Lecture 10 in Tafseer series on Surah Kahf in Month of Ramadaan delivered by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider at Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town on 13 April 2022
In the previous lecture we discussed how our actions will be embodied before us on the Day of Judgement and the true face of our actions will be revealed to us.
Now the discussion moves to an even deeper level analyzing why someone ended in a terrible destination in the Hereafter. Thus the Quran discusses the origin of the misguidance of mankind.
Surah Kahf Verse 50 states:
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلآَئِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لاِدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلآَّ إِبْلِيسَ كَانَ مِنَ الْجِنِّ فَفَسَقَ عَنْ أَمْرِرَبّـِهِ أَفَتَتَّخِذُونَهُ وَذُرِّيَّتَهُ أَوْلِيَآءَ مِن دُونِي وَهُمْ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ بِئْسَ لِلظَّالِمِينَ بَدَلاً
“And (remember) when We said to the angels: ‘Prostrate to Adam,’ So they (all) prostrated except Iblis; he was of the jinn, and he rebelled against his Lord’s command. Will you then choose him and his seed as your protecting friends instead of Me, when they are enemies to you? Evil would be the exchange for the unjust!”
Here Almighty Allah speaks about where sin originated from and discusses it in light of the creation of the human being and the role of Iblis in misguidance.
The story of Iblis or satan has been repeated in the Quran in at least seven places and is a very important reality to understand as satan is a real challenge in our life.
The detailed background to the command to the Angels to prostrate to Adam (a.s) has been explained in Surah Baqarah from Verse 30 onwards.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IBLIS AND SHAYTAAN
The Quran often uses the name Iblis as well as the word “shaytaan” which is translated as “satan”. So what’s the difference between the two?
Iblis is the name of that particular existent who was commanded to prostrate to Adam (a.s) and he disobeyed Allah’s command. The name Iblis comes from the word Iblaas which means “sad”. Someone who lost hope becomes sad and Iblis is named as such as he has no hope of salvation.
Shaytaan is every evil that tries to infiltrate you in your approach. Thus shaytaan is a general name. Iblis is Shaytaan at the same time as he has resolved to misguide human beings.
So Iblis is Shaytaan but not every Shaytaan is Iblis.
Shaytaan can thus be our desires too or even other human beings.
WHY WERE ANGELS ORDERED TO PROSTRATE TO ADAM (A.S)?
Isn’t prostration only meant to be made to Allah? How is it then that Angels and Iblis were commanded to prostrate to Adam (a.s)? Is this shirk or polytheism?
There are three elements to consider in prostration:
– the act of prostration (sajda);
– the direction towards which the prostration is made; and
– the one for whom prostration is made
When Almighty Allah commanded the Angels and Iblis to prostrate before Adam (a.s) it did not mean that Adam (a.s) is God but it was a sajda of obedience (sajda ita’at) to Allah’s command to prostrate in that manner.
So performing prostration in the direction of something does not render it to be God. Example our performing prostration in the direction of the Kaaba does not render the Kaaba to be God and in the process make us idol worshippers as some misinformed non Muslims think.
However it should be noted that sajda of worship (Ibaadat) is only for Allah like the sajda we perform in Salaah.
Sometimes sajda is to express shukr or gratitude. This is what happened in the story of Prophet Yusuf (a.s) when his whole family were reunited with him and made prostration of thanks on that occasion before him….they did not worship him by doing sajda. The sajda was for Allah but occurred in front of Prophet Yusuf (a.s) out of gratitude to Almighty Allah.
Sometimes we find people making sajda at the door of the shrine of our Imams like in Karbala in gratitude to Almighty Allah for granting them the opportunity to make Ziyarah of the Wali of Allah. There’s nothing wrong in doing that.
WAS IBLIS AN ANGEL?
The abovementioned verse states that Iblis was from the Jinn, yet it states that the Angels were commanded to prostrate to Adam (a.s) but Iblis who was a Jinn (and not an Angel) disobeyed the command. From the apparent meaning there’s no command to Iblis to prostrate so how does he suddenly arrive on the scene?
