MuslimMatters would like to introduce Shaykh Waleed Basyouni who has officially joined our team as a scholar specialist. While the Shaykh has been part of MM almost from the beginning in providing us advice and guidance, and his material has been featured on MM many times, this is his first exclusive contribution for MM. We are very pleased to have a scholar of his caliber join our team.
There is an ongoing inner struggle within each one of us. As Muslims, we are motivated by the drive to always try to do our best. At the same time, our souls are made up of a mixture of different desires and lusts that can easily drive us away from righteousness. In addition, Shaytan, the one who promised Allāh that he would deceive and misguide humans to the best of his ability, enters the picture.
[Satan] said, “Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path. Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful [to You].” [7:16-17]
I have a lot of respect and admiration for all of the young brothers and sisters who are trying their best to abstain from what is indecent and forbidden despite all of the challenges around them in society. In this short article I would like to share with these brothers and sisters who care about their faith a few thoughts in the form of some advice. I hope it will be beneficial to me and to them, to keep us on the straight path until we meet Allāh while He is pleased with us.
I have noticed that sometimes people say things like, “I'll do this minor haram, or this small thing, and it will help me to avoid a BIG sin!” For example, “I'll take this person out on a dry date with no intimacy involved, so I do not think about fornication.” Or “I'll watch pornography and masturbate, so I do not commit fornication.” These ideas stem from the attitude that “I'm afraid if I do not do this haram thing, I'll do something far worse.” Sometimes others might say, “I'll do this sin only once to get it out of my mind/system, and after that I'll be able to not think about it any more.”
This is one of the Shaytan's tricks, so be careful. Doing haram will only lead to more haram. It's like adding more fuel to a fire; which will not decrease but rather it will only make matters worse. Our lusts increase when they are fulfilled. The more you commit a sin, the more you want to do it and have more of it. Ibn Abbas narrated the hadith: “If the son of Adam had two valleys filled with gold and silver, he would wish for a third.”[Bukhāri]
What we need to learn to do is to put water over the fire, not fuel. If you feel weak and inclined towards sin try one of the following:
1. Mention Allāh's Names and Attributes and think about what they mean to you and your situation. “And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allāh and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allāh ? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know.” [3:135]
2. Talk to someone you trust and who you see to be strong in his or her deen, and ask for their advice and support.
3. Cut off what is leading you towards these negative ideas, especially the bad thoughts that lead to all kinds of haram.
4. Watch your ṣalāh. I guarantee that you are either missing some of it or not enjoying it. Your prayer may have become dry and dull. Revive your ṣalāh and see how things will turn around.
5. Simple but powerful, remember to seek protection in Allāh from Shaytan by saying “Oh Allāh, I seek refuge in you from the Shaytan” (A'oodhu billaahi minash-Shaytaan Ar-Rajeem). Remember du‘ā’ such as: “Oh Allāh, don't leave me to myself even for a blink of an eye.”
Think about it this way. Allāh will never inspire you to do what is haram or wrong, only the Shaytan will. We know that Shaytan does not care about us and will not give us good advice. Whenever you feel that urge to do “an itty-bitty act of haram just once,” think of whose call you are answering, Allāh's or Shaytan's. And always remember, Shaytan is not your friend; indeed he is our worst enemy.
O mankind! Certainly, the promise of Allāh is true. Let not then this present life deceive you, nor let the Chief Deceiver (Shaytan) deceive you about Allāh. Verily, Shaytan is an enemy to you: so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his adherents that they may become companions of the Blazing Fire. [35:5-6]
And lastly, this struggle within us is an act of worship. It should strengthen us and help us gain experience in dealing with our desires and the Shaytan. So stand up against Shaytan, and remember that, with the help of Allāh, you have the power to win every battle against him.