By Sheikh Usamah Khayyat - 26 Muharram 1435
His Eminence Sheikh Usāmah Khayyāṭ –may Allah protect him– delivered this Friday’s Khutbah titled “The Tempting Self and Satan’s Impediments” in which he talked about the self and the necessity of giving it two types of support so as to correct it and deliver it from evil and harm. He also quoted some scholars on Satan’s impediments and how man can rescue himself from them.
Praise be to Allah, the Almighty, the All-Forgiving –may He be extolled. I praise Him for His munificence and overwhelming bounties. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah alone with no associate. The obedience of the pious would not do Him any good, and the disobedience of the wicked would not do Him any harm. I also bear witness that our Prophet Muhammad is the Servant and Messenger of Allah and the most sublime of mankind –the illiterate and the Chosen Prophet. We beseech You, Allah, to send Your Salat (Graces, Honours, and Mercy) and Peace upon Your Servant and Messenger Muhammad, his immaculate family, noble Companions, the tabi’in, (the contemporaries of the Companions of the Prophet ‒may Allah’s Salât and Peace be upon him‒ after his death) and all those who followed in their footsteps as long as day and night keep alternating.
Now then, Observe Taqwā (fear of disobeying Allah), O Servants of Allah, for Taqwā is the best provision that man can take on his journey to Allah; it grants him sizeable portion of every fortune in the herein, and tranquillity on the day he meets His Lord.
Since guarding against calamities beforehand is much wiser than trying to mop up their effects after they have struck, and since prevention is better than cure, it follows then that avoiding disobedience, caution against sin, and keeping off the path of evil are the wont of the pious, the path of the humble to Allah, and the temperament of the meritorious among the servants of Allah, the Compassionate. Hence they may attain the satisfaction of their Lord, help preserve rights, safeguard the faith, protect sanctity, guard divine ordinance, and glorify Allah’s rites.
This can be accomplished –O Servants of Allah– through meditating about the instigators, enticers, and facilitators of sin. These are none but the tempting self that incites to evil and Satan, the instigator, the one who embellishes evil and prods at it.
The wise person is the one who gives himself sound advice, works towards salvation and deliverance by attempting two introspections vis-à-vis these two instigators:
The first introspection is with oneself. This involves taking a deep and hard look at oneself in order to search for the weaknesses therein in a way that may help one discover the harmful ignorance and oppression that may impede what is good, entice what is evil and encourage sinful acts.
All these problems have been addressed by our Lord –may He be extolled– in these words: Indeed, the soul is a persistent enjoiner of evil, except those upon which my Lord has mercy. [Yūsuf: 53]. He who knows himself well, will realize as Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim –may Allah have mercy on his soul‒ said: “the self (soul) is the source of all evil and the harbour of every calamity; its ignorance outweighs its knowledge; its oppression outweighs its justice; whatever good it has is nothing but a blessing from Allah, not an inherent quality in it.”
The Almighty also says, If not for the favour of Allah upon you and His mercy, not one of you would have been pure [Al-Nūr: 21] and … but Allah has endeared to you the faith and has made it pleasing in your hearts and has made hateful to you disbelief, defiance, and disobedience. Those are the [rightly] guided. [Al-Ḫujurāt: 7]
This love and this aversion are neither inherent nor inborn in the self, but it is Allah Almighty Who grants them to His servant to make him among those who are rightly guided: [It is] bounty from Allah and favour. And Allah is Knowing and Wise. [Al-Ḫujurāt: 8]
This discovery of the self, O servants of Allah, requires beneficial knowledge that is derived from the light of the two divine inspirations and from the lamp of prophethood in order to help it eliminate its ignorance. It also requires doing pious deeds from which it can benefit and which can cause its wrong to disappear.
Seeking refuge in Allah against the evils of the self ‒O servants of Allah‒ is part of the guidance and sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Salât and Peace be upon him). He guided the Muslim Ummah through such guidance in order to seek refuge in Allah against the evils of the self, its ignorance and wrong. Giving advice and preaching to the Muslim Ummah, the Prophet (may Allah’s Salât and Peace be upon him) said, “Say: My Lord! Grant me guidance and protect me from the evil of myself!” [Narrated by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad and by Al-Tirmidhi in his Jami’, with an authentic chain of narration]
In his “Wedding Khutbah”, the Prophet (may Allah’s Salât and Peace be upon him) used to say, “Praise be to Allah; we praise Him, and we ask His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of our souls and from our bad deeds … (See the rest of the hadith)” [Narrated by Abu Dawood, Al-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah in their Sunan with an authentic chain of narration]
In one of his supplications, the Prophet (may Allah’s Salât and Peace be upon him) used to say, “O Allah the Ever-living, the Self-existing! In Your Mercy I seek refuge! Please set right my whole affairs, and do not leave me in to myself for a blink of an eye.” [Narrated by Al-Hakim in his Mustadrak with an authentic chain of narration]
The second introspection dictates that one reflect on the Satan in charge of him, take him as an enemy, beware of him, and be careful as to what he wants from him. Ibn Al-Qayyim –may Allah have mercy on him– said, “Satan wants to seize man at a number of impediments some of which are more difficult than others. He does not move from the more difficult to the less difficult unless he despairs of getting man at the former. The first impediment is that of rejecting belief in Allah, His religion, meeting Him (i.e. on the Day of Judgement), the attributes of His Perfection, and what His messengers had reported about Him.”
