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April 29, 2005
You Promised to Post: Screwtape on Small Sins

by Justoju

A friend recently asked me what the big deal was about "minor" sins. Her point was that as long as one stayed away from the big stuff, one would be in good shape. We didn't need to sweat small sins or wasted time as long as we didn't do anything huge. In response, I mercifully spared her my loooonnngg rambling explanation of the problems in her argument and I just took out a book and read to her a few passages from it. After I was done we had a discussion on it, looked up some Quranic verses and hadith, and shared our insights. It proved to be very beneficial for both of us so I decided to share the experience with my Hidaya family. This is a test-run to see how a certain format I like to call You Promised to Post works. I am going to type out the text from the book and I want EVERYONE who reads it to share an insight/question/hadith/ayah/criticism/whatever that might come to mind. Don't be shy. Whatever comes to mind, even if its trivial in your eyes, share it. This won't work if you don't.

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Terms and Conditions: If you read this article you MUST post a comment. By continuing to read this article you are implicitly giving your promise to post afterwards. If you do not agree to these Terms and Conditions please stop reading this article and read something else. I repeat, if you continue to read this article it means that you have promised to post afterwards and will thus be morally obligated to keep that promise upon finishing the article. This is the final warning, if you have no plans to post after reading the article, stop reading NOW.

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If you are reading this right now it means you have already consented to post. I am proud of you. Welcome aboard and its nice to have you here. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

The book is one which I often rave about. It is called The Screwtape Letters and was written by C.S. Lewis for a Christian audience during the WWII era. But, some of the theological/philosophical/psychological explanations found in the book are extremely insightful and transcend across religious barriers to cover Judeo-Christian-Islamic thought as a whole. Just replace the words "Christian" with "Islamic" or "Muslim". This doesn't apply to ALL concepts, but to many. You'll see what I mean once you start reading.

Heres the background you need to know to understand the passages. According to the book, by order of Iblis, each person has been assigned his/her very own shaitan whose job is to damn him/her to Hell by constantly whispering waswasas (baseless doubts) and temptations. These shaitans call their assigned humans their patients. They call Allah the Enemy (wa naoodhobillah). This story is about one such patient whose assigned shaitan goes by the name of Wormwood. Now Wormwood has this elderly shaitan uncle called Screwtape who periodically sends him letters of advice on how best to "deal" with his assigned patient. Keep in mind that these letters are written from a shaitan's point of view. The following is one such letter:

My dear Wormwood,

Obviously you are making excellent progress. My only fear is lest in attempting to hurry the patient you awaken him to a sense of his real position. For you and I, who see that position as it really is, must never forget how totally different it ought to appear to him. We know that we have introduced a change of direction in his course which is already carrying him out of his orbit around the Enemy; but he must be made to imagine that all the choices which have effected this change of course are trivial and revocable. He must not be allowed to suspect that he is now, however slowly, heading right away from the sun on a line which will carry him into the cold and dark of utmost space.

For this reason I am almost glad to hear that he is still a churchgoer and a communicant. I know there are dangers in this; but anything is better than that he should realize the break he has made with the first months of his Christian life. As long as he retains externally the habits of a Christian he can still be made to think of himself as one who has adopted a few new friends and amusements but whose spiritual state is much the same as it was six weeks ago. And while he thinks that, we do not have to contend with the explicit repentance of a definite, fully recognized, sin, but only with his vague, though uneasy, feeling that he hasn't been doing very well lately.

This dim uneasiness needs careful handling. If it gets too strong it may wake him up and spoil the whole game. On the other hand, if you suppress it entirely - which, by the by, the Enemy will probably not allow you to do - we lose an element in the situation which can be turned to good account. If such a feeling is allowed to live, but not allowed to become irresistible and flower into real repentance, it has one invaluable tendency. It increases the patient's reluctance to think about the Enemy. All humans at nearly all times have some such reluctance; but when thinking of Him involves facing and intensifying a whole vague cloud of half-conscious guilt, this reluctance is increased tenfold. They hate every idea that suggests Him, just as men in financial embarrassment hate the very sight of a bankbook. In this state your patient will not omit, but he will increasingly dislike, his religious duties. He will think about them as little as he feels he decently can beforehand, and forget them as soon as possible when they are over. A few weeks ago you had to tempt him to unreality and inattention in his prayers: but now you will find him opening his arms to you and almost begging you to distract his purpose and benumb is heart. He will want his prayers to be unreal, for he will dread nothing so much as effective contact with the Enemy. His aim will be to let sleeping worms lie.

As this condition becomes more fully established, you will be gradually freed from the tiresome business of providing Pleasures as temptations. As the uneasiness and his reluctance to face it cut him off more and more from all real happiness, and as habit renders the pleasures of vanity and excitement and flippancy at once less pleasant and harder to forgo (for that is what habit fortunately does to a pleasure) you will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his wandering attention. You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday's paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes but all also in conversations with those he cares nothing about, on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, "I now see that I spent most of my life doing neither what I ought nor what I liked." The Christians describe the Enemy as one "without whom Nothing is strong." And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man's best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.

You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one; the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

Your affectionate uncle,
Screwtape
(Lewis, 53-56)

So Hidaya, what do you think? Dazzle me. And if you don't think your contribution is dazzling enough, don't worry, I will still be dazzled because I dazzle easily :) (which is why I love to pick up shiny things and stare at them with a big dumb smile on my face). The point is for you to keep your promise and post something. It can be anything at all. But keep your promise and DO post.

I am waiting.

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Work Cited
Lewis, C.S.. The Screwtape Letters. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1974.

