Answered by Ustadha Rahma Ahmed
Question: As it can be read in the Qur’an, Allah commands the angels to prostrate to Adam. However Iblis does not. And it clearly states that Iblis is from the Jinn. So why is Iblis held accountable for not prostrating when clearly the command is for Angels? Also why is Iblis blaming Allah to leading him astray?
Answer: As salaamu ’alaykum wa rahmat Ullahi wa barakatuhu
Pray this reaches you in a best state of faith and health.
وَإِذۡ قُلۡنَا لِلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَةِ ٱسۡجُدُواْ لِأَدَمَ فَسَجَدُوٓاْ إِلَّآ إِبۡلِيسَ أَبَىٰ وَٱسۡتَكۡبَرَ وَكَانَ مِنَ ٱلۡكَـٰفِرِينَ
”And when We said unto the angels: Prostrate yourselves before Adam, they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. He demurred through pride, and so became a disbeliever.”
This verse is mentioned in chapter al-Baqarah and it’s meaning could be found in many other chapters in the Holy Quran. Allah, Most High, commands the angels to all bow down to prophet Adam, peace be upon our messenger and upon him, but Iblis refuses.
Reading this section would make us think that Iblis is from the angels. But in chapter ”al-Kahf” [The cave] we can read:
وَإِذۡ قُلۡنَا لِلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَةِ ٱسۡجُدُواْ لِأَدَمَ فَسَجَدُوٓاْ إِلَّآ إِبۡلِيسَ كَانَ مِنَ ٱلۡجِنِّ
”And (remember) when We said unto the angels: Fall prostrate before Adam, and they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. He was of the jinn..”
According to the major opinion of our scholars Iblis is from the jinn and created from fire. He however was amongst the foremost of the jinn in worship and he was elevated to the heavens to live amongst the angels by the will and wisdom of Allah, Most High. This high position was withdrawn after he showed arrogance, jealousy and disobedience to his Lord, and was thrown down upon the earth in utter humiliation and banishment. He no longer deserved to be in the blessed gatherings of the angels.
In the arabic language there is a grammatical rule (taghlib) that stipulates that when you adress a group you adress them by the majority. For example, if you are addressing a group of doctors and there is a nurse amongst them you would adress them as the doctors and it would include the nurse. This rule includes the minority into the majority. This rule does not exist in english. In translation it is lost. The scholars of tafsir teaches us that the command to prostrate was for the ones present, which were the angels and Iblis.
Iblis is from the jinn and like mankind the jinn has free will. Because of his arrogance and pride he refused to obey the command of his Lord. The holy prophet (sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
لا يدخل الجنة من كان في قلبه مثقال حبة خردل من كبر
Anyone who possesses an atom’s weight of pride in his heart will not enter Paradise.””
قَالَ فَبِمَآ أَغۡوَيۡتَنِى لَأَقۡعُدَنَّ لَهُمۡ صِرَٲطَكَ ٱلۡمُسۡتَقِيمَ
”Now, because Thou hast sent me astray, verily I shall lurk in ambush for them on Your straight path.”
Allah, Most High, created Iblis and gave him the ability to choose right from wrong. Allah in pre-eternity knew and, based on His knowledge, willed that Iblis would be the way he would. Allah decreed the actions of Iblis as per His pre-eternal knowledge of Iblis’ choices. Iblis chose to be guided or to go astray and was not forced by any means. Here, Iblis, blames Allah, Most High, for the choices he himself made with his free will. It shows his bad conduct and evil inner. Allah, Most High, guides to the straight path and He does not lead astray.
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani