as allah says in the qur'an, shaytan is always trying to divert people from the right path and to take them away from allah's deen and the teachings of the qur'an. shaytan continues his work twenty four hours a day; without making any distinction between rich and poor, young and old, pretty or unattractive, and he expends much effort trying to mislead everyone. he feels resentment towards everyone no matter who they are.
shaytan was filled with this resentment at the creation of the first human being. after allah created adam, he ordered shaytan to prostrate to him but shaytan was filled with pride and jealousy; he disobeyed allah and refused to prostrate. as a result of this rebellion and insolence he was driven from the presence of allah. our lord tells us about this in the qur'an:
we created you and then formed you and then we said to the angels, "prostrate before adam," and they prostrated—except for iblis. he was not among those who prostrated. he (allah) said, "what prevented you from prostrating when i commanded you to?" he (iblis) replied, "i am better than him. you created me from fire and you created him from clay."
he (allah) said, "descend from heaven. it is not for you to be arrogant in it. so get out! you are one of the abased." (surat al-a'raf: 11-13)
allah tells us in the qur'an that shaytan blamed human beings for his fallen condition and asked allah for a period of time—ending at the day of judgment—in which he would begin his work of tempting man from the right path.
he said, "grant me a reprieve until the day they are raised up."
he (allah) said, "you are one of the reprieved."
he said, "by your misguidance of me, i will lie in ambush for them on your straight path. then i will come at them, from in front of them and behind them, from their right and from their left. you will not find most of them thankful."
he (allah) said, "get out of it, reviled and driven out. as for those of them who follow you, i will fill up hell with every one of you." (surat al-a'raf: 14-18)
shaytan's target is all humanity beginning with believers who strongly embrace allah's religion. his desire is to draw as many people as possible to be with him in the fire. he tries to prevent people from worshipping allah sincerely from the heart, to take people away from allah's deen and from the qur'an and, as a result, to draw them into endless punishment.
and those with faith are aware that their greatest enemy, shaytan, is always working; while they are trying to obey the commands of allah as best they can, they are always wary of shaytan's games and tricks. they are awake to the apprehension and groundless fears that he causes and his incitements to act against the teachings of the qur'an or to put it aside and forget it and to part from the way of allah. an example of the insinuations shaytan puts in the mind of man is found in verse 268 of surat al-baqara:
shaytan promises you poverty and commands you to avarice. allah promises you forgiveness from him and abundance. allah is all-encompassing, all-knowing. (surat al-baqara: 268)
as this verse says, shaytan tries to get a person who has lost his job to forget that allah gives sustenance to every human being, and makes him afraid that he will not be able to find any money and so will go hungry. by instilling this kind of fear and by making other kinds of insinuations, he tries to draw people to his side. in the qur'an, allah shows human beings what to do against the evil impulses shaytan provokes in us.
if an evil impulse from shaytan provokes you, seek refuge in allah. he is all-hearing, all-seeing. as for those who have taqwa, when they are bothered by visitors from shaytan, they remember and immediately see clearly. (surat al-a'raf: 200-201)
the most important thing a person can do to protect himself against the wiles of shaytan is to take refuge with allah. he must not forget that shaytan is also under allah's control and does not have the power to do anything unless allah wills it. in the qur'an, allah commands us to say this prayer in order to take refuge with him from shaytan:
say: "i seek refuge with the lord of mankind, the king of mankind, the god of mankind, from the evil of the insidious whisperer who whispers in people's breasts and comes from the jinn and from mankind." (surat an-nas: 1-6)
a person who possesses the qualities taught in the qur'an will always take refuge with allah from shaytan and will know the difference between the insinuations of shaytan that pass through his mind, as if his own thoughts, and thoughts which conform to the qur'an. he will be alert at every moment and pay no attention to what shaytan says. he will not let shaytan interfere in anything he thinks or does. for example, whether busy with his work, or alone by himself, or speaking with someone, when something happens to him or when some difficulty occurs, he always acts with the awareness that shaytan is waiting in ambush tempting him to speak and act in a way not pleasing to allah. in this and every situation he will speak and act in a way that conforms to the qur'an. in this way believer will not fall under the influence of the wiles of shaytan. our lord tells us about this in the qur'an:
he (shaytan) has no authority over those who believe and put their trust in their lord. he only has authority over those who take him as a friend and associate others with allah. (surat an-nahl: 99-100)