This has resulted in a debate among the scholars regarding who Iblis was and some scholars concluded that he was an Angel. But this view is not correct as Iblis was indeed from the Jinn. However due to his apparent extraordinary worship and devotion, he delved among the Angels.
So when the command was issued for the Angels to prostrate to Adam (a.s), since Iblis was among the Angels, he was included in this command.
In addition to the abovementioned verse clearly stating that Iblis was from the Jinn there is additional proof that he was not an Angel.
The nature of the creation of Angels is that they only have intellect and do not have desire (lust) and anger. When desire controls intellect, then sin or disobedience to Almighty Allah is possible and when the intellect controls desire, then the being is on the right path.
Since Angels only have intellect, there is no possibility of committing sin. Thus the Quran clearly calls Angels “ibaadun mukramun” (عباد مكرمون) or “honourable servants” of Allah. If Iblis was an Angel, then the possibility of committing sin would not have been there. Yes Angels can excel other Angels in levels of worship, but sin is not possible for them.
WHO ARE THE JINN?
According to the Quran, Jinn are also a creation of Almighty Allah and there’s a whole Surah named after them.
Jinn means something concealed or hidden and they are called by this name as we can’t see them with our normal eyes.
Human beings are created from clay while Jinn is created from fire. Surah Rahman Verse 15 states:
وَخَلَقَ الْجَانَّ مِن مَّارِجٍ مِّن نَّارٍ
“And the jinn: He created from smokeless flames of fire”.
Like human beings, Jinn have rational powers of thinking and logic. Various verses of Surah Jinn are clear on this point.
Jinn are also mukallaf or have religious responsibility as they have both intellect and desire and have freewill.
Jinn are organized into huge communities across the world and consist of good Jinn and evil Jinn. Surah Jinn Verse 11 states:
وَأَنَّا مِنَّا الصَّالِحُونَ وَمِنَّا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ
“And there are amongst us some that are righteous and some impious”
In fact Surah Kahf Verse 50 refers to Iblis having offspring. It indicates that there is not only one Shaytaan but a whole community of them too.
Jinn will also be resurrected like humans beings. Surah Jinn Verse 15 speaks about some of them being in hell:
وَأَمَّا الْقَاسِطُونَ فَكَانُوا لِجَهَنَّمَ حَطَبًا
“And as for the disobedient, they shall be firewood for Hell.”
Jinn have a much lighter body than human beings called a “mithaali” body or a faximile body which makes it possible for them to travel vast distances in very short periods of time.
There was a time in history when they were even able to travel to the heavens and have access to some of the secret information disclosed in that realm but they were later restricted from access. Surah Jinn Verse 9 states:
وَأَنَّا كُنَّا نَقْعُدُ مِنْهَا مَقَاعِدَ لِلسَّمْعِ ۖ فَمَنْ يَسْتَمِعِ الْآنَ يَجِدْ لَهُ شِهَابًا رَصَدًا
“And we used to sit there in stations to eavesdrop, but any who intends to eavesdrop now will find a shooting star watching him in ambush.”
Jinn can also have a relationship with human beings. Surah Jinn Verse 6 states:
وَأَنَّهُ كَانَ رِجَالٌ مِّنَ الْإِنسِ يَعُوذُونَ بِرِجَالٍ مِّنَ الْجِنِّ فَزَادُوهُمْ رَهَقًا
“And there were men amongst mankind who took shelter with the males amongst the jinn, but they increased them in their error and disobedience”.
Some Jinn are have extraordinary power (like you find among humans). In Surah Naml Verse 39 in the story of Prophet Sulaiman (a.s) requesting who could bring the throne of the Queen of Saba to him, it states:
قَالَ عِفْرِيتٌ مّـِنَ الْجِنِّ أَنَاْ ءَاتِيكَ بِهِ قَبْلَ أَن تَقُومَ مِن مَّقَامِكَ وَإِنّـِي عَلَيْهِ لَقَوِيٌّ أَمِينٌ
“One audacious among the jinn said: ‘I will bring it to you before you rise up from your place; I have strength for it and I am trusty’.”
