Shaytan’s Deception: Going to Extremes

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim

Allah never orders anything except that Satan takes two contradictory stances towards it: either shortcoming and negligence or over-zealousness and exaggeration. It does not matter [to him] by which of these two mistakes he becomes victorious over the slave. He comes to the heart of the slave and examines it.

If he finds in it listlessness and looking for loopholes, he deals with him from that vantage. He impedes him and makes him sit. He strikes him with laziness, listlessness and lethargy. He opens for him the door to reinterpretations (ta’weel), hopes and so forth until the slave may not fulfill anything of what he is commanded.

If he finds in the slave’s heart alertness, seriousness, desire to work and potential, Satan despairs from attacking him through the above means. Instead, he orders him to strive even harder. He convinces him that what he is doing is not sufficient for him. His ambition is to be greater than that. He must work more than the other workers. He should not sleep when they sleep. He should not break his fast when they break their fasts. He should not rest when they rest. If one of them washes his hands and face three times, he should wash them seven times. If one makes wudhu for prayer, he must make ghusl. [He orders him to] similar acts of exaggeration and extremism. He makes him go to extreme and beyond the limits. He makes him stray from the straight path in the same way that he makes the first person [described above] fall short of the straight path and not approach it.

Satan’s intention for both is to keep them from the straight path: the first by making him not come close or near to it and the second by making him pass it and go beyond it. Many of creation are misled by these two strategies. There is no escape from them except deep knowledge, faith and the strength to fight Satan and stay along the middle path. ”

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