Satan Instructs People in an Evil Form of Courage
Satan's purpose is to keep people away from the religion of Allah, and to mislead them into Hell. For this reason, he uses various stratagems against them in order to deceive and ensnare them. He deceives the majority with these ruses, and misguides them to evil. Because he wants to distance people from the true faith, and coerce them into his own perverse system, he confuses ideas, and tries to present superior morals as despicable, and base morality as desirable. In this way, he ensures that people have an incorrect perception of all aspects of superior morals. This behavior of Satan's and those who follow him is described in a verse of the Qur'an:
Shall I tell you upon whom the satans descend? They descend on every evil liar. They give them a hearing and most of them are liars. (Surat ash-Shu‘ara', 221-223)
For example, though patience is an excellent moral virtue, Satan presents it to people incorrectly. People are almost completely ignorant of the finer aspects of patience. For the most part, they believe it to be a difficult, troublesome and oppressive duty. Their understanding of the meaning of patience is mentioned as forbearance, a period of undesired waiting for something. However, patience means determined and persistent commitment to a task of which Allah approves, not abandoning it, or becoming wearied, but carrying resolutely it to a conclusion. For example, the ability to remain tolerant despite adverse circumstances, to restrain anger and respond with kindness, in circumstances where rage might otherwise be vented, and to be determined to do so, at whatever cost, and not to feel overburdened, is a true example of patience.
Similarly, patience means waiting contently in expectance of the positive outcome promised by Allah. This is not, as Satan tries to portray it, something difficult or burdensome. On the contrary, it increases the motivation of the faithful. For example, all believers long for the Afterlife. They passionately desire to be united in Paradise, waiting patiently for this end. A believer who is patient for the good pleasure of Allah, in any matter, enjoys the contentment and peace of mind of knowing that he will surely receive from Allah his due reward.
When a believer is treated badly, he deals with it patiently. That is, he does not become angry or despair, but maintains the composed behavior commanded in the Qur'an.
Another idea which, like patience, Satan tries to distort, is the subject of this book: Courage. If people do not conform to Allah's commands, they will fall under Satan's influence, so that, instead of learning the meaning of the message of the Qur'an, they learn the suggestions of Satan. Satan guides people towards false courage. False courage is the audacity to commit evil without fear, and to reject our Lord, Who created the entire universe, without shame, without a troubled conscience, and without consideration for the outcome. The Qur'an relates the following with regard to those who demonstrate false courage:
They say, "The All-Merciful has a son." They have devised a monstrous thing. The heavens are all but rent apart and the Earth split open and the mountains brought crashing down, at their ascription of a son to the All-Merciful! It is not fitting for the All-Merciful to have a son. There is no one in the heavens and Earth who will not come to the All-Merciful as a servant. He has counted them and numbered them precisely. Each of them will come to Him on the Day of Resurrection all alone. (Surah Maryam, 88-95)
A believer fears (and respects) Allah and carefully resists falling into any form of immorality, or failing to praise the boundless power of Allah. He bears in mind that Allah will call on him to render account in the Hereafter, and that, if he is in any way immoral, or fails to praise Allah adequately, he will be called to account for it. Those who do not fear Allah show false courage, it being an example of the base morality of Satan's influence.
There are many duped by the notion of false courage. Those who have no fear of Allah, and who do not live in accordance with the morality of the Qur'an, are devoid of feelings of respect towards others, as of mercy, compassion and humanity, and are prone to evil tendencies. Examples of this sort of evil is recognizable in every class of society, from businessmen to street kids, and diverse cultural backgrounds. Though they comprise different segments of the society, if they do not fear Allah, they will be prone to the evil morality of Satan.
