If happiness is a state of mind, we have to question how much control we really have over it when our mind is under the influence. Islam forbids intoxicants, of course. But there is an intoxicant more powerful and dangerous than drugs or alcohol: thoughts.
Surah 114, the last surah in the Qur’an, draws attention to our thoughts by calling on us to ‘seek refuge with the God of people, against the harm of the slinking whisperer – who whispers into the hearts of people – whether they be jinn or people.’
We normally interpret this retreating whisperer as the devil. Yet what is a devil if not an influencer who ushers us off our path; who through deceit encourages us to consider something we normally wouldn’t?
Islam places a heavy emphasis on influence, having warned billions of followers with this strikingly haunting image. The very last prophet; the very last book; the very last line – and this is the message. We’re guarded with a warning against something we cannot fully see, yet we can witness its deformity manifest in our lives if we allow it into our hearts. This is the work of the ‘whispering deceiver’; this is how we witness its presence in our lives. If the devil is nothing more than a glorified personification of an influencer, we need to look at what influence really is.
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