Twenty Tactical Defenses against the Shaitaan, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

shaitan-is-your-enemyShaitaan is a different kind of enemy than a human enemy. With a human adversary, one can bargain, show kindness in order to soften the heart, fight him and either kill him, over-power him, or take him as a prisoner. With the Shaitaan, there is no room for negotiation. You cannot fight him or take him prisoner and you certainly cannot kill him. The best offense against Shaitaan is an Islamic defense. There is no greater protection against the Shaitaan then by obeying Allah and following the Sunna of our beloved Prophet. The character of Rasoolillaah the sacred law of the Quran and the Sunna, and the prophetic example, embody all of the traits necessary to thwart the plan of the Shaitaan. Shaitaan is not the kind of enemy that is defeated with a sword. Instead, it is by aligning oneself with Allah, obeying His commands, following His Prophet and becoming closer to Him by remembering and glorifying His holy names, that a person defends his or herself from Iblis. “And remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing)[1].” Following are some of the tactical defenses a person can use to protect themselves from Iblis.

One: Sincerity in Religion (Ihklaas):

Sincerity is a very powerful weapon against the Shaitaan. A Allah must always check his heart and check his intentions. Sincerity is doing good deeds for Allah’s sake and not so that people will praise you. Even the Shaitaan himself acknowledges that he has no power over the sincere. “Oh Lord,” he said, ‘Since you have led me into error, I’ll beguile them with the pleasures of this world and lead them all astray. Except for the sincere ones from amongst your servants.”[2] Sincerity or Ikhlaas is the only absolute protection against the Shaitaan. Ikhlaas is a learned behavior. Many people are deceived into believing that sincerity is an entitlement or inherited. On the contrary, what appears to you as sincerity, many times is not sincerity at all. I teach a course called “Spiritual Etiquette” the first lesson is the lesson on sincerity. Many of my students were surprised to learn that what they thought was sincerity was just another form of deception. For example, a person gives charity that they believe they are giving sincerely for the sake of Allah. Then later they will go back to the person and say: “remember when I did so and so for you and gave so and so to you?” All of a sudden, the reward and spiritual value of their charity disintegrates into nothing. It turns out that their charity was not sincere after all. “Oh you who believe, do not nullify your charity with reminders (of your charity) and ill treatment (to the recipient).” Sincerity is in the heart, when the heart is infected, sincerity is elusive. Practice religion with sincerity, learn what sincerity is so you will not be deceived.

Two: Al-isti’aatha (Seeking refuge in Allah from the Shaitaan):

It is advisable to seek refuge in Quran from the Shaitaan often by saying, “A’oothu billahi min ashaitaanir rajeem.” We are safe from the Shaitaan only with the help of Quran and there is no refuge from Quran except through Quran. And there is no refuge from anyone else except with Quran’s help. Some of the particular places and times where one should seek refuge in Quran from the Shaitaan are: at the beginning of the salaat; before entering the bathroom; before reciting Quran; at times of anger; and when one hears the braying of a donkey or the barking of a dog.

Three: The five daily prayers:

Steadfastness in the five prescribed prayers is a powerful tool against the Shaitaan. Allah says: “Verily the salaat prevents that which is shameful and forbidden.”[3] Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz used to tell his workers: “As far as I’m concerned, the most important of your duties is the salaat. Whoever guards and maintains it, he’ll be more mindful of other things, and whoever leaves it will be more neglectful of other things.” Establishing the salaat creates a spiritual barrier between worldly pursuits and devotion to his or her Lord, instead of worldly pursuits creating a distraction from the prayer. “Men who are not distracted by commerce nor business from the establishment of the prayer, the paying of zakaat.” It was related that the Prophet (SAWS) said: “No three people (or more) shall be in a village or in the desert and not establish the salaat in congregation except that the Shaitaan will overpower them. So I enjoin you to be with the group (jamaa’at), for verily the wolf devours the stray sheep.”[4]

