“Surely, I will sit in wait against them on Your straight path” – Tafseer ibn Kathir
(Iblis) said: “Because You have ‘Aghwaytni’ (sent me astray), surely, I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your straight path. Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them to be thankful.” (Soorah Al-Araaf 16-17)
Allah said that after He gave respite to Shaytan,
(till the Day they are raised up (resurrected)) and Iblis was sure that he got what he wanted, he went on in defiance and rebellion.
(“Because You have `Aghwaytani’, surely, I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your straight path.”) meaning, as You have sent me astray. Ibn `Abbas said that `Aghwaytani’ means, “Misguided me.” Others said, “As You caused my ruin, I will sit in wait for Your servants whom You will create from the offspring of the one you expelled me for.” He went on,
(Your straight path), the path of truth and the way of safety. I (Iblis) will misguide them from this path so that they do not worship You Alone, because You sent me astray. Mujahid said that the `straight path’, refers to the truth.
Imam Ahmad recorded that Saburah bin Abi Al-Fakih said that he heard the Messenger of Allah saying,
(Shaytan sat in wait for the Son of Adam in all his paths. He sat in the path of Islam, saying, `Would you embrace Islam and abandon your religion and the religion of your forefathers’ However, the Son of Adam disobeyed Shaytan and embraced Islam.
So Shaytan sat in the path of Hijrah (migration in the cause of Allah), saying, `Would you migrate and leave your land and sky’ But the parable of the Muhajir is that of a horse in his stamina So, he disobeyed Shaytan and migrated.
So Shaytan sat in the path of Jihad, against one’s self and with his wealth, saying, `If you fight, you will be killed, your wife will be married and your wealth divided.’ So he disobeyed him and performed Jihad.
Therefore, whoever among them (Children of Adam) does this and dies, it will be a promise from Allah that He admits him into Paradise. If he is killed, it will be a promise from Allah that He admits him into Paradise. If he drowns, it will be a promise from Allah that He admits him into Paradise. If the animal breaks his neck, it will be a promise from Allah that He admits him into Paradise.)
`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas commented on:
(Then I will come to them from before them) Raising doubts in them concerning their Hereafter,
(and (from) behind them), making them more eager for this life,
(from their right), causing them confusion in the religion,
(and from their left) luring them to commit sins.”
This is meant to cover all paths of good and evil. Shaytan discourages the people from the path of good and lures them to the path of evil.
Al-Hakam bin Abban said that `Ikrimah narrated from Ibn `Abbas concerning the Ayah,
(Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left,) “
He did not say that he will come from above them, because the mercy descends from above.”
`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said,
(and You will not find most of them to be thankful.) “means, those who single Him out (in worship).”
When Shaytan said this, it was a guess and an assumption on his part. Yet, the truth turned out to be the same, for Allah said,
(And indeed Iblis (Shaytan) did prove true his thought about them, and they followed him, all except a group of true believers. And he had no authority over them, except that We might test him who believes in the Hereafter, from him who is in doubt about it. And your Lord is Watchful over everything.) (34:20-21).
This is why there is a Hadith that encourages seeking refuge with Allah from the lures of Shaytan from all directions. Imam Ahmad narrated that `Abdullah bin `Umar said,
“The Messenger of Allah used to often recite this supplication in the morning and when the night falls,
(O Allah! I ask You for well-being in this life and the Hereafter. O Allah! I ask You for pardon and well-being in my religion, life, family and wealth. O Allah! Cover my errors and reassure me in times of difficulty. O Allah! Protect me from before me, from behind me, from my right, from my left and from above me. I seek refuge with Your greatness from being killed from below me.)”
Waki` commented (about being killed from below), “This refers to earthquakes.” Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban and Al-Hakim collected this Hadith, and Al-Hakim said, “Its chain is Sahih. ”
Source : Tafseer Ibn Katheer – (Soorah Al-Araaf 16-17), Dar-us-salam English publication.