Reality of Satan in Hadith and Qur’an
By Dr Basheer Ahmed Khan
Garden Grove, CA
Concept of Satan is part of all religions. The only difference is of name, form and role. While some dread and loath it and others consider it to be a source of power and worship it. Most religions believe in duality of power, a force of good and a force of evil, who together balance the world. In Taoism we have the concept of Yin and Yang; in Zoroastrianism we have the concept of Mazda and Ahriman. In Hinduism, rated the oldest of religious culture, we have the concept of Rama and Ravana who have assumed a human form to personify good and evil respectively.
This duality was convenient to explain the good and the bad which people enjoy and suffer in the world. But it was deficient in establishing the credentials of Omnipotent God in protecting the innocent and those who believe in Him from the harm of the force of evil. This duality was convincing to the blind believers, but the “inquiring” minds distanced from religion as a hoax when they saw the innocent and the believers suffering in a world ruled by Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient God.
Prophetic religions in their infancy stressed more on God. They did mention the devil, Satan etc. and did not give a total picture of it because the consciousness of the people of that time could not grasp it. As prophesied by his predecessor Jesus (PBUH0 (John Ch.16 V12-13), Muhammad SA was sent as the last messenger close to the time when consciousness of man was to reach its maturity. All hidden and abstract metaphysical aspects over which mankind was pondering for long were revealed. Qur’an and sayings of Prophet Muhammad SA uncovered many a mystery including that of Satan.
The good and evil were created by God so that people used their sensory faculties and the analytical power of their computer like brain to understand and avoid evil ways and adopt good practices for their own good. When selfishness and greed for power, pleasure and possession made us reject good and accept evil ways, our faculties to distinguish the good from the evil were lost. We started to be erratic and irrational under the pretext that all morality was relative. When we suffered the consequence of this indiscretion we put the blame for our follies on extraneous factors. This extraneous factor, which is blamed for all our evil deeds, is the Satan. This fact is expressed in Qur’an thus, Satan will tell to the wrong doers when the curtain is lifted from all realities: I had no power over you except to suggest and you accepted my suggestions and acted on them. Now blame yourself and not me (Ch14 V22).
To understand Satan we have to go to its beginning which coincides with the beginning of the universe. The question which has intrigued the thinkers from time immemorial is what was in the beginning? Some say that there was nothing and we have come from nothing and will go to nothing. This is not knowledge but an excuse which we have made to live a life of irresponsibility and destroy the world and go away from here without having to suffer any consequence for our evil deeds (Ch45 V24). Others say that the world has always been there (Khadeem) and will be there forever. From this they deduce that the talk of end of the world, our resurrection and our accountability before God, is only a story that has been going on for ages (Ch23 V83).
Those who live in a world of fiction don’t care about facts. They know that everything has come into existence because of the planning and execution of the plan by its maker. But they want us to believe that this vast beautiful and balanced world has come into existence without The Creator. They are turning this world upside down to make the people of common sense lose it and believe in their nonsense. The oldest thing existing needs to have a beginning somewhere at some time; and what has a beginning also has to end sometime. We may not have the means to understand and know what happened tens of thousands of years ago when the world came into existence. We may know few things about what is holding this universe in unison and making our lives possible on this planet but we do not care to know who has started it and is sustaining it. We do this to allow ourselves the liberty of speculation and run our agendas based upon this deceit. Farfetched speculations and opinions are of less importance in such matters than common sense and authentic tradition which come from the First Source even if it is through word of mouth and tradition. What was revealed to the prophets about it by the One who made it, we disbelieve, not to exhibit our scholarship over them but to expose our ignorance and arrogance against them.
Those who believe in the creation of this world by a Creator say that the first thing that existed was intellect, some say it was consciousness, and some say it was word. The widely accepted notion is that it was the word (Be) which has existed since the beginning. It is mentioned in all the revealed scriptures to be the command that created everything and is creating everything. Gospel of John begins with this verse: The word was in the beginning and the word was with God, the word is God. Qur’an says in several places: That when Allah intends to do something He says: Be, and it happens (Ch36 V82). This concept is also attributed to Greco-Roman philosopher Plato by St. Augustine (HOWP by Bertrand Russell).
There is a hadith of Nabi SA which says that it was the consciousness of Allah that existed in the beginning that started all the creation. It says: Kunthu Kanzan Makhfiyan wa Ahbabtha An Aarafa Fakhalakhthahu Khalq. Allah says in this Hadith I was a hidden treasure and I wanted to reveal Myself, therefore I created all the creations so that I may be recognized through them. Kunthu Kanzan Makhfiyan is accepted as Hadith by most of the Sufi scholars, but others deny it as a hadith and consider it as the saying of Sufis. All scholars of exegesis agree that Qur’an and Hadith are complementary to each other and explain each other. Verse 12 from Chapter 65 of Qur’an confirms the authenticity of this Hadith by affirming what is said in it. Allah says: I have created the seven skies and the earths likewise, so that you may know that Allah has power over everything and His knowledge encompasses everything. Li-Tha’alamu, “So that you may know”, in this verse confirms that Allah created everything so that we recognize Him and ehatha bikulli Shaieen Ilma is an assertion that His consciousness is encompassing everything.
This Consciousness is what is referred to as the First, Supreme and Active Intelligence in Greek Philosophy. And the intelligence that we have is the one gifted to us by our creator to understand our universe to make our lives better and to understand Him and praise Him, not that He is craving for it, but to demonstrate our own worthiness to qualify for His vicegerency. The irony is that instead of using this intelligence for this purpose we are using it to deny Him and destroy this world by running it at our whims and fancy.
