The Secret Beyond Matter

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Those who speak the silent language of evil

We can detect those who behave under the influence of evil and the silent language they speak only through the intelligence that faith gives. No noticeable characteristic distinguishes these people from others. Those who fall under the influence of satan do not say they worship satan (Surely Allah is beyond that!) and do not wear special clothing that symbolizes him. So, it is not easy to make such judgments about people on the basis of any symbolic peculiarities.

There are many proofs to be seen in the Qur'an that these people act under the influence of satan. This evidence may vary according to conditions and events, but one common factor that never changes is that all the qualities observed in those who speak the silent language of evil are negative—and cause them great spiritual and material harm.

We can classify some of the hidden evils that occur under satan's influence that draw people into a perverse moral understanding and an unhappy life according to the most basic qualities that mould a person's character:

Those who practice evil in secret, pretending to be naïve and innocent

One of satan's treacherous methods is to get people to cover up the evil they do by hiding behind a façade of innocence. He also shows those under his influence how to hide the evil they do.

Innocence is not a quality that people often stress in their daily lives. A good person behaves correctly; and everything he does is out in the open for all to see, not hidden. For this reason, he doesn't need to prove how well-intentioned and innocent he is. But those who do evil are always uneasy, knowing what they have done in secret. There's always some risk that what they have kept secret will come to light at any moment. To make themselves appear blameless in such an eventuality, they do everything possible to strengthen the impression that they are well-intentioned and innocent. In the same way, if the evil they do is discovered, they hide behind their innocence again, deceiving others into coming to their rescue.

But by taking refuge in innocence, they intend to repeat their hidden misdeeds if the need arises. They think that they will be much better able to make people around them accept what they've done if they cover it up well. If their pretended innocence yields results even once, they assume the same method will be successful every time.

Along with the proofs they offer for their innocence and to appear blameless, they also want to quiet their own consciences. This is because every evil act disquiets the human conscience. A human being who commits an evil act knows that it is against his conscience and, to escape the pangs of remorse, makes up excuses to make himself comfortable and justify what he did. But the only remedy for this pressure from one's conscience is to live according to the moral teachings of the Qur'an, where Allah tells us that we must repent when we commit any evil act and change the evil into good by performing pious works. As long as a person does not practice the morality of the Qur'an and tries to cover the evil he has done with a false veneer of innocence, he will only be drawn into more evil behavior. Besides, as the Qur'an says, every evil act will certainly be of no avail:

If anyone wants power, all power belongs to Allah. All good words rise to Him and He raises up all virtuous deeds. But people who plot evil deeds will suffer a harsh punishment. The plotting of such people is profitless. (Surah Fatir: 10)

All who act according to satan's intimations, like satan himself, develop special methods to make themselves appear innocent, and adopt certain ways of talking that they think will influence those around them.

Some of these methods can be classified as follows:

They try to make themselves appear innocent by using the name of Allah

To appear well-intentioned and innocent, certain people resort to insincere methods; such as employing spiritual values. They do not conform their lives to the Qur'an but, if they must make themselves appear well-intentioned and sincere, they mention Allah's name and may speak of the importance of being religious, fearing Allah and acting according to their conscience. But while praising Allah's name, they do not consider His greatness, that He knows the acts of insincerity they have committed, or that He will punish them with the pangs of Hell.

There are many examples of this insincerity. One of the best known is the practice of swearing falsely by the name of Allah when individuals are faced with a difficult situation. By doing this, they think they can persuade others, though there is no convincing proof of their innocence and even if their error obvious. They think they will leave a deep impression on people by taking an oath in Allah's name—and believe this method will be especially effective with religious people.

In order to make themselves appear innocent, these people are not limited to using Allah's name in their oaths, but use as many religious elements as possible. In order to legitimize their depraved attitudes and behavior, they speak at great length about faith. They tell others that they give much importance to correct moral actions, how carefully they avoid evil and how scrupulously they behave. They claim to avoid any kind of wrong behavior because they are wary of the punishments they will receive in the Afterlife. But if they come across any situation that conflicts with their own interests, their insincerity becomes evident when they behave in a manner contrary to what they have professed.

Another similarly insincere method they use is to interpret verses of the Qur'an according to their own warped thinking. This they do to cover up the evil they have done and make it appear legitimate. Allah says in the Qur'an that He has sent down all the verses of the Qur'an in very clear language. Therefore, their meaning is very clear. But in order to prove themselves right, those who have fallen under the influence of satan are audacious enough to try to make verses of the Qur'an support their own interpretations.

