In his tafsir in Ruh al-Bayan, Shaykh Isma`il Haqqi relates the following hadith from Ibn `Abbas (r) :
One time, the Prophet (s) went out of the masjid, and as he went out, he saw Iblis approaching. The Prophet (s) said,“What brought you to the door of my masjid?” Shaytan said, “I came by [order of] Allah (swt).”
Note here that even Iblis believes in Allah (swt) and he is a unitarian (muwahhid). If Iblis is a believer, why then did he not make prostration (sajda) to Adam (as)? It was because he refused to accept prostrating himself before anyone. From pride and arrogance he disobeyed, and for that reason Allah (swt) cursed him. But although Iblis disobeyed Allah, it did not alter is belief in Allah (swt). He was muwahhid and he remains one. He knows that Allah (swt) is the Creator of all, without partner.
After Iblis said to Sayyidina Muhammad (s), “I came by [order of] Allah (swt),”
The Prophet asked, “Why?” Shaytan replied,. “In order for you to ask me whatever you like.”
This means here that Allah (swt) ordered him to come to the Prophet (s), and put himself at the Prophet’s (s) disposal. He believed that Muhammad (s) is the Prophet (s) of Allah.
Ibn Abbas (ra) continues the hadith:
The first thing that the Prophet (s) asked about was Salat, the prayers. The Prophet (s) said to Iblis, “Why do you prevent my ummah from praying in congregation?” Iblis said, “If your ummah, your nation, your believers, come to the prayer, I will develop a fever in me that causes me to lose myself. That humma, that fever, does not leave me until the believers part.” The Prophet (s) asked, “Why do you prevent my ummah from studying Islamic knowledge and from making du`a?” Iblis said, “When they make du`a and raise their hands to Allah (swt), I become deaf and blind.”
See here how Shaytan tries to prevent the believers from making invocation by gossiping in their ears, confusing them. He tells them “Don’t believe.” He does this because their prayers cause him to become ill.
Ibn `Abbas continued:
The Prophet (s) asked, “Why do you prevent my ummah from reciting Qur’aan?” Iblis replied, “when they recite Qur’an, I melt the way lead melts.” So he tries to stop them in any way that he can. Sayyidina Muhammad (s) asked, “Why do you prevent my ummah from jihad?” Iblis replied, “When they go for jihad, my feet are chained until they return.” “And if they go to hajj, I am wrapped in chains until they come back.” “And when they want to give sadaqa Allah makes saws that come to cut my head”.
That is why people’s hands tremble when they give money in the way of Allah. Shaytan is after them. That is yet another reason we say “A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytan ir-rajeem.”
Iblis, ash-Shaytan ir-rajeem, constantly seeks to cause trouble and that is why Allah ordered, “So when you recite the Quran, seek refuge with Allah from Shaytan, the accursed” [16: 98] All the descriptions of Iblis’s actions described in the hadith are contained within the attribute of ar-Rajeem. Allah (swt) sent him to answer the Prophet’s (s) question in order to clarify his role for the ummah.
Shaytan’s role is none less than to mislead the ummah and make them leave the path of Allah (swt). Allah has warned mankind against him so there is no hope that the cause of his enmity will pass away. He tells him to disbelieve. Failing this, he causes him to have doubts in his faith. Failing this, he causes him to commit acts of disobedience. Failing this, he hinders him from acts of obedience and service. If the believer is saved from all that, he spoils his actions by involving him in showing off (riya’) and conceit (`ujub) in his acts of obedience.
In a hadith reported on the authority of Anas ibn Malik (r) that the Prophet (s) said, “Indeed Shaytan circulates in the body like the circulation of blood” (Sahih Muslim, Book 26,#5405.)
Shaykh Isma`il al-Haqqi explains this hadith saying, “Ash-Shaytan musallat `ala tabi`yyati Bani Adam” – “Shaytan is always there, controlling the nature of human beings.” He controls them with two things: the desire for eating(shahw al-mubattan), and, and the desire for sex(shahwat al-mufarsh). These are the only ways that Shaytan has influence. For this reason the Prophet (s) said, “man yadman lee ma bayna qaihi wa ma bayna fakhayhi, fa adman lahu al-janna” – “whoever will guarantee for me what is between his jaws and what is between his legs, I will guarantee him Paradise.” (Bukhari)
The desire for eating is appeased through one’s mouth. The eyes move the tongue [with craving] as the nose smells food, and the hand moves to grab what it desires. This is shahwal mubattan – the lust for food. We fight for food to eat. Here is one meaning of the importance of keeping the tongue safe. Food is tasted by the tongue only from its tip to the back of the throat. Once past the throat all food is the same. Some hospital patients can only be fed using a intravenous transfusion that dispenses food into their system directly. It has no taste, but the patient lives. The patient feels no hunger pains. The desire is located in the tongue within the mouth.
Desire is whatever comes and goes from the mouth and whatever proceeds from sexual desire, shahwat al-haram, desire for the forbidden. To control desire, hawa, is the struggle against the self - jihad an-nafs. Your self will never allow you to control it. It is in constant combat with you. The tongue desires the best food – bread, meat and rice.
Thus the first step in struggling with the self it to fight the desire for food. You desire the best kind of food of varying types and flavors. If you have ten varieties, you desire twelve. The eyes are always hungry. For that our Grandshaykh used to say, “the only thing which will fill the greed of the eyes is dust” – meaning that desire continues until you enter the grave. Thus the eyes become the hole through which desire enters and looking, here and there, is the means by which dissatisfaction and envy are fed. Keeping the eyes from wandering and looking at what is around you is a powerful method for controlling the desire of the tongue.