Before we discussed the nature of Shaytan, it is important to first explain its’ origin.
As we know, Shaytan is created from Jinn and in the same way that humans descended from Adam (AS), Jinns descended from Shumar. Shumar, also known as Shuma, is often referred to as Abu-Jinn (father of Jinn). Adams (AS) family multiplies; likewise Shumar’s family does as well.
Jinn were present before Adam (AS) and that is why Allah (SWT) said “Umma Khalaqna Tul Jinna Wal Insana” (“Jinn and Insaan were created for Allah (SWT)’s worship). The stress is on Jinn first and then Insaan. For Jinn, Allah (SWT) made separate rules and regulations. After 36,000 years of their existence they forgot to follow Allah (SWT)’s law and so Allah (SWT) destroyed them and made a new community of Jinn. Those who remained obedient, they went into the sea, air and jungles to secretly obey the law of Allah (SWT), out of the vision of the disobedient ones.
From these obedient Jinn, Allah (SWT) made a new nation of Jinn. Of these Jinn, Allah (SWT) designated a leader (Nabi) amongst them who would make sure that these Jinn would follow Allah (SWT)’s order. The name of this leader (Nabi) of the Jinn was Hilyanis. After another 36,000 years these Jinn again became disobedient and assassinated King Hilyanis, and so, Allah (SWT) destroyed this community of Jinn. Again Allah (SWT) saved the obedient Jinns and from them appointed another Nabi called Bilqiya. They again became disobedient and Allah (SWT) destroyed them. After having destroyed them for the third time, Allah (SWT) appointed, from the families of those who were the followers of Allah (SWT), another leader called Hamus.
After another 36,000 years they killed Hamus and became disobedient of Allah (SWT). Finally it was the period of Shuma, and when again the Jinns disobeyed Allah (SWT) the Angels came and destroyed this nation. The Angels found only 4 or 6 Jinns who were obeying Allah (SWT), who were hiding inside jungles engaged in duty. It is from these obedient Jinns that the descendents of Jinn remain today. From these obedient Jinns, the Angels found a boy called Azazil, whose fathers name was Khabis and mothers name was Nilbis. The face of Khabis was like a lion and his nature was alike. Nilbis’s face was like a tiger and so was her character. Azazil’s character and face was a mixture of his two parents. Allah (SWT) took him to the place of Angels and he was appointed teacher to them. Azazil was given the title “Angel Makram” (Teacher to Angels). He was also referred to as ”Mu’ellim ul Malakut” (Master of Angels). During one event, the Angels saw written in the arsh (space), that one of the worshippers will be punished. When the Angels saw this, they became afraid of Allah (SWT)’s punishment and, in fear and wonderment over who this could be, requested Azazil to pray for them (since he was their teacher). Azazil gave them consolation that he knew this fact long ago and that they shouldn’t worry – but they insisted that he should still pray and his Prayer was accepted. He then became known as “Mustajibul Wath” or “Those who Prayer, Allah (SWT) accepts.” Interestingly, Azazil had prayed for everyone but himself. Some time passed, Azazil saw something written on the arsh again. The words “Authobillahi Minashaytaan Nirajim” was written in golden type. After uttering this Prayer, he requested to Allah (SWT), “ Who is that outcast, Shaytan?” Allah (SWT) said that he was one of His worshippers. Then Allah (SWT) said, “That is one of my worshippers, I have bestowed upon him much blessing and given him lots of honour but still he disobeys me.” Azazil replied, “Rabbiul Izzat” (Allah (SWT)’s honour) “Who is that disobedient, can I see him?” Allah (SWT) said, “In time you will meet him.”
Then Azazil resumed engagement in Allah (SWT)’s Ibaadat. He spent thousands of days in one prostration and whenever he returned from prostrating he would recite what he could see, “Lanut Ullahi Iblis” (the curse of Allah (SWT) upon Iblis), without knowing who Iblis was. He asked Allah (SWT),” Who is this Iblis?” To which Allah (SWT) replied, “He is one of my worshippers. I have given him and bestowed upon him thousands of my blessings.” By reciting “Lanut Ullahi Iblis” Azazil cursed upon himself, unknowingly.
