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In Islam, the Devil is known as Iblīs (Arabic: إبليس, plural: ابالسة abālisah), Shayṭān (Arabic: شيطان, plural: شياطين shayāṭīn) or Shaitan. In Islam, Iblis is the name of the Jinn who refused to kneel before Adam.
The primary characteristic of the Devil is hubris. His primary activity is to incite humans and jinn to commit evil through deception, which is referred to as "whispering into the hearts". The Quran mentions that Satans are the assistants of those who disbelieve in God: "We have made the evil ones friends to those without faith."
Namings and etymology
The term Iblis (Arabic: إِبْلِيس) may have derived from Ancient Greek διάβολος (diábolos), also the ultimate source of English devil. Or it may derive from the Arabic verbal root بَلَسَ (balasa, "he despaired"). The term Shaytan (Arabic: شَيْطَان) has the same origin as Hebrew שָׂטָן (Sātān), source of the English Satan.
The Devil in Islamic theology
According to basic Islamic teachings, God (Arabic: الله, translit. Allāh) revealed the creation of three intelligent species: angels (malāʾikah), jinn, and humans (basher), of which the latter two have been granted free will to choose between good and evil, and the Quran states that there is other creation beyond human knowledge "and He has created (other) things of which we have no knowledge."
The angels, being creatures of pure reason without lower animal desires, do not sin. When God created Adam, He commanded all the angels and Iblis (whose high rank allowed him to worship God with the angels) to prostrate to Adam. All the angels did so, but Iblis refused, and was deprived of God's Mercy because of his arrogant disobedience. For this God cast him out of Jannah (paradise), and intended to punish him. Iblis begged God to delay the punishment until Yawm al-Qiyāmah (Last Judgment), and his request was granted.
It is We Who created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels prostrate to Adam, and they prostrate; not so Iblis; He refused to be of those who prostrate.
(Allah) said: "What prevented thee from prostrating when I commanded thee?" He said: "I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay."
Iblis was proud and considered himself superior to Adam, since Adam was made from clay and Iblis from smokeless fire. For this act of disobedience, God cursed him to Jahannam (Hell/Purgatory) for eternity, but gave him respite until the Day of Judgment, after Iblis requested it. Iblis obtained permission from God and vowed that he would use this time to lead all men and women astray to Hell. In this way, he would prove humanity's inferiority, and justify his act of defiance. For refusing to abide by the will of God, Iblis was cast out of Heaven, and thereafter he was called "Shaytan" (Satan).
He said: "Give me respite till the day they are raised up."
(Allah) said: "Be thou among those who have respite."
He said: "Because thou hast thrown me out of the way, lo! I will lie in wait for them on thy straight way:
"Then will I assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left: Nor wilt thou find, in most of them, gratitude (for thy mercies)."
(Allah) said: "Get out from this, disgraced and expelled. If any of them follow thee,- Hell will I fill with you all.— Quran sura 7 (Al-Aʻraf), ayah 14-18
"As for My servants, no authority shalt thou have over them:" Enough is thy Lord for a Disposer of affairs.
Such individuals had previously been mentioned in the Torah and the Gospel as the Elect.
Shaytan as a "whisperer"
The Quran provides a supplication for mankind which is effective in repelling the evil of Satan and his minions:
Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind,
The King (or Ruler) of Mankind,
The God (or judge) of Mankind,-
From the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper),-
(The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind,-
Among Jinn and among men.
- Quran 2:30
- Quran 114:4
- Quran 7:27
- "Iblīs - BrillReference".
- Meriam-Webster, "Devil"[dead link]
- Quran 18:50
- Esposito, Oxford Dictionary of Islam, 2003, p.279
- Quran 10:44
- Quran 7:12
- Quran 16:8
- Juan Eduardo Campo. Encyclopedia of Islam. p. 603.
- Jerald D. Gort; Henry Jansen; H. M. Vroom. Probing The Depths of Evil And Good: Multireligious Views and Case Studies. p. 250.
- Quran 7:11–12
- Jerald D. Gort; Henry Jansen; H. M. Vroom. Probing The Depths Of Evil And Good: Multireligious Views and Case Studies. p. 250.
- Quran 7:14–18
- Quran 17:65
- Quran 114:1–6
- G. Basetti Sani, Il peccato di Iblis e degli angeli nel Corano, Iperbole, Palermo 1987
- C. Saccone, Iblis, Il Satana del Terzo Testamento. Santità a perdizione nell'Islam. Letture coraniche II, Centro Essad Bey, Padova 2012 (ebook Kindle Edition); Charleston 2016 (book CreateSpace IPP)
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