How Did Iblis Know That There Would Be a Day of Resurrection?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaikum. I was going through Surat A’raf where there’s an ayah: [Satan] said, “Reprieve me until the Day they are resurrected.” [Allah] said, “Indeed, you are of those reprieved.” [7:14-15]. How did Iblis know that there would be a day of resurrection at that time?

Answer: In the Name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate

Thank you for your question. May Allah grant you the best of states and guide you to what is pleasing to Him.

The short answer to your question is, yes, the beings created before man, e.g. angels and jinn, had knowledge of the Final Resurrection.

The Qur’an, while being the ultimate and perfected guidance for man, does not delineate every detail of information in the Book. Allah, in his supreme Wisdom has revealed to us in the Qur’an the most significant and imperative knowledge man needs in order to fulfill his role on earth. Further clarification was given by the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him), his Companions and subsequent scholars, and interpretations were offered by those qualified.

We should also note that many of the explanations given in the books of Tafsir, including the early works, comprise of numerous details gleaned from Judeo-Christian traditions, and therefore do not always represent authentic positions in Islamic scholarship.

Satan’s Respite

When Satan asked for reprieve until the Day of Resurrection it was a calculating attempt to escape death. Out of dislike for death, and his immeasurable arrogance, Satan intended by the request to be given respite until the second blow of the trumpet, thereby attaining eternal life and permanency in both worlds. This is because it was well known [to all of the created beings] that upon the first blow of the trumpet everyone will die, and upon the second blow, all will be resurrected. By specifically asking for respite until the day they will be Resurrected (Ila yawm yub’athun), he was essentially trying to bypass the death that all men and jinn will taste upon the first blow of the trumpet!

However, Allah the All-Knowing, replies with the specific words “Be thou amongst those who have respite (min al-mundharin)”, which through other supporting verses in the Quran is well understood as referring specifically to the first blow of the trumpet when all men and jinn will die, thereby thwarting Satan’s ruse and giving him no escape from the inevitable taste of death of this world and the everlasting torment of Hell.

[Hashiyat al-Khaluti ‘ala Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Tafsir al-Wasit, Ma’ani al-Quran li al-Zajjaj, Safwat al-Tafasir]

According to this explanation, we can see that not only did Iblis have knowledge of the Day of Resurrection, but also the details of the Final Hour such as the first and second blow of the trumpets.

This leads us to ask the question, when were the jinns created?

Created Beings

Allah, Exalted is He, tells us in Surat al-Hijr, verse 26 -27,

“We created man from sounding clay, from mud molded in shape; and the Jinn race, We had created before, from the fire of a scorching wind.”

The words “created before” here mean, created before the creation of Adam [Tafsir al-Jalalayn]

Accordingly, al-Tabari relates in his Tafsir from Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them both), that,

“The first to inhabit the earth were the jinn. They spread corruption thereon and shed blood, and killed each other. So Allah sent Iblis against them with an army of angels, and Iblis and those with him killed them, pursuing them as far as the islands of the oceans and the summits of the mountains.”

And he also narrates from al Rabi‘ ibn Anas that,

“Allah created the angels on Wednesday, and He created the jinn on Thursday, and He created Adam on Friday. And some of the jinn disbelieved, so the angels would descend to earth and battle with them. There was bloodshed and corruption on earth.” [Al Tabari]

At the same time, al-Tabari also provides counter-arguments that hold that jinns did not proceed men in creation. While there is some discussion on the topic on which was created first, it does not negate the fact that Iblis knew about the Day of Judgement and that his kind will be held to account on the Day of Judgement.

Legal Responsibility:

Contrary to angels, jinn and man have been given a certain amount of free will and therefore have legal responsibility in this life, and will be held to account on the Day of Judgement. This is explained in Surah al-Ahqaf 29-32:

“And when We inclined toward thee (Muhammad) certain of the Jinn who wished to hear the Qur’an, and when they were in its presence, said: Give ear! and, when it was finished, turned back to their people, warning. They said: O our people! Lo! we have heard a Scripture which hath been revealed after Moses, confirming that which was before it, guiding unto the truth and a right road. O our people! respond to Allah’s summoner and believe in Him. He will forgive you your sins and deliver you from a painful doom. And whoso respondeth not to Allah’s summoner he can not frustrate (Allah’s plan) on earth, and ye (can find) no protecting friends instead of Him. Such are in error manifest.’ (Al-Ahqaf: 29-32)

And in Surah al-A’raf 179, Allah tells us,

“Many are the Jinn and men We have made for Hell.”

To summarize, we can conclude from the above information that the jinn were created beings before Adam, and like man, they are legally responsible beings. Along with men and angels, jinns have always possessed the knowledge that there will be a Day of Resurrection. Like men, they will either be in the eternal Garden or Fire.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir

[1] Nawawi, M, Riyaad as Saliheen, Mu’assasah al Risalah, annoted by Shuayb Anaut, p. 29

[2] The Holy Quran, [13:11]

[3] Nawawi, M, [Hadith: 19] 40 Hadith al Nawawi, Dar al Minhaj, p 71.

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007 he travelled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim. Sciences studied include: grammar and morphology, theology, and legal methodology, with my main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh, completing the entire Hadrami curriculum. His teachers include Mufti Muhammad Ba’Oudan, Habib Ali Mashhur Bin Hafiz, Mufti Muhammad Ali al-Khatib, Habib Abdullah Mehdar, and Habib Abu Bakr Bilfaqih.

Photo: umar nasir