Shaytān and nafs are the arch-enemies of mankind. In spite of this, the majority of people are found to be unmindful of these dangerous enemies and remain unaware of the level of harm they are capable of inflicting. Their deception is very cunning, often going unnoticed by the individual; so much so that they will often not let the individual admit to the evil that is within him. Furthermore, the deception of Shaytān and the nafs can many a time lead to one seeing more good in himself than evil, which may be in stark contrast to the reality.
How Shaytān deceives people
Shaytān uses various methods to deceive people and deviate them from the Straight Path. Shaytān, initially, tries very hard to keep people away from the Obedience of Allāh ta'ālā. He creates obstacles for people in their compulsory devotions like Salāh, Hajj, etc. and diverts them towards sinful acts, like the consumption of drugs or alcohol, engaging in adultery, theft, etc.
However, when people remain steadfast and refrain from disobeying Allāh ta'ālā, Shaytān finds it difficult to entice them in this way; therefore, he resorts to another method which is even more cunning. The individual now may not be committing the obvious and notorious sins such as those mentioned above but is led to indulge in less obvious ones which are even more harmful. For example, as a person proceeds towards the masjid for salāh with jamā'ah, he may indulge in numerous sins on his way, such as casting lustful glances, backbiting or slandering with friends, riyā (ostentation), pride and talking of worldly affairs even after having entered the masjid. However, after performing the salāh, his mind will only go towards the good deed he has performed, and he will not realise that he has committed many misdeeds; thus, Shaytān will leave such a person to acknowledge only the good deed, upon which he will feel pleased and think that he has accomplished a great task.
Now such a person regards himself to be completely religious, despite the presence of sins in his life. And due to his lack of knowledge in this matter he will not repent, so the sins remaining in his life will outweigh his good deeds on the Day of Qiyāmah. He will also continue to fulfil only those religious obligations that he is aware of, which may amount to only a fraction of the whole Dīn.
The Whole Dīn
Allāh ta'ālā instructs us in the Glorious Qur'ān to follow the Dīn in its entirety:
O you who believe, enter into Islām fully. (2:208)
In order for us to fulfil this Command of Allāh ta'ālā, we must be aware that first and foremost, sound belief is necessary. Beliefs ('Aqā'id) are the foundation upon which one's salvation is dependant. If there is deficiency in this, all good deeds will lose their value. It is like a fake passport, which despite displaying a genuine visa, will be of no use for immigration purposes.
After 'Aqā'id, adherence to the following four branches of the Dīn is necessary:
1. 'Ibādāt (devotions) – This branch encompasses all acts of worship such as Salāh, Zakāh, Hajj and Sawm.
2. Mu'āmalāt (mutual dealings and transactions) – This branch is one of the most neglected aspects of Dīn. How many people are aware of the rules and injunctions regarding renting, borrowing, buying and selling? We may be fully aware of the various sunnah and fard acts of wudū, yet unaware of the basic rules pertaining to buying a house or selling a car? Many conditions invalidate these acts, yet people are unaware of them.
3. Mu'āsharah (social conduct) – This category involves abstaining from all acts and behaviour which may inconvenience others. How many of us are aware that causing inconvenience to someone is not permissible? Just as learning and practising the rules and injunctions of salāh is compulsory, to learn how to behave with people is also compulsory. One should not cause the least bit of inconvenience to others.
4. Akhlāq (good character) – This aspect encourages praiseworthy traits of the heart within every individual. Like the previous branches, this branch also has its obligatory acts that must be fulfilled and prohibited acts that must be avoided. Humbleness, for example, will fall under the first category, whilst pride and arrogance will fall under the prohibitions.
How much of Dīn is being followed?
If we honestly reflect, we will realise that the latter three branches of the Sharī'ah listed above are absent in our lives, which means that we are not following a large part of the Dīn, leaving us with just 'ibādah. With regards to 'ibādah, if it is closely examined, it will be discovered that even in this branch, which people, by and large, claim to be implementing, there are countless shortcomings and deficiencies. Numerous examples can be cited concerning the incorrect practices carried out by people in this regard. For example, how many of us are aware of the rules of Udhiyah (Qurbānī)? Ninety percent of the Muslims will not know when it is incumbent. Many have the misconception that it is wājib per household, so for example a family of five members, upon each of whom Udhiyah was incumbent, will have for a number of years been performing only one Udhiyah between them. So, if we start delving into the branch of 'ibādah we might probably be left with nothing.
If we take stock of our lives, the majority of us will acknowledge our ignorance in matters of Dīn, yet we will overlook this and remain complacent. This is usually because we compare ourselves with other less practising Muslims, or because we have so much appreciation regarding the positive side of our lives, that we remain neglectful in realising the negative aspects. Similarly, we tend to turn a blind eye to our shortcomings and inner condition when praised by others. This is not dissimilar to the story of a man who owned an extremely defective horse. The numerous flaws within the horse led to the man wanting to sell it. When the man's agent began to advertise the horse in the market by enumerating whatever little good it had, the owner, standing nearby, became highly impressed and decided to keep the horse himself! Such is our condition. This is all due to Shaytān and nafs deceiving us.
Importance of Seeking Knowledge
Let us fulfil the Command of Allāh ta'ālā and follow the Dīn in its totality. In order to do this, we will have to acquire knowledge by reading books written by learned god-fearing 'Ulamā and sitting in their company. Baheshtī Zewar (Heavenly Ornaments) by Hadrat Mawlānā Ashraf 'Alī Thānwī rahimahullāh, Ma'ārif-ul-Hadīth (Meaning and Messages of the Hadīth) by Hadrat Mawlānā Manzūr Nu'mānī rahimahullāh, Ma'ārif-ul-Qur'ān by Muftī Muhammad Shafī' 'Uthmānī rahimahullāh and Islāhī Khutubāt (Discourses on Islamic Way of Life) by Muftī Muhammad Taqi Usmani dāmat barakātuhum, are good examples.
It is also necessary to keep in touch with the 'Ulamā for guidance regarding one's daily matters. It is equally important to allocate time solely for the purpose of sitting in the company of pious 'Ulamā, through which one will find his mind directed towards issues that otherwise would have been overlooked. It should be kept in mind that in order to live our lives in accordance with the Qur'ān and Sunnah, it is imperative to seek the knowledge from those who have devoted their lives in learning and teaching the Qur'ān and Ahādīth.
Sayyidunā Luqmān 'alayhis salām once instructed his son:
Hold fast to the gatherings of the 'Ulamā. (At-Tabarānī)
When one will sincerely adopt the company of the 'Ulamā, Allāh ta'ālā will indeed honour the seeker with religious knowledge. He will inspire the 'Ulamā to say things which meet the needs of the listeners, provided their attendance is genuine and sincere. Many a time, the 'Ulamā are approached by people who tell them that they had spoken on the very subject that was of concern to them. Therefore, if the company of the 'Ulamā is adopted with sincerity and a resolve to practise, time spent in their company will prove fruitful and Allāh ta'ālā will show one the light through which one will be safeguarded from the deception of Shaytān and the nafs.
Let us resolve to follow the whole Dīn of Allāh ta'ālā and exert every effort in combatting Shaytān and the nafs. Inshā'allāh, if this is done, then very soon we will find ourselves following the whole Dīn with ease.
May Allāh ta'ālā grant us to tawfīq to follow His Dīn in its totality. Āmīn.
Riyadul Jannah Vol 27 issue 7