Those who speak the silent language of evil
We can detect those who behave under the influence of evil and the silent language they speak only through the intelligence that faith gives. No noticeable characteristic distinguishes these people from others. Those who fall under the influence of satan do not say they worship satan (Surely Allah is beyond that!) and do not wear special clothing that symbolizes him. So, it is not easy to make such judgments about people on the basis of any symbolic peculiarities.
There are many proofs to be seen in the Qur'an that these people act under the influence of satan. This evidence may vary according to conditions and events, but one common factor that never changes is that all the qualities observed in those who speak the silent language of evil are negative—and cause them great spiritual and material harm.
We can classify some of the hidden evils that occur under satan's influence that draw people into a perverse moral understanding and an unhappy life according to the most basic qualities that mould a person's character:
Those who practice evil in secret, pretending to be naïve and innocent
One of satan's treacherous methods is to get people to cover up the evil they do by hiding behind a façade of innocence. He also shows those under his influence how to hide the evil they do.
Innocence is not a quality that people often stress in their daily lives. A good person behaves correctly; and everything he does is out in the open for all to see, not hidden. For this reason, he doesn't need to prove how well-intentioned and innocent he is. But those who do evil are always uneasy, knowing what they have done in secret. There's always some risk that what they have kept secret will come to light at any moment. To make themselves appear blameless in such an eventuality, they do everything possible to strengthen the impression that they are well-intentioned and innocent. In the same way, if the evil they do is discovered, they hide behind their innocence again, deceiving others into coming to their rescue.
But by taking refuge in innocence, they intend to repeat their hidden misdeeds if the need arises. They think that they will be much better able to make people around them accept what they've done if they cover it up well. If their pretended innocence yields results even once, they assume the same method will be successful every time.
Along with the proofs they offer for their innocence and to appear blameless, they also want to quiet their own consciences. This is because every evil act disquiets the human conscience. A human being who commits an evil act knows that it is against his conscience and, to escape the pangs of remorse, makes up excuses to make himself comfortable and justify what he did. But the only remedy for this pressure from one's conscience is to live according to the moral teachings of the Qur'an, where Allah tells us that we must repent when we commit any evil act and change the evil into good by performing pious works. As long as a person does not practice the morality of the Qur'an and tries to cover the evil he has done with a false veneer of innocence, he will only be drawn into more evil behavior. Besides, as the Qur'an says, every evil act will certainly be of no avail:
If anyone wants power, all power belongs to Allah. All good words rise to Him and He raises up all virtuous deeds. But people who plot evil deeds will suffer a harsh punishment. The plotting of such people is profitless. (Surah Fatir: 10)
All who act according to satan's intimations, like satan himself, develop special methods to make themselves appear innocent, and adopt certain ways of talking that they think will influence those around them.
Some of these methods can be classified as follows:
They try to make themselves appear innocent by using the name of Allah
To appear well-intentioned and innocent, certain people resort to insincere methods; such as employing spiritual values. They do not conform their lives to the Qur'an but, if they must make themselves appear well-intentioned and sincere, they mention Allah's name and may speak of the importance of being religious, fearing Allah and acting according to their conscience. But while praising Allah's name, they do not consider His greatness, that He knows the acts of insincerity they have committed, or that He will punish them with the pangs of Hell.
There are many examples of this insincerity. One of the best known is the practice of swearing falsely by the name of Allah when individuals are faced with a difficult situation. By doing this, they think they can persuade others, though there is no convincing proof of their innocence and even if their error obvious. They think they will leave a deep impression on people by taking an oath in Allah's name—and believe this method will be especially effective with religious people.
In order to make themselves appear innocent, these people are not limited to using Allah's name in their oaths, but use as many religious elements as possible. In order to legitimize their depraved attitudes and behavior, they speak at great length about faith. They tell others that they give much importance to correct moral actions, how carefully they avoid evil and how scrupulously they behave. They claim to avoid any kind of wrong behavior because they are wary of the punishments they will receive in the Afterlife. But if they come across any situation that conflicts with their own interests, their insincerity becomes evident when they behave in a manner contrary to what they have professed.
