In the Shade of the Quran (part 30)

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  • In the Shade of the Quran (part 30)

  • Surah 114 Men - an Nas

    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful!


    Say: O seek refuge in the Lord of men, the King of men, the God of men, from the mischief of the slinking prompter, who whispers in the hearts of men, from among jinn and men. In the Shade of the Qur'an



    In this surah, as can be seen, refuge is sought in the Lord, Sovereign and God of mankind from the insidious whisperer, jinn or human who prompts evil ideas into people's minds. The surah presents the relevant attributes of Allah to keep away this invisible evil which the mind on its own cannot shut out. For the Lord is He who preserves directs, cherishes and protects mankind; the Sovereign is He who owns, governs and independently runs the world; and the Deity is He who supercedes all other beings and absolutely supervises over all their affairs. The particular mention of mankind here brings man closer to Allah's protection and care.

    Allah, the Merciful, instructs His Messenger and his nation or followers to recognize the attributes of His and seek His protection against this sneaking evil which locates itself within their hearts. For they cannot rid themselves of such an evil which creeps into their hearts surreptitiously and imperceptibly without the aid of Allah, the Lord, the Sovereign, the Deity.

    The nature of this evil-importing medium is identified in the text first as "the slinking prompter. " Its function is outlined as to "whisper in the hearts of men ". Then its origin is specified as "from among jinn and men."

    The style adopted here is quite significant because it draws one's attention fully to the identity of this sneaking whisperer after describing its nature in order to show the process by which that evil is insinuated, so that one is alerted to watch and confront it. For when one is given the full picture one knows that this sneaking whisperer operates secretly. One also realizes that it is jinn as well as human, for human beings are not exceptions in spreading evil while unseen.

    We do not know how the Jinn perform this whispering, but we certainly find its repercussions in the behaviour of individuals as well as in human life generally. We know for sure that the battle between Adam (man) and Iblis (Satan) is a very old one. War between the two was declared by Satan out of the evil inherent in him, his conceit and his envy and resentment of man. He was given Divine permission to carry out this battle for some purpose which Allah alone comprehends. But, significantly, man has not been left alone, dispossessed of the necessary means of protection. He has been provided with power of faith or "Iman", (that is, conscious belief in and knowledge of Allah and His attributes through conviction and sincere devotion).

    Meditation and seeking refuge in Allah are among the most effective weapons. When man neglects these means of security and defence, he indeed has only himself to blame.

    Ibn Abbas related that the Messenger of Allah had said,

    Satan besieges the individual's heart, he subsides whenever one conscientiously remembers Allah, but insinuates his evil whenever one is un-thoughtful of Him.

    As for humans we know a great deal of their curious ways of whispering and prompting and some types like the following are more devilish than the Devil:

    a bad companion who injects evil into his comrade's heart and mind while he is unaware, as he is thought to be trustworthy,

    a ruler's counselor or advisor who "whispers" to him and turns him into a destructive tyrant,

    an unscrupulous slanderer who fabricates and decorates tales and makes them sound factual and convincing,

    a hustler of immoral business and dealings who tries to get through to people by exploiting their sensual, unhealthy desires,

    a hundred other "whisperers" who lay various traps inconspicuously utilizing people's different weak points which they detect and look for.

    They are more devilish than even the jinn themselves. Faced with evil in this guise, man is not capable of ensuring his own safety. Allah therefore points out to him in this surah the means he can employ in this fierce battle.

    And there is a very direct significance in identifying the "prompter" as "slinking". For while this description indicates the secretiveness of this whisperer on the one hand, it is, on the other hand, an illusion to its intrinsic feebleness whenever it is discovered or resisted. It subsides and meekly withdraws when met in the open; or, as the Messenger said in his accurate illustrations,

    He (Satan) subsides whenever one conscientiously remembers Allah, but insinuates his evil whenever one is un-thoughtful of Him!

    This presentation fortifies the believer's heart in face of this timid, subsiding whisperer.

    Nevertheless, the battle is everlasting since this "prompter" is always watchful for the right moment (when one neglects the remembrance of Allah) to implant its evils. For the believer to be conscious of Allah once in a while is not sufficient, as the war is continuous till the end of time; this the Qur'an vividly states in a lucid picture: And when We (Allah) said to the angels, 'Fall down prostrate before Adam ', they fell prostrate except Iblis (Satan) who said, 'Shall I bow down before him whom You have created of clay? Do you see this creature whom You have honoured above me? If You give me grace until the Day of Resurrection, I will certainly destroy his offspring, save but a few'. 'Be gone!' said He. 'But you and whoever of them follows you will have Hell for reward. An ample reward it shall be. Rouse with your voice whomever you are able. Muster against them your horse men and your fool men. Be their partner in their wealth and in their off spring. Make them promises. Whatever Satan promises them is only for deceit. But over My true servants you shall have no power.' Your Lord is their all Sufficient Guardian. (Al-Qur'an 17:61-5)

    This concept of the battle and the source of evil in it, whether provoked by Satan himself or by his human agent, fully inspires man to feel that he is not helpless in it; since his Lord, Sovereign and Deity controls all creations and events. Though He has permitted Satan to attack, He has supreme power over him and He has also provided guidance for man. Allah leaves to Satan only those who neglect Him their Lord, Sovereign and Deity, but those who live in consciousness of Him are safe and protected against his intimidation's and incitements. Thus, righteousness is supported by the only true power of the Lord, Sovereign and Deity, whereas evil is backed by a slinking prompter, a sneaky whisperer, cowardly in the open field, quick to retreat in war, and easily defeated by one's seeking refuge with Allah.

    This is the most perfect conception of the battle between good and evil. It is a conception which protects the being against defeat and provides him with strength confidence and contentment.

    Praise be to Allah at the beginning and at the end. From Him we derive confidence and success. To Him we turn for unfailing support.

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