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of and relating to...
asif said

Assalaamu Alaikum:

*** J U M M A H - M U B A R I K ***

Ya Muslimeen wa Muslimaat

About sisiter Justoju's article:
Interesting post, Screwtape is really screwd...by the way, does this mean that the way we humans are multiplying and breeding, are the Shaitaans keeping pace with us? So that for every man and woman there is a shaitaan to accompany. I wonder whats the gestation period for the Shaitaans/Jinns...just wondering.


Also, one of the best part that I like being a human is the ability to repent to ALLAH, and seek HIS Mercy, Blessings, Forgiveness and Ridaa no matter what...Alhamdulillah!

on April 29, 2005 10:14 AM
Jannah said

1st thought: I haven't seen J in so long.
2nd thought: I must read this book, can't believe I haven't.
3rd thought: nice ploy to get ppl to post- making them feel morally obligated


Volume 9, Book 93, Number 546:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud:

Allah's Apostle, narrated to us, "The creation of everyone of you starts with the process of collecting the material for his body within forty days and forty nights in the womb of his mother. Then he becomes a clot of thick blood for a similar period (40 days) and then he becomes like a piece of flesh for a similar period. Then an angel is sent to him (by Allah) and the angel is allowed (ordered) to write four things; his livelihood, his (date of) death, his deeds, and whether he will be a wretched one or a blessed one (in the Hereafter) and then the soul is breathed into him. So one of you may do (good) deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise so much that there is nothing except a cubit between him and Paradise but then what has been written for him decides his behavior and he starts doing (evil) deeds characteristic of the people of Hell (Fire) and (ultimately) enters Hell (Fire); and one of you may do (evil) deeds characteristic of the people of Hell (Fire) so much so that there is nothing except a cubit between him and Hell (Fire), then what has been written for him decides his behavior and he starts doing (good) deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise and ultimately) enters Paradise." (BUKHARI)

on April 29, 2005 12:02 PM
Ibtisam said

C.S Lewis, is he the author that wrote "The Chronicles of Narnia?"

I see the point where the post is taking and the beneficialness of the book but perhaps there are Muslim authored books or books written by Muslims that we should first concentrate on and then move on to books by writers of other faiths reflecting religious themes and topics, which might in fact be universal. This is only a suggestion and I am not saying this is not thought provoking piece or book, all I am saying is that there are other books equally relevant or that parallel books like C.S Lewis's book.
One story that is coming to mind is when my mom read me this story in Urdu, entitled, "Sawayra jo aaink mayree kulli" I believe tht was the title, anyway, it was about a person who realizes that death is imminent and he changes his ways.
One of the benefits of living in a muslim country, whether it is Paksitan or Egypt, is that literature reflects Muslim themes and stories and this is the case whether the people there are religious or not.
If indeed this is the same author as the one who wrote "The chronicles of Narnia" there were some very christian themes in that book as well. I use to like reading it as a child but when I realized that it was nothing more than promoting christianity as so does Harry Potter even though Catholics have it banned, but when you read between the lines, it does so.

Although, again, the idea of shaitaan's tricks and every human being having a qareen with him is very true in Islaam.
perhaps the best childhood stories I have heard, is that when shayaateen have their assembly,
they rejoice when a shaytaan has succeded in distracting a student from his or her study and
creating a fight between husband and wife.

Wallaahu alim

on April 29, 2005 12:40 PM
Ibtisam said

but then again,every person has his/her talents and some among our ummah can read the books of the ahlul kitaab.

I just remember dad saying once that whne Umar Ibn al-khattab was reading/trying to learn Hebrew, Rasool SAW admonished him but he allowed Zaid ibn Thabit to learn hebrew.

wallaahu alim
Now I dont want people to start getting offended by my posts, I am not attacking Justajoe, relax, and please dont start whining to the editors of hidayonline to get rid of me or something. okay
:)
jk

on April 29, 2005 12:45 PM
asif said

salaam:

"wallaahu alim
Now I dont want people to start getting offended by my posts, I am not attacking Justajoe, relax, and please dont start whining to the editors of hidayonline to get rid of me or something. okay
:)
jk"

This sounded funny...sister Just-a-joe!

By the way Ukhti, I appreciate your point about reading books from muslim authors, but there is no harm, absolutely no harm in gaining a fresh idea or pearls of wisdom from anywhere we muslims can, so long as it is beneficial to us in our relationship towards Allah...Insha'Allah.

So lets just appreciate the information that sister Justoju compiled for all of us and take whatever is useful in it.

By the way, I am not into books...the sisters are more into books...I was at this Islamic center book shop and perusing through the new arrivals of CDs and Books and I commented who actually buys these thick books...and then the shopkeeper commeneted that mostly the sisters buy the books. And then he further added that the brothers usually go for CDs or Cassettes...That was an interesting observation by the shopkeeper, I thought.

on April 29, 2005 2:06 PM
Rami said

Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatu,

Rami's thought of the day:

It is the most misleading notion in the world that because you can't do your prayers/ make dua/ worship Allah because of the shame of your sins.

For example, if one drinks alcohol or gets his palm read(for example) then his Salat is not counted for thrity day. That does not mean that you do not pray for those thirty days but rather you shoudl continue praying in hopes of Allah forgiving you.

Others, if they have fallen into the traps of Shaytaan in doing shawaaat will not pray because 'they are too ashamed to face Allah'. In fact, as is written in the article...this is just another point for Shaytaan...because Allah (subhanna wa taala) care more for you than a mother suckling her child, is the only one who can protect you from Shaytaan and the evil things, and forgives all sins excecpt partnership with him.

