8:48 And remember! the Shaitān made fair-seeming to them their deeds, and he said: “None of the people can overcome you today, and surely I am close to you.” But when the two troops saw each other, he turned back upon his heels, and said: “Surely I am quit of you, I certainly see what you do not see; surely I fear Allāh. And Allāh is Severe in consequences.”
8:48 The character that instigated the Quraish to wage the battle is stated to be Shaitān. The modus operandi of this character is very similar to what is known about him: he makes people’s deed fair seeming to them and he abandons them at critical moment (14:22; 37:30; 59:16). Commentators are not unanimous whether it was the invisible Shaitān or an evil person that prompted the Quraish to wage the battle. If the instigator was the invisible Shaitān, his abandoning the army before the battle truly did not matter since neither did the Quraish count on the invisible forces to win the battle nor did Shaitān bring a force of his own. Evidently the term Shaitān is figuratively used to indicate a wicked person had instigated the Quraish to march for the battle and later abandoned them. Various Traditions of the Prophet reported a person by the name of Surāqa ibn Mālik of the Bani Kanānah, a tribe akin to the Quraish, offered his help and later abandoned the army before the battle. The phrase I am close to you indicates the person was close to the Quraish, in terms of geographical proximity of his tribe, and in terms of common goal. If it was invisible Shaitān who realized Allāh is severe in consequence, his ongoing efforts to misguide human being appear unjustified. The Qur’ān has several instances of comparing ferocious or evil person as Shaitān or strangers as jinn (21:82; 22:3; 23:37; 38:37; 72:1-3). We think Surāqa ibn Mālik was compared with Shaitān since his conduct was very similar to that of invisible Shaitān.