Belief & Worship Domestic Affairs Islamic Character

Small Steps to Satan by Suhaib Webb | Transcribed by Fuseina Mohamad

Surat Al-Fatiha Series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIVPart XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | Part XXIV Part XXV

Minor Sins

The fourth attack of Shaytan (Satan) is to get us to commit minor sins. Here you get to see how sneaky Shaytan really is. If Shaytan can’t get someone to be a kaafir (disbeliever), and he can’t get someone to do bid`ah (innovation in the religion), and he can’t get someone to commit major sins, then the next step is minor sins. Minor sins are called as-saghaair. An example would be having envy towards someone, or having a problem with someone and not trying to fix it.

Now, someone may be listening right now and thinking, “Well I’m all right; I don’t commit big sins, only minor sins.” This is how Shaytan gets you. The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) gave an example of the saghaair when he said, in an authentic hadith (narration), that there was a group of people who went to the desert where they wanted to make a fire. Each of them found little pieces of wood, which they collected together, and thus they were able to make the fire. The Prophet ﷺ said that this is how minor sins work. They keep throwing the minor sin on the pile until it becomes a major sin. That’s why the scholars said that if someone persists in committing a minor sin it will become a major sin over time.

Wasting Time

The fifth attack of Shaytan, if he doesn’t succeed in the other traps, is that he gets people to fall into what is called al-mubaahat, permissible things.  For example, chatting online with someone of the same sex. Not with the opposite sex, because when you chat with the opposite sex then this is khalwa (seclusion).  According to the scholars you are alone with that person, and one can fall into a relationship very easily. Let me give you a proof of this. Last week, when you went home maybe you were chatting online with someone of the opposite gender. As you were chatting, suddenly your mother or father walked into the room and asked what you are doing. What do you say? “Oh, I’m just checking the score of the last basketball game.” If you don’t think it’s that bad then print out the conversation and let your parents read it.

The Prophet ﷺ defined sin as something that you don’t want people to know about, something that embarrasses you. He said, البر حسن الخلق. Righteousness is good behavior.

How many brothers and sisters pray, fast, and dress properly, but are rude and mean to others? We have to have the complete package, not one or the other. How many sisters who don’t wear hijab have told me that when they come to the masjid the other sisters put them down? She is trying to take a step to get closer to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) and people look at her like she has a virus. On the other hand, we also can’t say we have good behavior and nothing else.

So, in our example let’s say you are chatting with someone of the same gender, which is permissible. But you’re talking about nothing for five or six hours. Talking is permissible, but in this case it’s a waste of time.

The same is true for video games—as long as it’s not Tomb Raider. For those of you who don’t know, Tomb Raider is a video game where a scantily dressed woman is the main character. But Muslims will play this game and say, “Oh, it’s only a video game.”

Another example is Vice City. I was talking about this video game in the khutbah (sermon). When it came out, I was warning parents about it and the kids were really mad at me. In this game there is a man who is living the life of an ex-convict who is a drug dealer. He takes over the neighborhood by selling his drugs. Along the way (not to offend anyone here) he pulls over and engages in a relationship with a prostitute. But the brothers who were playing the game said, “But you can’t see anything, the car just shakes.” SubhanAllah (glory be to God)! Such behavior is very offensive. Not only is it representative of the completely anti-intellectual climate which is now permeating the United States, but do you realize why most women are forced into prostitution? Poverty and drug addiction.

I was an educator, and I did my practicum in the worst school that I could think of because I wanted to make a difference in society as a university student. There were children there who were the children of prostitutes. Imagine the cognitive disorders they have. Imagine the type of exploitation they are exposed to every night. Imagine the impact left on them from seeing their mothers and fathers committing acts of prostitution. Yet, we’ve made it a game, for fun. The social ramifications of prostitution on people are outstanding. If you want to understand prostitution, look at Fir`oun (Pharoah). Why did Fir`oun say that he would kill the men and let the women live? What were those women going to do? Become prostitutes. This is indicative of what we call a Fir`ounic society. But now it’s become a game, it became fun. It’s like those of us who grew up with Star Wars, playing with lasers and so forth. Because of movies, magazines and books we’re used to seeing guns and lasers blow up things without ever seeing the results; therefore, the war in Iraq right now has no real impact on the American mind. But when people actually see the pictures of the outcome, they’re shocked.

Shaytan tries to get us to waste our time with these kinds of things that have no benefit and no reward, according to the fiqh (jurisprudence). Another example is shopping. Masha’Allah, nowadays our sisters and brothers have a new bid`ah: qiyaam an-nahar (standing in the day). You know in Islam we have qiyyamul layl where we stand in the night and pray. You’ll find them standing in the mall, rushing to 75% off sales. If you went to the same person and suggested that they stand in the night and pray they would say, “Oh, it’s too difficult. I can’t do it.” But for nine or ten hours a day in the mall they don’t mind. Why? Because they see the immediate rewards and benefits of their shopping.