Azazil never knew that one day his name would be changed to Iblis. Azazil prostrated 5 times and each prostration lasted for 1000 years and in each prostration Azazil would recite “Lanut Ullahi Iblis”, meaning may Allah (SWT)’s curse be upon Iblis. Overall, for 5,000 years Azazil recited “Lanut Ullahi Iblis.” and after this he started to pray everywhere in the space and on Earth. There was no space where he did not prostrate. Whenever he lifted his head from each prostration he would see the same line “Lanut Ullahi Iblis.” Azazil felt that after so much worship, he had gained everything and that there would not be any other creation more powerful than him. He thought nothing could harm him. He saw nothing like him in the entire Earth and space and consequently developed pride within himself. He addressed all the Angels and asked that if Allah (SWT) were to appoint anyone in competition to him or in equality to him, whom would they obey? The angles replied, “We obey Allah (SWT).” In anger he said, “If I find anyone at the same level as me, I will challenge Allah (SWT) by myself. I am in no need of anyone.” Then Allah (SWT) created Adam (AS). Allah (SWT) sent news to Earth that “I am going to create a being made from you. Of the descendents of Adam (AS), some will be obedient and will reside in Heaven forever and some will be disobedient and burn in Hell forever.” At this point the Earth began to cry; this is why the Earth refused to give clay to the Angels for the creation of Insaan because the Earth was informed.
Allah (SWT), The Exalted, created Jinn and Insaan solely for his Ibaadat (worship). Shaytan belongs to the class of Jinn; a life form created from smokeless fire (like electricity) that existed long before Adam (AS) did. At the time when the whole nation of Jinn became disobedient to Allah (SWT), the Angels were ordered to destroy them completely. As the Angels set about their task they discovered one particular Jinn who had been engaged in Prayer and they asked Allah (SWT) for guidance on how to deal with him. In reply, Allah (SWT) ordered the Angels to bring this particular Jinn back with them to the Kingdom of Malaika (Angels). This “saved” Jinn is called Iblis who is also known as Angel Makram. Iblis had devoted nearly eighty thousand years to Allah (SWT) in worship and since he had acquired vast knowledge, Allah (SWT) appointed him as teacher to the Angels. When Almighty Allah (SWT) willed to create Adam (AS), certain Angels were ordered to bring some clay from the Earth.
One by one the Angels proceeded to collect the clay but the clay pleaded to them “For the sake of Allah (SWT) please don’t take me from this Earth.” (As they did not want to be part of the destruction that the family of Adam would come to cause). So the Angels returned without the clay. Allah (SWT) then ordered Angel Azrail (AS) to collect this clay and when the clay made the same plea to him, Azrail (AS) replied that it was his order to take the clay back and without hesitation, Azrail (AS) took the clay as he was ordered but he reassured the clay that it would be returned back to it at the time of death. Allah (SWT) The Most Wise told Azrail (AS) that it would also be him who would take the soul at the time of death. Allah (SWT) assured Azrail (AS) that he would not be blamed for the death of Insaan, as Allah (SWT) would create some excuse for their death.
While the Angels were busy collecting the clay from the Earth they were delayed in attending the class lead by Iblis. Upon their return Iblis queried the Angels about their late arrival. When Iblis heard the reason for their delay, he became very jealous that Allah (SWT) was creating a new life form and that he alone was not enough for worship. Iblis requested to be taken to the location where Allah (SWT) was creating Adam (AS) but as the Angels were strictly ordered not to take anyone to this location, they refused. Iblis did however eventually discover the location and managed to visit Adam (AS). During his visit Iblis went inside Adam (AS) and discovered the mechanism to his body. He returned to the Angels and stated that Adam (AS) was useless and that they should follow Iblis and not Adam (AS). The Angels replied that they only follow Allah (SWT).
