Does Satan know what a person thinks about?

The Details of the Question

- Do devils and the angels who are with us know what we think about?
- A scholar narrated an incident that the Prophet experienced regarding the issue in a religious talk; he explained that it was included in Bukhari and Muslim. The issue is as follows briefly:
- The Prophet (pbuh) went to a psychic with Hz. Umar. The Prophet thought of something and asked the psychic what it was. When he knew it, the Prophet silenced him and said to Hz. Umar, "Devils have invaded this place." Then, they left.
- Did that young psychic attain that information thanks to Satan? How did Satan know what the Prophet thought about? 

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- One of the most remarkable points in the narrations regarding the issue is that the person known as Ibn Sayyad gave information about unseen/unknown things when he was a child and it was said that he even claimed to be a prophet.

According to what is understood from some narrations attributed to Abdullah b. Umar, the Prophet (pbuh) wanted to show that Ibn Sayyad’s claim to inform about the unseen/unknown was unfounded; therefore, he had verse 10 of the chapter of ad-Dukhan in his mind and asked Ibn Sayyad to know it. Ibn Sayyad could know only the first part of the word “dukhan” and could say only dukh.

Thereupon, the Prophet stated that the soothsayers whom Satan had taught could know only a part of a whole, could not go further and that they would not be able to attain the knowledge of the unseen/unknown, which Allah revealed to His prophets. (Nawawi, Sharhu Muslim, 18/48-49)

“By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right; Truly he succeeds that purifies it. And he fails that corrupts it” (ash-Shams, 91/7-10)

It is emphasized in the verses above that a source of inspiration exists in the nature of all human beings. If that inspiration comes from an angel, it is called inspiration; if it comes from Satan, it is called delusion. They are related to man’s inner realm.

- The hadith below is like an interpretation of the verses above:

According to a narration from Abdullah b. Masud, the Prophet (pbuh) said,

“Indeed, Satan has an effect on the son of Adam, and the angel also has an effect. As for Satan, it is by threatening evil repercussions and rejecting the truth. As for the effect of the angel, it is by his promise of a good end and believing in the truth. Whoever finds that, let him know that it is from Allah, and let him praise Allah for it. Whoever finds the other, let him seek refuge with Allah from Satan (the outcast).” Then, he recited the following verse:

‘The Evil one threatens you with poverty and bids you to conduct unseemly.’ (al-Baqara, 2/268).” (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 3)

- According to a sound narration, when the Prophet (pbuh) was in i’tikaf one night, his wife Safiyya visited him; the Prophet accompanied him to her house when she left. Two people who passed by greeted them. However, the Prophet (pbuh) called out to them and said, “This is my wife Safiyya.” They said, “Fasubhanallah!” meaning “How can we doubt you?” Thereupon, the Prophet (pbuh) said,  

“Satan definitely circulates in the human being as blood circulates in the body, and I was afraid lest Satan should insert an evil thought in your minds.” (Bukhari, I’tikaf, 11)

- It is understood from the hadith and the explanations above that Satan and jinn can circulate like blood in the human body and give man some delusions and suggestions. They can know some feelings and thoughts of human beings to the extent that Allah allows them.

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