The Moral Values of The Qur'an
(09 - 12)
9. The Never-Ending Attempts of Satan
When Allah created Adam and commanded the angels to prostrate themselves before him, they all prostrated themselves except Satan, who thenceforward was cursed. Satan’s response was to ask Allah for a reprieve till the Day of Resurrection. This was so that he would have the opportunity to make people transgress. Once reprieved by Allah, he committed himself to a course of action intended to derail mankind:
“He said: ‘Because You have sent me astray, surely I will lie in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path. 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’” (Surat al-A‘raf, 7:16-17)
“ ’I will mislead them, and I will create in them false desires; I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and to change the nature created by Allah.’ Whoever, forsaking Allah, takes satan for a friend, hath of a surety suffered a loss that is manifest.” (Surat an-Nisa, 4:119)
One who is unaware of the menace of Satan, cannot protect himself against him and can easily be deceived by him. Therefore, believers should be fully alert to Satan, as is commanded in the Qur’an:
“Verily Satan is an enemy to you: so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his adherents, that they may become Companions of the Blazing Fire.” (Surah Fatir, 35:6)
Those who should be the most cautious about Satan are the believers, because it is they who are Satan’s actual targets. There is no need for him to try to make the unbelievers transgress; because they have already turned out to belong to his own army. He, therefore, strives to the utmost to weaken the believers so as to prevent them from serving Allah. That is why believers are particularly warned against Satan:
“O you who believe! Follow not Satan’s footsteps: if any will follow the footsteps of Satan, he will (but) command what is shameful and wrong: and were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah on you, not one of you would ever have been pure: but Allah doth purify whom He pleases: and Allah is One Who hears and knows (all things).” (Surat an-Nur, 24:21)
As Allah says in the Qur’an, true believers will not be affected by the activities of Satan. But those who are weak and heedless may be easily influenced by his delusions. Never should we forget that Satan is ceaselessly striving to promote evil. Believers should always be on their guard and keep Allah in mind at all times.
10. The Soul is Prone to Evil
Another enemy that we should guard against is within ourselves. Allah has inspired in people both good and evil. The evil inspiration in us always works for Satan. The Qur’an explains the two sides of our souls:
“By the soul and Him Who perfected it in proportion and inspired it to understand what is right and wrong for it. Truly he succeeds that purifies it. And he fails that corrupts it!” (Surat ash-Shams, 91:7-10)
People should be aware of this evil in themselves and always be on guard against the danger. Denying this evil side of our souls will not help us to escape from it, and we should try to purify it as is laid down in the Qur’an.
Believers should never, therefore, claim that they are entirely pure, but be wary of the vain provocation of their souls. The admission of Yusuf (Joseph): ‘“Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord bestows His Mercy: but, surely, my Lord is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful,”’ (Surah Yusuf, 12:53) should always be borne in mind as a good example of the appropriate attitude.
People should carefully watch out for the foibles of the soul and do good and practice self-restraint, as in another verse it is averred that “men’s souls are swayed by greed.” (Surat an-Nisa, 4:128) What that greed may lead men to, is also stated in the Qur’an. It was the soul of one of Adam’s sons that prompted him to murder his brother: “The (selfish) soul of the other led him to the murder of his brother: he murdered him, and became (himself) one of the lost ones.” (Surat al-Ma’ida, 5:30). It is the same propensity to evil that made Samiri lead Moses’ people astray in his absence. Samiri says “...thus did my soul suggest to me.” (Surah Ta-Ha, 20:96)
The only way to attain salvation is by curbing the evil of the soul:
“Those saved from the covetousness of their own souls, they are the ones that achieve prosperity.” (Surat al-Hashr, 59:9)
“And as for him who fears to stand in the presence of his Lord and forbids the soul from low desires, the Garden will be his home.” (Surat an-Nazi’at, 79:40-41)
The struggle with one's soul is the biggest struggle for a believer. The believer has to check upon himself to decide which of his emotions and wishes are acceptable and which are evil. He has to stand against the evil instigations of his soul such as selfishness, jealousy, arrogance and greed.
Our souls shall cause us to entertain vain desires and passions. They whisper to us that we will be satisfied when we gain more money, and to have a higher status. However, these pleasures never satisfy the believer in any real sense. The more money we have, the more we will want to have. In many ways, our souls will lead us to act just like insatiable wild animals.