In contrast, the Shaitaan encourages the very things that the salaat prevents. “O you who believe! Do not follow the footsteps of the Shaitaan, for he who follows the footsteps of the Shaitaan will be induced by him to what is shameful and forbidden.”[5] The salaat itself is effective against Shaitaan. However, salaat in congregation is even more effective. Furthermore, failure to establish the salaat in congregation is not only sinful by agreement of the scholars but it is also a clear invitation to Shaitaan’s dominance over people. What occurs when one is steadfast in prayer is that his or her daily routine is interrupted five times a day and he turns his attention to Allah. Thus, the prayer becomes a distraction from the dunya, and not vice versa.

Five: Not traveling alone:

Travelling alone can become a door by which the Shaitaan tempts one to evil. Many times when a person travels alone they are more likely to be susceptible to evil suggestion then they would be if they were with a companion, or in the case of a woman, a mahram (a non-marryable). The Prophet said: “If people knew (the danger) that I know about traveling alone, then no rider would travel at night by himself’. [Collected by imam Bukhaari]. The Prophet also said: “One rider (traveller) is a Shaitaan, two riders are two shaitaans, three riders are just riders”. (Collected by Malik in the Muwatta, and Imam Ahmad in the Musnad]. Of course what the Prophet meant was travel whereas the likelihood of evil or wrongdoing is prevalent, or travel at night specifically. It is confirmed in the Sunna that the Prophet sent people on expeditions and prophetic errands where they were by themselves. However, the general risks to religion and dangers of a person traveling alone are well known. There is no need to argue about it here.

Six: Reciting sura alBaqara:

It was related in the hadith of Abu Hurraira that the Prophet (SAWS) said: “Do not turn your houses into graveyards. Verily, the Shaitaan does not enter the house in which sura al-Baqara is recited.”[6] If you have turmoil and fitna in your house, recite sura al-Baqara, either by yourself, or by recording, and the Shaitaan will be forced to leave your house. In the hadith of Anas, our beloved Imam and example, the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was reported to have said: “The Shaitaan leaves the home if he hears sura al-Baqara being recited in it.”[7] It is no harm if someone asks an Imam or a reciter to come to their house to recite sura al-Baqara.

Seven: Reciting the last two verses of sura alBaqara:

Our Lord is a Merciful one. Some of us may find difficulty in reciting the whole of sura al-Baqara. Allah out of His mercy has[8] placed in the last two verses of sura al-Baqara, the power to repulse the Shaitaan. It was related that the Prophet (SAWS) said: “Whoever recites the last two verses of sura al-Baqara, it will suffice him.[9]” Ali ibn Abi Taalib once remarked, “I never saw any anyone whom I thought had any sense go to bed without reciting the last two verses of sura al-Baqara.”

Eight: Reciting alMu’awwathaat (the last three suras of the Quran):

This is a simple tool that works wonders. I used to use it on my children all the time with excellent results. It works well for minor illnesses also. You open your hands like you are praying, then recite sura al-Ikhlaas, 112, sura al-Falaq, 113, and sura al-Naas, 114, in that order. Then very lightly spit into your hand and wipe your hands over your body, starting with the head and face, and work your way down. You may feel a little tingle because this is a powerful du’aa, but that’s okay. It works better if you are in wudu (ritual ablution). It is good for nightmares, temperament and general protection. It was related in the hadith of Aisha that she said: “Every night when he went to bed, the Prophet (SAWS) used to gather the palms of his hands, spit in them, and recite qul huwa Allahu Ahad, and qul a’oothu bi Rabbil falaq, and qul a’oothu bi Rabbinnaas[10] then he would wipe his hands over whatever he could of his body. He would start with his head and his face and the front of his body, and he would repeat the process three times.”[11]

Nine: Guarding the tongue:

There is not a word he utters but an observer is ready (to take note of it).”[12] The vexations of the tongue are a vehicle that the Shaitaan rides upon. Bad words, whether backbiting, lying, cursing, insults, yelling, superfluous speech, or bragging, have severe negative consequences, which is why Allah says: “And the example of a bad word is like that of a bed tree; it is rotten from the core and has no foundation.[citation] Guarding the tongue requires diligence as most people speak without regard to the consequence of their words.

