THE STORY OF SATAN
As told to the Prophet
(May the blessing and peace of Allah be upon him)
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds; and blessing and peace be upon our master Muhammad, the righteous Prophet, upon his family, the pure ones, and upon his companions.
As reported by Mu'adh ibn Jabal (r.a.). Abd-Allah the son of `Abbas (r.a.) said: "We were sitting together in a group with the Apostle of Allah (PBUH) in the house of one of the Ansar, when someone called out 'O people of the house! Will you permit me to enter? I have a task to fulfill for you'. "
"Do you know who the caller is?" asked the Apostle of Allah (PBUH). "Allah and His Apostle knows best." They said. So the Apostle of Allah (PBUH) told them: "This is Satan, the Cursed One whom Allah has dammed." "Let me kill him, O Apostle of Allah !(PBUH)" said Umar ibn al Khattab (r.a.), but the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Gently, Umar. Do you not realize that he is among those granted respite until the Appointed Day? Instead, open the door for him, for he is under command. Understand what he says and listen to what he has to tell you."
Abd-Allah son of `Abbas (r.a.) continued: "So the door was opened for him and he entered to join them. He was an old man, blind in one eye and with only very thin hair growing on his face. His beard consisted of seven hairs like those of the horse, and his eyes were set vertically. His head was like that of a great elephant, his eye-teeth protruded like the tusks of a boar, and his lips were like those of a bull."
"Peace be upon you, Muhammad." He said, "and peace be upon you, O gathering of Muslims." "Peace is of Allah (SWT), Cursed One," said the Prophet (PBUH). "I have heard. What is your desire?" "Muhammad," he said to him, "I did not come to you of my own accord, but rather because I was forced to do so." "And what is that, that forced you, Cursed One?" asked the Prophet (PBUH). Satan replied, "An angel came to me from the Exalted Lord and told me, 'Allah Most High orders you to come to Muhammad (PBUH). Be humble, abject and unpretentious; tell him how you deceive and mislead the sons of Adam (AS), and answer truthfully any question he asks you. By my might and glory, if you tell him a single lie or fail to be truthful with him, I will turn you into ashes for the winds to blow away, and your enemies will gloat at your misfortune.' So I have come to you as I was ordered, Muhammad. Ask me anything you want, for if I do not respond truthfully to what you ask me my enemies will gloat at my misfortune, and nothing is there more unbearable than the gloating of one's enemies."
"If you be sincere," said the Apostle of Allah (PBUH), "then tell me - who among men do you most hate?" "You Muhammad," replied Satan, "and those like you are to me the most hated of Allah's (SWT) Creatures." "What else do you hate?" the Prophet (PBUH) asked. "The devoted youth who dedicates his soul to Allah Almighty." "And then who?" "A pious learned man I know to be patient." "And then who?" "He who remains pure through three prayers." "And then who?" "A patient pauper, if he speaks of his poverty to no one and does not complain of his plight." "And how do you know him to be patient?" "Muhammad, if he complained of his plight to another, created as he is, for three consecutive days, Allah (SWT) would not record for him the merit allotted to the patient." "And then who?" "The rich man who is thankful." "And how do you know him to be thankful?" asked the Prophet (PBUH). "When I see him take the right thing and put it in the right place."
"Then the Prophet (PBUH) asked, "What happens to you when my people rise for prayer?" "Muhammad," he replied, "I am afflicted by fever and trembling." "Why Cursed One?" </B>"Because when the worshiper prostrates himself before Allah (SWT), Allah (SWT) raises him a step." "And when they fast?" "I am fettered until they lapse." "And when they make the pilgrimage?" "I become insane." "And when they read the Qur`an?" "I melt, as lead melts over the fire." "And when they give alms?" "It is as if the almsgiver had taken a saw and cut me in two." "And why is that, Abu Murra?"1 asked the Prophet (PBUH). "In almsgiving there are four benefits," he said; "and they are that Allah Almighty sends down blessing on all his possessions, endears him to His Creation, makes his offering a screen between him and the Fire, and through it defends him from infirmities and disasters."