Another similarly insincere method they use is to interpret verses of the Qur'an according to their own warped thinking. This they do to cover up the evil they have done and make it appear legitimate. Allah says in the Qur'an that He has sent down all the verses of the Qur'an in very clear language. Therefore, their meaning is very clear. But in order to prove themselves right, those who have fallen under the influence of satan are audacious enough to try to make verses of the Qur'an support their own interpretations.
Such satanic methods can indeed be quite persuasive with people who do not judge events with an intelligence based in the Qur'an. But Muslims evaluate the attitude and behavior of others according to the criteria that Allah has revealed in the Qur'an. A person may mention Allah's name only with his tongue or take an oath in His name; he may speak about religious matters and say how clean his heart is. But this is not enough to convince anyone of his sincerity, for these are the behaviors that can be imitated by those who are sick in their hearts to deceive believers. The sign of true sincerity is a person who behaves the way he speaks and is careful to avoid evil, whether secret or in the open.
A person who displays any kind of unseemly behavior must remember that Allah sees all the evil a person does, no matter how well he may hide it. The Qur'an tells us that Allah knows every evil deed that is done and every insincere excuse offered to cover it up. "... not one thing about them will be hidden from Allah..." (Surah Ghafir: 16) For this reason, a person must behave knowing that he will be confronted with all these things on the Day of Judgment and must aim to live a moral life pleasing to Allah.
They lie continually to prove their innocence
Those under the influence of satan resort to lying to make themselves appear innocent. Famous Islamic scholar Abdul Qadir al-Jaylani had this to say about satan: "What has satan not done to you? He has made you love lies. He has made evil acts seem attractive to you." ('Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, Ilahi Armagan (Divine Gift), translated by Abdulkadir Akcicek (Ankara: Rahmet Publications, 1962), 2:16.) But by lying, we do not mean to hide something by saying that it is the exact opposite of what it clearly is. Satan teaches the silent language of evil and methods of insincere discourse whose falsity is very difficult to detect. This allows the people to believe it is not a lie in any real sense. In this way, satan wants lies, unrecognized as such, to circulate widely among people.
Although they tell many lies, therefore, such people see themselves as blameless of such perverse behavior. By this method of satan, they whitewash their lies by giving them different names. For example, they use such weak explanations as "I only said it, I didn't mean it," or "I must not have explained it very well," and "I guess I don't remember," or "I must have forgotten to tell you that part," and " I must have confused it with something else." They try to show that their lie was harmless and not ill-intended; and also make themselves believe these explanations. If listeners perceive that what they said is untrue, they claim that it was never their intention to tell a lie. They affirm that the important thing was their heartfelt "intention" while they were saying these things; and that they were sure of the rightness of their intention. However, this is yet another lie. And even though they may call upon Allah as a witness to the purity of their heart, He knows that they are telling a lie.
Satan leads the kind of people whom he can not urge openly to sin by these kinds of insidious methods into dishonesty. Sometimes he tells them that something is different, more or less than it actually is; or he changes what was said in the attempt to pervert the meaning of the words. The Qur'an tells us about these people who always totally distort the truth:
Woe to every wicked liar. (Surat al-Jathiyya: 7)
Acting under the influence of satan, these people behave incorrectly. Later, or even while committing the act, they decide how to explain it away. Sometimes they don't think about the result, and when what they have done becomes known, they instinctively declare their innocence. Of course, satan makes these people react in this way. He inspires in them how best to misrepresent the truth in any situation and to insist on their innocence by producing compelling proof.
But usually this is just one in a series of many lies. For this reason, those fallen under satan's influence start to lie constantly in order to appear innocent. Just to cover up a single instance of insincerity, they panic and give a false account of what they did in terms of their own warped logic. When found out, they do not know what to do; but claim they have been misunderstood and treated unjustly and try to get out of it by changing the subject. As we said earlier, they do not hesitate to swear false oaths to protest their innocence.
No doubt this stems from two facts: They don't know Allah as they should, and are unaware of what a great responsibility it is to take an oath in His name. Because they do not fear Him as they should, they display an unseemly audacity in this matter. While calling on Allah to a witness their false oaths, they do not even consider that He hears and knows all secrets. Moreover, because of satan's influence, they are able to ignore that influence even when someone brings it to their attention. However, they actually tell these lies to Allah. This is stated in the Qur'an: "... They tell a lie against Allah and they know it." (Surah Al 'Imran: 78)
Allah also indicates in the Qur'an that such people must not be trusted:
But do not obey any vile swearer of oaths... (Surat al-Qalam: 10)
The Qur'an tells us that when Yusuf's (as) brothers wanted to hide the evil they had devised against him, they too resorted to telling lies. First, the brothers planned to kill Yusuf (as); later, they said they wanted what was good for their brother, and asked their father to let him go with them.
