As-Sunnah Vol. 2 Issue No. 11


Differentiating between Waswaas that come from the Shaytan and those from one's own self

What happens to a Muslim regarding his Wudhu and prayer, where he does not know how many times he

Three sources of Waswaas

a) one's own self which is inclined to evil. 'And indeed We have created man, and We know what his own self whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein (by Our Knowledge).' [Soorah al-Qaaf (50): 16] 'And I free not myself (from the blame). Verily, the (human) self is inclined to evil, except when my Lord bestows His Mercy (upon whom He wills). Verily, my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.' [Soorah Yusuf (12): 53]

b) the Shaytan among the jinn, 'Then Shaytan whispered to him, saying, 'O Adam! Shall I lead you to the tree of eternity and to a kingdom that will never waste away.' [Soorah Ta-Ha (20): 120]

c) the Shaytan among mankind. ‘Say, I seek refuge with (Allah) the Lord of mankind, The King of mankind - The Ilah (God) of mankind, from the evil of the whisperer (devil who whispers evil in the hearts of men) who withdraws (from his whispering in one's heart after one remembers Allah). Who whispers in the breasts of mankind. Among jinn and among men.' [Soorah an-Nas (114): 1-6]


 washed during Wudhu or how many rak'ahs he performed, comes from the Shaytan. If he seeks refuge with Allah from the Shaytan, Allah will suffice him against him. But if he gives in to him and responds to the waswaas, the Shaytan will gain power over him, and that waswaas will become a chronic problem.

As for the waswaas that comes from the nafs, it is what urges the person to commit a specific sin and repeatedly seeks to make him do it. Whereas Shaytan wants man to commit any disobedience, he does not care what kind of transgression. For, example, he commands man to be neglectful in fulfilling his obligation like abandoning prayers. However, it is not the way of Shaytan to openly call him to miss his prayers. Rather, when the call to prayer is pronounced, Shaytan will whisper him to complete the work he is doing and then go for prayers. So when the work is finished, he reminds him of something else he has to do, and then he will tell him to first finish his food, etc., until the time of prayer has perished. Similarly, if one is a businessperson, he whispers to him that if he goes for prayer leaving behind his business, he might miss some customers in the meanwhile. However, if a person still manages to put aside all these distractions and stands before his Lord, Shaytan comes to him shedding doubts in his heart concerning his Wudhu, and says you did not wash your hands properly and causes him to repeat his ablution. Then he will whisper to him things, which he did not remember outside the prayer, until the person forgets how many raka'ahs he performed? But if Shaytan finds man to be zealous in performing his Salaat, he comes to him through a different means in which he is weak. For example, he whispers to him concerning his wealth and encourages him to unlawfully usurp the wealth of others and forbids him from paying Zakaat while telling him that this will bring him poverty. Whereas, Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, 'By spending in Zakaat, wealth does not decrease…' [Saheeh Muslim (4/6264)] However, if he finds the believer to be strong in his Salaat and Zakaat, he will beautify women for him, until he causes him to commit adultery and if he is strong in all these, Shaytan lures him to intoxicants… and so on.

So, Shaytan is not concerned about causing man to commit one particular sin, but what matters to him is that man becomes guilty of disobeying his Lord and it is all the same to him whether he makes him do something that is forbidden or omit something that is obligatory, for all of it is sin and disobedience. However, waswaas of the nafs are those, which repeatedly invite him to some particular misbehavior and does not want anything other than that and it causes one to commit and repeat.

The difference between the waswaas that come from the Shaytan and the waswaas that comes from the nafs is subtle, as was quoted by Shaikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) from some of the scholars. He said, 'Abu Haazim made a comparison between the waswasa caused by the nafs and that caused by the Shaytan, and said, 'Whatever your nafs hates for your nafs is from the Shaytan, so seek refuge with Allah from it. And whatever your nafs likes for your nafs is from your nafs so forbid it to it.' [Majmoo al-Fatawa (17/529, 530)] i.e., the nafs usually whispers concerning things which are connected to its whims and desires, which people usually like.

Taken from As-Sunnah Newsletter -


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