In the course of my constant pursuit of the beautiful in the Word, I chanced upon this story and could not resist the urge to share it with you. It is said that one day, a congregation was gathered, as usual, around the Prophet (upon him be peace and blessings of the Almighty). In the middle of a wonderful discourse, an ugly voice from the outside was heard saying: “O Messenger of the Almighty, would you permit me to enter? I have business with you!”. Everybody looked at the Prophet who said to the ones present: “Do you recognize the owner of this voice?” The companions answered: “The Almighty and His Messenger know best” The Prophet said: “It is Shaytan, the Accursed.”
On hearing that, Umar b. khattab (r.a), who was present, asked the Prophet: “O Prophet, permit me to go and cut off his head. Let me smash his skull and free people from his trouble”. But the Prophet responded: “No, Umar, don’t you know that you cannot kill him? He has permission to exist until Doomsday”.
Thereafter the Prophet said: “Open the door and admit him, as he did not come on his own, but on the Almighty’s orders. Otherwise, he would not come here. Listen to what he says, and try to understand”.
The companion who reported the incident said: “Consequently they opened the door and the Devil (Shaytan) appeared in front of us as an old man cross-eyed (or blind in one eye) and scant of beard, with only six or seven long hairs from his chin. He had a very big head, his crossed eyes close to the top of his head, high on his forehead, with big thick hanging lips, like those of a water buffalo. He saluted the Prophet and the Companions, to which the Prophet responded: ‘O! Accursed, the salaam and salutations belong to Almighty, the Most High”. Then the Prophet said: “I heard you are here on business. What is it?”
Shaytan said: “I did not wish to come here, I was forced to. An angel came to me from your Lord, who honours whom He wishes, and said, “The Almighty, Most High, orders you to Muhammad, but you will go to him in humility and abasement, and be submissive and tractable. You will tell him how you seduce and mislead humankind. You are going to answer all his questions truthfully, without a single lie.” And the Almighty said that if I lied to you, He would turn me into ashes and blow me away in the wind, and my enemies would laugh at me. I come with such orders, O Muhammad.”
Then the Prophet asked the Devil: “Tell me, who do you hate most among the creatures of the Most High?” The Devil answered: “You O Muhammad! and all the prophets. There is no one in the whole creation that I hate more than you and others like you.” The Messenger of the Almighty confirmed that the Devil was his (and all the prophets’) greatest foe. Then he asked Shaytan: “who else do you detest, besides me?” Shaytan said: “The young ones who have given up their pleasures and themselves for His sake; the men of knowledge who act upon their knowledge and who decline all that is doubtful; the ones who are clean, so clean that they wash thrice that which they wish to cleanse.
The patient poor, who neither ask from others the things they need, not complaining; the rich who is thankful to his Lord, who give alms lawfully; the knowledgeable who act on what they know; the readers of the Qur’an who pattern themselves on it; those who call to prayer on time; advisors and reformers; abstainers from unlawful food and sex and those who place their trust in the Almighty… benefactors of the poor…”.
Then, the Prophet asked Shaytan once again: “What happens to you, O Accursed One, when my people do their prayers?”: Shaytan responded saying: “I shake and tremble as if stricken with tremor, because I see your people raised in blessing and power each time they prostrate…”. Having heard the answers of the accursed Shaytan, the Prophet thanked the Almighty saying: ‘Praised be to the Almighty, who has blessed my people with such felicity and cursed you with such negativity until that appointed time. “When the Devil heard that, he said, ‘Alas… what felicity for your people? How could you be certain that there is safety for them as long as I exist? I enter their very veins, their very flesh, and they cannot even suspect, let alone see or feel me. I swear by Him Who has given me time until Doomsday, that I will seduce them all, the intelligent and the simpleminded, the learned as well as the ignorant, the devout as well as the sinner. None will be safe from me, except the true servants of the Almighty’.
The above response from Shaytan led the Prophet to ask him once again saying: “So who are the true servants of the Almighty in your estimation”. Shaytan responded: ‘You know very well, O Muhammad, that whoever loves his money and his property, the Most High would not count such a person among His servants.
Whenever I come across someone who does not say “mine” and me, someone who does not love either money or flattery, I know he is truly a servant of the Most Highh and I run away from him. As long as one loves money, property, flattery, he obeys me, he is my servant. I need many servants and I have servants. I am not alone. I have 70,000 children, each of them with his assigned duties. Each of my 70,000 children has 70,000 Satans serving under him, all assigned to different posts. Many are with the young, and the older women, and with the theologians and preachers and elderly ones… some of the devout and some of the pious get along very well with my people! My devils lead the imagination of the sincerity of their devotions. … Then, I whisper to them, “Disbelieve”, but when they disbelieve, I say, “I am free of you. Surely I fear Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.” (Quran 59:16)