Ten: Obeying Allah and His Prophet:

Obeying Allah in sincerity and busying yourself with good deeds and righteousness keeps you in Allah’s service. This is the keys to success. “Worship your Lord and do good (deeds) so that you will be successful.”[13] It was related in the hadith of Abu Hurraira that the Prophet said: “When the son of Adam, (man) recites the (verse) of prostration and prostrates the Shaitaan backs away and cries saying: ‘Oh woe for the son of Adam was commanded to prostrate, he prostrates, and for him is paradise. And I was commanded to prostrate but I disobeyed so for me is the fire.”[14] Dear Muslim, know that obedience to Allah has its own rewards. If you have turmoil in your life and want it to end, obey Allah. Obedience to Allah will stop Shaitaan dead in his tracks. It puts you out of his reach. It also secures you Allah’s grace, which is only obtainable by a select few. “And whoever obeys Allah and His Apostle shall be amongst those on whom Allah has bestowed His grace from amongst the Prophets, the Sincere, the Martyrs, and the Righteous, and how excellent a company are they![15] Certainly there will not be trials in one’s life. However, obedience to Allah brings a peace, grace and security that cannot be achieved by anything else.

Eleven: Remembrance of Allah:

In general the remembrance of Allah forms a spiritual unseen shield around a person. It was related in the hadith of Abu Hurraira that the Prophet said: “Whoever says: ‘There is no god except Allah, alone without partners, and to Him is the Kingdom and to Him is the Praise and He has power over all things one hundred times in a day, he will get the reward of freeing 10 slaves, will have 100 good deeds recorded for him, will have 100 bad deeds erased from his record, and will have protection (hirz).” Remembrance of Allah pulls one back from Shaitaan’s grasp and turns him towards Rabb’il aalameen (the Lord of the worlds). The Quranic verses and Prophetic traditions regarding the remembrance of Allah and its value and reward are more than plentiful and duly recorded in the books of hadith despite the attempt by some modern day Muslims to discourage it.

Twelve: Mentioning the name of Allah upon entering one’s home:

Don’t give Iblis or shayaateen an opportunity to follow you into your home. Stop them at the door by giving salaams to your family and mentioning the name of Allah upon entry. It was reported that the Prophet said: “When a man enters his home and mentions Allah the Most High upon his entry and before his meal the Shaitaan says: You have no place to stay tonight nor any supper.’ If he enters and does not mention Allah the Most High upon his entry, the Shaitaan says [this reference got cut off!]

Thirteen: Mentioning the name of Allah before going to bed:

It is Sunna for a person to mention the name of Allah before he or she goes to bed. It was reported that the Prophet said: “When a person goes to bed and says: ‘I seek refuge in Allah who there is no god except him the Living the Self Subsisting, and I repent to Him’ (three times), Allah the Most High forgives him for his sins even if it is amount of the suds of the ocean, and even if they are the number of stars, and even if they are the amount of the grains of sand, and even if they are the number of days in this world”.

Fourteen: Be wary of nighttime activities:

Shayaateen like to circulate during the night. This is the time when many crimes against Allah occur. It was reported that the Prophet said: “When the wings of the night (spread) or it is night, restrain your children (from going out), for the Shaitaan is abroad at that time and when a part of the night is passed, free them, and shut the doors.”[16] It is well known that the shayaateen disburse and roam during the night more than they do during the day. The Prophet used to like to go to bed shortly after the Ishaa’a prayer. We are aware of the dangers of roaming the streets during the night where people are more prone to wrongdoing. Therefore, people should confine themselves to the home during the night unless they have to go out for a legitimate purpose.

