The Final Sermon: Death and the Devil

The words of our beloved Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) are full of rich lessons. Among them is his address during the farewell Hajj. This is the eleventh in a series of articles on The Prophet’s Last Sermon, Lessons for Humanity.

“Deliberate murder is subject to retaliation in kind. Accidental death from a deliberate injury means a death resulting from a stick or a rock, for which the indemnity is one hundred camels: whoever asks for more is a person of the Era of Ignorance.”

This reminds us of course that without law there is societal chaos and that murder destroys societies. The redress for murder and the like has to be the law. The believer holds themselves to the law and this is of the frequent emphasis of our beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). Hear and obey, even if someone dislikable to you is in power over you.

However, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did say, “There is no obedience to creation in disobedience to the Creator.”

Of course, you cannot just deem some law being disobedience to the Creator. You must find out from the scholars whether this is a law that is wrong or not. You cannot take the law into your own hands.

The Devil and His Motives

“O people: the Devil has despaired of ever being worshipped in this land of yours. However, he is content to be obeyed in other works of yours—which you deem to be of little importance.”

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) warned about the Devil and his motives. C.S. Lewis comments that one of the greatest tricks of the Devil in our times is that he has convinced people that he does not exist.

Some scholars commented that Satan has such a clear sense of purpose and it is such a vile purpose, but he is been dedicated from time immemorial to that one purpose. Then how should a believer be whose purpose is noble, meaningful, and of great consequence? 

Satan has one purpose. Allah says:


“And lead all of them foul” [Quran, 15:39; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

His purpose is to misguide. Completely if he can. Immediately if he can partially, or gradually. Either by leaving the good completely, or leaving it gradually or by excess, by overdoing the good so you cannot maintain it and then you gradually leave it. 

If he cannot get you to leave the good or overdo it, he will work on your motivations within the good by making you be insincere, proud, conceited, or ascribe the good to yourself. 

He is always there. That is why we always must return to Allah and guard ourselves.

The Truth Is Clear

The believers will not leave the faith directly nor directly worship other than Allah because the truth is so clear that nobody who knows the truth could just on their own if they considered any other faith, just intellectually, they would not follow that.

Satan works on your heart and its state. He works on your desires, he works on your whims, and he works on your emotions to take you away from the sound judgment of the mind. It is important when seeking to attain mindfulness to understand the tricks of the Devil. 

After just trying to get you to turn away or be excessive, the Devil works on you subtly on things that you do not think much about, typically. This can be through lack of sincerity, he makes you do things heedlessly, so you do not do them with sincerity or it could be by actually showing off.

He may also work on your pride and arrogance that by doing the good you think yourself better than others. You hold it to yourself or you act in that manner. That is destruction.

Furthermore, you could just become conceited. Conceit, if intensified, causes contempt for others.

Guard Yourself

If you guard yourself from insincerity, pride, arrogance, conceit and contempt, then you can fall into Satan’s trap of ascribing the good to yourself. Sayyid Muhammad al-Alawi al-Maliki, the great sage of the Hijaz, used to say that the destructive words are four: I, we, according to me, and mine. Say: I believe in Allah, then be upright.

If you manage not to ascribe the good to yourself, Satan tries to get you to have ingratitude. You have all these blessings, but you are not grateful for them. Or he will cultivate doubts, or he will cultivate ill opinion of Allah such as someone thinking, “Why did Allah do this to me?” Or he will cultivate ill opinion of Allah’s servants such as your spouse, children, parents, friends, teachers, the people you work with etc. 

It is very important to know the science of the health of the heart.