Quran also states that Jinn can do things for human beings which are not so easy for human beings to do.
Quran also states that Jinn was created before human beings. Surah Hijr Verse 27 states:
وَالْجَآنَّ خَلَقْنَاهُ مِن قَبْلُ مِن نَّارِ السَّمُومِ
“And the jinn We created before, of intensively burning fire.”
Thus Iblis who was a Jinn was present when Adam (a.s) was created.
These are the broad details about Jinn that we are familiar with based on the Quran. Most other stories that one hears about them are unsubstantiated, unreliable or fiction.
CORE MESSAGE OF VERSE 50 OF SURAH KAHF ABOUT IBLIS
Almighty Allah introduced Iblis to us as being the one who was opposed to our existence from day 1. In other verses of the Quran we learn more about this open animosity of Iblis towards human beings due to his feeling of superiority.
The reason why human beings end up being in hell in the next world is due to taking Shaytaan who is their open enemy as their wali or guardian, master, friend or leader.
In Surah A’raf Verses 11 to 18 we learn about the reason why Iblis disobeyed his Lord, the foundation of which was arrogance.
For ease of reference, we quote these verses here: Surah A’raf Verse 11 states:
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَاكُمْ ثُمَّ صَوَّرْنَاكُمْ ثُمَّ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلآئِكَةِ اسْجُدُواْ لآدَمَ فَسَجَدُواْ إِلاَّ إِبْلِيسَ لَمْ يَكُن مِّنَ السَّاجِدِينَ
“And indeed We created you, then We fashioned you, then We said to the angels: “Prostrate yourselves unto Adam.’ So they (all) did prostrate themselves except lblees; he was not of the prostrating ones.”
Surah A’raf Verse 12 states:
قَالَ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلاَّ تَسْجُدَ إِذْ أَمَرْتُكَ قَالَ أَنَاْ خَيْرٌ مِّنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِي مِن نَّارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِن طِينٍ
“He said: ‘ What prevented you that you did not prostrate when I commanded you?’ He said: ‘I am better than him. You created me of fire while You created him of clay ‘.”
Surah A’raf Verse 13 states:
قَالَ فَاهْبِطْ مِنْهَا فَمَا يَكُونُ لَكَ أَن تَتَكَبَّرَ فِيهَا فَاخْرُجْ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الصَّاغِرِينَ
“(Allah) said: ‘Get you down from this (state): it does not befit you to behave proudly therein. Therefore, go you out. Verily you are of the abject ones ‘.”
Surah A’raf Verse 14 states:
قَالَ أَنظِرْنِي إِلَى يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ
“(Instead of repentance, Iblis) said: ‘Respite me until the day when they are raised up.”
Surah A’raf Verse 15 states:
قَالَ إِنَّكَ مِنَ المُنظَرِينَ
“He (Allah) said: ‘Verily you shall be of the respited ones.”
Surah A’raf Verse 16 states:
قَالَ فَبِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ
“He (Satan) said: ‘Since You have let me wander off, I will certainly lay wait for (deceiving) them in Your Straight Path ‘.”
Surah A’raf Verse 17 states:
ثُمَّ لآتِيَنَّهُم مِّن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَن شَمَآئِلِهِمْ وَلاَ تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ
“Then I will certainly come upon them from before them, and from behind them, and from their right and from their left; and You will not find most of them thankful.”
Surah A’raf Verse 18 states:
قَالَ اخْرُجْ مِنْهَا مَذْؤُومًا مَّدْحُورًا لَّمَن تَبِعَكَ مِنْهُمْ لأَمْلأنَّ جَهَنَّمَ مِنكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
“Said He: ‘Get out from this (state), despised, driven away. Whoever of them will follow you, I will surely fill Hell with you all ‘.”
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF IBLIS
In these verses we get into the psychology of Iblis who feels comfortable arguing with his Creator. How dare he do so!!
He comes up with irrational arguments that fire is better than clay.