We understand and believe in the invisible magnetism and electricity through its manifestations, but we do not want to understand the Creator through His creation on the pretext of His invisibility. It is a biased way of applying intelligence because of our arrogance and we are suffering its consequence. These arrogant people who want to run their writ by denying God are as much culpable for the problems of the world as those misguided religious people who misinterpret religion and are running their writ in its name. To hope that we can understand the hidden power behind this universe and our existence in it through dialogue and debate is a luxury for few people who are indulging in it for thousands of years with no result except disaster. Nabi SA cautioned us that we should beware of unnecessary questions, discussion and arguments lest we are destroyed like the people before us (Riyaz Us Saliheen 1782).
When Allah made intention to start His creation the first thing to appear was a Nebula (an atom?), which when broke asunder, various celestial objects were formed and then He made all living things with water (Ch21 V30). One of the objectives of the Hedron experiment by CERN in Swiss Alps was to find the Boson particle which gave mass to the electronic elements generated in the Big Bang that led to the formation of all things, big and small, from Planetary Systems to Viruses.
Because of sundering of the nebula immense fire and heat was generated and from this fire “Narus Sumoom” was created the Satan (Ch15 V27). This happened much before the creation of Adam. Therefore Satan is an earlier creation than Adam and this was the first creation that was made conscious of its Creator, Invisible but still conscious and active. Satan emerged from the fire and dissipated into air like the signals from computing element of silicon chip, which are not seen but are recognized through their manifestations on the monitor or by the action of the objects they are supposed to bring into action.
As Satan was created from fire its nature is rage, revenge and destruction. Restraint contemplation and obedience is not in its fiber which is the hallmark of angels which were created much later from Noor (light). Allah made the other creations and all these creations recognized Him. These were silent spectator of the spectacles which Allah had created. Allah wanted to create someone who could recognize Him incognito and appreciate His creative genius, thank him for the gift of life and provisions to sustain it, and take care of himself and his fellow being and the universe in the same thoughtful and caring manner in which He had designed it, created it and is sustaining it. So He created man, Adam, as His vicegerent.
Satan being the oldest creation was expecting this crown of vicegerency to be placed on its head because of his seniority. Therefore he refused to be subservient to Adam by refusing to prostrate before Adam (Ch15 V26-40). Instead, he challenged God to give him respite to beguile Adam and his progeny till the end of time to prove that Adam and His progeny would swerve in its responsibilities. Allah permitted it (Ch17 V61-65). He ordered Adam, Eve and Satan to go down and live on earth to start the test of their wits against each other in accordance with the rules that He will send through His messengers from time to time (Ch2 V38-39). One may read my article “Religion and Science Can Come Together to Reconcile Creation with Evolution” (Pakistan Link April 30, 2010) to understand how they descended to earth from their ethereal and celestial abode.
One of the four elements which constitute the being of man is fire from which came Satan. The other three being earth, air and water. Alluding to this fact Nabi SA said: Satan is in your being (the fiery element in us) and it circulates with your blood creating evil thoughts in you (Riyaz Us Saliheen 1849). Because of this fiery element circulating in his blood, man has acquired the quality of anger, hatred, greed, lust, jealousy etc. Through the power of insinuation Satan tries to excite these baser instincts in us and brings about disturbance in our lives and the society we live in. When people flouted the values of life presented to them by the Messengers and the society watched these values being violated and even encouraged it under various excuses, then the whole society was in chaos in which the innocent and the believer also suffered. The weak suffered because of their vulnerability and the faithful suffered because of their morality which prevents them from paying back to their tormentors in the same coin.
The messengers were sent to warn us against beguilement of Satan and to save us from it through moral principles and practices (Ch7 V26 onwards). Many supplications that were taught to us to ward off these insinuations of Satan were positive suggestions to give hope to the truly conscious believer in Allah. If we are not finding these supplications effective in comforting us it is because we chant these supplications but do not live by the moral principles given to us.
God is not helpless to stop the transgressors and help the aggrieved, but this is not his way, He wants people to follow the way of their choice and be responsible and culpable for it. He wants us to use our senses, our intellect and our knowledge to understand good from bad, wrong from right, vice from virtue (Ch91 V8-10). When we fail to exercise our freedom in the right way and follow the insinuations of Satan then we suffer because of our own failure and not because of the failure of God to guide us or His weakness to protect us. We are destroyed after we reach the tipping point, not because of the wrath of God but because of our own follies (Ch43 V36-39). The time when we will be made to face the consequences of our evil deeds is known only to God. The good that we enjoy in the meantime is the mercy of Allah which gives us a chance to redeem (Ch16 V61), and the hardship we face is the consequence of our own misdeeds (Ch4 V79). We are all hostage to our own deeds says Allah (Ch74 V38). But believers blame Satan and non-believers blame Allah for all the misfortunes that befall us because of our flawed understanding of religion.
As Allah has taken the responsibility to keep His sincere servants away from satanical insinuations Satan assaults the virtuous people the most (Ch18 V61-64) to prove his point that man is unfit for the role of vicegerency. The wicked need no systematic assault from Satan as they succumb to its suggestion easily and follow him hoping that they are doing the right thing till they reach the cliff of their destruction in vain (Ch43 V36-39).