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Shaytan’s Promise to Adam, Peace Be upon Him

Ustadh Tabraze Azam explains the meaning of Shaytan’s promise to Adam, peace be upon him, concerning eternal life in Paradise.

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I have a question regarding the 120th ayah of Sura Ta Ha in which, according to a translated commentary of this ayah, Shaytan promised immortality and the everlasting kingdom to Adam, peace be upon him, in order for him to eat from the forbidden tree.

My question is: Wasn’t Adam, peace be upon him, immortal in Paradise at that time? And how did Shaytan whisper to Adam and Eve, peace be upon him, when he himself was not in Paradise? I would appreciate a deep explanation of this if possible.

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assaalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

The answer to your questions has a little detail which you may find below. But it is important to remember three matters: (1) the Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, was cunningly deceived by the devil in Paradise; (2) the Prophets, peace be upon them all, are sinless, and protected from sin, before and after prophethood, as we learn in our studies of Theology (‘aqida); and (3) his descent to earth was to fulfill a divine purpose, to manifest His divine wisdom and to honor the Prophet Adam, peace be upon him. It was certainly not a “punishment.”

Thereafter, the verse in question is Allah Most High’s saying, “But Satan whispered to him, saying, ‘O Adam! Shall I show you the Tree of Immortality and a kingdom that does not fade away?’” (Sura Ta Ha 20:120)

Immortality in Paradise

The Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, was actually created for custodianship or vice-regency (khilafa) of the earth, so he was not going to be in Paradise forever at this stage. Abu al-Su’ud, Shaykh al-Islam of the Ottoman Empire of his time, and widely considered to have authored the greatest work of exegesis (tafsir), clarifies this in his explanation of the relevant verses in Sura al-Baqara (2:36), namely, that the divine instruction wasn’t to remain in Paradise forever.

Elsewhere, Allah Most High says, recounting the words of the devil, “He said, ‘Your Lord has forbidden this tree to you only to prevent you from becoming angels or immortals.’” (Sura al-A‘raf 7:20) Imam Alusi explains that immortality, here, meant either that (a) you will never die, or (b) you will remain in Paradise forever, just as the “Tree of Immortality” (Sura Ta Ha 20:120) indicated eternal life. This is perhaps another indication that the Prophet Adam knew that Paradise wasn’t an eternal abode at the present time.

How Did the Devil Get into Paradise?

As for how the devil managed to deceive them, the reality isn’t clear to us. We do know that he was instructed to leave Paradise by the command, “Get out of Paradise, for you are truly cursed,” (Sura Sad  38:77) and that he was known to them as somebody harmful, “We said, ‘Adam, this is an enemy to you and to your wife. So let him not expel you from Paradise.’” (Sura Ta Ha 20:117)

The exegetes, however, have forwarded a varying number of possibilities explaining the issue. Some of these affirm that the devil was no longer permitted to enter Paradise in a state of honor like the angels, but could enter in a humiliated state; others said that he called upon them from the door as they were close to it; others still that he took on the form of another creature and the guardians of Paradise didn’t realize, and a variation of that, namely, that he entered whilst being carried in the mouth of another animal or creature.

The Moral of the Story

At the end of the day, these kinds of details aren’t relevant to the message of the story, as Ibn ‘Ashur points out in his Tahrir. The important point is that we come to realize and appreciate the presence of a divine command, the great gift and blessing of belief and guidance, the duty to avoid the unlawful and it great harm in this life and the next, the tremendous opportunity to attain unto eternal salvation and divine pleasure, and the reality that this is the one and only chance we get.

Allah Most High sums the final matter up in a few words, “a group will be in Paradise and another in the Blaze.” (Sura al-Shu‘ara 42:7) But Allah Most High has made Paradise for the believers, and it is up to us to ensure that we get both feet there. Ibn ‘Ata’ Illah al-Sakandari commented in one of his Aphorisms, “He has made worship binding upon you, and in reality, He hasn’t made anything but Paradise binding upon you.”

We ask Allah Most High to shower His everlasting mercy upon us out of His pure grace and favour.

Please also see How do We Understand the Sinlessness of Prophets in Light of Their Reprimand in the Qur’an?  and How Did the Devil Tempt Adam & Hawa (Eve)?

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

(Abu al-Su‘ud Effendi, Irshad al-‘Aql al-Salim; Alusi, Ruh al-Ma‘ani; Tantawi, al-Tafsir al-Wasit; Baydawi, Anwar al-Tanzil wa Asrar al-Ta’wil; Sabuni, al-Muntaqa min ‘Ismat al-Anbiya’ (34))

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


 

Jinn, Black Magic and How to Protect Yourself, by Shaykh Amer Jamil

In just under an hour, Shaykh Amer Jamil explains the essential what-you-need-to-know about sihr (black magic). It’s a reality – do you know how to recognise the signs and how to protect against it?

What is Black Magic and How Do We Recognise The Signs?

How Do We Protect Against Black Magic?

Resources on sihr (black magic) and related matters for seekers

Please subscribe to Shaykh Amer Jamil’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.
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What To Do When You Hear Slander and Backbiting

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When a poor opinion of others occurs to mind, recognize that it is a type of whispering the devil has sent your way. You should consider it a fabrication, as he is the most evil of evildoers, and Allah has said, “When an evildoer brings you news, verify it before you harm others in ignorance and are then sorrowful over what you have done.” It is therefore not permissible to lend credence to the devil.

If there happens to be some circumstantial evidence that indicates impropriety, but it is also possible that the charge is not true, it remains impermissible to harbor malignant thoughts towards another.

Tenuous Threads

One of the signs of having such thoughts towards others is that your heart is no longer the same with respect to them; you flee from them and find their company burdensome; you are unable to give them due consideration, to be hospitable towards them or to feel pain at their situation.

That is simply because the devil tries to convince the heart, with even the most tenuous of threads, of the evilness of another. He even throws into the heart the idea that this observation of another’s state is actually due to one’s own perspicacity, intelligence, and sharpness of mind, and that after all a believer can see clearly with the light of the Divine, while he is really speaking through the deception of satan and his darkness!

Even were one trustworthy person to tell you something about another person, do not lend credence to it, but do not at the same time consider it false. This is just so that you don’t end up thinking badly of another.

Do The Opposite

Whenever a malevolent thought towards another Muslim comes to mind, respond by doing even more to treat him well and honor him. That alone angers the devil and drives him away from you, such that he no longer throws those kinds of thoughts your way, for fear that you would respond by busying yourself with prayers for that person.

Whenever you learn of the misstep of another Muslim, through clear proof that does not admit doubt, advise them secretly. Do not allow yourself to be deluded by Satan, who calls you towards speaking about them behind their backs.

When you admonish them, do not do so happy that you’ve managed to come across a deficiency on their part, such that they have to look up at you in your position of strength, while you look down at them as if they are nothing.

Rather, have as your ultimate goal ridding them of this sin, while being in a state of sorrow, the way in which you would be sad over your own character when it is found to be be in some way deficient.

It’s Not About You

And finally, let it be the case that this person’s leaving off this blameworthy trait without you having said anything is more beloved to you than them having done so due to your having admonished them.


May Allah reward Shaykh Shuaib Ally for unearthing this valuable advice from Imam al-Ghazali, as quoted in Nawawi’s Adhkar.

 

Resources for seekers:

Is Iblis Really from the Jinn? Why Is Iblis Blaming Allah for Leading Him Astray?

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
[al-Baqarah 2:34]

”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
[al-Kahf 18:50]

”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
[Hadith]
Anyone who possesses an atom’s weight of pride in his heart will not enter Paradise.””

قَالَ فَبِمَآ أَغۡوَيۡتَنِى لَأَقۡعُدَنَّ لَهُمۡ صِرَٲطَكَ ٱلۡمُسۡتَقِيمَ
[al-’Araf 7:17]
”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.

Rahma Ahmed

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

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.

Salman

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Recognizing the Tricks of the Devil (shaytan)

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: What are some of tricks the devil (shaytan) use against us to make us fail in our fulfilling what Allah has commanded us to do? I would like to know so I dont fall into them.

Answer: Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

This is a very good question, Masha’ Allah. A great West African scholar and reviver of the deen, Shaykh Uthman Dan Fodio, wrote about this:

As for the tricks of Shaytan against you they are seven.

1. He obstructs you from doing acts of obedience . Repel him, if Allah protects you, by realizing that you are in need of these acts of obedience in order to gather provision from this life for the next life which will have no ending.

2. He commands you to procrastinate in acts of obedience . Repel him , if Allah protects you, by realizing that your appointed time is not in your hands and that you could die at any moment.

3. He commands you to rush in acts of obedience by suggesting to you , ” Hurry! In order that you can do so-and-so!” Repel him, if Allah protects you, that realizing that few acts of obedience done with perfection is better than many done incompletely.

4. He commands you to perfect your worship in order to be seen of men. Repel him, if Allah protects you, by realizing that the sight of Allah is enough for you over the sight of men.