After some time had elapsed and the creation of Adam (AS) was complete, Allah (SWT) ordered the Angels to prostrate in front of Adam (AS). The Angels obeyed this order of Almighty Allah (SWT), the Creator and The Most Wise but when Allah (SWT) gave the same order to Iblis he refused to bow down like the other Angels did, giving the following excuse. Allah (SWT) asked Iblis “What prevented you from prostrating before that which I created with my own hands?” Iblis replied, “I am better than him. You have created me from fire but him You have created from clay” (Surah Al-Araf, 12). Allah (SWT) then said, “Get out of here. You are cast out. My curse is on you till the Day of Judgement” (Surah Al-Hijr, 34-35). Allah (SWT) says “And behold We said to the Angels, bow down to Adam (AS) and they all bowed down. Not so Iblis, he was disobedient. He was with those who rejected faith” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 34) and again in Surah Saad (71-85) When thy Lord said unto the Angels: “Lo! I am about to create a mortal out of clay and when I have fashioned him and breathed into him My Spirit then fall down before him and prostrate.” The Angels fell down and prostrated, everyone except Iblis; He was scornful and became one of the disbelievers (Kafir). Allah said ‘O Iblis! What prevents you from prostrating before that which I have created with both hands? Art thou too proud or art thou of the high exalted?’ He said ’I am better than him. Thou created me from fire whilst him Thou create from clay.’ He said ‘Go forth from hence, for lo! Thou art outcast. And Lo! My curse is on thee till the Day of Judgement.’ He said ‘ Reprieve me till the day when they are raised.’ Allah said ‘ Lo! Thou are of those reprieved until the day of the time appointed.’ He said ‘Then by Thy might I surely will beguile them everyone. Save thy single-minded slaves amongst them.’ Allah said ‘The truth is and the truth I speak that I shall fill Hell with thee and those of them as follow thee, together.”
Iblis introduced logic instead of obedience to Allah (SWT). A concept that was completely new because all the Angels and obedient creation would carry out Allah (SWT)’s command without logic or questioning. Even the disobedient Jinns, (as mentioned before) did disobey Allah (SWT) yet not because of logic therefore only Iblis introduced logic. An experience Musa (AS) had with Shaytan is outlined below.
Allah (SWT) said to Musa (AS) once “Go out and find the secret truth that haunts the devils mind.”
When Musa (AS) met with Shaytan that same day he asked for his advice and heard him say
“Remember this and repeat this constantly, don’t speak of me or you will become like me
If life holds you by a single hair the end of all your toil will be despair
No matter how you prosper there will rise before your face a hundred smirking ‘ I’ s.”
Allah (SWT) ordered everyone to bow before Adam (AS), yet Iblis out of his hidden pride and jealousy did not bow because he intended to see why Allah (SWT) told everyone to bow. Iblis asked Allah (SWT) “As there was no place on Earth where I did not prostrate to You, what are You going to give me in return for this worship?” Allah (SWT) replied, “Say what do you want?” Iblis asked for the power to enter into Adam (AS)’s body and into the body of all his descendents (Bani Adam (AS)). He asked for the permission and power to enter and leave Bani Adam (AS)’s body 70 times within one pulse beat (a pulse beat occurs 60 times a second). Allah (SWT) granted him this request. Iblis then said to Allah (SWT) “I will be standing between You and the sons of Adam (AS), at the front, at the back, at the left, at the right and I will be all around him. I will make it difficult for him to find the Siratul Mustaqim (the straight path) to come to you.” Allah (SWT) said, “You can do whatever you want but remember, whoever is My servant will find the way to come to Me.” Allah (SWT), The Most Powerful, then outcast Iblis from His blessings.
Allah (SWT) then taught Adam (AS) how to pray and seek help from Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) taught Adam (AS) not to ask for Allah (SWT)’s help from the front, nor the back, nor from the right or from the left: Adam (AS) should ask for Allah (SWT)’s help from above. This was the only place Iblis (who is now Shaytan) had not requested to stand between, as this passage was the way that Shaytan could enter in and out of the body of Adam (AS).
However we must bear in mind that even though Shaytan has been given the power of temptation, this power is only Allah (SWT)’s so Allah (SWT) still has absolute control over everything. Allah (SWT) even controls the heart of Shaytan. An incident between Musa (AS) and Shaytan shows this. One day Musa (AS) asked Allah (SWT) for some advice on how to deal with a certain issue. Astonishingly, Allah (SWT) instructed Musa (AS) to go to Shaytan and ask him how to deal with the issue. Musa (AS) being surprised said to Allah (SWT) “I am Your Prophet and that is Shaytan.” Allah (SWT) replied by saying “It is My command that you should ask Shaytan.” Out of obedience Musa (AS) went to Shaytan and asked him for advice, in reply Shaytan told Musa (AS) what to do and Musa (AS) carried out the task in accordance with Shaytan’s advice. However, Shaytan came to Musa (AS) the following day and said,” Oh Musa (AS) what I told you yesterday, don’t do that, do this.” Musa (AS) replied,” What you told me yesterday was the truth what you have told me now is false. It involves your deceitful planning.” Nevertheless, our effort should be present. We must exert full effort in fighting Shaytan’s deception and obeying the command of Allah (SWT).
