Iblis & The Ego: Man’s Major Adversaries

Iblis The Ego 1

Iblis and his relationship with Allah

The story of Iblis is very well known amongst all Muslims, due to its mention in the Holy Quran. Allah created Jinn from fire, and they were created before Adam. Iblis, one of the Jinn was a devout worshipper of Allah, he actually surpassed the angels in his worship. It is narrated that his name was Azazeel before he became disobedient where after he is known as Iblis.

The story of the prostration of Iblis to Adam

After Allah completed the creation Adam, and blew into him his rooh and taught him the names of all things and ordered the angels to prostrate to Adam. This prostration was not a prostration of worship rather one of respect. Prior to the Sharia of the Prophet Muhammad this was permissible, but now no prostration be it out of respect is allowed except to Allah. All the angels bowed down except Iblis, he is the father of the Jinn and he refused. Allah asked him his reason for refusal to bow.

“Allah asked, “O Iblis! What prevented you from prostrating to what I created with my own Hands? Did you just become proud? Or have you always been arrogant?”.[1]

Here begins the story of the cursed Iblis

Iblis thought his creation from fire was superior to the creation of man from clay. Some have said Iblis is the very first racist. He was also the first to give precedence to his personal reasoning, using analogy, over divine instructions. He simply disobeyed one instruction, one prostration, one act of worship, and became the cursed one. It was at this moment Iblis requested from Allah some respite, so that he will attempt to take as many people with him to hell, upon which Allah permitted him.

“Allah commanded, “Then get out of Paradise, for you are truly cursed. And Surely upon you is condemnation until the Day of Judgement. Satan appealed, “My Lord! Then delay my end until the Day of their resurrection.” Allah said, “You will be delayed until the appointed Day.” Satan responded, “My Lord! For allowing me to stray I will surely tempt them on earth and mislead them all together, except Your chosen servants among them.”[2]

The Story of Iblis with Adam and Hawa
Allah orders Adam and Hawa to live in Paradise

Allah ordered Adam to live in Paradise with his wife Hawa. He began by living in paradise by himself until later Allah created for him a spouse. And the two of them enjoyed the bliss of paradise by themselves.

The temptations of Iblis towards Adam and Hawa

Iblis began whispering to Adam and tempting him to approach the forbidden tree. Adam had access to the whole of paradise except one tree. And Iblis used that to persuade Adam that the tree actually had benefits, bringing him closer and closer to the tree everytime.

Adam eats from the forbidden tree

Until finally, the two of them approach the forbidden tree and eat from it. Immediately upon committing the sin, Allah made their private parts visible to one another, such that they went in search for something to cover themselves up with.

Adam and Hawa disobeyed Allah

Adam and Hawa thought their action would lead them to eternal life, but this was nothing more than a trick of Iblis. Upon recognising their mistake they immediately turned to Allah and begged him for forgiveness, upon which Allah taught them a few words, and forgave them of their shortcomings. An important lesson here, both Iblis and Adam disobeyed Allah, one is going to paradise while the other is going to the Hellfire. Why, is that the case? Well, Adam sinned and repented to his lord sincerely. While, Iblis sinned but became arrogant and refused to submit to Allah.

The consequences of the action of Adam

Since the eating from the forbidden tree Adam and Hawa were placed onto the Dunia, and from then on the earth was populated with the children of Adam and ever since there has been a struggle between good and evil. There will always be a party that represents the truth and another that follows in the footsteps of the Iblis.

Who really is Iblis?

Iblis the father of the Jinn, and he was created from a smokeless fire, and the first to disobey Allah, the All mighty.

Was Iblis from the Angels?

It is a Christian belief to think that Iblis was a fallen angel. As Muslims this concept is a contradiction in terms, angels by default do not sin. Hence, Iblis is not an angel rather as Allah says he was a devout Jin that went astray.

 “And remember when we said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam,” so they all did –but not Iblis, who was one of the Jinn…”[3]

Why did Allah order the Angels and Jinn to prostrate to Adam

Allah demonstrated the superiority of man over all other creation, so ordering the angels and Jinn to bow down out of respect to Adam. But Iblis was arrogant and disobeyed, proving the point that jinn are inferior to man.

“And remember when we said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam,” so they all did – but not Iblis, who refused and acted arrogantly, becoming unfaithful.”[4]


What is the difference between Iblis and shaytan?

In the Qur’an we find Allah sometimes uses the word Iblis and sometimes Shaytan, there is a reason for this differentiation, even though both are names of the same person. The Qur’an is very specific we find in surah Taha both words being mentioned, and we see the story of how Iblis evolved into Shaytan.

“And indeed, we once made a covenant with Adam, but he forgot, and so We did not find determination in him.”[5]

Then Allah gives the explanation, the full story

“And remember when we said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam,” so they all did –but not Iblis, who refused arrogantly.”[6]

Here, we find Allah use the word Iblis, the one who refused, was arrogant, and did evil which harmed himself alone. His evil does not extend to others. In other verses of the Qur’an Allah uses the word shaytan.

“And Shaytan whispered to him…”[7]

Allah uses the word shaytan here because we see the transformation of Iblis to Shaytan, and Shaytan is one who does evil in order to tempt others to evil. So, throughout the Qur’an the word shaytan is used as an adjective, describing a person who entices another to evil. What’s the proof?

“And so We have made for every Prophet enemies – devilish humans and Jinn- whispering to one another with elegant words of deception.”[8]

“Similarly, we made enemies for every Prophet from among the wicked, but sufficient is your lord as a Guide and Helper.”[9]

The word shaytan is used for humans and jinn, as long as that person invites and entices others to evil. Shaytan is an adjective describing a trait, and it’s very possible, as a matter of fact, it is true to say some people are shayateen, calling people to wrong doing. The verse above mentions the dangers of the shayateen and begins with the shayateen of mankind before moving over to the shayateen of the Jinn. Why? Because the shayaten of the mankind are far more dangerous, they are among you, they influence you very quickly and easier.

So, Iblis is his name and he is referred to as Shaytan whenever he is seducing, enticing others to wrongdoing. This adjective is also used to describe any human or jinn that calls people to evil.

[1] Sad 38:75

[2] Al-Hijr 34-40

[3] Baqarah 2:50

[4] Baqarah 2:34

[5] Taha 20: 115

[6] Taha 20: 116

[7] Taha 20:120

[8] Al-an’am 6:112

[9] Al-Furqan 25:31

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