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Shaytaan, Satan, Iblis

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    Shaytaan, Satan, Iblis

    They say him and his companions are caged and locked up during the month of Ramadan. Is there any truth to that statement?

    Jitna Diya Sarkar Nay Mujko, Itni Meri Auqat Nahi, Yeh Saab Tumhara Karam Hai Aqa, Mujh Mein Aisi Koi Baat Nahin.

    Love happens once . . .
    Rabul MashriqaiN wal MaghribaiN

    Sahih Bukhari

    Volume 3, Book 31, Number 123:
    Narrated Abu Huraira:

    Allah's Apostle said, "When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained."


      Jazak'Allah Saadia

      Jitna Diya Sarkar Nay Mujko, Itni Meri Auqat Nahi, Yeh Saab Tumhara Karam Hai Aqa, Mujh Mein Aisi Koi Baat Nahin.

      Love happens once . . .
      Rabul MashriqaiN wal MaghribaiN



        Praise be to Allaah.

        Not all shayateen are chained. Only the leaders or the strong ones are chained, which means they could not do in Ramadan the things they used to do throughout the year. Let it also be known to you that alqareen, who is the resident shaytan, never leaves you no matter where you go. Also there is the evil within every one of us. Therefor, all of these factors promote the evil which we see during Ramadan, yet it is certainly less than outside Ramadan.

        [This message has been edited by Sadiaa (edited November 17, 2001).]


          Dear Brothers and Sisters,
          Asslamu Alikum,

          Following write-up may help us all to understand the concept of "Shaitan" or "Satan": A belief that plays an important role in Islamic and other systems is the belief in Satan, the source of evil, disorder, confusion and rebellion. But many people, including religious ones have great difficulty with this concept. Some regard it as a fantasy, others as a symbol, some as a descriptive device or a principle or a mental construct, and still others as a physical entity though a more subtle one, while others regard it as a being in another level of reality, in a psychological or spiritual world. Some suppose it refers to an aspect of things or to a state or condition. Some claim to have seen this being and attribute terrifying powers to it, while others dismiss such claims as hallucinations. Some worship it and others regard it as a superstition. This confusion is itself attributed to Satan.

          Satan is described in the Quran by the following verses :-

          "And when thy Lord said unto the angels : Lo! I am about to place a Vicegerent on earth, they said : Wilt Thou place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Thy praise and sanctify Thee? He said : Surely I know that which you know not.

          " And He taught Adam all the Names, then showed them to the angels, saying : Inform me of the names of these, if you possess truth.

          "They said: Be glorified! We have no knowledge save that which Thou hast taught us. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Knower, Wise.

          "He said : O Adam! Inform them of heir names, and when he had informed them their names, He said : Did I not tell you that I know the secret of the heavens and the earth? And I know that which you disclose and that which you hide.

          " And when We said to the angels: Prostrate yourselves before Adam, they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. He demurred through pride, and so became a rejecter.

          " And We said: O Adam! Dwell you and your wife in the Garden, and eat freely of the fruit thereof where you will; but come not nigh to this tree lest you become wrongdoers.

          " But Satan caused them to deflect therefrom and expelled them from the happy state in which they were; and We said: Fall down one of you a foe to the other! There shall be for you on earth a habitation and provision for a time.

          " Then Adam received from his Lord words of revelation, and He relented towards him. Lo! He is the Relenting, the Merciful. We said: Go down all of you, from hence; but verily there comes unto you from Me a guidance; and whoso follows My Guidance, there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.

          " But they who disbelieve, and deny Our revelations, such are rightful owners of the Fire. They will abide therein." 2: 30-39

          "And when We said unto the angels: Fall prostrate before Adam, they fell prostrate, all save Iblis: he refused. Therefore We said: O Adam! This is an enemy unto you and unto your wife, so let him not drive you both out of the Garden so that you come to toil. It is vouchsafed unto you that you hunger not therein nor art naked. And thou thirstest not therein nor art exposed to the sun's heat. But the Devil whispered to him, saying: O Adam! Shall I show you the tree of immortality and power that wastes not away? Then they both ate thereof, so that their shame became apparent unto them, and they began to hide by heaping on themselves some of the leaves of the Garden. And Adam disobeyed his Lord, so went astray." 20:116-121