Fifteen: Warn your children about Shaitaan:

When children become old enough to know about Allah sub’hanahu wa ta’ala, they are old enough to know about the Shaitaan. “Said (the father): ‘My (dear) little son! Relate not thy vision to thy brothers, lest they concoct a plot against thee: for Satan is to man an avowed enemy![17] This doesn’t guarantee that a child will not be influenced by the Shaitaan in any way. However, it allows the child to know as he grows up, who his enemy is and to detect his attack.

Sixteen: Prepare your home for the night:

It was reported that the Prophet said: “Cover vessels, water skins; close the doors and extinguish the lamps, for the Shaitaan does not loosen the water skin, does not open the door, and does not uncover the vessels. And if one amongst you fails to find (something) to cover it well, he should cover it by placing (a piece of) wood across it.” This prevents satanic jinn from having access to your food supply or potentially harmful open elements like fireplaces, candles, and open flame while you are sleeping. Therefore, food should be covered, leftovers put away, and fireplaces and candles should be extinguished.

Seventeen: Adherence to the community of Muslims:

Every Muslim should align his or herself with a community of Muslims, whether it is an Islamic state, a tribe, a village, a Masjid community, or a national minority community of Muslims. Each one of these meets the definition of a jamaa’at or group. There should always be other Muslims who are in contact with you, who can give you advice and help you stay on the correct religious and spiritual path. The groups of Muslims are not immune from satanic infection; however, being in the group is better than being by one’s self. “Verily the Shaitaan is with one person but he is further away from two people.[18]” The nature of the jamaa’at changes with the passing of time. However, the ruling to adhere to the main body of Muslims is without abrogation and still stands. It was reported that the Prophet said: “I enjoin you to be in a group (jamaa’at), for verily the wolf devours the stray sheep.”[19]

Adherence to the group has two aspects;

First aspect:

To adhere to the creed of the Muslims; you cannot consider yourself adhering to the group of Muslims while you possess an ideology that is different than that of traditional Islamic orthodoxy; i.e. the people of sunna and group (ahlus sunna wa jamaa’at). These are the righteous predecessors of our umma (the Salaf as-Saalih) and what they agreed upon. They are the righteous traditional scholars of Islam; the people of hadith, the people of knowledge. For example, you cannot say that you follow the Quran but not the hadith, or that you are a Muslims but you are gay, or that you are a Muslim but you don’t believe in prayer, or heaven and hell are not real. You cannot be a Muslim `

The second aspect:

Is to adhere to the body and ranks of the Muslims, in mind body and spirit, by aligning yourself with the jamaa’at or group. They are the people of prophetic tradition (hadith) and traditional Islamic scholarship.

The group is one of the best protections for the Muslim against full attack from the Shaitaan. Muslims who have no community and no jamaa’at tend to practice Islam less than those who are a part of one because there is no one around to encourage them to pray, to fast, or to teach them about Islam in general. When Huthaifa ibn al-Yamaan questioned the Prophet about what should he do if the Last Days were upon him, the Prophet’s advice to him was to: “Stick close to the community of Muslims and a righteous Imam.[20]” Don’t be deceived by those who say that local masjid communities do not constitute a ‘group’ in Islamic law. There is no basis for this assertion and this statement and statement like it is part of the plan to destabilize the Muslim community. If you do not have an imam, find one! If you are not a part of a Muslim community, find one! Do not be a lonely floater with no direct religious leadership or community. It will only weaken you and your family’s defense against the Shaitaan. .

Eighteen: Take Away His Tools:

The Shaitaan as we have shown cannot work without tools, and a weak heart. Take away his tools and you increase your defense against him. For example, envy is a tool of the shaitaan so be careful when doing things that will instill envy in others. Be careful not to boast about your home, your car or your accomplishments because doing so incites envy in others. This is why the father of Yusuf (AS) gave this advice to him: “Oh my young son, do not relay your dream to your brothers for they will devise a plan against you. Surely the Shaitaan is a manifest enemy to mankind[21].” Stay away from temptation; don’t listen to backbiting, if you cannot resist television all together, be wary of what you watch. Also be very, very wary and mindful of what you post on social media.