They said, "Our Father! What is wrong with you that you refuse to trust us with Yusuf when in truth we only wish him well? Why don't you send him out with us tomorrow so he can enjoy himself and play about? All of us will make sure that he is safe." (Surah Yusuf: 11-12)
Later, they left Yusuf (as) in the bottom of a well and went back to their father with another lie that he had been carried off by a wolf. They tried to say they were innocent by saying, "But you are never going to believe us now..."
That night they came back to their father in tears, saying, "Father, we went out to run a race and left Yusuf together with our things and then a wolf appeared and ate him up but you are never going to believe us now, not even though we really tell the truth." (Surah Yusuf: 16-17)
Their father realized that they were lying; and said he did not trust them and that he took refuge in Allah against their evil designs:
They then produced his shirt with false blood on it. He said, "It is merely that your lower selves have suggested something to you which you did; but beauty lies in showing steadfastness. It is Allah alone Who is my Help in face of the event that you describe." (Surah Yusuf: 18)
Our Prophet (saas) tells believers that they must avoid telling lies as such:
"On the Resurrection Day, the worst men in Allah's sight will be the liars, the proud, and those who entertained hatred in the mind of their friends." (Imam al-Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum-Id-Din, 3:139)
"A man is enrolled near Allah as a liar if he is accustomed to false speaking and false discussions." (Imam al-Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum-Id-Din, 3:119)
"I advise you to fear Allah, to speak the truth, to fulfill a trust, to fulfill a promise, to greet each other with "peace" [salam], and to be humble." (Imam al-Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum-Id-Din, 3:122)
"The Messenger of Allah (saas) was asked, 'Can a believer be a liar?' He (saas) said: 'No.'" (Imam al-Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum-Id-Din, 3:120)
"Speak the truth even though it might be bitter." (Bayhaqi, cited in Mishkat-ul Masabih by Maulana Fazlul Karim, (New Delhi: Islamic Book Service, 2001), 1:469)
They try to shift onto others responsibility for their evil acts
In the Qur'an, Allah warns people against nursing a desire in their hearts to claim purity for themselves. "... He has most knowledge of you when He first produced you from the earth, and when you were embryos in your mothers' wombs. So do not claim purity for yourselves. He knows best those who guard against evil." (Surat an-Najm: 32) But some who do not organize their behavior as the moral teachings of the Qur'an require cover up the evil in their hearts instead of ridding themselves of it. To cover up the evil and acquit themselves, sometimes they place responsibility for their insincere actions on others. But this does not mean that they just crassly blame someone else for something they did wrong. For example, when someone is asked "Did you take this thing?" and he lies, saying he did not but someone else did, then his lie will become obvious when that other person is asked if he contributed. Those who know that Allah forbids lying, would never knowingly and in conscience tell a lie.
Therefore, satan usually cannot manage to get people who hesitate to do evil publicly to tell lies openly. He will urge them to engage in activities abetted by his subtle methods. One such method is to have an evildoer soothe his conscience by putting the responsibility for his actions on someone else.
In this way, in order to declare their own innocence, those whom satan has deceived distort others' well-intentioned words and actions to justify their own behavior. They make sure that those others are known for their sincerity, honesty, and reliability and good moral character. They contend that they were well-intentioned and doing only what these individuals had told them to. If any wrong was done, they assert, the responsibility lies with those individuals whose advice they followed. According to their warped thinking, they have done nothing wrong; but only took advice from people they thought to be honest, sincere and trustworthy. Therefore, they are to blame for what happened.
In order to excuse their unseemly behavior, these people also distort the meaning of words. They make use of the fact that one word may have several meanings in order to get others to misperceive what they really mean. The Qur'an tells us about the insincere behavior of such people: "But those who did wrong substituted words other than those they had been given..." (Surat al-Baqara: 59) With such insidious methods, satan draws those under his influence into evil.
They try to justify their behavior by saying that