5. He whispers arrogance and pride in your heart by saying, ” Who is greater and more precise than your obedience?” Repel him, if Allah protects you, , by realizing that your acts of obedience to Allah is a blessing from Allah, not from yourself. If it were not for the bounty of Allah, you would not be able to establish any act of obedience , which are nothing next to the blessing of Allah Ta`ala.

6. This is the greatest of his tricks, he says to you, ” Make strenuous effort in keeping your obedience of Allah secret. Soon He will make your acts manifest before the world!” Repel him, if Allah protects you, that you are a slave of Allah and that He alone is your Master. If He wills , He will manifest you and is He wills He will keep you concealed. If He wills, He will make you important and if He wills He will make you insignificant. That is for Him to decide, and you should not care whether He manifest your good deeds to people or not, because there is nothing in thier hands worth seeking after.

7. He suggest in your heart, ” There is no need for you to perform acts of obedience to Allah. Truly, if you were created and destined to be among the people of bliss, then there is no danger in you neglecting the acts of worship. And if you were created and destined to be among the people of wretchednedd, then there is no benefit in doing them. Repel him , if Allah protects you, that realizing that you are a slave . And that it the duty of a slave to obey the commands as is the rights to slaveness (`ubuudiyya).

Allah is the Rabb, and He knows the rights of Lordship (rubuubiyya). Thus these acts of obedience will benefit you in every way if you were created and destined to be among the people of bliss. It will benefit you by increasing your reward. And if you were not created and destined for bliss, then in no way Allah will punish you for acts of obedience. These acts of obedience will not harm you. For to be entered into the fire while you are obedient to Allah is more precious to you than you being entered into the fire while you are disobedient.

And how is it possible for you to enter the fire when the Promise of Allah is true and His Words are Truthful. For He has promised a tremendous reward for acts of obedience. Whoever meets Allah Ta`ala while he has faith and obedience will never enter the fire and he has dully earned the Paradise by the Promise of Allah the Truthful and not by any act. It is in that Allah has informed us by His saying, ” Allah`s praises are due to Allah who made good to us His Promise and has made us inherit the earth and we may abide in the Paradise whenever we please. Excellent is the Reward of those who work. [39:74]

Therefore my brothers, wake up! It is as He said. So seek the aid of Allah alone and seek refuge with Him. All matters are in His hands and from Him alone is success. And there is no power nor might except with Allah the Exalted the Great.

[`Uthman Dan Fodio, Tareeqah al-Jannah Bab Muhaarabatush-Shaytan]
wassalam
Faraz Rabbani

How Did the Devil Tempt Adam & Hawa (Eve)?

Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra

Question: If the Devil (shaytan) was cast out of Heaven after refusing to bow down to Adam and refusing to show him respect, how is it that he was able to tempt Adam in heaven into disobeying Allah?

Answer: Wa alaikum salam,

Thank you for your question.

Firstly, it was only with Allah Most High’s permission (though not approval) that the Devil (shaytan) was able to find a way to tempt Adam and Hawa (peace be upon them) after his expulsion. His expulsion from Paradise was not meant to make it impossible for him to reach them. This momentous incident in history, after all, is what brought about the fall from Paradise to this world, which is the reason why we are all here today. Clearly, this happened as part of the Divine plan and wisdom.

The exact nature of how Shaytan tempted Adam is differed upon. There is no conclusive evidence as to how this happened in the Islamic primary sources, only various speculations.

Imam al-Qurtubi mentions that the strongest opinion was that Shaytan tempted them with his voice only, saying this was the opinion of Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas and the majority of the scholars.

He also cites weaker opinions that closely followed the Genesis 3:1 account, or that Shaytan used his minions, along with the ability to whisper in the hearts. [al-Qurtubi, Tafsir]

The Old Testament of the Bible in Genesis 3:1 says that Iblis took the form of a snake and tempted Hawa in the Garden of Eden, however this cannot be relied upon.

Imam al-Baydawi mentions many opinions as well without choosing any one. Among the opinions are that Iblis was not allowed to enter Paradise with honor as he once did with the angels, but was able to enter in a humiliated state, or that he deceived the guards of Paradise. Or, he may have simply whispered from outside the gates. In the end, he says ,”the knowledge of it is with Allah Exalted and Most High.” [al-Baydawi, Tafsir: Anwar al-Tanzil]

wassalam,
Abdullah Anik Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Sidi Abdullah Misra was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. He converted to Islam in 2001 and completed a degree in Business Administration. In 2005, he left Canada to pursue Islamic studies. He now lives in Amman, Jordan with his wife and two daughters, where he studies various Islamic sciences and concurrently serves as the Study Abroad Director at the Qasid Institute.