Such satanic methods can indeed be quite persuasive with people who do not judge events with an intelligence based in the Qur'an. But Muslims evaluate the attitude and behavior of others according to the criteria that Allah has revealed in the Qur'an. A person may mention Allah's name only with his tongue or take an oath in His name; he may speak about religious matters and say how clean his heart is. But this is not enough to convince anyone of his sincerity, for these are the behaviors that can be imitated by those who are sick in their hearts to deceive believers. The sign of true sincerity is a person who behaves the way he speaks and is careful to avoid evil, whether secret or in the open.

A person who displays any kind of unseemly behavior must remember that Allah sees all the evil a person does, no matter how well he may hide it. The Qur'an tells us that Allah knows every evil deed that is done and every insincere excuse offered to cover it up. "... not one thing about them will be hidden from Allah..." (Surah Ghafir: 16) For this reason, a person must behave knowing that he will be confronted with all these things on the Day of Judgment and must aim to live a moral life pleasing to Allah.

They lie continually to prove their innocence

Those under the influence of satan resort to lying to make themselves appear innocent. Famous Islamic scholar Abdul Qadir al-Jaylani had this to say about satan: "What has satan not done to you? He has made you love lies. He has made evil acts seem attractive to you." ('Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, Ilahi Armagan (Divine Gift), translated by Abdulkadir Akcicek (Ankara: Rahmet Publications, 1962), 2:16.) But by lying, we do not mean to hide something by saying that it is the exact opposite of what it clearly is. Satan teaches the silent language of evil and methods of insincere discourse whose falsity is very difficult to detect. This allows the people to believe it is not a lie in any real sense. In this way, satan wants lies, unrecognized as such, to circulate widely among people.

Although they tell many lies, therefore, such people see themselves as blameless of such perverse behavior. By this method of satan, they whitewash their lies by giving them different names. For example, they use such weak explanations as "I only said it, I didn't mean it," or "I must not have explained it very well," and "I guess I don't remember," or "I must have forgotten to tell you that part," and " I must have confused it with something else." They try to show that their lie was harmless and not ill-intended; and also make themselves believe these explanations. If listeners perceive that what they said is untrue, they claim that it was never their intention to tell a lie. They affirm that the important thing was their heartfelt "intention" while they were saying these things; and that they were sure of the rightness of their intention. However, this is yet another lie. And even though they may call upon Allah as a witness to the purity of their heart, He knows that they are telling a lie.

Satan leads the kind of people whom he can not urge openly to sin by these kinds of insidious methods into dishonesty. Sometimes he tells them that something is different, more or less than it actually is; or he changes what was said in the attempt to pervert the meaning of the words. The Qur'an tells us about these people who always totally distort the truth:

Woe to every wicked liar. (Surat al-Jathiyya: 7)

Acting under the influence of satan, these people behave incorrectly. Later, or even while committing the act, they decide how to explain it away. Sometimes they don't think about the result, and when what they have done becomes known, they instinctively declare their innocence. Of course, satan makes these people react in this way. He inspires in them how best to misrepresent the truth in any situation and to insist on their innocence by producing compelling proof.

But usually this is just one in a series of many lies. For this reason, those fallen under satan's influence start to lie constantly in order to appear innocent. Just to cover up a single instance of insincerity, they panic and give a false account of what they did in terms of their own warped logic. When found out, they do not know what to do; but claim they have been misunderstood and treated unjustly and try to get out of it by changing the subject. As we said earlier, they do not hesitate to swear false oaths to protest their innocence.

No doubt this stems from two facts: They don't know Allah as they should, and are unaware of what a great responsibility it is to take an oath in His name. Because they do not fear Him as they should, they display an unseemly audacity in this matter. While calling on Allah to a witness their false oaths, they do not even consider that He hears and knows all secrets. Moreover, because of satan's influence, they are able to ignore that influence even when someone brings it to their attention. However, they actually tell these lies to Allah. This is stated in the Qur'an: "... They tell a lie against Allah and they know it." (Surah Al 'Imran: 78)

Allah also indicates in the Qur'an that such people must not be trusted:

But do not obey any vile swearer of oaths... (Surat al-Qalam: 10)

The Qur'an tells us that when Yusuf's (as) brothers wanted to hide the evil they had devised against him, they too resorted to telling lies. First, the brothers planned to kill Yusuf (as); later, they said they wanted what was good for their brother, and asked their father to let him go with them.

