We read in Qur’an 7:17 that when God cursed Satan because of his haughty disobedience, Satan asked for a respite until the Day of Judgment so that he could seduce human beings. God allowed him to do so, as was discussed above, and Satan retorted: “Then I shall came upon them from before and behind, from their right and their left, and You will not find most of them grateful.”
The verse means that Satan does everything he can to seduce us. We are very complex beings, for God has manifested all of His Names on us. This world is an arena of testing, where we are trained so that we can serve as a mirror to God and earn eternal happiness. God has endowed us with innumerable feelings, faculties, and potentials to be trained and developed. If certain feelings and faculties (e.g., intellect, anger, greed, obstinacy, and lust) are not trained and directed to lofty goals, but rather are misused to pursue disagreeable purposes, and if our natural desires and animal appetites are not restricted and satisfied in lawful ways, they have the potential to cause us great harm here and in the Hereafter.
Satan approaches us from the left and tries, working on our animal aspect and our feelings and faculties, to lead us into all sorts of sin and evil. When he approaches us from the front, he causes us to despair of our future, whispers that the Day of Judgment will never come, and that whatever religions say about the Hereafter is mere fiction. He also suggests that religion is outdated and obsolete, and thus of no use for those who are living now or who will live in the future. When he comes upon us from behind, he tries to make us deny Prophethood and other essentials of belief, like God’s existence and Unity, Divine Scriptures and angels. Through his whispers and suggestions, Satan tries to sever completely our contact with religion and lead us into sin.
Satan can only successfully seduce devout, practicing believers by coming upon them from their right and tempting them to ego and pride in their virtues and good deeds. He whispers that they are wonderful believers, and gradually causes them to fall through self-conceit and the desire to be praised for their good deeds. For example, if believers perform supererogatory late-night prayer (tahajjud) and then proclaim it so that others will praise them, and if they attribute their accomplishments and good deeds to themselves and criticize others in secret, they have fallen under Satan’s influence. This is a perilous temptation for believers, and so they must be incessantly alert to Satan’s coming upon them from their right.
Another of Satan’s tricks is to cause unimportant things to appear important, and vice versa. If believers dispute among themselves in the mosque over a secondary matter, such as whether one can use a rosary when glorifying God after the daily prescribed prayers, while their children are being dragged along ways of unbelief and materialism or are drowning in the swamp of immorality, Satan has seduced them.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.