By Frederick Al-Deen
Upon landing in Arabia for Hajj, we stood up and prepared to disembark. The signs of our destination were evident in the ihram worn by most of us. Some of the passengers, however, were in Western attire. As we walked up the aisle toward the exit, a man stood up and removed his jacket to reveal a black t-shirt emblazoned with a four-letter sexual expletive with an exclamation point. He turned to the left and right to ensure that as many people saw the logo as possible. He smiled and chuckled at the startled expressions.
At that moment, we were confronted with the contemporary version of Iblis. The Qur’an describes him (or her) in the uz’ 14 (15:1–16:128) in Surah al-Nahl: “But not Iblis: he refused to bow down like the others…” (15:31–39). Iblis feels he is better than us and will continue deflecting believers from al-Tawhid until the Day of Accounting. Despite the influence of Iblis, Allah directs us how to confront him (or her).. We see it in the example of the prophets. I call your attention to Lut’s (AS) response to his people accosting his male guests: “Take my daughters” (15:71). He was not actually offering his daughters to them, rather he was reminding them of Allah’s call for marriage.
Allah protects His signs and has crafted them to be perceptible to human faculties so that there will be none unaware of the truth.
Allah has made confronting wrongdoers easier by placing signs of truth throughout creation. These signs include the earth and the way it is designed to support humankind’s social and economic activities, the way we use day and night to compute time, the ships sailing for commerce and the process of aging. Wrongdoers cannot see the signs and so they suffer loss. Allah protects His signs and has crafted them to be perceptible to human faculties so that there will be none unaware of the truth. We see the signs of truth in the efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement and we also see them in the mob of wrongdoers that perpetrated the insurgency at the nation’s capitol on January 6, 2021.
So what should be our response to Iblis? When we encounter Iblis on a plane to Hajj or at our doorstep, we should educate and make clear Allah’s Word. Then, what do we do next? In Surah al-Hijr (15:3), Allah uses the word “dhar,” which means “to leave” when He says, “Leave them alone to enjoy the good things in life.” Our response should be like that of our Prophet, which Allah revealed to him:
[Prophet], call [people] to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good teaching. Argue with them in the most courteous way, for your Lord knows best who has strayed from His way and who is rightly guided. If you [believers] have to respond to an attack, make your response proportionate, but it is best to stand fast. So [Prophet] be steadfast: your steadfastness comes only from God. Do not grieve over them; do not be distressed by their scheming, for God is with those who are mindful of Him and who do good. — 16:125–128
This reflection is part of Sapelo’s Ramadan 2021 series. To read other reflections in the series click here.
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Frederick Thaufeer Al-Deen has a graduate degree in political science and public administration. He served for seven years as a commissioned officer in the military. He is the Imam for the Southwestern University Muslim community and a certified Federal Correctional System Imam. His publications include A Question of Faith for Muslim Inmates and How to Raise Black Boys that Live. He is also a visiting khatib and Eid khatib for the Southside Islamic Community. Imam Al-Deen is the chief operating officer of Urban Mediation and Arbitration and host of the “Conversations” podcast. He is a Hajji.