When Abu Bakr Siddique (may Allah be pleased with him) was once asked about man’s enemies in this life, he answered “Satan, human nature, life and caprice.” I intend to throw some light on these four enemies hoping to know them well will help us discover how to overcome them.

As for Satan, he was the first one to commit a sin when he refused to prostrate to Adam as Allah ordered him. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (remember) when We said to the angels: ‘Prostrate yourselves before Adam.’ And they prostrated except Iblis (Satan), he refused and was proud and was one of the disbelivers.” (2:34)

The Satan also instigated Adam and Eve to eat from the Forbidden Tree and as a result, they were dismissed from Heaven. “But Satan whispered evil to him: he said, “O Adam! Shall I lead thee to the Tree of Eternity and to a kingdom that never waste away?” Then they both ate of the tree, and so their private parts became manifest to them: and they began to cover themselves with the leaves of the Paradise for their covering. Thus did Adam disobey his Lord, so he went astray.(20:120-121)

Then Satan vowed to instigate the progeny of Adam to commit sins in moments of passion, weakness, temptation and seduction. However on the Day of Judgment, Satan would let his followers down by claiming that they were fully responsible for their mistakes, that is, his role was only tempting and alluring them. “And Satan will say when the matter has been decided: ‘Verily, Allah promised you a promise of truth. And I too promised you, but I betrayed you. I had no authority over you except that I called you and you responded to me: So blame me not, but blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I deny your former act in associating me (Satan) as a partner with Allah. Verily, there is a painful torment for the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers).(14:22)

As for the second enemy, namely, human nature, it can be said that since his birth a man lives in the midst of a conflict, a conflict between good and evil and it is for his human nature to make the choice. Also it is his deep faith in Allah that makes him able to resist the weakness of human nature and look down upon the transient pleasures of life.

Life is man’s third enemy. Life here simply means all the worldly pleasures that tempt man to move away from the path of Allah. The most tempting pleasure that may make man commit sins is money. A lot of people think that money talks, money walks, meaning that money can do anything. They simply see the bright side of money but they forget or tend to forget that money is the root of all evils. However, this does not mean that people should not earn money or try to be rich. They simply have to strike a balance between earning money and abiding by values and principles.

Caprice is man’s fourth enemy; it refers to the whims and fancies that lead man to go astray in this life. Man has to remember what Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib said: “Life is short, spend it in obeying Allah and your human nature is greedy, teach it to be contented.” In this respect, Al-Hasan Al-Basri also said: “Your life is just a number of days, once a day passes, part of your life is taken away.”