected events. The reality of fate and the need to put one’s trust in Allah are other key factors he tries to make people forget.
In the Qur’an, Allah draws our attention several times to the fact that with his inculcations, Satan can affect a human’s mind and thus make him to forget:
[When you see people engrossed in mockery of Our Signs, turn from them until they start to talk of other things. And if Satan should ever cause you to forget, once you remember, do not stay sitting with the wrongdoers.] (Al-An`am 6:68)
[No one made me forget to remember it except Satan. It found its way into the sea in an amazing way.] (Al-Kahf 16:63)
[But Satan made him forget to remind his lord, and so he stayed in prison for several years.] (Yusuf 12:42)
Despite all these acts of Satan, he is a being entirely under Allah’s control and he has no power over true servants of Allah. After all, Allah created Satan and, willingly or not, he is subject to Him. He can perform his acts only with His permission. Unless Allah wills, he is incapable of doing any of them. No matter what Satan does, he can mislead only deniers. On the other hand, his actions against those with faith only help to reinforce their commitment:
[So that He can make what Satan insinuates a trial for those with sickness in their hearts and for those whose hearts are hard—the wrongdoers are entrenched in hostility—and so that those who have been given knowledge will know it is the truth from their Lord and have faith in it and their hearts will be humbled to Him. Allah guides those who have faith to a straight path.] (Al-Hajj 22:53-54)
Allah has revealed to us that Satan actually has no power. It is only the disbelievers whom he can capture under this influence. This is made clear in the Qur’an:
[Iblis was correct in his assessment of them and they followed him, except for a group of the believers. He had no authority over them except to enable Us to know those who believe in the hereafter from those who are in doubt about it. Your Lord is the Preserver of all things.] (Saba’ 34:20-21)
On the other hand, believers do not lend an ear to the temptations of Satan but immediately take refuge in Allah, as they are commanded in the Qur’an:
[If an evil urge from Satan eggs you on, seek refuge in Allah.] (Fussilat 41:36)
* Taken with kind permission from the author’s book Selected Articles I.
Harun Yahya was born in Ankara in 1956. He studied fine arts at Istanbul's Mimar Sinan University and philosophy at Istanbul University. Since the 1980s, he has published many books on political, faith-related, and scientific issues.
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