Al-Salam ‘Alaykum, this is Syed Ali Imran – and you are listening to the Forties podcast, brought to you by Mizan Institute.
This is episode 8 – You Are Either with Allah (swt) or with Shaytan
عَنْهُ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَمَّنْ رَفَعَهُ إِلَى أَبِي جَعْفَرٍ ع قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّمَا هُوَ اللَّهُ وَ الشَّيْطَانُ وَ الْحَقُّ وَ الْبَاطِلُ وَ الْهُدَى وَ الضَّلَالَةُ وَ الرُّشْدُ وَ الْغَيُّ وَ الْعَاجِلَةُ وَ الْعَاقِبَةُ وَ الْحَسَنَاتُ وَ السَّيِّئَاتُ فَمَا كَانَ مِنْ حَسَنَاتٍ فَلِلَّهِ وَ مَا كَانَ مِنَ السَّيِّئَاتِ فَلِلشَّيْطَان
Hadith #7: Imam Baqir (a) — The Prophet (p) said: O People, there is only Allah and Shaytan, there is Truth and falsehood, there is Guidance and misguidance, there is Growth or decline, there is progression or regression, there are Good deeds and bad deeds – so whatever falls under Good is from Allah and whatever falls under bad is from Shaytan.
The very first statement in this hadith says there is Allah and there is Shaytan. This is actually the root of the matter, and the rest of the statements are branches of this division. Truth is from Allah and falsehood is from Shaytan, guidance is from Allah and misguidance is from Him, growth is from Allah and decline is from Shaytan and so on.
Man is always at the mercy of these two pathways – the path of Allah and the path of Shaytan. The path of truth and the path of one’s desires and whims. In this light, there is another tradition from Imam Sadiq where he says:
علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن حماد، عن أبي عبد الله (عليه السلام) قال: ما من قلب إلا وله أذنان، على إحداهما ملك مرشد وعلى الأخرى شيطان مفتن، هذا يأمره وهذا يزجره، الشيطان يأمره بالمعاصي والملك يزجره عنها، وهو قول الله عز وجل: ” عن اليمين وعن الشمال قعيد * ما يلفظ من قول إلا لديه رقيب عتيد
“There is no heart without two ears. On one of them there is an angel who provides guidance and on the other there is a Satan (devil) who induces temptation. This one commands him and that one prohibits him. Satan commands him to disobey and the angel prohibits him from sins as it is mentioned in the words of Allah, the Most Majestic, the Most Holy, ‘. . . seated on each of his right and left, man does not utter a word that is not recorded immediately by the watchful scribes.’” (50:17-18).
This angel and shaytan are continuously doing this – the angel is trying to assist and guide you, while the shaytan is merely trying to take you off the path. But at the end of the day it is you who has to decide, with your own free will. Just like Ḥurr al-Riyāḥī does on the day of ‘Āshūrā – though him and ‘Umar b. Sa’d were both there on that day and had plenty of time to reflect and think about their actions and decisions, it was only one who advanced and the other regressed. One heeded the guidance of the angel, and the other took refuge with a shaytan.
We experience this all the time – no matter what you decide to do – imagine you want to give charity to the mosque or pay a loan back to someone. This angel may encourage you and tell you that paying it will help secure you a place in the hereafter, it will increase your ranks, it will get you closer to God, it will help you distance yourself from the dunya. On the other hand though, the Shaytan whispers the complete opposite – he’ll tell you if you pay this money back now you will struggle for the next few months, or how will you make ends meet, how will you pay for your daughter’s wedding dress, how will you pay for your fiancé’s wedding ring and so on!
If someone safely passes through this stage, and doesn’t fall for the tricks of the Shaytan, then the devil will try to break your continuity – if you recall in one of our previous episodes the hadith said, maintaining continuity until deeds reach purity is more difficult than performing the deed itself. This is similar to you crossing a small suspended bridge between two cliffs with sure death staring at you below you! Consider how concentrated you’d be on each step you take, on every time you lift your foot and how tightly you’ll be holding on to the ropes.
Well here’s you trying to maintain sincerity in your deeds, trying to continue this deed with the purest of intentions now that you’ve initiated it, but here’s Shaytan trying to pull on to your legs, and this angel is trying to keep you concentrated on the path ahead. Shaytan trying to you pull you off the path of Ikhlāṣ and the angel trying to keep you on the path of Ikhlāṣ.
This is when it comes to good deeds, but the same is true for bad deeds as well. On the one hand the angel will try to guide you off of that path, but Shaytan will try to push you onto it.
In any case though, one must continue to seek refuge from Shaytan in Allah (swt) and to seek his assistance – wa iyyaka nasta’īn, to make sure Shaytan doesn’t interfere with our sincerity, so that ultimately our deeds are accepted by Allah (swt).
This is what the next hadith from Imam Sadiq will address – the rejection of insincere deeds and the acceptance of sincere deeds.
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Sayyid Ali Imran studied in the seminary of Qom from 2012 to 2021, while also concurrently obtaining a M.A in Islamic Studies from The Islamic College of London in the summer of 2018. He continued his seminary studies in legal theory, jurisprudence and philosophy, eventually attending the advanced kharij of Usul and Fiqh in 2018. He is also a regular instructor for Mizan Institute.