It’s a hard pill for me to swallow, but it’s one I have to take through so many realizations. Today, when teaching my 6 year old, we learned the word ‘buffeted’ as being hit again and again with something. I’d say that this realization that gratitude is the key, buffeted me throughout these years.
And one of those realizations is very clear in a passage in surah Al A’raaf 10-18.
And We have certainly established you upon the earth and made for you therein ways of livelihood. Little are you grateful.
Allah begins this passage by telling us that He has made the earth as our dwelling place and has prepared it, has laid it out, made many forms and variety of livelihood, resources, and even enjoyment for us but little are we grateful.
And We have certainly created you, [O Mankind], and given you [human] form. Then We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam”; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was not of those who prostrated.
Then, Allah tells us that He has created us. Now imagine this, Allah has ‘taken the trouble’ though it is not trouble for Him, yet He is teaching us through the creation of heaven and earth that He has lovingly created these two entities for us. It was all planned. To the littlest detail. Allah has created us, and then He formed us. The word SSawarnaakum means We have formed you. Our features, the various gene combo that make us all uniquely different from each other, from the shades of skin color to the thumbprint, Allah is the One who has detailed it. That fine hair we have or the curly or wavy hair we have, He has formed it just for us. That peachy shade of skin color, that creamy coffee shade, or that egg-shell complexion of yours, He has detailed it as such. That one inch less than 6 feet height that you try to compensate with higher heels, He has done on purpose. Why has Allah mentioned this? Remember the mention of “Little are you grateful,” in the previous ayah.
Then Allah talks about our history, way back, which is not in the history textbooks because it will cause too much confusion and complications, and they can’t carbon date it. But our history goes way back to Paradise. That’s where we originated from. If someone asks you, “Where are you from?” you can say, “Paradise.” I was just telling my kids not to ask this of Muslim Americans because some of them will get offended because you automatically assume they’re immigrants. It’s one of those questions you have to hold back and gauge your way into if you are so intent on knowing.
But basically, Iblees, who was amongst the angels, refused to make sujud to Adam a.s., our father, when Allah commanded the angels and him included to. Imagine how he must have stood out. SNAP!(as my kids like to say when one of them responds inappropriately to me and there is pause before I respond back) Big trouble!
[ Allah ] said, “What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you?” [Satan] said, “I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay.”
Allah asks him why he didn’t make sujud when told to do so, because before this, he was obedient to Allah such that he was amongst the angels. He was given high station, so why is he now messing that up for himself? Iblees replied indignantly and please imagine him puffing up with pride here. His arrogance is mounting and he threw in a logical explanation to boot; he was made from fire and Adam a.s. was made from clay, so of course fire is better, because after all, clay is just…clay, right?
Isn’t this how we are too with some commands in Islam?
“This doesn’t make sense!”
“That sounds so…scientifically incorrect! Seriously? Dip both wings of the fly in your water? Pick up the food that you dropped and eat it?!”
I guess Iblees and his progeny have been hard at work on us.
So, Allah kicked him out of Paradise. But look at the words in this next ayah…
[ Allah ] said, “Descend from Paradise, for it is not for you to be arrogant therein. So get out; indeed, you are of the debased.
Paradise is not a place for the arrogant! So, if we want to make it back there, arrogance shouldn’t even be in the equation, should it? Hmm….
Now, Iblees’ feathers are ruffled but he’s desperate too, so…he tries to make a deal with Allah…
[Satan] said, “Reprieve me until the Day they are resurrected.”
Allah granted him his request.
[ Allah ] said, “Indeed, you are of those reprieved.”
But look at the nerve of this guy, look what he says next! My God!
[Satan] said, “Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path.
He’s blaming Allah! First, he’s disobedient because his ego’s bruised. Then, he got so pumped up by his ego, such that he had the nerve to logically explain why he didn’t obey Allah. Then, he begged Allah to give him more time and when Allah gave him more time, this is what he said?!
Does this sound familiar? Don’t we do this too?
This is the illness of someone who cannot see his own mistake and shortcoming. When you cannot or refuse to see your own faults, hey, someone has to be at fault, right? Well, instead of looking inward, you look outward, and so you end up blaming someone else. This is when you say someone has completely lost it! He’s lost it, yet he still makes one very glaring point that Allah has put in the Quran for our benefit. Next ayah…
Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful [to You].”
This is what Iblees has vowed to do. He has assigned for himself a new profession after his downfall. It’s like when a person gets fired for improper behavior, he vows to make life miserable for the rest of the employees from then on, and basically promises to be a pest.
Interesting, he mentions all the preposition, in front, behind, right, left, but he didn’t mention two more, above and below. Scholars say that above is where Allah’s mercy comes from, so Iblees can’t mess with that, and below is where we have the closest connection to Allah in sujud, so he definitely can’t mess with that either. Imagine now everytime Shaytaan sees us making sujud, it will remind him of his disobedience, the very one that got him kicked out of Jannah eternally and landing him in hell eternally, as Allah then says to him…
[ Allah ] said, “Get out of Paradise, reproached and expelled. Whoever follows you among them – I will surely fill Hell with you, all together.”
But wait, wait, go back. G.R.A.T.I.T.U.D.E. That was our focus, right? Well, what else did Iblees say when he said all those but 2 prepositions? He ended it with,
and You will not find most of them grateful [to You].
Now, with Iblees having completely lost it, by blaming Allah for his mistake, the only thing Allah responded to him with is,
“Get out of Paradise, reproached and expelled. Whoever follows you among them – I will surely fill Hell with you, all together.”
because there is no point talking to this lunatic anymore. But, Allah included Iblees’ ranting for a reason. It’s for us to take heed. It’s like Allah is telling us, “Look, this is what he said. So, watch out for this. Take heed!”
Why did Iblees mention gratitude though?
Food for thought for US.
Sounds like the key to getting to us is by making us ungrateful. For anything and everything. Once that lock is opened, he can come in and mess us up. By whispering to us that our hair is not as silky as the shampoo woman, he makes us ‘hate’ our hair. By whispering to us that we have a right to have a happy life, when something bad happens to us, we say, “This isn’t supposed to be how it is,” and we fall into such despair and forget all about akhirah. By whispering to us that our friend’s husband is so helpful to our lucky friend, he makes us feel like we have the worst husband in the world, so our marriage is a failure and oh why even bother staying married anymore? And yes, oh look he has all these other faults too. Ugh. By whispering to us to enjoy life all we can, he makes us heedless of the source of blessings, and thus makes us live unbalanced lives. We spend utmost effort pursuing worldly degrees at the expense of attaining high ranks with Allah through learning the deen and mainly the Quran. We can spend hours upon hours reading books written by human beings that are best sellers, but can’t commit to reading even a page of the Quran on a daily basis let alone take out time to really find out what it’s saying. We can put so much effort in organizing our house to the littlest detail and arranging our albums on Facebook, but can’t commit to a regular Islamic class even once a week. We justify these actions and we don’t take ourselves into account and we make excuses. And like this, Iblees truly comes to us from in front of us, from behind us, from our right, from our left and truly, most of us are ungrateful😦
May Allah make us of the shaakireen!! Ameen!