One who follows Satan is capable of every kind of evil imaginable. Because, Satan incites him to false courage, deceives him with his coaxing, and encourages him to do evil without remorse. He shares his same corruption. Allah invited him to prostrate to Adam (as). Yet, out of pride, he showed false courage, refusing to comply, and so became perverse. This perversion of his, which serves as a warning for humanity, is described in the Qur'an as follows:
We created you and then formed you and then We said to the angels, "Prostrate before Adam," and they prostrated—except for Iblis. He was not among those who prostrated. He said, "What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you to?" He replied, "I am better than him. You created me from fire and You created him from clay." He said, "Descend from Heaven. It is not for you to be arrogant in it. So get out! You are one of the abased." He said, "Grant me a reprieve until the day they are raised up." He said, "You are one of the reprieved." He said, "By Your misguidance of me, I will lie in ambush for them on your straight path. Then I will come at them, from in front of them and behind them, from their right and from their left. You will not find most of them thankful." He said, "Get out of it, reviled and driven out. As for those of them who follow you, I will fill up Hell with every one of you." (Surat al-A‘raf, 12-18)
The fact that he knew he had committed a great wrong, he was aware that he would be sentenced to Hell for having been bold enough to show such insolence. This demonstrates the depths of Satan's depravity. Therefore, Satan tries to bring people under his influence, to debase them to the same level of depravity and false courage. Allah warns people about falling under Satan's influence in a number of verses:
You who believe! Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. Anyone who follows in Satan's footsteps should know that he commands indecency and wrongdoing. Were it not for Allah's favor to you and His mercy, not one of you would ever have been purified. But Allah purifies whoever He wills. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Surat an-Nur, 21)
O humanity! Eat what is good and lawful on the Earth. And do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. He truly is an outright enemy to you. He only commands you to do evil and indecent acts and to say about Allah what you do not know. (Surat al-Baqara, 168-169)
One of the primary causes of Satan's depravity is his conceit. Satan tries to make people conceited too, to pervert them so that they can be like him. Basically, false courage is the result of a person's having fallen victim to pride.
This conceit may take many different forms. Like Satan, among those who follow him, there are those who are aware of the existence of Allah, but do not abide by religious morality. Others may reject the existence of Allah, in spite of the myriad of evidence around them. Or, if they do not reject Him, they may ignore certain truths. For example, although every square inch of the Earth holds signs of Allah's creative power, some, who are prone to false courage, may claim that they all came into being by accident. They may claim that all living creatures, as well as the earth, the sky, the world, the stars, the solar system came into existence by chance. Even if they can see this is impossible, knowing so in their hearts, they will reject the magnificence of Allah's creation. All such tendencies are marks of their failure to submit to Allah, out of false courage and pride. Though you would show them countless proofs, if you were to explain to them over and over again what is true and what is good, it will be of no use.
In fact, those who have become consumed with self-pride, and tend to false courage, doubt the Resurrection, which they do not hesitate to express openly. In the Qur'an, Allah informs us of the lack of wisdom and understanding of such people:
Does not man see that We created him from a drop yet there he is, an open antagonist! He makes likenesses of Us and forgets his own creation, saying, "Who will give life to bones when they are decayed?" Say "He Who made them in the first place will bring them back to life. He has total knowledge of each created thing; He Who produces fire for you from green trees so that you use them to light your fires." Does He Who created the heavens and Earth not have the power to create the same again? Yes indeed! He is the Creator, the All-Knowing. His command when He desires a thing is just to say to it, "Be!" and it is. Glory be to Him Who has the Dominion of all things in His Hand. To Him you will be returned. (Surah Ya Sin, 77-83)
When they are warned to reform themselves, they refuse to obey. They can ignore that which happens for them to derive lessons. For example, those of base morality, who foment discord in the world, who try to repress those of superior morality, who, in short, tend towards all manner of evil, will regard themselves as good people. When those nations who in the past committed the same wrong, denouncing the prophets, thus deserving the punishment of Allah, they fail to recognize the warnings in these events. In short, if they are warned to do what is right, they disobey, and resign themselves to the eternal torment of Hell. In the Qur'an, Allah informs us of the condition of such people
Just ask their opinion: Is it they who are stronger in structure or other things We have created? We created them from sticky clay. No wonder you are surprised as they laugh with scorn! When they are reminded they do not pay heed. When they see a Sign they only laugh with scorn. They say, "This is just downright magic. When we are dead and turned to dust and bones will we then be raised up again alive? And our earlier ancestors as well?" Say: "Yes, and you will be in a despicable state." (Surat as-Saffat, 11-18)
In subsequent verses, Allah describes the painful end awaiting those who tend to show false courage, and who follow the path set out by Satan:
There will be but one Great Blast and then their eyes will open. They will say, "Alas for us! This is the Day of Reckoning!" This is the Day of Decision you used to deny. Assemble those who did wrong together with their associates and what they worshipped besides Allah, and guide them to the Path of the Blazing Fire! And call them to a halt. They will be asked: "Why are you not helping one another?" No, today they come in absolute submission. (Surat as-Saffat, 19-26)
False Courage Alienates People from their Conscience
False courage is something contrary to one's conscience. Harassing people, committing crimes without remorse, heedlessly trouncing human rights, oppressing, stealing that which they have accumulated with great effort, and leaving the needy to their own devices, are all vices which result from it. While people recognize these things to be wrong according to their conscience, those who fall prey to a false sense of superiority deny the voice of their own conscience to commit these wrongs. The calm and cold-blooded behavior of these people is a characteristic that arises from the false self confidence and false courage inspired in them by Satan.