They said, "Our Father! What is wrong with you that you refuse to trust us with Yusuf when in truth we only wish him well? Why don't you send him out with us tomorrow so he can enjoy himself and play about? All of us will make sure that he is safe." (Surah Yusuf: 11-12)

Later, they left Yusuf (as) in the bottom of a well and went back to their father with another lie that he had been carried off by a wolf. They tried to say they were innocent by saying, "But you are never going to believe us now..."

That night they came back to their father in tears, saying, "Father, we went out to run a race and left Yusuf together with our things and then a wolf appeared and ate him up but you are never going to believe us now, not even though we really tell the truth." (Surah Yusuf: 16-17)

Their father realized that they were lying; and said he did not trust them and that he took refuge in Allah against their evil designs:

They then produced his shirt with false blood on it. He said, "It is merely that your lower selves have suggested something to you which you did; but beauty lies in showing steadfastness. It is Allah alone Who is my Help in face of the event that you describe." (Surah Yusuf: 18)

Our Prophet (saas) tells believers that they must avoid telling lies as such:

"On the Resurrection Day, the worst men in Allah's sight will be the liars, the proud, and those who entertained hatred in the mind of their friends." (Imam al-Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum-Id-Din, 3:139)

"A man is enrolled near Allah as a liar if he is accustomed to false speaking and false discussions." (Imam al-Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum-Id-Din, 3:119)

"I advise you to fear Allah, to speak the truth, to fulfill a trust, to fulfill a promise, to greet each other with "peace" [salam], and to be humble." (Imam al-Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum-Id-Din, 3:122)

"The Messenger of Allah (saas) was asked, 'Can a believer be a liar?' He (saas) said: 'No.'" (Imam al-Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum-Id-Din, 3:120)

"Speak the truth even though it might be bitter." (Bayhaqi, cited in Mishkat-ul Masabih by Maulana Fazlul Karim, (New Delhi: Islamic Book Service, 2001), 1:469)

They try to shift onto others responsibility for their evil acts

In the Qur'an, Allah warns people against nursing a desire in their hearts to claim purity for themselves. "... He has most knowledge of you when He first produced you from the earth, and when you were embryos in your mothers' wombs. So do not claim purity for yourselves. He knows best those who guard against evil." (Surat an-Najm: 32) But some who do not organize their behavior as the moral teachings of the Qur'an require cover up the evil in their hearts instead of ridding themselves of it. To cover up the evil and acquit themselves, sometimes they place responsibility for their insincere actions on others. But this does not mean that they just crassly blame someone else for something they did wrong. For example, when someone is asked "Did you take this thing?" and he lies, saying he did not but someone else did, then his lie will become obvious when that other person is asked if he contributed. Those who know that Allah forbids lying, would never knowingly and in conscience tell a lie.

Therefore, satan usually cannot manage to get people who hesitate to do evil publicly to tell lies openly. He will urge them to engage in activities abetted by his subtle methods. One such method is to have an evildoer soothe his conscience by putting the responsibility for his actions on someone else.

In this way, in order to declare their own innocence, those whom satan has deceived distort others' well-intentioned words and actions to justify their own behavior. They make sure that those others are known for their sincerity, honesty, and reliability and good moral character. They contend that they were well-intentioned and doing only what these individuals had told them to. If any wrong was done, they assert, the responsibility lies with those individuals whose advice they followed. According to their warped thinking, they have done nothing wrong; but only took advice from people they thought to be honest, sincere and trustworthy. Therefore, they are to blame for what happened.

In order to excuse their unseemly behavior, these people also distort the meaning of words. They make use of the fact that one word may have several meanings in order to get others to misperceive what they really mean. The Qur'an tells us about the insincere behavior of such people: "But those who did wrong substituted words other than those they had been given..." (Surat al-Baqara: 59) With such insidious methods, satan draws those under his influence into evil.

They try to justify their behavior by saying that
everyone makes the same mistakes

Those under satan's influence try to justify their errors by pointing to others who commit the same ones. This is actually, one of satan's better-known methods; while encouraging others toward evil, he gives them negative examples of others around them. To make them believe that certain kinds of behavior are not wrong, he shows them other people who do the same. Of course, these others have consciences to tell them what is right and wrong. But in the desire to ease their guilt, they knowingly excuse themselves by blaming satan's instigations.

When someone criticizes them, they immediately try to justify themselves with this excuse. Their basic defense is that this kind of behavior is widespread among their acquaintances, but they know very well that this can't legitimize their unseemly behavior. Despite this, they think that because others do the same thing, any criticism singling them out is invalid. In this way, they create confusion to distract attention away from themselves.

