misguidance, or the imaginings of ugly abuse and words in the mirror of the imagination or of thought change faith, or damage respectful courtesy. For the well-known rule goes, “To imagine abuse is not abuse, to imagine unbelief is not unbelief, and to conceive of misguidance is not misguidance.”
As for the question of doubts in belief, possibilities that are essentially possible do not belie the certainty of belief and do not harm it. One of the established rules of the science of the principles of religion is: “An essential impossibiblity cannot negate the certainty afforded by knowledge.”1 For example, we are certain that Barla Lake is in its place consisting of water. It is, however, essentially possible that this very moment the lake sank into the ground. It is within the bounds of possibility that it might sink. But since there is nothing to indicate such a possibility, it is not a reasonable possibility and cause doubt. For another established rule of the principles of religion is: “A possibility that does not arise from any proof or evidence holds no importance.” That is, an essential possibility unsupported by any indication cannot be deemed a reasonable possibility and so cause doubts and warrant importance.
Hence, the unfortunate man exposed to those Satanic whisperings supposes that due to essential possibilities he has lost his certain belief in the truths of faith. For example, numerous essential possibilites about the human aspects of the Noble Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace) may occur to him which cause no harm to his firm belief, but he imagines that they have and so suffers harm.
Also, sometimes Satan suggests bad things about Almighty God in the form of whisperings in the heart. The man trembles, supposing that his heart is corrupted so that it says such things. But his fear and trembling and lack of consent shows that those words did not come from his heart; they rather came from Satanic whisperings, and were imparted and caused to be imagined by Satan.
Also, among man’s subtle faculties are one or two that I have been unable to specify; they do not heed the will and power of choice and probably should not be held responsible. Sometimes they govern, do not listen to the truth, and incline towards wrong. Then Satan whispers to the man: “You’re not capable of attaining to reality and belief, so you involuntarily attempt what is futile and fruitless. That means your fate has condemned you to perdition.” The wretched man falls into despair and is ruined.
The believer’s stronghold in the face of the former stratagems of Satan
See, al-Ghazzali, al-Manhul, 122; al-Mujaddidi, Qawa’id al-Fiqh, 11, 143.