Satanic Tactics: Action and Decision 2

Walking the path to Allah is a type of war and its battlefield is the heart. To win, we must strengthen our army – our soul, and weaken the enemy – our lower-self and the devil. This is the eleventh in a series of articles on Satanic Tricks: Seven Tricks of the Devil.

Where the Devil could not get you to put off the action, delay it, or neither rush it, he will try to get one to become excessive. 

If you are going to give, he may whisper, “What is the point of just giving $50?” So you give $5,000 but then you cannot pay the bills that month. 

Or if he whispers, “What is the point in just praying four units of night prayer? Do twenty.” Then the next day you do not show up at work. You do not sustain it. You get overwhelmed. 

Excessiveness is against the Sunna. No one makes the religion excessive except that it will overwhelm them. It is Sunnah to do a lot, but to do a lot sustainably and meaningfully. 

You have to be on the guard for that. Remember, “What am I doing? What is its consequence? Why am I doing it?”

Our mother Aisha describes the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), if he did anything, he would make it a firm practice. So we seek sustainable actions. 

If someone decides to start learning and wants to commit to a weekly class. If Satan cannot do the other tricks, he may whisper, “What is the point of attending one class? Attend them all!”

It will cause you problems with your spouse, children, and work. Will you be able to sustain that into a second term? Will you be able to sustain that for more than a few weeks? Ultimately, he wants you to turn away. 

The straight path is a journey of life to Allah, tread it with consistency.

Showing off in Action

He could not get you to become excessive either so then Satan gets more subtle. You are doing good, you are giving charity, and you are performing your Sunnas. Satan will get you to show off, or to have insincerity.

You do not leave good deeds out of fear of insincerity. But, you have to be on guard from insincerity. It is only the sincere action that is accepted by Allah.

That is why we have to practice intent. What am I doing? Why am I doing it? That this is for Allah. How am I doing it? Make that part of your discipline in anything.  

It even creeps into worldly matters. For example, when everyone else in your project can’t take a lunch break you decide to get sandwiches for them. Then you think, “Everyone will notice that I am bringing sandwiches, let me get the better kind.” Be careful.

Make a good intention. Getting better sandwiches could be done with good intention, “I want to strengthen relations between us for the sake of Allah.” Feeding others is the best of deeds and it counts as charity. 

There are all these good intentions but beware of showing off in the good deed, whether the spiritual or worldly act.


It can happen in family. One may go to visit a sick person and then feel like sharing it on a group chat. One could do that to encourage others or one could do it to show off. The self wants recognition. 

You have to be on guard for wanting to be seen in the action or wanting to talk about it afterwards. If there is a good intention, there is no harm in mentioning it to encourage others to do good or to share benefits or out of gratitude to Allah. It all revolves around the intention. 

This is one of the dangers of people who get religious. If one is not careful, one may start talking about what one does, or one may do it so people can see you. A person may use to think that they were no good, they have shortcomings, they are weak etc. but then, after fixing that they may start to think highly of themselves.

It is spiritually destructive and it causes harm to others. If there is no clear benefit, it is better to do the good privately. If you do some good publicly, have at least some of the same kind of action that you do without people knowing. 

This is particularly important for anyone who has a position of prominence or leadership, whether in the community, society or whether they are involved in activism and the like. Have something of the good that you do just between you and Allah. 


Let us say you did not put off the action, you did not delay it, you did not rush it, you did not get excessive and you did not show off, Satan may get you to be conceited within.

You are not showing off to others, but you are impressed with yourself. The scholars ask the question, can you show off when you are alone? The answer is yes. 

There are several ways you can show off when alone. One is by planning to be able to impress others in public. For example, one could be praying in the middle of the night but be self-correcting so that when one prays in public, people will notice he prays well. That still counts as showing off because it was not for Allah. 

Conceit is when you are impressed with yourself. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) gave us the key to this, which is, Whoever finds any good, let them praise Allah. 

What is implicit is, let them ascribe it to Allah and praise Him for it. It is not from you. Did you create the inspiration? No. Everything that led you to make the choice, was all from Allah.

Recognize that whatever you did choose, Allah deserves better. 

Denying the Need for Action

Even if you guarded yourself from conceit, there is one more hurdle that Satan can give you. Some people may say, “If everything is from Allah, then what is the point of acting? I and what I do is from Allah if He wants me to do good, He will create the good.”

This is a type of spiritual delusion. It arises from ignorance of disconnecting from revelation. Allah, the Creator of all things, has commanded us and prohibited us. He has encouraged us to do the good and warned us against doing ill. 

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) told us that everything is from Allah, and his way is to strive. He (Allah bless him and give him peace) teaches us that whether we understand it clearly or we do not, Allah has created us with this subtle reality of choice. It is undeniable. We cannot deny the reality of our choice. It is the basis of our accountability.  

If one gets that kind of confusion, it is good to go back and review the fundamentals of what we believe. It is also very important to have the humility to consult. There could be a type of implicit arrogance that, “I can figure it out, I know.” No. Just as we go to the doctor, for medical issues, sometimes if we have spiritual challenges, we go to those who know.