          "Never sent We a Messenger or a Prophet before thee but when he recited the message Satan proposed opposition in respect of that which he recited. But Allah abolishes that which Satan proposes. Then Allah establishes His revelations. Allah is knower wise; that He may make that which the devil proposes a temptation for those in whose hearts is a disease, and those whose hearts are hardened - Lo! the evil doers are in open schism." 22:52-53

          "Verily We created man of potter's clay of black mud altered. And the jinn We did create afore time of essential fire. And remember when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am creating a mortal out of potter's clay of black mud altered. So when I have made him and have breathed into him of My Spirit, do you fall down, prostrating yourselves unto him. So the angels fell prostrate, all of them together, save Iblis. He refused to be among the prostrate. He said: O Iblis! What ails you that you are not among the prostrate? He said: Why should I prostrate myself unto a mortal whom Thou hast made of potter's clay of black mud altered? He said: Then go thou forth from hence, for verily thou art an outcast. And Lo! the curse shall be upon you till the Day of Judgment. He said: My Lord , because Thou hast sent me astray, I verily shall adorn the path of error for them in the earth, and shall mislead them everyone, save such of them as are Thy perfect devoted slaves. He said: This is the right course incumbent upon Me. lo! as for My slaves, thou hast no power over any of them save such of the froward as follow thee." 15: 26-42 also 38:72-86

          These verses can hardly be interpreted literally, that is, in a secular, commercial or external material or scientific language. They nevertheless represent a psychological truth. They are literal truths in a religious language. They are like a formula, which refer to an inner experience.

          Evil is caused by three factors - the existence of the Forbidden Tree in Paradise, the jealousy, pride and rebellion of Satan, and the human proneness to temptation, suggestibility and gullibility. Human beings were created weak (4:28 ) and they are tempted only because of a disease in their own heart (14:22 and 22:53). Despite the knowledge that man would make mischief in the world, Allah still regarded it good, not only to create man, but to make him a vicegerent. Satan became jealous because of this, and he was given freedom to tempt man. It seems that the Fall was pre-ordained. How is this to be reconciled with the idea that man was made perfect? The solution to this apparent contradiction lies in supposing that man was perfect in so far as his potentialities were concerned but that the actualisation of these required a period of education in the world. And how was it possible for Satan to rebel unless this possibility is built into him, and why was there a Forbidden Tree that produced such adverse effects? No good can arise without the possibility of evil. The perfection of man includes the ability of making choices and this would have been impossible if there were no alternatives. The jealousy, rebellion and desire to tempt and deceive in Satan are clearly connected with the arising of man and his ability to choose.

          In order to understand the concept of Satan, the first thing that we must notice is the distinction between Heaven and Earth. This is equivalent to a distinction between the psychological and the physical, the world of inner ideas and feelings and the world of outer sensations, or between what is inherent in us and what has been acquired from our experiences in the world. It refers to the difference between what is perfect and harmonious and that which is limited and contradictory. It also refers to the distinction between this planet, and particularly the world of human life, and the rest of the Universe which is not a world given to our senses, but an idea in our minds. In so far as human beings interact not only physically but also mentally there is a Collective Mind, conscious, subconscious and unconscious. It is not the case that they produce such a Collective Mind, but rather that they are a product of it because every human being is formed not only by his genes but also by his cultural environment. The idea that the Mental world is unreal while the physical is real must be dismissed.

          The Arabic word for Satan is Shaitan, which is connected with the verb shatana meaning 'to distant or far away'. Satan, therefore, is something that takes us away from Allah who is Unity. He causes division, separation and differentiation and, therefore, conflict and disharmony. Primarily it is a disintegration of consciousness. This results in the corresponding division of the mind and experience into separate "complexes" as well as social divisions into groups, classes and nations and into territorial divisions and disharmony with the physical environment. A person could be represented by a pyramid H where the apex L1, is his centre of integration controlling several centres at a lower level L2, each of which controls several other centres at a still lower level L3, and so on. The Fall of man owing to the temptations of Satan can then be represented as the Fall of consciousness to lower levels L2, L3, L4, L5, L6, L7. This pyramid can be regarded as a section of a Circle representing Reality R, the centre of which is Allah. In fact, it contains several concentric circles that represent the 7 heavens. The apex of the pyramid coincides with the Absolute Centre of the Circle. The Fall of man, therefore, also takes him away from the Absolute Centre. In actual fact, of course, all things in the Universe are inter-connected and there is Unity and Harmony. The Fall of man is, therefore, a fall into Illusion.

          Shaitan, the Devil, also called Iblis in the Quran, is not as some people have supposed, the anti-thesis to Allah. There is no Dualism in Islam. Satan is the anti-thesis to the Prophet. Satan is a creation of Allah and has been permitted by Allah to tempt man. The meaning of his name is rebellion, perversity, opposition, mischief, deception, lies, division, separation, illusion, or as the Hindus have it, he is the source of Maya. He, therefore, represents self-deception, rationalisation, repression, distortion, exaggeration, perversion, fantasy, delusion, hallucination, wishful thinking, habituation, prejudice, projection of blame, introjection of merit, displacement, substitution, temptation, addiction, obsessions, hysteria and all the other mechanisms of the mind, discovered by psychologists, which obstruct objective perception, thinking and behaviour. The distinction between the Prophet and Satan is the distinction between objectivity and subjectivity. In so far as objective behaviour is beneficial to man, Satan is an adversary to man. The growth of man, like that of muscles, requires exercise against an opposition that must be overcome. It is not, therefore, by accident that life is a struggle. But this struggle is seen differently from the way it is seen in the Scientific Theory of Evolution, which has no explanation why there should be a struggle. There can be no struggle if there is no inherent purpose.

          Objectively speaking, there is only one conflict both in the psychological and the social sphere. It is between truth, goodness, beauty and usefulness on the one hand and falsehood, evil, ugliness and harmfulness on the other. A person may be judged according to the degree to which he aligns himself and aids one or the other. All other conflicts are either futile or part of this conflict.

          It should not be supposed that Satan is only a subjective force. He should not be regarded merely as a symbol; nor merely the name given to certain subjective experiences. He is an objective force in the sense that these processes can be observed within ourselves, they are found in other people where they are identical, repeatable and transferable. All these mechanisms exist. They flow from a single source, the ego. It obstructs the capacity to adjust to reality. The Ego is not inherent in man but acquired because of life in the world and identification with the objects of experience. It also exists in groups and communities quite independently of the individuals in it. Groups often behave in a manner in which none of the individuals would have behaved separately. People infect each other with them, and the disease assumes epidemic proportions. There have been periods in history when groups and entire communities appear to have suddenly gone crazy in that they have indulged in persecution, slaughter, destruction and chaos for no rational reason. Movements such as the Inquisition, Nazism, the Cultural Revolution in China, the Assassin and Thugi movements, and various forms of racial and ethnic hatreds which suddenly erupt into persecution after many years of peaceful existence, are cases in point. It is also well known that many movements begun with the best of intentions have degenerated into evil. It is unlikely that humanity will be able to control its own affairs until the reality of Satan in taken seriously. A new concept, that of a 'psychon' is probably needed to explain certain social phenomena. These are psychological entities, similar to bacteria in the biological world. They consist of bundles of inter-related ideas that are capable of multiplication, undergoing variation and adaptation, induction, transference and infection, divisions and recombination under suitable conditions. They often produce epidemics.

          Satan is said to be a Jinn, a creature made of essential Fire, a subtler substance than earth, perhaps sub-atomic in nature, or the state of matter known as plasma. However, 'fire' is one of the four classical elements (not to be confused with the elements of chemistry), the others being air, water and earth of which all things were regarded as being composed. Since this substance is also within man, then interaction between man and Satan is possible. He and his assistants could be experienced, and could induce certain experiences in man and manipulate the weaknesses through the above mentioned mechanisms. Such experiences have certainly been affirmed by many people. Even if these experiences are purely subjective, which is doubtful since they are repeatable, there is no reason to deny that they are real. They certainly produce real effects. The Prophet is reported to have said that the devil flows through the veins of man. The term 'devil' is also used to refer to human beings in whom these mechanisms are dominant and who create mischief, disorder, tyranny and conflict in the world by manipulating these mechanisms in people. They are the agents of Satan. That such people exist is undeniable.

          Illusion exists. It is real, though its contents do not correspond to reality. The existence of illusion implies that there is a distinction between reality and the experience of it, between an external world and the inner mental representation of it, the objective and the subjective world. The existence of this distinction, a common experience for everyone, must be explained. It would not be possible for people to disagree if it did not exist.

          Satan existed in Paradise before Adam. There was no consciousness of contradictions before the coming of man. Everything obeyed its own nature. The evil is caused not so much by Satan, who does what he must according to his nature, but man because he obeys Satan.

          "And Satan said when the matter had been decided: Lo! Allah promised you a promise of truth; and I promised you, then failed you. And I had no power over you save that I called you and you obeyed me. So blame not me, but blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me." 14:22

          "Whatever of good befalls you, O man, it is from Allah, and whatever of ill befalls you it is from yourselves." 4:79

          "They pray to none else than Satan, a rebel whom Allah cursed, and he ( Satan ) said: Surely I will take of Thy bondmen an appointed portion, and surely I will lead them astray, and surely I will arouse desires in them, and surely I will command them and they will cut the cattle's ears, and surely I will command them and they will change Allah's creation. Whoso chooses Satan for his patron instead of Allah is verily a loser and his loss is manifest." 4:117-119

          Man creates an artificial world. The distinction between good and evil does not exist in the Universe, but only in man. That which comes from his inherent nature is good, and that which comes from his subjectivity is evil. The capacity for forming a subjective world of illusion comes from his capacity to form concepts and to think. The very faculty which gave man creativity, initiative and responsibility - the vicegerency - gave him the freedom not only to do good but also to do evil. The two go together, and Allah considered the risk that this involved worth taking. The coming of man implies more than merely the operation of mechanical forces. This remains a fact however we chose to formulate it. But we must distinguish between objective and subjective good and evil. Things are subjectively judged good or evil according to man's likes and dislikes, and he acts accordingly. This may not be the same thing as that which actually benefit or harm him or is beneficial or harmful from a global point of view. In nature that which malfunctions is destroyed, thereby making available the material for new constructions. Though the destructive process may be regarded as evil by the entity experiencing it, it is not so from a cosmic point of view. Everything created by Allah is good. But the same forces that are involved in either good or evil. The notion of 'good' is relative to our subjective ideas about values which are evil.

          "Whatever of good befalls thee ( O Man) it is from Allah, and whatever of ill befalls thee, it is from thyself." 4:79

          "Thus have We appointed unto every Prophet an adversary - devils of human kind and jinn who inspire in one another plausible discourse through guile." 6:113

          "Never sent We a messenger or a Prophet before thee but when He recited the message Satan proposed opposition in respect of that which he recited. But Allah abolishes that which Satan proposes. Then Allah establishes His revelations. Allah is Knower, Wise, that He may make that which the devil proposes a temptation for those in whose heart is a disease, and those whose hearts are hardened - Lo! the evil-doers are in open schism." 22:52-53

          "And the messenger said: O my Lord! Lo! Mine own folk make this Quran of no account. Even so have We appointed unto every Prophet an opponent from among the guilty; but Allah suffices for a Guide and Helper. " 25: 30-31

          Understanding the concept of Satan depends on how the nature of experience and Reality are understood.

          1. The difference between Religion and science lies in this that religion is interested in inner psychological rather than external material phenomena, in values and meanings rather than only in facts, and in human adjustment to the world rather than in an impersonal description of it. It is interested in purpose and the notions of good and evil which are connected with it. It would, therefore, appear to be futile to try to explain the concept of Satan physically in a scientific manner.

          2. The Quran does not make a distinction between matter and mind. There are only phenomena which may have various degrees of inertia (or materiality), different kinds of behaviour and sensitivities. It is not only things given to the senses which are real. Relationships, changes, motions, processes, forces, patterns, order, feelings, thoughts, images are also real.

          3. It is now well known that there is more to reality than we experience or are conscious of. Our sense organs have a range much smaller than the range of the real forces in the universe. And this range differs in different people and also in the same person at different times.

          4. Information comes through the sense organs, passes via the nerves into the brain where it is interpreted and some of it presented to consciousness. The nerves are not independent of the body through which they pass and are affected by physiological and chemical processes. What we perceive could, therefore, be the result of things affecting the sense organs, or the body or the brain, or even consciousness directly. Though people use the word "objective" to refer to things which we perceive through the sense organs and dismiss other experiences as "subjective" because they are connected with physiological processes within us or with psychological processes in the brain, this is not always justifiable. Firstly, it is perfectly possible that external events can produce direct affects on our bodies and brains and give us data directly. We may, of course, interpret these differently. Secondly, the physiological and brain processes are also real in themselves and cannot be distinguished in this respect from those occurring in the sense organs. There is no way in which we can know an object apart from its effects on us. Thirdly, if the same processes occur in all or many people under the same circumstances, then they must be regarded as objective. Each corroborates the others.

          5. Though we need data, we also have to interpret these and we organise it by conceptualisation. This usually depends on the nature, purpose and comprehensive of our framework of reference. We construct a great number of concepts and organize these into and ideas, and these do not represent things seen by the senses. This applies to most of the concepts in science, philosophy, art, technology, politics and commerce and religion. We can all see a tree, but does a forest or treeness exist? Surely they must do since a forest has its own life which governs the arising of trees in it, and without treeness existing in the genetic material trees could not be reproduced. But the seeds or genes in them are not trees.

          6. The framework of reference is provided (a) partly by our own personal experiences which depend on inner psychological processes, motives urges, instincts etc. (b) partly by the society and culture we live in, and (c) partly by the cosmic processes going on around us, that is, the forces, light, heat, magnetic fields, and events such as the motion of the sun and moon, the cycles such the changes of the seasons and the alternations of day and night.

          7. We have to live in and adjust to the world and reality in general, and to do so with ever increasing ability. Faculties, ideas, motives and actions which facilitate this better are good, acceptable and survive and those which do not are discarded. Some are better or more comprehensive than others. This is the ultimate objective test of an idea.

          We think in terms of extension, duration, qualities, relation, forces, order, conditions, principles and individualities. Experiences do not have to be sensory or about external things, and there is no reason for regarding only material things as real. Sensations, feelings and thought are also experiences. Beauty and love, for instance, are not objects, but they are certainly experienced. Nature and "I" are also experiences. It is perfectly legitimate to describe a man differently in Medicine, Economics, Anthropology or Literature, Science is only a recent development. The data it seeks, the way these are interpreted and systematised is not the only possible way of doing this. It keeps changing and it may be replaced.

          We have to distinguish between the phenomena itself, the experience of it, the psychological interpretation of it, the conceptualisation and the explanations. The experience of the colour, red, for instance, is a psychological interpretation of an electromagnetic phenomenon of a particular frequency. Both differ from the word red as used in thinking and conversation. This colour will have a different significance for different people according to the context of their experiences. It may, for instance, indicate to a chemist that a particular substance is present. We explain things by forming relationships and this depends on the system of ideas into which the experience is fitted. This may change as the system changes. We may discover that it fits better into quite a different system, that we had previously misinterpreted it. Illusions, delusions and hallucinations refer to such misinterpretations. In fact, we do not know this until after a change of interpretation has taken place. Until then they are taken as true. We may dismiss the experiences of other people as illusions, delusions or hallucinations because (a) they do not accord with ours, (b) or with that of the majority (c) or because it disables people in dealing with life in the environment. In fact we cannot always judge this since our opinions, too, may be based on illusions etc. The fact is that the progress of mankind depends on the minority who have extra-ordinary experiences, motives and actions (inner, inter-active or outer ), be they Prophets, scientists, artists, organisers or inventors. It is they who provide the framework by which later others interpret their experiences.