There are two entrances into Bani Adam (AS)’s body: one is called ‘was-wasa’ whereby Shaytan gives bad temptations. The other entrance known as the ‘mul-him’ is for the sole use of Angels through which they give Ilham (knowledge) or good news. The Ilham could thus emanate directly from Allah (SWT) or from the Bani Adam (AS)’s own destiny. Allah (SWT) has placed an Angel to guard the mul-him and likewise Shaytan has placed one of his agents at the was-wasa. Shaytan’s instrument is bad temptation, which he uses to deceive Bani Adam (AS).
But recall that Allah (SWT) has also taught us how to pray and seek help from Him. This is why when we are in need we should not go to anybody or anything else except Allah (SWT) for help. No one can get help through his own capacity unless Allah (SWT) wishes to help him. If anyone asks for help from a worldly thing or anything else other than Allah (SWT) (e.g. idol worshippers seek help and guidance from wood, stone, fire and other man made articles), it is as if he is asking help from Shaytan. In Surah Fatihah, verse 5, Allah (SWT) tells us to say “Thee do we worship and Thine aid we seek.” The devil is clever and absolutely dangerous for righteous persons. In this Surah, Allah (SWT) Most Kind is beautifully and tenderly teaching us how to seek help and guidance from Him and to seek protection from the Shaytan. Notably, however only Allah (SWT) has the power to guide and misguide.
In Surah Saffat (162-163) Allah (SWT) says that the Shaytan “…cannot lead anyone into temptation concerning Allah (SWT) except such as one predestined going into the blazing fire.” In his commentary to the Holy Quran, Abdullah Yusuf Ali wrote, “Evil has no power over faith, truth and sincerity. It has power over those who deliberately put themselves in the way of destruction. It is their own will that leads them astray. If they were fortified against evil by faith, patience and constancy, evil would have no power to hurt them. Allah (SWT) will protect them” (pp 1213:4134). Allah (SWT) says, ”The Kalimah, ‘La ila ha illal lahu’ is My fortress. Whoever reads this by heart will be inside My fortress and will neither have fear of My punishment or of Shaytan’s deceptions. Shaytan is the source of punishment. Whosoever reads the Kalimah and obeys Allah (SWT) The Wise is safe from Shaytan’s deceptions and has saved himself from this world and the hereafter.” Prophet Mahammad (SAW) said that the Shaytan might come like an elephant but leaves like an ant to whoever reads ‘Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Raheem.’
We should not attempt to fight Shaytan, which is interpreted as giving him importance and consequently making him happy. Our duty is simply to obey and to ask for Allah (SWT)’s help. Before Prophet Mahammad (SAW)’s time there was a tradition in Arabia whereby a traveller would ask protection from the leader of Jinn of the territory he has just entered. However Allah (SWT) has said that whoever seeks protection from anyone but Allah (SWT) is not a believer. We are helpless and lonesome children until and unless we ask protection from Allah (SWT) and Allah (SWT) alone.
Shaytan thinks of a newly born baby as an additional enemy. Invisible to the naked eye, Shaytan tries to take the child away and kill him/her using his Jinn agents. Shaytan spies on his prey in much the same way in which an eagle spies on newly hatched chickens. To prevent Shaytan’s agent from taking the baby, Allah (SWT) sends 70 Angels to guard the newly born baby. If the baby is a Mumin (believer), Allah (SWT) doubles its guard i.e. 140 Angels are sent to protect the baby from Shaytan.
Allah (SWT) says “Oh Mumin! Be aware of Shaytan – he is your open enemy. He is very far from Me but very close to you.” Allah (SWT) teaches us to say “A’oothubillah-him-inash-shaytan-ir-rajim,” which is translated as “Oh Allah! I seek refuge in Thee from the outcast – Shaytan.”