We all know the story of the man who murdered 99 people and then was forgiven by Allah:

----
Volume 4, Book 56, Number 676:

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

The Prophet said, "Amongst the men of Bani Israel there was a man who had murdered ninety-nine persons. Then he set out asking (whether his repentance could be accepted or not). He came upon a monk and asked him if his repentance could be accepted. The monk replied in the negative and so the man killed him. He kept on asking till a man advised to go to such and such village. (So he left for it) but death overtook him on the way. While dying, he turned his chest towards that village (where he had hoped his repentance would be accepted), and so the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment quarrelled amongst themselves regarding him. Allah ordered the village (towards which he was going) to come closer to him, and ordered the village (whence he had come), to go far away, and then He ordered the angels to measure the distances between his body and the two villages. So he was found to be one span closer to the village (he was going to). So he was forgiven."

----


Surat Al-Baqarah:

257. Allah is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light. Of those who reject faith the patrons are the evil ones: from light they will lead them forth into the depths of darkness. They will be companions of the fire, to dwell therein (For ever)


----

Jazzakum Allah Kull Khair for this piece, it was very informative and a good reminder.

Wasalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatu

on April 29, 2005 3:41 PM
sr said

clear your mind, free your heart of everything but Allaah so that when it is led astray you can gently lead it back.

A weightlifter practices different weights so that he can eventually lift 'his' weight effortlessly, in the same way we must make the Quran and sunnah our friend and become familiar with them so that when we are faced with the tests and temptations our reactions of submission will be effortlessly. The small tests take our hearts through blades of difficulty, but they are to ready us for the bigger ones. InshaAllaah this will allow us to effortlessly, frequently slip in and out of that eternal garden likewise.

Ma'assalama

on April 29, 2005 6:59 PM
sis said

'And perform As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât), at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night [i.e. the five compulsory Salât (prayers)]. Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds (i.e. small sins). That is a reminder (an advice) for the mindful (those who accept advice).' " (Sura 11 ayat 114).

[Al Muwata 2.30]

Small sins, if we become comfortable with them, may lead us to bigger and bigger sins. "The difference between a major and a minor sin is like the difference between a big and a small burning piece of charcoal," says Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi. "Who would willfully pick the burning charcoal with their bare hand because it is small?"

Insightful piece Justjou - may Allah swt save us from the accursed Shaytaan and his junood, Ameen.

Br Rami - It is 40 days that the prayer is not accepted: "Whoever came to a fortune-teller, and asked him about something and then affirmed him, the salah of forty days will not be accepted from him." (Related by Muslim.)

wAllahu a'lam.

on April 29, 2005 8:50 PM
Justoju said

My FAVORITE part:

"It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."

on April 30, 2005 1:48 AM
sis said

Can someone kindly remove from my post, [Al Muwatta 2.30]. It got left there by mistake when I was copying and pasting the ayah.

JazakAllahu khairan.

on April 30, 2005 7:18 AM
Faisal Akhtar said

Assalam-o-alaikom.

I was a big CS Lewis fan and as I said in one of my earlier comments on my fatwa shopping piece, I really was going to develop an entire series of Screwtape letters addressed from a shaitan to another shaitan. In fact I remember I threw an entire letter which I had authored into the garbage. Why am I am not a CS Lewis fan now and why didn’t I post the series? There are many reasons for that which I will discuss below.

The Screwtape letters is a feel good book and that’s all it is. It is good literature but it lacks substance. I remember reading the book and many times I was surprised at how insightful it was into the workings of the devil and how much similarity there was between Islamic teachings on shaitan and what was in this book. However, the book told me nothing I couldn’t have found out from Islamic sources. Most of all, it didn’t tell me what I really needed to know which was how to avoid falling into the devils traps. Simply knowing or hypothesizing about how the devil works is no guarantee that we will be safe from his evil. Simple diagnosis of the problem is insufficient, there needs to be treatment but you won’t find it in this book.

Be forewarned that this book is pro Christianity. CS Lewis was a Christian and described Islam as a “Christian heresy” [1] and this pro Christian bias, if not evident, is implied in this in this book.

After reading this book, I wondered why Lewis wasn’t a Muslim since most of what he was saying was strikingly similar to Islamic teachings on the devil. Here is an excerpt from his famous book “Mere Christianity”

“Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd. It is not neat, not obvious, not what you expect…. Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed.” [2]

So by that account, the more mysterious and difficult to guess a religious doctrine, the more divine it is? I can name a lot more mysterious and difficult to guess doctrines than the trinity, why didn’t he believe in them? Perhaps the reason he wasn’t a Muslim was that Islam really is so simple that in his opinion, it couldn’t have been divine.

The ulama have warned us against taking knowledge from the people of Bidah but I think we are taking it a step further. We are taking knowledge from non-Muslims which is far worse. I think I will read this book again once I am done reading books by the Ulama on the same subject. Before that, my obligation is to seek religious knowledge from authentic Islamic sources instead of non-Muslim ones. We need to stop and realize that we don’t need to rely on outside sources to understand our religion since our religion is complete.

Perhaps some will argue that CS Lewis’s book has good moral precepts and universal themes that run through all Abrahamic religions. The problem is that so does the Talmud, the Psalms and the Bible. Even the Vedas has “good lessons” to offer. Then we should be reading those books as well? When will we realize that all we need has been given to us in the Quran and Sunnah and we need not look elsewhere?

This book is great literature and there is no doubt about that. However, please don’t read it for religious code. Read it as a historical account of the thinking of a man who has had a great influence on modern day Christian thought. Maybe you will learn a new word here and there by reading this book but you certainly won’t learn anything the Quran and Sunnah can’t teach you already.

