The Traps of Iblis
It is not possible to encompass one of Iblis' evils, let alone all of them. Since Iblis' evil is of six types, Iblis remains behind the son of Adam until he gets him to do one or more of these six evils.
THE FIRST EVIL IS THE EVIL OF KUFR AND SHIRK and enmity to Allah and His Messenger sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam. If he gains this from the son of Adam, his moaning is eased, and he rests from his ordeal with this man. Further, this is the first thing Iblis wants from al-'Abd(the worshipper). If Iblis gains this, he makes this person part of his army, one of his soldiers, and he appoints him as a deputy or agent against other human beings. Then, this person becomes one of the deputies or callers of Iblis.
If he despairs of enticing him with the first evil, and if this person is one of those for whom it was written that he would be a Muslim in his mother's womb, Iblis tries the SECOND CLASS OF EVIL. THIS IS BID'AH (innovation). Iblis loves bid'ah more than debauchery and disobedience because the harm of bid'ah is in the essence of the religion. Moreover, it is an unrepentable sin and is against the call of the messengers and is a call to a message different from the one conveyed by ar-Rasul. Bid'ah is a gate to kufr and shirk. Therefore, if Iblis gains the performance of bid'ah from a person and makes him one of the people of bid'ah, he also becomes one of his agents and a caller of his.
If Iblis fails and is unable to trap al-'Abd at this class, and if he is one of those who were granted by Allah the gift of as-Sunnah and hatred of the people of bid'ah and error, he proceeds to the THIRD CLASS OF EVIL, which is the class of MAJOR SINS in their various forms.
Iblis is very covetous of letting a person fall into major sin, especially if he is a scholar who is followed. Iblis is covetous of that, so that he may repel people from him and spread his sins and disobedience amongst the people. He uses some people as his agents to spread this person's sins under the false pretence that this will help them to get closer to Allah. But in fact this person is the deputy of Iblis without knowing it. For those who would like abomination to be spread amongst the believers there is a great torment in this life and in the Hereafter especially if they take charge of spreading about enormities, not out of advice, but by obeying Iblis and being his agent. All this is to repel people from the scholar and from his benefit.
Furthermore, the sins of this person (scholar), even if they reach the sky, are less to Allah than the sins of those who would like to spread his sins about. The scholar's sins are wrongdoing to himself. If he seeks forgiveness from Allah and repents, Allah will accept his repentance, and He will change his bad deeds to good deeds. However, the sin of those who spread about abominations are doing wrong to the believers by looking for their mistakes and by intending to expose them. Allah is in close observation, and He knows about this ambuscade. Nothing hidden in the chest or soul is hidden to Allah.
If Iblis is unable to snare al-'Abd at this degree he moves him to the FOURTH CLASS, or the MINOR SINS. These sins may ruin a person if they accumulate. That is why ar-Rasul sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said, "Be aware of the minor sins, because the simile of the minor sin is like the people who went to a desert." Then he sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam mentioned a hadith the meaning of which is that every one of them brought a stick of wood until they had kindled a huge fire (just as the minor sins add up little by little until they become a major sin). The person continues taking the matter of minor sins easily until he considers them inconsequential. Therefore, a person who commits major sins but fears their effect is in a better condition than he is.
If the al-'Abd has prevented Iblis from trapping him at this level, he moves him to the fifth level. The FIFTH LEVEL IS TO OCCUPY HIM WITH PERMISSIBLE THINGS that do not gain him reward or punishment. However, the punishment of this level is caused by passing the reward missed by being occupied with these deeds. If al-'Abd has kept Iblis from succeeding at this level, and if he is careful about his time, being covetous with it, knows the value of moments, and knows the value of what comes of comfort or torment, Iblis transfers him to the sixth level. The SIXTH CLASS is to OCCUPY HIM WITH DEEDS OF LESSER REWARD to keep virtue away from him and to prevent him from attaining the reward of the favoured deed.
Therefore, he orders him to do a good action with less reward if that includes leaving a better action. Very few people are aware of this. Because if a person feels a strong urge to some kind of obedience, he does not doubt that it is true obedience and that he is getting closer to Allah. He never thinks that this call is from Iblis because he believes that Iblis never calls one to do good. Therefore, he thinks that this call is from Allah. Actually he is excused because he never knew that Iblis would call one to seventy doors of good deeds either to get him to one door of evil or to let a better deed than these seventy deeds pass away from him.
This cannot be known except by a light from Allah, a light he instils in the heart of al-'Abd. The source of this type of knowledge is following the way of ar-Rasul sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam and taking care of the levels of deeds with Allah, the deeds of His favoured ones, the deeds more pleasing to Him, and those more beneficial to al-'Abd, and deeds that have more nasihah (guidance) from Allah, His Rasul, His Book, and His believing worshippers. No one has this type of knowledge except the inheritors of ar-Rasul sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, his deputies in the Ummah, and his successors on earth. In addition, most of the creation is screened from this. This call does not come to their hearts. Allah gives His favour to whomever He wills from among His worshippers.
If al-'Abd prevents Iblis from trapping him at any of these six levels, and if it becomes difficult for Iblis, he empowers his party of jinn and human beings with different kinds of harm, IMPUTING DISBELIEF TO HIM, CALLING HIM MISGUIDED AND AN INNOVATOR, WARNING PEOPLE AGAINST HIM, and intending to weaken him and to disturb his heart. Iblis, by using this method, tries to confuse this person's thinking and tries to PREVENT PEOPLE FROM BENEFITING FROM HIM. Therefore Iblis expends his utmost effort to empower the defenders of falsehood, from human beings and from jinn, against him. Then the believer is at war until death. Whenever he gives up, he is hurt or is taken captive. Hence the believer is in Jihad until he meets with Allah.
(s) At-Tafsir al-Qayyim (published in Al-Hijra magazine)