Allah (SWT) has not given Shaytan any power except one – which is it can go in and out of your blood stream. But one should remember at the same time, Allah (SWT) has given Mumins the key to stop this by saying “A’oothubillah-hi-minash-shaytan-ir-rajim.”
Shaytan uses three instruments/webs to catch human beings: Greed, jealousy/envy and pride, because he himself became a victim to these. Firstly he wanted the same name and fame that Adam (AS) was given, he was jealous once Adam (AS) was created and then finally he was too proud to bow down himself before him.
Once a Wali-Allah dreamt that Shaytan was advancing towards him and the Wali-Allah was trying to beat off the Shaytan with his staff. The Wali-Allah then heard a voice saying that Shaytan cannot be beaten with a staff. Upon hearing this, the Wali-Allah stood back and after a few moments asked Shaytan to come towards him. In reply Shaytan asked, “What have you got for me to come to you?” The Wali-Allah replied, “What do you want?” to which Shaytan said “I want the world but you don’t have it so what is the use of me coming to you?”
Hazrat Faridudin Attar relates in his book, Conference of Birds,
“Once a young man approached a fasting saint and said
“The Shaytan is a highway robber, a thief.
He has robbed me of my belief”. “Oh really?” the saint said.
The Shaytan too came here to complain. I heard him say
“You tell this new pilgrim on God’s holy way,
To stay out of my way, I attack him as him fingers pry into this world,
Which is mine.”
Allah (SWT) on the day of judgement will question the disobedient Bani Adam as to why they worshipped Shaytan when they were told that he was an enemy to them and why they did not worship Allah (SWT) following the straight way. Allah (SWT) then will show them the Hellfire and they will burn there in.
“Did I not command you, o children of Adam, that you should not worship Shaytan (Satan). Verily, he is a plain enemy to you. And that you should follow Me. That is the straight path. And indeed he did lead astray a great multitude of you. Did you not then understand? This is Hell, which you were promised. Burn therein this day, for that you used to disbelieve.” (Surah Yasin Ayat 60-64)
As Allah (SWT) created Shaytan’s wife from his left thigh, in a similar manner as Adam (AS)’s wife was created from the rib. When Shaytan’s wife was pregnant, she laid 21 eggs from which Shaytan’s children were hatched. These children then spread themselves all over the world across jungles, mountains, rivers, seas etc. Once Prophet Mahammad (SAW) said “There is nobody without a Shaytan with him.” After hearing this, one of the Sahaba asked Prophet Mahammad (SAW) “Is there any with you?” To which our Prophet replied “Yes, but Allah (SWT) has made this Shaytan Musalma’an and he is always giving me good inspirations.”
Once Abu Bakr (R), Umar (R), Uthman (R), Ali (KA), Salman Farsi (R) and Amer Ibn Yasar (R) found Prophet Mahammad (SAW) coming back from somewhere, sweating. The Prophet (SAW) wiped the sweat from his forehead and said “May Allah (SWT) cast the cursed Shaytan.” He then looked down. Ali (KA) said to him “whom are you casting upon?” Prophet Mahammad (SAW) replied, “The enemy of Allah (SWT), the outcast Shaytan, has just put his tail in the cave and laid seven eggs from which seven Shaytan were born. Their duty is to deceive the sons of Adam (AS).”
Prophet Mahammad (SAW) then proceeded to name these seven Shaytan: the first one is called Mudhas and his duty is to tempt and attract the Alim (religious scholar). The second one is called Hodish and his duty is to distract people from their Prayer and offer distractive attractions and amusements. Hodish makes people sleepy during their Prayer and when someone awakes after having been asleep, they continue their Prayer without wudu. They falsely believe that they never went to sleep in the first place and therefore do not require fresh wudu. The third Shaytan, called Zal Banun, has its undertaking in the market place in order that traders do not weigh and measure honestly or care for the quality of their goods. The Zal Banun also enables people to walk wondrously around the market place and encourage them to spend their money unwisely. The fourth Shaytan, Bothaar, makes people restless by attacking their patience. Manshoot, the fifth Shaytan, draws people towards backbiting and lying and peoples’ sense of justice is destroyed by the sixth Shaytan, Dasham. Lastly the seventh Shaytan, Auoawar, tempts people to steal and become thieves in the belief that this way their need will be met and that they could always ask for forgiveness later from Allah (SWT) and will surely be excused.