Walaikomassalam


[1] http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/cslewis.htm

[2] http://myweb.cableone.net/silentdave/the_conversion_handbook.htm

on April 30, 2005 10:35 AM
Ibitsam said

Thank you Br. Faisal for that post. I agree with your statements. On the other hand, I would not even bother reading the book, because it is promoting christianity and written by an author that has at one time or another probably defamed or insulted islaam, wallaahu alim.

on April 30, 2005 12:27 PM
asif said

Salaam:

You know this is healthy Dialouge..ALhamdulillah.

I haven't even read a single book of C.S. Lewis (actually I didn't even know who he was) until sister Justoju's post on hidaya and the resulting comments from brothers and sisters about him and his works.

What is interesting to me is the fact that muslims all across the centuries have read religious, scientific, philosophical literatures of the non-muslims yet the smart muslims among them were able to discern what was of importance and throw the rest of the garbage out. Anything within these literatures that hinted towards non-islamic themes (meaning trinity, greek mythology, yin-yan) was completely discarded.

A good example of this would be the research done during the Omayads and especially the Abassaids era by reading books in Latin, Greek, Persian, sanskrit and other language to filter what was useful in them. There were, however, some lost souls who tweaked their ideas and concept of Tauheed after reading some Philosophical works of the ancient.

But that is rare, and the majority of muslims who do read books by non-muslims do not fall in this trap.

I dont know about you young folks growing in America or the West, but I completely have NO time to pick any "religious" themed book which is other than on ISlaam...There is no way a non-muslim can teach me anything about Tauheed and my duties towards ALlah as HIS slave...Alhamdulillah

But I do like to hear different point of views and that is why I like coming to Hidayaonline.

on April 30, 2005 3:06 PM
Azra said

"You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do"

that is so true, whenever I listen to music I find that I get easily distracted by stupid things, like looking at the tunics in an old Navy circular while I'm standing on the prayer rug just about to say my salat, even though I hate old navy and the tunics were ugly, doing useless things totally puts you in a daze.

on April 30, 2005 5:09 PM
california said

asalamualaikum,
...word.
wake up call

JazakAllahuKhair

on May 1, 2005 3:05 PM
california said

asalamualaikum,
just wanted to say - though i do like to get my life lessons from Qur'an and hadith and other islamic literature from scholars, when something beneficial can be derived..i like to benefit from that as well alhamdulilah.

on May 1, 2005 3:07 PM
Bint Abdul Khaliq said

As Salaamu Alaikum

1-I Agree with Br Faisal on the choice of literature.

2-I think the fllg article fits in perfectly with this topic.Please read it-i found it quite beneficial Alhamdulillah and I'm sure you will too.May Allah grant us taqwa.Ameen.

Was Salaam

RISKS INVOLVED IN TREATING SINS TOO LIGHTLY

You should know, may Allah (Azzawajal) have mercy upon you and me,
that Allah (Azzawajal), glorified be He, has made repentance
obligatory saying:

"O you that have believed, turn to your Lord in a
goodly way." (Al-Tahrim:8),

and has granted us time to repent until the Scribes register the sin in our names.

The Prophet (SAWS) has said: "The
Scribe on the left hand delays registering the sin of a Muslim for six
hours. If he repents (within these six hours), and seeks Allah's
forgiveness, they drop if off. If he doesn't, they write is down as a
single sin."

That is the first respite.

The second respite, even if it is registered, is until the appearance
of death before our eyes. (If a man repents sincerely before that
hour, it is taken off the records then).

But the problem with most people, is that they estimate not the Majesty of the Lord as they should. They disobey Him in multiple ways
- day and night. To make things worse, there are some that are misled by the notion of what they call "minor sins", so that you will see
them treating certain sins as inconsequential saying, for instance:

"Of what harm will be a look (at that woman), or of what consequence a hand-shake with her?" In consequence, they stare freely at pictures of
women in the magazines, or those appearing in the television. Some of them, when told about the sin in it, go a step further and inquire
amusingly: "O.K. What's the magnitude of the sin involved? Is it a major one or minor?"

Compare this attitude with that of the Companions of the Prophet(SAWS) , on
whom be peace, as recorded by Bukhari in his Sahih: 1.

Said Anas, may
Allah be pleased with him (to one of the followers):

"You imagine certain sins to be more insignificant than a straw. But, at the time
of the Prophet (SAWS)we used to count them among those that can destroy a
man."

2. Ibn Mas'ud says: "A believer treats a sin as if it is a mountain over his head that may fall on him any moment. Whereas a regular violator looks at them as a fly that perked on his nose and he waived it away with his hand."

Will these people then learn something from the above, and from the hadith of the Prophet(SAWS) who said:
"Beware of the minor sins. For the example of the minor sins is like that of a group of travelers who broke their journey in a valley.

Then one of them brought in a straw.

Another came up with another (and a third with one more) until with their collection they were able to gather enough to cook their food."

Remember! If a man is held for questioning (on the day of Judgment)for his minor sins, surely they will destroy him." In another version he
is reported to have said: "Beware of minor sins. For they add on until they destroy the man."

The scholars say therefore that when minor sins are committed without
any remorse, without the fear of Allah, and accompanied by contempt then they there is all the fear they will be counted as major sins.

Hence the saying: "There isn't a minor with persistence, and there isn't a major with repentance."

Hence we say to him who commits minor sins:

'Do not look at the sins if they are small or big. LOOK AT HIM IN WHOSE DEFIANCE YOU ARE COMMITTING THEM.'