He is reported to have worshipped Almighty Allah for thousands of years before the creation of Adam (a.s) and yet did not learn a drop of the spirit of worship during this time!
Ibaadah (worship) is one thing while Ubudiyyat (servitude) is something else! Our aim in life should not be Ibaadah which is based on quantity but it should be Ubudiyyat which is based on quality.
Ibaadah is action while Ubudiyyat relates to its spirit.
This is the abhorrent attitude of Shaytaan and how much do we follow it in our daily lives.
How often do we come across a Shariah ruling and argue about it and demand a reason for it?
If we don’t have a spirit of servitude before Allah, then our abundant ritualistic worship has no benefit.
Surah Kahf Verse 51 states:
مَّآ أَشْهَدتُّهُمْ خَلْقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالاَرْضِ وَلاَ خَلْقَ أَنفُسِهِمْ وَمَا كُنتُ مُتَّخِذَ الْمُضِلّـِينَ عَضُداً
“I did not make them to witness the creation of the heavens and the earth, nor of the creation of their selves, nor do I choose misleaders for (My) helpers.”
These opponents of Almighty Allah have no knowledge about the creation of the world, nor do they even have knowledge of their own creation. While Almighty Allah does not need any supporters, He very specifically does not take those who misguide others as His supporters. Therefore we should not look for help from the misguided ones.
When Imam Ali (a.s) became Khalifa or head of state (after Uthman) and had challenges with Muawiyya’s rebellion when Muawiyya was governor of Syria, people said to Imam Ali (a.s) that he should postpone the suspension of Muawiyya until his own government is firmly established. In response to this suggestion, Imam Ali (a.s) recited the latter part of this verse:
وَمَا كُنتُ مُتَّخِذَ الْمُضِلّـِينَ عَضُداً
“nor do I choose misleaders for (My) helpers.”
In another story, when Imam Husayn (a.s) was travelling to Karbala, he met a man named Ubaydullah ibn Hurr Jaafi. He invited this man to join him, but he did not as by his calculation, Imam Husayn (a.s) would be killed and he did not want to be part of the losers. Instead he offered Imam Husayn (a.s) his best horse and sword which he promised will do wonders in battle. Imam Husayn (a.s) said that if this man was not willing to offer his life, then Imam Husayn (a.s) was not interested in his horse or sword. Then again he recited the abovementioned portion of verse 51:
وَمَا كُنتُ مُتَّخِذَ الْمُضِلّـِينَ عَضُداً
“nor do I choose misleaders for (My) helpers.”
ABANDON THE WILAYAH OF SHAYTAAN TO ACHIEVE SALVATION
Surah Kahf Verse 52 states:
وَيَوْمَ يَقُولُ نَادُوا شُرَكَآءِيَ الَّذِينَ زَعَمْتُمْ فَدَعَوْهُمْ فَلَمْ يَسْتَجِيبُوا لَهُمْ وَجَعَلْنَا بَيْنَهُمْ مَّوْبِقاً
“And (remember) the Day (of Judgment) when He will say (to the polytheists): ‘Call on those whom you considered to be My partners.’ So they shall call on them, but they will not answer them, and We will cause between them a valley of perdition.”
Surah Kahf Verse 53 states:
وَرَأَي الْمُـجْرِمُونَ النَّارَ فَظَنُّوا أَنَّهُم مُّوَاقِعُوهَا وَلَمْ يَجِدُوا عَنْهَا مَصْرِفاً
“And the evildoers will see the Fire, then apprehend that they are falling into it, and will find no escape from it.”
These verses are saying that those who take Shaytaan as their guardians are in reality Mushrik and taking partners for Allah. And in the Hereafter they will be in trouble and told to call upon these partners for help – only to be disappointed.
SO in verse 44 we learnt that Wilayah ONLY belongs to Almighty Allah. We need to resist the wilayah of Shaytaan to be successful in the Hereafter.
و نعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم
“And we seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Shaytaan”
Part 11 in this series continues tomorrow In-sha’Allah.