Barsisa the Worshipper

There are many versions to this very disturbing story, which illustrates how even the most pious and abstinent of people can be persuaded by Shaitan and fall from grace.

Much of the story is from Israelite accounts. The story took place after the time of Isa AS. Barsisa was a monk and for decades, he used to spend his days and nights in seclusion to dedicate himself to the worship of Allah. He was renowned amongst his people for his piety.

Shaitan tried various ways to corrupt him and to deviate him from his worship. However, Barsisa remained resolute and could not be swayed by the whisperings of Shaitan.

Shaitan then resorted to corrupt Barsisa through other means to lure Barsisa away from the path of Allah. One of the tricks of Shaitan is that he will never directly ask you to commit a sin, but will lead you in small steps and subtle from one innocent action to another, each step leading you to a trap where you would finally commit the sin that he wants you to commit. One of the methods employed by Shaitan is to disguise each of these steps as a good deed, and make it seem deceptively harmless.

Thus, Shaitan laid the trap for Barsisa. First, he went to a woman and touched her with evil (causing her to be possessed), knowing that Barsisa would sent for in order to treat and cure her. This woman had four brothers and it was agreed that she would live close to Barsisa under his care while they were travelling.

At first, Barsisa kept his distance and strictly observed all boundaries regarding to their interaction. He continued with his devoted worship to Allah and had minimal contact with her. However, Shaitan started planting ideas in Barsisa's head and made him feel that it was not safe for the woman to leave her dwelling to take the food, so eventually he started delivering the food to her personally. In some accounts, the woman became ill, so Shaitan made Barsisa feel guilty if he were to leave her alone instead of treating her. In some other accounts, Shaitan made Barsisa feel guilty about leaving the woman by himself and that he should talk to her and keep her company. Either way, over time, at the instigation of Shaitan, Barsisa became increasingly distracted by her presence, and found justifications to spend time in her company. As expected of any man and women in that situation, he became attracted to her. Eventually, despite all his piety and worship, he became unable to control his desire for her, and eventually seduced her. Given that they were both living in seclusion, it was not difficult for him to get away with it.

Unfortunately, their affair led to her pregnancy. This would destroy Barsisa's reputation and get him into trouble with the people, including her brothers who had entrusted her to him. It was imperative that no outsider discovered what he had done, and the only way was for him to conceal any evidence of his relationship with the woman. In some accounts, he killed her when she was pregnant, and in other accounts, he killed both mother and child after the child was born. After murdering them in cold blood, he then buried the bodies, thinking he could bury his secret forever. He did not tell her brothers about the existence of the child, and claimed that she had died of natural causes.

Somehow, the brothers came to know the truth of the matter. Some accounts said that the brothers received the same dream or vision, inspired by Shaitan, to lead them to the whereabouts of the bodies of mother and baby. In any case, one way or another, Barsisa's grisly crimes were discovered. This was a serious criminal offence. The brothers reported the matter to the King, and the King dispatched troops to arrest Barsisa.

Barsisa was desperate to escape the net that was closing in around him, through whatever means possible.

At every juncture of the story, Barsisa did not turn to Allah for help, nor did he turn to Allah for repentance for all his mistakes. After all, Allah is the most forgiving, even to the worst of crimes. He was a man of religious knowledge, but did not seek repentance. He could have sought for Allah's help and protection, but he did not. He could have prayed to Allah to resist temptation, but he did not. He could have begged for forgiveness after he killed the woman and child, but he did not.  Instead, Barsisa allowed the sins and crimes to snowball until they became out of hand. Despite all his long decades of intense worship to Allah, it seems that he did not turn to Allah in his hour of weakness and need, and did not apply his religious knowledge to his own affairs.

It did not seem that Barsisa could sink any lower in his humiliation, but he did. As he was about to face the King, Shaitan approached him and whispered in ears. Shaitan admitted that he had set Barsisa up all along, and that no one else could rescue him from his predicament except Shaitan. In return, all Barsisa had to do was to obey Shaitan and prostrate before him just once, and Shaitan would save him.

Barsisa was desperate, and thought that the only way out was to believe in the false promises of Shaitan. Thus, Barsisa fell straight into the trap that Shaitan had been patiently luring him to all along. Barsisa turned away from the worship of Allah, and prostrated before Shaitan, hence becoming a disbeliever. In doing so, he sealed his own fate. His is spiritual downfall was complete, with no spiritual salvation from Allah being possible after that.

Unfortunately for Barsisa, once he was presented before the King for punishment, Shaitan claimed that he was free from Barsisa and his misdeeds, and fled, leaving Barsisa stranded to face his execution. It is to be remembered that Shaitan's objective was merely to make Barsisa fall away from worshipping Allah, and with that objective achieved once Barsisa prostrated before him, Shaitan had no further need for him after that.

{(Their allies deceived them) like Shaitan, when he says to man: "Disbelieve in Allah." But when (man) disbelieves in Allah, Shaitan (Satan) says: "I am free of you, I fear Allah, the Lord of the" Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)!" So the end of both will be that they will be in the Fire, abiding therein. Such is the recompense of the Zalimun (i.e. polytheists, wrong-doers, disbelievers in Allah and in His Oneness)}. (Al-Hashr, 16, 17)

Barsisa was swiftly condemned and executed, in utter disgrace, both physically and spiritually.

Lessons learnt:

From this lesson, we learn that even the most devout of believers are vulnerable to downfall if they do not constantly safeguard themselves against Shaitan. The prime example of that is Adam AS, who was subtly persuaded to eat from the forbidden tree through the whisperings of Shaitan. Shaitan did not persuade Adam AS to disobey Allah, but instead whispered to Adam AS that the forbidden tree would give Adam AS eternal life. Throughout history, other pious people have also fallen prey to the whisperings of Shaitan, and have behaved in ways that led to their spiritual downfall.

 

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