It is hoped that these words about taking sins lightly will benefit those who are true in their faith, are not seduced by their delinquencies, nor are of those that insist upon their wrongs. These words will in fact benefit those who believe in the following words of Allah:

"Tell My slaves: that I am very Forgiving, very Kind,"(Al-Hijr: 49)


and those who believe in:

"But My chastisement is a severe chastisement indeed." (Al-Hijr: 50)

on May 5, 2005 6:11 PM
asif said

Salaam Ukhti:

Thank you for the reminder.

Its what I like about us Hidayans, there is always a brother and/or sister who would remind us of being closer to Allah by fearing HIM the way we should fear and be cognizant of our actions and intentions on a daily basis...Alhamdulillah.

Jazak Allah Khair!

on May 5, 2005 7:41 PM
plz plz plz read said

ThE StoRy oF BuRSeeSaH...


There were three men from Bani Israel who were called to fight for the sake of Allah.
They accepted the call, but they had concerns for their sister as she would be left behind with no-one
to look after her. After some discussion, they agreed that the best place to leave
her would be with the most trusted person in town.

This was a pious man called Burseesah, who lived in a sanctuary and devoted his entire life in the worship of Allah. They came to Burseesah and said to him, "O Burseesah. We know you to be a pious and trustworthy man. We have been enlisted to fight for the sake of Allah and we want to leave our sister with you. O Burseesah! We trust no one else in town except you. Please take care of our sister."

Burseesah immediately said, "AoothoBillah! (I seek refuge in Allah) Get away from me! I have sworn to spend my time devoting it to the worship of Allah! I do not want to deal with these issues and be burdened with looking after someone"

The three men said to him, "O Burseesah! We have no where else to take her! We can't leave her with anyone else and we don't trust anyone else. Please take care of our sister!"

Shaytaan heard the discussion, and came to Burseesah.

"Burseesah..." The waswaas [evil whisperings] began. "Burseesah if you don't look after her, she might be left with someone who is not trustworthy! You have to take this responsibility"

Burseesah listened and finally agreed to look after her. He told the brothers to leave her in a separate house so not to distract him from his acts of worship. They left her there, said goodbye and went to jihad.

Burseesah would continue his acts of worship as normal, and during the day he would leave
food on his doorstep so the woman would have to leave the house to collect the food.
This also ensured they never saw one another and Bursesah never even left his place of worship.

Time passed by.
Shaytaan came to Burseesah.


"Burseesah..." he whispered, "You can't leave the food on your doorstep! As she is leaving the house someone might see her by herself. All alone and venerable and take advantage of her. Rather than her leave her house, you go to her house and drop off the food on her doorstep."

Burseesah made the decision that this was the right thing to do, and followed the
bait that Shaytaan masked in a cover of righteousness.
So during the day Burseesah would leave his worship, leave his place of worship,
go to the house and leave the food on her doorstep.

This happened for a while and with the trap just being set, Shaytaan moved in for the next step.

"Burseeeeesah..." the whispers came again. "Burseeesah...you are now leaving the food on her doorstep, but still this is not good. She still has to open the door and collect the food. Someone might still see her and she is so beautiful. She is VERY beautiful"

This servant of Allah, who never saw this woman started to be tempted
by the whispers from Shaytaan about her beauty.

"Burseesah, her beauty is intoxicating and if someone sees her they may try something. You have to leave the food INSIDE her house. You don't have to look at her. Just knock on the door, and hand her the food as she opens the door."

Burseesah saw no harm in this. After all, it would stop people from seeing her.
More deception covered in righteousness.
So again, Burseesah would leave his worship, leave his place of worship, go to the
house and knock on her door to hand her the food.

Time passed by again. Shaytaan remained patient before executing his next plan.

Shaytaan came again.
"Burseeesah...you can't leave this poor woman all alone. Without any company. No one is speaking to her. She's lonely Burseesah. Just talk to her. There's no harm in saying salaam and asking how she is. You can talk to her from behind the door...you don't have to see her...just talk from outside."

He liked the idea and when he would bring her the food he would talk to her behind the door while she was in her room. They would talk for hours every day and the relationship began to get stronger.

Shaytaan found it easier and easier to drag him into the next step.
"Burseeesah.....Burseesah....you can't just sit behind the door. You know each other well enough to be in the same room now. Just sit in the same room and speak to her. You don't have to look at her. Just sit in the same room."

Burseesah began to follow the advice of Shaytaan. Everytime they met, the talk became
more intimate as they began getting closer...and closer...and closer.

...He would hold her hand...
...The kiss came a few days later...

Eventually...they made zinaa [fornication] with each other.

"Ohh what have I done" Burseesah said as he realised his mistake.



--FrOm BeiNg a sLaVe oF AllAh...
To BeCoMiNg a FoRniCaToR--

But the story did not end there.

From that night, the woman became pregnant. Nine months later she delivered a baby boy.

The familiar whispers started again as Shaytaan flowed through Burseesah's veins like blood.

"Burseeesaah...when her brothers come back and find out their sister has a child in zinaa, you are going to be in trouble! There is only one way to solve this problem. Burseesah........
you have to kill the baby! Get rid of the evidence!"

Grief and anxiety ran through Burseesah's mind as he listened to the whispers of Shaytaan.
He did what he heard and killed the baby.

"Ohhhh Burseesah. Do you think this woman will keep this a secret after you killed her own child?? Nooo. Burseesah.....the only thing to do now is to kill her!"

Burseesah then killed the woman and buried both mother and child under the house and covered it with a rock.


--From being a slave of Allah...to becoming a murderer.--

--FrOm BeiNg a sLaVe oF AllAh...
To BeCoMiNg a MuRdErEr--


The three brothers returned and went to greet their sister. She was no where to be found. They went to the house of Burseesah and asked him, "Where is our sister?"

