In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
The Different Directions through Which Iblees Approaches the Children of Aadam
Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said that Allaah said, “Indeed, I created all My servants upon the natural disposition to worship and obey Me alone, then the devils misled them from their religion and forbade them from what I made lawful for them and commanded them to associate with Me that which I have not sent down any authority for”. [Saheeh Muslim 2865]
Allaah [The Exalted] informed us in Soorah An-Nisaa Ayah 119 that shaytaan said: [وَلَأُضِلَّنَّهُمْ- Verily, I will mislead them]- Meaning: From the truth. [وَلَأُمَنِّيَنَّهُم – And surely, I will arouse in them false desires]. Ibn Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with and his father) said: He (shaytaan) desires to hinder (them) from repentance and to delay it. (1)
[وَلَآمُرَنَّهُمْ فَلَيُبَتِّكُنَّ آذَانَ الْأَنْعَامِ – I will order them to slit the ears of cattle]- Meaning, to cut off the ears of the cattle]. [وَلَآمُرَنَّهُمْ فَلَيُغَيِّرُنَّ خَلْقَ اللَّهِ – And indeed I will order them to change the nature created by Allah]. Ibn Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him and his father) said: He (iblees) intends by this the religion of Allaah. And the meaning of this is that Allaah created His slaves upon an upright fitrah (i.e. an upright natural disposition that will enable them to recognize Allaah, accept the call of the messengers when it reaches them and worship Allaah alone), as He (the most high) said:
فَأَقِمۡ وَجۡهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفً۬اۚ فِطۡرَتَ ٱللَّهِ ٱلَّتِى فَطَرَ ٱلنَّاسَ عَلَيۡہَاۚ لَا تَبۡدِيلَ لِخَلۡقِ ٱللَّهِۚ ذَٲلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلۡقَيِّمُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَڪۡثَرَ ٱلنَّاسِ لَا يَعۡلَمُونَ
So set you (O Muhammad) your face towards the religion of true Monotheism- Hanifa (worship none but Allah Alone) Allah’s Fitrah (i.e. Allah’s Islamic Monotheism), with which He has created mankind. No change let there be in Khalqillah (i.e. the Religion of Allah Islamic Monotheism), that is the straight religion, but most of men know not. (Always) Turning in repentance to Him (only), and be afraid and dutiful to Him….[Soorah Ar-Rum Aayaat 30-31]
And that is why the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: Every child is born on a Fitrah [a natural disposition to recognize Allaah, accept the call of the messengers when it reaches them and worship Allaah alone], but his/her parents convert them him/her to Judaism, Christianity or Magianism, as an animal gives birth to a perfect baby animal. Do you find it mutilated?’’ Then after (narrating this hadeeth) Abu Hurairah recited: [فِطْرَتَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا- Allah’s Islamic Monotheism, with which He has created mankind.
Therefore, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) mentioned two affairs: The alteration of the fitrah through Judaism and Christianity and the alteration of the original natural physical appearance of the creation through mutilation. They are two affairs which iblees said that he must change-alteration of the natural disposition (through) incitement towards disbelief and alteration of the original natural physical appearance through mutilation. So he (iblees) changes the fitrah through incitement towards shirk and alteration of the original natural appearance (of the creation) through cutting and mutilation. This one is alteration of the fitrah of the soul and that one the alteration of the original natural appearance of the creation. (2)
And Allaah [The Exalted] stated that shaytaan said:
قَالَ فَبِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ
ثُمَّ لَآتِيَنَّهُمْ مِنْ بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَنْ شَمَائِلِهِمْ وَلاَ تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ
(Iblis) said: “Because You have sent me astray, surely I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path. Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You).” [7:16-17]
[ثُمَّ لَآتِيَنَّهُم مِّن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ – Then I will come to them from before them and behind them]; Ibn Abbaas said this means, ‘’I [Iblees] will bring doubts to them about the Hereafter.’’[وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ – and behind them]; Ibn Abbaas said that this means, ‘’I [Iblees] will make them covetous for the worldly things.’’ [وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ – and from their right]; Ibn Abbaas said this means, ‘’I [Iblees] will make their religion obscure [by making them hold onto doubtful matters which they would consider to be the truth]. [وَعَن شَمَائِلِهِمْ – and from their left]; Al-Hasan [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said this means, ‘’I [Iblees] will command them to commit evil deeds, urge them toward it and beautify it in their eyes [i.e. make it fair seeming to them]’’.
It has also been reported from Ibn Abbaas who said that Iblees did not say, “And from above them” because he knows that Allaah is above them. Qataadah [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, ‘’O son of Adam! Shaytaan comes to you from every direction but not from above because he is not able to come between you and the Mercy of Allaah. (3)
A Warning to Those Who Help the Fitrah Transgressors through False Analogy
Imam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said:
It has been stated that the reason behind Iblees being distanced [from Allaah’s Mercy] is because of false interpretation, for indeed he made an analogy with the text and gave precedence to the analogy over the text. He made a false interpretation about himself and that [his so called] rational analogy takes precedence over the command to prostrate. [Allaah informed us that Iblees said]:
[أنا خير منه – I am better than him (i.e. Aadam)], and that a virtuous one cannot humble himself to one who has been given virtue over him; therefore he quickly said [as Allaah informed us that Iblees said]: [خلقتني من نار وخلقته من طين – You created me from fire, and him you created from clay].
Therefore, he thought that this rational analogy that resembles truth- even though it is false – will benefit him in his false interpretation. So, he became the leader of everyone- until the day of judgement- who makes a false interpretation of the texts of the revelation. How many people in this world are followers of this cursed leader! And if you contemplate on the majority of those doubts that are made to resemble the truth by the false interpreters of the texts and seeking to nullify them, you will find that it is similar to the doubts of Iblees which he seeks to portray as truth. So, a person says: If the intellect and the text oppose each other, then give precedence to the intellect.
This is where this principle is derived from and he [i.e. the proponent of this affair] use it as a fundamental principle through which he rejects those texts of the revelation which he claims are in opposition to the intellect, just as his leader Iblees claimed that a [so called] rational proof opposed the command to make sujood. This doubt came to him due to pride which prevented him from submitting to the clear texts of the revelation. Likewise, you find every false disputer against the texts of the revelation does so due to pride. Allaah [The Exalted] said:
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يُجَـٰدِلُونَ فِىٓ ءَايَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ بِغَيۡرِ سُلۡطَـٰنٍ أَتَٮٰهُمۡۙ إِن فِى صُدُورِهِمۡ إِلَّا ڪِبۡرٌ۬ مَّا هُم بِبَـٰلِغِيهِۚ فَٱسۡتَعِذۡ بِٱللَّهِۖ إِنَّهُ ۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلۡبَصِيرُ
Verily, those who dispute about the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah, without any authority having come to them, there is nothing else in their breasts except pride [to accept you (Muhammad ) as a Messenger of Allah and to obey you]. They will never have it (i.e. Prophet hood which Allah has bestowed upon you). So seek refuge in Allah (O Muhammad from the arrogants). Verily, it is He Who is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer]. [Surah Ghaafir. Aayah 56] (4)
[Ref 1: A’laam Al-Muwaqqi’een 1/67-69]
[Ref 2: Source: Ighaathatul Luhfaan 1/105-107]
[Ref 3: Ighaathatul lahfaan 1/105-107. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 4: An Excerpt from ‘As-Sawaa’iq Al-Mursalah 1/371-372’. Slightly paraphrased]