By, Imam Cornell Khalil Markham
As Salaamu Alaikum my dear brothers, sisters and children in Islam, all throughout the Glorious Qur’an, Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (SWT), gives us good news about His creation; and He warns us about His creation. In Sura 24, SuratanNur, verse 21, Allah (SWT) says:
“O’ you who believe! Do not the footsteps of Shaytan (Satan); whoever follows the footsteps of Shaytan will surely be commanded to do what is shameful and wrong…” 24:21
Allah (SWT) gives us insight into the nature of Shaytan in Surah Al A’raf, verses 7:11-18. In these verses, Allah (SWT) commands the angels and whoever else with them to prostrate to His creation-Adam, alaihis salaam. They all prostrated except Iblis (Shaytan), a jinn who was present in the congregation. He refused, not only to prostrate, but to be among those who did.
When asked why he refused, he replied:” I am better than he ( meaning Adam (AS), the father and universal representative of humanity) You created me from fire; You created him from black stinking mud.” Upon this, Allah (SWT) told Iblis and those with him to get down from from this place (Paradise) for this is no place for arrogance, jealousy, self-pride and rebellion. It is at this point that Iblis becomes Shaytan, the accursed and rejected.
Shaytan then boldly asks Allah (SWT) for respite from punishment until the day of resurrection. Allah (SWT) in His Infinite Mercy and Wisdom grants this to Shaytan. Immediately, Shaytan vows to bring down all all of humanity except those who truly believe. His plan is to attack from the front, the back, from the right and the left. He gloats at his anticipated success stating that most of humanity is ungrateful to Allah(SWT) for His mercies and blessings. Allah’s reply to all of this is that He will fill Jahannam (Hell) with him and those who follow him all together!
Upon closer observation of Iblis’ (Shaytan) behavior, we will find that he was the first racist in all of creation!! He asserts he and his kind (the jinn) are better than Adam (AS) and his kind (humanity) – an assertion that is erroneous and unfounded. Fire is a destructive element; whereas, the earth is productive. In any event, Shaytan has utilized one of his best tools, racism, to create divisions among mankind fostering fitnah and destruction.
In order to follow the footsteps of something or someone, we must go to the places they go. We mimic or imitate their movements and doings. Essentially, we do what they do!
Aside from the obvious “steps” that Iblis took to get himself expelled from the Garden, e.g., arrogance (pride), jealousy (envy), disobedience (defiance) and falsehood (lying), the monumental “step” of racism stands out as an effective weapon of Shaytan to divide men and jinn in order to take them off the path of righteousness (sirat al mustaqeem) and onto the path of spiritual destruction.
Anytime we find ourselves indulging in these “footsteps” of Shaytan, we should immediately abstain from it and repent to Allah (SWT) seeking His forgiveness, as well as, the forgiveness of those we have targeted. We know, in our hearts, that these kinds of attitudes and behaviors are fahsha’a and munkar, shameful and wrong and only lead us on the path to the Fire.
May Allah (SWT) guide us away from the “footsteps” of Shaytan and onto the sirat al mustaqeem – Amin.