"She has passed away" he said as he pointed to a fake grave.
The brothers were saddened by the loss, and made du'a for her.

That night when they went to sleep, Shaytaan came to them in their dreams and told them all what had happened.

"Burseesah has lied to you!
Burseesah killed your sister!
Burseesah made zinaa with her!
She is buried under the rock inside the house."

As they all woke up in the morning, and talked about their dream,
they began relating the same dream and thought there must be some truth in it.

They first dug up the grave Burseesah pointed to and found no body.
They stormed to Burseesah's house and demanded to know what had happened to their sister.
One of them saw the rock in the house and uncovered it, where they saw their sister and her child.

"What has happened to our sister?!" The eldest screamed.
They forced Burseesah to disclose the secret of what happened and Burseesah told them everything.

Burseesah was taken to court where he confessed everything to the King.
The King sentenced Burseesah to be executed.
As they dragged him to his death, fear overcame Burseesah.

For the first time during this whole incident,
Shaytaan appeared before Burseesah and said to him,
"Oh Burseesah! Listen! Look at me! I was the one who was whispering to you since this whole thing started!
I am Shaytaan!"

Burseesah's fear grew as the blade for his execution was brought!
"Now I can get you out of all this trouble. I was the one who put you in it, and I can get you out of it!"
"Oh Shaytaan, what should I do?!" Burseesah cried!

With an evil grin, Shaytaan said,
"Make sujood to me. I am Shaytaan and I will save you! Bow down and prostrate to me!"
Burseesah fell down in sujood to Shaytaan and as soon as he did this,
Shaytaan ran away!
.....and Burseesah was executed.

--FrOm BeiNg a SeRvAnT oF AllAh,
BoWiNg DoWn To AllAh...
To BeCoMiNg a SeRvAnT oF ShAyTaaN...
BoWiNg DoWn To ShAyTaaN--


-- From Imaan...to the worst type of kufr - bowing down to Shaytaan! --


Who could ever imagine a servant of Allah making sujood to Shaytaan!?

Imagine if Shaytaan came to Burseesah at the beginning and said
"Burseesah make sujood to me", would Burseesah do it? NO!

If Shaytaan came to Burseesah at the beginning and said "commit zinaa", would he do it? NO!

If Shaytaan came to Burseesah at the beginning and said "commit murder", would he do? NO!

But Shaytaan knows the game! He's been playing his tricks since the time of Adam.
Classical method of misleading people.
Through step by step deception.
This is how Shaytaan pulls at your feet and deceives you.
So even if something may SEEM to be like an insignificant sin / action, be careful.
It might be the start of a trap.

Allah tells us

"O you who believe! Do not follow the footsteps of the Shaytaan, and whoever follows the footsteps of the Shaytaan, then surely he bids the doing of indecency and evil" [24.21]

on May 7, 2005 2:48 PM
Ibtisam said

I have heard about this story, only to the point that this man committed fornication and killed the woman, that was the only part up to that I knew, and not the rest, is this in some sort of narration? I know we have alot of lessons to learn from this, but I was just wondering.

Well one lesson is that hte brothers before living should have gotten the sister married.

Second lesson is that this guy should have been like one of my distant relatives, he was in charge of maitaining a dead relative's property, so since he had to go there often, he married the widow because of that. If this Busrereah(whatever his name is) was following the shareeah of Rasool SAW, he would have asked the brothers' to marry their sister, wallaahu alim, then shaytaan would have been upset at the wedding.

on May 8, 2005 12:10 AM
Talal said

I've been struggling with this promise, but here goes...

What hit me in the reading of that above post was something that seems so unfortunately prevalent in society today. It's something that inshaAllah I will write on once finals are over with... but something that as a "movement", really came to a head over the past few months.

It's one of the ultimate whispers of the shaytaan.. one that brings the most deeni-fied of brothers and sisters to just barely slip up. Then the slip up happens again and then again, and suddenly shaytaan achieves the goal of making one accept an act of sin as plan old nothing.

The issue, of course, is one in that affects both brothers and sisters, and is one in which the fault lies both in brothers and sisters... the issue is that of:
Gender Interaction.

(more coming soon to a hidayaonline.com near you)

on May 8, 2005 2:23 AM
saleem said

as i'm contractually obligated to post i want to say that i will read the whole thing after my exams tommorow and wednesday..


other than that it seems your friend has subscribed to a theory of relativity regarding sins... and gender interaction..

i'll try to give my thoughts later ..

on May 9, 2005 11:37 AM
aminu said

hi,
dear sir ,
i am very pressure to write you thisd letter .by the way ,how areyou.i hope by the grace of almighty Allah you a\re fine.
the reason of writting you this letter is that,i am a student of in islam son i want u to help me with qurans and kitaabs.i am here praying to allah to help u and ur families to get aljannatul firdaus .wassalamu alaikum,

on June 26, 2005 8:41 AM
ubaidullah said

As to keep to my word:

Jazak'ALlah khair for the post. Interesting read and interesting way or portraying the essence of gradual sin.

Ibn Al-Qaym mentioned in one of his books how gradual sin desensitizes the human that eventual leads even a pious beleiver down the wrong path when desensitized for too long. It numbs the mind, and numbs the heart, causing it to darken.

A darkened heart is weakened by the glorification of Allah, and at that point, some people say Allah may disregard him. :(

Topic is deep stuff. Alhumdulilah.

on August 9, 2005 10:27 AM
Justoju said

I got the following as an email. Its good mashaAllah.

