Shaytaan tries to trick us in different ways. When we speak about Waswasah (Satanic Whispers), we think it only happens to make us sin, and perpetrate something forbidden. Others think it's to make our faith weak, yet many fail to realise that some are to destroy our lives. Hence, Waswasah happens:
To make us doubt our faith;
To make us doubt our acts of worship;
To make us sin;
To turn us against other believers;
To turn us against people who maintaining ties with will help us to keep our lives at an equilibrium (such as husband, relatives, in-laws);
To make us depressed, down, lonely, and to make us feel dejected;
To make us look silly and stupid;
To make us doubt ourselves, think low of ourselves, hurt ourselves;
To destroy our characters (making us argumentative, proud, haughty, stingy, jealous, etc.)
If a person falls into it trap, they will leave their lives in a state of chaos, lose their respect and peace of mind. So, the only option, O Muslim, is to battle these Waswaas as satan never wants good for us and wants to take the worse out of us. Also, remember that there are Shayaateen from both the humankind as well as the Jinn. In this article we will be predominantely be discussing the whispers of shaytaan, the Jinn:
وَإِمَّا يَنزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ نَزْغٌ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
'And if an evil whisper from shaytaan tries to turn you away (O Muhammad, from doing good), then seek refuge in Allaah. Indeed, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.' (Qur'aan, 41: 36)
What this means is that if the shaytaan whispers to you, commanding you to reciprocate the harm that is done to you and to gain revenge, then seek refuge in Allaah (swt) from shaytaan's evil whisperings. Unlike human beings, shaytaan does not change his stance or attitude when someone tries to treat him kindly; in his mind, the only way a person can win him over is by obeying his command to disobey Allaah (swt). Human beings, on the other hand, are open (at least in many cases) to being won over through kind acts of affection. This is why Islaam encourages Muslims to treat well those human beings who treat them badly. The shaytaan too treats Muslims badly, by ordering them to do evil, but the only way they can protect themselves from this harm is to seek refuge in Allaah (swt) from shaytaan's evil. Throughout the Noble Qur'aan, a clear explanation is given regarding the reality of the relationship between man and shaytaan, mainly in terms of this world and how Muslims should go about protecting themselves from his evil. (Noble life of the Prophet, Vol.1, Pg. 263-264, Dr. Ali Muhammad As-Sallaabee)
If a Muslim suffers from the satanic whispers (waswasah, plural: waswaas), whether that's against oneself, to cause self-inflicted harm or pain, whether about others, or to commit a sin and transgress the boundaries of Allaah, then s/he must try their utmost not to pay any attention to these whispers, and to ignore them, and to do the opposite of what they are calling you to do. For these whispers (waswaas) come from the Shaytan to cause grief to those who believe. The best way to deal with them is to remember Allaah a great deal (Dhikr), to seek refuge with Allaah from the accursed Shaytan, to keep away from sins and wrong actions which are the means by which Iblees gains control over the sons of Adam. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ لَهُ سُلْطَانٌ عَلَى الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
“Verily, he [the Shaytaan] has no power over those who believe and put their trust only in their Lord (Allaah).” [An-Nahl 16:99]
It is worth quoting here what Ibn Hajar al-Haythami (may Allaah have mercy on him) said about dealing with waswasah in his book al-Fataawa al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kubra, 1/149. This is what he said:
“He was asked about the problem of waswasah (insinuating whispers from the Shaytan), and whether there is a remedy for it. He replied by saying that:
There is an effective remedy for it, which is to ignore them completely, no matter how frequently they may come to mind. When these whispers are ignored, they do not become established, rather they go away after a short time, as many people have experienced. But for those who pay attention to them and act upon them, they increase until they make him like one who is insane or even worse, as we see among many of those who have suffered from them and paid attention to them and to the devil whose task it is to insinuate these whispers, whom the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) warned us against when he said, “Beware of the whispers with regard to water (i.e., wudoo/ablution) which is caused by a devil called Al-Walhaan” – because that causes a person to go to extremes with regard to doing Wudhoo', as was explained in Sharh Mishkaat al-Anwaar.
In al-Saheehayn there is a report which supports what has been mentioned above, which is that whoever suffers from waswaas should seek refuge with Allaah and turn away from the waswaas. So think about this effective remedy which was taught by the one who does not speak of his own whims and desires to his Ummah (followers), and understand that whoever is deprived of this is deprived of all goodness, because waswasah comes from the Shaytan, according to scholarly consensus, and the accursed one (the Shaytan) has no other desire than to make the believers go astray, make them confused, make their life a misery, cause them distress to the extent that they leave Islam without realizing it.
إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ فَاتَّخِذُوهُ عَدُوًّا ۚ إِنَّمَا يَدْعُو حِزْبَهُ لِيَكُونُوا مِنْ أَصْحَابِ السَّعِيرِ
“Surely, Shaytan (Satan) is an enemy to you, so take (treat) him as an enemy” [Faatir 35:6 – interpretation of the meaning]
According to another Hadeeth (Prophetic Narration), the one who suffers from Waswasah should say, “Aamantu Billaahi wa bi rusulihi (I believe in Allaah and in His Messengers).” Undoubtedly, whoever thinks of the paths of the Messengers of Allaah, especially our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) will find that his path and his law is easy and clear, with no hardship in it.
وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ ۚ
“… and has not laid upon you in religion any hardship” [al-Hajj 22:78 – interpretation of the meaning]
Whoever ponders this and believes in it sincerely, the problem of Waswasah and listening to the Shaytaan will go away. In the book of Ibn al-Sunni it is narrated via ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her),
“Whoever suffers from this waswaas, let him say ‘Aamantu Billaahi wa bi rusulihi (I believe in Allaah and in His Messengers)’, three times, and it will go away from him.”
Al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al-Salam and others mentioned something similar to the above. They said:
The treatment for Waswasah is to believe that this is an idea from the Shaytaan and that Iblees is the one who is bringing these thoughts to his mind, and he should strive to fight him. Then he will have the reward of the Mujaahid (warrior), because he is fighting the enemy of Allaah. If he does that, then the Shaytaan will flee from him. This is what mankind has been tested with from the beginning of time, and Allaah has given him (Iblees) some power over man as a test for him, so that Allaah may show the truth to be true and falsehood to be false, even though the disbelievers may hate that.
In Muslim, Hadeeth no. 2203, it is narrated that ‘Uthman ibn Abi’l-‘Aas said: “The Shaytaan was interfering with my prayer and recitation of Qur'aan. He [the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)] said: ‘That is a devil called Khanzab, so seek refuge with Allaah from him and spit drily to your left three times.’ I did that, and Allaah took him away from me.”
This Hadeeth proves that Waswasah can only overpower the one who is ignorant and confused and does not know what’s what. But the one who has knowledge and understanding will follow the Sunnah (Prophetic Teachings) and keep away from Bid’ah (innovation). The worst of the innovators are those who follow Waswaas, hence Imaam Maalik (may Allaah have mercy on him) narrated that his Shaykh Ar-Rabee’ (r) – who was the Imaam of the people of his time – was the fastest of the people in relieving himself and doing Wudhoo'.
Ibn Hurmuz used to be slow in relieving himself and in doing wudoo, and he used to say “I have a problem, do not follow my example.”
An-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said that one of the scholars thought it was Mustahabb (liked) for the one who was affected by Waswasah with regard to his Wudhoo' or prayer to say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah, for when the Shaytaan hears Dhikr (remembrance of Allaah) he slinks away, and Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah is the best of Dhikr, and the most effective remedy for warding off waswasah is to remember Allaah a great deal.