Why Does Satan Insist on His Unbelief?

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Shaytan, the Arabic word for Satan, means “being cast down from the Divine Presence, driven away in disgrace from God’s mercy.” Satan is like one who had all the trump cards but played them against himself, or like one who lost everything while on the verge of winning.

The Qur’an describes Satan’s condition as follows:

We created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels to bow down to Adam, and they bowed down. Not so Iblis [Satan]; he refused to be of those who bow down. God asked: “Why didn’t you bow down when I commanded you to do so?” He replied: “I am better than he. You created me from fire, and him from clay.” (7:11–12)

Satan has gone so far astray that he cannot hear or realize the truth. He has become so perverse that he is the victim of his own vicious circle of depravity. In other words, he first victimized himself with his pride, vanity, and conceit. With his first satanic dialectic (I am better than he), he made his first tour of the vicious circle. He deprived himself of all the ways to beg pardon, and even to be forgiven, by making such excuses as: “I am better than he.” Such a response clearly shows his conceit as well as his outpouring of pride, vanity, and arrogance.

Satan erred. So did Adam and Eve (Hawa’) when they ate from the forbidden tree. However, as soon as they realized their mistake, Adam and Eve begged God to forgive them: Our Lord! We have wronged our own souls: If you forgive us not and bestow not upon us Your mercy, we shall certainly be lost (7:23). God granted their request, and so the vicious circle could not be established. Satan, on the other hand, attempted to justify himself and sought to prove his right and innocence by denying his mistake even after being warned about it. His continued insistence on being superior to Adam caused him to doom himself.

Many verses describe Satan’s enmity, jealousy, and fight against humanity, as well as his impertinence, ignorance and disobedience toward God. Among them are the following: Satan said: “Then by Your power, I will put them all in the wrong” (28:82) and I will lie in wait for them on your Straight Way. Then I will assault them, from their right, and their left. Nor will You find in most of them gratitude for Your mercies (7:16-17).

Thus he became the archenemy of humanity. His error, self-defence, arrogance and rebellion resulted in his expulsion (7:13). This, along with his vow to corrupt people, removed him far away from the all-encompassing, enlightening, and elevating atmosphere of God’s mercy. He indulged in and completely submitted himself to satanic logic, and chose the way of the most wicked seducer. The more he seduced, the more distant he became; the more distant he became, the more he felt malicious envy and rancor. This process caused him to acquire a second nature integrated with ingratitude, intrigue, malice and depravity.

As the distance grew, he became more vicious and corrupt. His rancor, vanity, and conceit increased. He dared to dispute with God, and removed himself even further His Mercy. His rebellion against and defiance of God sealed his doom: His heart was sealed. There now was nothing but evil in his heart, and any chance to do good or to reform himself was destroyed.

We are very honored beings. If we realize our full potential, we can become angelic. But we can also go in the other direction. Consider the following: Muslims who observe all of their religoius duties and maintain excellent relations with others may, on occasion, lose their self-control and explode. At such times, they lose all their gentleness, compassion, pardon and tolerance. If you study them when they are in such a condition, you will see only hatred, malicious envy, rancor, and anger like the sparks of Hell. If you try to advise or counsel them at such times, you will not be able to get through to them.

Everyone has seen and experienced similar states. But we always retains the potential, through God’s Mercy, of passing through such states and recovering virtue. By contrast, Satan is permanently in a state of hatred, malicious envy, and rancor. He can think only of evil and devilishness, for he no longer knows how to think of goodness. Although he knows God, Satan has forgotten compassion, gentleness and tolerance, all of which are mere obstacles to his self-conceit. In short, he worships his own self-hood. Our primary defense against falling into a similar state is to rely upon and believe in God. We resign ourselves to Him and depend on Him. May He save us from following Satan.