------------------------------
Aaozobillah he minush shaitaan nir Rajeem
Bismillah hir Rehman nir Rahim

THE 7 TRICKS OF SHAYTAAN

1. He obstructs you from doing acts of obedience.

Repel him, if Allah protects you, by realizing that you are in need of these acts of obedience in order to gather provision from this life for the next life which will have no ending.

2. He commands you to procrastinate in acts of obedience.

Repel him, if Allah protects you, by realizing that your appointed time is not in your hands and that you could die at any moment.

3. He commands you to rush in acts of obedience by suggesting to you, "Hurry! In order that you can do so-and-so!"

Repel him, if Allah protects you, that realizing that few acts of obedience done with perfection is better than many done incompletely.

4. He commands you to perfect your worship in order to be seen of men.

Repel him, if Allah protects you, by realizing that the sight of Allah is enough for you over the sight of men.

5. He whispers arrogance and pride in your heart by saying, "Who is greater and more precise than your obedience?"

Repel him, if Allah protects you, by realizing that your acts of obedience to Allah is a blessing from Allah, not from yourself. If it were not for the bounty of Allah, you would not be able to establish any act of obedience , which are nothing next to the blessing of Allah Ta`ala.

6. This is the greatest of his tricks, he says to you, " Make strenuous effort in keeping your obedience of Allah secret. Soon He will make your acts manifest before the world!"

Repel him, if Allah protects you, that you are a slave of Allah and that He alone is your Master. If He wills, He will manifest you and is He wills He will keep you concealed. If He wills, He will make you important and if He wills He will make you insignificant. That is for Him to decide, and you should not care whether He manifest your good deeds to people or not, because there is nothing in their hands worth seeking after.

7. He suggests in your heart, "There is no need for you to perform acts of obedience to Allah. Truly, if you were created and destined to be among the people of bliss, then there is no danger in you neglecting the acts of worship. And if you were created and destined to be among the people of wretchedness, then there is no benefit in doing them.

Repel him , if Allah protects you, by realizing that you are a slave . And that it the duty of a slave to obey the commands as is the rights to slaveness (`ubuudiyya).

Allah is the Rabb, and He knows the rights of Lordship (rubuubiyya). Thus these acts of obedience will benefit you in every way if you were created and destined to be among the people of bliss. It will benefit you by increasing your reward. And if you were not created and destined for bliss, then in no way Allah will punish you for acts of obedience. These acts of obedience will not harm you. For to be entered into the fire while you are obedient to Allah is more precious to you than you being entered into the fire while you are disobedient.

And how is it possible for you to enter the fire when the Promise of Allah is true and His Words are Truthful. For He has promised a tremendous reward for acts of obedience. Whoever meets Allah Ta`ala while he has faith and obedience will never enter the fire and he has dully earned the Paradise by the Promise of Allah the Truthful and not by any act. It is in that Allah has informed us by His saying,
" Allah`s praises are due to Allah who made good to us His Promise and has made us inherit the earth and we may abide in the Paradise whenever we please. Excellent is the Reward of those who work. 39:74.

Therefore my Muslims, wake up! It is as He said. So seek the aid of Allah alone and seek refuge with Him. All matters are in His hands and from Him alone is success. And there is no power nor might except with Allah the Exalted the Great.

------------------------------------------------------------

------------------------------------------------------------

10 Ways of Protection from Shaytan

1. Seeking refuge with Allah from Shaytan. Allah the Most High said,
“And if there comes to you from Satan an evil suggestion, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing.” [41:36]

2. Recitation of the two soorahs al-Falaq and an-Nas, as they have wondrous effect in seeking refuge with Allah from his evil, weakening Shaytan and protection from him. This is why the Messenger, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, said:
“No person seeks refuge with anything like the Mu`awwidhatayn (soorahs al-Falaq and an-Nas)”. [an-Nasaa’i, 5337]

3. Recitation of Ayat al-Kursi (2:255).

4. Recitation of soorah al-Baqarah. The Messenger, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, said,“The house in which al-Baqarah is recited is not approached by Shaytan.” [Muslim]

5. The final part of al-Baqarah. The Messenger, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, said,
“Whoever recites the two last verses of al-Baqarah at night they will suffice him.” [Muslim]

6. Recitation of the beginning of soorah Mu’min (Ghafir), until His saying, “wa ilayhi-l-maseer” (to Him is the destination). (i.e. “Ha. Meem.) The revelation of the Book is from Allah, the Exalted in Might, the Knowing, the forgiver of sin, acceptor of repentance, severe in punishment, owner of abundance. There is no deity except Him; to Him is the destination.” [40:1-2])

7. Saying “la ilaha ill Allah wahdahu la sharika lah, lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu wa huwa `ala kulli shay’in qadir” (there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah, He has no partner, His is the Dominion and Praise, and He is able to do all things) a hundred times.

8. The most beneficial form of protection from Shaytan: abundance of remembrance of Allah, the Exalted.

9. Ablution and prayer, and they are from among the greatest means of protection, especially at the time of emergence of anger and desire.

10. Abstinence from excess speech, food and mixing with people.

on August 13, 2005 2:44 AM
Abu Ayesha said

Bismillah

Upholing the promise to mail but khair can extend to a few thoughts.

The footsteps to Shaitaan is exactly the beginning that leads to a major sins.

Like in an example, if Shaitaan would come and ask one of us to bow down to him, we would desist even the thought of it. But he builds it up slowly.

