Satan in the Quran is one of those topics that one needs to closely consider. He is one of the jinn who was created long before Adam and had worshipped God for thousands of years. As a reward, he was given admittance to the ranks of the angels. However, Satan defied God after the creation of Adam.
In this article, we will take a look at:
Satan’s Creation in the Quran
Allah makes it clear in the Quran that Satan or Iblīs, as his name was before being driven out of God’s proximity, is a jinn. Jinn are invisible creatures that God made them out of fire. One of the powers that they have is that they can shapeshift and turn into different animals or even human beings. However, in their original form, they cannot be seen. Satan specifically appeared as an old man when he wanted to deceive Adam and Eve. God says the following about the creation of the jinn:
وَالْجَانَّ خَلَقْنَاهُ مِن قَبْلُ مِن نَّارِ السَّمُومِ ﴿27﴾
And We created the jinn earlier, out of a piercing fire. 1
God also says in surah Raḥmān (سورة الرحمن):
وَخَلَقَ الْجَانَّ مِن مَّارِجٍ مِّن نَّارٍ ﴿15﴾
And created the jinn out of a flame of a fire. 2
Satan’s Defiance in the Quran
Satan’s defiance and unwillingness to prostrate to Adam when he was commanded to has been oft-repeated in the Quran. God commanded all the angels and Satan who was admitted to the rank of the angels due to his years of worshipping God to prostrate before Prophet Adam as His perfect creation who would be His vicegerent on earth. All the angels prostrated, but Satan did not. The Quran says in this regard:
وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي خَالِقٌ بَشَرًا مِّن صَلْصَالٍ مِّنْ حَمَإٍ مَّسْنُونٍ ﴿28﴾
When your Lord said to the angels, ‘Indeed I am going to create a human out of a dry clay [drawn] from an aging mud.
فَإِذَا سَوَّيْتُهُ وَنَفَخْتُ فِيهِ مِن رُّوحِي فَقَعُوا لَهُ سَاجِدِينَ ﴿29﴾
So when I have proportioned him and breathed into him of My spirit, then fall down in prostration before him.’
فَسَجَدَ الْمَلَائِكَةُ كُلُّهُمْ أَجْمَعُونَ ﴿30﴾
Thereat the angels prostrated, all of them together,
إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ أَبَىٰ أَن يَكُونَ مَعَ السَّاجِدِينَ ﴿31﴾
but not Iblis: he refused to be among those who prostrated. 3
However, the Quran makes it clear that Iblis was not an angel, as all angels are submissive to God and never defy him. Instead, he was one of the jinn:
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ كَانَ مِنَ الْجِنِّ فَفَسَقَ عَنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّهِ ۗ أَفَتَتَّخِذُونَهُ وَذُرِّيَّتَهُ أَوْلِيَاءَ مِن دُونِي وَهُمْ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ ۚ بِئْسَ لِلظَّالِمِينَ بَدَلًا ﴿50﴾
When We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate before Adam,’ they prostrated, but not Iblis. He was one of the jinn, so he transgressed against his Lord’s command. Will you then take him and his offspring for guardians in My stead, though they are your enemies? How evil a substitute for the wrongdoers! 4
Then God questions Satan as to why he did not prostrate before Adam:
قَالَ يَا إِبْلِيسُ مَا لَكَ أَلَّا تَكُونَ مَعَ السَّاجِدِينَ ﴿32﴾
He said, ‘O Iblis! What kept you from being among those who have prostrated?’
قَالَ لَمْ أَكُن لِّأَسْجُدَ لِبَشَرٍ خَلَقْتَهُ مِن صَلْصَالٍ مِّنْ حَمَإٍ مَّسْنُونٍ ﴿33﴾
Said he, ‘I will not prostrate before a human whom You have created out of a dry clay [drawn] from an aging mud.’ 5
What Satan did not bear in mind was that this aging, foul-smelling mud, was proportioned and God breathed His spirit into it. That is what made it valuable. Satan only looked at the matter that the human being was made and not the spirit.
God Casts Satan Out in the Quran
God said to Satan:
قَالَ فَاخْرُجْ مِنْهَا فَإِنَّكَ رَجِيمٌ ﴿34﴾
He said, ‘Begone hence, for you are indeed an outcast,
وَإِنَّ عَلَيْكَ اللَّعْنَةَ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ ﴿35﴾
and indeed the curse shall lie on you until the Day of Retribution.’
