Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be well pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “The devil ties three knots on the back of the head of any one of you when he is sleeping, sealing the place of each with [the statement], ‘You have a long night, so sleep.’ If he wakes up and remembers Allah, a knot is undone. Then, if he performs the ritual ablution, a knot is undone. Then, if he performs prayer, a knot is undone. Then, one gets up energetic with a good heart in the morning; otherwise one gets up with a mischievous heart and lazy.” [Abu Dawud, Muwatta, with slight variants narrated by Bukhari, Nasa`i, Ibn Majah, and Ahmad]

Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be well pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “When the month of Ramadan enters, the gates of heaven are opened, the gates of hell are shut, and the devils are shackled.” [Bukhari] Another narration mentions, “the devils and rebellious jinn are shackled.” [Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ibn Khuzaymah]

Regarding the latter narration, the scholars have differed in their interpretation of the devils being shackled. Ibn Hajar mentions the different positions on the issue, among which are:

  1. What is meant is the shackling of all the devils based on the literal and outward purport of the prophetic narratives.
  2. What is meant is the shackling of only the most rebellious of the devils, not all of them, as understood from variant wordings of the narratives in question.
  3. What is meant is the increase in reward and forgiveness, as indicated by the narration of Muslim that states “the doors of mercy are opened”, coupled with the ineffectiveness of devilish whispers against the believers. Thus, it is as if the devils are shackled due to their weakness to intice the believers towards evil. [Fath al-Bari]

Therefore, if what is meant by the narration is the shackling of all the devils, then this would indicate that the tying of three knots by the devil does not occur in Ramadan.

If what is meant is the shackling of the most rebellious of jinn and devils, then if the devil tying the knots refers to Iblis, he would seemingly be shackled during this blessed month. This is indicated by Badr al-Din al-`Ayni in his discussion on the meaning of the term “devil” in this narrative. However, if it refers to devils apart from Iblis, such as his helpers and commrades, the tying may still occur according to this interpretation. [`Umdat al-Qari]

Finally, according to the final interpretation, the tying may still continue throughout Ramadan though its effectiveness in causing a person to sin would be lessened a great deal due to the blessing of the month and the opening of the gates of mercy.

In the end, regardless of which interpretation is correct, what is established and clear is that the month of Ramadan is a month where Allah Most High has facilitated the performance of good works, the forgiveness of sins, and the attainment of eternal felicity. We should all strive our best to make the most of our time during these blessed days; to overcome our desires, evil habits, and possible devilish whispers.

And Allah Knows Best

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