Shaitan deceives us humans in scholarly ways, There is a story in Ibn Katheer,:

In Bani Israel there was a pious person who had spent 60 years in worshipping Allah. Satan tried to mislead him but couldn't do anything. There was a woman who had four brothers. These brothers were going for Jihad. They insisted to this pious person that the sister stay with him. Although the pious man initially refused but satan convinced him to agree to this,so he allowed the sister to stay in one small room in the dormitory. He used to go and leave the food for her outside the door. The Satan put the thought that she is a human being and the way the food is given is as if to an animal, so he should enter the room, give the food and come out. so he started doing that. But he wouldn't talk to her, then Satan said what is wrong in saying salaam and asking her how she was doing. That was the next step. Once that started the talk went on longer each time. so the hermit spent some time with her, and the talk became close and intimate. Next during this talks he held her hand. The kiss came a few days later. Later on it lead to adultery. The woman became pregnant, then the hermit was very perplexed. Eventually he decided to kill her, and bury her in the same room. When the brothers came and asked about their sister, he lied to them. Satan came into the dream of all the brothers and told them what had happened and where she was buried. So the brothers went to the king and the place was dug up and the body was found. when the police came to arrest the priest the Satan appeared to him and told him that all that was done by him, and he could still save him. If he does sajdah(prostration) to him. the 'priest' did that, but the Satan did not save him and he was killed for the crime. You can see how human beings are deceived by Satan.


on October 31, 2005 1:44 AM
jinnzaman said

Assalamu alaikum

Hey, I'm a Law student, I can easily get out of this contract if I wanted too. Jk.

Since I am *obliged* to post:

Ibn Ata'illah says:

A sign of the death of the heart: lack of sadness about beneficial actions you have missed, and lack of regret about your mistakes.
[Hikam of Ibn Ata'illah, Tr. by Ai'sha Bewley]

on October 31, 2005 4:14 AM
Umm Khidma said

as-Salaamu alaykum all,
Ordinarily I read articles on Hidaya and never comment, but since I entered a contract by proceeding to read the entire article, I just wanted to say: the entrances of shayateen into our lives are numerous; the more we know, the better off we are.

on April 2, 2006 9:35 PM
mohammed said

Assalamualaikum warahmathullahi wabarakatuhu,

Allah is most forgiving, most loving, and whom Allah guides, none can misguides.
And our islamic daily life is so comprehensive, that a person who is punctual about 5 times namaz is forgives from all sins.,(If a person has a river flowing in front of his house, and he baths in it daily 5 times, will there be any dirt on him? No).
According to saying of the Prophet, a person who doesnt have hope in Allah, is commiting Kufr.

Prophet (SAWS) has said: "The
Scribe on the left hand delays registering the sin of a Muslim for six
hours. If he repents (within these six hours), and seeks Allah's
forgiveness, they drop if off. If he doesn't, they write is down as a
single sin."

Masha allah I didnt hear this hadith before. It is a good oppurtinity for every sinner to gets his sins forgiven.

on June 15, 2006 11:12 AM
JumpingJack said

Surah Mutaffifeen 14: "Nay! But on their hearts is raan for what they used to earn."

Shaytan never stops working in his underhand ways to deviate us.

Thought-provoking.

on June 15, 2006 12:10 PM
Sister said

Salam

A beneficial article.

JazakAllah KHair

on August 25, 2006 5:42 PM
rabia said

scary thought..

if Allah swt prefers it if we do something 'small' but do it regularily rather than something 'big' occasionally.. why should we say that the small sins don't matter... over time those minor sins will pile up and leave their mark on our hearts..

on August 26, 2006 2:15 PM
Ali said

salamun alaykum

about the story of bursesah can some plz give me a prove for that

on April 15, 2007 9:07 AM
gillette said

To clarify, it isn't a hadith.

You should be able to find it in Talbees Iblees, by Ibnul Jawzi. I don't have a copy with me, so I can't give you a page reference. I think it was in one of the opening chapters though. He brings the chains of narrations for all the different routes.

on April 18, 2007 9:55 AM
Sa'ad said

Well, I put off reading this article for quite a long time now... because of the clause included :) About leaving a comment.

I remember one of my religious teachers telling me that Iman or the awareness of Allah is somethign that needs to be recharged all the time. And if we spend too much time with people and activities that distract us from Allah then our internal Iman bateries die down and we start drifting away from Ibaadah. That is why our beloved Prophet Sallahu Alaihi Wassalam asked us to establish prayer and dhikr continuously. As a way of continuosly reminding and recharging those internal batteries :)

This is so very true because I have witnessed it in my life so many times. And I feel so ashamed at some of the things I have done and said even while KNOWING that it was wrong :( Insha Allah i hope to be forgiven.

Btw... I came across this site a few months ago and I think by now that I have read through almost all the articles here and I have found it VERY enlightening and a source of inspiration and knowledge. I think i even envy most of you here for the knowledge that you possess, but ofcourse Masha Allah :)

on January 31, 2008 5:29 AM
AnonyMouse said

As-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatu,

Fascinating! Sooooooo true, that if we outwardly keep to "Christian/ Jewish/ Islamic" practices, we can convince ourselves that whatever we do after that is "no biggie"...

on February 7, 2008 4:13 PM
Saleha said

Subhanallah, mashallah
I'm stunned. I honestly don't know how else to put it. This has given me a real awakening to how shaytaan works, and it is very frightening. All that you mentioned is absolutely true, and unfortunately i can relate to it! Astaghfirallah. I pray to Allah to give me strength and keep away from the distractions of shaytaan!! And save me from this Nothing

Jazakallah khair so much for aaalll your articles! Alhamdulillah, they affected me in a very real way, and opened my eyes and my heart. May Allah keep you in good Imaan and health and provide you with blessings and Reward inshallah

Assalaamu alaikum

on June 13, 2009 9:06 PM
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