Satanic Tactics: Human Service

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 fourth in a series of articles on Satanic Tricks: Seven Tricks of the Devil

You will find many different things if you read Quranic exegesis. The holes in history are sometimes (although not always) filled in from the biblical tradition. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Narrate from the Children of Israel without any harm.” 

There is no harm in doing so but there are criteria. Anything that is from those traditions that goes against our tradition or the Quran, we refuse it. Anything that does not go against our teachings, we do not deny completely, nor do we affirm completely. Allah knows best. 

Who Is Iblis?

“Iblis” in the Arabic dictionaries comes from the root letters ba, lam, sin. It is a fourth form which means to despair. Iblis is the one who is despondent of the mercy of Allah. He is distanced from Allah’s mercy. He’s cursed.  Allah says:

وَٱلَّذِینَ كَفَرُوا۟ بِـَٔایَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ وَلِقَاۤىِٕهِۦۤ أُو۟لَـٰۤىِٕكَ یَىِٕسُوا۟ مِن رَّحۡمَتِی 

“And those who deny the signs of Allah and meeting Him, those shall certainly despair of my mercy” [Quran, 29:23; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

It comes from the word ablasa. We see it again in the Quran and other places, with slightly different uses: 

فَإِذَا هُم مُّبۡلِسُونَ

“And lo, they were struck speechless with despair” [Quran 6:44; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld] 

One of the feelings that this word gives is of a person who is just silent out of complete sadness. Allah describes the disbelievers on the Day of Judgment like that. 

The term does not have a good connotation. It has the meaning of despair in it. Others have said that Iblis is a title ascribed to him because he’s despondent of the mercy of Allah. After all, he’s cursed, and his actual name is Azazil. This is most likely from the biblical tradition. They say that Azazil is a Syriac word. It is a very old Semitic language. 

“Il” in those old languages has its meaning. It is like two words together. Some of the commentators said Azazil in Arabic would be “Al-Harith,” but Allah knows best.

Why Is Iblis?

As for his role? Allah says:

إِنَّ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنَ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّۭ

“Verily the Devil is an implacable foe to you all, so take him as a foe” [Quran, 35:6; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

Part of our covenant with Allah is to disobey Satan, to go against and oppose him. Allah says: 

أَلَمْ أَعْهَدْ إِلَيْكُمْ يَـٰبَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ أَن لَّا تَعْبُدُوا۟ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنَ ۖ إِنَّهُۥ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّۭ مُّبِينٌۭ

“‘Did I not take solemn covenant of you, O sons of Adam, not to follow through ill-worship the Devil; Verily he is your open foe” [Quran, 36:60; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

You should not serve Satan. Unfortunately, there are people in the world who specifically worship Satan. People do not say that they would worship Satan, but worship also has the meaning of prioritizing. Allah says:

أَرَءَیۡتَ مَنِ ٱتَّخَذَ إِلَـٰهَهُۥ هَوَىٰهُ 

“Have you beheld him who takes as his god his own headstrong fancy?” [Quran, 25:43; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

Meaning, the focal point of their life is their whims. Serving Satan entails obeying his incitements, his misgivings and the things that he calls people to. The more that one obeys them, the more they become servants of Satan and less servants of Allah. Ibrahim (upon him be peace) was advising his uncle Azhar:

يَـٰٓأَبَتِ لَا تَعْبُدِ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنَ ۖ إِنَّ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنَ كَانَ لِلرَّحْمَـٰنِ عَصِيًّۭا

“‘Dearest father, worship not through idolatry the Devil: Truly was the Devil ever to the very All-merciful stubbornly rebellious ” [Quran, 19:44; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

The word أَبَتِ mean my father, but the Arabs would call their uncles fathers as well – as an honorific. There is a lot of etiquette in the way he made that call to his uncle. 

Blinding Arrogance

It is one thing to know that someone is your enemy. But to live that reality is a different thing. Many times, we fall into the service of Satan because of two main things. The tactics usually revolve around those. One is heedlessness and the second is following our desires and egos. Desires and egos are an accumulation of what the nafs is.

Satan has already been banished from Paradise. He is already guaranteed inhabitant of the Hellfire for eternity. There is no hope in his being shown mercy because of the divine knowledge that he would not repent anyway. 

Some narrations state that Allah gave Satan a second chance. Satan said, “Ok, what do I have to do?” Allah said, “Prostrate to the grave of Adam. Satan said, “I did not prostrate to him when he was alive, why would I prostrate to him when he’s dead?” Again, the arrogance. So in the divine knowledge, Satan will never repent, even if given the opportunity. 

We find this among the Satans of the humans, like Abu Jahl. At the end of his life, he told Abdullah bin Mas‘ud, “Cut my neck at the very bottom of my collarbone so that my head is taller than all the other heads and tell Muhammad that I was his enemy in this life, and I will be his enemy in the next.” That is complete arrogance. May Allah save us from arrogance.