To highlight the importance of Isti’adha, Allah says in the Holy Book, “When you commence reciting the Qur’an, seek protection from Allah against the accursed Satan.”
In his book Isti’adha: Seeking Allah’s Protection from Shaitan, Martyr Ayatollah Sayyid Dastghaib Shirazi discusses the issue of seeking Allah’s help to protect oneself against the evil tricks of Satan. This topic has received the maximum attention in the Holy Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and his Vicegerents (peace be upon them). Man wishes to access the presence of Allah, but Satan tries his best to prevent him from achieving this end. He puts so many hurdles and obstacles in the way of men that it becomes impossible to reach the desired destination. The one and only way of rule out this risk is to seek Allah’s protection against Satan. This is done by saying the words Au’dhu Billahi Min ash-Shaitan Ar-Rajeem. (I seek Allah’s protection from the accursed Satan.) But it is necessary that one should seek this protection from the depths of one’s heart. That is true Isti’adha!
To highlight the importance of Isti’adha, Allah says in the Holy Book, “When you commence reciting the Qur’an, seek protection from Allah against the accursed Satan.” Similarly, Allah has told the Holy Prophet, “Say, O Prophet! ‘O Allah! I seek your protection from the fears of the satans and their dominance on my heart and spirit.'”
When our Holy Prophet is advised to seek protection from Satan, don’t we need to protect ourselves?
Isti’adha Before Commencing Prayers: When we offer prayers to Allah, we should seek protection from Him against Satan, who is always bent on misguiding and taking us astray from the Right Path. At the very least, Satan tries to make the person proud or deceitful about prayers.
The ablution should be performed only after doing Isti’adha. You must have noticed that many times the same ablution becomes the Satan’s area of operation. He puts many lurking fears or temptations in the mind of the person that make his entire prayer null and void. During a prayer, it is recommended that after saying the Takbirat al-Ahram (“Allah Akbar”), one should say the Isti’adha in a low tone. The Qur’anic exegetes are of opinion that the Isti’adha in this situation has to be in a low tone because it will be like the person wishing to keep himself hidden and at the same time escape from the evil tricks of the enemy (the Satan)!
Isti’adha in Permissible Acts: In permissible (Mubah) or day-to-day affairs like eating food, drinking water, wearing clothes, while going out of one’s house, and even while going to the washroom, Isti’adha is recommended. For example, at the time of wearing clothes, one should say: “O Allah, keep my private parts hidden, and save them from the interference of Satan.”
Satan at the Threshold of a Mosque: One pious person said that he noticed Satan in an apocalyptic revelation standing at the threshold of the mosque. He asked him, “O accursed one! What are you doing here?” The Satan replied, “Some of my associates are missing in these environs, and I am waiting for them!” The pious person understood that they must be intelligent persons who have gone into the mosque, and the accursed Satan was unable to follow them inside. They must have taken care to say the Isti’adha before entering the mosque.
Therefore, when the enemy is so powerful and strong, we should not be unmindful of him. We should gather all our faculties and plan to save ourselves by seeking the Protection of Allah. Otherwise, one would find to his surprise that the place where he was prostrating was for a long time Satan’s abode, and in his ignorance, he thought that he was prostrating to Allah. In such a situation, when he had uttered “O Allah!”, in reality he had been submitting himself to Satan!
Worshipping Satan the Whole Life! Fable is narrated in Muntaqib at-Tawareeq that Ustad Ali al-Haeri told in one of his lectures, “In a village of Isfehan, a rustic villager was in the last stages of his life. The pious person of the village was requested to say the Talqeen, or pronounce the creed to the dying person to repeat it. During the Talqeen when the sick person said “La Ilaha Illa Allah” to bear witness to the Unity of Allah, a sound came from the corner of the room, “Sadaqat Abdi.” (“My creature, you say the truth!”) When the sick man said, “Ya Allah!“, the sound came from the same corner of the room, “Labbaik Abdi.” (“My creature, I am here!”) The pious person asked, “Who are you?” The reply was, “I am the person’s creator whom he had worshipped all his life! I am Satan!”
Yes! It is a fact that the man worshipped Satan his entire life. He was always responding to the call of Satan. His tongue spoke at Satan’s orders. His eyes saw things in response to Satan’s wishes. His heart responded to Satan’s wishes. When throughout his life the person was at the call of Satan, then whether he says “Ya Rab” or “Ya Iblees” at the time of the Talqeen, his respondent can only be Satan!
As Martyr Dastghaib Shirazi reminds us, let us not underestimate our enemy Satan! Let us not be under the illusion that only repeating the words “Au’dhu Billahi Min ash-Shaitan Ar-Rajeem” is sufficient. Remember! Unless you understand the purpose of these words and mold your actions as per the commandments of Allah, the Isti’adha will not be of any utility.
The book is available online in its entirety.