Surely, the devil is your enemy, so take him on as an enemy. Indeed, he invites his party to become the companions of the inferno [35:6]
To vanquish any enemy, we need to know his strategy so that we can effectively counteract it. God gives humankind the necessary intelligence to defeat the devil in the Quran.
He said, “Since You have willed that I go astray, I will skulk for them on Your straight path.” [7:16]
As clear from 7:16, the enemy’s strategy is geared towards accomplishing one objective: Diverting us from the straight path of God.
From the beginning of the conflict, the devil has been implementing the same strategy to achieve his objective. The example of Adam and his spouse is given in the Quran to forewarn us about the devil’s strategy. God told Adam and his spouse not to come near the forbidden tree for their own benefit (in order not to be unjust, see 2:35, 7:19). The devil told them to taste the tree for their own benefit (to become angels or immortals, see 7:20). Note that the devil did not ask them to disobey God directly, instead he fabricated a nice sounding lie. The act of them eating from the tree is the effect of them not adhering to the law set by God and following the fabricated lies of the devil. As we will see, it seems that our enemy is not very intelligent or creative, in all this time he hasn’t changed this ancient strategy.
To work, this strategy involves three basic steps. First, the lies have to be fabricated, next they have to be propagated, and finally they have to be institutionalized. Luckily, for those of us who aim to avoid defeat, each step of this evil strategy and ways to counteract it are spelled out in the Quran.
Step 1: Human and jinn devils (the instigators)
Thus, We have given each prophet enemies, human and jinn's devils, who inspire to each other fancy sayings to deceive. Had your Lord willed, they would not have done it, so disregard them and what they fabricate [6:112]
Shall I inform you upon whom the devils descend? [26:221] They descend upon every guilty fabricator. [26:222] They pretend to listen, but most of them are liars. [26:223]
The enemies of the prophets are the “foot soldiers” of the devil. They deliberately and knowingly lie about God.
As we can see, jinn and human devils provide the first line of assault in the devil’s war of lies both during and after the Prophets’ time. The most dangerous ones pretend to be close allies of the Prophets or even their disciples. The example of Jesus’ disciples is given in the Quran to show that even some of the apparent devotees who pledged allegiance to the Prophets could in reality betray them.
When Jesus sensed their disbelief, he said, "Who are my supporters towards God?" The disciples said, "We are God’s supporters; we believe in God, and bear witness that we are submitters." [3:52] "Our Lord, we have believed in what You have sent down, and we have followed the messenger; count us among the witnesses." [3:53] They plotted and schemed, but so did God, and God is the best schemer. [3:54]
It is certain that the Prophets didn’t know all their contemporary enemies and thus those enemies might have been able to gain credibility by pretending to be friendly with the Prophets.
Among the Arabs around you, there are hypocrites. Also, among the city dwellers, there are those who are accustomed to hypocrisy. You do not know them, but we know them. We will torment them twice and then they will end up committed to a terrible retribution. [9:101]
Now, if those hypocrites were able to hide their true intentions from the Prophets, they probably did an even better job of deceiving regular people. Hence, in the generations that followed, they may have been respected and even regarded as “saints”.
The assortment of lies may range from melodramatic stories where a savior or intercessor saves the day, to the plain absurd and harmful to your health (a.k.a. “don’t try this at home” variety). The lies often try to recycle the very same bad customs and practices that God’s message put an end to.
As evident in 6:112, the lies take the form of fancy or “nice sounding” sayings. One of the best ways to make something “nice sounding” is to falsely attribute it to the Prophets by altering their message. Unfortunately for prophet Mohamed’s enemies, God protected the Quran from the lies as stated in 15:9 and 41:42. As a result, the devil’s helpers were forced to find any channel other than the Quran to distribute their lies.
Step 2: Regular humans (the propagators)
This is to let the minds of those who do not believe in the Hereafter listen to such fabrications, and accept them, and thus perpetrate what they are perpetrating. [6:113]
The second group targeted by the devil’s strategy is the one who will accept the lies of the first group.
O’ humankind consume from the earth’s provisions, for they are permitted and good, and do not follow the footsteps of the devil for he is your explicit enemy. [2:168] Instead he instructs you with evil and sin and that you say about God what you have no knowledge of. [2:169]
Knowing that the average decent human being wouldn’t knowingly lie about God, the devil does not instruct typical humans to directly lie about God, instead he instructs them to say about God “what they have no knowledge of”.
If one repeats something that was told to him or her without alteration, on the surface one wouldn’t be lying. However, if one repeats something without knowing the source and finding the truth for oneself, as commanded by God in 17:36 then it is likely that he or she is unknowingly spreading lies. As indicated in 42:21, in the case of religion, the only source can be God.
Unfortunately for those who like to claim ignorance, God says that not knowing that you are in fact lying is not an excuse. Even Prophets are subject to this rule as we see in 69:44-45.
And if he (Mohamed) said about Us some sayings (69:44) We would surely take from him all control (69:45)
Note that God did not say, “if he (Mohamed) lied”, He said “if he (Mohamed) said about Us some sayings”. Which means that the Prophet cannot say anything on his own about God, regardless of whether he knows it is a lie or not.
The lies may outlive the fabricators because each generation may blindly believe in what their ancestors believed in and indoctrinate it into their children as we see in 2:170 and 7:28.
And if they are told to follow what God has granted, they say ‘nonetheless we follow what we found our forefathers on’ What if their forefathers do not understand a thing and are not guided (2:170)
They commit a gross sin, then say, "We found our parents doing this, and God has commanded us to do it." Say, "God never advocates sin. Are you saying about God what you do not know?" (7:28)
Many of the lies are especially cruel and degrading to women. Those lies serve two key purposes for the devil. In addition to depriving those who believe in those lies from the talents and energies of half their people, the other half’s crucial early years of upbringing are entrusted to subjugated mothers. It has been long known by socio-psychologists that the products of such an upbringing are likely to grow up arrogant, passive, and narrow-minded. These are all necessary traits to breed generation after generation of propagators who are raised not to question inherited dogma and customs.
Step 3: The institutionalization of the lies (the “taghoot”)
The third and final step in the devil’s scheme is to institutionalize the lies. This can sometimes take place a long time, perhaps even hundreds of years, after the Prophet’s time.
Now that many years have passed, it would be such a shame for the devil if all the lies were forgotten eight or ten generations later. He would be forced to find more idiotic instigators to re-fabricate them. But wait, by now, there are many people who are making a living out of fabricating and promoting those baseless, illogical lies. (See 2:79,174, 3:187, 9:9)
So woe to those who write scripture with their own hands then say: "This is from God" to accept with it a small gain. So woe to them from what their hands wrote, and woe to them from what they reaped. [2:79]
Unfortunately, there are many willing customers as indicated in 31:6.
Among the people, there are those who accept distracting sayings, to divert from the path of God without knowledge, and take it in vain. These have incurred a shameful retribution. [31:6]
Remember the devil’s original objective. Now his strategy has come full circle and it succeeded in diverting those who accepted the lies from the path of God.
Average people regard the clergy with gratitude for taking away from them the burden of having to think for themselves and sift through the thousands of obscure, irrelevant, and often boring pieces of so called wisdom. The clergy simply tells people what to do and they happily oblige:
They will also say, "Our Lord, we have obeyed our masters and leaders, but they led us astray. [33:67]
Members of the priestly class who are making a living out of the lies are a great fit for positions in the propaganda and brain washing machine of corrupt politicians. Naturally, because the clergy support political rulers, political power struggles often turned into religious sects. Each sect had to collect their lies and make them into a canon so that they can more easily defend their legitimacy and injustices towards others. Long after the collection process, the clergy might even invent the science of “seeing through the heart of men who died long time ago” to justify their predecessors’ lie selections.
Historically, religious lies are collected and canonized shortly after different religious sects appear. Each sect is proud and happy with what they have and think that they are better than other sects.
But they tore themselves into disputing factions; each party happy with what they have. [23:53]
(Do not fall in idol worship,) like those who divide their religion into sects; each party rejoicing with what they have. [30:32]
Ironically, they broke up into sects only after the knowledge had come to them, due to jealousy and resentment among themselves. If it were not for a predetermined decision from your Lord to respite them for a definite interim, they would have been judged immediately. Indeed, the later generations who inherited the scripture are full of doubts. [42:14]
Of course, many of the lies within a party try to push that they are better than all the others. The other parties now have to defend themselves and push the lies that claim that they are the “chosen ones” and that their Prophet is the “best of the messengers”. Sometimes the lie may become bigger and bigger until the Prophet is claimed to be “son of God” (God be most exalted above what they associate) as in the case of Jesus. (See 18:5)
This is why God forbade us from differentiating between messengers (See 2:136, 2:285, 3:84, 4:152). The Almighty knows what this path will lead to.
God warns us that the “taghoot” is the lies that the transgressors use to promote injustice and tyranny. The taghoot is described as the opposite of the Quran.
Have you noted those who claim that they believed in what was revealed to you, and in what was revealed before you, they want to judge with the “taghoot”? They were commanded to reject it. Indeed, it is the devil's wish to lead them far astray. [4:60]
As you can imagine, in their zeal to fabricate the lies, the instigators produced thousands upon thousands of lies. Like a game of Chinese whispers across the centuries, the propagators, in turn, spread each one in hundreds of versions. The result is that a few hundred years after a Prophet’s time, literally millions of lies are in consumption. Even with the institutionalization of only the best lies into the taghoot, they are still enough to fill volumes upon volumes. In fact, the quantity of the taghoot may be a lot more then the Quran. Of course, it is quality that matters in this case as indicated in 5:100.
Proclaim: "The bad and the good are not the same, even if the abundance of the bad may impress you. You shall reverence God, O you who possess intelligence, that you may succeed." [5:100]
This is the final stage of the devil’s strategy where the lies become self-promoting. The existence of the clergy is tied to the lies. Without the lies, the clergy would be unemployed.
BASIC COUNTER STRATEGY
God has armed us all with a basic natural instinct: the true religion.
"Therefore, you shall devote yourself to the religion of monotheism. Such is the natural instinct placed into the people by God. Such creation of God will never change. This is the perfect religion, but most people do not know." [30:30]
God tells us that understanding nature and looking inside ourselves for answers is the way to tap this basic natural instinct.
The earth is full of signs for those who are certain. [51:20] And within yourselves; can you see? [51:21]
The example of Abraham is given to show that by simply examining nature, looking within oneself, and asking God for guidance one can defeat the devil.
When he saw the moon rising, he said, “Maybe this is my Lord! Unless my Lord guides me, I will surely be one of the stray people” [6:77] When he saw the sun rising, he said, “This must be my Lord. This is bigger.” But when it set, he said, “O my people, I denounce your idolatry. [6:78] I have devoted myself absolutely to the One who initiated the heavens and the earth; I will never be an idol worshiper.” [6:79]
This clearly shows that this basic counter strategy and no more is enough to defeat the devil. He has no power over those who worship God alone.
He (Satan) said, "My Lord, since You have willed that I go astray, I will surely entice them on earth; I will send them all astray. Except those among Your worshipers who are devoted absolutely to You alone." He (God) said, "This is a law that is inviolable: you have no power over my servants; you only have power over the strayers who follow you." [15:39-42]
Therefore, devote yourself to God alone and seek refuge in God alone.
ADVANCED COUNTER STRATEGIES
The following advanced counter-strategies will not be effective except if we deployed the basic counter-strategy first.
1. Follow Quran alone:
God has granted humankind the tool to fight back. Quran, the absolute truth that defeats the lies of the devil. Immediately after warning us about the fabricators in 6:112-113, God tells us how to counteract the devil’s strategy in 6:114.
Shall I seek other than God as a source of law, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed? Those who received the scripture recognize that it has been revealed from your Lord, truthfully. You shall not harbor any doubt. [6:114]
The main argument proposed by the propagators against simply following only the Quran that God has granted is a weak and illogical one as demonstrated in 2:170.
And if they are told to follow what God has granted, they say ‘nonetheless we follow what we found our forefathers on’ What if their forefathers do not understand a thing and are not guided [2:170]
When they are told, "Follow these revelations of God," they say, "No, we follow only what we found our parents doing." What if the devil is leading them to the agony of the inferno? [31:21]
This preemptive counterstrategy would close all the loopholes that the devil’s lies can enter through and would defeat his strategy.
2. Gain knowledge:
The people described in verses 7:28, 31:6, and 2:169 have a similar trait, lack of knowledge. To effectively counteract the devil’s strategy we have to gain more knowledge about God and His true religion, both through His written words, the Quran, and His unwritten words, nature. Understanding the Quran is a personal endeavor that must be undertaken by each one of us. We shouldn’t take the interpretations of other people for granted. It is God who explains the Quran, not the Prophets or present day high priests (a.k.a. Mullahs, Sheiks, Clerics, Rabbis, Preachers, etc).
Once We recite it, you shall follow such a Quran. [75:18] Then it is We who will explain it [75:19]
God explains the Quran directly to each of us through our own mind that He created:
The Almighty. [55:1] Teacher of the Quran. [55:2] Created the human, [55:3] taught him how to explain. [55:4]
3. Perform “Salat”:
Regular meditation that is focused on God alone is another way to purify our soul from the devil’s deceptions that ask us to commit sin and evil. (See 29:45)
4. Give out “Sadakat”:
Giving money that we can spare to charity so that we purify it from the devil’s deceptions that try to make us spend it on sin and inflate our ego.
Satan promises you poverty and commands you with sin, while God promises you forgiveness from Him and grace. God is Bounteous, Knowledgeable. [2:268]
5. Strive to give Zakat:
Purifying the minds of others from the lies of the devil is yet another way to counteract the devil’s strategy. Many confuse Zakat with Sadakat (purification of money). The first few verses of chapter 80 confirm the true meaning of Zakat. They recount an incident where the Prophet ignored a blind man.
How do you know? He may “yazaka”. [80:3]
“Yazaka” signifies accepting “Zakat”. Clearly, in the context of chapter 80, Zakat is purifying the blind man by convincing him to reject the devil’s lies and accept God’s message, as opposed to money. Thus, everyone who wants to give Zakat is required to make an effort to purify others by exposing the lies for what they are. I hope that, with God’s help, I have just contributed some Zakat.
This is the book, no doubt, in it guidance for the cautious. [2:2]
Tomorrow our understanding of the Quran and the Universe will evolve, except if God wills otherwise. This article reflects my personal interpretation of the Quranic verses as of December 28th, 2001. Please be humble by following the example set by the angels in 2:32, verify all information within for yourself as commanded by God in 17:36, and remember that simply “none” is the cautious answer to God’s question in 45:6.
By Ayman (firstname.lastname@example.org)