Our souls can only be satisfied if we devote ourselves to Allah, and not to our own shallow desires. We are created to be the servants of Allah: “...for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.” (Surat ar-R’ad, 13:28). Nothing else can give peace and satisfaction.
That is why only true believers have completely satisfied souls, because they keep themselves away from evil, guard against the depravity of their souls and dedicate themselves to Allah.
“To the righteous soul the Almighty will say: 'O soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back to your Lord, well pleased (yourself), and well-pleasing unto Him! Enter you, then, among My devotees! Enter you my Heaven!' " (Surat al-Fajr, 89:27-30)
11. Being Chosen by Allah
If we cannot determine our physical appearance, neither can we determine our destiny. It is only Allah Who determines the birth of a man, his community, his family and the experience he will have throughout his life. It is again Allah Who inspires in us wisdom and good sense.
Even our faith in Allah does not depend on our own characteristics. Again it is Allah, the One and Only, Who grants us faith. He is the One Who guides, teaches and trains. As Musa (Moses) said in reply to a question put by Pharaoh:
“Our Lord is He that gave to each thing its form and nature and further, gave guidance.” (Surah Ta-Ha, 20:50)
Therefore, believers are the ones who have been singled out for Allah’s favour:
“Your Lord creates and chooses as He pleases: no choice have they (in the matter)” (Surat al-Qasas, 28:68)
Those who go to hell are the people who fully deserve it, because they have rebelled against Allah Who created them and in feeling the wrath of Allah, they receive their just deserts. As for those who are admitted to paradise, Allah grants them His blessings and forgives their sins.
The believers must understand how wonderful it is to have been chosen by Allah, and must be grateful and praise Allah with all their hearts for what He has given them in His munificence. They should appreciate that they have been chosen from among millions of people and that they are the few blessed servants of Allah to be selected and set apart from a community whose members face perdition. The entire conduct of the believers should reflect the honour of this great privilege. Allah describes those who face perdition thus:
“By (the Token of) Time. Verily man is in loss. Except those who have faith and do righteous deeds, and recommend one another to truth, and recommend one another to patience” (Surat al-‘Asr, 103:1-3)
Is there a higher honour than that of being rescued and exalted above all others by the Lord of the Universe?
In one verse, the importance of prayer is stated thus:
“Say: My Lord would not care for you were it not for your prayer“ (Surat al-Furqan, 25:77)
Prayer is the way to call on Allah; indeed, it is one of the most important characteristics that distinguish a believer from an unbeliever. Prayer is a significant indicator of one's faith in Allah.
Most of the people may think that there is no divine control on the universe and everything is interacting independently. However, what they do not know is that every soul in the heavens and on the earth has already submitted to Him; there is no creature whose destiny is not determined by Allah and who is not obedient to Him. When He decrees a thing, He only says, “Be,” and it is (Surat al-Baqara, 2:117).
The unbelievers do not understand this substantial fact and spend their whole life by trying to affect this universe made up of imaginary matters. The believers, on the other hand, learn this great mystery of the universe from the Qur’an. They are aware that the only way to obtain the things they want is to ask them from the One Who controls them. They know that Allah is the Creator and Director of all things:
“When My servants ask you concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on Me: Let them also listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may be led aright.” (Surat al-Baqara, 2:186)
However, it should also be understood that Allah's answering to prayers is not necessarily gibing all that is wanted from Him. For man is ignorant and he “prays for evil as he prays for good; for man is ever hasty.” (Surat al-Isra, 17:11) So Allah answers to all our prayers, but sometimes gives what is wanted, and sometimes not, since it is in truth, "evil". The way we should pray is also defined in the Qur’an: with humility and in private, in all sincerity, having hope but also fear of Allah in our hearts, and with strong concentration:
“Call on your Lord with humility and in private: ...., call on Him in fear and hope: for the Mercy of Allah is always near to those who do good.” (Surat al-A‘raf, 7:55-56)
In another verse it is said that “the most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on Him by them” (Surat al-A‘raf, 7:180)
Our prayers are actually a matter of confessing our weakness while showing our gratitude towards Allah. Abstaining from prayer shows arrogance andrebellion against Allah. Allah states in His book:
"Call on Me; I will answer your prayer: but those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell - in humiliation!”(Surat al-Ghafir, 40:60)
Calling on Allah is both a prayer and also a great blessing. This very simple act of making a request is the key to attaining all physical and spiritual objectives.