Nineteen: Use Islamic Behavioral Responses Instead of Emotional Responses.

The shaitaan is an emotional being that uses emotion, whim and ego to entice people to follow his way. He uses our anger, our pain, our fear, our greed, our envy, our cowardice.

Ignorance need not be met with ignorance. Muslims in today’s times have been conditioned to respond to external stimuli emotionally, without regard for what is proper. For example when disparaging caricature portrayals about our beloved Prophet  were publicized in a Danish news paper some years ago, it evoked a full blown agitated response that ranged from demonstrations, to recriminations, to violence against innocent people, to Muslim on Muslim violence! When in reality there are hundreds of disparaging remarks levied against our beloved Prophet on a daily basis. The Islamic behavior response to disparagement, is not an agitated reaction, it is patience. “Have patience with what they say.” 50:39

Twenty: Guarding and Lowering the Gaze.

The eyes are an entry point for the Shaitaan. What we see enters and affects our heart. What’s worse is when we act upon what we see in ways that break the commandments of Allah. Which is why we are commanded by Allah to lower the gaze.

Five benefits from lowering the gaze

  1. Lowering the gaze is obedience to Allah be He exalted and Glorified. “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do”. 24:30
  2. Lowering the gaze is obedience to the Prophet
  3. Lowering the gaze is one of the principle ways of guarding one’s chastity. Notice how in the above verse, Allah ta’ala mentions lowering the gaze before He mentions guarding chastity.
  4. Lowering the gaze is a form of self-purification which is something that is warranted for every Muslim, and as Allah mentions it also in the aforementioned verse; “that is purer for them”, meaning; purer for their hearts. In other words; it is purer for your heart that you lower your gaze, and as the heart becomes purer, it is less susceptible to invasion by the devil.
  5. Lowering the gaze is a way of thanking Allah for the grace (ni’mah) of having sight in the first place. It is considered a sign of thanks because the servant refrains from using his or her sight, which is a gift from Allah, in disobedience to Allah, the God who has granted sight in the first place.
  6. Lowering the gaze is part of good character.

May Allah protect us, our families, our communities, and our nation from the Devil, and his deceptions, and evil plans. Ameen. Wal Allahul Musta’aan. Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad is the Imam and Executive Director of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento, California. He is also a founding member of COSVIO (Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations). He can be reached at imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com

[1] Quran, 29:45

[2] Quran, Al-Hijr, 15:39-40

[3] Quran, 29:45.

[4] A sound hadith collected by Abu Dawood.

[5] Quran, Al-Nur, 24:21

[6] A sound hadith collected by Muslim and Ahmad.

[7] Collected by Abu Ubaid with a good chain.

[8] Collected by Muslim, at-Tirmithee, and others.

[9] Collected by Bukhaari.

[10] The last three suras of the Quran respectively.

[11] Collected by Bukhaari.

[12] Quran, 50:18

[13] Quran, Al-Hajj, 22:77

[14] Collected by Muslim. The hadith also shows that Shaitaan has feelings and that obeying Allah is a source of discomfort for him. This is exactly what a Muslim wants to accomplish.

[15] Quran, Al-Nisaa, 4:69

[16] Collected by Muslim.

[17] Quran, Yusuf, 12:5

[18] Collected by Ahmad and Tirmithee.

[19] A sound hadith, collected by Abu Dawood.

[20] Collected by Bukhaari.

[21] Quran,

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Audio Khutba: Welcoming Ramadan by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

The Lotus Tree Blog

The sacred month of Ramadan is upon us. It is the month in which we recharge our faith to prepare for the coming year. The Prophet (SAWS) said: “Whoever fasts Ramadan in faith and in seeking reward (from Allah), his past sins will be forgiven”. In this khutbatul Jum’ah held @ Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento, Ca, we explain the importance of observing the month of Ramadan. Click on the link below to listen. Wal Allahu al-Musta’aan.

Welcoming the month of Ramadan

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