Satan Hinders the Slave from Acting by Means of Procrastination and Laziness
Dr. `Umar Al-Ashqar
Chapter: From the Ways of Satan in Leading Humans Astray
The World of the Jinn and Devils
© 1998 al-Basheer Publications and Translations
Concerning this point, Satan has many ways and means. It is recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
"During your sleep, Satan ties three knots at the back of your Decks. He breathes the following into them, 'The night is long so keep on sleeping.' If the person wakes and praises Allah, then one of the knots is unfastened. And if he performs ablution, the second knot is unfastened. When he prays, all of the knots are unfastened. After that he will be energetic and happy in the morning. Otherwise he would get up listless and grouchy."
It is also recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim that he said,
"When one of you rises from your sleep he should make ablution. He should rinse his nose three times. For Satan stays in the upper part of one's nose during the night."
Al-Bukhari also records that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked about a man who sleeps until the morning comes, that is, after the time of the dawn prayer. He said,
"That is a man whom Satan has urinated into his two ears."
What we have mentioned is from among the ways that Satan hinders the human from doing some actions. He also whispers into the human a love for laziness, postponing or procrastinating actions and thinking about what a long period of time one has for such and such action or work. Ibn al-Jauzi has written on this topic, stating,
How many of the Jews or Christians have considered in their hearts love for Islam. But Iblees always hinders them. He says to them, "Do not be hasty. Look closer into the matter." And they postpone their conversion until they die as unbelievers. In the same way the one who is disobedient to Allah postpones his repentance. He sets his sights on his desires and he hopes he will repent later. But, as the poet said, "Do not rush to perform the sins you desire and think about the period of repentance beforehand." How many are determined to do something and then they postpone it. Perhaps a scholar is determined to return to his study. Satan says, "Rest for a while." Or a servant is alerted to the prayer at night and he says to him, "You have plenty of time." He will not stop making people love laziness and postponing of actions and he makes the person rely on hopes and dreams.
It is necessary for the energetic person to take matters into his own hand and act upon his energy. The energetic finds the time to do things and does not procrastinate and he turns away from just dreaming. The one who has a real fear of Allah does not feel safe of punishment. The soul never stops in its dispute about evil and facing the good. But it always expects that it will have plenty of time to complete the good. One of the early scholars said, "Beware of procrastinating. It is the greatest of the soldiers of Satan." The serious, non-procrastinating person and the one who rests on his hopes and puts off working are like two who are passing through a city while journeying. The serious, energetic one buys his provisions early and waits for his traveling out of the city. The procrastinator says, "I will wait, as perhaps we will stay here a month," and continues to put off buying his provisions and preparing for his departure, until the last minute wherein he becomes rushed and mistake prone. This is how people are in this world. Some of them are prepared and alert. When the angel of death comes, he is not sorrowful. Others are deceived by thinking they can procrastinate and they will despair when the time to move on comes. It is part of one’s nature to love laziness and dreams but then Iblees comes and builds upon that. This makes it difficult to struggle against him in that matter. But the one who is alert knows that he is in the middle of a battle. He knows that his enemy does not rest. And if it seems that he is resting, it is actually just part of his strategy…
Ibn al-Jauzi, Talbees Iblees, p. 458