This was a great test for Satan and he failed miserably. God cast Satan out from His proximity and cursed him until the Day of Judgment. Satan said:
قَالَ رَبِّ فَأَنظِرْنِي إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ ﴿36﴾
He said, ‘My Lord! Respite me till the day they will be resurrected.’
Satan asked God to allow him to live until the day people will be resurrected. He had a plan in his mind. God answered:
قَالَ فَإِنَّكَ مِنَ الْمُنظَرِينَ ﴿37﴾
Said He, ‘You are indeed among the reprieved
إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْوَقْتِ الْمَعْلُومِ ﴿38﴾
until the day of the known time.’
God granted Satan’s request because he had worshipped Him thousands of years. Then Satan said:
قَالَ رَبِّ بِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأُزَيِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ ﴿39﴾
He said, ‘My Lord! As You have consigned me to perversity, I will surely glamorize [evil] for them on the earth, and I will surely pervert them, all
إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ ﴿40﴾
except Your dedicated servants among them.’
Therefore, Satan made his decision to deceive mankind and lead them astray. In this way, he wanted to take his vengeance on man. However, he said that he is not able to pervert the dedicated servants of God such as the prophets, saints, and all those who purify themselves to such an extent that Satan’s strategems no longer work on them.
Satan’s First Measure Mentioned in the Quran
So Satan wanted to tempt the very first human being created by God to do something that would get him into trouble. God had forbidden Adam and Eve from eating from a specific tree in the Garden of Eden. Satan took advantage of this opportunity and went to Adam in the form of an old man and said:
فَوَسْوَسَ لَهُمَا الشَّيْطَانُ لِيُبْدِيَ لَهُمَا مَا وُورِيَ عَنْهُمَا مِن سَوْآتِهِمَا وَقَالَ مَا نَهَاكُمَا رَبُّكُمَا عَنْ هَـٰذِهِ الشَّجَرَةِ إِلَّا أَن تَكُونَا مَلَكَيْنِ أَوْ تَكُونَا مِنَ الْخَالِدِينَ ﴿20﴾
Then Satan tempted them, to expose to them what was hidden from them of their nakedness, and he said, ‘Your Lord has only forbidden you from this tree lest you should become angels, or lest you become immortal.’ 6
One of the effects of eating from this tree was that the ones who ate from this tree would become naked. Satan’s word was very deceptive indeed. He tried to give an explanation for why God had forbidden them from eating from this tree. Then the Quran quotes Satan as saying:
وَقَاسَمَهُمَا إِنِّي لَكُمَا لَمِنَ النَّاصِحِينَ ﴿21﴾
And he swore to them, ‘I am indeed your well-wisher.’
Adam and Eve did not ever think that a person can swear by God and tell a lie. Therefore, they were deceived:
فَدَلَّاهُمَا بِغُرُورٍ ۚ فَلَمَّا ذَاقَا الشَّجَرَةَ بَدَتْ لَهُمَا سَوْآتُهُمَا وَطَفِقَا يَخْصِفَانِ عَلَيْهِمَا مِن وَرَقِ الْجَنَّةِ ۖ وَنَادَاهُمَا رَبُّهُمَا أَلَمْ أَنْهَكُمَا عَن تِلْكُمَا الشَّجَرَةِ وَأَقُل لَّكُمَا إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لَكُمَا عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ ﴿22﴾
Thus he brought about their fall by deception. So when they tasted of the tree, their nakedness became exposed to them, and they began to stitch over themselves with the leaves of paradise. Their Lord called out to them, ‘Did I not forbid you from that tree, and tell you, ‘‘Satan is indeed your manifest enemy?’’ ’
Therefore, Adam and Eve descended to earth and repented to God for what they had done. It is important to realize that prophets of God are infallible and never commit sins. In fact, what Adam did was not a sin, as what God had told him to do was for his guidance, not a religious law that would entail punishment. Read the article Adam in the Quran for more information on this.
Satan: Man’s Manifest Enemy
God says in the Quran:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُوا مِمَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ ﴿168﴾
O mankind! Eat of what is lawful and pure in the earth, and do not follow in Satan’s steps. Indeed, he is your manifest enemy. 7
Satan is indeed man’s manifest enemy. Nevertheless, he is able to tempt us in a way that we do not even notice it:
يَا بَنِي آدَمَ لَا يَفْتِنَنَّكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ كَمَا أَخْرَجَ أَبَوَيْكُم مِّنَ الْجَنَّةِ يَنزِعُ عَنْهُمَا لِبَاسَهُمَا لِيُرِيَهُمَا سَوْآتِهِمَا ۗ إِنَّهُ يَرَاكُمْ هُوَ وَقَبِيلُهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا تَرَوْنَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا الشَّيَاطِينَ أَوْلِيَاءَ لِلَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ ﴿27﴾
‘O Children of Adam! Do not let Satan tempt you, like he expelled your parents from paradise, stripping them of their garments to expose to them their nakedness. Indeed he sees you—he and his hosts—whence you do not see them. We have indeed made the devils friends of those who have no faith.’
