Shaitan

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Depiction of a Shaitan made by Siyah Qalam between the 14th and the 15th century

Shayṭān (Arabic: شيطان‎, plural: شياطين shayāṭīn) is the term for the figure of Satan or a devil in Islamic theology and mythology. Surah 6:112 collectively refers to the "shayatin" among mankind and the jinn, [1] fallen angels,[2][3][4] idols, demons and demonic offspring. When used with the definite article Al-, Shaitan refers to Satan, head of the shayatin (devils) and also known as Iblis.[5] In Islamic cosmology the shayatin are an ontological reality manifesting itself in evil and ugly things.[6]

Etymology[edit]

The word Šayṭān (Arabic: شَيْطَان‎) originates from the Hebrew שָׂטָן (Šāṭān) "accuser, adversary" (which is the source of the English Satan). However Arabic etymology relates the word to the root š-ṭ-n ("distant, astray") taking a theological connotation designating a creature distant from divine mercy.[7] The term "Shaitan" may either be translated as "demon" or as "devil".[8] In pre-Islamic Arabia this term was used to designate an evil jinn. With the emergence of Islam the meaning of shayatin moved closer to the Christian concept of devils.[9]

Exegesis[edit]

As jinn, the shayatin share the characteristics of invisibility. Some scholars put them merely under one category of the supernatural. However the prevailing opinion among the mufassirs distinguish between the jinn and shayatin as following:[10][11]

  • While among the jinn, there are different types of believers (Muslims, Christians, Jewish, polytheists, etc.), the shayatin are exclusively evil.
  • The jinn are mortals and die, while the shayatin only die, when their leader ceases to exist.

Since the shayatin are limited to "evil", they lack free will and are inaccessible to the "good." A hadith emphasizes the impossibility for the shayatin to access salvation: "One kind of beings will dwell in Paradise, and they are the malaikah (angels); one kind will dwell in the Hellfire, and they are the shayatin, and other kinds will dwell [such that] some are in Paradise and some in the Hellfire, and those are the jinn and the naas (mankind)."[12]

While the Quran remains unclear about the origin of the shayatin, most commentators identify them with Iblis' progeny by referring to hadiths.[13] Some exegetes, such as Zakariya al-Qazwini, even elaborated a more extensive account on the shayatin, based on hadith traditions. Accordingly, the shayatin are generally hermaphrodite, unable to marry, and reproduce by laying eggs.[14] For their creation it was suggested that the shayatin were created from the smoke of fire, while the jinn from its blaze and angels from its light.[15]

Religious significance[edit]

The existence of shayatin is generally affirmed in Islam. Commonly the shayatin are just tempters inciting the mind of humans with "whisperings" (waswās).[16] However the characteristics of the shayatin in folk Islam is far more extensive than in standard Islamic theology and although it is impossible to find unified depictions among local traditions, some characteristics given to the shayatin appear frequently, such as the cause of misfortune and saying basmala could ward off shayatin attacks.[17] Witchcraft is also traced back to the shayatin (compare with the Christian understanding), since the Quran states in 2:102 that it was not Solomon who practiced witchcraft but rather the shayatin, who also taught it to the people. According to Islam, it is recommended to recite a certain du'a (supplication), like the Suras "An-Naas" or "Al-Falaq"[18] to protect oneself from the shayatin. Supported by hadiths from Sahih al-Bukhari and Jami` at-Tirmidhi, the shayatin can not harm the believers during the month of Ramadan, since they are chained in Jahannam (Gehenna (hellfire)).[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mustafa ÖZTÜRK The Tragic Story of Iblis (Satan) in the Qur’an Çukurova University, Faculty of Divinity JOURNAL OF ISLAMIC RESEARCH İslam Araştırmaları Vol 2 No 2 December 2009 page 134
  2. ^ Gordon Melton, Martin Baumann Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition [6 volumes] ABC-CLIO 2010 ISBN 978-1-598-84204-3 page 117
  3. ^ Robert Lebling Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar I.B.Tauris 2010 ISBN 978-0-857-73063-3 page 22
  4. ^ Frederick M. Smith The Self Possessed: Deity and Spirit Possession in South Asian Literature and Civilization Columbia University Press 2012 ISBN 978-0-231-51065-3 page 570
  5. ^ Oliver Leaman The Qur'an: An Encyclopedia Taylor & Francis 2006 ISBN 978-0-415-32639-1 page 179
  6. ^ Seyyed Hossein Nasr Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines, An SUNY Press 1993 ISBN 978-1-438-41419-5 p. 70
  7. ^ Mustafa ÖZTÜRK The Tragic Story of Iblis (Satan) in the Qur’an Çukurova University,Faculty of Divinity JOURNAL OF ISLAMIC RESEARCH İslam Araştırmaları Vol 2 No 2 December 2009 page 134
  8. ^ Mehmet Yavuz Seker Beware! Satan: Strategy of Defense Tughra Books 2008 ISBN 2008 ISBN 978-1-597-84131-3 page 3
  9. ^ Jeffrey Burton Russell Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages Cornell University Press 1986 ISBN 978-0-801-49429-1 page 55
  10. ^ Egdunas Racius ISLAMIC EXEGESIS ON THE JINN: THEIR ORIGIN, KINDS AND SUBSTANCE AND THEIR RELATION TO OTHER BEINGS p. 132
  11. ^ Amira El-Zein Islam, Arabs, and Intelligent World of the Jinn Syracuse University Press 2009 ISBN 9780815650706 page 21
  12. ^ Amira El-Zein Islam, Arabs, and Intelligent World of the Jinn Syracuse University Press 2009 ISBN 9780815650706 page 20
  13. ^ Egdunas Racius - ISLAMIC EXEGESIS ON THE JINN: THEIR ORIGIN, KINDS AND SUBSTANCE AND THEIR RELATION TO OTHER BEINGS p. 132
  14. ^ A.G. Muhaimin The Islamic Traditions of Cirebon: Ibadat and Adat Among Javanese Muslims ANU E Press 2016 ISBN 978-1-920-94231-1 page 43-46
  15. ^ Seyyed Hossein Nasr Islamic Life and Thought Routledge 2013 ISBN 978-1-134-53818-8 page 135
  16. ^ Gerda Sengers Women and Demons: Cultic Healing in Islamic Egypt BRILL 2003 ISBN 978-9-004-12771-5 p. 254
  17. ^ Gerda Sengers Women and Demons: Cultic Healing in Islamic Egypt BRILL 2003 ISBN 978-9-004-12771-5 p. 41
  18. ^ Rudolf Macuch "Und das Leben ist siegreich!": mandäische und samaritanische Literatur ; im Gedenken an Rudolf Macuch (1919–1993) Otto Harrassowitz Verlag 2008 ISBN 978-3-447-05178-1 page 82
  19. ^ Tobias Nünlist Dämonenglaube im Islam Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG 2015 ISBN 978-3-110-33168-4 page 229 (in German)