O brothers and sisters, the care of Allah is a source of perpetual wealth.
When it was ordained by divine decree before the beginning of time, that low-lying mud [Adam] would be favoured over rising fire [Jinn], hell recognised that the latter was of the same essence as dust itself. Dust resisted fire and thus overcame it; and this itself was sufficient as a lesson for hell; and indeed fortunate is the one who learns from others’ experiences. And thus when the believer passes over it, hell submissively says, ‘pass, for your light extinguishes my flame.’
Pure hearts are lamps that illuminate from within the innate nature of beings, prior to any form of divine revelations, “whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire.” (Surah Nur 24:35) As soon as the light of guidance shone out from the house of al-Khayzaran [the house of al-Arqam ibn Abi al-Arqam], Umar ibn al-Khattab found himself standing on its doorstep. On the other hand, when the heart of Shaytan became blind, the daylight of guidance became as dark as the night for him, because his heart’s eye was deformed therefore the way of guidance became as dark as the night for him, because his heart’s eye was deformed therefore the way of guidance, despite its clarity, was of no benefit to him. His example is that of a bat that returns to its nest saying to the other bats, stay inside and sleep for the night has just fallen, but they reply to it saying: It has just been sunrise and yet you say it is nightfall! And the bat replies: please show mercy to the one who is unable to distinguish sunrise from sunset.
As soon as the lights of prophethood shone, the eyes of Bilal the Habashi, may Allah be pleased with him, whose status was low at the time, caught sight of it, whereas the eyes of Abu Talib the Qurayshi, whose status was high at the time, failed to see it. O brother, beware the arrows of Allah’s Power and be warned because your vigilance will not avail you. That said, do not let some of your sincere good deeds put your heart at undue ease, on the contrary, you should be more concerned, knowing as you do that “the hearts of individuals are between two Fingers of the Fingers of Allah and so he changes them as He wants.” (Reported in Tirmidhi 3522) Whenever judges are litigated by others, the case always goes in favour of the judge.
The example of Shaytan is that of a town that once prospered with worship, but a winter thunderstorm came and struck it down, causing the death of all its inhabitants; so the house of deeds of Shaytan and his ilk became as Allah says, “So those are their houses, desolate because of the wrong they had done.” (Surah al-Naml 27:52)
Thus the garment of Shaytan’s prior worship was taken away from him and reduced to the grade of the discarded food of the dog of the companions of the cave; therefore this pitiful creature expressed his enmity against mankind, sparing no time or effort in striving to bring about mankind’s downfall? Rather, it was his frustration for what he had lost; the pride of “I am better than him” (Surah Sad 38:76) caused Shaytan’s ruin whereas the humility of “Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves.” (Surah al-Araf 7:23) saved Adam, peace be upon him, because true servitude to Allah necessitates lowering one’s self in humility before the Lord.
The wretched Shaytan thought that by his refusal to prostrate before Adam, peace be upon him, he was saving his pride and dignity while, in fact, his refusal subjected him to the humiliation of “And indeed, upon you is My curse until the Day of Recompense.” (Surah Sad 38:78) Thus he became like the person who escaped rain by standing under a gutter. Indeed the garment and adornment of worship was not fitting for him, and hence it was taken away from him.
Shaytan’s understanding was flawed and abnormal, and not for one such as him to uphold the adornment of worship, whereas Adam, peace be upon him, had sound understanding, therefore the hood of dispute did not at all suit him. The mandate of decree had served to bring out the distinctive characteristics and behaviour of each of the two, following which both of them were restored to their respective origins (i.e. Shaytan to fire and Adam to earth).
It is reported that Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, encountered Shaytan, wrestled him and overcame him. If Shaytan could have spoken at that moment, it would have said, ‘O Umar, I have already been struck dead by the sword of humilation.’ ‘O Umar, [before Islam] you did not recognise the road [to Allah]’, while on the other hand, I used to be in a state of power and authority and even had Angels under my command. However, the declaration of “He will not be questioned as to that which he does, but they will be questioned.” (Surah al-Anbiya 21:23) was made, and thus I was removed from my position and he replaced me with you; so be wary of the change of conditions and circumstances, for the sharp sword that killed me is still in the hand of its owner. This continuous concern [over his state and his outcome] is what made Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, always rush to Hudayfah [who was the keeper of the Prophet’s secrets and the one whom he trusted on the names of the hypocrites; and Umar feared that his name might be among them due to his constant mindfulness to Allah and his fear for Him].
Seeds of Admonishment and Reform by Imam Ibn Jawzi Pages 196-200