If Satan could seize man at this impediment, the blaze of enmity would cool off in him and he would relax and set his mind at ease. However, if man were able to survive this impediment and managed to escape it, thanks to the insight of guidance, and saved his light of faith, Satan would seize him at the next impediment, that of bid’ah (an innovation not sanctioned by religion). In this case man might entertain beliefs other than those with which Allah has sent His messenger and revealed in His Book, or he may resort to bida’ (Arabic plural of bid’ah) such as practices and drawings that Allah does not condone at all.
Seizing man at the impediment of bid’ah is Satan’s favourite since bid’ah runs contrary to religion and is in defiance of what Allah has sent His Messenger with. An innovator (mubtadi’) does not usually repent of his bid’ah; he rather continues to propagate it.
Bid’ah implies attributing to Almighty Allah unsubstantiated statements; it also implies flagrant hostility to the Prophet’s sunnah, and to those who embrace it. It even attempts to extinguish the light of the sunnah. Bid’ah also adopts what Allah Almighty and the Prophet (may Allah’s Salât and Peace be upon him) have rejected, and rejects what Allah Almighty and the Prophet (may Allah’s Salât and Peace be upon him) have accepted. It is based on siding with their enemy and taking devout worshippers as adversaries. It proselytises what is false, and misrepresents right and wrong in a topsy-turvy fashion. It propagates atheism, blinds the hearts so that they cannot see what is right, seeks to bend the straight path and open the door for altering the faith altogether.
Only the insightful can discover the evils of innovation. The blind are lost in their darkness. For those to whom Allah gives no light, there is no light [Al-Nūr: 40]
If man crossed this impediment, escaped it thanks to the radiant light of the sunnah, and sought to protect himself against it through serious perseverance and what the righteous predecessors, the Prophet’s Companions and tabi’in, and their followers in righteousness adhered to, Satan would try to seize him at the third impediment, namely the deadly sins. If Satan could get hold of man at this impediment, he would gloss these sins over, make them look good to his victim, give him false hopes, open for him the doors of procrastination and tell him: Faith is the same as accepting something to be true; therefore, actions do not impair it.
Satan may even put words in man’s mouth and ears; words with which he has thrown so many people into damnation. These words include: No sin can do you harm with tawheed, in the same way as no good deed can do you good with shirk.
If man could cross this impediment thanks to Allah’s protection or through sincere repentance, Satan would try to catch him at the fourth impediment, that of minor sins. He would throw so many of these sins on him saying: “Do not worry! If you have avoided deadly sins, these minor ones are nothing. Didn’t you know that they are expiated by avoiding major sins and doing good deeds?” Satan keeps on belittling these sins until man is drawn into committing them; thus the perpetrator of major sins ‒if afraid and sorry for what he has done‒ might be better off than he is.
Insisting on a sin is uglier than the sin itself, and there is no major sin if followed by repentance and asking Allah for forgiveness. Likewise, there is no minor sin if insisted upon. The Prophet (may Allah’s Salât and Peace be upon him) said: "Beware of minor sins"; then he (may Allah’s Salât and Peace be upon him) gave an analogy of this and said: "The parable of minor sins is similar to that of a group of people who went down to a bottom of a valley, then one of them brought a stick and another brought another stick until they collected a heap of sticks; then, they set fire to it and baked their bread. Likewise, minor sins, if they gain control of their doer, they can cause him to perish." [Narrated by Ahmad in his Musnad with an authentic chain of narrators]
If man overcomes this impediment through being careful, on his guard and through constant repentance to Allah, asking Him for forgiveness and following up an evil deed with a good one, then Satan will surely set up for him the fifth impediment. This is the impediment of Mubahat, that is permissible actions which are not prohibited and entail no offence if carried out. Satan would try to keep man busy with permissible actions in order to distract him from optimising his acts of obedience (to Allah) that would benefit him in the Hereafter.
Then Satan would gradually lead him to give up performing the Sunan (Arabic plural of Sunnah: extra acts of worship done by the Prophet, but not imposed by Allah), and then to give up performing the wajibāt religious (Arabic plural of wājib: religious obligations that must be attended to by a Muslim. However, if not done it would be considered a sin, but such a sin would not make a Muslim a disbeliever or an infidel). The least that Satan can achieve here is to make a Muslim miss great benefits and high ranks. Had he known the price (i.e. the reward), he would not have missed any act of worship that would have brought him closer to Allah, but alas, he is ignorant of such a price!
Man would not be saved from this impediment except through a guiding light, a keen insight, knowledge of the value of pious deeds and the benefit of doing as much of them as one can, the seriousness of this trade (with Allah), the generosity of the buyer (i.e. Allah), and how much recompense He gives to tradesmen. Therefore, he would not waste his time without benefit and thus become among those who rush towards good and those who compete in doing enduring pious deeds: and for this let (all) those strive who want to strive (i.e. hasten earnestly to the obedience of Allah). [Al-Muṭaffifīn: 26]
May Allah benefit you and me with His Book's guidance and the Sunnah of His Prophet (may Allah’s Salât and Peace be upon him)! Having said this, I ask Allah, the Almighty, the Glorious to forgive my sins, yours and those of all Muslims; He is truly Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful!