The Disbelief of Iblis and a Ranking of the Prophets, Angels, and Humankind

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: I am wondering after reading verses in the Quran about Iblees (Satan), if he is a disbeliever (i.e. he will abide in hell forever) my question is: (1) What did he actually disbelieve in; he believes in Allah and messengarship, no? (2) Is Adam (alayhi atyab as-salaam) and other humans better than the angels and jinn? Is that what he “knew” but refused to “accept/believe”? (3) Are Iblees’s (Satan’s) followers from the devils also disbelievers who will abide in hell forever?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

Thank you for your questions.

1. Allah Most High states in the Qur’an, “And when We said to the angels, ‘Bow yourselves to Adam’; so they bowed themselves, save Iblis; he refused, and waxed proud, and so he became one of the unbelievers.” (2:34)
This verse clearly demonstrates thet Iblis is a disbeliever. However, the scholars of Ahl al-Sunna differed regarding the exact reason for Iblis’ disbelief while agreeing that it was not merely due to his refusal to bow to Adam (Allah bless him):

(a) Some stated that he was in fact never a true believer but a hypocrite as the Qur’anic verse can be translated as, “he was one of the unbelievers”, referring to the past tense. As such, the disbelief of Iblis was already present prior to his refusal to bow to Adam (Allah bless him) and Allah Most High exposed his disbelief to the angels through this incident.

(b) The majority stated that he in fact became a disbeliever after his refusal to bow. This was not due to the act of not bowing as the committal of a sin is not alone sufficient to deem someone a disbeliever, but rather because he knowingly derided Allah’s command and the wisdom it entailed by stating, “Shall I bow myself unto one You have created of clay?” (17:61) Such clear derision of Allah’s command was an act of disbelief.

[Alusi, Ruh al-Ma`ani; Qurtubi, Tafsir Ayat al-Ahkam]

2. Some scholars stated that the angels are better than all but our Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). However, the sounder position according to the scholars of verification is that:

  • Our Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the best of creation,
  • then Ibrahim, then Musa, then `Isa, then Nuh (Allah bless tham all),
  • then the rest of the Messengers,
  • then the non-Messenger Prophets,
  • then Gibril, then Israfil, then Mika`il, then `Izra’il,
  • and then normal human beings such as Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, and `Ali, and
  • then the mass of the angels.

[Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid; Sawi, Sharh al-Jawhara]

Whether or not Iblis knew the superiority of Adam (Allah bless him) or not, he clearly rejected the command of Allah Most High due to his arrogance. Due to his derision, he disbelieved, as mentioned previously.

3. Yes. As the Qur’an states, “Those of them that follow you, I shall assuredly fill Hell with all of you.” (7:15) The devils who follow Iblis are clearly the greatest of his followers.


Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani