Teensie-Weensie Tafsir Gems: Human devils can be buttered up

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

Many people seem to think that jinns and devils are one and the same.


Jinns can be believers or disbelievers. And devils can be from the jinns or humans.

A disbelieving jinn is both a devil and a jinn.

Now, is there any difference between a human devil and a jinn devil? Well, they’re both exceptionally nasty so, in that sense, I guess not.

But there are some subtle differences in how we should deal with both of them,  according to Imam Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah) in his explanation of the Istiadhah, at the beginning of his tafsir of Surah Al-Fatihah.

What is the istiadhah, you ask? It’s saying Audhu billahi min ash-shaytanir-rajeem (I seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan (Satan), the cursed).

Ibn Kathir states:

“The Istiadhah cleanses the mouth from the foul speech that it has indulged in. It also purifies the mouth and prepares it to recite the speech of Allah. Further, the Istiadhah entails seeking Allah’s help and acknowledging His ability to do everything. The Istiadhah also affirms the servant’s meekness, weakness and inability to face the enemy of his inner evil, whom Allah alone, Who created this enemy, is able to repel and defeat. This enemy does not accept kindness, unlike the human enemy. There are three Ayat in the Qur’an that affirm this fact. Also, Allah said,

﴿إِنَّ عِبَادِى لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَـنٌ وَكَفَى بِرَبِّكَ وَكِيلاً ﴾

(Verily, My servants (i.e. the true believers of Islamic Monotheism) ـ you have no authority over them. And sufficient is your Lord as a Guardian.) (17:65).

We should state here that the believers, whom the human enemies kill, become martyrs, while those who fall victim to the inner enemy – Satan – become bandits. Further, the believers who are defeated by the apparent enemy – disbelievers – gain a reward, while those defeated by the inner enemy earn a sin and become misguided. Since Satan sees man where man cannot see him, it is befitting that the believers seek refuge from Satan with Whom Satan cannot see. The Istiadhah is a form of drawing closer to Allah and seeking refuge with Him from the evil of every evil creature.”

Imam Ibn Kathir continues:

“Istiadhah means, “I seek refuge with Allah from the cursed Satan so that he is prevented from affecting my religious or worldly affairs, or hindering me from adhering to what I was commanded, or luring me into what I was prohibited from.” Indeed, only Allah is able to prevent the evil of Satan from touching the son of Adam. This is why Allah allowed us to be lenient and kind with the human devil, so that his soft nature might cause him to refrain from the evil he is indulging in. However, Allah required us to seek refuge with Him from the evil of Satan, because he neither accepts bribes nor does kindness affect him, for he is pure evil. Thus, only He Who created Satan is able to stop his evil. This meaning is reiterated in only three Ayat in the Quran. Allah said in Surat Al-Araaf,

﴿خُذِ الْعَفْوَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْعُرْفِ وَأَعْرِض عَنِ الْجَـهِلِينَ ﴾

(Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (i.e. don’t punish them).) (7:199)

This is about dealing with human beings. He then said in the same Surah,

﴿وَإِمَّا يَنَزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ الشَّيْطَـنِ نَزْغٌ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ ﴾

(And if an evil whisper comes to you from Shaytan, then seek refuge with Allah. Verily, He is Hearing, Knowing (7: 200).)

Allah also said in Surat Al-Muminoon,

﴿ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ السَّيِّئَةَ نَحْنُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يَصِفُونَ – وَقُلْ رَّبِّ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ هَمَزَاتِ الشَّيـطِينِ – وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ رَبِّ أَن يَحْضُرُونِ ﴾

(Repel evil with that which is better. We are Best-Acquainted with the things they utter. And say: “My Lord! I seek refuge with You from the whisperings (suggestions) of the Shayatin (devils). And I seek refuge with You, My Lord! lest they should come near me.” (23:96-98).)

Further, Allah said in Surat As-Sajdah,

﴿وَلاَ تَسْتَوِى الْحَسَنَةُ وَلاَ السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِى بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِىٌّ حَمِيمٌ – وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ صَبَرُواْ وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَآ إِلاَّ ذُو حَظِّ عَظِيمٍ – وَإِمَّا يَنزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ الشَّيْطَـنِ نَزْغٌ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ ﴾

(The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better, then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. But none is granted it (the above quality) except those who are patient ـ and none is granted it except the owner of the great portion (of happiness in the Hereafter, i.e. Paradise and of a high moral character) in this world. And if an evil whisper from Shaytan tries to turn you away (from doing good), then seek refuge in Allah. Verily, He is the Hearing, the Knowing) (41:34-36).”

Subhan Allah, we spend so much time worrying about our human enemies, yet they can be buttered up.

Shaytan (the devil), on the other hand, is pure evil and cannot be overcome except with the help of Allah. Yet how much time do we spend worrying about that??

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2 thoughts on “Teensie-Weensie Tafsir Gems: Human devils can be buttered up”

  1. SubhanAllah that was such an eye-opener!

    May Allah reward you for this wonderful work you are doing. Really enjoying your posts and look forward to reading them everyday.

    1. Assalamu Alaikum.

      How are you?

      I’m glad that you’re enjoying the posts, alhamdulillah.

      And jazakillahu kheira for your constant encouragement. It means a lot.

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