Prophet Mahammad (SAW) also said “there is a Shaytan called Dal-han. He deceives people when they make wudu.” Our Prophet Mahammad (SAW) advises Mumins to be aware of him and ask Allah (SWT) against this Shaytan. There is another Shaytan called Khanzub who always deceives people during Prayer. Beside these there are other Shaytan who always stay with you when you are bathing whether it be inside or outside the house (such as bathroom, seaside etc). They are always there because this is their place of stay.
Leading from this I will briefly describe some categories of Jinn. Like man, Jinn are also a creation of Allah (SWT) made to worship Him. They cannot be seen by the human eye and have the ability to possess the human body. In them there are believers (Mumin) who believe in Allah (SWT) and His Rasul. The other types are:
Shaytan-the enemy of Allah (SWT), who constantly tries to misguide people, Shaytan is the leader of Jinn.
Afriyat-a very dangerously powerful Jinn. It is very difficult to save oneself from this type of Jinn. In fact it was this particular Jinn that tried to stop Prophet Mahammad (SAW) from his Miraage (Ascension) by firing a missile at the Burak (vehicle) that carried him.
Amar-A type of Jinn that stay with adults.
Arwa-These Jinn stay with children. Both are harmful to humans and are enemies of Allah (SWT).
Apart from Mumin Jinn, they are all followers of the Shaytan.
Once Our Prophet Mahammad (SAW) met Shaytan and said to him “Why are you an enemy of Allah (SWT)? Don’t you realise that you will be punished for your activities?” Shaytan replied, ”I know a dua (Prayer) that will allow me to enter Heaven” (You can say that it is a key for the door of Heaven). Jibril (AS) appeared at that moment and said to Prophet Mahammad (SAW) “Shaytan does indeed know the Dua which will enable him to enter Paradise, but forty days before his death Allah (SWT), the Almighty, All Powerful and All Knowing will take this dua away from Shaytan’s memory.” Jibril (AS) then unveiled this Dua to Prophet Mahammad (SAW).
Another instance is when Shaikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani (RA) had an encounter with a man that came complaining about his daughter. He said that a Jinn had taken his daughter Fatima. Shaikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani (RA) told the man to go to a hill in the desert and draw a circle with the intention of Shaikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani (RA). The man then went and did this and he said that when he sat there troops of Jinn went past in various forms and not one of them came close to the circle, finally the king of Jinn went past him. Seeing the man the king said what brings you here, the man told him of his situation and that Shaikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani (RA) had told him to come here. Hearing this, the king jumped to the ground and sat before the man. He then enquired with his courtiers which Jinn was stupid enough to go and take the daughter of a man that was guarded by the Shaikh. None of the Jinn knew who had taken the girl. Finally the rebel Jinn was brought before the king and executed by him. Then the man’s daughter was returned.
Prophet Mahammad (SAW) said that Magrib (sunset) is the play time for the Shaytans, so children should go inside their houses, behind closed doors, in order that the Shaytans cannot enter. In another Hadith, Prophet Mahammad (SAW) told us that everyone should wear pairs of shoes and should never wear unpaired shoes, as it is Shaytan who hides them away. What is the explanation of this Hadith? This may seem trivial but Prophet Mahammad (SAW) is using this example to explain that we always need to be alert of Shaytan’s deceptions. The Shaytan is always trying to outwit Insaan and tries to place traps (symbolic or otherwise). With the example of the shoes, it is Shaytan who tries to lure us into his trap by something trivial as wearing unmatched shoes by causing a slip in our attention. From my experiences this can lead to unnecessary arguments at home. In another Hadith the Prophet Mahammad (SAW) asked Shaytan,” Who is your worst enemy?,” Shaytan replied , ”You,” The Prophet Mahammad (SAW) then asked,” Who is your second worst enemy,” Shaytan replied,” The person who always stays with Wudu (ablution),” The Prophet Mahammad (SAW) then asked ,” Who is your third worst enemy,” Shaytan replied,” The person who prays with Jammat (congregational Prayer).”