          The world consists of several levels - we have the world of objects, of molecules, of electrons, of forces and so on. There are interactions at each level and the phenomena at a higher level generally control those at a lower. The processes in the mind are due to electronic, electromagnetic and perhaps other subtler phenomena occurring at a sub-quantum level. Religion uses the word 'spirit' to refer to the most fundamental force. There are a great number of very complex phenomena, structures, patterns at each level which we can name, but which few experience directly and which may be impossible to describe in physical terms or in a language designed for common experiences only. The psychological interpretation of a phenomena may also differ between people according to the total psychological context in which it appears, that is, other experiences, culture, environment and systems of ideas, though in so far as all human beings are alike there is a basic similarity between them. The notion of Satan is one of these.

          As it is possible to think of man as having three levels, a physical (as given to the senses), a mental and a spiritual, then concept may be similarly divided:- they could refer to (a) a sensory experience, or (b) to a useful explanatory idea, or (c) to something which exists in consciousness.

          The notion of 'Satan' refers to the fact that the capacity for correct experience, interpretation, motivation, interactions and adjustment to reality can be and often are, distorted. As this is something common to all human beings, it is an objective phenomena. Satan can be regarded as an entity existing in the Collective Consciousness.

          The fact is that human beings do possess faculties for correct perception, motivation and action by reason of which they have achieved great things. The existence of these and still greater potentialities are attributed to Allah. These potentialities lie dormant in the majority of people and manifest themselves only occasionally even in most of the great men. But human beings also display a great amount of stupidity, destructiveness, self destruction, cruelty, vice, perversions, depravity and madness.

          This contradiction must be explained. Satan may be regarded as a hypothesis to do just this. This does not necessarily mean that Satan is a person (depending on what is meant), but rather a principle, force or process, but one which acts on our psyche. As such it is an entity with a mind. A person, or creature in which evil characteristics dominate are also called devils. On the other hand many people have had experiences which they interpret as Satan or his assistants or his influences. Since Satan can take many forms, we must presume that the name does not refer to a particular shape but to a particular kind of experience or interaction. The name is not merely a tag but has a meaning.

          The Universe shows order, harmony, construction and development as well as chaos, destruction and degeneration. A new construction may not be in harmony with the overall System of things; and every new construction requires destruction of something else. Construction and Destruction are not necessarily good or evil in themselves but only with reference to a Totality. If the notion of Allah refers to truth, goodness and beauty then we also need a notion for falsehood, evil, and ugliness, which are also common experiences. We have to explain the existence of cooperation, fellow-feeling, creativity, order and progress in human affairs, as well as the sudden occurrence of madness, insurrection, destructiveness, hatred and persecution, mass hysteria, the sudden collapse of order and degeneration. The causes of this lie in the psychological field. It is not certain whether the notion of Satan refers to the whole Universe or only to the human world. The Quran only refers to Satan in connection with man. The Universe itself is seen as a perfect harmony. Though Astronomers do see some chaos in it, it must be presumed that these events, too, have causes and are not unlawful.

          Whenever there is a purpose then there is also a distinction between Good and Evil. The one fulfils the purpose and the other obstructs or contradicts it. Conversely, when there is distinction between Good and Evil, then there is a purpose. A purpose implies that something is done to achieve a condition which does not exist. It must, therefore, be done against a resistance. The notion of Satan explain this.


            Originally posted by Sadiaa:

            Praise be to Allaah.

            Not all shayateen are chained. Only the leaders or the strong ones are chained, which means they could not do in Ramadan the things they used to do throughout the year. Let it also be known to you that alqareen, who is the resident shaytan, never leaves you no matter where you go. Also there is the evil within every one of us. Therefor, all of these factors promote the evil which we see during Ramadan, yet it is certainly less than outside Ramadan.

            [This message has been edited by Sadiaa (edited November 17, 2001).]
            Makes some sense. Could human Free will have anything to do with this?
            This al-qareen you speak of they are jinns and are our evil counterpart right?

            Jitna Diya Sarkar Nay Mujko, Itni Meri Auqat Nahi, Yeh Saab Tumhara Karam Hai Aqa, Mujh Mein Aisi Koi Baat Nahin.

            Love happens once . . .
            Rabul MashriqaiN wal MaghribaiN