None of such actions conform to the morality of the Qur'an. They display a type of courage so lacking in intelligence that they are prone to levels of wickedness that harm even themselves. The use of narcotics, joining criminal gangs, fighting, troublemaking and rioting, are all examples of false courage. In ignorant societies, people of this sort will find fame as "men of courage", or "desperadoes", and, being consumed with pride, will persist in their evil ways.
Those who do not live by religious morality have a specific name for this type of behavior. Examples of this ugly behavior, known as being "crazy", are quite common. Because people of this sort are lacking in qualities such as love, respect for others, compassion, kindness, and common sense, that results from faith, they are spiritually corrupt and show various behavioral defects.
False courage is regarded by those who follow Satan as very admirable. When one of them performs an act of false courage, he is immediately praised by others. In school, one who behaves badly towards teachers or other students, mocks them, makes derisive jokes about them, that is, accosts them, is praised and encouraged to go on. Those who share his immorality continually praise him, talking about how brave he is.
The same tendencies take place in the high society which exhibits a bad moral model. People say, "How brave he is!" of someone who speaks against religion, uses expressions so disrespectful and hateful that no one else would dare to use them, acts disrespectfully, belittling people and brazenly harms them. The wearing of indecent or outlandish clothing is referred to as "courage and generosity". Though, such people are not courageous at all, but are merely shameless. Even so, Satan, who distorts the meanings of things, to those not intelligent enough to avoid him, convinces them that their behavior is courageous, and misleads them along with himself to eternal torment.
The only ones not affected by the efforts of Satan, and the debauchery he promotes, nor deceived by his stratagems and deceits, are the faithful. In many verses of the Qur'an, Allah gives us the good news that Satan has no influence on His sincere followers, and cannot mislead them from the true path, no matter what he may try:
If an evil impulse from Satan provokes you, seek refuge in Allah. He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. If an evil impulse from Satan provokes you, seek refuge in Allah. He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. As for those who fear Allah, when they are bothered by visitors from Satan, they remember and immediately see clearly. (Surat al-A‘raf, 200-201)
He (Satan) has no authority over those who believe and put their trust in their Lord. He (Satan) only has authority over those who take him as a friend and associate others with Allah. (Surat an-Nahl, 99-100)
Satan Directs People Towards Cowardice
Allah's instructions to the faithful are to wage war ideologically against those who reject faith, to instruct others in virtue, to protect them from evil, and inspire in them the fear of Allah, by reminding them of the torment of the Hereafter. Our Prophet (saas) also said, "Fear Allah wherever you are." (Abdul Wadoud, Forty Hadith An-Nawawis, translated by Ezzeddin Ibrahim and Denys Johnson-Davies, Third Edition, 1985), stressing the importance of having fear of Allah in guarding against Satan. In this regard, being timid, not behaving courageously or adamant in teaching others about Allah's commandments, but sitting by and leaving others do it, saying, "Never mind someone else will do it," is a bad act which Allah dislikes and which He has forbidden the faithful.