[What do you say of Abu Bakr Siddiq? * omitted *] "He did not submit to me in the days of ignorance, Muhammad, so how could he do so under Islam?" "And what say you of `Umar ibn al-Khattab?" "By Allah (SWT), I never encountered him without fleeing from him." "And what say you of `Uthman ibn Affan?" "I feel ashamed before one whom the angels of the Merciful feel ashamed." "And what say you of `Ali ibn Abi Talibi?" "Would Allah (SWT) that I were secure from him head for head; he would leave me alone and I would leave him alone. But that he has never done." "Praise be to Allah (SWT), who has made my community felicitous and you wretched until the Appointed Day," said the Apostle of Allah (PBUH).
But Satan, the Cursed One, said to him, "Alas, how wrong you are! Where is the felicity of your community while I live and die not until the Appointed Day?" How can you be pleased with your community while I enter them through the bloodstream and flesh and they recognize me not? By He who created me and granted me respite until the day when they are called forth, I shall tempt them all, ignorant and learned, illiterate and literate, blasphemer and worshiper, except for the sincerely devoted worshipers of Allah (SWT)."
"And who, according to you, are the sincerely devoted ones?" "Do you not know, Muhammad, that he who cherishes the dirham and dinar is not sincerely devoted to Allah Almighty? When I see a man who loves neither dirham nor dinar, nor flattery nor praise, I know that he is sincerely devoted to Allah Almighty and so leave him alone. But as long as the worshiper cherishes wealth and flattery, and his heart is preoccupied with worldly desires, he will be more submissive than I could possibly describe to you. Do you not know that the love of wealth is one of the most heinous sins of all, Muhammad; and that the lust for power is one of the most heinous sins of all; and that pride is one of the most heinous sins of all? Do you not know, Muhammad, that I have 70,000 sons, each of whom has 70,000 devils? Among these are those I assign to the learned men, those I assign to young men, those I assign to old men, those I assign to old women - as for the young men, there is no disagreement between us and them; and as for the boys, the [devils] play with them as they choose - those I assign to worshipers, and those I assign to ascetics. They enter among them and drive them out from station to station and gate to gate until they beguile them by one means or another; they deprive them of sincerity, so they worship Allah Almighty insincerely and yet do not realize it."
"Do you not know, Muhammad, that the monk Barisa devoted seventy sincere years to Allah (SWT), to the point that he could cure by his invocation anyone who was ill; yet I did not abandon him until he had fornicated, murdered and apostatized. He is the one to whom Allah Almighty referred in His Glorious Book when He said: 'Like Satan, when he said to Man, "Disbelieve;" then, when he disbelieved, he said, "Surely I fear Allah (SWT), the Lord of the Worlds.'"2
"Do you not know, Muhammad, that lying is my doing, that I was the first to lie, and that whoever lies is my friend and whoever swears falsely in Allah's (SWT) name is my beloved? Do you not know, Muhammad, that in Allah's (SWT) name I swore to Adam and Eve (AS). 'For Allah's sake, surely I am one of your sincerest advisors.' The lying oath is the joy of my heart; slander and defamation are my fruits and my delight; and bearing false witness brings pleasure and satisfaction to my eye."
"He who swears divorce is on the brink of sin, even if he does so only once, or acts in good faith. The wife of him whose tongue has grown accustomed to divorce is forbidden to him; but they do not cease to beget children until the Resurrection Day, and all of those will be children of adultery and will enter the Fire for the sake of a word."
"Muhammad, in your community there are those who postpone the prayer an hour or so. Every time he wants to rise for prayer, I stand by him and whisper wicked suggestions to him and tell him, 'There is still time; you are busy,' until he puts off the prayer and performs it at other than its appointed time, for which it is flung back in his face. If he defeats me I send to him one of the devils of mankind to delay him beyond the time for prayer, and if he defeats me in that, I leave him alone until he is praying and then say to him, 'Look to the right and left.' So he looks, and as he does so I stroke his face with my hand, kiss him between the eyes and tell him, 'Surely you have done what can never be forgiven.' And you yourself know, Muhammad, that Allah (SWT) flings back in his face the prayer of one who keeps looking around as he performs it."
"If he defeats me in the prayer and is praying alone, I tell him to hurry; he pecks at the prayer like a rooster pecks at seeds, and rushes through it. If he defeats me and is praying in a group, I hold him back with a bridle, raise his head before the Imam and lower it before the Imam. And you yourself know, Muhammad, that the prayer of one who does that counts for nothing, and on the Resurrection Day Allah (SWT) will turn his head into that of an ass."
"And if he defeats me in that, I tell him to crack his knuckles during the prayer, so that he becomes one of my worshipers as he prays. And if he defeats me in that I blow into his nose until he yawns while he prays, and if he does not put his hand over his mouth the devil enters his stomach, making him increasingly greedy for and fond of things of the world, and attentive and submissive to me."
"And is there any felicity for your community while I order the poor to stop praying, telling him, 'Prayer is not your obligation, but rather the obligation of him to whom Allah (SWT) has shown favor,' and telling the sick, 'Stop praying; it is not your obligation, but rather the obligation of him whom Allah (SWT) has favored with good health, for Allah Almighty has said: "There is no fault in the sick."3 When you recover you will pray as you should,' so that he dies as an apostate. And when he dies having abandoned prayer in his illness, he meets Allah Almighty and Allah (SWT) is displeased with him."
"If I have lied or digressed, Muhammad, ask Allah (SWT) to turn me into ashes. Can you rejoice in your community, Muhammad, when I have diverted a sixth of it from the path of Islam?" "Cursed One," asked the Prophet (PBUH), who is your table companion?" "The usurer." "And who is your friend?" "The fornicator." "And your bedfellow?" "The drunkard." "Who is your guest?" "The thief." "And who is your envoy?" "The sorcerer." "What is refreshing to your eye?" "He who swears divorce." "And who is your beloved?" "The one who abandons the Friday prayer."
"Cursed One," said the Apostle of Allah (PBUH), "What breaks your back?" "The whinnying of the horses in the cause of Allah (SWT)." "And what wastes away your body?" "The repentance of the contrite." "And what inflames your liver?" "Frequent seeking of Allah's (SWT) forgiveness by night and day." "What embarrasses you?" "Giving alms in secret." "What blurs your vision?" "The dawn prayer." "What bridles your head?" "Frequent prayer in a group." "And who, according to you, is the happiest of men?" "He who deliberately abandons prayer." "And which men, according to you, are the most wretched?" "The thrifty." "What distracts you from your work?" "The councils of the learned." "And how do you eat?" "With the fingers of my left hand." "Where do you go to shelter your sons in times of fiery winds and sandstorms?" "Under the fingernails of men." Then the Prophet (PBUH) asked, "How many needs have you asked your Lord to grant you?" "Ten things." "And what are they, Cursed One?"
"I asked Him to let me share in the wealth and children of the sons of Adam (AS), so He made me their associate when He said: 'And share with them in their wealth and their children, and promise them. But Satan promises them naught, except delusion.'5 I feed on any ill-gotten fortune, and also on any source of sustenance associated with usury or other forbidden practices, on any wealth from which he does not seek protection from Satan the Cursed, and on anyone who does not seek protection during intercourse. When he enters his wife the devil enters with her, and the child is born attentive and submissive to me. And whoever rides the beast of burden in search of anything not permissive has me for a comrade, as in the Word of the Almighty: 'And rally against them thy horsemen and thy foot.'"6
"I asked Him to make for me a home, and it was the bathhouse. I asked Him to make for me a mosque, and it was the bazaars. I asked Him to make for me a call to prayer, and it was the sound of flutes. I asked Him to make for me a bedfellow, and he was the drunkard. I asked Him to make for me some servants, and they are the abilitarians. I asked Him to make for me some companions, and He said: 'Those whose fortunes are squandered in sin.' And then recited His verse: 'The squanderers are brothers of Satan.'"7 "Were you not offering me verification in verses of the Book of Allah Almighty for every word," said the Prophet (PBUH), "I would not believe you."
"Muhammad, he said, "I asked Allah Almighty that I may see the sons of Adam (AS) while they see me not, so He caused me to flow in their veins like blood and granted my soul the freedom to roam as I wish. If I want something within the hour, Allah Almighty says, 'You shall have what you seek,' and of that I can boast until Resurrection day. Those with me are more numerous than those with you, and most of the progeny of Adam (AS) are with me until the Resurrection day."
"I have a son whom I call 'Atama; he urinates in the ear of the worshiper if he sleeps through the evening prayer, and were it not for that people would not fall asleep until they had performed the prayer. I have a son whom I call Mutaqadi; when a believer privately performs a pious deed and wants to keep it secret, he never stops trying to drag it out of him in front of others until he tells people about it. Allah Almighty thus cancels ninety-nine of the hundred merits and there remains for him only one, since for every good deed done in secret he gains one hundred merits. And I have a son whom I call Kahil; it is he who lines the eyes of the people with kohl in the councils of the learned and during the orator's address, until they fall asleep while listening to the words of the scholars. Thus Allah (SWT) never records merits for them. No woman goes out without a devil sitting at her backside and another at her privates; they make her attractive to those who see her and tell her, 'Stretch forth your hand.' When she does so, her fingertips are exposed and she is disgraced."
Then he said, "Muhammad, I have nothing to do with misguidance; rather I am a whisperer of wicked suggestions and a tempter. If misguidance was within my grasp, I would leave no one on the face of the earth saying 'There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah,' or fasting or praying. Similarly, you have nothing to do with guidance, but are an apostle and a messenger. If guidance was within your grip, you would leave no unbeliever on the face of the earth. You are Allah's (SWT) proof among His creation, and I am the reason given to one whose misery is foreordained. The happy man is the one whom Allah (SWT) made so in his mother's womb, and the miserable man is the one whom Allah (SWT) made so in his mother's womb."
Then the Apostle of Allah (PBUH) recited the Word of the Almighty: 'But they continue in their differences, excepting those on whom thy Lord has mercy;'8 and then: 'And Allah's (SWT) command is doom decreed."9 With that the Prophet (PBUH) said, "Abu Murra, turn from sin and return to Allah Almighty, and I will be your guarantee of Paradise." "Muhammad," he replied, "it has been decided, and the pen is dry from recording how things will be until the Resurrection Day. So praised be He who made you the master of the prophets and the preacher to the people of Paradise, singled you out and loved you, and made me the master of the damned and preacher to the people of the Fire, cursed me and banished me. This is all I have to say to you, and indeed, I have done so in good faith."
Praise be to Allah (SWT), Lord of the Worlds, first and last, visible and invisible; and may the blessing of Allah (SWT) be upon our master Muhammad, the unlettered Prophet, and on his family and all his companions, and His peace be upon the Muslims. Praise be to Allah (SWT), Lord of the Worlds. Ameen.
1. Abu Murra, 'father of Murra (bitter)', was one of Satan's surnames, in this case deriving from his athering of a girl with this name.
2. According to the traditional account, Barisa was entrusted with custody of the ill sister of three brothers who were leaving the country for a time. Tempted by Satan, Barisa seduces her, and then kills her upon discovering that she was with child. The brothers return, and Barisa tells them the girl died a natural death. Satan, however, reveals the truth to them, and then goes to the terrified monk and offers to save him if he will denounce Allah (SWT) and swear loyalty to Satan. Barisa complies, whereupon Satan mocks him with these words from Surat al-Hashr (56:16). The story and its literary development are discussed in useful articles in both editions of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, q.v. Barisa.
3. Surat an-Nur (24:61)
4. [skipped number]
5. Surat al-Isra' (17:64)
6. Surat al-Isra' (17:64)
7. Surat al-Isra' (17:27)
8. Surat Hud (11:118,119)
9. Surat al-Ahzab (33:38)