However, God emphasizes in the Quran that the strategems of Satan are flimsy:
إِنَّ كَيْدَ الشَّيْطَانِ كَانَ ضَعِيفًا ﴿76﴾
Indeed the stratagems of Satan are always flimsy. 8
This means that if we collect ourselves, the deceptions of Satan will not influence us. However, if we give in and show weakness, that is when it will prove effective. Nevertheless, Satan only invites us to commit sins and can never force us to commit sins as God has given us free will.
Satan in the Quran: Do not Worship Satan
God says in the Quran:
أَلَمْ أَعْهَدْ إِلَيْكُمْ يَا بَنِي آدَمَ أَن لَّا تَعْبُدُوا الشَّيْطَانَ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ ﴿60﴾
‘Did I not exhort you, O children of Adam, saying, “Do not worship Satan. He is indeed your manifest enemy.
وَأَنِ اعْبُدُونِي ۚ هَـٰذَا صِرَاطٌ مُّسْتَقِيمٌ ﴿61﴾
Worship Me. That is a straight path”? 9
Many people in the world worship Satan without even knowing it. Worshipping Satan means following and obeying him, and following and worshipping your carnal desires and lusts. God in these verses warns us not to worship Satan and instead worship Him.
Satan Betrays His Followers in the Quran
God says in the Quran:
كَمَثَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِذْ قَالَ لِلْإِنسَانِ اكْفُرْ فَلَمَّا كَفَرَ قَالَ إِنِّي بَرِيءٌ مِّنكَ إِنِّي أَخَافُ اللَّـهَ رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿16﴾
[The hypocrites are] like Satan when he tells man to disbelieve, but when he disbelieves, he says, ‘I am absolved of you. Indeed I fear Allah, the Lord of all the worlds.’
This is how Satan is. He first tells someone to do some wrong such as disbelieving in God. Then on the Day of Judgment, he says I have nothing to do with you as I fear God. Elsewhere, God says in the Quran:
وَإِذْ زَيَّنَ لَهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَعْمَالَهُمْ وَقَالَ لَا غَالِبَ لَكُمُ الْيَوْمَ مِنَ النَّاسِ وَإِنِّي جَارٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ فَلَمَّا تَرَاءَتِ الْفِئَتَانِ نَكَصَ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيْهِ وَقَالَ إِنِّي بَرِيءٌ مِّنكُمْ إِنِّي أَرَىٰ مَا لَا تَرَوْنَ إِنِّي أَخَافُ اللَّـهَ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ ﴿48﴾
When Satan made their deeds seem decorous to them, and said [to the faithless], ‘No one shall overcome you today from among all mankind, and I will stand by you.’ But when the two hosts sighted each other, he took to his heels, saying, ‘Indeed I am quit of you. I see what you do not see. Indeed I fear Allah, and Allah is severe in retribution.’
This is the traitorous nature of Satan. When the time comes for him to stand next to you, he takes a step back and says he is not with you. This is because Satan knows the truth about God and the power of God. His sole aim is to bring one’s misery and failure in the face of Divine trials.
Satan is a jinn who is the sworn enemy of the human being who has been granted respite until the Day of Judgment. He has sworn that he will pervert and deceive all human beings throughout history. Therefore, we should not follow the temptations of Satan, albeit it is a very hard thing to do. Satan’s job is making sins seem decorous to us and alluring us into them. He has been successful in doing his job with respect to man for generations. However, Satan will ultimately be punished in hell for his defiance on the Day of Judgment, and will remain in hell forever along with his followers.
- Quran 15:27 (Qara’i).
- Quran 55:15 (Qara’i).
- Quran 15:28-31 (Qara’i).
- Quran 18:50 (Qara’i).
- Quran 15:32-33 (Qara’i).
- Quran 7:20 (Qara’i).
- Quran 2:168 (Qara’i).
- Quran 4:76 (Qara’i).
- Quran 36:60-61 (Qara’i).