According to the Qur'an, however, this way of thinking is not valid. The fact that others do the same things does not release anyone from his personal responsibility and is no mitigating excuse. This is because Allah in the Qur'an warns us about conforming to the majority: "If you obeyed most of those on Earth, they would misguide you from Allah's way. They follow nothing but conjecture. They are only guessing." (Surat al-An'am: 116) Many may fall into the same error at any given time, but they are still personally responsible for not listening to their consciences and practicing the moral teachings of the Qur'an. In the Afterlife, everyone will give an individual account. One person may commit an error through ignorance; another may commit the same error through inadvertence; and still another may do it deliberately and with hidden intention. No one knows another's true intention. But Allah knows one's true intentions, what the heart contains, and He will examine him about them.

The Qur'an says that everyone is responsible for himself:

You who believe! You are only responsible for yourselves. The misguided cannot harm you as long as you are guided. All of you will return to Allah and He will inform you about what you were doing. (Surat al-Ma'ida: 105)

These people know the truth, but use the excuse that "Everyone does it"—not because they are deceived into believing it, but in order to protect themselves.

However, if they examined their situation is in the light of the Qur'an, they would realize that every criticism is definitely good for them. Even if many people are behaving wrongly at any given moment, Allah's making an individual hear that this behavior is wrong is a great mercy on him. But instead of interpreting the matter in this way, most people attempt to offer excuses for their incorrect behavior. But this will result in great loss for them in this world and the next.

They claim they did not know that their behavior was wrong

Some people who follow satan's intimations offer the excuse of ignorance for their mistakes. However, this is one of the methods satan has taught them in order to make themselves appear innocent. Most of the time, they know very well that what they did was wrong, but defend themselves by pretending that they really did not know it was. They try to justify themselves by saying, "I would never have done it if I had known," or that "I did it out of ignorance, without thinking." True, people can commit some errors out of ignorance, but that is quite different from the perversity caused by satan's influence. The sincerity reflected in these people's faces, tone of voice, manner and conversation is evidence of their honesty. But those under satan's influence resort to these excuses not because they really didn't know, but because of their insincerity. Actually, they are aware of the kind of behavior required by the moral excellence that Allah has commanded in the Qur'an. Besides this, their consciences warn them about what kind of morality they should practice and what behavioral perversity to avoid. If in spite of this, a person, behaves perversely, is criticized for it, and says he did it out of ignorance, he is not being honest. This person is using excuses as one of the silent methods of evil.

Those who do something contrary to the moral teachings of the Qur'an and say that they did it out of ignorance bolster their insincerity with the idea that "Only Allah and we ourselves know what is in our hearts." Of course, only Allah knows what is in a person's heart; one person cannot know another's intentions. But in the Qur'an, Allah has made known certain signs that reveal a person's intentions, and has made the consciences of believers sensitive to the insidiousness and evil intentions of others. Thanks to these signs, believers become aware of those who have fallen under satan's influence, who deliberately use the lack of concrete proof of their insidiousness to cover up their insincerity. In this way they think they can silence those calling them to practice moral excellence and to prove invalid the criticism directed against them. Actually, this idea leads them into even greater insincerity. If they believe that their acquaintances have not heard about their insincere behavior, later they will resort to the same method in every similar situation.

Satan teaches people this and many more subtle methods of the silent language of evil in order to justify their lower selves. A very important truth should be kept in mind if a person is to avoid all these things. In the Qur'an, Allah tells us that people harm only themselves by the evil they do:

... they mislead no one but themselves and do not harm you in any way. Allah has sent down the Book and wisdom to you and taught you what you did not know before... (Surat an-Nisa': 113)

Allah tells us to avoid all kinds of evil, whether it is big or small, secret or in the open. Hiding wrong behavior so that it cannot come to light brings a person no good, but only harm. The behavior most suited to the Qur'an is to sincerely accept that one has committed an error and make up for it by practicing the kind of morality that will please Allah.

They try to prove their innocence by referring to their characters as childish

Before becoming an adult, everyone was a child and at that age they witnessed the influence of their character on those around them. They saw that there are some advantages to being a child; they learned from experience that people approach children with sympathy and understanding. All these experiences stay in people's minds and let them realize what kinds of behavior will elicit what kind of reaction. When going through difficulties as they get older, some people revert to displaying certain childish qualities—not because they have not advanced beyond childhood, but because they believe that they can gain other people's sympathy, mercy and pity with this kind of behavior, just as they did when they were children. They resort to this behavior especially when they have made some mistake and want to make people think that they are innocent.

