Solving the problem of evil in the twenty-first century


In Islam, evil is embodied in Iblis (also known as Shaitan), a figure very similar to the devil. Like Christianity’s Satan, Iblis was once a servant to God, but then had a fall from grace. In the Kor’an, Adam is said to be made from clay and Iblis is made from a smokeless fire, because of this Iblis feels superior to Adam. Much like Satan, Iblis’s major flaw is excessive pride. According to the Qur’an Allah created three types of creatures: angels, jinns, and humans. Iblis is not an angel but a jinn, a supernatural creature that has free will so unlike angel’s can violate Allah’s commands.  Iblis refuses to obey Allah and acknowledge Adam as Allah’s masterpiece. For this he is thrown out of Paradise until the Last Day. Thereafter he swears to lead all men and women astray from Allah, like Christianity’s Satan. In the Qur’an, Allah tells Iblis he will have no power over human, so he can merely influence humans by whispering in the hearts of man. Man’s desire to sin comes “From the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper),-(The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind” (Qurʾān (Ali’s translation), sura 114 (Al-Nas), ayat 1-6). This is the only power Iblis has over humans and against Allah so he is known as the “whisperer.” This contrasts with Christianity’s demons, whose powers are never clearly laid out and change over time and from sect to sect. For Muslims fighting temptation is a fight against the whispers put into their hearts by Iblis and his demons. Although Iblis parallels the Devil in many ways, the identification of his capabilities is a huge contract from Christianity. There have been heated debates about the Devil’s capabilities and the ambiguity of his powers leaves room for a lot of fear and strife.


2 responses

  1. ca9455

    I really like how you compare Shaitan and Satan and also give the other names Shaitan is known for such as Iblis and the whisperer. In some Christian views the devil is only seen as a temptor and its up to the people to decide weather to follow his lead or ignore him.

    May 9, 2011 at 7:38 pm

  2. Akshata

    This was a really interesting post. I saw a lot of similarities between the Christian Satan and Iblis and of both their downfalls; they both have excessive pride, feel that they are superior to Adam, and swear to lead people astray from their God. It’s intriguing to see Satan portrayed through another religion.

    May 10, 2011 at 11:13 pm

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