Ramadan: Recognizing the Traps (1)

When God created humanity, the devil was bothered, and even now, after Allah knows how many millinea, innumerable generations, Satan and his buddies are still after us.

In Islam—and if you know the Christian story, this one is a bit different—Iblis (Satan) was the best of a group of beings called the Jinn (from which we get Genie in English and on TV). He was so pious and of such high character that he got to hang out with the Angels up in Heaven.

When Allah created Adam allhi salam, Allah instructed all the witnesses to prostrate before the new creation, and all of the Angels prostrated before Adam, but Iblis refused. His pride in his piety and his race prevented him from bowing to something made of clay, and swore to distract us from our worship and attempt to lead us astray.

And even after all this time, millennia upon millennia, Satan is still trying to sway us. He does a pretty good job of it too, Astaghfirullah.

In Ramadan, without the distractions of food, drink, and sex, it becomes a bit easier to see the devil’s traps that may have insnared us, plus, as the hadith tell us, the devils (Satan and all his buddies) are chained up during Ramadan, so they’re not going to be busily disguising their traps or trying to trick you.

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ إِذَا دَخَلَ شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ فُتِّحَتْ أَبْوَابُ السَّمَاءِ، وَغُلِّقَتْ أَبْوَابُ جَهَنَّمَ، وَسُلْسِلَتِ الشَّيَاطِينُ” ‏

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.”

The obvious question, then, if the devils are chained, why do we continue to sin? Well, 1) habit: we’ve fooled around and turned the sins into habits, and nobody needs to urge us to continue our habits, and 2) free will: Allah azza wa jall blessed us with free will, with the freedom to follow His way or the highway.

In Ramadan, all the entrance ramps and detour signs and all don’t look quite as appealing, and InshaAllah we can take some time to look at ourselves and our actions, and try to recognize some of the traps that we’ve fallen into and try to extricate ourselves.

And Allah azza wa jall says “if My slave comes to Me by a handspan, I come to him by an arms length; and if he comes to Me by an arms length, I come to him by the span of both arms; and if he comes to Me walking, I come to him running.”

So what are these traps? Where should we look?

(I got the idea for this post or, given the lateness of the hour, an soon to be InshaAllah an ongoing series of posts from an excellent lecture from Imam Suhaib Webb, that you can stream here. The discussion of the 7 traps of Satan begins at about minute 38.)

So the Devil has laid out 8 traps for us. In order of severity:

  1. Doubt and Desire
  2. Innovation
  3. Major Sins
  4. Minor Sins
  5. Pursuing the Disliked
  6. Waste Time with the Permissible
  7. Choose the Lesser of Two Goods

So do I have any doubts? Am I curbing my desire? Am I innovating in the religion or practicing any of the major or minor sins? Have I chosen the disliked over purer options? Am I wasting the precious, limited time I have on permissible (but not quite beloved) things? Am I able to choose the best among goods?

May Allah protect me from all that, and guide me to better in every way.

Astaghfirullah, I had hoped to get some (internal) discussion underway on this, but it’s time to go water the garden and prepare for Iftar. InshaAllah over the coming days, I’ll use these 7 points to take a look at what’s going on in and around me, and may Allah guide me to recognize some traps and make some attempts extricate myself.

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