Imam Al Ghazaali mentioned a beautiful poem in which a man says, “I am asleep in the night and I can hear the weak pigeons crying on the weak branch. Am I not stronger than pigeons that I can get up and cry in front of Allah (swt)?” How can the Muslims be the leaders of the world when they can’t even push a 3.5oz blanket off their bodies to stand and ask Allah (swt) for His help and guidance?

I’m sure all of us, myself first, are guilty of wasting time. This is a big trick of Shaytan because if you’re doing something and you’re not getting rewarded or punished, then Shaytan is winning. We take a lesson from this that as Muslims we have to be proactive; we can’t not be in park. We should not be neutral and doing nothing.

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.


  • Mashallah great article,waste of time is surely a tremendous loss. Our life is just 60-80 years,thats it,and almost more than one third of it passes in sleep mode, so we should make the most out of the rest,because in Jannah (paradise) there is no worshipping or daily fatigues,just party time.

    And examples of GTA vice city,tomb raider and other games like doom and others containg gore and violence should be a big no no. Wallahi its so disturbibg when i saw the GTA guy kicking another person on his face and mouth,and turning him black n blue, and if u see it practically,mostly the fights in European and western countries (not being racist) guys just seem to go crazy and hit at every spot of body and specially lying the opponebt on ground and kicking sqaure on face and belly is a must.

    Whores and prostitutes are also a very sorry incident,they should be treated as victims and not criminals. my heart cries for them,since more than 95% when surveyed said that they want to leave it immediately, but their abusive husbands,poverty,empty tummys and children force them to do so. And none of them enjoyed it,having sex with some stranger who does nt care about them

    and they hated their customners the most whom they think are losers and cheaters. There is no manhood in it as most of people think.

    Its heart wrenching, we should pray for them,and help them too by all means possible.

    We are ummah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) we should be role modles,leaders and mercy for humanity and problem solver,and not problem creator.

  • These ills of society that Suhaib Webb mentions in his article remind me of the phrase ‘Babylon revisited’ yet there are many verses of The Qur’an that assure us that Allah,swt, wastes no time in toppling such cities and such uncaring regimes. Now I am not entitled in any to pick and choose those whom I would earmark for such toppling,for fire & brimstone, for judgement is such a global wide world issue, but I do think that the phrase we use here in England, is appropriate here, like the Prophet’s hadith (pbuh)concerning the fire made of a collection of little twigs, once that wedge is driven in my oh my it doesn’t pull out so easily does it>One cannot tap backwards,for the wedge’s thin end is now enclosed.Yes someone may respond that one can at least tap sideways to remove the wedge as is recommended in workshop manuals or even reverse the vehicle if the wedges have been used sensibly after lowering a truck from the jack. Also in England we have a famous poem by William Blake in his ‘Songs of Innocence & Experience’ It says in part….’I was angry with my friend, I told my wrath, my wrath did end. I was angry with my foe. I told it not, my wrath did grow & it bore an apple bright, which I watered with delight…..etc’
    It has made a bucketful of trouble hasn’t it from a succession of small drops?We should pray to do ourselves justice in small things I think.Asallam Aleykum.Peace be with us all.

  • Assalamu Alaikum,

    Thank you very much for the article. I just wanted to comment on the fact of wasting time. Most of us have heard that one must get at least 8-9 hours of sleep every day. If you calculate that….8 hrs a day of sleep is 1/3 of your day and in an average lifespan that is 20 years of your life. Subhannallah! We need to wake up! Literally and mentally!Instead of sleeping we could be doing qiyam-layl and making dhikr to Allah as much as we can. We are the Ummah of the Prophet{peace be upon him} and we need to spread the message of Islam. Yet how can we do that if we as an Ummah are still asleep in our own world of wasteful things that suck our daily lives. This message first and foremost goes towards me and may Allah bless this Ummah and its followers. Ameen.

  • Assalamualaikum. I thought the 5th trap would be makruh,but wasting time also makes sense. I don’t think it matters much, it’s something subtle. Generally, I liked this post!I thought this was a new post, but considering the date, its not. Maybe the staff has noticed, but I think it’s because some of these posts that are in series don’t contain the later posts in that table-of-content-like list provided above every post. For example, this post “Part XXIV” looks like the last post yet there’s another post after it “Part XXV:The Lesser of Two Good Deeds” which isn’t listed here. One has to find it somehow, randomly.Now, I don’t even know whether or not there’s a post after Part XXV. I hope the staff takes this into consideration. And Jazzakallah Khairan!

Leave a Comment