Question: I am a student of theology and would like to know the Islamic view point about Satan, his origins, line of action and purpose.
Answer: From the Islamic view point , following are some facts about Satan:
1. He was among the jinn-folk. 1
2. At the time Adam (sws) and Eve were created, the angels and the jinn were asked to bow down before them. This was to test the submission of the angels and the jinn folk to the Almighty. All the angels and the jinn obeyed the Almighty except one rebellious jinn. His name was: Iblis (The Satan). 2
3. The Qur'an at numerous occasions says that it was out of sheer arrogance that Iblis denied the directive of the Almighty because he thought he was superior to Adam (sws) since he was made from fire and Adam (sws) from mud.3 4. Not only did Satan deny the directive, he also threw a challenge to the Almighty Himself that if he was allowed respite till the day of judgment, he would lead other people astray as well.3
4 Satan was granted respite till the day of judgment and allowed to allure people. However, this does not necessarily mean that he is still alive. His mission is being carried on by his progeny found both among the jinn and among the humans. 4
5. The only power Satan and his accomplices have is to implant evil suggestions; they do not have the power to force people into evil.5
6. Since this world was created as a trial and test for man, Satan and his accomplices are one of the means to test man; the test lies in whether people resist the evil suggestions of Satan or are carried away. Consequently, he was told that he would not be able to lead the pious astray.6
1. Behold! We said to the angels: 'Bow down to Adam'; they bowed down except Iblis. He was one of the Jinn, and he broke the Command of his Lord. (18:50)
3. [God] said: 'What prevented you from bowing down when I commanded you?' He replied: 'I am better than he: You created me from fire, and him from clay.' (7:12)
4. 'And My Curse shall be on you till the Day of Judgement.' (Iblis) said: 'O my Lord! Give me then respite till the Day the dead are raised.' [God] said: 'Respite then is granted to you - till the Day of the Time Appointed.' (Iblis) said: 'Then [I swear] by Your Power that I will put them all in the wrong, -- except Your servants amongst them, sincere and purified [by Your grace]'. (38:78-83)
5. Pray ye [O Prophet!]: I seek refuge with the Cherisher of mankind, the King of mankind, the God of mankind from the evil of the Prompter [of vice] who withdraws [after his prompting], who prompts evil suggestions in the hearts of men, [and is] from among the jinn and mankind. (114:1-6)
6. 'For over My servants no authority shall you have, except such as put themselves in the wrong and follow you.' And verily, Hell is the promised abode for them all! (15:42-43). See also (38:83) above.