In the Beginning – the creation of Man
The First Act of Disobedience
Meanwhile, Allah then commanded all the congregation of angels and all else present, to prostrate or bow themselves to Adam AS. This is not to be mistaken with the prostration of worship to which only Allah alone is entitled, but rather it was a prostration of respect and the acknowledgement of Adam's AS superiority over them.
All the angels obeyed Allah and prostrated to Adam AS, but Iblis, being proud, refused. Allah said: "What prevented you (O Iblis) that you did not prostrate, when I commanded you?" (Al Qur'an 7:12) Iblis, by this time blinded by arrogance and envy, said to God, the Lord of Creation: "I am better than him (Adam), You created me from fire, and him You created from clay." (Al Qur'an 7:12) Iblis saw himself as nobler than Adam AS, and disobeyed Allah's divine commandment.
To this blatant defiance and disobedience, Allah replied "Then get out of Paradise, for indeed you are expelled. And indeed upon you is My curse until the day of redemption." (Al Qur'an 15:34-15:35)
Instead of showing remorse for his mistake or begging for forgiveness, Iblis appealed to Allah for a reprieve until the day of judgment, a request which Allah granted.
The Constitution between Mankind, Iblis and Allah
We should pay close attention to what happened next, for this forms the backdrop of the constitution between Allah, Iblis and all the descendants of Adam AS.
Ever arrogant, Iblis assigned blame to Allah for his downfall,instead of admitting accountability for his terrible mistake: "Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path." (Al Qur'an 7:16) He also declared: "Then by Your might, I will surely mislead them all. Except, among them, Your chosen servants [i.e. the believers who are obedient to Allah]." (Al Qur'an 7:17)
So said, Iblis made a covenant to lead mankind to destruction and to occupy Hell together with him.
Allah replied: "The truth [is my oath] and the truth I say. [That] I will surely fill Hell with you and those of them that follow you all together." (Al Qur'an 38:84 – 38:85)
The constitution was thus finalised, for by the truth of Allah's word, Iblis, his followers and his allies are destined for hell fire. In the Qur'an, Allah orders mankind to "enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan" (Al Qur'an 2:208), this being the creed to be observed by all of us if we want to be spared the same fate which befell Iblis.
It therefore became Satan's mission to mislead the progeny of Adam AS, by arousing in them temptations and desires, and by deluding them with false promises. Those exempt from such temptations are those who live their lives in obedience and servitude to Allah. As the stories of the prophets unfold, we will see the same tools of manipulation deployed by Satan onto generation upon generation of our forefathers, in his quest to derail us from returning to the place where we, as a species, were originally created – Paradise.
In the next part, we shall see how Iblis carries out his campaign against mankind, starting with Adam AS and his wife.
To be continued. Please click here for Part 2.
Lesson for us: The Mother of All Diseases
Let us pause and examine the sequence of events which transformed Iblis from a devout worshipper to the disobedient one eternally cursed by Allah. Observe carefully, because this correlates with our own human traits.
The downfall of Iblis was caused by his jealousy. However, jealousy is only a symptom. What provoked these feelings of jealousy to surface and later consume Iblis in the first place?
The answer lies in the mother of all diseases of the heart – lack of contentment. Iblis was not contented with how Allah had created him. Instead of accepting what Allah had chosen for him, he compared himself to Adam AS, and felt discontented to the point that he forgot all the other good attributes and characteristics that Allah had given him. Jealousy, as a symptom of such discontentment, then began to take root.
This jealousy grew over time and led to arrogance, to the point that Iblis presumed to have the same level of knowledge that as God Himself. He thought himself a better creation than Adam AS, having been made of fire instead of clay, disregarding that Allah is the Creator of both elements and knows best. His arrogance caused him to transgress and disobey a direct commandment of Allah, and he was willing to forfeit his stay in Paradise and sentence himself to eternal torture as a result.
Understand this carefully, for this is the survival tip that will save you from following the same path as Iblis. Jealousy is a symptom, but it is only a manifestation of the real disease, which is lack of contentment. Jealousy cannot strike at the heart of one who is in constant thanks and gratitude to Allah. Being contented saves one from a multitude of downfalls.
Once somebody is ungrateful with what Allah has given him, from there it is a slippery slope. Lack of contentment is a mandatory prerequisite of jealousy. Ingratitude and lack of contentment is, and has been, the root of all problems since Man was first created.
When one starts comparing and believing that others have been given more (for example, in wealth, beauty, intellect, spouses and children) he unwittingly adopts the very same attitude of Iblis. He becomes jealous of the people who he perceives to have more than he does. This jealousy breeds hate. The one who is consumed by jealousy eventually becomes arrogant against Allah if this emotion gets out of control.
What is the link between jealousy and arrogance? When actions and thoughts are dominated by jealousy, it is one's declaration that he is discontented with, and even dislikes, what Allah has given him. He demeans Allah's bounties, and is ungrateful for the provisions that Allah has already granted him. He has no respect for Allah's wisdom and justice. By thinking this way, he implies that he knows better than Allah!
If he persists in this train of thought, spiritual blindness will follow. This blindness is generated from Allah as a punishment to those who are discontented with what He has given them or are otherwise ungrateful to Him. From there, the blindness propels him to be arrogant towards Allah. We have seen this in Iblis, where his blindness and arrogance has led him to his eternal doom.
What can be worse than being arrogant to Allah? And how easy it is to prevent – by being contented!