When you notice that the sky is cloudy, your natural expectation is that rain will fall.
When you hear the crow of a cockerel at night, you assume it is daybreak. When a man opens his car door for his wife, it is most likely that the wife is a newlywed or the car is new. When a new-born child cries, you would be right to assume that it is responding to discomforts which may include hunger, thirst, and restlessness. When you see a student celebrating his teacher(s) or school, he/she is likely to be academically sound. When a man says he’s in love, you expect to hear the name of a woman. However, it is not the case when you ask people about their worst enemy because the responses would not only be as many as the number of respondents but are likely to be far from the truth.
While some individuals may consider their political opponents as their worst enemies, others would take anyone with whom they had a quarrel as their worst enemy. Some people would choose their worst enemies from those they presume to be responsible for their career predicaments, financial liabilities, matrimonial challenges or business failures. Worst enemies, to some people, should emerge from differences in religion or ethnicity. Amazingly, none of these dynamics no matter how terribly influential they seem, actually makes a worst enemy out of any man or woman. Indeed, the holy Quran teaches that a man’s worst enemy isn’t a fellow man or woman but Shaytan.
Allah (SWT) reveals the identity of man’s worst enemy in Quran 12:5 wherein He states that Shaytan is man’s avowed enemy. Indeed, Shaytan is man’s sworn enemy and should be treated as such. Allah (SWT) declares Quran 35:6 “Verily Shaytan is an enemy to you so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his adherent that they may become companions of the blazing fire”. Most often, Shaytan operates in disguise, which is why his name seldom comes to mind when man attempts to detect his real enemy. Quran 7:16-17 states “He said: Because thou hast thrown me out of the way, lo! I will lie in wait for them on thy straight way. Then I will assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left. Nor will thou find gratitude (for thy mercies) in most of them”. The devil would always stand on your way to performing acts of obedience. Shaytan will equally waylay you on the path to disobeying Allah (SWT) by making all that is sinful to appear beautiful in your eyes. To destroy a believer, Shaytan makes everything made forbidden by Islam to be exceptionally attractive to man’s heart.
Each time a believer intends to undertake an act of worship, whether obligatory or prophetic, such as praying or fasting, Shaytan looks for a way to overwhelm him with procrastination; suggesting various excuses to defer that particular act. When you want to go on pilgrimage to Makkah or pay the rate due as Zakat on your wealth, Shaytan will discourage you by whispering into you that doing so will impoverish you. However, each time a believer wants to disobey Allah (SWT), Shaytan will spare no tricks to hoodwink him into committing sinful acts, the big and the small. The world is, therefore, a battle ground where man is in constant struggle against Shaytan’s intrigues.
Enmity generally refers to deep-seated dislike or ill-will. Deriving from an Anglo-French word, an enemy is a person who displays hatred, either overtly or covertly, to another person or group. There can be no enmity without hatred underscoring it; making the latter a synonym and critical element of the former. Enmity can be short-lived or long-lasting. Shaytan really hates man, and therefore, should be despised by man. Shaytan is mentioned 88 times in the Qur’an. Except during Ramadan when they are chained in Jahannnam, the devils (Shayatin) according to hadith literature are malevolent forces that are closely bound to humans. Besides the power to whisper into man, they have been empowered to also move through human blood. The fifth verse in the last Surah of the Qur’an tells us about Shaytan’s Allah-given powers of whispering evil into the hearts of mankind.
Shaytan pretends to be man’s friend but with an ulterior motive to stab him from behind. That was how Shaytan deceived Prophet Adam (AS) and Hauwau to eat from the forbidden fruit. If Shaytan succeeded in using intrigues to mislead both Adam and Hawau who were obedient servants of Allah (SWT) in the heavenly garden, it would be Shaytan’s easiest task to lure contemporary man into his snare because man is naturally given to inordinate passion for wealth, women and mundane elements of comfort. Shaytan is as determined as his knowledge of our weaknesses to, at every opportunity, use our weak points against us. He waits patiently for when we are most vulnerable in order to take advantage of our emotions.
Show apathy to this world and you would have sent Shaytan on exile away from your mental and spiritual territories. Man’s show of excessive love for this world and its elements of comfort is only but an open invitation extended to Shaytan to take over his affairs. Similarly, one would have completely demoralized Shaytan each time he brings to mind reflections about the inevitable event called death. A believer’s obedience to all the instincts of his heart only increases Shaytan’s intimacy with him or her. Weighing everything that one’s heart covets is actually the defining action that consistently aligns Shaytan from us and our affairs. That is the foremost step in resisting Shaytan’s influential temptations. “Forbidden fruit”, they say, “is sweetest”. We must make up our mind not to taste any forbidden fruit each time Shaytan offers it to us.
As an obvious enemy, Shaytan, not God, is responsible for most of our misfortunes in life. Let us as fathers or husbands, mothers or wives, siblings, friends, neighbours, colleagues, teachers, learners, landlords, tenants, residents or visitors strive with virtuous words, actions and thoughts to defeat the Shaytan, and keep him out of our living. May Allah (SWT) arm us with the right level of piety required to conquer our worst enemy, amin.