The sources of evil: The lower self and satan
The Qur'an tells us that there are two main sources of evil. The first is the lower self, which constantly urges us to do bad things. With its suggestions, the lower self unceasingly tries to distance us from the true path and leads us to disaster. The Qur'an tells us about this aspect of the lower self:
[Yusuf said,] "I do not say my self was free from blame. The self indeed commands to evil acts—except for those my Lord has mercy on..." (Surah Yusuf: 53)
Another being supports the lower self and urges people to behave in a negative and unseemly ways: that is satan. The Qur'an tells us that satan calls people only to commit evil:
He [satan] only commands you to do evil and indecent acts and to say about Allah what you do not know. (Surat al-Baqara: 169)
Satan and the lower self will struggle to the last to draw humans into evil. To achieve this, satan will try every method and resort to every kind of trick. His aim is to make people suffer the same Hell that he endures. There is no escape from the pangs of Hell; they will last forever and are filled with unbearable pain.
One must understand the great danger that satan tries to draw them into and must be vigilant against his stratagems and assaults. To do this, he must read the Qur'an as our guide, where he can find absolute truth about satan. There, Allah tells about satan's character, aims, the methods he uses against people—and how he can render those means ineffective.
The first thing we must realize is that satan has no power of his own. He, like all creatures, was created by Allah. His struggle on the side of evil and against human beings remains under Allah's control. And He has created the world as an arena of testing human beings to learn who, in this earthly life, will do good and who will incline toward evil.
And as a part of this arena of testing by satan and the lower self calling us to evil, Allah has created the conscience to inspire us every moment toward good. Opposing the lower self, the conscience always tells us what is right in the face of satan's instigations and urges us to act in ways pleasing to Allah. Therefore, a person who listens to his conscience can easily become immune to the calls of satan and his lower self to commit evil. Allah tells us about this in the Qur'an:
And [I swear by] the self and what proportioned it and inspired it with depravity or sense of duty, he who purifies it has succeeded, he who covers it up has failed. (Surat ash-Shams: 7-10)
Another important thing to know about satan is that he has by no means any coercive authority over human beings. All he can do is urge us to follow him. Though he makes suggestions in this direction, the choice to act on the side of evil or good is totally a matter of a human will. If we have faith and act according to the Qur'an's moral teaching, satan will have no influence over us. As the Qur'an says: "He [satan] has no authority over those who believe and put their trust in their Lord." (Surat an-Nahl: 99) In this way, satan's plans will be upset: "... Satan's scheming is always feeble." (Surat an-Nisa': 76)
Allah tells us in the Qur'an that satan can have no influence over sincere believers:
He [satan] said, "By Your might, I will mislead all of them except for Your chosen servants among them." (Surah Sad: 82-83)
Our Prophet (saas) tells in one of his hadith that satan can have no influence on believers:
"So when one sees a bad dream which he does not like,… he should seek refuge with Allah from its evil; then it will not harm him." (Sahih Muslim)
If a person does not take refuge in Allah against satan and embrace the Qur'an as his guide to the right path, he will fall under the influence of satan: "He [satan] only has authority over those who take him as a friend and associate others with Allah." (Surat an-Nahl: 100) And this will lead irrevocably to the pangs of Hell.
Certainly, no one wants to meet with such a doom. So a person must learn all he can about satan from the Qur'an, how to respond to his tricks and avoid his traps.
In the following pages, we will reveal satan's evil character, the secret religion to which he calls people and the methods he uses to do this—and the ways the Qur'an teaches us to avoid evil.