A believer is one whose peace of mind and determination increase still further when he is confronted with a problem, or when he is the brunt of accusations from others, because he knows it to be a test from Allah. As pointed out earlier, Allah has promised that difficulties similar to the ones which afflicted those who lived in the past will be visited on the sincere faithful, and that in this way He will test them. Also, a fact that should not be forgotten is that those of base morality never condemn those they regard as their own, because such people know that they are their needed allies in their deviance. They try to intimidate those who invite them to follow the path of Allah.
Most hold back from pointing out what is wrong. They cannot find the courage to fight for what they know to be right. Those who behave conscientiously, however, are the faithful who fear Allah. And, because of this, they never run from any responsibility. Although they know that they will suffer slanders from the unbelievers who oppose them, and be subjected to persecution, they continue to inform others of Allah's existence, His unity and the morality which He has commanded, and persist in their struggle with enthusiasm and determination.
Throughout history, one of the most salient characteristics of the faithful who opposed unbelievers was their acceptance of the great responsibility of propagating religious morality, a task which they fulfilled courageously. That the faithful persist in conveying good morals, even when threatened, astonishes the unbelievers. What encouraged both the prophets and those who followed them to remain steadfast and be courageous was their faith in Allah. They were certain of the fact that Allah was watching over them, of the truth of the Hereafter, and that they would be called to account for their actions in this world.
To fully appreciate the courage of the faithful, it is first necessary to understand its source: The morality taught in the Qur'an. A person must fear Allah, understand His verses, and the importance of the behavior He encourages. Clearly, one who sits idly by, watching the tyrannical alliance of the wicked, fails to carry out the duty expected of him. However, if we consider that the great majority of the Earth's inhabitants do not follow the path of Allah, then clearly such effort requires great courage. Because, the slightest disruption of the comfort the wicked enjoy riles them into action. They may become oppressive, conspire, slander or resort even to physical violence. It is then that the difference between those who show true courage and those who do not, can be determined.
Most just close their eyes to the immorality of their friends and relatives, so as not to be rejected or harassed by them. They do not fulfill their duty of warning them otherwise. In societies where the morality of the Qur'an is not adhered to, most may stand idly by, and ignore the prevailing injustices, even though it bothers their conscience. In their hearts they may reject that cruelty, and may want to eradicate it, but they cannot find the courage to struggle against it. Without drive or determination there can be no courage. Where there is no drive and determination, one does not think of preventing the evils he encounters, nor finds solutions to do so. It must not be forgotten that simply being bothered by cruelty, while observing evil that abounds, and merely complaining about it, is not a sufficient way of dealing with it. Rather, it requires sincere effort. But, to do so requires courage.
If the courageous do not take initiative, there will be great mayhem and oppression on Earth, and the world will become uninhabitable. Those who do not show such courage, who are hesitant to preach their religion, will suffer great loss. As we are told in the verses of the Qur'an:
By the Late Afternoon, truly man is in loss–except for those who believe and do right actions and urge each other to the truth and urge each other to steadfastness. (Surat al-‘Asr, 1-3)
Satan Cannot Influence the Faithful into Cowardice
As stated earlier, Satan has no power or influence over the faithful. This truth is referred to in a verse of the Qur'an:
You have no authority over any of My servants except for the misled who follow you. (Surat al-Hijr, 42)
Satan's efforts only effect his followers whom he has corrupted, and he can only influence by frightening them:
That was only Satan who intimidated his adherents. But do not fear them—fear Me if you are believers. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 175)
A believer responds to Satan's wiles and snares with trepidation and courage. For example, Satan is determined to undermine the strength of the believers, sow enmity among them, and demoralize them. As we are told in the following verse, "… The satans inspire their friends to dispute with you…" (Surat al-An‘am, 121), he attacks the faithful by way of his followers. But, believers whose faith is strong, and who are aware of Satan's ruses, from having been informed of them in the Qur'an, are not deluded. They recognize Satan's petty schemes right away.
Believers are courageous despite the attempts of Satan and his cohorts. They respond to his ploys by doing the exact opposite of what he demands. If Satan wants them to become demoralized, they devote themselves to their religion with even greater zeal and determination. For this reason, the tactics of those who reject faith only strengthen and motivate them further. The faithful cause Satan suffer great disappointment with their boundless determination.