Children who are still being brought up are not aware of many of the mistakes they make. For this reason, most people do not get angry with children when they behave badly, but on the contrary, treat them with understanding, tolerance and compassion. Almost everything they do is justified with comments such as, "He's only a child; whatever he does is appropriate for his age," or "That's the way children behave," and "He's a child; he doesn't know any better." But, after a period of education, everyone reaches a certain level of maturity and intelligence.

This deliberate pretense of childishness is one of the major kinds of behavior satan teaches. Among those who do not live according to the moral teachings of the Qur'an, it may receive the reward they expect. But those with faith know that people who believe in Allah and the world to come are mature in their faith and develop minds that are stable and intelligent. For this reason, at moments when they clash with their lower selves and act childishly, they know that this behavior comes from satan's influence. They know that intelligence and an open awareness are required to carry out the responsibility that Allah has given to us. At the same time, aware of the power of Allah, the coming of the Day of Judgment and the pains of Hell, they do not forget about the penalties of deliberately ignoring matters that can easily be understood with ease and the kind of responsibility that childish behavior imposes on a person.

Satan makes some people forget all these truths and leads them to hide behind this secret method in order to make themselves appear innocent. Sometimes they resort to these methods only to cover up their insincerity after they have made a mistake. Instead of using a tone of voice proper to a person of character and intelligence, they use a childish voice, thinking that this will suggest their helpless innocence. Sometimes they use a tactic of keeping silent; they pretend not to be able to find the right words to express themselves; they even pretend not to be able to form sentences. They try to show their innocence and make others feel sorry for them by pretending to be excitedly confused and unable to grasp the matter under discussion. In this way, they buy themselves time and search for new ways to make themselves seem innocent, though actually they have no such difficulty in speaking.

They resort to another manner of insincerity. The way they look at other people conveys total innocence so that they can conceal their duplicity and create the impression that that they do not understand anything, and know nothing about insidiousness and evil. Even though they are mentally aware and are able to look in an intelligent way, they deliberately hide it in order to deceive those around them.

Along with this feigned child's voice, halting speech and innocent expression, they also seek to strengthen their childish impression by engaging in displays of incompetence. They pretend to be helpless, unable to understand the simplest things, to give the impression that they are "just like children" and not to be given any responsibility. They want to make others think that they are innocent in their intentions, that they are too inept to do anything wrong, even if they wanted to. In this way they want to create the image of a harmless innocent who ought to be pitied. They act childishly when it suits them and try to convince their acquaintances that this is how they really are; but when something conflicts with their own interests, they can change character in a moment—from a childish, innocent looking, inept people who cannot explain what's bothering them into extremely aware individuals with a strong personality.

Sometimes, in their idle moments, they let their true face be shown and manifest clear signs that they are under satan's influence. But once they perceive that they are being noticed, immediately they retrench and revert to their child-like behavior, to present the desired image to those around them. All these insincere methods go to show that the childish behavior they deliberately display is a stratagem of satan.

We can see that satan leads these people with these intimations and makes them do what he wants. In the Qur'an, however, Allah warns those who follow satan in order to make themselves appear innocent against this moral depravity:

You who believe! Do not follow in the footsteps of satan. Anyone who follows in satan's footsteps should know that he commands indecency and wrongdoing... (Surat an-Nur: 21)

It is certainly not logical for an intelligent, normal-looking, eloquent, talented and sincere individual with a strong character to go against all this and present himself as a child. It is evident that such people display this kind of character under satan's influence. He tempts these individuals into insincerity, later showing them how to conceal it. They believe that by acting like children, they will persuade others with their pretense of innocence. If a person with faith who knows Allah's power and the Qur'an is tempted to be insincere, he may suffer the pangs of Hell in the world to come. Allah warns people not "to make light of the Qur'an":

... Do not make a mockery of Allah's signs. Remember Allah's blessing to you and the Book and wisdom He has sent down to you to admonish you. Fear Allah and know that Allah has knowledge of all things. (Surat al-Baqara: 231)

An intelligent person with a good grasp of what Allah says in the Qur'an and nevertheless strives to appear childish, may fall under the judgment of this verse. (Allah knows the truth)

In this situation, an intelligent person with faith should not resort to insincere ways to make himself appear innocent, but be purposeful in winning Allah's favor. To this end, he should be sincere and, instead of trying to cover up any error, he should repent and take refuge in the knowledge that Allah will forgive him.


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