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Without Satan, Allahís Universal Plan would have failed.

2005/04/27

By Mohammad Asghar

Allah blamed Satan for causing Adam and his wifeís expulsion from heaven. But without his alleged participation, Allah could not have fulfilled His Universal Plan. This we can conclude from reading the following verses of Quranís Sura The Cow, or The Heifer.

Verse 31: And He taught Adam the nature of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said: Tell me the nature of these if ye are right. 

The word sadeqiin, which appears in the Arabic text, has been translated as right, but generally it is understood to mean truthful.[1] The translation of the Arabic word sadeqiin into right is significant, for it helps the Muslim translators to keep the angels outside the category of those beings who are untruthful, or liars.

Nevertheless, after creating Adam, against the angelsí opposition, Allah is said to have decided to prove them wrong by having Adam exhibit his human capabilities, with which the angels are not at all equipped. To achieve His objective, Allah is believed to have created certain things and taught Adam their nature, intentionally excluding the angels from His coaching. Thereafter, He placed those things before the angels, challenging them to elucidate their nature, specifically, to prove that they were untruthful in their comments that they had made earlier about Adam and his progeny. 

Verse 32: They said: Glory to Thee: of knowledge we have none, save what Thou hast taught us: in truth it is Thou Who art perfect in knowledge and wisdom. 

Faced with the dilemma, angels conceded their ignorance about the nature of the divinely selected things, telling Allah, at the same time, that they failed the test because, unlike Adam, He had not taught them the nature of those things beforehand. They confessed that it was He who alone had perfect knowledge of all things - -a calculated move on the part of the angels, which they had designed to prevent Allah from calling them untruthful and liars. 

Verse 33: He said: O Adam! Tell them their nature. When he had told them, Allah said: Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of heavens and earth, and I know what ye reveal and what ye conceal? 

To impress the angels with the ken of Adamís knowledge, Allah is alleged to have placed the same things before Adam and asked him to describe their nature. When he did it successfully, Allah felt stimulated to taunt the angels on their ignorance, as well as to accuse them of concealing things from His knowledge. What matters or information angels concealed from Allah, He did not elaborate in the Quran. 

Verse 34: And behold, We said to the angels, ďBow down to Adam:Ē and they bowed down: not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: he was of those who reject Faith. 

After the angels had been thoroughly humiliated through Adamís superior, albeit couched knowledge, and after accusing them of concealing things or information from Him, thereby creating in them a sense of inferiority, Allah ordered the angels to bow down before Adam in recognition of his knowledge and, perhaps, his abilities as well. All the angels bowed down, except Iblis. Allah did not take Iblisís alleged disobedience seriously. He merely called him haughty and a rejecter of faith. Iblis was not punished for the sin he is alleged to have committed by refusing to carry out Allahís command.

According to what we read in the Quran, Allah never required Adam and his wife to bow down before Him, their Creator. Abraham, who came into being long after Adam, was, perhaps, the first person who, upon being asked by Allah, had bowed down to the Lord and Cherisher of the Universe.[2]

In order to understand why Iblis allegedly refused to comply with Allahís order, we need to resolve the following questions:

     1. Who was Iblis?

     2. What was or is the difference between Iblis and the angels?

     3. Did or did not Allah know beforehand that Iblis was going to disobey His command? 

Answers to these questions can be culled from Allahís own statements recorded in the Quran. According to Him, the Arabs believed in the existence of Jinns, who they believed, lived in the deserts. They also subscribed to the belief that some among the Jinns were good in nature, others were evil and capricious. The latter category of Jinns caused men to turn majnoon or mad, together with causing them other troubles. The Arabs also thought that Jinns were more powerful than men because they believed, and as Allah has confirmed, these invisible creatures were made of fire.[3] Iblis was one of the evil Jinns, not an angel, worshipped by the Arabs as their protectors.[4]

Unlike Iblis, the Arabs held the belief that the angels were made of a gentler substance. Worshipping them as well, the Arabs sought their intercession with Allah for bestowing His kindness and mercy on them.

Allah spoke of the same Iblis, one of the desert spirits, which occupied Muhammad and his compatriotsí minds from their childhood.

The identity of Iblis established, we now find ourselves in a quandary, mindful of the time when Adam was created, and especially when he had no opportunity to know who Iblis was and what were his abilities and power. Frankly speaking, we are puzzled and confused by Allahís following incongruous question, addressed to Adam:

. . . Would you then serve him[5] and his offspring as your masters rather than Myself, despite their enmity towards you. [6]

Could it be, we wonder, that Allah was subconsciously referring in the quoted statement to the practices of the Arabs and somehow tried to link the earthly Iblis to the time in which Allah is supposed to have created Adam in heaven?

Moreover, we are prompted to deduce from the very nature of the event that, in spite of Allahís being omniscient, He did not have prior knowledge of Iblisís intention; otherwise He would not have asked him the reason of his disobedience. [7]



[1] Cf. Quran; 2:111 et al.
[2]
Quran; 2:131
[3]
Quran; 7:12, 15:27. Also see Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthallís The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, p. 216.
[4]
Quran; 18:50.
[5]
Iblis, the Satan
[6]
Quran; 18:50.
[7]
Quran; 15:32.

 

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