When the month of Ramadan comes, in order to point at that it is the month of mercy, Muslim preachers say “The devils are chained in Ramadan, what remain are your intention and deeds.” Yes, as they indicate, what remains in Ramadan is the lower self which is given to us for the test and our progress and which always invites Satan to our hearts.
The lower self is trained through fasting which teaches us with hunger that the possessor of beings, the creator, the owner of blessings, and the one who gives livelihood is Allah (swt). Having lost its strength and getting no help from outside (i.e. devils), the lower self surrenders, thus giving up sins. Humans attain a kind of angelic state when they stop eating and drinking with the fasting of Ramadan. Having attained that state humans gain sincerity, for they worship just for Allah and not for the lower self’s account. The month of Ramadan, therefore, becomes a complete month of mercy.
One day when I was together with my friends, I brought up a subject and asked them in order to have a better share from the spirituality of Ramadan:
“Our Prophet (pbuh) said ‘When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the Heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, 1899) Now that the devils are chained, why do people still commit sin?” I asked.
To throw some light on the subject I continued: “Those devils are aggressive ones which are other than the devil given to every individual for spiritual progress.”
And I told them an experience I had:
“We went to a brother’s house in Kırıkkale. There were two dogs in the garden. One was a kangal dog, the other was a bulldog. They both started to bark when they saw us. They would attack and bite us if their chains didn’t keep them. We prayed with our brother Ahmad from Sudan and then the dogs calmed down. However, they started to bark and tried to attack others behind us. They were really furious; there was foam in their mouths. Our friends were very afraid and ran away. Then fortunately the owner of the house came and calmed down the dogs. I told to my friends ‘The chains were actually longer, but they were stuck somewhere. Otherwise, you would have been within the dogs’ reach.’”
After telling about this event, I asked again: “In fact, if the devils are chained for everyone, then why do we commit sin in Ramadan?” When I asked “Can it be that we unchain the devils,” brother Murat said, “Maybe we enter within the reach of the chained devils. Then they are able to reach and bite us. We fall into their traps and commit sin.” Upon this I said “Then we will either keep away from them or stay with their owner in order that we are saved from their evils.”
These devils are Satan and his helpers. It is none other than Satan mentioned in the following verse: “He [Iblis] said: Never would I bow down [to the ground] before a human [being] that You have created from a clay of aged, black mud!” (Hijr, 15:33)
If you remember Allah said the following upon that arrogance of the Satan: “[Allah] said: Begone from here! For, indeed, you are accursed! Upon you, moreover, is the curse [of Allah] until the Day of Judgment.” (Hijr, 15:34-35)
Instead of realizing his mistake, apologizing and asking for forgiveness Satan said: “My Lord! Then grant me respite until the Day they are raised up [in the Hereafter].” (Hijr, 15:36)
Then Allah said: “Then you are, indeed, of those granted respite, [only] to the Day of [Doom] the [moment in] time known [to Me alone].” (Hijr, 15:37-38)
Iblis (Satan) said: “My Lord! Because you have denounced me as astray, I will make [what is evil] in the earth fair-seeming to [humankind]. Thus I will, most surely, lead them to [the way of] perversity, all together-” (Hijr, 15:39) “Then because You have denounced me as astray, I shall, most surely, lie ever in ambush for them [with temptation] upon Your straight way [of salvation].” (A’raf, 7:16-17) “…except Your [true] servants among them the sincere, elect ones.” (Hijr, 15:40)
In response Allah said: “Thus incite [to sin] whomever of them you can with your voice. And rally against them with your cavalry and your infantry. And share with them in the wealth and the children [given to them]. And promise them [every desire]! Yet Satan promises [those of] them [who follow him] nothing but a mere delusion.” (Isra, 17:64) “…except for those of the deluded who follow you.” (Hijr, 15:42) “[O Satan!] As for My [faithful] servants, you shall have no [position of] authority over them. Thus, sufficient is your Lord, [O Prophet] as a Guardian [over the believers].” (Isra, 17:65)
Allah shows mercy to us in the month of Ramadan. In order that we worship Him in sincerity like angels, He chains Satan and his helpers to protect us from their attacks.
When the blessed month of Ramadan is over and those evil devils are all free, the lower self that stopped eating and drinking in Ramadan is also free. The fasting in Ramadan keeps the devils – which are like mad dogs – away from us; and it also prevents us going towards them, thus stopping them from harming us. After Ramadan we are in a time that Satan and the lower self never stop working against us. O Allah, help us against them, guide us to protect ourselves from their evils. Make our feet firm against them. Amin.
“My Lord! I seek refuge in You from the promptings of the satans [to do otherwise].” (Mu’minun, 23:97-98)
I understood from the mercy of Allah – Who commands us to seek refuge in Him from the evils of the devils – that the people of truth possess a stronghold so impregnable that when they take refuge in it, those fearsome enemies cannot draw close; they can do nothing. Even if they cause some temporary harm, according to the verse, “And the end is best for the righteous,” (7:128) the everlasting reward and profit the believers receive will make up for the damage. That impregnable stronghold, which is such a heavenly stronghold of steel, is the Qur’an. Enter it and be saved!
We understand with the light of the strong faith that we are in the presence of the Lord Who is the Owner, Creator of the universe, the All Powerful, Who sees and knows everything. Since it is disrespectful to look to others for help in His presence, one must directly take refuge in Him. The Qur’an shows us this way.
Our armour against this awesome enemy is the fear of Allah fashioned on the workbench of the Qur’an, and our shield is the Noble Messenger’s practices, who command us “remember more often the destroyer of pleasures – death,” thus preventing the lower self from collaborating with the Satan and deceiving us.
And our weapon is to seek refuge with Allah from Satan, and seek forgiveness, and take refuge in divine protection. This is because “the person who accuses his soul sees its faults. And he who admits his faults seeks forgiveness for them. And he who seeks forgiveness takes refuge with Allah. And he who takes refuge with Allah is saved from Satan’s evil. Not to see one’s faults is a greater fault than the first fault. And not to admit to one’s faults is a serious defect. If one sees the fault, it ceases to be a fault. If one admits it, one becomes worthy of forgiveness.” (The Risale-i Nur Corpus, the Thirteenth Flash)