The Mad Scientist
Imagine this mad scientist who loves to torture small animals. One sunny morning, he picks up his new victim hitchhiking from the roadside – a bullfrog. He brings some water to boil in a tin tank and then drops the frog in it. But the frog is too smart for him; it jumps right out and away it hops. Now for plan B. The scientist takes a container of plain water at room temperature and fixes it on top of a Bunsen burner. He drops the frog into the cool and comforting water, and the frog croaks out a thanks, too happy to notice the evil expression on the scientists face. Very, very slowly, our serial killer increases the temperature of the water. While the frog is happily dreaming about the fat fly he had for lunch, the water reaches a threatening 80 degrees Centigrade. And by the time the frog is aware of what’s happening, he’s almost ready for the stew. Ten minutes later, the mad scientist is seen enjoying his greenish (pun intended) lunch, cackling all the while.
Before you get too distressed over the poor creature’s fate, let me tell you that the story is mythical and has little resemblance to reality. Frogs are springy creatures; they don’t just sit in water for hours. Anyway, let’s just extract the lesson from the story for our purpose – if someone who pretends to be our friend leads us to fall into a trap slow and steady enough, we are prone to yield in spite of ourselves.
How Shaytan Pokes at You
Now we come to the real-life mad scientist who loves to experiment with human beings. Like our fictional scientist, he goes about it with incredible patience and perseverance. He pretends to be our best friend and comforter, while slowly inching the knife behind our backs. Allah (SWT) mentions how he deceived Adam and Hawa (AS):
“So he made them fall [dalla]….” (Al-A’raf :22)
“Dalla”, according to Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan in a talk about Shaytan, denotes the very slow pulling up of a bucket out of a well. He also mentions that Shaytan’s giving us waswasa, meaning that he continually whispers and leaves, whispers and leaves. This is the mad-scientist formula for successful stabbing-in-the-back. And it works. It worked on Adam (AS). We know what Shaytan prodded him and Hawa (AW) to do – eat from the forbidden tree. We also know how Shaytan made them do it – by whispering continually for a long, long time.
Shaytan’s Real Objective
Shaytan’s goal wasn’t just to make them eat the forbidden fruit. It was “to make apparent to them that which was concealed from them of their private parts.” (Al-A’raf :20) Shaytan’s goal is to make us lose our sense of shame, dress shorter and shorter, cross boundaries with the opposite sex, send that Facebook message, go to meet that brother, browse through photos of that sister… and slowly lead us towards the forbidden tree. It’s interesting that Allah (SWT) uses the same command, laa taqrab (don’t go near), for forbidding Adam (AS) from the tree and forbidding us from fornication.
“Shaytan saw something more than just a fruit,” says Ustadh Nouman. “He had a particular agenda…. When human beings expose themselves to each other, outside the command of Allah [outside marriage], then that is, in fact, the ultimate ugliness…. There is a goodness inside you that dies…. [Shaytan] is going to exploit the physical beauty of human beings to make the inner beauty of human beings ugly. That’s his goal.”
How to Defeat Shaytan
Step 1: Keep your eyes on the thermometer.
Ponder on the ways that Shaytan tries to lead us on, and what he wants to achieve with us. Think long and hard about your own life – is the comfortable social climate you are living in slowly increasing the grey areas to black? If so, put a stop to his manoeuvres immediately, because the water may come to boil any second now and you may die as Shaytan’s follower. Along with repentance and istighfar, make a lot of du’a for spiritual strength to cope with withdrawal symptoms.
Allah (SWT) taught Adam (AS) this prayer:
“Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers.” (Al-A’raf :23)
You and I will slip from time to time, no doubt, because we are children of Adam (AS) and, as the Prophet (SAW) said, “Every son of Adam commits sin, and the best of those who commit sin are those who repent.” (Tirmidhi) The key is to keep praying to Allah (SWT) for forgiveness incessantly and each day take one step up towards reaching our best potential.
Step 2: Counteract misguidance with guidance.
Allah (SWT) promised Adam (AS): “… when guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows My guidance – there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.” (Al-Baqarah :38)
Guidance, to the nation of Muslims, means the Qur’an and by extension, the teachings of our Prophet (SAW). It lights up the heart and sharpens our insight; it provides us with infrared Shaytan-detection goggles, so that we can see Shaytan’s traps clearly. It motivates us and boosts us up for the lifetime battle, and counteracts his negative whispers with positive thoughts.
So, for example, when Shaytan tries to tell us to invest in that haram business, the Qur’an fortifies you with:
“Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality, while Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” (Al-Baqarah :268)
And when he tries to make you scared of him and his stooges, Allah (SWT) advises you:
“That is only Satan who frightens [you] of his supporters. So fear them not, but fear Me, if you are [indeed] believers.” (Al ‘Imran :175)
The battle between Shaytan and Adam’s (AS) children will continue incessantly until the Day of Judgment. So let’s keep our thermometers vigilant always, and be ready with istighfar for the times when he catches us unawares. Let the guidance of the Qur’an be constantly present in our hearts, speech, and actions to counteract the misguidance of Shaytan, and we will have nothing to fear from the mad scientist.
Tabassum Mosleh is a writer and an online Alimiyyah student at al-Salam Institute, UK. For more articles by her, visit www.tabassum.me